Just in time for Pride Weekend: Bad news about Ecstasy. Today in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from the National Institute of Drug Abuse issued findings from their seven-year study of the euphoria-inducing stimulant also known as "E," "X," "MDMA," and "St. Joseph's Baby Acid." Experiments on monkeys revealed that as few as four days of Ecstasy use can cause brain damage lasting six to seven years. Areas of the brain particularly affected are the neocortex (associated with conscious thought) and the hippocampus (associated with long-term memory). In the study, doctors at Johns Hopkins University gave a collection of squirrel monkeys either salt water or Ecstasy twice a day for four days. Two weeks later, the doctors killed half the monkeys, looked at their brains, and found damage to the neurons associated with seratonin (the brain-signaling chemical associated with mood, among other things.) Seven years later, they killed the rest of the monkeys, and found their brains had still not fully recovered from the damage. Contacted for comment, formidable monkey expert Wm. Stephen Humphrey stated, "Horse feathers! I've been regularly feeding Ecstasy, pot brownies, and horse tranquilizers to my monkey Aeschylus for the last 10 years, and he's fit as a fiddle. Them scientists are wasting perfectly good monkeys!"

The Seattle Poster War took a litigious turn today as City Attorney Mark Sidran filed a $7,000 lawsuit against the moving company Mighty Mover Inc. for repeatedly violating the city ordinance outlawing signs on poles. (132 Mighty Mover signs have been removed from city poles over the past four years, and the 1994 ordinance specifies a $53 penalty per sign.) Mighty Mover Inc. has yet to comment on the situation, but opponents of the poster ban have denounced the lawsuit as an assault on free speech, while Sidran's office issued a statement claiming the ordinance was enacted to "reduce the risk to line workers in scaling poles studded with nails and staples." "I don't climb telephone poles myself," Sidran boldly admitted to the Seattle P-I. "But I do respect the opinions of those who do." City pole climbers return the respect: "Thank God someone has finally stepped in to fight the deadly staple menace," said pole climber Jess Nolan, whose arm was severed by an abandoned staple in 1996. "Sidran's our savior," agreed fellow pole climber Marnie Frank, who suffered a spontaneous miscarriage after glimpsing a half-smooshed staple in a city pole. Stay tuned for further details.

As ethnic Albanians return to their homes in the wake of the Kosovo Peace Agreement, evidence of systematic atrocities carried out by Serb forces continues to surface. Today, with each new hour, Reuters brought new reports of mass graves, charred remains, and mangled corpses dumped in wells. Many of the reports were made by foreign journalists venturing into remote areas even before advancing NATO peacekeeping troops. In the provincial Drenica region, Reuters reporters saw corpses and limbs at the bottom of public wells, as well as five freshly dug pits that villagers claim contain dozens of bodies. Other horrific scenes have been discovered by NATO troops fanning out in southern and central Kosovo, including hastily dug mass burial sites overflowing with human remains. By Saturday, NATO troops discovered 60,000 ethnic Albanian refugees being held by Serb forces in five ransacked Kosovo villages that had been turned into concentration camps. By Sunday, returning ethnic Albanians will begin taking baby steps toward their revenge, reclaiming looted property from abandoned Serb houses, then calmly burning everything to the ground.

··· On a much lighter note, today Last Days received a politely impassioned e-mail from a woman who took exception to our proclamation that nothing good happened on Saturday, June 5. "My husband and I were married on that exact day at noon," the woman wrote, informing us of the nice civil ceremony held in the upstairs room at Tulio in the Hotel Vintage Park, where guests dined on salmon, pork, and chicken before sending the couple off for a three-day honeymoon in Victoria, BC. "It was, in fact, the best day of my life," she said. Our apologies for neglecting this wonderful, wonderful occasion.

The pastor of a small church in Everett was sentenced today to 90 days in jail for assaulting his daughter in what a judge called "a brutal and humiliating attack," reports the Seattle P-I. Pastor Michael J. Follett of the Liberty & Freedom Church had originally faced charges of child molestation and indecent liberties, but these charges were dropped, as the statute of limitations to prosecute the events (which allegedly occurred between 1988 and 1994) had expired. Instead, Follett entered a modified guilty plea to third-degree assault in an incident from February 1997, when Follett ordered his daughter to confess her sins, and then beat the girl (now 22) with a paddle. Court papers say Follett's wife also participated in the beating (paddling the girl's bare buttocks), as did another church leader, who punched the girl in the face. Now that's liberty and freedom!

··· In other churchy news, today the U.S. House of Representatives backed an amendment to allow states to publicly display the Ten Commandments, reports Reuters. While some lawmakers deemed the amendment a violation of the Constitutional separation of church and state, the amendment's sponsor — Alabama Republican Robert Aderholt — argued that displaying the Ten Commandments in public places would help instill values in children. "The recent shootings in Littleton, Colorado provide an unfortunate picture of children who do not understand the basic principles of humankind," Aderholdt said. Presented with a list of the Commandments by Last Days, a random selection of high schoolers agreed. "Killing is a sin? Why didn't they tell us this earlier?" asked incredulous 10th-grader Jacob Meyers. Classmate Tina Scharff was equally taken aback. "Wow, I'll never covet my neighbor's oxen again."

Today, during a Q&A session with students at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, Vice President Al Gore stopped proceedings to hug a lesbian who had broken into tears while describing her years of verbal abuse at the hands of her classmates. After boldly hugging the young lesbian — without protective gloves or goggles — Gore spoke of the nation's need to "expand the human circle of dignity to include lesbians and gays." Hate-crimes legislation is nice, but let's face it: Hugs are nicer.

··· In other Gore news: Today's Seattle P-I ran a cover story on the important political friendship currently being cultivated between Gore and gruff Bremerton linebacker Norm Dicks. While the article was a typical P-I snoozer, it did feature this headline: Dicks Playing Pivotal Role in Gore Campaign.

Once again, nothing good happened on Saturday, unless you count Stephen King getting hit by a car, which we do not. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to the prolific Mr. King.

The week wraps up with news of a vicious crow attack on First Hill! Today around 4 pm, a nice young man was walking down Union Street toward downtown when he heard a strange squawking behind him. "This wasn't your ordinary squawk," the man said. "It was frightening." Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, the man saw a black figure flying towards him. He was struck in the side of the head by a rampaging crow, who then flew into the air, renegotiated his attack position, and charged the man again — sending him running down the street screaming. The terrified man soon learned from a friend that June is crows' nesting season, and it's not unusual for the birds to do some fucked-up things. "Still, I'll never hear a crow squawk without fear again."

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