MONDAY, OCTOBER 21 Just in time for Halloween, the week begins with some terrifying speculation about the Bush regime--specifically, the Bush administration's not-so-furtive maneuvers to rebuild this battered nation smack-dab in the middle of God's country, with His book as law and His son as Lord and Master. In a letter sent today to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, two Democratic congressmen--Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Sherrod Brown of Ohio--accused the Bush administration of putting ideology before science in several key decisions affecting the nation's health services. Specifically, Waxman and Brown denounced the Bush camp's stacking of Health and Human Services advisory committees by ejecting all those whose views clashed with Bush's, replacing these respected academics and experts with industry consultants. Waxman and Brown also denounced the administration for removing key information from national health websites. Information about the effectiveness of condoms was cut from the Centers for Disease Control website, while information showing that abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer was cut from the National Institute of Health site. "Scientific information... has been removed, apparently because it does not fit with the administration's ideological agenda," wrote Waxman and Brown in their letter to Thompson, adding, "We are deeply concerned that stacking advisory committees with individuals whose qualifications are ideological rather than scientific will fundamentally undermine the integrity of scientific decision-making at our leading public health agencies." So far, the Republicans are playing dumb, with HHS spokesman Bill Pierce advising Waxman and Brown to "stop looking for conspiracy theories."
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22 Speaking of conspiracy theories: Today every news agency in the world reported the discovery of an unadorned limestone burial box, which could very well be the oldest archaeological evidence of Jesus, as well as the first object ever found relating to a member of his family. According to the nonsectarian Biblical Archaeology Review, the box--20 inches long, 10 inches wide, 12 inches deep--is typical of those used in the first century to bury bones, and is inscribed in Aramaic, "Ya'akov bar Yosef akhui di Yeshua," which translates to "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Experts say the box dates to around A.D. 62--the same date early texts attribute to James' death. (One of the earliest Christian leaders, James is described in the New Testament as a half-brother to Jesus, best known for brokering an important compromise allowing non-Jews to convert to Christianity without following Jewish dietary laws. According to Biblical legend, James was stoned to death after being arrested for preaching about Jesus.) The long-lost box reappeared last summer, when its owner, an Israeli man who purchased the box from an Arab dealer in 1987, showed his find to Andre Lemaire, a professor at the Sorbonne in Paris. Over the next year, Lemaire and his associates tested the box's surface and lettering for historical consistency and forgery; in his article published today, Lemaire pronounced both the box and the inscription to be genuine--though he admits there's merely a slim chance the box served as final resting place for the James of the New Testament. Most likely it held the bones of some other guy named James. Still, old boxes are cool.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 23 After decades of shamelessly wrangling the most tenuous "local connections" to historic news stories--"Tomorrow on King 5, we talk to the Lynnwood woman who once babysat John Walker Lindh's older sister"--tonight news agencies throughout the Pacific Northwest had their work cut out for them, as the frantic media spotlight following the D.C. sniper case landed on little old Tacoma, where federal investigators tore up the yard at a house where prime suspect John Allen Muhammad, a 41-year-old Gulf War veteran and Muslim convert, had resided earlier this year. Late tonight federal authorities arrested John Muhammad and 17-year-old John Lee Malvo in connection with the sniper shootings that have claimed 10 lives in the D.C. area. Taking the men into custody at a rest stop about 50 miles northwest of D.C., feds found a gun that matched the .233-caliber bullets used in all the attacks, as well as a makeshift shooting platform, allowing shots to be fired from a horizontal position through a hole in the trunk. God knows what drove these psychos to kill, but thank God they're caught.
·· Also: Tonight in Moscow, over 700 audience members at a popular musical were taken hostage by at least 50 Chechen rebels, who threatened to kill them all if the Russian army didn't pull out of Chechnya. Two and a half days from now, Russian special forces will end the standoff by pumping narcotic gas into the theater. This mysterious gas will kill most of the Chechen rebels (with Russian gunfire taking care of the rest), as well as 116 of the theatergoers/hostages. Over 650 hostages will survive, though many will never recover and later will die. As of press time, Russia still hasn't identified the gas used in the attack/intervention, not even to doctors attempting to save the lives of the gas' victims. Bugged for comment, world leaders shrug and point to the survivors. (Fishing for whimsy, Last Days considers jokes, but dismiss the three we come up with as racist, anti-gay, and just plain stupid, in that order.)
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24 On a sad note: Today brought a close to the life of Harry Hay, gay rights pioneer and founder of the Mattachine Society, who died this morning at his San Francisco home. He was 90 years old.
·· On a less sad note: Tonight Last Days had the pleasure of seeing cinema stud-of-the-moment Vin Diesel on Craig Kilborn's late-night television show. As our boyfriend previously noted, Vin Diesel resembles a thumb. But who had any idea he was so... festive? Throughout the interview, his big thuggy hands were flitting about like the ghost of Harry Hay, while his big thuggy lips had distinct trouble producing anything but the most sibilant S. Is this another instance of Tim Eyman disease, in which a self-proclaimed straight guy is mercilessly afflicted with the most stereotypical collection of nelly-gay signifiers and faggy mannerisms this side of Sir Richard Simmons? Or is Vin Diesel a legitimate cock-smoker? He's a star who's halfway good-looking, so of course there have been rumors. But after seeing Vin's sister act on Craig Kilborn, we're tempted to start some of our own.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25 Nothing happened today (unless you count the eyewitness account of Hot Tipper David, who wrote in to report the young, crazy man brushing his teeth on the #60 Metro yesterday, spitting the excess foam into his coat pocket, and exiting the bus at Harborview).
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26 Nothing happened today.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27 Today didn't exist.
Next week: The Amazing Hot Tip Rodeo. Keep 'em coming to firstname.lastname@example.org.