Friday, May 15, 2009

New flag

Someone Bids $13,000 for Huffington Post Internship

Why Settle for Free Content When Journalists Will Pay You?

How bad is the job market for media types? A charity auction for a two- or three-month internship at the Huffington Post has collected bids as high as $13,000.

"Jumpstart your career in the blogsphere," the listing suggests, "with an eye-opening internship at The Huffington Post in New York or Washington."

The auction's beneficiary, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, seems exceptionally worthy. But are unemployed media wannabes really this worthless?

If the top bidder lives in Connecticut, the winner even has to pay sales tax on the internship.

If anyone was going to auction off an internship, though, it would be Arianna Huffington's Huffington Post, which features tons of content generated free by bloggers and celebrities just happy to have a platform. HuffPo did recently start a fund to employ some laid-off investigative reporters, but the company thrives primarily on "citizen" journalism and news that other outlets spend money reporting.

Our own very prescient Media Guy, Simon Dumenco, wondered months ago whether HuffPo could do better than free labor. "Rather than not pay its bloggers," he wrote, "it could charge them -- for the privilege of getting to help maintain the jetsetting lifestyle of the Great Arianna, of course."

Ms. Huffington will accept a lifetime-achievement award next month at the Mirror Awards. Too bad the presenter, the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, charges students so much money to train them as journalists. That's money the students could have used to buy their first internship.

Cheney true or false quiz

We tortured to justify war

Dick Cheney keeps saying "enhanced interrogation" was used to stop imminent attacks, but evidence is mounting that the real reason was to invent evidence linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida.

By Joe Conason

The single most pertinent question that Dick Cheney is never asked -- at least not by the admiring interviewers he has encountered so far -- is whether he, Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush used torture to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq. As he tours television studios, radio stations and conservative think tanks, the former vice-president hopes to persuade America that only waterboarding kept us safe for seven years.

 Yet evidence is mounting that under Cheney's direction, "enhanced interrogation" was not used exclusively to prevent imminent acts of terror or collect actionable intelligence -- the aims that he constantly emphasizes -- but to invent evidence that would link al-Qaida with Saddam Hussein and connect the late Iraqi dictator to the 9/11 attacks.

 In one report after another, from journalists, former administration officials and Senate investigators, the same theme continues to emerge: Whenever a prisoner believed to possess any knowledge of al-Qaida's operations or Iraqi intelligence came into American custody, CIA interrogators felt intense pressure from the Bush White House to produce evidence of an Iraq-Qaida relationship (which contradicted everything that U.S. intelligence and other experts knew about the enmity between Saddam's Baath Party and Osama bin Laden's jihadists). Indeed, the futile quest for proof of that connection is the common thread running through the gruesome stories of torture from the Guantánamo detainee camp to Egyptian prisons to the CIA's black sites in Thailand and elsewhere.

 Perhaps the sharpest rebuke to Cheney's assertions has come from Lawrence Wilkerson, the retired Army colonel and former senior State Department aide to Colin Powell, who says bluntly that when the administration first authorized "harsh interrogation" during the spring of 2002, "its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qaida."

Paying It Forward: A Breakfast Surprise In Maltby, WA

With all the bad news swirling around these days, we have been sharing stories of good news, particularly random acts of kindness, and asking our readers to share their experiences of goodwill with us. Today we bring you a story of a random act of kindness from our mailbag. This story comes from Vanessa in Maltby, WA. It's not an exotic story but its definitely one of random kindness.

This past Saturday we just weren't in the mood to make ourselves breakfast so we went to the ever popular Maltby Cafe, in Maltby, WA. You couldn't tell we were in a recession that morning. We put our name on the list for a table and were told it would be an hour (which is the way it's been on the weekend for years). To kill time, we headed up the road to a local nursery, which was also incredibly busy with customers. We got back to the Cafe after being away for 40 min. Apparently they had already called our name but were able to seat us right away.

We ordered, food came, we really enjoyed it, then when it was time for the check, our waitress said, "Well...your tab has been paid for." "What?" my husband and I asked. "Yea, funny thing. We had a really large party here this morning and they decided to pay for another party's tab. Those people then paid for someone else's tab and those people have paid for yours!" It didn't even take a nanosecond for me to say, "Well, let's keep it going!" Our waitress let us know we had covered the tab for the couple who sat nearest to us. We only hoped they would some how enjoy it and then pass it on.


- Vanessa

What's in your pocket?

Guatemala: Twitterevolution, "YouTube Sedition," and Deepening Political Crisis

A quick recap of updates this morning on the political crisis in Guatemala follows. Previous posts linked at the bottom.

* Yesterday, Guatemalan I.T. worker and Twitter user Jean Anleu (shown above / photo: Surizar) was raided by police, arrested, charged with inciting "financial panic," fined US $6500 (more than the average Guatemalan makes in a year), and sentenced to detention to be followed by house arrest. Supporters created a blog with information about his case, and are continuing what some describe as a "Twitterevolution" in Guatemala, using the hashtag #escandalogt and raising money by PayPal for his release. Anleu's case is the first of its kind in Central American history.

