The Week in Review
MONDAY, OCTOBER 10 This week of expanding occupations and criminal insults kicks off with the latter, in Thailand, where an American citizen is facing up to 15 years in prison for insulting Thailand's monarchy. "Thailand has the world's toughest laws on lese-majesty—insulting the monarchy—and many of its people regard King Bhumibol Adulyadej as almost divine," reports the Guardian. "Criticism of the lese-majesty law is taboo, as is public disclosure of the nature of an alleged offence. Local media rarely report arrests or convictions related to royal insults." All of which creates a world of trouble for Lerpong Wichaikhammat, the 55-year-old man with dual Thai-American citizenship charged with using the internet to disseminate information that insults or threatens the monarchy. Specifically, Wichaikhammat was accused of posting a translation of an article (the subject of which is unknown; see lese-majesty specifics above) and providing a web link to a biography of King Bhumibol that is banned in Thailand. After denying the charges at the time of his arrest, today Wichaikhammat pleaded guilty, for which he faces a decade and a half in Thai prison. "I plead guilty because no one can win the case," said Wichaikhammat to journalists. "I have no chance. I want the American government to help release me. This is a case of freedom of expression."
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11 The week continues with the expanding occupation of Seattle's Westlake Center and various other civic centers around the United States and the world. All of this is covered starting on page 17, so Last Days will instead devote today's item to those Seattle citizens who opted out of the Occupy Seattle protests in favor of playing with guns, and wound up shot. The day's first accidental shooter/shootee is a 17-year-old boy who called his mother around 7:45 a.m. to report that he'd been shot at a South Seattle bus stop. "The teen's mother called 911 to report her son had been shot and was waiting at an intersection for aid," reports SeattlePI.com. But when officers arrived, they "learned that the teen actually shot himself while aboard the bus," reports KIRO. "They searched the area and found the gun. The teen may be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm."
• The day's second blast of ironic gun trouble took place in North Seattle, where police responded to a call about an accidental shooting at a residence on North 96th Street around 4:30 p.m. "The initial report from police was that the 27-year-old man had shot himself in the buttocks," reports SeattlePI.com, but this report quickly proved to be myth. As Detective Jeff Kappel explained in his official statement, the 27-year-old man and his indeterminately aged father were sitting in the living room comparing handguns when things went wrong. "The father had just finished showing his son how to properly make his gun safe and was about to hand the gun to the son when the father pulled the trigger," said Kappel. "The gun discharged and a bullet struck the son in the upper thigh and buttocks area." The shot son was taken to Harborview with non-life-threatening injuries.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12 In much better news, today brings a bracing blast of actual human progress, courtesy of John Smid, the former leader of the pray-away-the-gay ministry Love in Action, who took to the internet to repent of his formerly bigoted views. As Dave Rattigan of Ex-Gay Watch writes, "The former leader of Exodus International's oldest ministry says you can't repent of homosexuality—and he now publicly admits he is homosexual himself. Writing on the website of his new ministry, Grace Rivers, Smid says being homosexual is an intrinsic part of a person's being, not a behaviour he can repent from." Smid's own words: "One cannot repent of something that is unchangeable. I have gone through a tremendous amount of grief over the many years that I spoke of change, repentance, reorientation and such, when, barring some kind of miracle, none of this can occur with homosexuality... Actually I've never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual." Congratulations, Mr. Smid, and good luck with your karma-mandated decade of rectifying your past wrongs.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13 Speaking of revolutionary growth: Today brought news of the escape of one of the wives of Warren Jeffs, the polygamist leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who's currently serving a life sentence in prison for child rape. As ABC News reports, "One of the wives of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has escaped the confines of the isolated Arizona community where his 85 other wives live... Arizona authorities have said that the 25-year-old woman who fled is now undergoing counseling and psychiatric care at a women's shelter. She was reportedly barefoot when she was found." Congratulations and good luck, escaped wife.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14 The week continues with a sentence Last Days has been hungry to type since 2008: Billy Chambers is going to prison. As regular readers will recall, Chambers was one of three teens convicted of the 2008 killing of Edward "Tuba Man" McMichael, for which the 15-year-old Chambers was sentenced to nine months in juvenile detention. Since then, SeattlePI.com reminds us, "he's been convicted of theft twice, and arrested on suspicion of robbery, assault and unlawful bus conduct." Which brings us to today, when the now-18-year-old Chambers was sentenced to 22 months in prison for attempted second-degree assault and hit-and-run charges after intentionally and repeatedly ramming his car into a car being driven by a woman he suspected of reporting him to police. This afternoon, King County Superior Court judge Joan DuBuque sentenced Chambers to the maximum available prison term of just under two years. Let's never speak of him again (unless he turns his life around and ends up developing a cure for something or something).
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15 The week continues with two perennial Last Days subjects: bear maulings and child abuse, which were horrifically combined this week at the Toronto Zoo, where a 10-year-old polar bear named Aurora gave birth to premature triplets, then attacked them, fatally mauling two of the three new cubs. "The surviving male is still being surveyed around the clock and will be hand-raised," reports the Globe and Mail. "Aurora is still on display, along with the zoo's two other polar bears."
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16 Nothing happened today, unless you count the fatal house fire that killed a man on Seattle's Capitol Hill, the fatal car crash that killed race-car celebrity Dan Wheldon in Las Vegas, or the nonfatal but sad news of the split of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, the Sonic Youth bandmates who've provided a model for alterna-marriage since 1984.
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