MONDAY, AUGUST 9 The week began with wackiness in Russia as perennially moribund President Boris Yeltsin fired his entire Cabinet. The surprise political slaughter -- Yeltsin's fourth in 17 months -- was executed at a brief morning meeting at the Kremlin; the most conspicuous casualty was Prime-Minister-for-the-past-three-months Sergei V. Stepashin, replaced today by Vladimir V. Putin, former KGB officer and Yeltsin's choice for presidential successor when Yeltsin's term expires next year. Some analysts guess that Yeltsin is determined to insure that Russia receives a government and president committed to the country's burgeoning attempts at democracy. Others see Yeltsin's move as a desperate personal gambit. "He is afraid of a Ceausescu scenario," said communist party advisor Leonid Dobrokhotov to The New York Times, referring to the summary execution of Romania's despised dictator in 1989. Whatever the motive, Yeltsin's freak-out was certainly a shock, particularly to those of us who would've sworn on a stack of Bibles that Boris Yeltsin was already dead.

Also today: Nordstrom (along with J. Crew and two other U.S. clothing retailers) agreed to settle a federal class-action lawsuit claiming sweatshop abuses on the western Pacific island of Saipan, reports the Associated Press. In the first legal attempt to hold U.S. retailers accountable for the misdeeds of foreign subcontractors, the four companies were accused of contracting with sweatshops where beatings, forced abortions, vermin-infested quarters, and hellish work weeks -- 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, with employees kept in line by barbed wire and armed guards -- were the norm. As part of the settlement, Nordstrom will donate $395,000 to a $1.25 million independent monitoring program designed to insure sweatshop compliance with pesky U.S. labor laws and international human rights treaties.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 10 Today The Blair Witch Project phenomenon leapt to a frightening new level as the low-budget indie hit landed on the covers of both Time and Newsweek. And while the national media coverage was titillating (best Newsweek factoid: Josh and Mike weren't faking it -- they really hated Heather's guts), the local Blair Witch angle has an appeal all its own. First, this Hot Tip from Capitol Hill, where today a young smoker stepped outside his apartment to enjoy a cigarette -- only to find a strange man screaming and chasing the smoker's cat across the street. When the deranged man went so far as to hurl a copy of The Stranger at the frightened kitty, the smoker was forced to intervene, bellowing the timeless question, "Hey! Why are you throwing The Stranger at my cat?" The man promptly stopped, apologized profusely, and explained, "I just saw The Blair Witch Project and I'm really freaking out." Another Seattle viewer was also freaked out by the BWP -- but was even more upset by the audience members who had come to the film with their four-year-old daughter in tow. "Those parents should be locked up," said the man. "And that child should begin therapy as soon as possible." As for Last Days' own experience with the BWP: While the spell the movie has cast on so many others eluded us, we certainly enjoyed the film's narrative restraint and brilliant performances. However, a friend who accompanied us to the movie was so upset she cried for two hours after it was over.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11 In an effort to convey inclusiveness to voters watching the forthcoming Democratic National Convention on television, California Democrats have issued specific quotas for how the 432-member delegation should look, reports the Associated Press. Formulated from the state's population and voter exit polls, the recipe for inclusion specifies that 26 percent of delegates should be Hispanic, 16 percent black, 10 percent disabled, 9 percent Asian-Pacific Islander, 5 percent gay, 5 percent lesbian, and 1 percent Indian; half should be men, and half women. Republicans are predictably critical of the move ("If you're a white male and you've done nothing wrong, you're discriminated against by the Democratic Party," says GOP spokesman Stuart DeVeaux), but Democrats are proud of the directive. Says party spokesman Bob Mulholland, "It's certainly a plus to have on national television a delegation that looks like America." Accordingly, each delegate will be required to be 30 pounds overweight and dressed in sweatpants.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 12 Stop the presses: Newt Gingrich is a two-timing slut! Today the New York Post broke the news that former House Speaker Gingrich -- leader of the charge against fellow two-timing slut Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky -- has been "romantically involved" with a much younger (20 years, to be precise) congressional staffer for the past three years. The woman in question is 33-year-old Callista Bisek, a member of the House Agriculture Committee staff, who has been described as an "attractive, refined blonde," and "a very fine French horn player." The other woman in question is Gingrich's wife of 18 years, Marianne, who learned of the affair when two-timing slut Newt called her the day after Mother's Day to ask her for a divorce (classy!).

FRIDAY, AUGUST 13 Finally, a little good news for Safeco Field. The Seattle Times reports that a follow-up inspection of the multi-zillion-dollar stadium's food service facilities found only one code red violation (for inaccessible hand-washing facilities at one food stand), down from last month's 50 (for crimes of filth too atrocious to mention here). Congrats, Safeco Field! You're E. coli-free!

SATURDAY, AUGUST 14 Today Last Days was alerted via a Hot Tip to a fascinating new pair of petty criminals currently wreaking havoc on Seattle's Capitol Hill. Described by our Hot Tipper as a bi-racial, mixed gender, criminally minded Abbott & Costello (he's a tall, thin African American, she's a short, heavy Caucasian American), this dynamic duo has been fearlessly pillaging parking lot payment boxes throughout the lower Capitol Hill area. According to our eyewitness, the lady provides a diversion and keeps watch while her man goes to town with his tools, ransacking the teensy metal slots for the crumpled bills within. Apparently this modern day Bonnie and Clyde couple has yet to be nailed by the fuzz; any information as to their whereabouts would be greatly appreciated by Last Days, who aims to turn them into the superstar anti-heroes they so obviously are.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 15 The week wraps up with some exciting (and some troubling) news about the odds of HIV infection for gay men. A new study by San Francisco's Department of Public Health has calculated the mathematical risk of acquiring HIV through specific acts, and the results are a mixed bag. Good news: Sucking dick is less risky than originally thought, posing only a 1-in-2,500 chance of a sucker being infected by a suckee's HIV-infected semen. Bad news: HIV-prevention strategies aren't as effective as hoped; the most provocative preliminary finding is that getting fucked by someone wearing a condom renders a bottom only one-third less likely of contracting HIV than getting fucked with no condom at all. (Rubbers break.) But the study ended on a good note by debunking popular myths of HIV infection. Scratched off the risk list: Wearing clothing by gay designers, participating in AIDS walks, and eating the hot dogs at Safeco Field.

I expect angry letters. Send your Hot Tips to or call the 24-Hour Hot Tips Hotline at 323-7101 ext. 3113.