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First POST: Answers

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, January 24 2012

  • Mitt Romney has released his tax returns online. At last night's debate on NBC, in response to attacks from Romney on his record in the House, Newt Gingrich said he wouldn't spend time responding to what he said were Romney's "falsehoods" and would instead give his own perspective on his website today.

  • The Department of State has launched "My State Department," an interface to the website that allows users to customize content based on their interests. Users sign in via OpenID and can then change or add widgets focused on different areas of the department's work.

  • Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and his challenger, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, have signed a pledge to limit political ads by outside groups.

  • Some Republicans still wish Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is delivering the State of the Union response tonight, would run for president. To that end, they've created the website, the New York Times reported. According to the website, almost 5,800 people have signed a petition since January 21st.

  • Mitt Romney is the subject of a viral video called “Nobody Loves Me,” which highlights some of Romney’s more awkward campaign stops and the Republican party’s lukewarm reaction to the candidate.

  • Mozilla will crowdsource translation of President Obama's upcoming State of the Union Address to provide captions and subtitles in various languages.

  • Slate has an animation of the Republican horse race, so far.

  • Hackers, possibly from abroad, appear to have disrupted railway signals in the Northwest for two days in December, according to a government memo, Nextgov reported.

  • Google nearly doubled its spending on lobbying in 2011, and now outspends Microsoft. Mashable reports that out of all the 2012 presidential possibilities, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Barack Obama are the only ones who can include the "Computers/Internet" industry among their twenty largest donors.

  • A Twitter account linked to Anonymous denied reports that the group planned to attack Facebook. Senator Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) Twitter feed was hacked by what appeared to be a supporter of Anonymous who opposed SOPA, PIPA and the international counterfeit trade agreement ACTA. Anonymous also appears to have temporarily deleted all information from and targeted, government and music websites in Brazil and Vivendi. A group affiliated with Anonymous also attacked several Austrian governmental websites, according to local media reports.

  • According to a report cited by Reuters, the shutdown of Megaupload is unlikely to deter piracy.

  • Engineers from Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace have teamed up to create the “Don’t Be Evil” bookmarklet, which “looks at the three places where Google only shows Google+ results and then automatically googles Google to see if Google finds a result more relevant than Google+."

  • South Carolina is the latest state to participate in the 2012 Project, a non-partisan campaign to encourage women to run for public office, with a new web-based training program.

  • The head of the American Crossroads Super PAC vows that the group will be focused on defeating Barack Obama using social media and voter registration and turnout efforts online. Meanwhile, Reddit users are discussing how to use a Reddit Super PAC called Test PAC, Please Ignore.

  • ClickZ reports on an analysis of what other Facebook likes correlate with support of the presidential candidates' fan pages.

  • NPR reports on how the CIA has gone from analyzing and translating radio broadcasts to analyzing social media around the world.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Transportation are currently requesting feedback on their open government practices as part of a required update in accordance with the White House's Open Government Directive.

  • Gadi Beh-Yehuda, social media director for IBM's Center for the Business of Government think tank, is offering a course on social media in government through the General Services Administration's Web Manager University. The course is being offered to government officials, who will learn about implementing various social media tools.

  • According to an audit, most New York City teachers and principals are not using an $80 million student information database.

  • A Stanford professor announced that he will leave his position to start an online start-up to teach low-cost online classes.

  • The Illinois Supreme Court will allow cameras in courtrooms on an "experimental basis."

  • Philadelphia has unveiled a new website to monitor the system-wide status of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). Meanwhile, New York City announced that the Bronx and one other borough would get the Bus Time tracking system this year, before the remaining boroughs get it in 2013. But the New York MTA is having trouble with a computer system that is supposed to improve service on the subways.

  • JStreet is encouraging supporters to sign an online petition to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) to unfreeze Palestinian aid that benefits the Palestinian Sesame Street.

  • Trust in government has fallen around the world, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, the BBC reported.

  • Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is co-chairing the World Economic Forum in Davos.

  • Google Plus now allows some pseudonyms. At launch, the service had been criticized for not allowing anonymity.

  • McDonald's social media director explained to paidContent how a recent Twitter campaign got out of hand.

  • Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has joined Twitter, the BBC reported.

  • The British public have responded enthusiastically to the opportunity to suggest questions for the British Education Secretary via Twitter, the BBC reported.

  • Anne Sinclair, wife of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, greets the readers of the new French-language Huffington Post site.

With Raphael Majma

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.


friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO