•• In much worse news: Today began an exceptionally horrific week for U.S. soldiers in Iraq, with six marines killed on sniper duty and another killed by a suicide car bomb. On Wednesday, things will get exponentially worse, when a marine amphibious assault vehicle patrolling combat operations in the Euphrates River valley will hit a roadside bomb, killing another 14 marines who happened to be from the same Ohio battalion that lost six men today.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 2 Speaking of Iraq: It's not just soldiers getting slaughtered. This evening in Basra, U.S. journalist Steven Vincent—a freelance writer working on a history of the southern Iraqi city, who also wrote for the New York Times—was abducted outside a currency exchange shop by five gunmen in a police car. Hours later, Vincent's body was discovered by the side of the road, with gunshots to his head and body. The creepiness of the police-car kidnapping is elucidated by the Associated Press, which reports that in a July 31 NYT column, Vincent wrote that Basra's police force had been heavily infiltrated by members of radical Shiite political groups, and quoted an Iraqi police lieutenant as saying that police were behind many of Basra's assassinations of former Baath Party members. Two days later, Vincent was dead, joining the 48 journalists and 16 media support workers who have been killed covering the war since March 2003.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3 With today's fresh Iraqi horrors already noted (see Monday), Last Days is free to delve into the comparatively featherweight saga of Jessica Lynne Durham, the 24-year-old Montana woman convicted of encouraging her 18-month-old daughter to smoke pot. Details come from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle: During Durham's trial, a female friend testified that Durham let her toddler daughter smoke because the little girl wasn't eating or sleeping enough; the friend also said Durham urged her to take photos of the toddler smoking from a bong, which Durham reportedly thought would be "cool" to send to High Times magazine. For her distribution of marijuana to a person under the age of 18, Jessica Durham was today sentenced to a whopping five years in prison.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 4 Nothing happened today, unless you count the cautious optimism engendered by today's Los Angeles Times story, chronicling the pro-gay pro-bono work undertaken by allegedly conservative U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. The good news: During his years as a lawyer for the Washington firm Hogan & Hartson, Roberts provided invaluable legal expertise that helped win Romer v. Evans, the groundbreaking gay-rights case that struck down a voter-approved 1992 Colorado initiative allowing employers and landlords to exclude gays and lesbians from jobs and housing. The iffy news: Roberts didn't mention his work on the landmark gay-rights case in his 67-page response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire, which asked for "specific instances" in which he had performed pro-bono work. What it means: Who knows? Maybe Roberts's omission was an oversight, a strategy, or both. But anything that gives liberals hope while making fundamentalists sweat (Focus on the Family's James Dobson characterized today's Roberts revelation as "not welcome news to those of us who advocate for traditional values") is on the right track.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 5 After a good seven weeks of relative quiet, today the goddamned Michael Jackson trial burst back into the news, with not one but two jurors who acquitted Jackson of child-molestation charges prepped to pen books about why the jury's verdict was a sham. According to MSNBC, both Juror Number 1 (79-year-old Eleanor Cook) and Juror Number 5 (62-year-old Ray Hultman) have acknowledged their original belief in Jackson's guilt was railroaded into a not-guilty verdict. Cook, who's shopping a book titled Guilty as Sin, Free as a Bird, reportedly felt "bullied" into acquitting Jackson, while Hultman felt the jury "was not educated enough," and only went along with the acquittal after realizing he'd be unable to convince other jurors of Jackson's guilt. Obviously, this sucks, suggesting the Jackson trial was a colossal joke, or that Jurors 1 and 5 are money-grubbing liars. Either way, our indignation is matched only by our hunger to read those goddamned books.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 6 Nothing happened today, unless you count Hot Tipper Matt's sighting of two well-groomed, affluent, apparently sober, and healthy looking twentysomething women on Metro bus route 2, one of whom asked Matt about the location of "West-something mall" while the other nonchalantly vomited into a shopping bag.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 7 The week ends with Sean Reid, the 23-year-old Seattle man whom Last Days first had the pleasure of meeting in 2002, when he was a Seattle University student and Stranger news intern. Sean promptly revealed himself to be a fascinating individual: a straight guy with Jesuit-friendly leanings and an inbred drive toward social and sexual justice for minorities; a die-hard cineaste not above making ridiculous crap like Astronaut vs. Cave-man, his prizewinning entry in The Stranger's 28 Seconds film contest. (The judging was blind, so no one knew the film was by a former intern.) To Last Days, Sean's youth, intelligence, and natural engagement with the world offered proof of human evolution—which makes the fact of his cancer all the more shitty. After two years of treatment and a lifetime limit of chemotherapy, late last month doctors discovered the tumor in Sean's chest had returned, requiring Sean to make some tough decisions: submit to torturous medical treatment for the potential reward of a mildly extended, brutally compromised life, or brace for death at 23. Sean chose the latter, bearing the weight with a lightness that sometimes baffled his friends. But as any deliverer of tragic news knows, causing point-blank pain to your friends is equal to any personal anguish, and most people with cruelly restricted life spans want to see the people they love as happy as possible. Last Days hoped to get a bunch of Sean's thoughts on this shit down on paper, arranging to meet Sean and a couple friends for an interview tonight at the Twilight Exit. But this afternoon, surrounded by quickly assembled loved ones, Sean died. Best wishes to Sean's friends and family, and to his girlfriend, Jana. Everyone else, enjoy yourselves.
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