Thursday, October 21, 2010

Peter Thiel offers $100,000 to students who drop out of school

Peter Thiel is offering to give  $100 thousand to 20 kids under the age of 20 to drop out of school.

Thiel is a billionaire as a result of early Facebook investments and being the co-founder of PayPal. He is calling this his "20 under 20" program, and he thinks that by doing so he is encouraging young adults to not limit themselves by getting an education.

Slate informs that whoever has seen The Social Network has seen Peter Theil:

"If you've seen The Social Network, you may have caught a passing glimpse of Peter Thiel. Thiel was the first outside investor in Facebook, putting up $500,000 to finance the site's original expansion in 2004. In the film's version of events, he connives with Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, to deprive Mark Zuckerberg's friend Eduardo Saverin of his 30 percent stake in the company. Though the character based on Thiel appears on-screen only briefly, Aaron Sorkin's screenplay demolishes the German-born venture-capitalist in a single line: "We're in the offices of a guy whose hero is Gordon Gekko."

(Jacob Weisberg wrote that article for Slate, and I would like to point out that a lot of the articles and posts I attribute to are written by Jacob Weisberg. So, if you're reading this Mr. Weisberg, I like your work.)

Thiel previously supported the Committee to Protect Journalists, so he can't be completely horrible, but without an education there won't be any journalists to protect. reports that Thiel said:

“There are a lot of things people learn in school, but they don’t learn much about entrepreneurship. We think that actually trying to encourage this is good.”

Well, encouraging is one thing - offering someone under 20 a large sum of money to drop out of school is just repulsive.

Why would a business man think dropping out of college is such a bright idea - maybe it's because when watching The Social Network people see how easy Zuckerberg made his start. True, Zuckerberg is an evil genius, but the money basically just fell on his lap.

Maybe if Thiel was giving a grant or some sort of scholarship of the sort, but to actually go out and say "Drop out of school and I will give you $100 thousand" is ridiculous.

I'm 20 and I even think it is ridiculous. "Stopping out of school" is what he likes to call it, according to Techcrunch.

So he is just going to give out $2 million and let it be free? Is he going make sure that the kids don't go to school? There's probably some contract that states that the money MAY NOT be spent on any form of college education. Thiel does not plan on helping each of these 20 individuals manage the money that he is offering, and that is going to backfire into a lot of debt for those young adults who may have felt as though this was their "big break."

By Nikky Raney
Journalist & Blogger

Unemployed: Sick of political ads yet?

Unemployed: Sick of political ads yet? Money has a much better use.... By now, most Americans are so sick of the political ads and they are screaming for relief from this new form of Speech Terrorism. With the deluge of corporate money into campaign finance already underway, we can now look forward to never-ending campaigns of endless radio and TV commercials polluting the airwaves through November 2, 2010.

We may have to invent a new crime category - call it torture by media. Who's to Blame for this? Who are the criminals here? Five guys on the Supreme Court. Perhaps we could start the punishment ball rolling by locking the Supreme Court justices (who voted for these corporate persons special election prerogatives) by locking them in a special room. We could then force them to listen to political commercials 24 hours a day.

We could borrow the CIA facilities for this torture, and it is clearly torture of the kind these same judges appear to support for other terrorists being forced to listen to loud rock music 24 hours a day. A few 24-hour sessions in this shadow government-approved room will surely persuade these errant, fascist, Justices to reconsider what they have done to the American people.

For now, with no potential on the horizon to limit political commercials or limit campaign seasons to 90 days, we may have to give up watching and listening to our favorite TV and radio programs as the political commercials begin to repeat in our brains even while asleep a horrifying ailment for which “Big Pharma” has no cure.

What is really happening here is "free" speech propaganda by the richest people and organizations in the world who, with their editorial control of media, easily refuse to air other opinions particularly those dangerous to their profits and prerogatives.

Ever wonder how much money is being spent on this relentless assault on the American air waves? Campaign signs? Travel and staffers? Wouldn’t it be nice if instead spending billions on the onslaught of campaigning, political candidates would have donated that money to help the 99ers? A pipe dream at best!

Selfish interest has not always been the norm in Washington in the distant past, but in this century (and most of the last) “Public Service” has not been the priority of those running for or holding public office.

America is in serious trouble and it does not seem to be getting any better. From our devastated economy to our corrupt politics, America is fast becoming a third world type country - when it comes to the “Haves” vs the “Have-nots.” The middle class is being middled out at a rapid pace, with the millions of (former middle class) 99ers as the first casualties of the war.

The only ammunition we may have left in our arsenal is to vote. It is free and not for sale. Example: Meg Whitman has spent upwards of 135 million to buy the Governor’s seat in California and she is behind in the polls.

Do not be brain washed by the ads. Instead, look at who is paying for them. Truth in advertising laws should be enforced and those who advertise falsely should be fined heavily and flogged publicly! The ticket sales from this public show could well bring in enough money to fund several new Tiers of benefits!

