MONDAY, NOVEMBER 15 This week of things, things, and other things kicks off with quiet horror, instilled by the new Department of Agriculture report on the state of American hunger. "The number of Americans fighting off hunger stayed level last year, though food insecurity rates remain the highest they have been since the federal government began keeping track 15 years ago," reports CNN, before explaining how one measures food insecurity: "People responded to questions such as their ability to afford balanced meals, whether they adjusted the size of meals due to lack of money, or if they ever went hungry due to a lack of financial resources." The findings: "About 14.7 percent of U.S. households... had difficulty feeding one or more of their members at some point last year due to lack of financial resources." As Bethany Jean Clement noted on Slog, the Stranger blog, the "one or more" stipulation "cannot help but make you think of a parent going hungry to feed children. It is just heartbreaking." Indeed. If you're among the lucky for whom these hard times don't require key deprivations, now's the time to help those not so lucky. Donate to Northwest Harvest at www.northwestharvest.org.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16 In more garishly upsetting news, the week continues with some ongoing hubbub in Colorado, where yesterday a pair of Australian twins with an apparent shared interest in Columbine and suicide visited a Denver gun range—and only one came out alive. Details come from the Associated Press, which identifies the twin sisters as 29-year-old Kristin and Candice Hermeler, who'd traveled from Australia to the Denver area about five weeks ago, living uneventful lives until yesterday, when they took a taxi from their hotel to Cherry Creek State Park, where they visited the Family Shooting Center and promptly proved the name true. "Investigators said they rented handguns and shot themselves in the head," reports the AP. "Surveillance video captured the incident. It showed the sisters falling out of the stall about a half-second apart, with other patrons quickly reacting." Follow-up reports will mention the sisters' odd fixation on Columbine, with a 1999 Time magazine featuring the Columbine killers on its cover found among their possessions and their shootings occurring just 20 miles from Columbine High. But as surviving twin Candice Hermeler will tell investigators, she didn't care about Columbine, and she and her sister had merely wanted to simultaneously end their lives at a Colorado gun range. Candice Hermeler remained hospitalized in serious condition with a head wound.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17 Today brings a ridiculously awful story from Tacoma, where a mother in recovery tried to help a daughter in pain and wound up accused of accidentally killing the 12-year-old girl. Details come from KIRO, which identifies the mom as a 47-year-old recovering heroin addict who travels daily from Tacoma to Seattle to get her recovery-enabling dose of methadone, and her daughter as a 12-year-old who'd been complaining of pain from a knee injury. "Methadone can be used for pain treatment, so [the mom] decided to share what she had with her daughter," Tacoma police officer Mark Fulghum told KIRO, which confirms that the dose was enough to kill the girl, with toxicology tests revealing that the girl died of acute methadone intoxication. After initially denying the deed, the mother eventually confessed to supplying her daughter with the medication and was ordered held on $500,000 bail. (Know what makes recovery from heroin addiction 50 million times harder? Accidentally killing your daughter with methadone. Condolences to all.)
••In much better news, tonight the peerless poet, songwriter, and performer Patti Smith won a National Book Award, claiming the prize for best nonfiction for Just Kids, her memoir of her beyond-formative relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in '60s/'70s New York. Congratulations to Patti Smith and the nation.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18 The week continues with a high-drama tale of criminal doings in the Pacific Northwest art world. Our criminal: Kurt Lidtke, the former Seattle art gallery owner who today pleaded guilty to conspiracy and transporting stolen art across state lines. As the Seattle Times reports, this isn't Lidtke's first dance with crime and punishment: "In 2007, Lidtke was sentenced to 40 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $400,000 in restitution after he pleaded guilty to nine felony theft charges in a plea bargain." While incarcerated, Lidtke hatched his next plot: commissioning a burglar he met in prison to rob wealthy art owners he'd met during his years running a Pioneer Square gallery. "During phone conversations with [an] undercover FBI employee, Lidtke is reported to have said the state Department of Corrections had offered him a business opportunity by locking him up 'with a bunch of criminals,'" reports the Seattle Times. "Lidtke, once a trusted Seattle art dealer, knew who had valuable collections." Lidtke took a plea deal, and he now faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Sentencing is scheduled for February 11.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19 Today brings the mandatory weekly roundup of hideous doings by the Seattle Police Department. Notable components of the week: a video obtained by KIRO allegedly showing a Seattle police officer kicking a cooperating juvenile suspect in the groin, chest, and head; evidence of discrepancies between the video and police reports; and another video, this one obtained by KOMO, allegedly showing the aforementioned groin-kicking officer "in a violent confrontation with a citizen shortly after participating in [the] arrest that caused him to be suspended as part of an excessive force investigation." The SPD has announced the possible use of an outside agency to officially investigate the incident(s), the ACLU says it will push for a federal investigation of the SPD's alleged civil-rights violations, and the citizens of Seattle are disgusted. For the full story, see page 11.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20 The week continues with a bracing story of heroic citizenship and crappy dog ownership from the shores of Lake Washington, where today a man risked his life to save a stranger from an attacking pit bull. As KING 5 reports, Katelynn Doolittle was jogging when "a pit bull got away from its owner and attacked her. She was bitten five times. Matt Loyd saw what happened and ran to help her. He blocked the dog so she could get away, getting bitten in the process." "I just freaked out 'cause... there was no stopping this dog," Doolittle told KING 5. "I probably would have been torn to shreds if Matt hadn't come up." No word yet on possible charges against the owner or possible punishment against the dog.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21 Nothing happened today, unless you count light snow and the final blissful day before Seattle's tragic random hatchet murder of 2010.
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