The Week in Review
MONDAY, MARCH 25 This week of civil rights landmarks, North Korean threats, and the sad passing of a Seattle icon kicks off in Wedgwood, the Seattle neighborhood that today played host to unimaginable horror, as a pair of new grandparents out for a walk with their daughter-in-law and 10-day-old grandson were struck by what police believe was a repeat-offender drunk driver. "Judy and Dennis Schulte, who recently moved to Washington from Indiana to be with their first grandchild, were killed in the collision," reports KING 5 News. "Their daughter-in-law, Karina Ulriksen-Schulte, and 10-day-old grandson, Elias, are still in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center." As for the driver: On Thursday, King County prosecutors will file two counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular assault, and one count of reckless driving against 50-year-old Mark W. Mullan, whose blood alcohol level was reportedly three times the legal limit at the time of his arrest. Having previously pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in Seattle and with a pending DUI case in Snohomish County, Mullan faces almost 20 years in prison if convicted of the new charges.
TUESDAY, MARCH 26 In better news, the week continues in New York at the intersection of heavy metal and alleged insurance fraud. Details come from Reuters, which identifies today's protagonist as Christopher Inserra, a 31-year-old Port Authority officer who filed for disability from June 2010 till March 2012 after reportedly injuring his right arm on the job. In an interesting twist, the debilitating arm injury that enabled Officer Inserra to claim disability while continuing to collect his $90,000 annual salary didn't seem to affect Inserra's side career as the singer of the heavy metal band Cousin Sleaze, which continued to perform and tour throughout his season of "disability," with videos posted to Facebook and YouTube reportedly showing a muscular, tank-topped Inserra doing all sorts of amazing things with his allegedly injured arm. According to his signed affidavit, US postal inspector John McDermott saw Inserra onstage "flailing both of his arms in a rapid back and forth fashion" and also "repeatedly and violently flailing his right arm in an up and down fashion from above his head to slightly above the ground level," noting that the "flailing of his right arm... would be inconsistent with the degree of pain and discomfort that he complained of." Today, Inserra was charged with mail fraud "in connection with a scheme to defraud the American Family Life Assurance Company of New York out of $30,416 in disability payments," reports Reuters. Pending resolution of the case, Officer Inserra has been suspended without pay.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27 In even better news, the week continues in Washington, DC, where today the US Supreme Court entered its second day of arguments about the constitutionality of denying same-sex couples the right to marry. Among the notable components of the hearings: retrograde discussions about the connection between marriage and procreation, forward-thinking discussion about the effect that the denial of marriage rights has on the kids of same-sex couples, and some reputation-sealing duncery from Justice Antonin Scalia ("When did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexuals from marriage?"). For a more detailed account of today's court dealings, we turn to Jeffrey Toobin, who wrote in the New Yorker: "Paul Clement, who was representing the House Republicans and defending DOMA, was cruising along. He was portraying DOMA as almost a kind of housekeeping measure, designed to keep federal law consistent across all 50 states. As Clement told it, there was almost no ideological content to the law at all. Then Justice Elena Kagan swiftly and elegantly lowered the boom on him. She said, 'Well, is what happened in 1996—and I'm going to quote from the House Report here—is that "Congress decided ... to express moral disapproval of homosexuality."' A collective woo went through the audience. Kagan had the temerity to tell what everyone knew to be the truth—that DOMA was a bigoted law designed to humiliate and oppress gay people. Clement, an eloquent advocate in oral arguments, was reduced to stammering like Ralph Kramden. He said that was not enough to invalidate the law: 'Look, we are not going to strike down a statute just because a couple of legislators may have had an improper motive.' But suddenly it was clear. No one could deny that there was an improper motive—anti-gay prejudice—underlying DOMA." Stay tuned (the justices are believed to deliver a ruling by June).
THURSDAY, MARCH 28 The week continues in North Korea, where today the United States flew two stealth bombers over the Korean Peninsula as part of a military drill, inspiring Kim Jong-un to threaten impending attacks on US targets. "North Korea is not thought to have the technology to strike the US mainland with either a nuclear weapon or a ballistic missile, but it is capable of targeting some US military bases in Asia with its mid-range missiles," reports BBC News. As a senior US defense official will tell CNN tomorrow, "We have no indications at this point that it's anything more than warmongering rhetoric."
FRIDAY, MARCH 29 In sadder news, the week continues with Cheryl Chow, the exemplary Seattle citizen who worked as a teacher, a principal, a Seattle School Board member, a Seattle City Council member, and a coach for the Seattle Chinese Community Girls Drill Team (for nearly 50 years!), and who today passed away after a long battle with brain cancer. As Last Days readers may recall, last year the 66-year-old Chow ended six decades of careful silence by coming out as lesbian. As Chow told KING 5 at the time: "Parents and kids, don't be afraid of saying that you're gay. I was afraid for over 60 years, and those 60 years were wasted. If I can save one child from feeling bad or even committing suicide because they felt terrible because they were gay, then I would have succeeded in my last crusade." And as Last Days wrote at the time: "It's one thing to come out if you're some up-and-coming Hollywood star who fell in love at first sight with Ellen or a beloved CNN anchor looking to get a jump on your inevitable outing. But to do it as brain cancer is ending your life and affecting your speech, and to offer yourself up as a glamour-free object lesson so others might live better, is heroism." Thank you, Cheryl Chow, who is survived by her partner of 10 years, Sarah Morningstar, and their 4-year-old daughter, Liliana.
SATURDAY, MARCH 30 Nothing happened today, unless you count the birthdays of ear-averse Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (born on this day in 1853), American blues master Sonny Boy Williamson (1914), Brazilian bossa nova master Astrud Gilberto (1940), terrible musician/terrific dancer MC Hammer (1962), and terrific musician/terrible dancer Tracy Chapman (1964).
SUNDAY, MARCH 31 Nothing happened today, unless you count the warmest, most beautiful day in Seattle this year (which also happened to be a religious holiday celebrating the alleged resurrection of God's son).