The Week in Review
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26 This week of Metro-based malevolence, Islamic idiocy, and alleged hometown hate crimes kicks off today with Trent Lott, the Republican senator from Mississippi who abruptly announced his plan to retire from the Senate by the end of year. "It's time for [me] to do something else," said Lott at a D.C. press conference. In entirely unrelated news, this afternoon will bring this official pronouncement from professional male escort Benjamin Nicholas: "I have [never] seen or had contact with Senator Trent Lott," wrote Nicholas on his website. Tomorrow, we will learn that the self-professed rent boy's earlier statements were enticingly different. "Trent is going through his fair share of scrutiny right now and I don't want to add to it," wrote Nicholas—apparently on a first-name basis with a man he'd never met—to the Washington D.C.-based blogger. "All I can say at this point is no comment."
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27 The week continues with a galling saga from the streets of Seattle. The instigator: Luis Arturo Vazquez, the 20-year-old Kent man who first attracted the attention of law enforcement on Saturday night, after he was ejected from Husky Stadium during the Apple Cup. Following his ejection, Vazquez reportedly tried to force his way onto a Metro bus, at which point state troopers arrived and were nearly driven to subdue the aggressively belligerent Vazquez with Taser stun guns. Instead, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports, cops opted to place Vazquez in the taxicab driven by Sukhvir Singh, a 48-year-old Seattle man and observant Sikh. As the P-I reports, "Sikhism is the fifth-largest world religion, with about 10,000 followers in Seattle. As part of their faith, Sikhs do not trim their body hair and wrap hair on their heads under a turban." Perhaps the turban is what set off Vazquez. According to police reports, as Singh was driving Vazquez home, the latter launched into a tirade of epithets and allegedly began punching, choking, and biting Singh, whom Vazquez reportedly called an "Iraqi terrorist" before knocking off his turban and tearing out clumps of his hair. When Singh tried to flee, the beating continued in the road, with numerous eyewitnesses on a nearby Metro bus calling 911 to report the attack. Today, Vazquez was charged with third-degree assault and malicious harassment—the state's hate-crime charge—for which he faces up to a year in jail. As for Singh: He was briefly hospitalized for injuries including a concussion and bite marks on his head; according to friends, he has not been able to stop vomiting since the assault. He's not alone.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28 Speaking of ridiculous bullshit derailing the lives of people who are just trying to do their damn jobs: Today brings the stupid saga of Gillian Gibbons, the British schoolteacher working in Sudan, who stands accused of insulting religion and inciting hatred after allowing her elementary-school class to name a teddy bear Muhammad. Details come from the Associated Press, which reports the 54-year-old Gibbons faces 40 lashes and six months in prison. Tomorrow, Gibbons will be sentenced to 15 days in jail (while numerous Sudanese citizens call for her execution). On Monday, Gibbons will be pardoned, and on Tuesday, she'll fly safely home to England. "I have a great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone," said Gibbons. "I am very sorry that I will be unable to return to Sudan."
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29 Nothing happened today, unless you count Al Jazeera's airing of a new message from Osama bin Laden, who called on Europeans to stop helping the U.S. in the war in Afghanistan. "The American tide is ebbing," said bin Laden. "So it is best for you to press your leaders to change their policies." Wise words from a world-class psycho.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30 The week continues with instance number one of the aforementioned Metro-based malevolence. To be fair, the malevolence occurred not on Metro proper but near Metro bus stops, where at least four women have been sexually assaulted in the past 10 days. Details come from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which identifies the prime suspect as a twentysomething African-American man, 6 feet tall, 160 pounds, in a gray hoodie and blue jeans, who apparently targets Asian women—three in their 30s, one in her 40s, all in South Seattle. On November 20, the unnamed assailant snuck up behind two women at a bus stop and forcefully groped them. On Monday, he repeated the deed with a third woman, and on Wednesday, he took it up a notch, dragging a woman into a dark driveway where he fondled her and stole her wallet. "He's definitely becoming more violent and more aggressive," said police spokeswoman Renee Witt to the P-I.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1 Speaking of beleaguered women, today brings Metro-based malevolence instance number two, from the pages of the Seattle Times. At the center of today's story: Carmen Rollins and Will Hendershott, a pair of 17-year-olds suing the city of Seattle over the physical and emotional trauma they suffered on a Metro bus. The incident in question transpired on May 22, 2005, when Rollins and Hendershott boarded a number 7 bus in downtown Seattle. At Rainier Avenue and Alaska Street, the pair was joined by a rowdy group of 25 to 30 teenagers, who shouted profanities and exchanged punches before turning their attention to Rollins and Hendershott, who say the group "jumped" the pair, threatened to rape Ms. Rollins, and punched both of them in the face. At the next stop, the group pulled the couple out the rear door and the beatings continued on the street. This week brought the start of Rollins and Hendershott vs. the City of Seattle, with the jury trial taking place in King County Superior Court. The plaintiffs allege that the Metro driver failed to follow established protocols that could have helped prevent the attack (such as refusing entry to rowdy riders) and neglected to call for police help throughout the loud and obvious attack. On Thursday, the 53-year-old driver (who is not named in the suit) testified that he didn't see the beating and never heard Rollins or Hendershott call for help. The trial will continue through next week. As for the victims: They are seeking an undetermined amount of damages, and Rollins has reportedly been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. But as the Times reports, "She's taking college courses and working, and soon she might not have to ride the bus if she doesn't want to. 'I'm getting driving lessons for Christmas,' she said." Condolences to Carmen Rollins, and congratulations to Metro for driving a devoted rider into the arms of the automobile industry.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 2 Nothing happened today.
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