The week begins where we all end: the grave, with not one but two stories on scandalous dealings with human remains. The first comes from the Los Angeles Times, which today broke the story of Ernest V. Nelson, the alleged middleman in the sale of body parts pinched off corpses donated to UCLA's medical school. According to his testimony to the Times, the 46-year-old Nelson visited the UCLA Medical Center twice a week, entering the seventh floor's body freezer with saw in hand to collect knees, hands, torsos, and other body parts to sell to medical research companies. What's more, Nelson says he engaged in the hacking-and-hawking plan with the full knowledge of UCLA officials, following a protocol set out by the director of the medical school's willed-body program, Henry Reid. Bullcrud, says UCLA attorney Louis Marlin, who characterizes whatever body-part smuggling Nelson may have engaged in as a carefully closed loop involving only Nelson, Henry Reid, and an unnamed third UCLA employee. So far, California authorities have arrested Ernest Nelson on suspicion of receiving stolen property and Henry Reid on suspicion of grand theft, with both men now free on bond.

-- Meanwhile down in New Orleans, the medical school of Tulane University has come under fire for inadvertently selling seven corpses donated for research purposes to the Army, which used the dead-man dummies in a series of land-mine tests. According to the Associated Press, Tulane's med school receives up to 150 donated cadavers a year, but needs only 40 to 45 for classes. Traditionally, surplus corpses have been entrusted to "anatomical services companies" that distribute the bodies to med schools in need. But after National Anatomical Service sold seven of Tulane's extra stiffs to the Army--which promptly blew up the bodies during tests on footwear designed to protect against land mines--Tulane's med school has suspended all dealings with the New York-based company. "Imagine if your mother had said all her life that she wanted her body to be used for science, and then her body was used to test land mines," said ethics expert Michael Meyer to the AP. "I think that is disturbing, and I think there are some moral problems with deception here."


Speaking of moral problems and deception: Today CIA director George J. Tenet testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he doggedly defended still-unproven intelligence reports indicating Saddam Hussein had stockpiled enough chemical and biological arms to justify the multi-billion dollar Operation Iraqi Freedom. "I think it's too early to make judgments about what happened to Iraqi arms stockpiles," said Mr. Tenet with the itchy resignation of a white-collar whipping boy, before changing the subject to the ever-growing threat of al Qaeda. Citing a "chilling" increase in the itinerant terror group's chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear capabilities, Tenet warned Congress of al Qaeda's ongoing plans for "spectacular attacks" against the United States and its allies. Within 48 hours, Tenet's warning will be proven horrifically true.


In temporarily lighter news: Today brought a splashingly acrid story from Lincoln Park, Michigan, where a 17-year-old high-school hockey player has been charged with assault and battery after sneaking up on an 8-year-old boy in a Lincoln Park Community Center restroom and urinating on him. Keen readers will notice the absence of "allegedly" in the previous sentence; that's because the urinator fessed up: "I, on Saturday, before my hockey game, urinated on the boy," said the contrite teen to Lincoln Park police. "I am sorry. I would never do it again." According to Detroit's Local 4 News, the high schooler told police of his hockey team's tradition of "initiating" younger players via urine ambush; unfortunately, his 8-year-old victim had no affiliation with the team--a fact that rendered the would-be initiation a punishable crime. The hockey player faces community service, the doomed-to-be-kinky 8-year-old is in therapy, and Last Days imagines one or both of them might find a happy future at the Seattle Eagle.


Precisely 911 days after 9/11, today brought 3/11, with four huge explosions ripping through three Madrid train stations, killing at least 200 rush-hour commuters and wounding nearly 1,500 others. Authorities in Spain--a key member of Operation Iraqi Freedom's "coalition of the willing"--initially blamed the attacks on the Basque separatist group ETA, but before long all fingers pointed to al Qaeda, who soon took credit for the attack via videotape. Later this week, an Arabic newspaper in London will publish an alleged al Qaeda letter claiming the "Winds of Black Death" strike against America is in the final stages of preparation, while a traumatized Spain will vote to oust its ruling Popular Party (which enthusiastically backed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq) in favor of the Socialist Party, whose leader will immediately announce plans to remove Spanish troops from Iraq.


The end of the world still has its bright spots: Today Oregon's ass-kicking Multnomah County continued to make King County look like a wussy backwoods swamp by halting the issuing of all marriage licenses, be they mixed-sex or same-sex. County officials say they face the impossible choice of following either the state statute, which forbids same-sex marriages, or following the state constitution, which forbids granting privileges "that do not equally belong to all citizens." Multnomah's mind-blowing maneuver won't halt marriage for long--on Monday, the county's board of commissioners will announce its decision to continue marrying both gays and straights, dismissing the state attorney general's orders as "nonbinding." Viva Multnomah!


Back to horror: Today brought the discovery of the Fresno kill-a-thon, wherein police responding to a domestic disturbance complaint discovered nine dead bodies--seven of them children--heaped in a pile in the back bedroom of a Fresno home. Arrested after a short standoff was 57-year-old Marcus Wesson, described by police at the scene as "very calm," despite his blood-soaked clothes. Each new hour of the weekend seemed to bring another new fact of the case: The victims included six females and three males, ranging in age from 1 to 24; Marcus Wesson was a polygamy-practicing Seventh Day Adventist, and grandfather to two of the victims, whom he had fathered with his daughters; the house where the bodies were found held 10 empty wooden caskets stacked one on top of the other in the front room. As of press time, Marcus Wesson is reportedly cooperating with California authorities, who plan to charge him with nine counts of murder.


The week ends with more bombs and bloodshed, today in the Israeli port city of Ashdod, where a pair of suicide bombers killed 10 people and wounded at least 20 more. In lighter news, today Pope John Paul II failed to die, thus earning the title of the third longest-serving pontiff in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. Take that, fourth longest-serving pontiff.

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