MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10 This week of acid-based awfulness, arrested racists, and glorious shows of civic solidarity kicks off with a question that's been rolling around countless citizens' skulls since the economy went kaboom: What does a 21st-century recession look like? Today brought something close to an answer, thanks to a collection of news reports that cumulatively paint a portrait of the New American Recession as a Spam-scented landscape filled with "dollar menunaires" drinking drip coffee. Details come from the Associated Press, which offers two telling facts. (1) Today, Starbucks announced that its fourth-quarter profits were down 97 percent, thanks to an 8 percent drop in sales, with fewer customers coming into stores and spending less when they did. (2) Today, McDonald's announced an 8.2 percent rise in sales, with fourth-quarter profits beating the company's own predictions, thanks to the restaurants' low-priced food items and popular Dollar Menu. While Starbucks's plummet suggests boutique coffee drinks are now luxury items, the rise of McDonald's suggests the company is benefiting from "trading down," the phenomenon in which diners who typically frequent more expensive sit-down restaurants are driven by monetary concerns to fast food. The widespread practice of trading down will be confirmed on Friday by the New York Times, which will report on the abrupt and stunning boom times that have befallen the manufacturers of Spam, the gelatinous, vacuum-sealed conglomeration of pork products that's kept American bellies filled for cheap since the Great Depression. As the NYT reports, a 12-ounce can of Spam costs roughly $2.40, and Minnesota's Hormel Foods Corporation has been working overtime to keep up with the crushing demand. "Two shifts of workers have been making Spam seven days a week since July, and they have been told that the relentless work schedule will continue indefinitely." (Other thrifty foodstuffs enjoying recession-fueled booms: rice and beans, instant potatoes, Jell-O, Kool-Aid, and Velveeta.) But nothing can top the budget-crunched public's sudden hunger for Spam. As Hormel factory worker Dan Johnson told the NYT: "People are realizing it's not that bad a product."

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 11 The week continues in Louisiana, where today police announced the arrest of eight Ku Klux Klan members following the murder of Cynthia Lynch, the 43-year-old Oklahoma woman who went to Louisiana to attend a Klan initiation ceremony before being found shot to death yesterday morning. Details on the Klan bash gone wrong come from CNN, which reports Lynch traveled from her home in Tulsa to Louisiana's St. Tammany Parish to participate in the aforementioned Klan initiation ceremony, conducted by a Klan group calling itself the Sons of Dixie. After shaving Lynch's head, eight members of the group took her to a campsite in the woods near Sun, Louisiana, about 60 miles north of New Orleans, where the initiation rites continued. (Running with torches was involved.) According to police reports, at some point on Sunday, Cynthia Lynch decided she wanted to leave, and her request for a ride to a nearby town sparked an argument that allegedly ended with the group's 44-year-old leader, Chuck Foster, shooting Lynch to death without warning. (After Foster allegedly shot Lynch, the Agence France-Presse reports, he allegedly tried to dig the bullet out of her body then told his seven followers to dump her in the roadside brush where she was found.) As sheriff's investigators told CNN, the initial tip about the killing came from a convenience store clerk, whom two of the Klan group's members had asked for advice on getting bloodstains out of clothes. The arrest of these two geniuses was quickly followed by the arrests of the six others, all of whom surrendered without incident. Foster remains jailed on charges of second-degree murder, while the seven other suspects have been charged with obstruction of justice.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12 Speaking of idiotically violent bigots: The week continues, horrifyingly, in Afghanistan, where this morning a group of girls walking to school in the southern city of Kandahar were assaulted by two men on a motorcycle who used water pistols to spray acid in their faces. As CNN reports, the incident occurred around 8:00 a.m. near Mirwais Nika Girls High School and injured four girls—two of whom were treated and released, and two of whom were blinded and remain hospitalized. As for the attackers: They escaped and no one's claimed responsibility, but as Al-Jazeera reports, "Taliban militants were suspected to be responsible." Under the Taliban, which ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, females were forbidden from attending school; the Kandahar government has denounced the attackers as "enemies of education." Condolences to all.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13 In lighter news, today we turn to the story of Anthony Michaels, the San Diego man whose journey to internet celebrity commenced last Christmas Eve, when he received an e-mail from the social-networking site informing him that his former school friends were trying to contact him. But after paying $15 to upgrade to the premium membership that would grant him access to his curious old classmates, Michaels quickly learned that no one he knew was trying to contact him at all. And so he sued, filing a punitive class action suit in California state court on October 30. As Wired News reports, "[The suit] says there are hundreds of thousands of Anthony Michaels around the country who were similarly duped. The lawsuit asks the court to force the company to refund millions in subscription dollars and fine the company for deceptive advertising.... If the lawsuit succeeds... it could raise the minimum standards of honesty for online businesses." Best of luck to Anthony Michaels, who is clearly the Rosa Parks (or at least the Tawana Brawley) of the movement.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14 Meanwhile in Southern California: Today brought day number two of raging wildfires, which broke out yesterday in four counties (Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, and Santa Barbara) and will destroy more than 800 houses, mobile homes, and apartments; force the evacuation of thousands of residents; and kill at least two people by next week.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15 The week continues with the National Day of Protest Against Proposition 8, a truly heartening display of civic solidarity that's dealt with in full starting on page 16. Humongous thanks to Amy Balliett, Kyler Powell, and everyone else who helped make the amazing day happen (especially you, naked lady).

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16 The week ends with the continuation of the California wildfires mentioned back on Friday, with this morning bringing the mandatory evacuation of another 1,400 residents. recommended

Sad but true: If Prop 8 had failed, fundies would be crediting the California wildfires to a rightfully vengeful God. Sigh. Send Hot Tips to