MONDAY, JANUARY 7 This week of severed hands, hometown drug busts, and vast award-show surrealism kicks off with the rare news story that makes one proud, or at least grateful, to be an American. The setting: a residential area in the central Chinese province of Hubei. The conflict: a confrontation between city inspectors and villagers protesting the dumping of waste near their homes. As the Associated Press reports, a "scuffle" developed when residents attempted to prevent trucks from dropping their trashy loads. This scuffle caught the eye of Wei Wenhua, a 41-year-old construction-company executive who began recording the protest on his cell phone. That's when more than 50 municipal inspectors turned on Wei and beat him to death. Wei Wenhua was pronounced dead on arrival at a Tianmen hospital, with the killing sparking ongoing outrage across China. "It's no longer news that urban administrators enforce the law with violence," said an editorial on the news website Northeast News. "But now someone has been beaten to death on site. It has brought us not surprise, but unspeakable anger." That anger is spreading: "Wei is the first 'citizen journalist' to die in China because of what he was trying to film," said the international press-freedom group Reporters Without Borders. "He was beaten to death for doing something which is becoming more and more common and which was a way to expose law-enforcement officers who keep on overstepping their limits." Say what you will about Seattle's sluggish/unimaginative/what-have-you city administrators—at least they never, or at least rarely, beat citizens to death.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 8 The week continues with the fresh adventures of the Northwest's clown prince of crazy Christianity, Pastor Ken Hutcherson. As insanity buffs will recall, Hutcherson spiced up the most recent Microsoft shareholders' meeting by denouncing the company's support of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. "I am putting together the largest contingency of Evangelicals, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims to challenge Microsoft's support of people and policies that challenge America's moral beliefs since its inception," spake Hutch from the audience during the Q&A portion of the November meeting. "I could work with you, or I could be your worst nightmare, because I am a black man with a righteous cause, with a host of powerful white people behind me. I hope to hear from you and if not, you will hear from me." Today, Microsoft and the world heard from Hutch, as he publicized the specifics of his threat, which involves urging his religious followers to buy Microsoft stock, in a professed attempt to force the gay-friendly company to "stop financing ungodly ventures." As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports: "Hutcherson has created a new organization, AGN Financial Network, to finance the effort. The worldwide venture asks people to buy three shares of company stock and donate one to AGN. Its website tells visitors, 'You have the power to change the world,' and contains tips on how to open a brokerage account." Immediately derided as lame grandstanding by a financial primitive, Hutcherson's buy-three/donate-one stratagem failed to garner even a response from Microsoft. Nevertheless, Hutch's Ponzi-on-the-Mount scheme is clearly one of the more dazzling bits of insanity to fall from the former pro-footballer's brain in ages, and finds a fitting textual correlative in the Antioch Global Network's motto, which is showcased extravagantly on the AGN website and which we quote verbatim: "If we stand together, there is nothing impossible for us to accomplish."
••In related news: Medical experts continue to urge awareness of the connection between pro football and chronic traumatic brain injury, which can result in significant deficits in organizational and reasoning skills and severely limited mental functioning.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9 As TV watchers are undoubtedly aware, the Writers Guild of America continues to strike for its fair share of the new-media pie, leaving scripted shows in the lurch and forcing networks to rely on astounding writer-free crap such as Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Tonight, America got a good look at just how ugly a writers' strike can get, with the broadcast of the People's Choice Awards, hosted by Queen Latifah. With no red carpet, no attending stars, and no audience, Latifah was left alone on a soundstage to announce the awards directly into the camera—a no-win situation the Queen grabbed by the balls and dragged straight to Hell. At every turn, Latifah came on with a level of enthusiasm typically reserved for Lotto winners, announcing nominees in an array of kooky accents and spicing up transitions with aggressive scat singing. It was one of the weirdest things we've ever seen on television, made all the weirder by the musty montages of "highlights from the archives" CBS injected between Latifah's freak-outs. Condolences to all.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 10 The week continues with a druggy drama straight out of Seattle's Central District, where last year Seattle and King County investigators and federal agents commenced "Operation Crackdown," aimed at ending the scourge of drug sales clogging certain Central District intersections. Nabbed in the sting were 47 street-level drug dealers, including a father-son pair sentenced today in U.S. District Court. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports, 48-year-old Paris Winston Stewart and 21-year-old Paris Terrell Stewart—known on the street as "Pootie" and "Little Pootie"—were both charged with dealing drugs on numerous occasions out of an SUV parked on 26th Avenue near Yesler Way. Today, both Paris Stewarts pleaded guilty to the charges, with the elder Stewart sentenced to seven years and the younger Stewart sentenced to six and a half years in prison. Heartbreaking twist: the details provided by Elaine Stewart, the wife and mother of today's subjects, who spends her days running a street-level antidrug ministry in Tacoma, and who told the P-I that she believes her husband was driven to deal drugs to make ends meet when his seasonal work building ponds failed to pay the bills. "He was trying to keep that pride, of being a man and showing that he can take care of us, and he tried to take the easy way out," said Mrs. Stewart. "He didn't want to make us homeless."
FRIDAY, JANUARY 11 We continue with the official freak of the week, the twentysomething man in Hayden, Idaho, who amputated his hand and stashed it in a microwave after identifying the offending limb with the "mark of the beast." Details come from the Associated Press, which reports police—summoned to the home by the hand-chopper himself—found the unnamed man in a "calm" state, and failed to find any noticeable tattoo or other mark on either man or hand. "He put a tourniquet on his arm before, so he didn't bleed to death," said Kootenai County Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger. "This kind of mental illness is just sad."
SATURDAY, JANUARY 12 Nothing happened today, including the defeat of the Green Bay Packers by the Seattle Seahawks, dagnabbit.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 13 Nothing happened today.
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