The Week in Review
MONDAY, AUGUST 29 This week of religious bigotry, sexy plastic, and zero fatal bear maulings (for real this time) kicks off with Warren Jeffs, the leader and alleged prophet of the Mormon splinter group the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who was recently sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of child rape. Today, Jeffs's jailhouse life took a turn for the macabre, as various news outlets reported the 55-year-old Jeffs had fallen into a coma. Clues to the coma's cause were scattered around the media, from the ABC News report that Jeffs had been fasting for the past three days to the Daily's report on Jeffs's jailhouse habit of masturbating 15 times a day. Whatever the case, Jeffs ended today at the East Texas Medical Center in Tyler, where he will be listed in "critical but stable condition." Tomorrow, NPR will report that Jeffs was never in a coma but had been sedated, "pharmacologically paralyzed," and placed on a ventilator as part of his treatment for pneumonia.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 30 The week continues with an alleged religious leader who still has the power to hurt someone other than himself—the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, who devoted a portion of his radio show yesterday to arguing for the recriminalization of homosexuality. Transcript comes from Right Wing Watch: "By the time of the founding until the late 20th century, homosexual activity was a felony offense in the United States of America," said Fischer, who literally believes that Ellen DeGeneres belongs not on daytime television but in prison. "There is no reason why it cannot be a criminal offense once again, absolutely none."
••Speaking of Bryan Fischer, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy recently took to the Huffington Post to decry exactly Fischer's type of alleged religion on the grounds that it debases God. The named target of Reverend Gaddy's righteous rancor was the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, who "earlier this month... called the 'It Gets Better' campaign 'disgusting,'" as Gaddy writes. "He said it is 'appalling' to let young people who are targeted by bullying know that they are supported and that they will get through hard times. Apparently, the worst sin, from Perkins' perspective, is that this message of hope was supported by President Obama. Perkins characterized it as the president 'telling school children that it's okay to be immoral.' Where is his religious conscience?... Mr. Perkins, I know what you think of me. Now let me tell you what I think of you: You are a bully of the worst kind. You wrap your hateful, venomous rhetoric in the American flag and claim it rests on the word of God." More of this, please.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31 In lighter news, here's a 21st-century love story from Hamilton, Ohio, where a 32-year-old man is in custody after allegedly engaging in sexual activity with a pink inflatable swimming pool raft. Details come from the Cincinnati Enquirer, which identifies the alleged raft romancer as Edwin Tobergta, who was arrested this past weekend after he was spotted getting busy with the raft in an alley. "A male witness, who owns the raft and lives in the home near the alley... shouted at the suspect to stop," reports the Enquirer, citing the police report. "Tobergta took the raft and fled... 'Defendant advised officers that he was doing it but only because he has a problem and that he needs help and please don't send him to prison but send him somewhere to get help,' the report reads." Mr. Tobergta's plea for help was echoed by his grandmother, who today told the Enquirer, "He has a lot of mental problems and he's always had a fascination for plastic. That's just it. That's all of it. We never could get the proper care for Edwin."
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 In darker news, today brings a story from DuPont, Washington, where this morning a truck driver pulled over to the side of the road and straight into a David Lynch movie. Details come from KIRO, which identifies the driver as John C. Davis, a Portland man who was unexpectedly forced to pull onto the shoulder of I-5 near the Nisqually River after the trailer he was towing got a flat tire. "Davis was on the shoulder of the freeway when he saw a woman crawl over the guardrail from a swamp area," reports KIRO. "She was in her underwear." "I got closer and I noticed she was soaking wet, scarred up and bruised from head to toe, shivering," said Davis to KIRO. "She kept saying that it hurt and she's sore, and she was hungry so I gave her the food I had and some water." Davis then called state troopers, who took the 23-year-old Centralia woman, who was suffering from hypothermia, to St. Clare Hospital, where she's expected to make a full recovery. As for how she came to be wandering seminude through a swamp: "Troopers said the woman told them she was with a man who left her on nearby Mounts Road, so she apparently tried to make her way through a thick, swampy forested area." Whatever the case, three cheers for heroic trucker John C. Davis.
"No one stopped to help," Washington State trooper Guy Gill told KIRO. "We got several reports of [the swamp-wandering woman], but no one stopped. He's the guy that stopped to help."
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 The week continues another day without a fatal bear mauling, which Last Days will celebrate by reporting on the 90-year-old woman who was nonfatally mauled by an alligator. As BBC News reports, the nonfatal mauling occurred Wednesday in rural Copeland, Florida, where Margaret Webb was attacked by an eight-foot alligator, which nearly severed her leg. A helpful neighbor caused the gator to flee by shooting it in the eye, and Ms. Webb had her leg amputated in a hospital in Naples, where she remains in critical condition.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3 Nothing happened today, unless you count the Tea Party's "Restoring America" rally in Indianola, Iowa, where failed Alaskan governor Sarah Palin rallied the troops (once they agreed to disinvite younger, witchier Tea Party darling Christine O'Donnell). "As the crowd braved driving rain... Palin attacked the 'crony capitalism' she said was destroying the U.S. and a 'permanent political class' that reinforced it," reports the Guardian. "But she stopped short of answering the big question about whether the purpose of her tour was a run at the White House or an increase in book sales." Stay tuned. Or not.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 The week ends with a tragic love story in the sky, brought to us by the Daily Mail. Our lovers: Vanessa Preechakul and Robert Rippingale, who were on an 11-hour flight from Singapore to Auckland, New Zealand. "Mr. Rippingale, 31, was taking Miss Preechakul, a 27-year-old architect, to meet his parents and explore his native New Zealand," reports the Daily Mail. "An hour and a half into the flight with Jetstar, the crew began serving dinner. Mr. Rippingale chose a beef dish and was eating it while watching an in-flight movie." Then trouble struck: "I thought he was laughing very hard," Miss Preechakul told reporters. "Then I looked at his face and his eyes were rolling and he couldn't talk. His lips were turning purple." Mr. Rippingale was apparently choking on something lodged in his throat, and despite the best CPR efforts of a doctor and two nurses found among the passengers, he was soon pronounced dead. "His body was then moved to the crew rest area, where it was covered with a blanket," reports the Daily Mail. "Miss Preechakul did not want to leave him and was given permission to sit with him for the remaining nine hours of the flight."
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