MONDAY, JULY 30 This week of local loons, broken bridges, and totally ridiculous excuses kicks off today in Phoenix, Arizona, where 49-year-old Ronald Marquez was arrested after subjecting his 3-year-old granddaughter to an exorcism. Details come from the Associated Press: Upon receiving a report of an exorcism in progress on an underage person, police arrived at the house shared by Marquez, his 19-year-old daughter, and her 3-year-old daughter. Upon hearing screams from a bedroom, officers found Marquez choking his bloodied granddaughter, who was gasping and crying in pain. "The purpose was to release demons from this very young child," said Sergeant Joel Tranter to the AP. Also found in the exorcism room: the girl's aforementioned 19-year-old mother/Marquez's daughter, who was bloody, naked, and "chanting something religious in nature." When the mere presence of police failed to stop the exorcism, officers struggled with the exorcist, eventually stunning Marquez twice with a stun gun and placing him in handcuffs, after which he reportedly "appeared normal." Then he stopped breathing, couldn't be revived, and was soon pronounced dead at a hospital. Authorities say the cause of death was not immediately known and autopsy results are weeks away. Still, what killed Ronald Marquez is obvious to anyone with a soul: a fatal dose of Satan, successfully released from his bloody, screaming granddaughter and absorbed into Marquez's far more suitable flesh. Upsetting after-facts: The relative who phoned police said this was the second exorcism Marquez had attempted on his granddaughter in the past week, and authorities are considering charges against the mother.

TUESDAY, JULY 31 Speaking of diabolically inspired child abuse: Over the past nine years, Last Days has reported plenty of it, but rarely have we offered anything in regard to motive beyond a grudging nod toward God for bestowing upon humanity a seemingly bottomless facility for cruelty. But today, Last Days has some hard facts about one of the more consistent causes of child abuse and neglect: military life during wartime. Details come from a new study commissioned by the Department of Defense, conducted by the University of North Carolina, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that children left with one parent while the other parent is deployed for military action face more mistreatment than kids with nondeployed parents. "The rate of child neglect was nearly four times as high during deployments compared to other times," said study worker Deborah Gibbs to the Associated Press. That stressed-out, suddenly single parents treat kids worse than happy couples isn't surprising, but other findings of the study are: Did you know that kids who stayed home with dad suffered less than kids left home with mom? Or that the rates of child mistreatment during times of parental deployment went up in all kinds of families, regardless of the age of the parent, the race or location of the family, or the soldiers' rank? Neither did we.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1 The week continues with the tragic collapse of a bridge in Minneapolis, where at least five people were killed and more than 100 others injured after the Interstate 35W bridge fell more than 60 feet into the Mississippi River. Beyond the obvious—"Holy fuck!"—Last Days has nothing more to say about this tragedy, so thank God for Jennifer Umolac, the Minnesota woman who delivered an angry address at a memorial/demonstration during President Bush's obligatory visit to the bridge, the text of which was published on DailyKos: "In the midst of going about our lives, of paying our taxes, and raising our children, we were unaware that those entrusted to ensuring the safety of our most basic services were shirking their responsibilities, misappropriating our taxes, and leaving us vulnerable in ways we didn't even think to worry about. Who ever thinks that the bridge beneath their wheels will one day give way? Who among us realized how vulnerable we are... not to an outside enemy with a murderous agenda, as we've been conditioned to fear over these past six years... but to an administration, a legislature, and a governor who place their own political priorities over the safety of we the people. We Minnesotans are slow to anger... but angry we are."

THURSDAY, AUGUST 2 Meanwhile in Seattle, a bunch of folks spent the week going extravagantly bonkers. First up is the 25-year-old man in West Seattle, who spent three hours digging a giant hole in the sand of Alki Beach on Monday. Described by the West Seattle Herald as 10 by 8 by 7 feet, the man's giant hole drew the attention of firefighters, who deemed the hole likely to collapse and cause "significant injury or death," then booked the "evasive and uncooperative" digger into a hospital for a mental exam.

••Next is Hot Tipper Jon's sighting of a naked guy dancing—with a transistor radio in one hand and a Bud Light/cigarette combo in the other—Tuesday at the Arboretum. "He didn't really stick out among the 15 or so other sunburned men cruising the peninsula/bathhouse," reports Jon. "What I didn't expect were the shrub pruners he brought with him for 20 minutes of naked blackberry-bush pruning along the edge of the lawn."

••Finally, there's the 50-year-old man who last night visited the Aurora Bridge in Fremont and methodically leaped to his death. Witnesses told police they saw the man walk toward the railing on the northbound lane around 9:00 p.m. and jump off "without hesitation." Cops told the Seattle Times the man hit the bank before falling into the water. RIP, mystery jumper.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 3 From the erratically driving Lindsay Lohan to the child-drowning Susan Smith, troubled white Americans have long enjoyed the exculpatory scapegoating properties of the nameless "black guy." Today brings word of another troubled honky attributing his alleged crimes to anonymous African Americans, courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel, which offers some galling follow-up in the saga of Bob Allen, the Florida state representative arrested on charges of soliciting prostitution after allegedly offering an undercover cop $20 for sex. According to a taped statement and other documents released yesterday, Allen told police he was "just playing along" when an undercover officer suggested that the legislator give him oral sex and $20 in a public restroom. "This was a pretty stocky black guy," said Allen of the undercover cop/would-be prostitute after his arrest. "And there was nothing but other black guys around in the park." Allen told police he feared he "was about to be a statistic" and would have said anything just to get away. And while Allen's creepy claims that race-based fear drove him to engage the undercover officer can't compare with the police report detailing his aggressive pursuit of his soon-to-be-arresting officer (including but not limited to Allen letting himself into the officer's single bathroom stall), Last Days must congratulate Bob Allen for fearlessly showing more of his assholey true colors.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4 Nothing happened today, unless you count the annual sky-rape perpetrated by the Blue Angels, or the glorious progression from a chilly gray morning to a hot sunny afternoon by the city of Seattle.


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