MONDAY, JUNE 15 This brutally American week of politics, racism, and deadly gun violence kicked off in upstate New York, where earlier this month convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat went missing from the Clinton Correctional Facility, instigating a $1-million-a-day manhunt that continued throughout this week and beyond. While the killers remain at large, today their alleged accomplice appeared in court. As Reuters reported, 51-year-old prison employee Joyce Mitchell stands accused of providing Matt and Sweat with chisels and hacksaws to aid their escape, as well as agreeing to drive a getaway car (a task the wary Mitchell ultimately flaked out on, leaving the escapees to their ongoing escape-by-foot). On Wednesday, the plot will thicken with allegations that Mitchell and the convicts discussed a murder-for-hire plot targeting Mitchell's husband. "She has pleaded not guilty," reported Reuters. "If convicted, she faces up to eight years in prison."
TUESDAY, JUNE 16 The week continued with the sprouting of gross new bacteria in the political petri dish that is the field of nominees for the Republican presidential nomination. Yesterday in Miami, out-and-proud member of the Bush family Jeb Bush officially launched his bid for the presidency, positioning himself as the would-be GOP nominee who cares about the plight of nonwhites by spiking his speech with a few sentences in Spanish. "Gather our cause of opportunity for all, the cause of all who love freedom and the noble cause of the United States," said the man who believes marriage equality will literally ruin America en español. But no such multicultural niceties were taken by Donald Trump, the unhinged real-estate mogul and reality-TV star who today announced his candidacy with all the gravitas of a cartoon rooster. "I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created," spoke the compulsive self-aggrandizer. "I'll bring back our jobs from China," Trump added, conveniently sidestepping the fact that his Donald J. Trump Signature Collection suits are made in China. But Trump's most shockingly assholey remarks centered on Mexican immigrants, whom Trump seriously denounced as mostly drug addicts and rapists. (Trump's shameless racism will draw not a peep from his GOP comrades, including alleged friend to Latinos Jeb Bush.) Icing on the shit cake: Tomorrow the Hollywood Reporter will confirm that a number of those cheering Trump at his announcement ceremony were professional movie and television extras paid $50 apiece if they stayed for the whole thing.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17 In much worse news, the week continued in Charleston, South Carolina, where this evening an ostentatiously racist young man whose parents recently gave him a gun for his birthday presented himself at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he sat listening to a Bible study session for an hour before whipping out a gun and opening fire. According to a surviving eyewitness, the gun-wielding white man told the black congregants, "You are raping our women and taking over the country." By the time the shooter fled, nine people lay fatally wounded. Ranging in age from 26 to 87, the victims included recent college graduate Tywanza Sanders, library manager Cynthia Hurd, high-school track coach Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, pastor Myra Thompson, retired community services director Depayne Middleton Doctor, elderly cousins Susie Jackson and Ethel Lance, Reverend Doctor Daniel Simmons Sr., and pastor and state senator Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney. Fourteen hours after the massacre, police in North Carolina will arrest Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old with an active online presence as a pro-segregation racist, who'll reportedly confess to the crime by week's end. "According to sources cited by NBC News, Roof told police that he 'almost didn't go through' with the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, 'because everyone was so nice to him,'" reported Politico. "According to CNN, Roof said he attacked the unarmed worshipers for political purposes... A law enforcement official told CNN that Roof said he did it to start a race war." Roof is charged with nine counts of murder and one count of possessing a firearm in the commission of a deadly crime.
THURSDAY, JUNE 18 Nothing happened today, unless you count the outpouring of grief, shock, and horror inspired by what happened yesterday. "Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun," said President Obama, who must have this speech memorized by now. "At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this kind of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn't happen in other places with this kind of frequency. It is in our power to do something about it." Meanwhile in South Carolina, the Charleston Post and Courier offset its front-page "Church Attack Kills 9" headline with a sticker advertising a gun show, while the statehouse in Columbia will fly its US and state flags at half-mast while keeping its Confederate flag flying high.
FRIDAY, JUNE 19 The week continued in Seattle, where today supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement came together with United Gang Members of Seattle for a peaceful march against police brutality. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, an unarmed man attempted to flag down a passing police vehicle and wound up shot in the head by cops, who mistakenly believed the towel-wrapped arm the man was waving held a gun.
SATURDAY, JUNE 20 As an intellectual masochist, Last Days cannot resist exposing ourselves to galling idiocy, such as the post-Charleston statements made by NRA board member Charles Cotton, who blamed the tragedy not on an inflamed racist with ready access to guns but on one of the victims' support for gun control. "Eight of [Sen. Clementa Pinckney's] church members, who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church, are dead," said Cotton. "Innocent people died because of his political position on the issue." This idea will be parroted by GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, cementing his idiocy and inspiring grave pessimism about this nation's future. So thank God for Adam Gopnik, whose bracingly sane "The Simple Truth About Gun Control" was published in 2012 by the New Yorker. "Gun control is not a panacea, any more than penicillin was," wrote Gopnik. "Some violence will always go on. What gun control is good at is controlling guns. Gun control will eliminate gun massacres in America as surely as antibiotics eliminate bacterial infections." After noting the importance of opportunity in any crime and how even small obstacles to gun ownership can save numerous lives, Gopnik went in for the kill: "As I wrote last week, those who oppose [gun control] have made a moral choice: that they would rather have gun massacres of children continue rather than surrender whatever idea of freedom or pleasure they find wrapped up in owning guns or seeing guns owned—just as the faith healers would rather watch the children die than accept the reality of scientific medicine." Thank you, Adam Gopnik. To paraphrase the recently deceased jazz genius Ornette Coleman, let us focus on sanity.
SUNDAY, JUNE 21 The week ended.
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