MONDAY, MAY 12 This week of indicted villains, fatal spitting, and historic triumphs for humanity kicks off six miles below the surface of central China, where this afternoon an 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck the fault where South Asia rubs against the Eurasian land mass, instigating three minutes of rumbling that decimated a whole region of towns near the city of Chengdu and killed a horrifying number of people. Initial estimates put the death toll at 8,700; within a week, the number will rise to over 70,000. Every detail reported by the Associated Press was horrendous, from the collapse of a three-story high school that left 900 students buried and/or dead to the collapse of two chemical plants that buried hundreds of people and spilled more than 80 tons of toxic liquid ammonia. After dominating this news week, China's deadly mess will barge into the next—Monday, May 19, will bring news of the postquake mud slides that have buried more than 200 relief workers. Holy crap and stay tuned.
TUESDAY, MAY 13 In much lighter news: The week continues with the trashtastic saga of Jocelyn Kirsch and Edward Anderton, the young couple from Everett navigating a slew of criminal charges after an extravagant year of alleged identity-theft-fueled mayhem. Details come from the Associated Press, which describes 22-year-old Kirsch as "a Drexel University student and daughter of a North Carolina plastic surgeon," and 25-year-old Anderton as "her Ivy League graduate boyfriend." According to federal prosecutors, the pair indulged in a lavish "year of living dangerously," replete with luxury travel and $2,250 hair extensions, allegedly funded by credit-card and bank-account information Kirsch and Anderton allegedly stole from their friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Eventually, a bounced check led to a police investigation and the couple's arrest on charges of aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and bank fraud. Today, U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan announced that charges stemming from the $120,000 scheme had been moved to federal court. Meanwhile, the AP offers further info on the skeezy duo's female half: "Since her arrest, Jocelyn Kirsch's friends and classmates have stepped forward to portray her as a serial liar who even masked her identity when she met the heir to the British throne at a student forum during his visit to Philadelphia last year; in a favorite myth, she told the prince she was Lithuanian." Both Kirsch and Anderton have signed federal plea agreements that will likely put them behind bars for several years.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 14 Today brings not one but two stories about spit. Story one comes from the instant-cocoa-capped peaks of Switzerland, where a 29-year-old man engaged in a friendly spitting competition and died. Details come from the Swiss newspaper Blick, which reports the spitting match commenced after the man and two friends returned to their hotel in Cadempino after a late night out and decided to see who could spit furthest from their hotel-room balcony. Tragically, the aforementioned 29-year-old was a driven competitor who "took a run-up from inside the room so he could spit further, but lost his balance and plummeted 6.4 meters [21 feet] to the street below"; RIP, competitive spitter. Spit story two comes from the crap-addled plains of Texas, where an HIV-positive homeless man who spit in the mouth and eye of a police officer was today sentenced to 35 years in prison. Details come from the New York Times: In 2006, 42-year-old Willie Campbell was apprehended for public intoxication in Dallas; during his arrest, Campbell "spat at an officer and said he had HIV," culminating in charges of "harassing a public servant with a deadly weapon." Never mind that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that "contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV," or that none of the officers "attacked" by Campbell contracted HIV: Because of the "deadly weapon" stipulation, Campbell won't be eligible for parole until he serves half his sentence, which, thanks to his status as a habitual offender (he's got problems) came down at a whopping 35 years. Condolences to everyone.
THURSDAY, MAY 15 The week continues with some monolithically good news from California, where today the state's Republican-dominated supreme court voted 4–3 to legalize same-sex marriage. "In contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation," wrote Chief Justice Ronald George. Today's victory may soon be challenged: As the Associated Press reports, "Religious and social conservatives are pressing to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would undo the supreme court ruling and ban gay marriage." But as readers of the proposed amendment have noted, it contains no language to invalidate existing legal gay marriages. For now, the justices are directing state officials "to take all actions necessary to effectuate our ruling," including requiring county marriage clerks to carry out their duties "in a manner consistent with the decision of this court." "This door is wide open now," said San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom at a celebratory gathering outside City Hall. "It's going to happen, whether you like it or not."
FRIDAY, MAY 16 Nothing happened today, unless you count the stunningly gorgeous weather in the Pacific Northwest.
SATURDAY, MAY 17 Ditto.
SUNDAY, MAY 18 The week ends with an extraordinary tale of "religion gone bad and valiant community spirit" from that inexhaustible forum for freakery known as King County Metro, reported by heroic Hot Tipper Oscar. "I was riding the 18 headed downtown, when out of the corner of my eye I saw some movement. When I turned to look, I saw a man repeatedly hitting a blind woman seated at the front of the bus. An older gentleman seated next to the woman jumped up and tried to intervene, but a quick punch to the head knocked him back down into his seat. Once I realized that what I was seeing was real, I rushed the assailant and grabbed him by the arms while he yelled at me to 'keep out of this. You got no idea what's really happening here' and the woman cowered and covered her head. He kept screaming about 'being filled with the power of God' and threatening to kill me for stopping him from doing God's work. Three other passengers helped me hold him while another rider called 911. Another passenger was assisting the assaulted woman, who'd been hit so hard she was bleeding. The police arrived and apprehended the attacker, then took all of our names. While one young lady was telling her story, I heard her say that when the assailant got on the bus he saw the blind woman and said, 'God says all sick people must die,' then started hitting her. [Confidential to the psychotic assailant: Blind people aren't sick, and all people must die. Back to Oscar:] The assaulted woman was checked by paramedics and declared physically okay, except for scratches and bruising, then got a ride home from a fire marshal. Thanks to all my fellow Metro riders who pitched in and stood up for someone unable to defend herself."
I'm glad we can all agree that punching blind people on the bus is bad. (And thanks to Oscar and the others for stopping what sounds like it could have been a murder.) Send Hot Tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.