This week of ridiculous fires, heartening marches, and unprecedentedly scathing war reports got off to an unfortunately brown start today, with a sighting sent in by Hot Tipper Zach. "I was exiting the Than Brothers Restaurant on Broadway at around 8:00 p.m. this evening," writes Zach. "Out front was a gaggle of gutter punks, including one young woman who was standing in the flower bed. As I passed, I noticed what appeared to be a yellow plastic party hat attached to her waist by some sort of rigging (I think it was suspenders)." Then Zach's mind absorbed the truth: The young woman was using the strategically placed party hat to shit in. Dear Zach: Thank you for sharing. Dear homeless: Stop making us watch you poo. The city has installed a pair of snazzy electro-toilets for your use, not to mention the wealth of semi-enclosed shrubbery in all major parks. Counting on bystanders' common decency--the fact that all decent people avert their eyes from the sight of a human made to conduct private business in public--while displaying absolutely no decency of your own is reprehensible, and it must stop. Consider this a warning. Anyone caught defecating in public after July 21 will be subject to Operation Tagger, wherein those caught pooping in public will be subject to extemporaneous bursts of spray paint. (Dear readers: Buy a cheap can of Krylon and join the fun!)


Let go and let God: Citing the mounting costs of priest-abuse lawsuits, today the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland stole Boston's thunder to became the first diocese in the nation to file for bankruptcy. Today's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing shields the Portland Archdiocese from creditors' lawsuits while it reorganizes, but could open church records to public scrutiny and require church leaders to cede some control to the courts. "The various creditors--including the plaintiffs who have won judgments--will have a say in the management of church affairs," said Indiana law professor Fred Naffziger to the Associated Press. Today's filing also halts the trial of an abuse lawsuit against the late Rev. Maurice Grammond, accused of molesting more than 50 boys in the 1980s and author of this mind-blowing deposition quote: "I'd say these children abused me. They'd dive in my lap to get sexual excitement." The AP reports that plaintiffs in the two Grammond lawsuits have sought a total of more than $160 million, while the Portland Archdiocese and its insurers claim to have already paid more than $53 million to settle more than 130 claims of abuse by priests. "The pot of gold is pretty much empty right now," said Arch bishop John G. Vlazny. Bullshit, says plaintiffs' attorney David Slader. "The bishop hasn't begun to touch his pot. He is lying." Stay tuned.

--Also today: America was introduced to the man who would be vice-king, as Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry announced his selection of John Edwards--former trial lawyer, rookie senator, and self-made multimillionaire--as his vice-presidential running mate.


Speaking of ambitious older men: Today brings an eye-punishing Hot Tip from Lindsey, who was running up the stairs to Kerry Park when she spotted another runner at the top of the stairs. "He was a crusty old man with matted hair, sporting old tights with running shorts over them," writes Lindsey. "After peering down at me, he stretched his leg up on the railing, revealing a large tear in the crotch of his tights with his nasty old-man balls and dick hanging out. He innocently remained spread eagle until I passed." Dear Lindsey: Thank you for sur viving and sharing. Dear Operation Tagger operatives: Please feel free to extend your tagsmanship to any and all exposed balls.


While former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay was indicted for his alleged deception of shareholders, government regulators, and the public, and Martha Stewart was denied her request for a new trial (paving the way for the celebrity domestic to be sentenced to 10 to 16 months in prison), police in Princeton, West Virginia continued their search for a far more humble defendant--14-year-old Kayla Marie LaSala, the chutzpah-rich murder suspect who escaped house arrest after cutting the electronic monitoring device off her ankle and gluing it to a cat. Local officials told the Associated Press that an alarm within LaSala's ankle monitor was deployed when the circuit was broken, but police arrived too late to catch the girl, awaiting trial on charges of fatally stabbing her father in February. "She's very, very sharp," said Sheriff's Detective C. T. Lowe of his adolescent out-law. "She's cunning." The AP reports that officials have found no motive for the alleged patricide, and offers no word on the condition of the cat. However, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that the Mercer County Sheriff's Department has sought help in their hunt from America's Most Wanted.


In far worse news: Today brought a historically damning Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Iraq war. Among the bipartisan report's many bombshell assertions: that key claims made by the U.S. leading to the 2003 invasion of Iraq--that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and was working to make nuclear weapons--were wrong and based on false or overstated CIA analyses; that intelligence analysts fell victim to "group think" assumptions regarding Iraq's supposed WMDs; and that departing CIA director George Tenet skewed advice to (and hid dissenting views from) top policymakers. "The intelligence failures set forth in this report will affect our national security for generations to come," said senior Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller to the Associated Press. "Our standing in the world has never been lower. We have fostered a deep hatred of Americans in the Muslim world, and that will grow. As a direct consequence, our nation is more vulnerable today than ever before."


Speaking of vulnerable nations: Today the world learned (via the AP, Drudge, and Newsweek) of the hilarious request made by those jokers in the Department of Homeland Security, who this week asked the Justice Department to review the legal steps necessary to delay the presidential election if an attack occurred on the day before or on Election Day. With images of Bush-bombed American cities dancing in our head, Last Days urges responsible citizens to rise up with sharpened pitchforks. This is gonna get ugly.


The week ends with three ridiculously tragic fires. The first fire torched Pierce County's Ruston Pub, an establishment that had not only recently banished smoking, but had also recently been purchased by a professional firefighter. The second fire took the home of a 62-year-old woman in Marysville, who successfully escaped the blaze only to die during an attempted rescue of her dog. The third fire claimed the beloved Capitol Hill grocery store the Hillcrest. But no amount of fire could halt the March for Micah Painter, which kicked off with a Westlake Center rally (starring impressively present Chief of Police Gil Kerlikowske) before proceeding from downtown to Capitol Hill to voice outrage over the hideous Pride-weekend gay bashing of Mr. Painter. Cheers to supporting unlucky community members, jeers to destructive fire and burning to death.

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