The Week in Review
MONDAY, JANUARY 21 This week of multitasking musicians, ambivalent stickups, and mercilessly busted grandmas kicks off with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the federal holiday honoring the man who, in the words of comedian Hari Kondabolu, has mysteriously morphed in the public consciousness "from a revolutionary civil rights leader the FBI feared into a teddy bear that only says 'I Have a Dream' when you pull its string." But the pointed spirit of the man was kept alive across the United States, from Washington State, where thousands marched in support of the man and his ideals, to Washington, DC, where President Barack Obama was inaugurated into his second term and delivered a speech championing the central tenet of King's legendary dream. "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall," spoke the president at today's ceremony, eloquently linking the struggle for women's suffrage, the African American civil rights movement, and the fight for gay equality. The significance of this linkage was described well by the New York Times' Frank Bruni: "The causes of gay Americans and black Americans haven't always existed in perfect harmony, and that context is critical for appreciating Obama's reference to Stonewall alongside Selma. Blacks have sometimes questioned gays' use of 'civil rights' to describe their own movement, and have noted that the historical experiences of the two groups aren't at all identical. Obama moved beyond that, focusing on the shared aspirations of all minorities. It was a bighearted, deliberate, compelling decision." (Thank you, Frank Bruni.)
•• Speaking of newsworthy Brunis: Today also brings the story of Gregory Bruni, the 21-year-old man in Fort Myers, Florida, who was arrested today after allegedly carousing naked on the roof of someone's house, falling off the roof onto one of the house-dwellers, then running into the house, pulling a 72-inch television off the wall, knocking over a wet/dry vacuum and attempting to suck the spilled contents from the carpet with his mouth, masturbating in the living room, and defecating in a hallway before his rampage was stopped by a policeman's Taser. Taken to a hospital for "observation," Bruni faces charges of "damage to property, burglary, battery, and resisting an officer," reports Southern Florida's News-Press.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 22 The week continues with the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. According to a new poll conducted by NBC/Wall Street Journal, "a majority of Americans—for the first time—believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases," reports NBC. "What's more, 7 in 10 respondents oppose Roe v. Wade being overturned, which is the highest percentage on this question since 1989." Believed to be helping fuel the widespread support: the past year's plethora of ridiculous statements from Republican lawmakers, from doubting the ability of a "legitimately raped" body to become impregnated, to discussing basic contraception in terms that predate the Industrial Revolution. "Much of this change, the NBC/WSJ pollsters say, is coming from African Americans, Latinos, and women without college degrees—all of whom increasingly oppose the Supreme Court decision being overturned," reports NBC.
•• Meanwhile in Indonesia: A British grandmother who was caught last year at a Bali airport with eight pounds of cocaine in her luggage was today sentenced to death by firing squad. "Lindsay June Sandiford, 56, wept when judges handed down the sentence," reports the Associated Press. "She had claimed in court that she was forced to take the drugs into the country by a gang that was threatening to hurt her children." Nevertheless, a panel of Denpasar District Court judges concluded that Sandiford "had damaged the image of Bali as a tourism destination and weakened the government's drug prevention program," and therefore must be shot to death. Sandiford is planning to appeal, and the British Parliament is pressing Foreign Secretary William Hague to intervene. Stay tuned (and don't take any coke in or out of Bali).
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23 The week continues with a heart-tugging story of hunger, desperation, and kindness in Billings, Montana, where last night a masked man entered a Papa John's pizza outlet and passed the cashier a note demanding money. "The cashier started to comply, but then the intruder broke down crying, saying he needed to rob the store for his wife and child," reports the Billings Gazette. Instead of money, the employee gave the would-be robber some pizza, wings, and soda to go. "While the man was sitting waiting for the food, a large knife fell out of his pocket," reports the Gazette. "The man took the food and drink and left the area on foot." Police are looking for the suspect, but are unsure if he'll be charged with any crime.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 24 The week continues in Washington, DC, where today the Pentagon lifted its ban on sending female soldiers to front-line combat. "They serve, they're wounded, and they die right next to each other," said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who cosigned today's order rescinding the ban. "The time has come to recognize that reality." Congratulations and be careful, military women. (And confidential to the Pentagon: Now that you've got this off your plate, please move on the problems raised by Kirby Dick's The Invisible War.)
FRIDAY, JANUARY 25 In lighter news, the week continues with the beguiling story of Robert Mawhinney, the 30-year-old leader of the rock band Lights Over Paris, whose website describes the band's music as "a mix of melodic rock hooks with pulsating dance rhythms and a taste of hip hop." But it's Mawhinney's alleged nonmusical doings that finally earned him an international spotlight, as the US Attorney's Office accused him of funding his lavish rock lifestyle with millions of dollars of bogus bank loans. "Mawhinney allegedly obtained four loans amounting to $6.25 million from Comerica Bank and then defaulted," reports CNN. "He allegedly applied for loans by submitting phony brokerage statements showing he had almost $8 million in assets, but the real statements showed less than $10,000 in the brokerage accounts... The bank lost about $6 million." Charged with making a false statement in a loan application, Mawhinney faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 26 Nothing happened today, unless you count the $68,000 worth of gift cards handed out during today's gun buyback event in Seattle, which is covered by Stranger news writer Goldy on page 12, or the horrific nightclub fire that killed more than 200 people in Brazil, which was covered everywhere, and so awful.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 27 The week ends with another goddamn shooting, this one here in Seattle, at the Central District bar the Twilight Exit, where some gun-wielding psycho shot two people (nonfatally, thank God) before being shot by cops (fatally, and good riddance).