MONDAY, APRIL 7 The week begins with the worst story in the history of the world. Today the Hartford Courant reported the heart-crushing tale of the mentally retarded man in Hartford, CT, who died after being beaten for sport by a trio of thrill-seeking teens. It gets worse: According to eyewitnesses, the three kids--Jermaine Lee, 14, Joseph Bonner, 14, and Ronald Adams, 13--encountered 39-year-old Ricky Whistnant at a corner market last Saturday and "couldn't resist" taunting the mentally retarded man, following him all the way back to his apartment building. In the building's lobby, Whistnant sat on a radiator and prepared to open one of the bottles of soda he'd just purchased. That's when the boys grabbed the soda bottles and hurled them at Whistnant. Witnesses say one of the bottles struck Whistnant in the head, causing him to collapse and strike his head against the wall. "You could see him kind of drop to the ground and then the kids kept pouring soda on him and kicking him," said building superintendent Oscar Negron, who reviewed the incident with police on security videotape. A few hours after the attack, Whistnant died at Hartford Hospital, and today the three teens appeared in court to face charges of first-degree assault on a mentally retarded person and conspiracy to commit first-degree assault on a mentally retarded person--charges that could be upped to manslaughter or murder pending a medical examiner's ruling on the cause of Whistnant's death. Making this tragic story so much sadder are the facts of Whistnant's life: After a horrible young adulthood marred by the accidental death of one brother, the murder of another, and his own perpetual battles with mental illness and retardation, Whistnant was given a state award in 1999 for taking control of his life and learning to be self-sufficient. But nothing could prepare Whistnant for a world where sitting on a radiator to enjoy a soda could get you killed. "For a lot of kids, it's fun to pick on people because you can laugh at them," said a friend of the accused teens to the Hartford Courant. "But they went too far, in my opinion. Way too far."

·· Speaking of man's inhumanity to man: Today Last Days received a deeply impressive Hot Tip from a guy named Bruce, who proposed a controversial yet brilliant remedy to the humanity-draining problem of overpopulation. "The United States should offer a free Camaro to anyone willing to undergo voluntary sterilization," proposes Bruce, handily sweeping aside all concerns of unfair targeting of the lower classes with this unequivocally true statement: "Anyone who'd get sterilized for a Camaro shouldn't be reproducing."

TUESDAY, APRIL 8 Meanwhile in Italy, a 36-year-old man was sentenced to a year in jail after posing as a priest. According to Ananova news, Claudio Goglio, 36, spent six months in Sardinia hosting Sunday Mass, funerals, baptisms, and weddings before being exposed by a legitimate local priest made suspicious by "Father" Goglio's cussing. "I was suspicious of him right from the start," said Father Umberto Derium of Olbia, "especially because he kept swearing and blaspheming, something no real priest would ever do." (Apparently, real priests are too busy distending the anuses of altar boys.) After the Vatican confirmed having no record of Goglio, the fake father was hauled before an Olbian court, which convicted Goglio of fraud. In his defense, Goglio told the court he was on a spiritual mission from God, adding, "I just wanted to help spread the word."

·· Speaking of Godly high jinks: Later this week in Rome, Italian customs officials at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport will seize a three-kilogram parcel containing a Nativity scene made entirely out of cocaine.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9 Today in Baghdad, the regime of Saddam Hussein collapsed.

THURSDAY, APRIL 10 Today in Britain, over one million viewers of the popular British television program This Morning got a gory shock as a professional knife thrower sliced the side of his assistant's head. "Oh my God, there is blood--quick, get her off," shouted presenter Fern Britton after a knife thrown by 23-year-old circus performer Jayde Hanson accidentally struck his 22-year-old assistant/girlfriend, Yana Rodianova, in the head. Apparently Hanson was trying to emulate his world-record-breaking effort by hurling 60 knives at Rodianova in 60 seconds when near-disaster struck. After the accident, a spokesperson for This Morning described Rodianova's wound as "a nick," adding, "She's absolutely fine and recovering well. Still, you don't expect that kind of thing from a world-record holder." As for Rodianova's future prospects, Reuters reports that she has resigned from knife throwing "to concentrate on her Hula-Hoop act."

FRIDAY, APRIL 11 Today in Berlin, a German court ordered a brothel to reimburse a man charged for sex he couldn't remember having. According to Reuters, the john in question testified that he was too drunk to remember what sexual services he may have ordered at a brothel in Kaarst. But after the brothel charged him 9,000 euros on his credit card, the man took the matter to the authorities. "The brothel failed to provide concrete documentation of the prices and services provided," said court spokesperson Vera Huth to Reuters. "They should have, for example, listed two sexual intercourse sessions at 600 euros, oral sex at 300 euros, or anal sex at 400 euros a go." The court agreed, and Herr Drunkypants was reimbursed for the complete amount.

SATURDAY, APRIL 12 Today in New York City, the war against smoking in bars and restaurants claimed its first casualty, as Dana Blake, a 32-year-old bouncer in an East Village nightclub, tried to eject an unruly, unrepentant smoker and was fatally stabbed.

SUNDAY, APRIL 13 The week ends with a little bit of good news, as U.S. Marines today found seven missing U.S. troops on the road between Baghdad and Tikrit.

U!S!A! Send your Hot Tips to lastdays@the