The week in review

Worst firestorm: Southern California is ablaze. Ten wildfires have destroyed over 1,000 homes and killed at least 15 people.

Best decision in a sniper trial: After two days in court representing himself, John Muhammad turns his defense back over to his attorneys.

Best spin on the October 27 suicide bombing at Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad that kills 40: President Bush says it's a sign of the progress the U.S. is making and the desperation of the attackers.

Worst local rape story: Fluvanna resident Jermaine Leon Franklin is charged with raping a two-year-old girl he was babysitting.

Worst international rape news: Gang rape is so epidemic in the Congo that thousands of women are suffering from vaginal fistula– a rupturing of vaginal tissues– that prevents them from controlling bodily functions and requires several painful reconstructive surgeries, the Washington Post reports.

Worst bus accident: A UTS bus driven by Clarence Feggans Jr. strikes and critically injures health systems employee Margaret Potts October 24 as she attempts to cross JPA, the Cavalier Daily reports.

Best endorsement for write-in Board of Supervisors candidate Kevin Fletcher: The Albemarle Smart Growth Initiative drops its support of incumbent Lindsay Dorrier in the Scottsville district race and funnels $5,500 into Fletcher's war chest, David Dadurka reports in the Daily Progress.

[CORRECTION MADE: The above item mis-identified the name of the supporting group in the Hook's print edition.]

Best update for Tenaska opponents: Construction of the Fluvanna power plant is put on hold because of upheavals in the energy markets, according to a Braxton Williams story in the Progress.

Best decision for PRA: A judge dismisses a lawsuit filed by clinical trials contractor Immune Network against Pharmaceutical Research Associates, one of Albemarle's larger employers.

Worst botched alleged spousal homicide: When state trooper Taylor Blanton is murdered in his bed in Caroline County, his wife claims an intruder shot her husband and dropped the gun, which she grabbed and fired at the alleged fleeing gunman. Donna Lee Blanton is charged with first-degree murder.

Worst confiscation: Hampton University officials seize issues of the October 22 Hampton Script after the student newspaper paper does not print a letter on the front page about the school cafeteria's health code violations as directed by acting president Joann Haysbert.

Worst standoff: A fugitive from Chicago holes up at the Doubletree Hotel for six hours before police burst into his room early October 21, Reed Williams reports in the Progress. John E. Taylor is a suspect in the October 14 murder of his wife.

Worst honor code violation: An undisclosed amount of Student Council cash is taken from the desk of Will Sowers, vice president for administration, according to the Cav Daily.

Worst additional way to get a lemon when buying a used car: Flood damage from Hurricane Isabel. The DMV warns buyers to check both new and used cars for water damage.

Worst news for Dukes of Hazzard  fans: Ben "Cooter" Jones is closing down the Dukes' museum in Sperryville Thanksgiving weekend.

Worst realization about spam: Being able to buy Vicodin, Valium, and Xanax on-line really is too good to be true.

Worst-sounding event: The Lymphatic Drainage Workshop November 4 from 7 to 9pm at Ivy Commons Family Chiropractic.

Best fundraising strategy: Two Dumb Guys, Clem and Starch, raise money for AIDS-infected children in Botswana by ironing in public and vacuuming crosswalks (

Best photo of a Hook  staffer on the cover of the Progress: Copy editor Rosalind Warfield-Brown looks ready to swipe a dollar bill out of a flower arrangement at the Virginia Film Festival opening night gala.