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First POST: Looking Forward, Looking Back

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, October 11 2011

  • This YouTube video plays a cameo role in the new profile of Elizabeth Warren, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau architect turned U.S. Senate candidate, that appears in November's issue of Vanity Fair. The video, writes Suzanna Andrews, may be part of the reason why Warren never had the chance to lead the agency she built:

    But with Daley and Geithner—one of Obama’s closest advisers—sharing center stage, the balance of power in the debate over Warren shifted. Geithner would never criticize Warren publicly—and indeed, as a Treasury spokesperson says, he “has expressed his support and admiration for Professor Warren many times”—but few people in Washington doubted that he remained opposed to her candidacy. To at least one person who saw them in meetings together it appeared that “he looked down on her for no apparent or justifiable reason.” As for Warren, if one mentions the video “Elizabeth Warren Makes Timmy Geithner Squirm,” she says nothing, but an impish smile crosses her face.

  • Local angle: Internet security expert Jacob Appelbaum's hometown paper covers the news that a local Internet service provider, the Santa Rosa, Calif. based, went to bat for Appelbaum's right to know that the federal government was seeking access to records about his emails. Appelbaum is a supporter of WikiLeaks, which is under federal investigation.

  • Journalist and lecturer in political science Jim Sleeper, on social media: "I think, on balance, it is a plus. I would call it a necessary but not sufficient condition of serious politics." (Via Ben Smith)

  • As protesters around the country risk clashes with police to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo in America, a move by California Gov. Jerry Brown gives law enforcement a warrantless way to gain a penetrating gaze into the private lives of people arrested in the Golden State. Threat Level's David Kravets writes:

    California Gov. Jerry Brown is vetoing legislation requiring police to obtain a court warrant to search the mobile phones of suspects at the time of any arrest.

    The Sunday veto means that when police arrest anybody in the Golden State, they may search that person’s mobile phone — which in the digital age likely means the contents of persons’ e-mail, call records, text messages, photos, banking activity, cloud-storage services, and even where the phone has traveled.

  • Given enough data, can algorithms predict political upheavals and pandemics? From the New York Times, reporting on a government research project:

    It is intended to be an entirely automated system, a “data eye in the sky” without human intervention, according to the program proposal. The research would not be limited to political and economic events, but would also explore the ability to predict pandemics and other types of widespread contagion, something that has been pursued independently by civilian researchers and by companies like Google.

  • Repurposed: Tuning out Barack Obama's 2012 campaign, one teenager who contributed to the ground game for OFA in '08 used the tactics he learned there to run for and win a seat on a local school board. Roll Call reports he "used the same techniques for his own race as he did for Team Obama — outreach via Facebook and deploying his teenage friends to use a call script during phone banks on his behalf."

  • Flattening world: CNN Tech reports, "According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), internet-user penetration in sub-Saharan Africa has grown from 0.5% in 2000 to 10.6% last year ... both the proliferation of mobile phones and the rollout of faster internet networks -- like the fiber-optic cables launched in areas such as east Africa -- have helped the expansion of e-commerce activities in countries such as Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya."

  • The Federal Times' Sean Reilly asks the White House for a sit-down with the administration's "point man on FOIA policy," Steven Croley, and gets no response. Meanwhile, the federal government is seeking to present itself as a worldwide leader in transparency and open government.

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.


wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.


The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.


tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.


Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.


monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.