MONDAY, APRIL 11 The week kicks off with an irresistible headline courtesy of Fox News: "Man Saved by Lip Balm." A cursory read of the story's facts supports the headline's synopsis: Last Wednesday, Steven Jacobs, a 35-year-old physician's assistant at Brooklyn's Ditmas Park Rehab/Care Center, became aware that his lips were not as balmy as he'd like. En route to correcting the situation, Jacobs dropped his tube of ChapStick on the floor, bending to retrieve the errant tube just as stray bullets from a gunfight outside blasted through his office window. "I thought there was a car backfiring in the parking lot," Jacobs told the New York Post. "The second shot told me I needed to stay down." Escaping with only a minor cut above his eye from shards of flying glass, Jacobs is left to thank his lucky stars and balm-deficient lips, which will be forever protected by the lifetime supply of ChapStick bestowed by producers Wyeth Consumer Healthcare. However, the fact remains that Jacobs' life was saved not by lip balm, but by klutziness. If he hadn't dropped the tube, Jacobs would've been standing there, happily applying ChapStick while bullets riddled his neck and chest. So allow Last Days to provide another, more fitting headline to this admittedly newsworthy saga: "Brooklyn Klutz Lives Another Day, with Silky Lips."

TUESDAY, APRIL 12 The week continues with an Associated Press report on the hot delicacy of the future: cloned meat. According to a new study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Kagoshima Prefecture, and the National Institute of Agrobiological Research of Japan, meat and milk from cloned animals is "essentially identical" to that of animals bred through traditional methods. Analyzing cloned milk for protein, fat, lactose, and solids and cloned beef for more than 100 meaty components, researchers concluded that both met the standards demanded of their noncloned counterparts (which isn't saying much, but there you have it). More interestingly, for the first time in history, the juiciest point of conceptual entry is provided by vegetarianism. Namely, is the meat of cloned beasts somehow more acceptable/less reprehensible to the "meat is murder" crowd? For an answer, Last Days could only consult our own meat-free soul, which we've been lugging around since 1985. (Damn you, Morrissey.) For us, the prospect of cloned meat is similar to the prospect of fake meat (mock chicken, Tofurkey), with the most illuminating comparison for both being kiddie porn. For example, everyone agrees that child pornography is morally repugnant--but what about porn featuring an 18-year-old model posing as a 13-year-old schoolgirl? Sure, the element of pretend invalidates the criminality, but is it any less icky? Same goes for vegetarians contemplating fake (and eventually cloned) meats: They may be imitation, but who'd want to imitate something so disgusting?

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13 Speaking of specious arguments delivered with conviction: Today brought news of the death of Andrea Dworkin, the radical feminist writer who devoted her life to battling what she saw as the two primary oppressors of women--marriage and pornography--before dying last Saturday at age 58. p> ••Speaking of contentious feminism: Today the New York Times published a fascinating story about the struggle for women's rights in Iraq. On one side are those female members of Iraq's newly elected National Assembly who are pushing for mandated inclusion and equality, including the installation of women leaders for at least 10 of Iraq's 30-plus government ministries and "a promise of respect for women's rights." On the other side are those female members of the National Assembly who are pushing to put aspects of /Islamic law into Iraq's legal code, including provisions that would allow men as many as four wives and reduce the amount of money allotted to women in inheritances. The battle between the modern-dress secularists and the abaya-bound Islamo-mamas should come to a head by mid-August, when the assembly is required to draft the new Iraqi constitution.

••Meanwhile in Alabama: Today Eric Rudolph appeared in a Birmingham federal court, where the 38-year-old white supremacist proudly pled guilty to blowing up a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998. "I certainly did, your honor," responded Rudolph when asked if he detonated the bomb that killed an off-duty police officer and critically wounded a nurse. Following today's court appearance, Rudolph was flown to Atlanta, where he's expected to plead guilty to three more bombings, including the blast at the '96 Olympics. For his multiple professions of guilt, Rudolph will receive four consecutive life terms instead of facing the possibility of a death sentence--an arrangement some decry as too lenient, while others cherish the aptness of placing an outdoorsy, government-hating white supremacist in a government-controlled contained space loaded with nonwhites. As Rudolph's ex-sister-in-law Deborah Rudolph told the Associated Press, "Knowing that he's living under government control for the rest of his life, I think that's worse to him than death."

THURSDAY, APRIL 14 peaking of fates worse than death: Today brought new twists to the case of Armin Meiwes, the German man who made headlines worldwide after admitting to killing a Berlin computer specialist who requested and orchestrated his own murder (and whose pan-fried penis Meiwes attempted to eat). Following his January 2004 conviction for manslaughter, Armin Meiwes was sentenced to eight and a half years in jail--a punishment German prosecutors have denounced as insufficient, filing an appeal yesterday to have Meiwes convicted of murder. Meanwhile, Meiwes' lawyers filed an appeal of their own, urging a conviction on the lesser charge of "killing on request," identified by Reuters as a form of illegal euthanasia carrying a maximum five-year sentence. Is Armin Meiwes a murderous cannibal who can't wait to kill again? Or is he just another people-pleasing German just following orders? Either way, Germany's Federal Criminal Court will decide Meiwes' fate on April 22. Stay tuned.

FRIDAY, APRIL 15 Today we shift from deliberate to accidental cannibalism, as showcased by the saga of Anna Ayala, the 39-year-old woman who filed a claim against a San Jose Wendy's franchise after allegedly finding a severed fingertip in her chili. This week the icky saga took a couple weird twists, reported by the Associated Press: First, a 59-year-old woman who lost a fingertip in a leopard attack attempted to claim the finger allegedly found in Anna Ayala's chili as her own. Then, Anna Ayala announced her decision to drop her complaint against Wendy's, citing the emotional difficulty of being scrutinized by police and reporters, while conspicuously refraining from mentioning newfound court records depicting her history of filing claims against corporations, including a former employer, a fast-food restaurant, and General Motors. Remaining resolute throughout is Wendy's, which maintains the fingertip didn't enter the food from its ingredients and has offered a $50,000 reward to anyone with any information about the mystery finger.

SATURDAY, APRIL 16 Nothing happened today, including the nuptials of Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau, America's own Charles and Camilla, who failed to make good on their wedding-registry-engendering April 16 wedding date, without explanation.

SUNDAY, APRIL 17 Nothing happened today.

Send Hot Tips to