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Start Snitching, Get Killed?

| Mon Dec. 17, 2007 8:07 PM EST

Here's something that those of us who decry urban mores against 'snitching' forgot to consider—witness intimidation. Imagine having to live down the block from the knuckleheads who know that you know exactly what violent thing they did:

No national statistics on crimes against witnesses exist, and minimal research has been conducted on the subject. The latest National Institute of Justice survey on record -- conducted more than a decade ago -- shows that more than half of big city prosecutors consider witness intimidation a major problem.
Colorado has $50,000 allocated to its witness protection budget. In contrast, the city of Denver spent almost $100,000 on landscaping last year.
The state, on average, spends about $1,000 per witness. That figure supposedly includes moving expenses, rent, and furniture. The federal program spends in excess of $40 million per year on witness protection.
One possible reason for the disparity is that witnesses in state cases do not get new identities, as do federal witnesses. "It's not designed to be a long-term relocation at the public's expense; it's a way to ensure the immediate safety of the witnesses," according to Peter Weir, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety.

Witnesses in criminal cases get intimidated, and murdered, with alarming frequency while those of us who live lives far removed, except by the worst of luck, from crime tsk-tsk over their poor character when they choose their safety over their civic duty. It's one thing to disapprove of tolerating criminality. It's quite another to focus on landscaping when leaving brave witnesses to protect themselves, and their families, from conscienceless predators.

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Love and Marriage

| Mon Dec. 17, 2007 8:00 PM EST

Pam Anderson files for divorce after two months. A husband and wife throw down OK Corral-style, leaving her dead. Oh well, at least the couple that enslaves together stays together, if in separate prisons. When, oh when, will homosexuals stop destroying marriage?

Drug-Resistant E. Coli Rampant Among Poultry Workers

| Mon Dec. 17, 2007 5:02 PM EST

poultry200.jpg
If you needed yet another reason to be grossed out by the American meat industry, consider this tantalizing tidbit: U.S. Poultry workers are much more likely than the average American—32 times more likely, in fact—to carry antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria, according to a Johns Hopkins study.

With the recent news that drug-resistant staph infections are on the rise, most people I know have become vigilant about germs in public places. Flip-flop use in gym locker rooms, I'd bet, is on the rise. But actually, we should be feeling squeamish about big ag: "One of the major implications of this study is to underscore the importance of the non-hospital environment in the origin of drug resistant infections," says Eileen K. Silbergeld, one of the study's lead authors, in the study press release. Growth-stimulating antibiotics are just another part of the daily grind (ugh, sorry) at mega-farms. In fact, it's thought that the majority of antimicrobials produced in the U.S. are used in the meat industry. And unfortunately, unlike at the gym, flip-flops probably don't offer much in the way of protection at the slaughterhouse.

Led Zeppelin: No Spring Tour, But Maybe Belfast, and Save Those Ticket Stubs

| Mon Dec. 17, 2007 4:46 PM EST

Robert PlantAfter Led Zeppelin's "triumphant" reunion show at London's O2 Arena last Monday, the rumors of an upcoming tour were inevitable. E! reports that a set of dates in early 2008 seemed possible, and that a headline slot at Tennessee's Bonnaroo festival in June was also rumored. But alas, it's not meant to be: Robert Plant has set aside May for a European tour with Allison Krauss, with whom he made the critically-acclaimed album Raising Sand. Plant is also rumored to be the one Zep most opposed to the idea of continuing the band's successful tour, telling the Sunday Times that "a cavalcade of merciless repetition is not what it's all about."

But now the Belfast Telegraph is reporting that a local promoter is negotiating to bring the band back to the Northern Ireland city, where they played "Stairway to Heaven" for the first time in public. While that legendary show was at the Ulster Hall, the promoter says that venue is "too small" and that they would likely play an arena.

And finally, if you were one of the lucky fans who scored a ticket to the aforementioned O2 Arena show, don't throw out that ticket stub: NME reports that the crumpled scraps are going for up to £125 ($250) on eBay.

All I Want for Christmas, Part 2: Tenori-On

| Mon Dec. 17, 2007 3:45 PM EST

mojo-photo-tenorion.JPGIs it a Lite Brite? An etch-a-sketch? An elaborate "NextBus" sign? Nope: it's a musical instrument. Tenori-On means "sound in your palm" in Japanese, and this eight-inch square little miracle (made by Yamaha) lets you make beats and loops by touching—well, caressing—its surface. The instructions are a little opaque: draw the wave form! Assign individual sounds to each key! Hold the key down to create a repeating audio loop! Huh? But the video of somebody who knows what they're doing making (an admittedly pretty noodly) little techno number is positively jaw-dropping. Watch it after the jump.

Tenori-On is only available in the UK right now, but with a low low price of $1200 you can afford a round-trip flight to pick it up for me, right, Secret Santa?

