MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2 This week of media mendacity, poisonous parenting, and a sleep study that will give you nightmares kicked off in Ohio, where a man in Middleton faces multiple years in prison after selling fake urine over the internet. Details come from the Associated Press, which identifies our subject as 61-year-old David Neal, who, according to federal charging documents, began selling illegal substances online in 2006 through his company ACS Herbal Tea. Among the offered products: "Magnum Unisex Synthetic Urine" (reportedly designed to thwart the federal drug tests used to screen airline pilots, train engineers, and FBI agents) and "Quick Flush Herbal Detox Pills," designed to flush drug residue from a user's system. Today, Mr. Neal pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, for which he faces up to six years in prison. The moral: Don't buy drug-free urine over the internet. Buy it from the shifty day care down the street.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3 The week continued in Florida, where today the far-flung insanity of US gun laws came together to make possible this impressive sentence: "Residents of a St. Petersburg neighborhood have started an online petition asking for legislative changes that would help keep their neighbor from having a gun range in his backyard." Details, like that sentence, come from Florida's Bay News 9, which identifies the homemade-gun-ranger as Joseph Carannante, a pleasure shooter whose work schedule leaves him little time to visit commercial gun ranges, and who believes his backyard gun range will save him time and money. As for neighbors' concerns about stray bullets possibly hitting their children: "I completely understand where they're coming from," Carannante told Bay News 9. "But you know we all take chances in our lives. You could get in your car and never be heard from again. It's just one of those things that our forefathers founded this country on shooting guns and being safe and we're allowed to have them." Luckily, Carannante's gun-rights argument is so nutty, it was even shot down by the typically pro-nut National Rifle Association. "Shooting ranges don't belong in dense residential neighborhoods and, in fact, nothing in the law allows them," as NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer told Bay News 9. And while the building of Carannante's backyard range is apparently somehow within the law, should he actually use the range for shooting, things could get criminal fast. "It is clear that if he were to actually pull out a weapon and fire... he would be reckless and negligent and he's setting himself up to go to jail," as Senator Jeff Brandes told reporters. Will Joseph Carannante end up going to jail for reckless negligence or regular old manslaughter? Stay tuned!
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4 In smarmier news, the week continued with Brian Williams, the NBC news anchor who for years has spiced up his personal and professional biography with a tale of being onboard a US military helicopter in the early stage of the Iraq War and coming under enemy fire. Unfortunately for Williams and his bosses at NBC, today the oft-repeated tale was confirmed to be fiction. "Williams, the anchor of the NBC Nightly News, apologized [tonight] for claiming—as recently as last Friday—that he'd been on a helicopter that was 'forced down after being hit by an RPG,'" reported CNN. Instead, as story-breaking source Stars and Stripes reported, "Williams arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter," one that "took no fire." On tonight's Nightly News broadcast, Williams described his fictional claims as "a mistake" enabled by "the fog of memory," and on Saturday, Williams will announce his temporary leave of absence from broadcasting. "Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us," stated Mr. Williams, who will likely next be seen playing himself in Hustler Video's This Ain't NBC Nightly News XXX.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5 In worse news, the week continued with a nightmare story out of Japan, where a man who posed as a sleep scientist stands charged with dozens of rapes. As CNN reported, the saga was set in motion in 2012, in the Chiba Prefecture, where police say 54-year-old Hideyuki Noguchi placed a newspaper ad seeking participants for a sleep study. "The ad sought women from their teens through their 40s," reported CNN. "But authorities say Noguchi has no medical training and the study was merely a ruse to isolate women, drug them, assault them, and film the attacks." The filmed attacks were then—UGH—sold as pornography, with the ruse unraveling after a woman spotted herself in a video and called the cops. "Police investigated and arrested Noguchi, who now faces charges of incapacitated rape in some three dozen cases," reported CNN. "Authorities say Noguchi has told them the number of victims is about 100."
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6 In lighter news, the week continued in Lincoln County, Missouri, where the family of a 6-year-old boy is facing felony charges after allegedly staging an instructional fake kidnapping. As the boy's 38-year-old aunt Denise Kroutil told ABC, she enlisted a coworker—23-year-old Nathan Firoved—to kidnap her young nephew to teach the excessively trusting boy about "stranger danger." "Firoved allegedly lured the boy into his truck on Monday," reported ABC. "Firoved told the boy he would never 'see his mommy again' and that he would be 'nailed to the wall of a shed.' After the boy started to cry, police said Firoved showed him a handgun and said he would be hurt if he did not stop crying." Police say Firoved then bound the boy's hands and feet, covered his face, and drove him home, where he was subjected to a family lecture about the proper mistrust of strangers. Afterward, the boy described the ordeal to school officials, and on Wednesday, police arrested Kroutil and Firoved—along with the boy's mother and grandmother—on charges of felony kidnapping and felony abuse and neglect of a child. The boy has been placed in protective custody, while each of the four adults remains jailed under a $250,000 cash bond.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7 In last week's column, Last Days shared the letter sent from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, reminding Washington State marijuana providers that military law forbids marijuana use even in states where recreational adult use is legal. At the end of the item, Last Days expressed our dismay at the cruel separation of service people and weed and offered to enact weed runs for any and all needy members of the military. Which brings us to today, when we received the following e-mail: "While I completely understand your motivation in offering to supply soldiers with weed, I must warn you that such actions will put the receiving soldiers in peril. Soldiers are regularly and randomly drug tested. There is no way to beat these tests. At best the soldier will be separated from the military with loss of all pay and benefits (meaning they will not be able use their college benefits and will be unable to use the VA system should they need to). At worst they will be prosecuted and do time before the former happens. Most soldiers are young and do stupid shit. Help protect them from themselves and do not supply them with weed. Respectfully, SGT Timothy G. Verkist, US Army (RET)." Dear Sergeant Verkist: Thank you for your kind and informative letter. Your wish is our command.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8 Nothing happened today, unless you count the soccer riot outside Cairo that tragically took the lives of at least 25 people, or the live-ish television broadcast of the Grammy Awards, which tragically took the life of no one.
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