The Week in Review
MONDAY, MARCH 11 This week of convicted would-be cannibals, suicidal shoppers, and another feces-festooned cruise ship kicks off in South Seattle, where police say a nonprofit club used for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings doubled as a hub for illegal drug deals. Details come from KOMO, which identifies the club as the Nomadian Community Resource Center, and its owner as 64-year-old Michael Shepard. "Court documents say Shepard sold the pills in between [AA] meetings," reports KOMO, adding that Shepard allegedly sold oxycodone "only to people who became members of the club in order to avoid law-enforcement detection." After repeatedly selling drugs to undercover officers, Shepard was today arrested, with investigators finding prescription narcotics and two guns inside the Nomadian Community Resource Center. It is what it is, man.
TUESDAY, MARCH 12 In somewhat better news, the week continues in New York City, where today Gilberto Valle—the suspended NYPD officer who rocketed to notoriety after federal investigators revealed his extensive plans to kidnap, torture, kill, cook, and eat women—was found guilty of conspiracy, for which he could face life in prison. "At the crux of the case was whether prosecutors could prove that Mr. Valle was not simply role-playing, but laying the groundwork for actually kidnapping, torturing and killing the women he had singled out," writes the New York Times. "The jury unanimously found that Mr. Valle's 'detailed and specific plans to abduct women for the purpose of committing grotesque crimes were very real.'" Among Valle's incriminating actions: researching potential victims by illegally accessing a law-enforcement database, for which he faces an additional year in prison.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13 In worse news, the week continues in Shanghai, where authorities are striving to reassure citizens that their drinking water is safe despite the discovery of 6,000 dead pigs in the river that supplies the city's water. As ABC reports, the pig corpses were found in the Huangpu River about 40 miles north of Shanghai, with the cause of death found to be porcine circovirus, which Shanghai authorities claim poses no risk to humans. "Last year, the Jiaxing government started a major crackdown on black market sales of pork from pigs that had died of disease," reports ABC. "One farmer told Shanghai's Xinmin News Net that some farmers now just toss the tainted meat into the river since they have nowhere to sell it. 'So it's normal that there are so many dead pigs in the river,' he said." Condolences to all.
THURSDAY, MARCH 14 Speaking of watery filth, the week continues in the eastern Caribbean, where one month after the Carnival Triumph schooled the universe on the cruel fecal facts of disabled cruise ships, another Carnival cruise ship sits stranded, packed with 4,300 grumpy customers and the occasional slosh from an overflowing toilet. "In a written statement, Carnival said the ship's emergency diesel generator failed," reports CNN. "When power went off, some toilets stopped working, and no one was allowed to get off the vessel even though the ship was docked at Philipsburg, St. Maarten." Today, Carnival announced it will fly all of the ship's passengers back to Florida, where they'll be offered a three-day refund and a half-price cruise in the future.
FRIDAY, MARCH 15 In much better news, the week continues with the enlightening hubbub that greeted yesterday's proclamation by Senator Rob Portman, the habitually antigay Ohio Republican who came out in support of marriage equality after his 21-year-old son Will came out to him as gay. While many welcomed Senator Portman's change of heart as evidence of progress, many others blasted Portman for his narcissism and failures of empathy. As Matthew Yglesias writes at Slate, "If Portman can turn around on one issue once he realizes how it touches his family personally, shouldn't he take some time to think about how he might feel about other issues that don't happen to touch him personally? Obviously the answers to complicated public policy questions don't just directly fall out of the emotion of compassion. But what Portman is telling us here is that on this one issue, his previous position was driven by a lack of compassion and empathy." Paul Krugman joins in at the New York Times: "Political virtue consists in standing for what's right, even—or indeed especially—when it doesn't redound to your own benefit. Someone should ask Portman why he didn't take a stand for, you know, other people's children." A final bit of wisdom comes from The Stranger's own Dan Savage: "It's a shame that it took his own son coming out to him to open Rob Portman's eyes—the suffering of other people's children didn't register—but his eyes are open now and we have Will to thank. It can't have been easy for Will to come out to his famously homophobic father. So thanks for doing the right thing, Will." Agreed to all of the above, with a special nod to the senator and suddenly protective father, who deserves credit and empathy. (If we don't make room for people to improve, they won't.)
SATURDAY, MARCH 16 Nothing happened today, unless you count the man who walked into a Dick's Sporting Goods in eastern Pennsylvania and asked to see a shotgun and some ammunition. "Once the clerk handed those over, the man pulled out a handgun and ordered the worker to undo the shotgun's gun lock," reports the Associated Press, after which the man barricaded himself in the bathroom and killed himself. (To all those wondering why the man didn't just stay home and kill himself with the handgun, your guess is as good as ours.)
SUNDAY, MARCH 17 The week ends with some grim good news out of Steubenville, Ohio, where today two high-school football players accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl were found guilty. "Prosecutors accused [17-year-old Trent] Mays and [16-year-old Ma'lik] Richmond of using their fingers to vaginally penetrate the girl at an alcohol-fueled party in Steubenville on the night of August 11, 2012, as other teenagers watched," reports ABC. "Mays was also accused of later sending text messages that included photographs of the girl with her clothing removed and charged with distributing nude images of a minor." Today a judge declared both boys delinquent (the juvenile court version of guilty) beyond a reasonable doubt, and sentenced both to at least a year in juvenile jail. "Mays was sentenced to an additional year for a charge related to distributing nude images of a minor," reports ABC. "Both teens were told to avoid contact with the victim at least until they are 21."