Dispatches > Human Race
James Barney Jr.
Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT/Landov
James Barney Jr.

Human Race


Issue: "Back to School," Sept. 6, 2014


James Barney Jr., a 9-year-old Floridian, made international news after he wrestled a 400-pound alligator—and won. Barney was riding his bicycle when he decided to take a quick swim in a restricted area of a lake in central Florida. Barney, recounting what happened from his hospital bed, said he was startled when he reached down and felt the 9-foot-long gator’s jaw and teeth. The boy sustained about 30 teeth marks and claw scratches and said he will find a new place to swim. 


NASCAR racing champion Tony Stewart, 43, struck and killed a 20-year-old driver at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Aug. 9. Stewart, who has more than 60 career wins on multiple racing circuits, caused Kevin Ward Jr. to spin out into the wall, prompting Ward to confront Stewart the next time he came around the track. Although other drivers went around Ward, Stewart clipped him, sending him flying 50 feet. Stewart, whose temper is legendary, had just returned to dirt track racing after triggering an accident at the same track last year.


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The same week Hawaii endured two rare hurricanes, it experienced a political earthquake: Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, became the state’s first incumbent governor to suffer defeat in a primary. State Sen. David Ige soundly defeated Abercrombie, 66 percent to 31 percent, even though Abercrombie outspent him 10-to-one and picked up an endorsement from President Barack Obama. An unpopular proposal to increase taxes last year played a key role in alienating Abercrombie from his base.


Legendary actress Lauren Bacall, 89, died from a stroke on Aug. 12. Bacall’s first leading role came at age 20 in the 1944 film To Have and Have Not, starring opposite 44-year-old Humphrey Bogart, and on-camera love developed into real love: The two married in 1945 and remained together until Bogart’s death in 1957. Bacall won Tony Awards for leading roles in two musicals adapted from classic movies, Applause (1970) and Woman of the Year (1981). She won an honorary Oscar in 2009 for lifetime achievement.


Archaeologists exploring terrain almost 400 miles north of Athens, Greece, have found what could be the lost tomb of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.). At the very least, it’s a massive, 1,500-foot tomb of a very important Greek leader, including a 13-step entrance with ornate sphinx statues on either side. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras visited the site and called the finding “extremely important.” The tomb dates to between 325 and 300 B.C., and archaeologists hope to have a definitive answer about its occupants by the end of August.


NBC on Aug. 14 announced its political director, Chuck Todd, will replace David Gregory as host of the Sunday talk show Meet the Press. Gregory, 43, took over Meet the Press when host Tim Russert died in 2008, and the show suffered a steady ratings decline after a decade of dominance. NBC, which reportedly paid Gregory $4 million to leave quietly, did not allow him a farewell show. Gregory rose to stardom as NBC’s chief White House correspondent, the same post Todd will now vacate.


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