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Huffington joins the blogging set

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Here are a few factoids gleaned from all the celebrity "blogging" going on during Day One of the Huffington Post, writer/politician/media maven Arianna Huffington's new online enterprise:

A quote from the mystic (some might say sappy) Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran was scrawled on Hunter S. Thompson's kitchen wall, according to actor John Cusack, who attended a memorial service for the recently deceased gonzo journalist.

American Idol has an unlikely fan -- the dyspeptic TV personality Larry David, according to his wife, Laurie.

A gene named "5-HTT" may cause depression by weakening a critical circuit in the brain, according to a Web site that excerpts articles from The Times of London.

And, finally:

Saudi Arabia is protecting its oil supplies from attack with a series of "dirty bombs" that, if exploded, would render the country a nuclear wasteland and the oil unsafe for anyone to use. This plan is reportedly outlined in a new book by Gerald Posner scheduled to be released May 17. It's called Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Saudi-U.S. Connection.

And all that doesn't even take into account what Arthur Schlesinger Jr. thinks about the Yalta Conference of 1945, or what Ellen DeGeneres has to say about the treatment of wild horses, or Russell Simmons' views on anti-Semitism or Tina Brown's reflections on ending her television show.

Equal parts The Drudge Report and celebrity sound-off, the Huffington Post (www.huffing tonpost.com), which debuted yesterday, is an Internet bulletin board for a unique cross-section of a few hundred cultural luminaries.

The site is divided about equally between the ruminations of Huffington's glamorous (and a few not-so-glamorous) friends and articles excerpted from international news sources. There's also a regular media column called Eat the Press.

The word "blog," derived from "web log," originally was seen as giving a voice to the voiceless -- people who, unlike Huffington, aren't syndicated columnists, former political activists, television personalities or failed former gubernatorial candidates in California. Unlike most bloggers, Huffington hasn't spent more than two days of her adult life out of the media spotlight.

The Huffington report differs from a typical blog in other ways: It has many voices instead of just one. And unlike most blogs, it also will seek to turn a profit by collecting money from the site's advertisers.

But it shares one key characteristic with less glittering sites. Quote from the Huffington Post at your peril, as contributions reportedly are not checked for accuracy. (Tribune Media Services, which is owned by the Tribune Co., also parent company of The Sun, plans to distribute selections from the blog to newspapers and their Web sites. The portions going to the syndicate will be edited and fact-checked, TMS has said.)

Huffington has described the new site in other publications as an "innovative group blog where some of this country's most creative minds will weigh in on topics great and small, political and cultural, important or just plain entertaining."

It remains to be seen whether enough readers will flock to the group blog to justify the advertising rates that Huffington will charge. The Sun couldn't find out how many visitors the Post racked up on its first day, and Huffington could not be reached for comment.

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