MONDAY, JANUARY 18 This week of aftershocks, upsets, and errant gropings kicks off with a pair of animal tales from the wilds of Chicago. Animal tale one involves a cat, which repaid its owners' years of cleaning out the cat box by rescuing them from a fire. Details come from the Chicago Tribune, which reports the fire broke out late last night in the home of Josh Ornberg, who was alerted to the fire when his cat—a 13-year-old tabby named Baby—jumped on him until he woke up. Also saved by Baby: Ornberg's pregnant girlfriend, who was sleeping by his side when the fire broke out and who also safely fled the flaming premises. Fire officials say the fire appears to be accidental, with Ornberg suggesting the blaze was the result of a malfunctioning lava lamp. Animal tale two involves a quartet of dogs, which repaid their owner's years of picking up feces by fatally mauling her father. Details come from the Associated Press, which reports the fatal mauling was discovered by the dog's owner, who returned home last night to find her four pit bulls surrounding her 56-year-old father, who was lying on the living room floor covered in blood. The man was soon pronounced dead by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, which specified "numerous bite wounds on various parts of his body." The woman turned over her dogs to Chicago Animal Care and Control, while police are investigating the possibility of charges.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 19 Meanwhile in Massachusetts: Today brought the special election to determine who should fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by dead Ted Kennedy. The surprise winner: Scott Brown, the 50-year-old state senator and Republican who few thought capable of defeating Massachusetts's Obama-endorsed attorney general and Democrat Martha Coakley just a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, Brown clobbered Coakley, earning 52 percent of the vote, robbing Democrats of their 60-vote Senate supermajority, and imperiling many of the Obama administration's top legislative priorities, including the troubled health-care overhaul. Last Days fearfully looks forward to this year's midterm election; if today's Massachusetts upset is any indication, it's going to be a Democrat bloodbath.
••In much better news that's not really news but a necessary diversion from the quiet horror of the Massachusetts election: Today also brought the birthdays of a bunch of worship-worthy women, including honky blues goddess Janis Joplin, sitcom artiste Jean Stapleton, victim of Hitchcock/mother of Melanie Griffith Tippi Hedren, and world's greatest human Dolly Parton.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20 Nothing happened today.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 21 In much worse news, today Last Days returns to the ongoing horror in Haiti, where the magnitude- 7.0 earthquake of January 12 has left a humanitarian crisis of trapped and starving victims, untended corpses, and severely compromised medical facilities. (The numbers, according to Haitian government estimates: 200,000 dead, 250,000 injured, and 2 million homeless.) So let's focus on the few positives, such as the greatest deployment of emergency responders in the 91-year history of the International Red Cross, with thousands of aid workers "stream[ing] into Haiti with water, food, drugs, latrines, clothing, trucks, construction equipment, telephones, and tons of other relief supplies," as the Associated Press reports. Still: "The built-in bottlenecks of this desperately poor, underdeveloped nation and the sheer scale of the catastrophe still left many of the hundreds of thousands of victims without help," reports the AP. "The U.S. military reported a waiting list of 1,400 international relief flights seeking to land on Port-au-Prince's single runway, where 120 to 140 flights were arriving daily." As for now: 18 hospitals and emergency field hospitals are up and running in Port-au-Prince, at least 122 people have been saved by search-and-rescue teams, and almost $1 billion in foreign aid has been pledged to help Haiti recover from the quake. Onward.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 22 The week continues with judicial acknowledgement of one of Last Days' key contemporary grievances, as today brought what is believed to be Washington State's first vehicular-homicide conviction stemming from texting while driving. Details come from the Seattle Times, which identifies today's convicted driver-and-texter as Antonio Cellestine, an 18-year-old from Vancouver, Washington, who fatally struck a bicyclist with his car while texting his girlfriend on September 15. As the Times reports, Cellestine's phone records indicate that he was texting at the time his car drifted into the bike lane and struck Gordon Patterson, a 50-year-old high-school teacher biking home from school. Worse, after fatally striking Patterson, Cellestine fled the scene, with police tracking him down and arresting him on suspicion of vehicular homicide the next day. Today, the whole fatal-hit-and-run-while-texting mess was settled, as Cellestine was sentenced to five years in prison. Condolences to all, even Cellestine, who got off easy.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 23 The week continues with a creepy new real-life drama starring Andy Dick, the troubled comedian who was arrested early this morning on charges of sexual abuse in West Virginia. Details come from the West Virginia Herald-Dispatch, which reports the 44-year-old Dick was taken into police custody around 4:00 a.m., after two men accused Dick of groping them at the Huntington bar Rum Runners. In a press release, the Huntington Police Department reported "two alleged incidents of a patron engaging in nonconsensual sexual contact with a bar employee and another patron. Based upon statements of two victims and independent witness accounts alleging that he had engaged in unwanted and uninvited groping of the two victims' genital areas, [Dick] was arrested and charged with two counts of Sex Abuse in the First Degree." As the Herald-Dispatch reminds us, this is not Dick's first alleged sex crime: He's currently serving three years probation following his alleged sexual battery of a 17-year-old girl, whose tank top he allegedly yanked down to reveal her breasts. If convicted of today's alleged gropings, Dick faces one to five years in prison.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 24 Nothing happened today, except the ongoing desperate struggle in Haiti. To donate 10 bucks to the American Red Cross's relief efforts, text "HAITI" to 90999.
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