MONDAY, MARCH 15 This week of honky jihadists, handcuffed activists, and the dream of national health care semirealized kicks off in Kirkland, where early this morning 59-year-old Steve Sarich was asleep in his home when he was awoken by a quartet of intruders, with whom Sarich exchanged gunfire while his 21-year-old girlfriend called 911. Soon medics arrived to take Sarich to the hospital (where he was treated for minor shotgun-pellet wounds), and police began rounding up the alleged intruders, one of whom helpfully called 911 from outside Sarich's house after being hit and critically wounded in the preceding gunfire exchange. And that's just the start of the drama. Key background fact: When Steve Sarich isn't busy exchanging gunfire with intruders, he's a medical-marijuana activist, licensed medical-marijuana grower, and executive director of CannaCare, a Kirkland-based organization providing marijuana plants to medical-marijuana patients. And as the Seattle Times reports, "Once King County sheriff's deputies arrived at his home, Sarich said, they didn't just focus on the robbery. He said they sealed off his house, searched it and confiscated hundreds of marijuana plants and cuttings and other material they said was over the state's legal limit for medical marijuana." The pot raid was confirmed by King County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart, who told the Times that the post-shoot-out search of Sarich's home turned up "well over 300 plants," along with processed marijuana, baked and frozen goods presumably made with marijuana, and "a display case with pipes for sale." Under Washington law, Sarich and his girlfriend are each authorized to have a 60-day supply of pot, defined by the Washington State Department of Health as 15 marijuana plants and 24 ounces of processed marijuana (!). As Urquhart told the Times, deputies left Sarich and his girlfriend the allowed 30 plants and 48 ounces of processed pot, and detectives forwarded their findings from the raid to the King County prosecutor's office, which will determine if Sarich will face charges for exceeding his legal pot limit. Tomorrow Steve Sarich will get the legal ball rolling by announcing his plans to sue the King County Sheriff's office over his seized plants, while three of the alleged intruders will appear in court on investigation of robbery. The fourth alleged intruder—the shot 911 caller—will remain hospitalized in critical condition. "Sheriff's officials in both King and Pierce counties say there's no apparent connection between the break-in at Sarich's home and last week's attack on Mike Howard, a medical-marijuana patient from Orting who died... four days after being struck in the head by an unknown assailant," reports the Times, adding that "Howard, 38, a patient of Sarich's CannaCare, was conscious and talking after his 18-year-old girlfriend called 911." Condolences to the friends and family of Mike Howard. (And what's up with all the victimized cannabis users with remarkably young girlfriends?)
TUESDAY, MARCH 16 The week continues with the ongoing disintegration of the Catholic Church, as Europe continues to experience an explosion of sexual abuse allegations similar to the pedophilic tornado that ravaged the church in the U.S. in the 1990s, leaving the Vatican with a fresh dose of underage egg on its face. Nevertheless, the Vatican sticks with its hilarious "What's the big deal?" pose, today criticizing the media for exaggerating the problem. "The Church still enjoys great confidence on the part of the faithful, it is just that someone is trying to undermine that," said Vatican secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone in a statement reported by Reuters. "But the church has special help, from above." They need it: As the New York Times reported today, the Vatican has but 10 people handling the 300 cases alleging child abuse that hit the church each year. As David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests told the NYT, "It seems like an extraordinarily paltry effort, given the scope of the crisis." Stay tuned. (The Vatican might be hiring!)
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17 Nothing happened today, unless you count the filing of criminal charges against Vladimir Augustine, the Seattle man who last week walked into the Union Gospel Mission, identified himself as a vampire and space cowboy, then allegedly threatened to detonate a bomb-approximating device taped to his arm. (The bomb proved to be but a pipe, and Augustine has been charged with criminal threat-making.)
THURSDAY, MARCH 18 The week continues in Washington, D.C., where today brought a variety of protests against "don't ask, don't tell," the U.S. military policy requiring gay servicefolk to stay closeted, which President Obama has lackadaisically promised to overturn sometime. On the Freedom Plaza, the Human Rights Campaign hosted a well-publicized rally hosted by comedienne Kathy Griffin. At the White House, Lt. Dan Choi—the gay West Point graduate and Iraq War veteran who's been an outspoken opponent of "don't ask, don't tell"—took a more confrontational approach, chaining himself to a fence along with former army infantryman Jim Pietrangelo to protest Obama's refusal to repeal the policy. As The Advocate reports, both Choi and Pietrangelo were arrested and spent the night in jail, after which Choi came out swinging, with the Human Rights Campaign taking as many of his punches as the do-nothing president (who, granted, was kinda busy this week with that health-care thing). "If [the Human Rights Campaign] thinks that having a rally at Freedom Plaza with a comedienne is the right approach, I have to wonder," said Choi to Newsweek after his release. "'Don't ask, don't tell' is not a joking matter to me. To be at Freedom Plaza and not at the White House or Congress? Who are they trying to influence?... There is a tremor right now in every gay and transgender youth that these groups are not grasping... Gandhi did not need three-course dinners and a cocktail party to get his message out." Thanks for fighting the good fight, Lt. Choi, and please try the peaceful-protest thing again in a week not dominated by potentially world-changing health-care legislation.
FRIDAY, MARCH 19 Today we turn to the positively shocking saga of Colleen LaRose, the 46-year-old Pennsylvania woman who led a quiet life of boring work and failed romance until she was befriended over the internet by Muslim extremists, who allegedly inspired LaRose to become "Jihad Jane," an American woman allegedly ready to use her bland Caucasian features to avoid detection as a Muslim terrorist and kill the Swedish artist who drew that offensive cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. Yesterday, LaRose appeared in federal court in Philadelphia, where she pleaded not guilty to charges of providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to kill in a foreign country. Last Days looks forward to every twist and turn in this case, up to and including the Lifetime movie in which Colleen LaRose is played by Lisa Rinna.
SATURDAY, MARCH 20 Nothing happened today.
SUNDAY, MARCH 21 The week ends with the long-awaited passage of a monumental health-care bill by (the Democrats of) the House of Representatives, which sent Republicans and Tea Partiers into name-calling fits of rage (and led to one presidential-assassination threat via Twitter) and is covered in depth by Eli Sanders here.
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