Monday, December 25, 2006

Abu Ghraib II: Something called the UK Noise Association is "suggesting legal action" against certain retail stores for "torturing" their employees, by making them listen to holiday music over and over . . and over . . and over and over, for heaven’s sake. [Fortunately for the Salvation Army, most of its bell-ringers are volunteers, so their two-hour torture, and repetitive wrist injuries, might be exempt.]

Are you man enough? Nat’l Public Radio has been reporting on a reclusive Baptist cult in the Missouri Ozarks, at which bad, bad allegations (of the kind you usually get with reclusive cults) have been flowing. In the latest, a 33-yr-old breakaway described the now-arrested leader, Pastor Raymond Lambert, as fostering a good, spiritual, Christian community . . except for when his self-described "family curse" took over. When a female misbehaved, she said, Lambert would force her to strip to undignify herself. Said an adult male breakaway, "[Lambert] said during the meeting that sex was a man’s desire and a woman’s need, and that a woman needed to be kept by a man of God." The woman, again: "He told my brother, who has three young daughters, he said, ‘David,’ he said, ‘you’re not man enough to go upstairs and [f] your daughters, are you?’ And [David] said, ‘No, I wouldn’t want to.’ And [Lambert] said, ‘Well, I am.’"

Editor’s Obsessions
Prosecutor Nifong, in the Duke lacrosse/rape case, dropped the "rape" part on Friday, state law apparently requiring a penis for that, and the complaining witness no longer certain it was a penis that penetrated her, although since she also mentioned ejaculation, that leaves the possibility, I guess, of a finger boil that burst. ("Sexual assault" charges remained, carrying about the same penalties.) However, based on the NY Times report (even though written in part by the ever-so-gullible "Duff Wilson," who bought the accuser’s version lock, stock, and barrel from the outset), Nifong at least seems to have had a game plan all along. It’s a disgraceful, unprofessional game plan, but at least it wasn’t ADHD. Nifong apparently decided on Day One that, given the black-white divide in Durham, and especially the black-rich divide, that he would ride this one out on the accuser. No matter what the evidence, if she stuck by her story, he wouldn’t fold on her. This, of course, violates what every prosecutor in America swears he or she stands for: seeking the unvarnished truth. Nifong decided on Day One that he’d rather be the person criticized for stringing three probably-innocent rich white guys along on a humiliating, life-altering journey than be the person vilified in black Durham for following the evidence. (And in the end, he rationalized, "justice" would prevail because the Dukies would walk.) OK. We expect our prosecutors to have guts (think, Rudy Giuliani challenging the NY mob back when it was the real mob), but it doesn’t always work out that way. Next scheduled step: At the pre-trial hearing in February, when called on to point directly to her "sexual assaulters," she will fold, and Nifong will drop the charges, and his Day One strategy will be complete. The only question is whether she will fold before the hearing (after her lawyer, and Nifong’s prosecutors, describe what she’s in for on cross-examination). Actually, Nifong might fear this, since it leaves her the option of backing out, then feeling remorse (at letting down black Durhamites), and then accusing Nifong of pressuring her, and there goes his best-laid Day One strategy. (New, new, "next scheduled step": Because of a serious question about Nifong’s withholding one piece of crucial evidence from the defense, judge or governor forces Nifong to recuse himself; new prosecutor takes a look at the evidence and drops the case in a heartbeat.)

That’s Messed Up
UConn has decided to spend money to build an actual town where the current strip mall called Storrs is, so, y’know, students can feel part of a community, like, seriously, this is where higher education is these days . . . . . Even though the free market is foreign to Storrs, it’s alive in the Russian and Bulgarian mobs, which are upgrading the illegal adoption racket in Greece by fulfilling orders for custom-made babies pumped out by the pretty gals . . . . . The cost of transporting a dead body from death scenes to the morgue is a $100-or-less job in most large cities in the Midwest, but not Chicago, where the city just gave a $915/body contract to a company already drowning in service complaints (according to a Chicago Tribune investigation) . . . . . The Pope decided he won’t sign off on the pearly-gates pass for Piergiorgio Welby, who was apparently a good Catholic except for the part about having to suck up that excruciating pain when the end is near.

Housekeeping
As previously announced, this 6-day-a-week weblog is publishing only Mon-Wed-Fri until January 3, when regular posting resumes.

Below The Fold
A Colorado city disabled by a blizzard of . . tumbleweeds! . . . . . A NY woman suing a plastic surgeon because her saline breast implant wound up in her armpit . . . . . A British woman, tired of contractor delays on fixing her apartment, locked two supervisors in a closet until they promised to speed it up (and forced a police siege) . . . . . Ferrari didn’t make enough 599 GTB Fioranos (at $250k) to satisfy the number of Wall Street money managers demanding them . . . . . A Tonbridge, England, Christmas pageant with the Beach Boys' Wilson brothers as the 3 Wise Men ["God Only Knows," OK, but "Fun, Fun, Fun"?] . . . . . A judge overturned the election for state auditor in Vermont because of miscounted ballots [Oh, how Yr Editor hates states that can’t even count their votes!] . . . . . The sad story of the late Pablo Escobar’s hippopotamuses, abandoned, and now raising hell . . . . . An Alabama lawyer under 45-day suspension, with the state supreme court clamoring for more punishment, has nonetheless been sworn in as a judge . . . . . Zimbabwean debate: Mugabe’s spinners say rats are a "delicacy," but the peasants disagree . . . . . An unidentified man set himself on fire in Bakersfield, Calif., to protest the school district’s decision to start calling its winter and spring breaks "Christmas" and "Easter" . . . . . And here, to help you review for the exam, is a link to World Net Daily’s compilation of teacher-student sex perps [I know, teachers having sex with their students—what’s the world coming to?].