MONDAY, JUNE 17 This week of shocking progress, insistent women, and career-ruining failures to communicate kicks off in California, where Shasta County sheriff's deputies responded to a call about a potential domestic dispute and wound up with their minds blown. Details come from CNN, which reports the scene played out today in the Northern California city of Redding, where "what began as a verbal fight between family members at some point became physical." By the time cops arrived, they found a 59-year-old man bleeding in the driveway and his son standing nearby, with both his hands cut off at the wrist. "Based on interviews, the sheriff's office alleged that the 27-year-old son stabbed his father multiple times with scissors," reports CNN. "Then, the sheriff's office said in a press release, Jason Dunn mutilated himself by using a radial-arm saw to sever his hands." Perhaps most amazing of all: Despite their life-threatening injuries, both men are still alive. As neighbor Gary Rinehart told CNN, "This is definitely the craziest thing that's ever happened on this street."
TUESDAY, JUNE 18 In worse news, the week continues in Ohio, where three people are facing federal charges after allegedly enslaving a mentally disabled woman and her daughter in subhuman conditions for more than a year. Details come once again from CNN, which identifies the indicted trio as 26-year-old Jordie Callahan, 31-year-old Jessica Hunt, and 33-year-old Daniel Brown, who, according to charging papers, persuaded a woman that they knew "suffered from a cognitive disability and received monthly public assistance payments" to move into their shared Ashland home in May 2011. "Federal prosecutors said the people accused of holding the [mother and daughter]... collected the woman's government benefits and beat her in order to get painkillers for themselves," reports CNN. "They kept her in a room with a free-ranging iguana and ordered her to feed the reptile fruits and vegetables her daughter was denied... Sometimes their captors' pit bulls got table food while they had to eat from cans." Including, allegedly, dog food. By day, the mother and daughter were allegedly made to do manual labor; at night, they were allegedly padlocked inside their shared bedroom. Each member of the trio of suspects has been arrested and charged with forced labor.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 In much better news, the week continues with some shocking progress, thanks to Exodus International, the "Christian ministry" that's spent the past 37 years trying to convince the world that homosexual attraction is a psycho-spiritual affliction that can be overcome through prayer (and is thus undeserving of any and all "special rights"). In the 21st century, Exodus existed mostly as a punch line, thanks to the parade of "ex-gay" spokespeople who steadily reverted back to their natural gay state. (Being "ex-gay" is like riding a unicycle—with focus and practice, you can do it, but it's constant work, you can never just coast, and eventually you just want to get back to your normal, not-on-a-unicycle life.) Anyway, today the ex-gay unicycle fetishists of Exodus International took a huge step forward by announcing their plans to shutter the organization (?!) and effusively apologize to the LGBTQ community (!!!!). "For quite some time we've been imprisoned in a worldview that's neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical," said Exodus president Alan Chambers in statements made on the group's website. "I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated. Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn't change... I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine. More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God's rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God." Right fucking on, Alan Chambers, and may God have mercy on your soul.
•• In much worse news, today James Gandolfini, the American actor best known as Tony Soprano, the murderous mob boss with the psyche of spun sugar in the HBO series The Sopranos, suffered a heart attack and died at age 51. This is terrible, and not even the bazillion brilliant words that have been and will be written in tribute to the man's towering talent will help.
THURSDAY, JUNE 20 In more heartening news, the week continues in Austin, where today the Texas House of Representatives held a committee hearing on HB 60, a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks and close all but five abortion clinics in the largest state in the contiguous United States. On hand for the hearing: more than 300 women, who traveled from around the state to voice their disapproval of the proposed restrictions. However, after seven-plus hours of testimony, the Associated Press reports, State Affairs Committee chairman Representative Byron Cook announced, "The testimony has been impassioned, but it has become repetitive, so I am going to only allow another hour of testimony on this bill." In response, the gathered crowd roared their disapproval so strenuously that Representative Cook fled the room. When he returned, he agreed to hear three more hours of testimony from another 50 women. At 3:40 a.m., the hearing ended, with the more than 10 hours of testimony successfully postponing the vote. Good work, Texas women. (In worse news, conservatives will push the bill through the house next Monday. But, as Last Days went to press, senate Democrats were in the midst of a 13-hour filibuster to block the measure until Texas's special session ends Tuesday at midnight, NBCDFW.com reports.)
FRIDAY, JUNE 21 In stupider news, the week continues with Paula Deen, the soon-to-be-former Food Network host and celebrity diabetic who had a distinctly shitty week. Instigating the shitstorm: a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee, who claims her time spent managing Uncle Bubba's Oyster House, a Savannah restaurant owned by Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers, was rife with sexual harassment and racial slurs. On May 17, Deen sat down for a deposition in the case, during which she admitted that she wasn't above dropping the occasional N-bomb in reference to black people and acknowledged that she considered planning a plantation-themed wedding. Earlier this week, the facts of Deen's deposition hit the internet, and today, Deen issued not one but two apology videos—one a highly edited mess that was quickly taken down, the other an unedited two-minute apologia in which the 66-year-old Deen insisted, "Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me." The end result of all this hubbub: a terse statement from the Food Network, announcing that it "will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month."
SATURDAY, JUNE 22 In worse news, the week continues in Ohio, where today a wing walker was performing on a Stearman biplane at the Vectren Air Show near Dayton when the plane crashed and exploded, killing both wing walker Jane Wicker and the plane's pilot in front of a bunch of onlookers. Condolences to all.
SUNDAY, JUNE 23 The week ends.