PAPER CUTS: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

What a fearful noise we make unto ourselves at year's end, as we celebrate the annual orgy of self-congratulation. While we may no longer sacrifice fatted calves or virgins, we cannot seem to resist the tendency to run off at the mouth with ruminations on the recent past, predictions for the future, and lists without end, amen."While I won't waste your time on those who've already had their day in print, it couldn't hurt to reflect on some news that never made the front pages, a way of reminding ourselves what not to step in next year.He Can Dish It Out, But He Can't Take It29 year-old Boston computer programmer Zack Exley bought the domain name and turned it into scathing satire of the Republican frontrunner. Bush campaign officials, after unsuccessfully lodging complaints with the Federal Election Commission, were forced to buy up some 60 other domain names, including,, and, which now link users to the real Bush site.The New EugenicsAre custom tailored babies the designer accessory for the new millennium? While those of us not favored in the Mendelian sweepstakes may be wondering how to get our hands on Brad Pitt's DNA, it's good to keep in mind that it takes more than a gene pool to raise a child. The Associated Press reports that the Lebensborn archives, which hold the files of some of the 7000 children born under Hitler's plan for a master race, will be opened to individuals now trying to trace their roots. According to Berlin public television: "The files could help to identify the parents of those children who did not meet the Nazi racist criteria, and were sent to orphanages."Good Business For Texas, Stomach Pumps For The Rest Of UsFederal Judge A. Joe Fish issued a temporary restraining order barring the U.S. Department of Agriculture from closing Dallas based Supreme Beef Processors plant, which has has failed three inspections for salmonella contamination over the past 8 months. In the ruling, Judge Fish said that meat from the plant had not caused any outbreaks of food poisoning, and that closing the plant would cause irreparable harm to the company. This was the first effort by the USDA to enforce new standards for meat testing, which permit no more than 7.5 percent of a plant's ground beef to contain salmonella, replacing the woefully inadequate "poke-and-sniff" technique. Steven F. Spiritas, president and CEO of the Texas company, said he was pleased with the judge's decision because "the department had no justification to take action against our company when we are producing safe and wholesome meat products." Supreme Beef supplies up to 45 percent of the ground beef used in the national school lunch program, as well as WalMart.Turn Off The Lights Mom, We Glow In The Dark On a related note, the USDA announced plans to allow processors to irradiate raw beef, pork, and lamb to eliminate E.coli, and reduce the levels of listeria, campylobacter, and salmonella. Irradiation has already been approved for poultry, and will soon to extended to include luncheon meat and hot dogs. The Associated Press reports that irradiated meat will be "most popular with hospital and nursing homes, because of the danger E.coli poses to patients with weakened immune systems." Tim Willard, spokesman for the National Food Processors Association called the decision "long overdue".The Boy Can't Help ItCharles Thurman, 38, released from prison after serving nearly 8 years of a 20 year sentence for stabbing his ex-wife Tracey, was back in court for violating a restraining order. Tracey Thurman, who was stabbed 13 times in the face, throat, and body, successfully sued Torrington, Connecticut police for failing to protect her after her husband publicly threatened to kill her, a landmark victory in the protection of battered women. In the current case, involving another woman, Northampton, Massachusetts District Court Judge W. Michael Ryan released Thurman on his own recognizance, stating that the alleged victim had "adequate protection from him."High School HiJinksMatthew Rogers, 20, of Franklin, Tennessee , and Jonathan Shapiro, 18, of Keene, New Hampshire, both seniors at Northfield Mount Hermon School, were each charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery with intent to maim, and assault and battery with intent to intimidate, the last one considered a hate crime and civil rights violation, after allegedly carving the word "Homo" in 5-inch block letters across the bare back of a 17 year-old junior at the school. Charges were subsequently reduced when the defendants' attorneys argued that the incident was not a hate crime, because the alleged perpetrators knew that the victim was not really gay. Crimes commited on the basis of sexual orientation have doubled over the past decade.Armageddon UpdateIf you are one of the approximately 50 million Americans who are expecting the apocalypse this week, good news. According to the Megiddo Report, released in November by the FBI's Domestic Terrorism Unit, right wing extremists are planning to make your dreams come true.God bless us every one.

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