Congress Presses GAO For Benghazi Answers It Doesn’t Have

Michael Courts, Acting Director of International Affairs and Trade at the GAO found himself on the hot seat. Unfortunately for him — and members of the committee — GAO isn’t in much of a position to actually answer any questions about the attack or what went wrong, as his testimony painfully demonstrated.

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Everything You Need To Know About The Internet’s Feud With Papa John’s Pizza

1. This is John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s Pizza. He has a net worth of $600 million.

Jason Merritt / Getty Images

(source for Schnatter’s net worth)

2. This is where he lives.

3. In an August conference call, this is what Schnatter said of Obamacare’s effect on company costs:

Our best estimate is that the Obamacare [law] will cost about 11 to 14 cents per pizza – or 15 or 20 cents per order from a corporate basis. To put that in perspective, our average delivery charge is $1.75 to $2.50 – or about 10-fold our estimated cost of the Obamacare [law] to Papa John’s. We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry. But our business model and unit economics [are] about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb Obamacare…. We have a high ticket average with extremely high frequency of order counts – millions of pizzas per year. To give you an example, Peter, let’s say fuel goes up, which it does from time to time, and we have to raise delivery charges. We don’t like raising delivery charges. But the price of fuel is out of our control, as is Obamacare. So if Obamacare is, in fact, not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto the consumer in order to protect our shareholders’ best interest.

4. And as a “Forbes” article from earlier this week points out:

So how much would prices go up… if they were to fairly reflect the increased cost of doing business onset by Obamacare? Roughly 3.4 to 4.6 cents a pie.

5. This comes right after a promotion Papa John’s did where they gave away 2 million pizzas for free.

Angela Weiss / Getty Images

6. Schnatter is now considering cutting workers’ hours to pay for the increased costs of health care.

7. According to Alternet, Papa John’s currently insures only one in three of its employees.

About a third of Papa John’s employees are covered by the company’s health insurance plan, although Schnatter said he has always wanted 100 percent of them on the plan. The rising costs of health insurance, he said, have been a deterrent.

8. Over the last two weeks, Reddit has been responding with proposed boycotts and of course…

(click for bigger view)

15. Also, a user named Pepperoni Joe has been vandalizing the Papa John’s Facebook wall (NSFW language).

18. In an attempt to battle the backlash, a group called Rebooting America attempted a pro–Papa John’s social media campaign.

20. The hashtag #IStandWithPapaJohns was embraced by conservative Twitter users to combat Papa John’s backlash.

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Even in 1985, We Knew Facebook Was Possible


The fact that 1 billion people around the world are now on Facebook, and using it so habitually, is… incredible. For those of us who were using picks and shovels to build the Internet three decades ago, it’s validation of what we believed would someday happen.

Take a walk with me down memory lane, and I’ll explain why.

When we started AOL in 1985, only 3% of households in the U.S. were online — and they only were online for about one hour per week. This was in part because the services weren’t yet that interesting, but it was also because they were expensive.

People typically spent $6 or more per hour to be connected. If that were still the case today, Facebook users worldwide would collectively be spending more than $1 billion per day to access the service for the 10.5 billion total minutes spent per day browsing photos, status updates and the like.

In the early days, cost was a big impediment to adoption. But that wasn’t even our biggest barrier. The fact that modems were viewed as “peripheral” to personal computers was our ultimate hurdle. Back then you went to the “peripherals” section of computer stores if your wanted to get connected. Thus, we set out to convince PC manufacturers to build modems into computers and install our software on them so they could go online as soon as they turned on their computer.

It seems obvious today, but it took us four years before we convinced skeptical PC manufacturers that it made sense to do this.

Explaining “online services” to a skeptical world became clear when I did my first TV interview, talking (somewhat nervously, I can now admit) to PBS’s Computer Chronicles show in 1987.

It’s worth noting that it was illegal for companies like AOL to connect to the Internet in the 1980s. AOL, The Source, CompuServe, The Well, Delphi and the few other pioneers were referred to as the “online service” market in the 1980s, as the Internet was limited to non-commercial users such as governments and universities. It wasn’t until 1991 — six years after we first offered services — that we were able to connect to the Internet!

Soon, more people became aware of what the Internet could offer, and our growth accelerated. Our easy-to-use design, simple pricing and aggressive marketing led us to rapidly gain share against formidable competition from companies like Prodigy and Microsoft.

During those years we believed in the “3 Cs” — community, content and commerce — but never wavered from our belief that community was the killer app. Community features (chat, IM, etc.) always accounted for the majority of our usage. Instant messaging use took off when we introduced the concept of a “buddy list” and then a “status update,” leading us to launch a separate service — AOL Instant Messenger so everybody could participate, whether they were AOL subscribers or not. (Needless to say, a decade later Twitter took the idea of status updates to a whole new level.)

The bottom line was that while AOL offered many services, the concept of community was always for us the soul of the medium.

Which brings us back to Facebook.

One billion users is an important milestone in the history of the Internet. I’m proud of Facebook. But I’m also proud of the pioneering efforts made by those who started on this journey many years ago.

So while applauding Mark for his tremendous success, I’d also like to use this milestone as a way of thanking those pioneers for believing — when few did — that it would be possible to make the Internet part of everyday life.

BONUS: Retro AOL Ad From 1995

AOL disc image a Mashable illustration, original photo courtesy of Flickr,

Steve Case

Steve Case is the co-founder and former CEO and chairman of America Online (AOL).

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Andrew Bynum’s Hair Is A Mystery Wrapped In An Enigma

1. This is Andrew Bynum and his glorious Afro just over a week ago.

(Reuters Pictures)

2. This is Andrew Bynum after he straightened his hair (or at least some of it? I’m really not sure what’s happening here) last night.

3. At least his new look has given him a cool new doppelganger: Captain Kangaroo.

4. How is everyone responding to this change?

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Google’s Reality-Warping New Game

Ingress is just a game. A massively multiplayer alternate-reality game, one that that overlaps with the real world — so like you walk to actual places (a museum, or library) with your phone to do things in the game, in which you’re on a team with potentially millions of people competing against a rival, equally massive team — but a game nonetheless.

Still, there’s something slightly unnerving about the fact that it’s Google launching this alternate-reality game as it diligently and publicly pursues the augmented-reality future with its Project Glass concept. Google already creates or dictates a lot of reality in an abstract sense — whenever you search for something, Google gives you the answer. That is reality according to Google, and it’s one you probably accept. With Ingress, Google is toying with reality even as it gets ready to create aspects of it in a real sense with Project Glass, highlighting in a weird way the kind of power Google will have once everybody’s got a pair of its glasses strapped to their face.

I’m sure the game is a lot of fun, though! I can’t wait to play it. Invite-only for now, and it’s out on Android first, but it’ll likely make its way to other platforms. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s this kind of massive, reality-warping game that’ll end up being the next World of Warcraft — highly engaging, with millions of totally enraptured players and a sizable place in pop culture. Like Lost, but you’re in it.

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