MONDAY, JANUARY 2 The week kicks off with a tragic collision of religious idealism and vicious reality in Chesapeake, Virginia, where this evening a Mormon missionary proselytizing door to door was fatally shot. Details come from the Associated Press, as well as the murder victim's mission brother, 19-year-old Joshua Heidbrink of Greeley, Colorado, who was standing next to 21-year-old Morgan Young of Bountiful, Utah, at the time of the latter's fatal shooting. Elder Heidbrink took a non-fatal bullet of his own, and both young men were rushed to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where Morgan Young was pronounced dead and Joshua Heidbrink described to police the man who ran up behind the pair and opened fire. "There was no immediate word on what prompted the shootings," the Associated Press concluded today, but by Wednesday they'll have the alleged lowdown, reporting the arrest of 19-year-old James Boughton Jr. for the shootings that "police believe occurred because the victims witnessed a crime while going door-to-door, sharing their faith." Condolences all around. Still, there's no denying that knocking on the doors of strangers in hopes of changing their core beliefs—during Friends, no less—boasts a certain eau d'asking for it.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 3 Speaking of religious fuckery: Today brought the swift kick of karma to one prominent Southern pastor, South Tulsa Baptist's Dr. Lonnie Latham, who was arrested late this evening after allegedly soliciting an undercover police officer posing as a male prostitute. After being jailed overnight on a complaint of "offering to engage in lewd acts," Latham told reporters that his congregation would understand the snafu. "They'll be hurt until they hear the whole story," Latham told Oklahoma City's KOTV, referencing "the abuse that [he] experienced and the setup that was part of it." But Latham's optimism for his followers will soon prove to be hooey: On Friday, Latham will resign his post at South Tulsa Baptist Church, with church leaders making clear that Latham will never again have "an active role in leadership" of their organization. Still, the church's renunciation proclamation didn't rule out Latham's involvement with the church as a repentant attendee, and here's hoping the fallen pastor has chutzpah enough to show up for this Sunday's service, which KOTV reports will be led by a pinch-hitting guest pastor, who'll fill the pulpit with a sermon on "dealing with such a crisis." (Suggested title: Holy Shit: When Your Spiritual Mentor Is Revealed to Be a Hypocritical Sleazebag.)
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4 Speaking of people getting mind-fucked in their souls: Today Last Days turns to the excruciating nightmare of the West Virginia mine disaster, which began back on Monday morning, when 13 miners arrived to work at the Sago Mine. At 6:30 a.m. an explosion rocked the mine, with the dense smoke from the blast sending miners deeper into the mine in search of pockets of clean air. Using a plastic curtain to barricade themselves in the deepest part of the mine, the miners began their day-and-a-half wait for rescue, and the failures of that venture will live forever in infamy. The problem, it seems, was semantic, with a late-Tuesday report that the rescue team was "checking vital signs" of 12 miners somehow landing above ground as "alive." (If someone's got vital signs to check, he's alive, right?) Worse, this assumptive misunderstanding was communicated to the miners' families (and all major news outlets), with the desperate families erupting with joy at the miraculous rescue of 12 of their 13 lost men. Three hours later, the truth landed: Yes, rescuers had found the men and checked their vital signs—but of the 13 miners, only one still had vital signs to check, and the remaining 12 were found to be deceased. The sole surviving miner, 27-year-old Randal McCloy, was rushed to a hospital with a collapsed lung and severe dehydration and remains in a coma. The ecstatic families, however, met the revamped report with understandable fury, and the agonized outcries of these families—given both horrifying news and a third-party piñata of "lying mine officials" on which to exercise their furious grief—were heartrending. "We sincerely regret the manner under which events unfolded this morning," said a tearful Ben Hatfield, president and CEO of the mine-owning International Coal Group, at a news conference today. "The events are a great tragedy."
THURSDAY, JANUARY 5 Nothing happened today, unless you count the 130 people—including five U.S. soldiers, three Iraqi soldiers, 63 Shiites, 56 Iraqi Police recruits, and three others—killed by car bombs, suicide bombs, and gunfire in "insurgent attacks" in Iraq. Dear military families: Please get over your Sheehanophobia and start getting angry.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 6 The week picks up with the torrid tale of Cynthia Sommer, 32, the breast-enhancing black widow accused of fatally poisoning her husband then using his life insurance to fund a busty new life of libertine pleasures. Details come from the Los Angeles Times, which reports that Cynthia Sommer's sordid saga commenced back on February 18, 2002, when her husband, 23-year-old Marine Sgt. Todd Sommer, died after several days of painful nausea. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be a heart attack, but further toxicology tests found Sommer's husband actually died of acute arsenic poisoning, and in late November of last year, Cynthia Sommer—who moved to Florida with a new boyfriend weeks after her husband's death—was arrested in Palm Beach County. Now San Diego prosecutors are seeking the extradition of Sommer from Florida to California so they can try her for murder by poisoning, a special-circumstances charge that, if proven, could lead to the death penalty. For her part, Cynthia Sommer is resisting the extradition attempt, presumably for good reason. Prosecutors allege that Sommer—portrayed in court documents as a dissatisfied sandwich-shop employee heavily in debt and unhappy having to care for four children—was eager to get her husband's $250,000 life insurance payout, allegedly to fund such typical widow activities as surgical breast augmentation, blowout house parties, and the placement of her name on an Internet service serving an "adult dating community focused on sexual discovery." Stay tuned for details on the extradition and criminal charges, and look forward to the Lifetime movie starring Jennifer Love-Hewitt.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 7 Nothing happened today, unless you count the 12 U.S. soldiers killed when their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in northern Iraq, or the five Marines killed fighting insurgents today west of Baghdad.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 8 The week ends as it began: With religious zealots doing questionable things with doors. Details come from the Wall Street Journal, which reports the story of the three Christian ministers who blessed the doors of the hearing room where the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin considering the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito on Monday. In addition to the door-blessing, the trio of ministers also confessed to dabbing holy oil on the seats where Judge Alito and the senators will sit. "We did adequately apply oil to all the seats," said Rev. Rob Schenck, an evangelical Christian who presides over the National Clergy Council in Washington. God knows a surreptitious visit to a judiciary hearing room by a well-meaning Muslim would have ended differently, but here's hoping Alito and the gang enjoy their blessedly oily butts.
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