MONDAY, MAY 19 This week of redeemed fundamentalists, unexpected dampness, and hippie-fest pistol-whippings gone horribly wrong kicks off today with a clampdown, as the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission began its new campaign against seat-belt scofflaws. Details come from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which reports that 10 King County agencies, including the local detachment of the Washington State Patrol, will participate in the crackdown, which officially begins tonight. The rules: In Washington State, officers can stop motorists seen driving without their seat belts. Drivers can also be ticketed for each unbelted rider under the age of 16, while unbelted riders aged 16 and up get their own tickets. Cost of each violation: $124. Buckle up, dunces.
TUESDAY, MAY 20 In bigger news: Today the U.S. Justice Department released its 370-page report detailing abuses witnessed by FBI agents at U.S.-run detention facilities overseas. To celebrate, members of Congress were treated to the testimony of Murat Kurnaz, a 26-year-old Turkish man arrested while traveling with a religious tourism group in Pakistan in late 2001 and held by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay for nearly five years. Details come from ABC News: Speaking via video link from Germany, Kurnaz told the House Foreign Affairs Committee of his astoundingly awful treatment at the hands of the U.S., allegedly including electric shocks, being chained by his arms to the ceiling with his feet dangling, and, uh, "water treatment." "They stuck my head into a bucket of water and punched me in the stomach," said Kurnaz of his captors at the U.S. base in Kandahar. "I inhaled the water... It was a strong punch." Kurnaz also alleged that U.S. interrogators tried to force him to sign papers admitting his guilt, and testified that although he had no links to al Qaeda—and German intelligence services told U.S. officials that he was not a terrorist in 2002—he remained at Guantánamo (where the abuses allegedly continued) until August 2006. "I didn't think this could happen in the 21st century," said Kurnaz. "I could never have imagined that this place was created by the United States." (For more human-rights-stomping delights, see Sandy Cioffi's feature, page 14.)
WEDNESDAY, MAY 21 Over the years, Hot Tippers have provided this column with innumerable eyewitness horrors, from last week's blind-lady-clobbered-on-the-bus saga to several novels worth of public nail clippings, whisker pluckings, and sweat spoonings. But today Last Days witnessed our own damn Hot Tip, at the hotbed of insanity known as the University District Petco. Star of the show: the skinny drunk guy dressed like a cowboy, who seemed to have wandered out of a Sam Shepard play into a large chain pet store, where he staggered around with a grimy $100 bill and shouted about wanting to buy a bird. Unsure if the man wanted the bird for a pet or a meal, Petco employees wisely invented a "no bird sales after 8:00 p.m." rule and sent Sloshalong Cassidy on his way. Five minutes later, Last Days saw him again, loping along the sidewalk in front of that weird mini–strip mall at Northeast 45th Street and Roosevelt Way Northeast. While we watched, the would-be cowboy stopped, stood stock still, then fell backward, as if participating in a trust-building exercise. Unfortunately, there were no trust-workshop participants to catch him, only pavement. Bravo and best wishes to today's accidental superstar.
THURSDAY, MAY 22 Nothing happened today, unless you count the decision by Austin, Texas's Third Court of Appeals, which today ruled that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services had no right to seize more than 130 children living at the Texas compound of the polygamy-ridden Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the state had failed to find "evidence that the male children, or the female children who had not reached puberty, were victims of sexual or other physical abuse or in danger of being victims of sexual or other physical abuse." Stay tuned.
FRIDAY, MAY 23 Today brings a valuable lesson from Hot Tipper Caroline: "I was browsing for jeans yesterday in the Capitol Hill Value Village. I found a cute pair, but they didn't have a price tag on them, so I thought I'd try them on and if they fit then I'd ask someone for the price. I draped the jeans over my arm and continued going through the racks. While browsing, I smelled the distinct odor of pussy. Then it got stronger and became the distinct odor of pussy and piss. I looked at the jeans draped on my arm and, hating myself, leaned in slightly to see if the offensive odor was coming from them. It was. I hurried to get the jeans off my arm, only to realize they were soaking wet from the crotch through the thigh with still-warm urine. Obviously, someone had wet their goddamn pants, gone into Value Village, put on a different pair of jeans, and hung their piss-soaked jeans back on the rack. It's been almost 24 hours and I still have a grimace on my face. What continues to haunt me is that, in total shock and horror, I put the jeans back on the rack. Ladies, beware."
SATURDAY, MAY 24 The week continues with the aforementioned hippie-fest pistol-whipping gone horribly wrong. The place: Seattle Center, where the 37th annual Folklife Festival, the three-day celebration of "folk, ethnic, and traditional" performance, got under way today. The problem: the fight that broke out between two attendees near the drum circle on the north side of the Seattle Center fountain, in which one man allegedly attempted to pistol-whip another and ended up shooting him and two innocent bystanders. Lucky for all, the accidental shooting was nonfatal, involving a single bullet that passed through the nasal passage of the shooter's fight partner and the hand of a bystander before lodging in the leg of another bystander; all parties are expected to make full recoveries. Nevertheless, the shot understandably instigated a whole bunch of freaking-out, with scores of Folklife attendees fleeing and screaming while a few brave souls tackled the shooter, holding him until police arrived. On Monday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer will identify the gunman as 22-year-old Clinton Granger, a Snohomish County man with "a history of anxiety and schizophrenia" now facing three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
SUNDAY, MAY 25 The week ends with a gassy whimper, as at least four Seattle-area gas stations were temporarily closed after their gasoline was found to have been cut with water. Details come from KING 5, which reports the diluted fuel originated at the Shell terminal on Harbor Island and was dispensed at a variety of Seattle-area stations, causing dozens of cars to break down. (Apparently, watery gas doesn't work.) By tomorrow, the bad gas will be removed from circulation, with a Shell company spokesperson attributing the mess to "human error."
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