MONDAY, MARCH 23 This week of prizewinning scientists, impatient vultures, and rich and twisty litigation kicks off with an example of the latter, as a federal judge blasted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its gross mishandling of issues related to Plan B, the morning-after birth-control pills that prevent ovulation and/or interfere with the fertilization or implantation of an egg, which, as the Associated Press reports, "Some people consider to be the equivalent of abortion." Thus during the Bush administration, access to Plan B was blocked by "mysterious" obstacles and sticky wads of red tape. But no more: Today, U.S. district judge Edward Korman ordered the FDA to make Plan B available to all women 17 and older without a prescription. "Indeed, the record is clear that the FDA's course of conduct regarding Plan B departed in significant ways from the agency's normal procedures regarding similar applications to switch a drug product from prescription to nonprescription use," wrote Judge Korman in his ruling, which must be complied with within 30 days.
TUESDAY, MARCH 24 The week continues with more splashy legal dealings. Specifically, the possible million-dollar lawsuit filed today against the City of Olympia by a man who was wrongly arrested and charged with the rape of an 11-year-old girl. Details come from KIRO-TV, which reports the nightmare saga commenced two years ago, when the aforementioned girl was attacked at her Olympia home. At the time, David Lynch was living in an elaborate secret bunker built into the ground of an Olympia city park; when police found him roughly a mile from the scene of the attack, he was brought in for questioning, even though he failed to fit the attacker's description. Further details come from Lynch's lawsuit, which claims that despite his denial of any wrongdoing and request for an attorney, Lynch was not properly read his rights and ultimately pushed by police into a confession and "a total mental breakdown." Eventually, DNA evidence cleared Lynch in the attack, leading to the filing of today's charges of unlawful arrest and imprisonment, for which Lynch could be awarded up to $1 million. As for the instigating rape: Olympia police later arrested and convicted Peter Inouye, who in January was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25 Today brought horrific flooding to the U.S. Midwest, where rising Red River floodwaters have caused vast evacuations, blocked off hundreds of miles of roads and highways, and resulted in North Dakota being declared a federal disaster area. Meanwhile in the Pacific Northwest, police in Seaside, Oregon, confirmed that last week's brutal attack on a pair of Shoreline Community College nursing students will be prosecuted as a hate crime. Details on the beating come from Seattle Times reporter Charles E. Brown, who identifies the victims as two men in their early 20s, one from Bothell, the other from Issaquah, who spent last weekend together on the Oregon Coast, where the pair was walking on the beach late Sunday evening until they were called "queer" and "faggot" then beaten unconscious by "three to four people in black," who left the men for dead and fled. When the blessedly not-dead men regained consciousness, they stumbled to a nearby hotel for help, then were treated and released at an area hospital. As for the attackers: The Seaside Police Department is offering up to $1,000 for information leading to their arrest and conviction. Stay tuned.
THURSDAY, MARCH 26 The week continues with some thoroughly good news, as two scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center were bestowed six-year, $1.5 million research awards. As the Seattle Times reports, 36-year-old Harmit Singh Malik, an "evolutionary biologist who uses biochemistry and genomics to study how genes fight for evolutionary dominance," and 43-year-old Toshiyasu Taniguchiare, a "physician and a cancer researcher... studying how the body's DNA-repair process interferes with a drug's effect on cancer cells," are among 50 U.S. scientists selected to receive time-and-money-rich Early Career Scientist appointments by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Congratulations to all of today's winners (but especially our hometown smarties; science in the 206, holla!).
FRIDAY, MARCH 27 If cartoons have taught us anything, it's that vultures love to eat dead people. But today in Parsippany, New Jersey, a corpse-hungry vulture apparently jumped the gun, smashing through the windshield of a minivan and hitting 32-year-old Vanessa Hurtado in the face. The vulture died, Hurtado escaped with minor cuts and a few shards of glass in her eye, and as New York's WNBC reports, "This isn't the first time a turkey vulture has left its mark on a New Jerseyan. In June 2004, one hit a motorcyclist in the head. While attempting to get the live bird off of him, the man lost control and struck another car. He died of his injuries." The moral: Beware of impatient vultures.
SATURDAY, MARCH 28 Nothing happened today, unless you count news reports about the man in Lewis County, Washington, facing assault and child-endangerment charges after allegedly serving his breastfeeding wife a glass of water spiked with meth. As KING 5 reports, "The 34-year-old man told investigators he hoped the meth would give her energy to clean the house." Fun fact: The alleged meth-server is already jailed on another pending charge, and police learned of the new meth incident by listening to his jailhouse phone calls. Not-so-fun fact: The meth-spiked wife gets to spend the next 18 years raising the spawn of the crappiest man in Lewis County.
SUNDAY, MARCH 29 The week concludes with an abrupt and horrifying return to the dominant theme of a few weeks ago, with today bringing not one but two horrifying murder sprees. The first began around 10:00 a.m. in Carthage, North Carolina, where a psychotic gunman entered the Pinelake Health and Rehab nursing home and fatally shot seven elderly patients and a nurse. The New York Times identifies the victims as 98-year-old Louise DeKler, 89-year-old Lillian Dunn, 88-year-old Tessie Garner, 78-year-old John Goldston, 78-year-old Bessie Hendrick, 89-year-old Margaret Johnson, 88-year-old Jesse Musser, and 39-year-old nurse Jerry Avant Jr., and the alleged gunman as 45-year-old Robert Stewart, who was apprehended at the scene. Tomorrow, police will reveal that Stewart is the husband of a nursing-home employee. Meanwhile in Santa Clara, California, a completely different psycho was planning a murder spree of his own, carried out this evening at a private residence in the city's upscale Rivermark community, where six people—three of them children—were fatally shot, with a seventh victim critically wounded. "We do believe this appears to be a family-on-family murder-suicide," said police Lt. Phil Cooke to the San Francisco Chronicle, with police eventually identifying the victims as the suspected gunman's 11-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter, and three houseguests—a 35-year-old man, his 25-year-old wife, and their 11-month-old daughter, all visiting from India. The seventh victim, the suspected gunman's thirtysomething wife, remains in critical condition at a local hospital. As for the (dead) suspected gunman and his unknown motive: He was 42 years old, and the home was not in foreclosure.
Attention Showgirls lovers: This Friday, April 3, at the Triple Door. Everyone else: Send Hot Tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.