TUESDAY, JUNE 5 Four students of Harvard University's law school received reprimands on their official university transcripts (oh, the humanity!) after being involved in a sit-in over higher pay for janitorial, maintenance, and food-service workers, Reuters reported today. After 21 days of hardcore sitting, the ethical wage-warriors forced the university to endorse a minimum $10.25-an-hour ordinance passed two years ago by the city of Cambridge, where the university is located. Maybe the world's wealthiest institution of higher learning would prefer to trim its own damn ivy?
·· Also today: A federal appeals court ruled that sharpshooting FBI Agent Lon Horiuchi can be prosecuted for shooting and killing Vicki Weaver, the wife of white separatist Randy Weaver in the Ruby Ridge standoff of 1992, Reuters reported. Weaver, speaking to a local radio station from his home in Jefferson, Indiana, said that the FBI has "operated like a bunch of cowboys for a long time and this ruling should rein them in a little bit." Last Days simply hates it when we wholeheartedly agree with a Nazi-cracker gun nut.
·· And finally: The filthy business of making movies got a little bit filthier with Newsweek's exposé of the fake film critic David Manning. Seems that the advertising department of Columbia Pictures had trouble getting the thumbs-up from even the most integrity-free pundits, so, like Dr. Frankenstein himself, it simply created a slaveringly positive monster. Rave reviews attributed to the mythical Manning included calling the Rob Schneider comedy The Animal "another winner!" Time magazine film critic Richard Schickel voiced the opinion of many when he mused, "You don't need to make up quotes in this town. They've got 'Quote Whores' who will do that for you." Columbia promised a full-scale investigation, so Mr. Manning should probably start cleaning out his imaginary desk at his imaginary job.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6 Today Richard Boeken, a smoker with incurable lung and brain cancer, was awarded a record $3 billion in damages by a Los Angeles jury, which ruled that Philip Morris did not properly warn him of the risks of smoking, reports Reuters. Jurors, who voted 10-2 for the damages, said they had no sympathy for Philip Morris' arguments. "There were too many things they kept trying to cover up, instead of being honest about their product," said Denise Key, a juror who said she had smoked for 15 years. "This man's life is over--$3 billion doesn't even begin to cover it."
·· Also today: Notoriously "difficult" actress Linda Fiorentino has countersued a German film production company that alleges she ruined Till the End of Time, a Georgia O'Keeffe biopic, by refusing to show up on the set. Entertainment website Mr. Showbiz reports that in her filing, the fiery Fiorentino accuses the producers of promising the picture's investors that she would "perform the full frontal nudity and prurient sex scenes that they had added to the script without Fiorentino's approval." Regardless of the veracity of her claims, Last Days suspects that the crotchety watercolorist might have gotten a huge kick out of her very own stems and pistils being turned into softcore porn.
THURSDAY, JUNE 7 Here at the Last Days Laboratory, we generally like to steer clear of those so-called "wacky" or "weird" news items that are often neither, but simply stories from other cultures. Nonetheless, we'd like to take this moment to share with you today's Reuters report about the police in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, who found 86 human skulls at a bus stand after residents complained about the stench coming from an unclaimed bag. Sanjay Chander, superintendent of police of the Darjeeling district, told reporters, "All the skulls were neatly sawn off and some had some brain tissues sticking to them." That concludes this item. Thank you.
··Also today: Workers who play characters such as Mickey Mouse and Cinderella at Walt Disney World have won the right to be assigned underwear that they can take home each night to clean, reports Reuters. Disney officials had told the workers that they used hot water to clean the communal undergarments, but workers routinely received dainties that were stained or smelly. Shop steward and stilt-walker Gary Steverson said there have been three cases of costumed workers at the Magic Kingdom getting pubic lice or scabies. "Things have been passed around. I know I don't want to share my tights and I don't want to share my underwear." Coincidentally, for personal reasons, Last Days has also taken a vow to stop sharing underwear with stilt-walkers and lovable costumed cartoon characters with soft plush exteriors.
FRIDAY, JUNE 8 Ugh. Today every news source in town reported on the 19-year-old woman struck and killed by an Amtrak passenger train yesterday evening, along that deceptively pretty but horribly lethal stretch of track in Golden Gardens Park. Police say the Shoreline woman was on her way to meet a man who had retrieved her misplaced cell phone, when she was walloped by one of those strangely silent trains. Faithful readers will remember that a 14-year-old girl was killed in this same spot just last month, and that Last Days and our little dog Franny came within a hair of meeting the same fate one month before that. Please, stay off those tracks, so we don't have to write anymore of these damn things! We're begging you!
··Also today: Eight students were slain and 15 others injured when a 37-year-old mental patient went on a 10-minute stabbing rampage in western Japan, turning an elite private elementary school into an abattoir, reports Reuters. In custody is Mamoru Takuma, a janitor who police say has previously undergone treatment for schizophrenia, and who told them that, on the day of the incident, he had taken 10 times his usual dosage of anti-depressants.
SATURDAY, JUNE 9 Today Reuters reported on the icky trend of overcharging Latinos for medical services. According to a study by the Los Angeles-based group Consejo de Latinos Unidos, Latino patients, many of whom lack health insurance, are often overcharged when they seek medical help, and are harassed by debt collection agencies when they cannot pay. One Latino couple profiled in the study, Mario Sanchez and Norma Gonzalez, were involved in a traffic accident and handed a $14,000 bill that would have been only around $1,200 for an HMO. "I have never seen so much money as that in my life," bemoaned Sanchez. "They are taking away our dream of buying something big like a home. What are we going to do?" Last Days wishes that Canada wasn't so damn boring and Amsterdam so far away.
SUNDAY, JUNE 10 Today Hot Tipper Nicole wrote to tell us that local actor Tom Skerritt showed up on the Paul Schell contributor list with a maximum donation of $600. Tom, what are you thinking?
··Also today: Timothy McVeigh probably found it difficult to sleep.