The week begins with Labor Day, the United States' annual holiday honoring the contributions working men and women have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our morally fucked-up but reasonably well-oiled-machine of a nation. Celebrated the first Monday of September, Labor Day has been a tradition since 1882, when New York's Central Labor Union planned and executed the nation's first "workingmen's holiday." However, some contention exists about the holiday's originator. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's website, some records name American Federation of Labor cofounder Peter J. McGuire as the first to suggest a day honoring those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold." Others believe that Central Labor Union secretary Matthew Maguire was the true originator of Labor Day, but as Maguire neglected to defend his position with a poetic quote, Last Days casts our vote for the first guy. Speaking of noteworthy Labor Day quotes, here's one from Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor: "Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country. All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day... is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation." In light of NAFTA and the Bush economy, Labor Day's status as a cruelty-free holiday might be a thing of the past. Still, any holiday commemorated by R.E.M. shows and 14-hour Law & Order marathons is fine by us.


Speaking of law and order: Today in San Francisco, a federal appeals court announced the salvation of over 100 death-row inmates in Arizona, Montana, and Idaho, overturning 100-plus death sentences issued by judges instead of juries. Today's case stems from the Supreme Court's 2002 decision ruling that death sentences must be imposed by juries, not judges. But the Supremes made no mention of the ruling's possible retroactivity, leaving the matter to folks such as San Francisco's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which today ruled 8-3 to commute all judge-issued death sentences to sentences of life in prison. According to the Associated Press, today's ruling affects approximately three percent of the 3,700 people on death row in the United States.


Speaking of the 3,700 people on death row: Today that number plummeted to 3,699, as the state of Florida executed Paul Hill, the 49-year-old former minister convicted of the 1994 shotgun murders of Dr. John Britton and retired Air Force Lt. Col. James Barrett in Florida. As readers may recall, Dr. Britton was the "abortion doctor" murdered outside a Pensacola women's clinic called the Ladies Center (where Lt. Col. Barrett was employed as Dr. Britton's bodyguard), while shooter Paul Hill is the unrepentant psycho-for-God who boasted to the Associated Press on the eve of his execution, "The sooner I am executed... the sooner I am going to heaven. I expect a great reward in heaven. I am looking forward to glory. I don't feel remorse. More people should act as I have acted." Paul Hill was officially shut up for good today at 6:08 p.m., when the office of Gov. Jeb Bush announced Hill dead from a lethal injection.

-- Meanwhile in Seattle: Today two Roosevelt High School students pleaded not guilty to the murder of their friend and football teammate John Jasmer, the 16-year-old student who'd been accused of raping the girlfriend of one of the defendants before his stabbed-and-suffocated body was found buried on the Tulalip Indian Reservation last Thursday. According to court papers, both Jenson Hankins, 16, and Joshua Goldman, 17, admitted to assaulting Jasmer with a hammer and kitchen knives then burying him in a Tulalip grave one month after Hankins' 15-year-old girlfriend accused Jasmer of raping her (a claim the girl later recanted). According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, both Hankins and Goldman have been charged with first-degree murder, for which they will stand trial as adults.


Dear Last Days, Today while standing outside the Safeway at 15th and John watching the sunset, I saw two bicyclists approach from opposite directions. Their meeting was apparently a coincidence, as the man said, "Are you psychic again?" They proceeded to kiss hello, then make out heavily, engaging in over-the-shirt petting, all while perched on their bikes, supporting themselves with a street sign. As they rode off together, I thought, "Ew." Then I thought, "Maybe the reason those bicycle dorks have found love and I haven't is because I'm so judgmental." --Teresa

Dear Teresa, Don't be so quick to denounce yourself as "judgmental." Aesthetics are opinions, not judgments, and when you do find your true love, 50 bucks says he or she will inherently share your opinion that psychic bikers mashing on the street are worthy of an "ew." From the evidence of your letter, you're a semi-cynical sunset-watcher with a good memory and a natural drive to question your motives--which means your chances of finding true love are about fifty-fifty. Good luck, stay opinionated, and don't let yourself get bitter. --Last Days


Now it's just getting stupid: Today 2003's hottest trend--diabolical child abuse--took a turn for the ridiculous as a 53-year-old father in San Diego shot and killed his 14-year-old son as the latter was jogging with his high-school cross-country team; after a 10-hour standoff with police, the father killed himself as well. The Associated Press reports that police are investigating claims that the victim's parents had separated and were dealing with "custody issues."


Nothing happened today (unless you count the Associated Press story of the 26-year-old man in Illawarra, New South Wales, who suffered a fractured pelvis and severe burns when a firecracker exploded between the cheeks of his buttocks while he was attempting what news agencies characterized as "a Jackass-styled stunt." Authorities believe the would-be jackass stumbled while the firecracker was between his buttocks and fell down on it. "By virtue of the fact that the explosion was confined in an upward direction, it went up into his pelvis, blasted a great hole in the pelvis, ruptured the urethra, injured muscles in the floor of the pelvis which rendered him incontinent," said Dr. Robert McCurdie to the AP, describing the man's condition as comparable to "a war injury").


Nothing happened today (unless you count the thrillingly hilarious London Observer report on the humongous blunder at the heart of a scientific study damning the dangers of Ecstasy. Conducted by Johns Hopkins University and published in last September's Science journal, the study was billed as "one of the most dramatic warnings the world has ever received on the dangers of Ecstasy," and concluded that taking the drug once could induce irreversible brain damage and the onset of Parkinson's disease. However, this weekend it came to light that the vials of liquid used in the study [and injected into monkeys] contained not Ecstasy but methamphetamine, with the vials "somehow mislabeled" by the supplier).

Yay for E, boo for speed. Send Hot Tips to lastdays@