The week began with a mangled mew as the Rocky Mountain News reported the latest casualty in Colorado's ongoing cat holocaust. Yesterday, Denver police discovered the body of yet another mutilated cat, bringing the total number of cats killed in the Denver area over the past year to 39. Police declined to release specifics about the condition of their latest find, but in most of the previous cases, the cats have been sliced open, with their internal organs removed. Denver's not the only city harboring a psycho with a hankering for handpicked cat gut--police in Salt Lake City are investigating a string of a dozen or so similar kitty mutilations. Authorities in both cities say they are taking the crimes extremely seriously, in part because animal mutilation is one of three childhood symptoms that criminologists have pegged as major danger signals that a child could grow up to be a serial killer. (The other two: bed-wetting and fire-starting.)


Meanwhile in the Great Northwest, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ripped the lid off Seattle's own hidden menace: bingo addiction. "People are surprised about bingo addiction," said Seattle-based clinical psychologist Chuck Maurer to the P-I's M. L. Lyke. "But one person's beer is another's shot of vodka." Key to bingo's addictive allure is the game's benign reputation; with its slow pace, low stakes, and widespread sanction by organizations known for judgmental restrictions (churches, kids' groups), bingo shares little with the more infamous, obviously narcotic games of chance. But as Gary Hanson, executive director of the Council on Problem Gambling, told the P-I, "The people with problems are the escapists who [play bingo] to get mesmerized, to go into their own little world"--a world populated with oversized daubers, intricate rituals, and an array of "attendant magic," from fuzzy good-luck charms to voodoo-level superstitions. Putting a human face on the horrors of bingo addiction was Nancy, a Seattle-area legal secretary whose lighthearted interest in bingo in the 1970s morphed into a harrowing, all-encompassing, dauber-wielding monkey on her back by the 1990s. Armed with a lumpy stuffed elephant and pictures of her kids arranged in an "I love bingo" frame, Nancy found herself hitting four $80 bingo sessions a day, playing seven cards at a time, getting cash advances on credit cards, and running up thousands of dollars of debt. Meanwhile, Nancy's husband worked overtime as a Boeing engineer, unable to understand why they had to refinance the house just to make ends meet. At long last, Nancy hit bottom with a 24-hour binge that finally freaked out her family and landed Nancy in Gamblers Anonymous, who inspired the bingo junkie to trash her lumpy elephant and pro-bingo picture frame, change her driving route to avoid any and all bingo halls, and live a clean, bingo-free existence.


As cognizant citizens are undoubtedly aware, the United States is in the midst of a furious civil war. On one side are those who long for a "simpler" time, respect the president, and would happily replace the U.S. Constitution with the King James Bible. On the other side are those who long for progress, cherish the separation of church and state, and consider the president a potentially lethal doofus. Following last week's decisive kick in the teeth to the Bush-loving Bible folk (delivered via the Supreme Court's decriminalization of same-sex sex), today Last Days turns to further developments in the battle for America's soul. First up is yesterday's triumph for progressive humanists, courtesy of Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, which announced the expansion of its anti-discrimination policy to gay and lesbian employees. Instrumental to Wal-Mart's decision was Seattle's own Pride Foundation, which joined forces with several other firms holding Wal-Mart stock to urge the expansion of the company's employee protections. (Under Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, any stockholder with $2,000 or more in shares can introduce "shareholder resolutions" on an array of company policy issues.) Having already used shareholder resolutions to pressure both General Motors and McDonald's into extending workplace protections to gay employees, the Pride Foundation began discussions with Wal-Mart in August 2001, with members of the shareholding groups traveling to Wal-Mart's Arkansas headquarters to meet with company officials. Discussing the company's decision to expand employee protections, Wal-Mart's vice president for communications, Mona Williams, told the New York Times that while shareholder input played a part in the decision, the most important factor was a letter sent to senior management officials from several gay Wal-Mart employees, saying that unless the company changed its policy, the employees would "continue to feel excluded." The softies at the head of America's most evil corporation were touched, and from this day on, discussion of sexual orientation will be featured in Wal-Mart's computer-based training programs.

·· Still, progressive humanists shouldn't get too uppity: Today the Washington Times reported the results of a survey sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Women, a nonpartisan, New York-based pro-choice advocacy group, which found that 51 percent of 1,000 women surveyed said the government should prohibit abortion or limit it to extreme cases (rape, incest, life-threatening complications). "We are winning," said Ann Scheidler, executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, regarding anti-abortionists' ascent to the majority. "It's by no means going to be in a year or two, but our effort is to eventually make abortion unthinkable."


Just days after our cocky cowboy of a president taunted Iraqi insurgents with the now-infamous "Bring 'em on," today the U.S. government announced a $25 million bounty on the head of Saddam Hussein, along with $15 million bounties for each of Saddam's sons. The reward is being publicized in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world on Radio Sawa, a public diplomacy arm of the U.S. State Department, with the rewards offered to anyone providing information leading to the capture of Saddam Hussein or confirmation of his death. According to the Associated Press, the mystery surrounding Saddam's health and whereabouts continues to encourage Iraqi resistance against U.S. forces, with 10 U.S. soldiers wounded today alone. Saddam loyalists continue to instruct Iraqis to rebuff all American efforts, saying Saddam Hussein will one day return and punish those who renounced him. However, if Christianity has one thing to teach the Iraqis, it's this: When it comes to wrathful resurrection, don't hold your breath.


Today was the Fourth of July, commemorating the U.S.'s 1776 adoption of the Declaration of Independence, celebrated by Last Days by luxuriating in our most beloved bits of Americana, including but not limited to Coors Light, reality TV, chapter three of The Great Gatsby, the Ramones, and fully legal sodomy.


Nothing happened today (unless you count the report of the young woman from Reading, England, who suffered temporary blindness and facial burns after her lip and tongue piercings were struck by lightning).


Nothing happened today.

Cheers to Ruth Montgomery, finder of lost wallets. Send Hot Tips to