Juliette Brindak Site Worth $15 Million, TechCrunch $30 Million, While Old Media Crashes

Juliette Brindak is a top Google Trend and for good reason. Her site,, is worth an estimated $15 million. According to Babble, she started the site when she was 10 as a way for teens to communicate about things they could not bring up with their parents. Now, at 21, the site's a major destination for teens, and Juliette Brindak is a millionaire.

Why is it that Juliette Brindak's, Perez, and are worth $15 million, $20 million, and $30 million while news organizations like The San Francisco Chronicle and Newsweek are losing both subscribers and reporters to the online world? Because such publications don't get how to integrate their online and print functions.

The San Francisco Chronicle has lost high profile columnists like Ray Ratto in sports and Tim Goodman in television to Comcast SportsNet and The Hollywood Reporter respectively. Both are web enterprises. Newsweek lost Howard Fineman to The Huffington Post two weeks ago. Fineman said he believed he had to get involved in the Internet space and the Huff Po was only willing to offer him both pay and exposure.

Does all of this mean the death of print? No. It's more a problem of management than anything. There's no excuse for not having a well-integrated print and online effort, other than the prejudice of old-line journalists who refuse to come into the 21st Century.

More on this later.

Juan Williams Fired CNN Rick Sanchez Style By NPR

Rick Sanchez is joined by Juan Williams in the newly developing ranks of broadcast journalists fired for making racially-charged statements. According to The Huffington Post, Juan Williams appeared on Bill O'Reilly's show The O'Reilly Factor Monday.

O'Reilly and Williams, who are good friends, were talking about Bill's statements on The View last week when he blamed Muslims for the 9-11 attack. His comments caused both Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar to walk off the set for a moment in time. This is what Juan Williams said in regarding that episode in time:

I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.

NPR fired Juan Williams without contacting him, much in the way CNN let go of Rick Sanchez just three weeks ago. A statement by NPR says that Williams was fired because his comments were "inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR."

Now, Williams finds the darlings of the conservative media are on his side, including Michelle Malkin, who called the move "unfreaking believable."

Normally, this blogger doesn't agree with Michelle Malkin on a lot of things, but here, she's right.  As much as I disagree with Williams - I have no such fear of anyone in Muslim garb - the man has a right to his view and should be able to express it.

To fire him, as NPR did, is just plain stupidly bad media.  At this time, NPR should have used Williams view as the basis for what would have been a very good segment on Muslims and prejudice, just as CNN should have milked the Rick Sanchez comment with programs on racial bias in the media.

What a shame.  For everyone. for sale

Mark Zuckerberg's first hack job was called

In the movie The Social Network viewers see that this web site took the photo of girl's faces from campus and placed them side by side so that the person visiting the site can click on which girl he (or she) finds more attractive, comparable to the present day Hot or

The site is now being auctioned off on for over $125 thousand, according to Forbes' blog.

By Nikky Raney
Journalist & Blogger

Chevron Ecuador Case: Judge Allows Chevron To Depose Steven Donziger

A big break for Chevron in the Chevron Ecuador Case. U.S District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan has written an order allowing Chevron's lawyers to depose Steven Donziger.  (Or in plain terms, be grilled by Chevron's lawyers.)

Steve is the key figure in the long legal battle between the American Oil Company and what Donziger has claimed were Ecuador's indigenous people, but what has been reveled to be Ecuador itself, including Ecuador's President Rafael Correa.

As revealed in this blogger's last post on the Chevron Ecuador case, outtakes from the movie Crude, which was released this year and about the plaintiff's claims that Chevron caused environmental damage to the Ecuador part of the Amazon Delta (whereas Chevron maintains that they did substantial remediation work and have not produced oil there since 1992, turning over operations to the state's oil company), revealed a person who planned a way to intimidate and bully the Ecuador court.

Donziger openly talked of using paid "armies" of Ecuadorians to harass the Ecuador judge, and is on record as having conversations with President Correa and executives from the state oil company called Petroecuador.  Thus, contrary to the assertions of AmazonWatch, Ecuador has been a party in the lawsuit from day one.  

Here's what Donziger said at one point:

"We have concluded that we need to do more, politically, to control the court, to pressure the court. We believe they make decisions based on who they fear the most, not based on what the laws should dictate. So, what we want to do is to take over the court with a massive protest that we haven't done since the first day of the trial, back in October of 2003. Remember all those people on the street? ... It's a huge effort, it costs money. Not that much actually, but, few thousand dollars, to get everyone in for a day. ... But it — it's — it's a critically important moment, because we want to send a message to the court that, 'don't fuck with us anymore — not now, and not — not later, and never."

Legal observers have called Donziger's actions "criminal."

