The week begins with an unmistakable scent of fetidness, as today the Associated Press reported the story of olfactory assault and animal cruelty in Milwaukee. That's where city police investigated a neighborly complaint of "smells" coming from a three-bedroom south-side home and found 130 cats and one dog. Investigators report that the sinks and bathtubs were filled with cat food and the floor was buried beneath three feet of feces. Even worse, the cats had crawled into the walls, ducts, and ceilings, requiring the house to be condemned by the city. "Once the cats breed inside the walls, it's economically impossible to clean it up," said Martin Collins, head of Milwaukee's Department of Neighborhood Services. "You can imagine what's inside those walls, and what the house is going to smell like forever." Collins told the AP that the house's owner died in 1997, but her adult son returned regularly to feed the animals, all of which appear to be healthy and have been transported to an animal control facility "until authorities can figure out what to do with them."


It's a cycle as natural as ovulation: the trailing of a hot new drug by a bloodcurdling (and usually ridiculous) cautionary tale. From the alleged high-school quarterback who took a single sniff of cocaine and died, to the guy who allegedly got high on drugs then cut off his face and fed it to a dog,* the controlled-substance horror story is a vital component of any drug's cultural reputation, and today the hot new drug of Germany earned its spooky stripes as Ananova news reported on the 18-year-old German guy who drank a hallucinogenic brew made from angel's trumpets plants, then hacked off his tongue and penis with garden shears. Identified only as Andreas W., the 18-year-old student was reportedly "behaving normally the whole day," his mother told reporters, "until he left the house and disappeared into the garden." When her son returned a few minutes later, he was wearing a blood-soaked towel around his waist and was also bleeding heavily from his mouth. An emergency medic was summoned and surmised that neither the tongue nor the wang could be reattached, while a separate doctor at the psychiatric hospital the young man was taken to after the regular hospital confirmed, "Andreas will have to receive psychological help for years."

*This example is not only real--i.e., drawn from actual life--it was taught in high-school health classes in Utah as recently as 2001.


Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the maternity ward: Today brings two new stories of criminal moms. The first comes from Urbana, Ohio, where today Teresa Milbrandt was sentenced to six and a half years in prison after admitting to faking her daughter's leukemia for pity and profit. The Associated Press reports that Teresa Milbrandt shaved her daughter's head and fed her sleeping pills to feign the effects of chemotherapy, then used the girl (who was not only innocent of the ruse, but had been placed in counseling to prepare for death) to bilk an estimated $31,000 in treatment donations from dozens of individuals and businesses. Last month, Teresa Milbrandt pleaded guilty to endangering children, grand theft, and theft alongside her husband/the girl's father, Robert Milbrandt, who received four years and 11 months for child endangerment. The Milbrandts' daughter, now eight, has been placed in a foster home--a much better fate than that visited upon Phillip and Julie Ewing, ages eight and four respectively, found bludgeoned to death in their family's apartment in Las Vegas. According to the AP, after the father of the family left for work on Tuesday morning, mother Sylvia Ewing, 40, took her two young kids to a nearby Wal-Mart and bought a baseball bat. A few hours later, Sylvia Ewing threw herself in front of a speeding tractor-trailer, landing the would-be suicide/alleged kid-killer in the hospital and leading police to the bludgeoned youngsters in the apartment. Nevada police say that if Mrs. Ewing recovers, she will face charges for murder. (Reminder to psychos: If you're going to pull a murder/suicide, do the suicide part first.)


Hot on the heels of iced ex-priest John Geoghan comes another instance of a convicted child molester having a bad time in the big house. Today Middletown, New York's Times Herald-Record reported the holding-cell beating of Robert Sigler, the former superintendent of the Middletown school district sentenced to one to five years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree sodomy in connection with an ongoing relationship with a 14-year-old boy. According to Sigler's lawyer, the attack occurred soon after Sigler was moved from the Orange County Jail to the Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill; placed in a cell with 30 other inmates, the notorious Sigler was soon beaten en masse, suffering several broken bones in his face and bruises from head to toe. Correctional authorities say Sigler will serve out the rest of his sentence at the Elmira Correctional Facility, where he'll be placed in protective custody.


Today Last Days had the iffy pleasure of skimming pop-music glossy/ retarded tit mag Blender, this month featuring an exclusive interview with R&B superstar/ alleged child pornographer R. Kelly, who summed up his season of shame by professing, "Osama bin Laden is the only one who knows exactly what I'm going through." As Scud missiles rained down on Kelly's Chicago mansion, Osama bin Laden announced he was suing for defamation.


Speaking of defamation: Today news agencies around the globe reported on the hot new deck of cards parodying the much-publicized "enemies deck" given to U.S. soldiers hunting Saddam Hussein and other leaders of Iraq's deposed regime. Created by Frenchman Thierry Meyssan, the retort deck focuses on "the 52 most dangerous American officials," including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (the ace of spades), President Bush (the king of diamonds), and Osama bin Laden (the joker). "I found it completely indecent to present a manhunt as a game," said Thierry Meyssan to the Associated Press. "We thought this card game would allow us to... explain why we consider the government of George Bush a threat to international security." Sadly, Meyssan's wise wit is belied by his soiled resumé--specifically, 9/11: The Big Lie, Meyssan's best-selling book that claimed that no plane ever crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, and that the attacks were plotted by a faction within the U.S. military. Still, the cards are funny.


Finally this week: Everyone died, including Tony-winning playwright Herb Gardner, boundary-busting tennis queen Althea Gibson, peerless film and theater director Elia Kazan, suit-wearing singer Robert Palmer, Singing in the Rain star Donald O'Connor, American writer/Paris Review founder George Plimpton, and an unnamed female Army reservist who flew from Iraq to attend her brother's wedding in Kansas, only to be struck and killed by an SUV while walking alongside Kansas' Highway 69.

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