MONDAY, AUGUST 25 This week of historic speeches, assaulted monks, and iffy strangers from Alaska kicks off today in Denver, where hordes of politicians, delegates, and media types gathered for day one of the Democratic National Convention. Today's highlight: a thrilling, viability-securing speech by would-be first-lady Michelle Obama. Today's nadir: the hubbub surrounding the three men suspected of plotting to assassinate Barack Obama. Nadiric details come from the Associated Press, which reports the hubbub started yesterday when police in Aurora, Colorado, pulled over a rented pickup truck being driven "in an erratic manner." Cops found 28-year-old Tharin Gartrell with two high-powered rifles (one with a scope), camouflage clothing, walkie-talkies, wigs, a bulletproof vest, and 4.4 grams of methamphetamine. Found soon after were Gartrell's associates, 32-year-old Nathan Johnson and 33-year-old Shawn Adolf, who joined Gartrell in the Aurora jail on drug and weapons charges. As for the would-be assassination plot: According to law enforcement officials, one of the suspects told authorities they were planning "to shoot Obama from a high vantage point." ("Blacks don't belong in political office," said Johnson in a jailhouse interview with CBS-4. "He ought to be shot.") But according to the Secret Service, FBI, ATF, and the joint terrorism task force—all of which investigated the alleged plot—the racist ramblings of gun-toting tweakers don't constitute a "credible threat to the candidate, the DNC, or the people of Colorado." "The alleged threats, hateful and bigoted though they were, involved a group of... methamphetamine abusers," said U.S. Attorney Troy Eid. "The evidence involving the alleged threats does not warrant federal charges now."
•• In better news (spoiler alert!): Barack Obama will emerge from the DNC alive and well and unharmed by psychotic meth-heads.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 26 Nothing happened today, unless you count Hillary Rodham Clinton's speech to the DNC, an impressive bit of politicking in which she threw her support behind Barack Obama while simultaneously confirming her potential as a brilliant presidential candidate. RIP HRC (and if you're gonna try again get a D-I-V-O-R-C-E.)
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27 The week continues in northern Italy, where police are hunting three men responsible for a brutal attack on Franciscan monks. Details come from the Catholic News Agency, which reports 48-year-old Father Sergio Baldin and three elderly monks were having their evening meal at the San Colombano Belmonte monastery when they were attacked by three hooded men, who gagged and bound the four monks then punched, kicked, and beat them with clubs. In addition to suffering severe head injuries, Father Baldin choked on his food during the assault, causing "severe respiratory problems." The other three monks were hospitalized with less serious injuries. Decrying the assault as "beyond comprehension," the Archbishop of Turin said the only possible explanation involved the assailants being "either drugged or possessed or both." A police spokesman cited a less dramatic motive: "Presumably the attackers thought they would find riches at the monastery." The monk-basher manhunt continues.
•• Today also brought an end to a glorious American life, as Del Martin—a founder and key architect of both the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement and the feminist movement—died in San Francisco at age 87. Through her nearly nine decades on earth, Martin racked up several lifetimes' worth of accomplishments, including but not limited to founding the U.S.'s first lesbian-rights organization the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955, fighting to modify California laws that criminalized homosexual behavior in 1964, leading the campaign to get the American Psychiatric Association to declare that homosexuality is not a mental illness in 1973, and galvanizing the movement against domestic violence with the publication of her book Battered Wives in 1976. In addition to being a fighter, the lesbian-feminist-author-activist Del Martin was a wise and fearless critic, with her multihyphenate humanism driving her to condemn both sexism in the gay-rights movement and homophobia in the women's movement. As Equality California writes, "[Del Martin's] last public political act, on June 16, 2008, was to marry Phyllis Lyon, her partner of 55 years. They were the first couple to wed in San Francisco after the California Supreme Court recognized that marriage for same-sex couples is a fundamental right in a case brought by plaintiffs including Martin and Lyon... Gifts in lieu of flowers can be made to honor Del's life and commitment and to defeat the California marriage ban through www.nclrights.org/NoOn8."
THURSDAY, AUGUST 28 The week continues with an amazing day of Democrats in action, as the 2008 DNC galloped into its final stretch. Preliminary fireworks were provided by Hillary Clinton, the world-class politician knocked off the top of the Democratic ticket by unlucky timing and bad taste in men, who had started the previous day by officially releasing her delegates then cutting short the roll-call vote to endorse Barack Obama's candidacy by acclamation. On this night, Obama rose to the momentous occasion, accepting the nomination with a perfectly fine speech that summed up the world-historic moment most fittingly: Not only were we watching the first African-American Democratic nominee for the American presidency, we were watching a candidate who could very well win. "America, we are better than these last eight years," said Obama from the tricked-out stage at Denver's Invesco Field. "We are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight years."
FRIDAY, AUGUST 29 Speaking of political rites of passage, today John McCain turned a whopping 72 years old. For a present, McCain picked himself a sexy, sassy, scripture-reading running mate: Sarah Palin, the 44-year-old novice governor of Alaska who, to cite just one of her seemingly unvetted contradictions, is a die-hard advocate of abstinence education blessed with an unmarried and pregnant 17-year-old daughter. By the time you read this, McCain may have dropped Sarah Palin like a handful of Geritol. If not, stay tuned for more (and more) trashy Palin-flavored delights.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 30 Speaking of trashy delights: Today we travel to a Denny's restaurant in Modesto, California, where last night a hopped-up cokehead tried to cut off his arm. Details come from the Associated Press, which identifies the arm-attacker as 33-year-old Michael Lasiter, who reportedly rushed into a Modesto Denny's, grabbed a butter knife, and started stabbing it into his right arm. Lasiter then proceeded to the kitchen, where he continued the amateur amputation with a butcher knife. After being subdued with a Taser and hospitalized with severe cuts, Lasiter told investigators that he believed he'd injected air into one of his veins while shooting cocaine and thought he would die if the arm wasn't immediately removed.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 31 Speaking of dangerous injections of air: The week ends with Hurricane Gustav, whose stormy approach sent nearly two million people fleeing from coastal Louisiana this weekend. Tomorrow, a weakened Gustav will come ashore as a Category 2 hurricane, boasting 110 mile per hour winds but wreaking nowhere near the havoc of Katrina.
Send Hot Tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.