Judge Says Importance Of Discovery Is "High"

This is what Judge Kaplan wrote in the order, which was provided by blogger Bob McCarty and you can see here (link):

In view of the facts that (1) the Individual Petitioners are facing a preliminary hearing in the criminal proceeding in Ecuador on November 10, 2010 and (2) the Lago Agrio plaintiffs are seeking to move the Ecuadorian civil litigation to judgment as quickly as possible,4 petitioners have an urgent need for any discovery to which they are entitled here. The Court therefore now rules in this summary form on the motions to quash with the understanding that more extensive findings and conclusions will follow as promptly as the Court’s other responsibilities permit.

The Court has had the benefit of extensive evidentiary submissions, legal briefs, and oral argument. It has had an opportunity to review the Crude outtakes, which are extraordinarily
Donziger and the Lago Agrio plaintiffs rejected this Court’s suggestion that proceedings in Ecuador be stayed pending a more extended determination of these motions.

On the basis of those materials as well as the extensive evidentiary submissions, briefs,
and argument, the Court makes the following findings and conclusions. First. The Section 1782 statutory requirements are satisfied, and the discretionary factors weigh in favor of discovery.

The reasons they do so are at least as strong as those which led to the same conclusion in Chevron I, where this Court granted the applications for Section 1782 subpoenas for the Crude outtakes. Moreover, the Individual Petitioners seek documents and testimony from Donziger that are highly relevant to their pending Ecuadorian criminal proceeding while the relevance of the evidence sought by Chevron is even clearer than was the case with the outtakes.

The government of Ecuador is prosecuting the Individual Petitioners for alleged fraud in connection the Settlement and Final Release agreements among Texaco, the Government of Ecuador, and Petroecuador, Ecuador’s state-owned oil company. These same charges were dropped several years ago after Ecuadorian prosecutors concluded that there was no basis for criminal liability.5

The outtakes, however, depict Donziger, along with others acting for the Lago Agrio plaintiffs, describing their campaign for a renewed criminal investigation of the same allegations6 for the purposes of (1) undermining and defeating the agreements to bolster their claim that Chevron is liable notwithstanding the prior settlement and (2) exerting pressure on Chevron by prosecuting
its personnel.

The Prosecutor General changed course and reopened the criminal investigation in light of new evidence7 within days of the completion of the ostensibly neutral and impartial “global assessment” for the civil litigation. This “global assessment” is the central focus of the discovery that the Individual Petitioners and Chevron seek. The Lago Agrio court appointed an ostensibly independent expert to submit a neutral report.8

The outtakes, however, contain substantial evidence that Donziger and others (1) were involved in ex parte contacts with the court to obtain appointment of the expert,9 (2) met secretly with the supposedly neutral and impartial expert prior to his appointment10 and outlined a detailed work plan for the plaintiffs’ own consultants,11 and (3) wrote some or all of the expert’s final report that was submitted to the Lago Agrio court and the Prosecutor General’s Office,12
supposedly as the neutral and independent product of the expert.

In these circumstances, the outtakes and other evidence demonstrate at least a significant need for the discovery sought by the Individual Petitioners and Chevron – discovery concerning, inter alia, the role of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs in selecting and procuring the appointment of the expert, in writing his report, and in procuring the reopening of criminal charges against the Individual Petitioners. The likely relevance of the discovery sought is high.

Stay tuned.

Giants Phillies Game 4 Sets Up Lincecum vs Halliday Game 5 Rematch

The epic battle that was the San Francisco Giants vs. The Philadelphia Phillies Game 4 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, which saw the Giants prevail 6 to 5, set up Thursday's epic rematch between ace pitchers Tim Lincecum for the Giants and Roy Halliday for the Phillies. The underdog SF Giants are one win from playing in the 2010 World Series.

Game 4 was a game they'll talk about forever.  It featured four lead changes and enough drama to make several soap operas.  It ended with Giants' Jose Uribe's sacraficed fly, allowing an already celebrating Aubrey Huff to tag third, then score the wining run.   AT&T Park erupted with joy.

What was amazing about the game for the casual baseball watcher was that it had cliffhangers within cliffhangers: would the Phillies match the Giants score?  They did and took control in a long fifth inning. Would the Giants come back?  They did and to tie the game at 5-5.  Then, would the Giants or the Phillies prevail, or would we have the world's longest baseball game?  That didn't happen.  The Giants made timely hits and Uribe brought Huff home in the 9th inning.


San Francisco has not seen this level of excitement since Barry Bonds' days in 2002.  The difference is this team wasn't picked to get this far, and fans were calling for GM Brian Sabien's head.  Fortunately, they didn't get it.

Sabien stiched together a team that included castoffs like former Florida Marlins Ourfielder Cody Ross, who's played a key role in the Giants Playoff march, and the "Freak," Pitcher Tim Lincecum.  But all playing with an amazing heart that faces it's biggest test: Roy Halliday Thursday night and for the right to go on to The World Series.

Hold on to your butts.