Monday, June 16 This week of fatal steamrollings, sympathetic sex offenders, and the unfortunate collision of low self-esteem and high fertility kicks off with a social experiment on the streets of Washington State. The experiment's thesis question: Is using a cell phone while driving dangerous? For an answer, the Washington State Patrol tested five drivers, who were monitored as they drove while talking on cell phones and sending and receiving text messages. As KIRO reports, the results were crushingly obvious, with phone-chatting drivers regularly veering into oncoming lanes and texting drivers spending "about a third of their time watching their screens." KIRO also specified that a car going 60 miles per hour travels nearly 100 feet in the one second a person's eyes are on a cell-phone screen. "Basically, you have no idea where you just traveled for 100 feet," said Tyler Fryberger of the WSP. "It's just like driving with your eyes closed." But starting July 1, the state gains a new tool against the deadly threat of Driving While Under the Influence of Hand-Held Technology, when "driving while using a hand-held cell phone" joins "driving while texting" on the list of poor choices officially forbidden by law. Once July hits, drivers caught using cell phones without the aid of a speakerphone or other hands-free device will be hit with a $124 fine. Considering how many cell-phone-using drivers we see on a daily basis, Last Days predicts revenues from the new law could rehabilitate Washington's public schools, fix every pothole in the state, and perhaps cure cancer.
Tuesday, June 17 Speaking of poor driving choices: Today brings a goof gone horribly wrong in Blaine, Washington, where early this morning an 18-year-old man and two friends came upon an abandoned steamroller. Even better, the steamroller had keys in the ignition, enabling the aforementioned 18-year-old to take an impromptu steamroller joyride, during which an attempt to plow over a dirt pile caused the steamroller to flip and fatally crush its driver. Condolences to all, including the poor dumb sap who left the keys in the ignition.
Wednesday, June 18 Speaking of poor dumb saps: The week continues with the beguiling saga of Tammy Gibson, the 40-year-old woman in Puyallup, Washington, arraigned today on charges of second-degree assault and felony harassment after taking a baseball bat to her neighborhood sex offender.
Details come from KIRO 7 Eyewitness News, which identifies the sex offender as William Baldwin, a 24-year-old Pierce County man convicted of molesting two 5-year-old girls as a teenager in 1999. As for Gibson, she first learned of Baldwin's existence from a flyer distributed in the River Road Trailer Park and Cottonwood Mobile Home Park by the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, announcing Baldwin's status as a level 3 sex offender and describing how he "lured a 5-year-old girl into a doghouse in his backyard and sexually assaulted her. That crime was committed while he was on parole for another sexual assault in which he forced a different 5-year-old girl into a sex act with him." Upon receipt of the flyer, Gibson admits she "lost [her] mind," and on Monday afternoon, she took matters into her own hands, apprising Baldwin of her feelings about sex offenders with a baseball bat. Pressed for specifics on the attack, Baldwin told KIRO, "She grabbed a bat, picked it up, and started beating the crap out of me." As for the bat-wielding woman's motive: Court documents say Gibson first told investigators she believed Baldwin had molested her daughter, but later confessed she knew he hadn't and was just afraid he'd reoffend. "I'd do it again if I had to," said Gibson after her arrest for second-degree assault and felony harassment, which threatens her daughter's well-being more than Baldwin ever did. "I'm in big trouble for this and I'm wondering who is taking care of my daughter right now," Gibson tearfully told KIRO. "I want to be with my kids, but I guess I just sit and wait." Condolences to all, and confidential to everyone: Sex offenders aren't popular, but they also aren't piñatas.
THURSDAY, JUNE 19 The week continues with a species-incriminating saga out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, which commenced when officials at Gloucester High School noticed the unusual number of girls coming to the school clinic for pregnancy tests. As Time reports, the school typically has about four pregnancies per year, but this year brought a whopping 17 pregnancies, with many of the "with child" students attaining their status thanks to a pact. "Nearly half of the girls confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together," reports Time. "None of them is older than 16." Upsetting follow-up is provided by school superintendent Christopher Farmer, who classified the pact-making students as "girls who lack self-esteem and have a lack of love in their life," and identified one of the fathers as "a 24-year-old homeless guy." But not everyone sees the saga as a stain on our collective soul: Empathy for the pact-making teens comes from 18-year-old Amanda Ireland, who understands the girls' desires to procreate: "They're so excited to finally have someone to love them unconditionally." Confidential to the students in Gloucester having babies in hopes of securing "unconditional love": Go somewhere quiet, sit very still, and think about how "unconditional" your love for your own parents has been. Then get thee to an abortion clinic or adoption agency, pronto.
Friday, June 20 In somewhat lighter news, today brings The Case of the Missing Woman Who Was Not Missed, courtesy of the UK's Daily Record. At the center of the story: Hedviga Golik, the Croatian woman who was born in 1924, and who was found this week after sitting dead in front of her television for 42 years. As the Daily Record reports, Golik was last seen by neighbors in 1966, when she would have been 42 years old, and next seen in 2008, when her skeleton was found by authorities hoping to establish who owned the woman's "empty" flat. "The cup she had been drinking tea from was still on a table next to the chair she had been sitting in," said a police spokesman. "Nothing had been disturbed for decades." As usual, neighbors were shocked. "I still remember her," said Jadranka Markic, who was 9 when Golik "vanished." "She was a quiet woman who kept to herself but was polite. We all thought that she had just moved out and gone to live with relatives." Here's hoping The Bones of a Woman Who Sat Dead in Front of Her Television for 42 Years gets the international gallery tour it deserves.
Saturday, June 21 Nothing happened today, unless you count the peaceful army of citizens—many of them naked—who gathered in Fremont for the annual Solstice Parade.
Sunday, June 22 Nothing happened today.
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