Email from Iraq: U.S.-Approved Turkish Attack on Kurds Will Hurt the U.S.

| Mon Dec. 17, 2007 12:34 PM EST

On Sunday, Turkish fighter jets bombed targets in northern Iraq, looking to strike Kurdish militants--and did so with the permission of the U.S. government, which controls the air space over Iraq. Turkey's military chief, General Yasar Buyukanit, was quoted on Turkish television saying, "America gave [us] intelligence. But more importantly, America last night opened [the Iraqi] air space to us. By opening the air space, America gave its approval to this operation."

This one-day military mission might have tremendous consequences that affect the U.S. position in Iraq. Last week, on this site, retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor speculated that recent developments in Iraq (the so-called Great Awakening in Anbar province and the so-called surge) could lead to a Turkish-Kurdish military conflict and land the United States in the middle of a regional war. (In Macgregor's view, the United States would end up on the side of the Kurds, which is not what's happening at the moment.) Given the profound political instability within Iraq, a Turkish-Kurdish war in the north could cause all efforts at national reconciliation (no matter how unsuccessful they have been so far) to collapse.

Shortly after news of the air strike broke, a former U.S. official who is trying to broker business deals in the Kurdish region of Iraq fired off an email to me. He was in Iraq at the time of the attack, and he was outraged at the U.S. involvement in the Turkish strike. He has been in contact with leading Kurds in Iraq and fears this development could lead to a great unraveling in the north. In his email (which I've tidied up), he wrote:

The blow back here in Kurdistan is building against the US government. There are protests and visible anger as the story of the US Air Force helping the Turks kill Kurds in the Kandil Mountains spreads. My [Kurdish] colleagues here are headed to an emergency session of the parliament. The entire [Kurdish] negotiating team left Baghdad and flew back here to attend the session. People are really upset. The Turks of course are...emphasizing that the US Air Force was heavily involved in the attack.
The Kurdish theme is one of shock, and betrayal. The Kurds see themselves as the only true friend of the Americans in the region, and the only part of Iraq that is working, and are especially hurt by the attack. The US has never killed Kurds deliberately before. We killed a lot of them in the war by accident and recklessness, which [the Kurds] managed to rationalize away, but never on purpose. We are at a loss to understand the [US government] thinking on supporting this operation.

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Those Crazy Ron Paul Folks Are at It Again

| Sun Dec. 16, 2007 11:44 PM EST

Money bomb version 2.0 raises a record amount in a one-day span. If Ron Paul drops out of this thing after New Hampshire, he's going to have millions of dollars left over to spend on... what, exactly?

Update: Full haul was a whopping $6 million.

Late update: Check out the Ron Paul story in our latest issue, now available online.

Lieberman Can't Find One Democratic Candidate To Endorse, Goes With McCain

| Sun Dec. 16, 2007 7:36 PM EST

palpatine_lieberman.jpg What on earth is up with Joe Lieberman? Maybe it really ticked him off when so many members of the Democratic establishment endorsed his opponent in the last Connecticut senate race (even though that opponent was the Democrat). Maybe he really can't see beyond the war in Iraq. Maybe he's just a Democrat In Name Only (DINO) at this point. Maybe he's an egomaniac crazy for attention.

Whatever's going on, he's taken a pretty stunning step: He's endorsing John McCain for president.

John McCain is really cleaning up in the Very Serious Person electorate, what with his multiple newspaper endorsements yesterday and now this. It's just a matter of time until David Brooks and David Broder start writing slobbering editorials calling for a McCain-Lieberman centrist ticket.

Update: After the jump, video of Lieberman in a 2006 senate debate stating that he wants a Democratic majority in Congress and a Democrat in the White House.

Porn, Porn Everywhere

| Sun Dec. 16, 2007 11:17 AM EST

A study has found, duh, that most young women in college find pornography acceptable and view it themselves. As if you couldn't tell that from the way they dress and comport themselves.

Don't get me wrong, porn's fine. In fact, it's a girl's best friend. Quite the little time saver.
Whenever the man-of-the-moment started giving me the horny eyeball when I had a good book to finish or laundry to do, POP went the VCR. Most porn is so silly, with those pneumatic, ridiculo-boobs, and toothache moaning, five or so minutes in, a sister was bored and wandering off for a snack. The hard part, you'll excuse the expression, was snaking out of that feverish clawing with a fako-bacon, husky "I'll be right back" in a 1-900 voice he interpreted to mean that I'd be donning something uncomfortable and sleazy but which really meant, "I think there's some Chunky Monkey left".

The Brother Caught ANOTHER Break: Clinton's Failed 'Willie Horton-ing" of Obama

| Sun Dec. 16, 2007 10:18 AM EST

Barack Obama must surely have been born under a lucky star.

'Black' but not black. 'American' but only American since his college days, having spent his formative years outside the CONUS. Whip-smart but with enough nerd-chic to make it cool. Now he even gets to have been a doobie-smoking, coke snorting slacker made untouchable about it by having 'fessed up before he could be outed. Best of all, now he's been attacked by Whitey for it. Finally, proof: it is indeed better to be lucky than good.