The week begins with a disturbing tale of pre-teen sexual harassment in the sordid city of Bellevue. In a claim filed today against the Bellevue School District (and reported in the Seattle P-I), the parents of a seven-year-old girl say that the dictrict's policy forbidding sexual harassment was not enforced at Newport Heights Elementary, where their daughter was allegedly taunted and sexually harassed after she failed a school hearing test. (What is it with kids these days? Following last week's two gang rapes of mentally disabled girls and this week's harassment of a hearing-impaired girl, Last Days can only conclude that disability is the ultimate aphrodisiac.) Anyway, according to the claim, the girl (now nine) was subjected to repeated harassment as a second-grade student in fall 1998; among the incidents listed were a boy telling the girl "he dreamt he had sex with her"; two boys holding the girl down and telling her another boy "was going to have sex with her on Valentine's Day"; and several boys calling the girl names, pinning her up against a wall, and poking her breasts with pencils. The girl's parents say that Newport Heights Principal Marian Peiffer knew of the harassment but failed to stop it. The Bellevue School District has issued a statement saying they "disagree with the parent's allegations" and that "the principal acted appropriately with the information she had at the time."

Speaking of sexual harassment, today the Seattle P-I (via Cox News Service) offered a front-page story on the election hubbub in Florida. The primary thrust of the piece was the detailed explication of chads--the tiny pieces of paper poked out of punch-card ballots by voters. After defining the difference between hanging chads (holes not completely punched out, which count as votes) and pregnant chads (holes completely attached but that show an indentation from the hole-punching stylus, which do not count), lawyer Bruce Rogow offered this stunning quote: "Pregnancy does not count in Palm Beach County. Only penetration counts." Is this the kind of filth we can expect from our daily newspapers? Send furious letters to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Letters to the Editor, Box 1909, Seattle, WA 98111-1909.

··Also today: Portland received the civic kiss of death as Money magazine crowned the charming little burg the United States' most livable city--an honor captured by Seattle way back in 1990. Portland should now brace itself for gridlock, rioting, Planet Hollywood, billion-dollar sports stadiums, and a local boy who makes good, then blows his face off.

Today, the tale of the anti-premature-Christmas-decoration vigilante group after Last Days' own heart. This morning's Montreal Gazette reported on L'Anti-Noel Avant le Temps, the group that opposes premature Christmas decorating by shopkeepers. Last week, nearly 100 shopkeepers on Montreal's bustling Mount Royal Ave. received letters from the group, criticizing them for their lack of "savoir vivre" in failing to allow fall to end before rushing into the Christmas season, and warning them to remove their Christmas decorations until December 1--or else. "All of the letters have been in French, and exceedingly well written, poetic even," said Montreal Urban Community Police Commander Andre Durocher. Since receiving the letters, four Mount Royal Ave. shops have had white paint splashed on their windows and doors; three of the same shops suffered repeat attacks with baby oil. Police are investigating, but have no suspects yet. Said Commander Durocher: "All we know is we're looking for someone who doesn't like Christmas." Keep fighting the good fight, Christmas Nazis!

··More good news: Today Harvard University's School of Public Health announced its reception of $25 million from generous gazillionaires Bill and Melinda Gates. The money will be used to study AIDS prevention in Nigeria.

Just weeks after the publishing of our theoretical exploration of the role of midgets in rock, Last Days is very sorry to report the death of Joe C.--the 3' 9" backup rapper for Kid Rock--who died in his sleep tonight at his home in Taylor, Michigan. Born Joseph Calleja, the 26-year-old suffered from the intestinal disorder celiac disease; despite living in chronic pain, Joe C. managed to overcome tremendous adversity to become a beloved fixture in the Kid Rock regime. To commemorate the life of Joe C., Last Days offers this haiku:

Diminutive man
Rapping, hopping, baby-faced
Kid Rock should quit now

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17 Hot on the heels of the immortal Jerusalem flame story, here's another item that makes us very, very glad to be a columnist. Today the BBC News reported on the case of the severely disabled French boy who has won a landmark case against medical authorities for allowing him to be born rather than aborted. Seventeen-year-old Nicolas Perruche was born deaf, partly blind, and with mental disabilities after a doctor and a medical laboratory failed to detect that his mother had rubella (also called German measles) during her pregnancy. The boy's parents say failure to diagnose the disease damaged the child in the womb and stopped them from opting for abortion. And while the jaw-dropping freakishness of the case might be superficially entertaining (basically, the French courts have decided that the boy deserves money for not being aborted), the case could have dark ramifications, including a French abortion landslide. "This will push my colleagues to more often terminate pregnancies when they are unsure about the health status of the child," said geneticist Segolene Ayme. "And this is a very common situation."

Judging from the majority of this column's items, readers could not be blamed for perceiving the world as a hideous swamp of mindless violence, crushing cruelty, and repulsive acts of public grooming. Today, however, Last Days deviates from the "conflict is key" school of journalism to bring news of the safe landing of several thousand airplanes, the happy co-habitation of countless children and their not-dead parents, and the private flossing of millions of teeth in bathrooms all over the world.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19 Speaking of deviant schools of journalism, today Last Days had the great pleasure of happening upon The Wanker, a smashing bit of satire and a merciless send-up of Seattle's two newsweeklies (identified here as The Wanker and the Seattle Whitely). Featuring some damn funny-n-mean shit and absolutely flawless graphic design, the parody paper is the brainchild of one George Clark, of whom we know nothing, and of whom we'd like to know more. Yours truly was delightfully fried in Let's Doze: Last Week's News by David Schmirker, but The Wanker saved the bulk of its bile for Dan Savage (ah, he can take it) and, curiously, Clark Humphrey, who long ago left The Stranger for greener pastures. However, The Seattle Whitely more than redeemed things by nailing precisely the Seattle Weekly's recent, perpetual, and deeply icky attempts to "sex it up!" (As a friend said after flipping through a new, "sexy!" Weekly: "It's like watching your parents make out.") Last Days has no idea where you can find your very own Wanker, but it's out there, and you should find it.

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