TOM NELSON

MONDAY, MARCH 19 This week of great and terrible news kicks off in southwestern France, where today a gunman opened fire outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, killing a 30-year-old man, his two young sons (aged 3 and 6), and the 8-year-old daughter of the school's principal before fleeing on a scooter. Later today, the France 24 news agency will report that both the gun and the scooter used in today's killings were used in last week's fatal shootings of three soldiers in Montauban and Toulouse, suggesting a serial killer on the loose. "Barbarity, savagery, cruelty cannot win. Hate cannot win," said French president Nicolas Sarkozy while visiting the site of today's killings. "We will find him." Spoiler alert: Sarkozy is right. Stay tuned.

TUESDAY, MARCH 20 Speaking of terrible news, the week continues in the Netherlands, where the Dutch Roman Catholic Church is under fire for deeds even more dastardly than usual. As the BBC reports, "Last year, an inquiry found thousands of children had been sexually abused in Dutch Catholic institutions since 1945." According to today's revelations, widespread molestation and rape was the tip of the iceberg. From the BBC: "Henk Hethuis, a pupil at a Catholic boarding school, was 18 when he told police in 1956 he was being abused by a Dutch monk. He was castrated on the instructions of Catholic priests... and told this would 'cure' him of his homosexuality. The same happened to at least 10 of his schoolmates." According to the NRC Handelsblad newspaper, which first published the news, the commission created to investigate sex abuse in the church received a complaint about the alleged castration cases in 2010. Dutch justice minister Ivo Opstelten has called the castration allegations "very serious and shocking" and vowed to investigate. Condolences to all, except the evil priests who allegedly subjected their victims to homosexual molestation, then tried to cure their victims' "homosexuality" by surgically removing their testicles (apparently thinking that if the cruel and unusual surgery scared the abused kids into keeping their yaps shut, all the better).

•• Speaking of Catholics in action: Tomorrow will bring a story from Montana, as the Missoulian introduces readers to Rudolph Bullman, a 67-year-old priest at Risen Christ Parish in Kalispell, who stands charged with felony sexual abuse of children after he allegedly resold a Nintendo DS game console from which he'd allegedly failed to remove his cache of child pornography. "Bullman, a retired Libby millworker who entered the Catholic priesthood at the age of 55, faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 if convicted of the charge," reports the Missoulian.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21 In much better news, the week continues in Seattle, where this morning brought the annual Starbucks shareholders' meeting to Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Special guests: representatives from the National Organization for Marriage, the officially designated anti-gay group, which sent representatives to the shareholders' meeting to protest the Starbucks corporation's support of same-sex-marriage rights in Washington State. As the NOM blog puts it, "Does it make sense for an international consumer company to equate its brand with a hot-button moral/culture war issue, when so many of its customers, employees, and vendors around the world disagree?" This question was parroted pretty much verbatim at today's meeting by NOM's Jonathan Baker, and drew a bracingly lucid response from Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz: "I would assure you that the senior team of Starbucks discussed this, and it was, to be candid with you, not something that was a difficult decision for us." Hurrah for Starbucks, and confidential to everyone else: Next time you feel like indulging in premium retail coffee, head directly to the nearest Starbucks and buy the biggest, fruitiest, whip-creamiest thing you can find. Give this drink to the first homeless person you see, then proceed to the nearest independent cafe for a sensible coffee of your own.

THURSDAY, MARCH 22 The week continues where it began—in Toulouse, France, where this morning the hunt for Monday's killer came to a bloody close, as French police commandos ended their 31-hour standoff with suspected gunman Mohammed Merah by fatally shooting the 23-year-old Islamist militant in the head. "Authorities said the young man cited a variety of reasons for the killings, including France's ban on the wearing of Islamic veils, the missions of its troops abroad, and the oppression of Palestinians," reports CNN.

•• Meanwhile in the United States, tomorrow US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales will be charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after allegedly massacring nine Afghan children and eight Afghan adults in Kandahar earlier this month.

FRIDAY, MARCH 23 In much better news, the week continues with National Puppy Day, the annual celebration of puppies (and the perennial need to rescue/house/feed them) that couldn't have come at a better time. After days of massacres and castrations, Last Days is exceedingly grateful to be able to devote today's item to the glory of domesticated dogs, which are willing to bestow a lifetime of unconditional love upon anyone willing to feed them and pick up their poo every day for the rest of their lives. A totally fair trade, says Last Days, who invites readers to behold the beauty of our own little poop factory (pictured above).

SATURDAY, MARCH 24 In much worse news, the week continues in San Diego County, where today Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old Iraqi American woman and mother of five, was taken off life support after being brutally beaten and left for dead inside her Southern California home. "[Alawadi] had been on life support since Wednesday, when her teenage daughter found her unconscious in the living room of their home," reports CNN. "Alawadi's daughter said [a note left beside her mother] threatened the family to go back to Iraq and called them 'terrorists.'" Condolences to all, except the shitbags who did this, who deserve to be tried, convicted, and, perhaps, executed.

SUNDAY, MARCH 25 Speaking of ongoing legal dramas involving tragic death, the week ends in Seattle, where today 2,000 people took to the streets to call for justice in the killing of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African American boy who was shot and killed by 28-year-old George Zimmerman on a residential street in Sanford, Florida, last month. More to come, stay tuned. recommended

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