* One of Jean Anleu's Twitter (and real-life) geek friends, "Manolo," says,
Fundraising from abroad to secure his release is being received in my personal PayPal account ( For people in Guatemala we have an accout of a Jean's relative G&T Bank, account # 39-4478-4 (Jhenny Gonzalez). We are going out to the courthouse in Guatemala City right now, since the family got a loan from Jean's employers for the rest of the required amount, so, we are planning to release him within hours. I'll keep Boing Boing updated on this. More here.
UPDATE, May 15, 12pm PT: Manolo emails us:
The good news is that @jeanfer is about to be free. He and his family now have to pay back the money, but he'll be released in a few hours. He was able to post a tweet from my PC before leaving for the detention center, where he has to do some paperwork and wait till tonight to be released.
Below, @jeanfer's "freedom tweet," sent about an hour ago from @manolo's computer.

* Guatemalan photojournalist James Rodriguez has published a photo-essay documenting protests in Guatemala calling for president Álvaro Colom to resign in the wake of accusations he ordered the assastination of Rodrigo Rosenberg.

Those accusations came in the form of a posthumoustly-released YouTube video recorded by the whistleblower attorney before his murder on Mother's Day. Protests continue today in Guatemala City over Rosenberg's murder, and the fact that, as one Guatemalan Twitter user wrote, "Some guy on Twitter is in jail for one 96-character tweet, while assassins roam free." A large protest is planned for Sunday in the capital, with some participants planning to wear white, tape their mouths shut, and carry placards reading "I DON'T TALK, I TWITTER / WE ARE ALL @JEANFER."

* Street vendors are selling bootleg DVDs of Rosenberg's "death message" video (screengrab at left) which has spread virally on YouTube. One of these street vendors, shown below, has been arrested by the Guatemalan police. For the act of distributing bootlegged YouTube videos, this man, who also works as a "chicken bus" driver's assistant, has been charged with "inciting sedition, revolution, or overthrow of the state." Here's a PDF link.

Limbaugh found dead, thousands commit suicide

Brains and Eggs

"The Bushite arctic freeze is thawing nationally but in Texas we're still iced in. Fight 'em on the ice." -- DVO

Popular right-wing radio host and titular head of the Republican party Rush Limbaugh was found dead tonight in his home of an apparent heart attack.

Preliminary results indicate a prescription drug overdose aggravated by Limbaugh's morbid obesity. Several empty bottles of the prescription drugs Viagra and Oxycontin were found littering the scene.

An attending coroner said that Limbaugh had ingested enough medication "to kill Elvis ten times over", and admitted to having never seen such a high level of the drugs in any human being. Limbaugh was found in an upright position on his $743,000 solid gold, extra-large commode, with a microphone in one hand. (The toliet had recently been acquired from former Texas House speaker Tom Craddick, who previously had it installed in the plush living quarters afforded the head of the Lone Star State's legislative body.)

As initial reports of Limbaugh's demise hit the airways, thousands of his devoted listeners began to take their own lives in various gruesome ways, many leaving behind suicide notes indicating that they simply couldn't go on without their daily 3 hours of right wing propaganda five times a week.

Hundreds of mortuaries across the nation are overflowing with deceased dittoheads, and emergency rooms are full of botched suicides and hundreds of 'walking dead' Limbaugh devotees, all of whom seem to be in a semi-catatonic state. Numerous accounts from around the nation report that conservatives are walking into heavy traffic, into the sea, off of cliffs and high buildings, and killing or injuring themselves in bizarre mass suicides from copycat drug ingestion to group shootings.

Law enforcement agencies in all fifty states are urging citizens to be on the lookout for the large numbers of the radio host's listeners wandering the streets of America, trying to take their own lives by any means available.

"Obviously anyone who looks or behaves like a zombie is to be considered a Rush Limbaugh fan, but other indications are a blank stare, profuse drooling and speaking in gibberish", said Sergeant David Scroggins of the Houston Police Dept.

Hundreds of bodies of dead and rotting dittoheads clutter the streets around the various radio studios across the country from which the deceased entertainer's radio show was broadcast, and more are stumbling to the scenes in various stages of catatonia, leaving traffic at a standstill and overwhelming the makeshift morgues popping up along the streets. "I haven't seen anything like this since those Jim Jones cultists drank the Kool-Aid," said HPD Captain Leon Jones.

Funeral services pending at this time, but preparations are being made to dig the largest grave in history to inter Limbaugh near one of his favorite places, the parking lot of the Denny's in Palm Beach, Florida where he was rumored to have acquired the drugs that took his life from his former housekeeper.

Notable deceased fans who have been identified to date include former Texas congressman Dick Armey, Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana and Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, and former White House staffer Mary Matalin.

Self Preservation

‘Dave’s Not Here, Man’ - The Return of Cheech and Chong

By Maribel Santoyo
There's no denying that Cheech & Chong invented stoner comedy as we know it. The duo composed of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong found a wide cult audience during the 1970s and 1980s for their stand-up routines. Watch movies like "Dazed and Confused" or "Pineapple Express," and rudiments of the pair's countercultural imprint can still be found. What's Up caught up with the two during a conference call interview. At 64 and 71, Cheech & Chong's antics and ping-pong dialogue remain the same. Listen to the pair talk and you know that this friendship is golden.

