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Obama: "This is the Most Transparent Administration in History."

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, February 15 2013

President Obama defended his government as "the most transparent administration in history" Thursday afternoon during a White House "fireside hangout" hosted online by Google -- even as dozens of unanswered questions surrounding the decision-making process behind his assassination-by-drone program is swirling in the news. Read More

Build A Slatecard With DemDash

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, November 6 2012

As PBS Newshour reported Monday, voters across the United States will be asked to vote on an unusually high number of ballot measures this year. Read More

On Eve of Illinois Primary, Romney Campaigns On Google+

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, March 20 2012

Mitt Romney, the frontrunner in the race to become the Republicans' 2012 presidential nominee, spent the Tuesday afternoon preceding the Illinois primary hanging out with supporters on Google+. Read More

Google+ Hangout Participant, Subject of Republican Spin, Says She'll Probably "Vote Obama Back In."

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, February 1 2012

President Obama hangs out online with Jennifer Wedel via Google+. Photo: Pete Souza

Right-leaning bloggers and the Republican party have wasted no time in using President Obama's frank online video exchange with Texas insurance agent Jennifer Wedel on Monday to further the party's narrative that the president is out of touch with ordinary, hard-up Americans. The only problem for the Republicans is that the person upon whom they're basing their entire campaign doesn't feel that Obama is out of touch. In fact, during a follow-up Google + Hangout with a blogger and journalist, she says she's going to vote for him. Read More

President Obama's Google+ Hangout: No Pot Questions, But Plenty of Intellectual Property

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, January 30 2012

This questioner wanted answers to the Obama administration's use of drones in warfare

President Barack Obama participated in a lively online video chat late Monday with five voters across the country as part of a social media townhall-like event using Google's Google+ Hangout feature. He also answered questions submitted by individuals via YouTube. Those were five lucky people: According to the White House' YouTube channel, almost 230,000 people submitted 133,183 questions, and 1.6 million people gave those questions an up or down vote. Read More

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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