MONDAY, AUGUST 6 The week begins with a fevered tale of love and death from the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. That's where two young lovers were hanged this week for falling in love beyond their designated castes. For those unfamiliar with Hindu-based systems of social stratification, Uttar Pradesh's rigidly observed caste system forbids the mingling of members of different castes. BBC News reports that the doomed lovers--19-year-old male Vishal (of the high-caste Brahmin community) and 18-year-old female Sonu (of the lower-caste Jat community)--were hanged from the roof of a house in their home village, as hundreds of villagers (including both of the condemned lovers' families) watched. In defense of the bloody caste system, the Indian government asserts that because the system is based on social rather than biological differences, it cannot be construed as racial discrimination. Despite this lame political hairsplitting, Indian police have arrested seven people in connection with the hangings, including the hanged lovers' parents.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 7 Today in Washington, D.C., a whole bunch of researchers, professors, and other pointy-headed science types gathered for a day-long symposium on the ethics of human cloning. On one side of the debate were three gung-ho cloning researchers, who announced their intent to create the first cloned human being by 2002--raising the ire of those on the other side of the debate, who denounced the three pro-cloners as "renegades" and insisted that cloning technology is still in its infancy and riddled with unknown dangers. However, nothing could deter the clone-hungry contingent. "If we have defects in early human embryos, we will go back and repair that, but we will not stop," vowed Brigitte Boisselier, a biochemist who promotes cloning as a chance for eternal life and believes humans were cloned from aliens. Like most intelligent and conscionable people, Last Days remains bewildered by the prospect of human cloning. However, if someone were to deposit a living, breathing replica of Marlon Brando circa 1954 on our doorstep, we would not complain.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8 The humiliations continue for beloved television psychic Miss Cleo. Today the St. Louis City Circuit Court ordered Access Resources Services Inc.--promoters of Miss Cleo's tarot psychic hotline--to pay a $75,000 fine for violating Missouri's no-call law. According to the Associated Press, Missouri law allows residents to sign up on a list that bars telemarketers from calling; today's ruling punished Access Resources Services for an alleged 94 violations of this law.

In other Cleo news: Last Days has been informed by more than one Hot Tipper that the divine Miss C is indeed an actress--with Northwest roots! It seems that in 1996 and 1997, Miss Cleo (using the name "Ree Perris") wrote, directed and acted in three plays at Seattle's Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center! Can this be true?! If so, please--come back to the Langston Hughes, Miss Cleo, Miss Cleo!

THURSDAY, AUGUST 9 Ick, ick, and ick: Today The Seattle Times reported on "Operation Avalanche," the biggest kiddie porn bust in history. A joint effort of the U.S. Postal Service and 30 federal task forces, the two-year crackdown has resulted in 100 arrests on charges of trafficking child pornography through the mail and over the Internet. (Twelve of these arrests occurred in Washington state, with three right here in King County.) The primary focus of the bust was Landslide Productions, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company owned and operated by 37-year-old Thomas Reedy and his 32-year-old wife, Janice. For a monthly fee of $29.95, Landslide linked an estimated 250,000 subscribers worldwide to an array of porno sites; for additional fees, the company offered links to explicit sites boasting names like "Child Rape" and "Children Forced to Porn." In April 2000, the Reedys were charged with 89 counts of conspiracy to distribute and possession of child pornography. This week, a federal judge in Texas found the Reedys guilty of every one of the 89 charges, sentencing Mr. Reedy to a whopping 1,335 years in prison, and Mrs. Reedy to a comparatively paltry 14 years. With the primary offenders behind bars, federal officials are now hunting down Landslide's customers, forwarding to local authorities the names of 9,000 dedicated Landslide users who subscribed repeatedly to kiddie porn sites.

··Speaking of deep ickiness: This afternoon on I-5, an errant meat truck dumped what Hot Tipper Kate described as "a huge, red, glistening pile of rendered meat smack dab in the middle of the freeway," clogging traffic for over an hour. Even ickier, after removing the carnage, the road folks had to cover the area with sand, to prevent cars from sliding on the remaining blood and grease. Thanks, Kate, for this thrilling Hot Tip (and highly effective appetite suppressor).

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 Speaking of appetites: Six months ago, a Central District denizen named Matt purchased a loaf of bread from the Thriftway on MLK Jr. Way. "I don't normally buy that kind of packaged bread," says the culinarily snooty Matt. "But they were the only place close by that was open." Upon getting the lowly bread home, Matt proceeded to make his favorite sandwich, consisting of toasted bread, mayonnaise, a slice of bologna, a slice of cheddar cheese, a slice of salami, yellow mustard, and dill pickle relish, all microwaved for 45 seconds before being sliced diagonally. Over the next week, Matt made three more of these sandwiches before running out of bologna. "I kept meaning to buy more, but kept forgetting," says Matt, who periodically checked in on his lonely loaf of bread. "Two weeks went by, no mold. I went out of town for a month, and when I returned, still no mold." Currently Matt's loaf of bread is six months old--and still completely free of mold! Is this a cryptic warning from the universe? Evidence of spiritual possession? Or just a terrifying testament to the power of preservatives? Who knows? "There's no way I'm gonna eat any of that bread," Matt says. "I'm just keeping it around to see what happens." Stay tuned for updates on this amazing miracle bread.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11 If there's one thing Wm. Steven Humphrey has taught us, it's that everything monkeys do is funny. So imagine our consternation today upon reading the Drudge Report story about a Malaysian man whose life was suddenly snuffed out when a monkey dropped a coconut on his head. Was this indeed funny? Or had Last Days stumbled upon the kryptonite that would disable the monkeys-are-funny supertheory? For an answer, we turned to the illustrious Mr. Humphrey himself. Upon being informed of the Malaysian monkey scenario, Humphrey instantly crumpled to the floor in hysterics, eventually regaining enough composure to say, "The only way it could have been funnier is if the monkey were wearing roller skates."

SUNDAY, AUGUST 12 Why, oh why does nothing ever happen on Sunday?

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