Sorry to dampen your day if these two stories haven’t made their way to you yet, but the first two news articles to land in front of my eyes this morning are just so very very life-affirming. Makes me want to sing “Joy to the World” real loud.

The first detailed the “honor killings” committed by an entirely unrepentant Pakistani man who reportedly cut the throats of his three daughters, ages 8, 7 and 4, after first killing his 25-year-old stepsister who was alleged to be in an adulterous affair. Cradling their infant son during the slaughter, his wife Bibi said she was forced to endure the massacre or face a similar fate.

Bibi recounted how she was awakened by a shriek as Ahmed put his hand to the mouth of his stepdaughter, Muqadas, and cut her throat with a machete. She said she looked on helplessly from the corner of the room as he then killed the three girls — Bano, 8, Sumaira, 7, and Humaira, 4 — pausing between the slayings to brandish the bloodstained knife at his wife, warning her not to intervene or raise alarm.

“I was shivering with fear. I did not know how to save my daughters,” Bibi, sobbing, told AP by phone from the village. “I begged my husband to spare my daughters but he said, ‘If you make a noise, I will kill you.”‘

This fundamental muslim’s premeditated reasoning? Well, after his arrest the next morning, the “disheveled but composed” 40-year-old laborer told reporters that it just seemed like the right thing to do.

“I thought the younger girls would do what their eldest sister had done, so they should be eliminated. We are poor people and we have nothing else to protect but our honor.”

For whatever modicum of honor he now claims to have salvaged, I can do nothing but hang my head at the dishonor he brings to mankind. But as outrageous as his crimes is the reluctance of Pakistan’s political leadership and law enforcement to enact and enforce tougher laws against such killings which occur with some regularity (somewhat shaky statistics point to 569 occuring in 2004 and more than 260 this year). As late as last year this murderer might have gotten off paying a fine. Now he faces — oh joy — the death penalty.

The second story that made me disgraced to be a human being happened in Montana where a starved and abused cat was rescued by firefighters from a river into which it had been dumped after it was spotted in a cage weighted down with a heavy rock. Instead of sinking, the cage somehow stayed afloat on a section of ice.

Someone had put the animal in a cage, along with a rock weighing about 16 pounds, and tossed it into the Clark Fork River. But instead of landing in the water, it bounced several times on the ice and then became stuck.

Firefighters returned to the station with the feline where they found it in very sad shape but happy to be among friends.

“It was really skinny, nothing but skin and bones, and had collar marks where a too-small collar had rubbed the fur off its neck. But it was really friendly,” firefighter Philip Keating said.

Another firefighter decided to give it a home and this story a happy ending and that’s fine, but I want to read about cops dusting the cage for prints and doing everything they can to find the person who tossed that cat overboard.

Just when I think my disgust at our capacity to disrespect and destroy life can’t get any lower, someone cracks open another soulless subbasement and lets the darkness out.