MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 This week of cryptic alerts, alphabetical Beatles, and induced suicide kicks off with a day of crazy weather on the West Coast. First up is Los Angeles, where today temperatures rose to 113 degrees, shattering previous records and killing a beloved movie-industry professional: Sally Menke, the 56-year-old film editor best known for her work with Quentin Tarantino, who was hiking with her dog and a friend in L.A.'s Griffith Park this morning when she "complained of feeling dizzy and said she would return to her car," reports the Associated Press. "Another hiker later saw her disoriented on a trail but Menke refused help. Her body was found Tuesday morning by searchers. Her black Labrador retriever was nearby." RIP, Sally Menke.
••Meanwhile in the Pacific Northwest, today brought extraordinary levels of humidity to Oregon and Western Washington, with the increasingly damp air causing wooden cupboards to swell and countless citizens to whine. Also, in Ballard, at least one person e-mailed MyBallard.com to report the "pungent broccoli-type smell" wafting around the areas surrounding the Ballard Bridge. So far, the Ballard Broccoli Waft has caused no fatalities.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 The week continues with the long-awaited bad news of the City of Seattle's 2011 budget, unveiled yesterday by Mayor Mike McGinn and bemoaned all over today. As Seattlepi.com reports, "To cover next year's $67 million deficit, McGinn proposed a combination of cuts and $23 million in higher fees and other revenue-generating plans." Many of these fees and plans concern cars at rest, including the elevation of downtown parking rates from $2.50 to $4 an hour, the extension of paid-parking hours to 8:00 p.m. Monday–Saturday, and the abolition of free Sunday parking. A whole bunch of others concern utilities in action, including raised rates for water, wastewater, drainage, and solid-waste disposal. Finally, there are the attacks on bookish cat lovers with time- management issues, as evidenced by the elevation of late fees for library materials and a $5 price increase for cat licenses. "We will all share in the discomfort that will come with balancing this very difficult budget," said Seattle City Council member Jean Godden.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 In much worse news, the week continues in New Jersey, where this morning police discovered the body of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman whose roommate allegedly live-streamed video footage of him being intimate with another man over the internet, after which Clementi leaped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. As the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports, 18-year-old Dharun Ravi (Clementi's roommate) and 18-year-old Molly Wei (Ravi's classmate and alleged accomplice) have been charged with "two counts each of invasion of privacy for setting up a camera in a dorm room on Sept. 19 and using it to view and transmit a live sex scene." As the week continues, the discussion will expand to include talk of possible hate-crime charges against those responsible for Clementi's death. Speaking of whom: The Clementi family released a statement to the Star-Ledger this afternoon: "Tyler was a fine young man, and a distinguished musician. The family is heartbroken beyond words. They respectfully request that they be given time to grieve their great loss and that their privacy at this painful time be respected by all." Condolences to all, especially Clementi's parents, who probably wish they'd tought him a different attitude toward homosexuality than the one he apparently learned.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 The week continues with a humongous police riot in Ecuador, where today police started rioting over a new law diminishing benefits for the country's police and soldiers. As the Associated Press reports, the new measure—passed yesterday by the Ecuadoran congress—"would end the practice of giving members of Ecuador's military and police medals and bonuses with each promotion. It would also extend from five to seven years the usual period required for a subsequent promotion." In response to the new law, hundreds of cops and soldiers today went crazy—seizing an airport, shutting down a highway, and physically attacking President Rafael Correa, who tried to speak with a group of police protesters in the capital city of Quito and ended up in the hospital (where he claims he was held hostage by even more furious police). In the end, today's tire-burning, tear-gas-hurling riot will bring about the deaths of eight people, injure 274 more, and handily accomplish all its goals. On Monday, Ecuador's congress will announce changes to the riot-starting salary law, including "additional compensation" for police and members of the military.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 1 Today brings a monumental apology issued by the United States to the nearly 700 Guatemalan prison inmates and mental patients deliberately infected with syphilis by U.S. government researchers in the 1940s. As Reuters reports, "In the experiment, aimed at testing the then-new drug penicillin, inmates were infected by prostitutes and later treated with the antibiotic." As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a costatement released today, "The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946–1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical. Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices." Despite the eloquent apology, Guatemala remains pissed, with leaders condemning the experiment as a crime against humanity and vowing to pursue the case in international court. Belated condolences to Guatemala, and quiet congratulations to Susan Reverby, the women's studies professor at Wellesley College who uncovered the awful study and will publish her findings in January's Journal of Policy History.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2 Nothing happened today, unless you count the continuation of KZOK 102.5's weekend broadcast of "the Beatles A to Z," a selected alphabetical rundown of (most of) the Beatles' recorded output, which made mincemeat of chronology and granted Last Days the great pleasure of hearing "Ticket to Ride," "Tomorrow Never Knows," and "Twist and Shout" all in a row while driving to Office Depot.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3 The week ends with a big, nebulous dose of terror, courtesy of the U.S. State Department, which today warned American citizens to exercise caution while in Europe, following last week's intelligence reports suggesting the possibility of coordinated, al Qaeda–approved attacks in Britain, Germany, and/or France. So: No more incautious gallivanting around Europe. Please make a note of it.
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