MONDAY, AUGUST 15 Hello, and thanks to Last Days guest columnist Cienna Madrid, who guided readers through a couple weeks of stabby, stage-collapsing awfulness while we relaxed on the coast of Virginia. Now we're back and ready to guide you through this week, which kicks off in Renton, where the local police department is embroiled in a hilarious hubbub. At the center of the saga: a YouTube video portraying the Renton Police Department as incompetent clowns. "The video is one of nine recently posted on YouTube satirizing the Renton Police Department and the jail in an extremely unflattering way, at times coming across as racist and sexist," reports KING 5, before delivering the punch line. "According to the internal investigation, the offensive video was produced by Renton Police Sgt. Bill Judd, who showed it to a top commander, Deputy Chief Chuck Marsalisi. Judd told investigators the Deputy Chief thought it was funny and advised him on how to post it anonymously on YouTube." Both men have been demoted for conduct unbecoming an officer.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 16 Speaking of YouTube drama, the week continues in Portland, Oregon, where a 30-year-old woman has confessed to attempting to circumcise her 3-month-old son by following instructional videos uploaded to YouTube. Also guiding the cut-happy mom's knife: the Old Testament, which reportedly mingled with the YouTube instruction to inspire Keemonta Peterson to the "botched effort [that] left the infant bleeding uncontrollably and in intense pain," reports the Associated Press. Yesterday, Ms. Peterson pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal mistreatment and was sentenced to five years of probation. Her son has fully recovered and remains in the state's care.
• • Today also brought the August primary election, which secured triumph for Jean Godden, sorrow for Maurice Classen, and a big fat forthcoming tunnel.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17 Following two days of YouTube hoopla, today's saga centers on a simpler bit of technology: the cellular telephone, which allowed a Russian mother and daughter to connect for a trio of phone calls so awful that Last Days is considering writing "Nothing happened today" and moving on. But proceed we shall, armed with details from the Daily Mail, which identifies the daughter as 19-year-old Olga Moskalyova, a psychology student who, along with her stepfather, had trekked to a grassy field abutting a river in eastern Siberia when she was forced to make three of the worst phone calls in history. Call number one came after Ms. Moskalyova was accosted by a brown bear, which chased her for 70 yards before grabbing her leg. In a frantic phone call to her mother, Ms. Moskalyova explained what was happening: "Mum, the bear is eating me. Mum, it's such agony. Mum, help!" "Her mother Tatiana said that at first she thought she was joking," reports the Daily Mail. "'But then I heard the real horror and pain in Olga's voice, and the sounds of a bear growling and chewing,' she added. 'I could have died then and there from shock.'" Over the next hour, the mother received two more calls from her increasingly mauled daughter. In one, Moskalyova gasped, "Mum, the bears are back. She came back and brought her three babies. They're... eating me." In her final call, Olga Moskalyova spoke her final words: "Mum, it's not hurting anymore. I don't feel the pain. Forgive me for everything, I love you so much." Also killed that day: Moskalyova's stepfather, Igor Tsyganenkov (whom police found fatally mauled not far from his stepdaughter's body), and the three bears, which were shot dead by Emergency Services. "The double killing is the latest in a spate of bear attacks across Russia, as the hungry animals seek food in areas where people have encroached and settled on their former habitat," reports the Mail. Condolences to all.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 18 Nothing happened today.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 19 In much better news, the week continues with a sentence Last Days has longed to type since the mid-'90s: Today the West Memphis Three were released from prison. For those who don't know, the West Memphis Three are the trio of young men who, as teenagers, were accused of the murder of three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1993. Despite sloppy investigative procedures, allegations of jury misconduct, and a glaring lack of evidence, 17-year-old Jessie Misskelley, 16-year-old Jason Baldwin, and 18-year-old Damien Echols were found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison, with Echols being sentenced to death. As the 1996 documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills posited, Misskelley, Baldwin, and Echols were the victims of a bullshit prosecution fueled primarily by small-town bigotry and campfire tales of "satanic ritual abuse." (Echols in particular was seen as a freak, with his dyed black hair and an affinity for heavy metal.) The 2000 documentary Paradise Lost 2: Revelations went even further, aiming to prove Echols's innocence while stumbling upon a viable alternate theory of the crime. After 18 years of appeals, petitions for retrial, and international outrage, today Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley were released from prison. Leaving a slightly cruddy residue: the men's weird Alford plea deal, which required them to plead no contest to the charges of murder while allowing them to maintain their innocence, and which prevents them from suing the state for wrongful prosecution. Still, the West Memphis Three are free, and Echols and Baldwin are making noise about fighting for full exoneration. Full speed ahead.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 20 Nothing happened today, unless you count the three people who were nonfatally shot and one person who was nonfatally stabbed at the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden, and the bazillion people who walked around high while encountering zero stabbings and shootings at Seattle Hempfest.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 21 The week ends with a dazzling blast of heroism in Seattle's Central District, where tonight a pair of women happened to drive by a house on fire and decisively leaped into action. As KOMO News reports, "Kim Swanson and her partner Karen Jacobs were on their way home from dinner when they saw smoke billowing out of a house in the 1500 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way." After pulling over and calling 911, Swanson noticed a pair of pit bulls trying to get out of one of the burning house's windows. Together, Swanson and Jacobs broke the latch on the window, and Swanson entered the burning home, handing the dogs through the window to Jacobs and suffering a small amount of smoke inhalation. "The two dogs, Babu and Angus, are doing fine and were reunited with the homeowner late Sunday night," reports KOMO. "Investigators believe an electrical problem in the attic started the fire." Three cheers for brave lesbians!
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