The Week in Review
MONDAY, DECEMBER 17 The week begins where we left off last week: Newtown, Connecticut, where a well-armed nutjob fatally shot 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, instigating nationwide mourning, unspeakable grief, and a furious push for gun control that feels like it might actually go somewhere. Today the powers that be in Washington, DC, entered the fray, with President Obama promising new gun-control legislation and two Democratic senators—Joe Manchin and Mark Warner—publicly renouncing their long-standing support for gun rights. "Manchin, in particular, was a surprise," reports the Guardian, noting that the senator from West Virginia "uses a picture of himself holding a rifle in his campaign literature, is backed by the National Rifle Association, and, to publicise his opposition to trade legislation, once fired a shot through a copy of the bill." As Senator Manchin will tell MSNBC's Joe Scarborough this morning, "It's time to move beyond rhetoric—we need action. I don't know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle. I don't know anyone that needs 30 rounds to go hunting... these are things that need to be talked about." Manchin found a sympathetic ear on the side of the head of Scarborough, who also reversed his long-standing support for gun rights in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. "I knew that day that the ideologies of my past career were no longer relevant to the future that I want, that I demand for my children," said Scarborough on today's Morning Joe show. "Friday changed everything. It must change everything... Our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-style, high- caliber, semiautomatic combat assault rifles with high-capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want."
••Speaking of potentially meaningful change: Tomorrow, the investment firm Cerberus Capital Management will announce its sale of the Freedom Company (manufacturer of the Bushmaster rifle used in the Connecticut school shootings). And on Wednesday, President Obama will announce the formation of a task force to prevent gun violence, which will create a package of policy recommendations by January under the guidance of Vice President Joe Biden.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18 In lighter news, the week continues with not one but two stories of celebrity-based crime. Story number one stars Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera, and Mila Kunis, all of whom were among the more than 50 celebrities who had their e-mail hacked by Christopher Chaney, the Jacksonville, Florida, man who was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison for wiretapping and unauthorized access to a computer. "Chaney... was arrested in October 2011 as part of a year-long FBI investigation of celebrity hacking that authorities dubbed 'Operation Hackerazzi,'" reports the BBC. "Chaney admitted he hacked into the personal e-mails of his targets by clicking on the 'forgot password' feature of their accounts and answering security questions by using publicly available information about celebrities that he found on the internet." Condolences, congratulations, and thanks to Johansson, Aguilera, and Kunis, who "agreed to waive protection of their identity in order to highlight the issues surrounding such internet hacking."
••Meanwhile in Los Angeles, today brought the arrest of an unidentified juvenile in a series of incidents involving "swatting," described by the Los Angeles Times as the sending of calls or electronic messages to police to "prompt a tactical response including call-outs of SWAT officers." LAPD investigators say they have strong evidence linking the boy to several incidents of swatting, involving such stars as Ashton Kutcher and Justin Bieber, both of whose homes were targeted for "joke" SWAT team investigations. "We take these incidents very seriously because of the tremendous potential for something tragic to occur," said LAPD commander Andrew Smith. "We are working with the city attorney's office to see if the parents of this boy can be held financially responsible for the cost of the police response."
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19 Speaking of people being held financially responsible for things, the week continues with Sheena Monnin, a former Miss Pennsylvania who earlier this year alleged that the Miss USA contest was fixed and has now been ordered to pay $5 million for defamation. Details come from the Associated Press, which reports that "Monnin had alleged that the five finalists had been selected in advance of the pageant's live telecast... In a decision signed last week, an arbitrator found that the comments from Miss Pennsylvania USA Sheena Monnin were false, harmful and malicious." Arbitrator Theodore Katz wrote, "She was a disgruntled contestant who failed to make it past the preliminary competition," also noting that the way the contest is judged "precludes any reasonable possibility that the judging was rigged." Unfortunately for Monnin, her reckless allegations—which were repeated on Facebook and the Today show—cost the pageant a $5 million fee from a potential sponsor, thus laying the groundwork for today's crushing judgment. Poor sports never win.
••Meanwhile on the Las Vegas strip, tonight brought the Miss Universe pageant, which was won by Miss USA Olivia Culpo.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20 Meanwhile in actual news, today the general assembly of the United Nations unanimously approved a resolution "calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation, a centuries-old practice stemming from the belief that circumcising girls controls women's sexuality and enhances fertility," the Associated Press reports. The World Health Organization estimates that 6,000 girls are circumcised every day. It reports: "The resolution, adopted Thursday by consensus, calls the practice harmful and a serious threat to the psychological, sexual, and reproductive health of women and girls. It calls on the UN's 193 member states to condemn the practice and launch education campaigns to eliminate it."
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21 Nothing happened today, unless you count the world-ending apocalypse allegedly presaged by the Mayan calendar, which failed to materialize. Also, happy birthday to American actress Jane Fonda (born on this day in 1937), American actor Samuel L. Jackson (1948), American athlete Florence Griffith Joyner (1959), and French writer/director/actress Julie Delpy (1969).
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22 Thanks to the magic of Christmas deadlines, Last Days must report on today before it even happens. As of this writing, our crystal ball predicts nothing happened today, including but not limited to: gun massacres, male politicians making stupid statements about women's bodies, and Lindsay Lohan murdering a judge.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23 See above.
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