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After learning that someone had posted the transcript from last weekend’s prostitution sting on City Desk and the Sexist, I had to ask myself: What the fuck is our problem? Aren’t we the alternative weekly in town? Aren’t finger-wagging and gotcha blog items the purview of the nannying prudes at the Post and the Examiner, for chrissakes? Instead of defending this man’s right to pay someone for sex—why stop at shoplifters?—we paraded him out on our blog and suggested that he was unqualified to do his duties as a police officer. A few days later, we posted a conversation that he had in a hotel room which he did not know was wired. Is it news? Sure. But where was the critical eye? Big bonuses, prison pralines, the PCP scourge, crooked Yelp, and Mark Jenkins, after the jump.

  • Jesse Finfrock of Mother Jones recently interviewed Robert King, who was released after 29 years in solitary confinement when a judge reversed his conviction in 2001. An excerpt: “In 1972, King was assigned to solitary confinement (for allegedly plotting to kill a guard—a murder that occurred before he arrived at Angola), where he would ultimately spend 29 years. Ensconced 23 hours a day in a 6-by-9-foot cell, King kept himself busy reading, writing, studying law—and experimenting with pralines. He fashioned a cook pot out of segments of soda cans stacked together like a chimney. For fuel, he wrapped lengths of toilet paper into tight rings, tucked the ends in on themselves, and lit them under his makeshift stove. All of this took place on the edge of his toilet; he could easily knock the whole contraption into the bowl to avoid being busted for contraband. For the most part, the guards looked the other way.”
  • Jack Shafer calls out WaPo for sensationalizing a recent story about PCP: “Although PCP has long been part of the area’s drugscape, the Post has rarely done more than accept police department and prosecutor handouts in reporting on the topic. For instance, if the police declare a “street value” for a quantity of seized PCP, the Post automatically publishes it.”
  • Recent reports from Time Out Chicago and East Bay Express suggest that Yelp.com, a site that features user-generated reviews of businesses, punishes companies that refuse to advertise on the Yelp site by deleting or misplacing positive reviews: “‘Nicholas Paul, an instructor at an art studio in Chicago (which did not want to be named for fear of retribution) and who handles the studio’s advertising, said that Yelp approached him to advertise starting in July of 2008. After he turned them down, ‘then all of a sudden three of our positives disappeared and then we got two negative ones,’ he said. Of the original thirteen reviews they had, only eight now remain, four of which are negative. Paul says the sales rep told him he could control that. ‘We could basically adjust the way our reviews are read,’ Paul said the rep told him. ‘We could highlight the ones we wanted and put the ones we didn’t want on the backburner.’”
  • AIG isn’t the only company giving out big bonuses in the midst of a recession: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) is making its largest ever annual award to employees, handing out roughly $2 billion to its rank and file U.S. workers through measures including bonuses, profit sharing and discounts. The financial incentives for hourly workers include $933.6 million in bonuses that the retailer is handing out Thursday. There is another $788.8 million in profit sharing and 401(k) contributions, and hundreds of millions of dollars in merchandise discounts and contributions to the employees’ stock purchase plan, said Chief Executive Mike Duke in a memo to employees Thursday….The bonus averages $933.60 for each qualified employee, ranging from cashiers to shelf stockers.”[H/t Katherine Mangu-Ward]
  • Mark Jenkins, the mastermind behind D.C.’s stuffed-bear installations, made it on NY’s Wooster Collective blog.

That’s it for me, folks. Have yourselves a nice weekend.