MONDAY, JANUARY 23 Hello! The week kicks off on the right side of the bed/sunny side of the street/half of the glass that is full, as state senator Mary Margaret Haugen today announced her plan to cast the key 25th vote required to advance marriage equality in Washington State. "I have received many letters, e-mails, phone calls, very heartfelt, from both sides of the issue," stated Haugen, a Democrat representing Whidbey Island and its politically moderate surroundings. "I've also received a number of very negative comments from both sides. For some people, this is a simple issue. I envy them. It has not been simple or easy for me... I have very strong Christian beliefs... For me personally, I have always believed in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. That is what I believe, to this day. But this issue isn't about just what I believe. It's about respecting others, including people who may believe differently than I. It's about whether everyone has the same opportunities for love and companionship and family and security that I have enjoyed." Hurrah and onward.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 24 In stupider news, the week continues with a Dr.- Frankenstein-meets-Office-Depot-scented crime out of Maryland, where a former dentist has pleaded guilty to a Medicare fraud scheme that involved using paper clips for root canals. Details come from the Associated Press, which identifies the deposed dentist as 53-year-old Michael Clair, who last week pleaded guilty to defrauding Medicaid of $130,000, as well as assault and battery, illegally prescribing prescription drugs, and intimidating a witness. As for the paper clips, they were part of the Medicare defrauding, with Dr. Clair replacing pricey stainless-steel rods typically used in root canals with inexpensive paper clips, then billing Medicare for the full stainless-steel price. "James Kulild, a professor of endodontics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, said there are very limited circumstances under which a paper clip could be used during dental procedures," reports the AP. "He said a paper clip should never be left in permanently."
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25 Speaking of health-care-based shenanigans, today brings a story involving Seattle and Bellingham, where pharmacies have been raided by federal investigators alleging that "returned" drugs were being resold as new medicine to elderly and disabled patients. "According to court papers filed in the Food and Drug Administration investigation, the pharmacies' owners were reselling medicine collected from patients living in long-term care facilities around Western Washington," reports Seattlepi.com. "Investigators contend the drugs—some of which were collected from residents after they died—were then repacked and sold as new." As for the risks of recycling prescription medicine: "There is no way to know whether they've been tampered with or stored improperly, they can't be recalled if the manufacturer finds a problem, and they may be expired," reports Seattlepi.com. "In addition to putting patients at risk, the pharmacies are bilking Medicaid by charging the federal program twice for the same pills." Speaking through an attorney, the accused pharmacies say they are working with regulators and are ready to resolve all identified problems.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 26 Speaking of drugs and identified problems, today brings a big blast of nitrous oxide, which was thrust into the world of entertainment news thanks to Demi Moore, the veteran movie star/ celebrity divorcée who—according to TMZ.com—was doing whip-its just prior to lapsing into the semiconsciousness that demanded her immediate hospitalization. As ABC News reports in a follow-up story examining the possible implications for Moore: "Inhaled nitrous oxide, a party drug more commonly known as laughing gas, whip-its, and 'hippie crack,' provides relatively intense, brief highs... Despite a benign reputation for reducing users to peals of laughter, the colorless, sweet-smelling gas deprives the heart and brain of oxygen and can cause damage." Today, Moore's publicist declined to comment on the alleged whip-it fiesta, acknowledging only that the actress is receiving medical treatment. Tomorrow, a million and one middle schoolers will do their first whip-its.
•• Meanwhile in Minnesota, 107 dogs and two cats had their best day in a long, long time when they were rescued from a northern Minnesota property holding two feces-packed trailer homes. Sharing the trailers with the 107 dogs, two cats, and unlimited feces were two women who reportedly started out as animal hoarders and wound up as animal-feces hoarders. "They truly, truly loved the dogs," said the Humane Society's Kathie Johnson to WCCO News. "This got out of hand, and there's no way they can care for 107 dogs on their own." Fun fact: The rescued dogs are mostly small breeds, such as pug, Chihuahua, dachshund, and spaniel mixes!
FRIDAY, JANUARY 27 The week continues with an update on Mary Margaret Haugen, the Washington State senator whose eloquence on the propriety of marriage equality lit up Monday's item and inspired a backlash from anti-gay bigots. As Dominic Holden wrote on Slog, The Stranger's blog, "Anti-gay national organizations are inundating the state senator with nasty phone calls, trying to intimidate her into retracting plans to cast the key 25th vote in the state senate for marriage equality." But Haugen is standing firm: "I have no respect for the tactics of these national special-interest groups, who have no stake in our district or our state, and who have recruited out-of-state callers to phone my office and to be intentionally rude to my staff," wrote the senator on her website.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 28 Nothing happened today, unless you count the humongo-brawl at South Lake Union's Citrus restaurant and lounge, where early this morning a fight reportedly escalated from thrown glasses to thrown bar stools to three men being shot. "All three victims were rushed to Harborview Medical Center with very serious injuries," reports KOMO. "None of the victims would tell officers what happened." (Dear seriously wounded Citrus revelers: You get an A-plus in "stop snitching" and an F in "not getting shot.")
SUNDAY, JANUARY 29 Nothing happened today, unless you count a grimly invigorating blast of justice in Ontario, Canada, where today three Afghan Canadians accused of drowning four female relatives in a so-called honor killing were convicted on all charges. "There have been other murder charges involving so-called 'honour killings'—homicides of women slain out of a perverse desire to 'purify' families of disgrace created by supposedly immoral conduct," reports the Globe and Mail. "But not on this scale, and not involving parents who were willing to wipe out half their family for the sake of their honour, and then lie about it."
Dear everyone: There is no "honor" in killing innocent people. Also, pizza is delicious. Send Hot Tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.