Q. It's been 31 years since "Up in Smoke." Was that the last time before this tour that both of you shared a stage together?
Chong: Actually, the last time we did a show was in '81. That was the last time I remember us taking a bow, and now when we take a bow, I kind of have a flashback of that moment. It seems only like five minutes ago.

Q. What's different about your comedy routine now?
Cheech: Our audience is much, much bigger than it was in the day. It's kind of had all those years to grow.

Q. Do you guys see yourselves as cult figures?
Chong: We're actually bigger than God and the Beatles.

Cheech: No, we're the offspring of God and the Beatles.

Chong: But we're almost as big as Prince.

Q. Back in the day you always had a new album to supplement a tour. What have you guys done for this tour?
Cheech: We just filmed our live show with all-time extra added tracks.

Q. Did you guys include the famous song "Earache My Eye"?
Cheech: Yep. The long, expanded, off-stage and on-stage version of that.

Q. Speaking of which, the alter ego that performs it, which is you, is called "Alice-Bowie." I heard the character is supposed to be a combination of David Bowie and Alice Cooper. Is this true?
Cheech: Yes. And, you know, Tommy did it first. He was the first one that did it.

Chong: Yeah, I put on a tutu and sang "I am a man" … You know, like Bo Diddley, and then Cheech looked at me and said, "I'd like to wear that, man." It was just perfect.

Q. How do you think your brand of improv comedy was different from anything else at the time?
Chong: Well, we started out with an idea, and whatever worked, we went with it. Most improvisational groups only do the bits until they mature; then they just go on to other bits. What Cheech and I would do is we wouldn't only mature them, but we'd put them in movies. We expanded them, and that's the difference.

Protect Parody Under Fair Use!

ASCAP and BMI should not be allowed to demand licensing fees from parodies of popular music, movies, ads or literature. The Supreme Court of the United States has previously ruled in favor of parody as Fair Use, a doctrine provide by the first amendment of the United States Constitution, and a right that if not upheld, threatens free speech and our right to criticize, comment and present artistic alternative opinions of pop culture, the government and other entities including ASCAP, BMI and the RIAA themselves.

It is unreasonable to ask a parodist to pay to criticize, parody or satire pop work so long as it can not be seen as a substitute to the original, I propose that parody be more clearly defined as a protected use under the Fair Use Doctrine; under federal law in order to protect parodists and comedians who cannot afford to fight organizations such as ASCAP and BMI from strong arm tactics. The 2 Live Crew case must be adhered, ASCAP and BMI must stop crossing the line, and should have to abide by the constitution of the United States.

Sign the petition

Litter removal from Halliburton

U.S. Has Plan to Secure Pakistan Nukes if Country Falls to Taliban

By Rowan Scarborough

Pakistan and the U.S. flagThe United States has a detailed plan for infiltrating Pakistan and securing its mobile arsenal of nuclear warheads if it appears the country is about to fall under the control of the Taliban, Al Qaeda or other Islamic extremists.

American intelligence sources say the operation would be conducted by Joint Special Operations Command, the super-secret commando unit headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C.

JSOC is the military's chief terrorists hunting squad and has units now operating in Afghanistan on Pakistan's western border. But a secondary mission is to secure foreign nuclear arsenals -- a role for which JSOC operatives have trained in Nevada.

The mission has taken on added importance in recent months, as Islamic extremists have taken territory close to the capital of Islamabad and could destabilize Pakistan's shaky democracy.

"We have plans to secure them ourselves if things get out of hand," said a U.S. intelligence source who has deployed to Afghanistan. "That is a big secondary mission for JSOC in Afghanistan."

The source said JSOC has been updating its mission plan for the day President Obama gives the order to infiltrate Pakistan.

"Small units could seize them, disable them and then centralize them in a secure location," the source said.

'Get Out of Iraq. Get Out Afghanistan. Come Home America.'

WASHINGTON - May 14 - Speaking on a Supplemental Appropriations bill that would continue to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement:

"America went to war against Iraq based on a lie. We were told back in 2002 that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The previous administration even pursued torture to try to extract false confessions in order to justify the war. It is time to tell the truth. The truth is we should not have prosecuted a war against the Iraqi people. The truth is the Democratic Senate could have stopped the Iraq war in 2002. The truth is we Democrats were given control of Congress in 2006 to end the war. The truth is this bill continues a disastrous war, which has cost the lives of thousands of our soldiers. The truth is the occupation has fueled the insurgency. The truth is the Iraq war will cost the American and the Iraqi people trillions of dollars and as many as a million innocent Iraqis have lost their lives as a result of this war.

"Don't tell the American people that you are ending the war by continuing to fund the war. Don't tell the American people that the war will end when their plans leave 50, 000 troops in Iraq. Don't tell the American people that the way out of Afghanistan is to escalate our presence.

"Get out of Iraq. Get out Afghanistan. Come home America."

Green Shoots