David Schmader is on vacation this week.
MONDAY, AUGUST 1 This week of DIY decapitations, bizarre manhunts, and novel displays of public affection kicks off with free birth control, courtesy of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Today the department announced that on August 1, 2012, insurance companies will be required to fully cover (without co-pays) all forms of women's birth control—including birth control pills, IUDs, the morning after pill, and implantable hormonal contraceptives—as part of women's preventative health care. Currently, more than half the pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, so this is great news for women, their partners, and their sex lives. Notably grumpy about the progressive decision: religious conservatives, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (aka the largest organization of allegedly sexless men on the planet). "Fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed by any means technically possible," the group said in a statement.
••Also today in lovin', closer to home: Washington's Suquamish Tribal Council voted unanimously to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, thanks to four years of lobbying from tribal member Heather Purser. "I wanted to feel accepted by my tribe," the 28-year-old lesbian stated simply and eloquently to the Seattle Times. Under the new law, the tribe can now issue marriage licenses to two unmarried people, regardless of their sex, if they're legal adults and at least one of them is a tribal member. The Suquamish Tribe is the second tribe in the nation to recognize same-sex marriages, along with six states and Washington, DC.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 2 The week continues with the tale of a racist manhunt courtesy of the Los Angeles Times, which reports on the sentencing of 49-year-old Domingos Jose Oliveira, a resourcefully overprotective father convicted of plastering the Grossmont College campus in Southern California with "Wanted Dead or Alive" posters last spring. The subject of Oliveira's manhunt? His 20-year-old daughter's 33-year-old black boyfriend, Sean Kirk. During the trial, Oliveira's daughter testified that her father had her sign a contract acknowledging that if she ever dated a black man, both she and the man would be killed. Oliveira's posters offered a $3,000 reward "for the body" of Kirk, a Grossmont student (and a registered sex offender, according to the Times). Today, Oliveira will be sentenced to seven years and four months in prison for solicitation of murder and a hate crime.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3 Moving from outsourced crimes to DIY accidents, a 40-year-old New Zealand man was decapitated today while debuting his brand-new homemade hovercraft in front of friends and family. BBC News reports that the hovercraft's blade sheared off and hit Dr. Alastair Kenneth Senior in the head during its inaugural run at Muriwai Beach, killing him instantly. Kenneth's obituary notes that he died "in pursuit of his dream."
••Meanwhile, in pursuit of enlightenment, a group of Tibetan Buddhists bought 600 pounds of fresh Massachusetts lobster to spare them delicious deaths. The liberation, which coincided with the Tibetan Wheel Turning Day (the anniversary of the first sermon taught by Buddha), consisted of "prayers, mantras, and walking boxes of the lobsters in a circle around blessed objects," according to Reuters. The lobsters were then sprayed with blessed water and released into the (unholy) Atlantic Ocean.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 4 For months, the Renton Police Department has been quietly scouring its ranks for the person responsible for making a series of scathing videos mocking Renton police officers for allegedly "having sexual relations with a homicide suspect while disclosing the criminal investigation to the suspect," having sex "on duty with a worker from IHOP while in uniform," and the comparatively more banal allegations of using patrol cars for personal use and making prank 911 calls while off duty. The nine cartoon videos don't mention people—or even the Renton Police Department—specifically by name. Today, Renton police chief Kevin Milosevich held a press conference defending the department's decision to charge the cartoon-maker, known only as "Mr. Fiddlesticks," with cyberstalking in King County Superior Court. "The purpose of these [cartoons] was to embarrass, torment, and harass specific members of the police department and other city employees," says Milosevich. The police department is now pressuring both Google and YouTube to release the secret identity of Mr. Fiddlesticks, using the cyberstalking charge as leverage. Meanwhile, the ACLU of Washington is quick to remind the police that their actions make them look like overzealous asshats: "The cyberstalking law is designed to protect individuals from serious harassment by other individuals, not to protect government from parodies by employees," states ACLU spokesman Doug Honig. "People have a right to speak anonymously on the internet, and employer-employee issues involving YouTube satires should not be pursued as criminal matters." (Confidential to Mr. Fiddlesticks: The ACLU of Washington would like to hear from you.)
FRIDAY, AUGUST 5 Perhaps not ranking as high on the "ick" scale as beachside decapitation, today nevertheless brings more tales of public horror curated by private pleasure. First up: 39-year-old Jonathan Willink, a Louisiana man accused of using a small hidden camera to film naked women tanning at a local health club. The Smoking Gun reports that police were alerted to the footage by a computer repairman who came across "several videos of women who were naked and lying in a tanning bed" after Willink brought his laptop in for repairs. When confronted by the cops, Willink reportedly stated that "he placed the hidden camera there because he had always wondered what it would be like to be in the tanning room while a woman was lying in the tanning bed." Willink is being charged with four misdemeanor counts of video voyeurism.
••Next up, Hot Tipper Jessica writes: "I went to use the fourth-floor ladies' room/nursing room in the downtown Nordstrom today at approximately 4:30 p.m. and was confronted by the unmistakable sounds of an anonymous lady furiously and vocally rubbing one out in a stall. There was a flurry of awkward looks between me and the other three women in the bathroom while we all very carefully tried to not look." Condolences to all the hand-washers and legitimate lactators held captive by the selfish demands of one woman's juice box.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 6 Today marks the largest number of American troops killed in a single day of the war in Afghanistan, as a helicopter carrying 30 Americans—22 of whom were Navy Seal commandos—was shot down while responding to a call for help from allied forces.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 7 Nothing happened today.
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