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First POST: Hank the Cat Returns

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, March 2 2012

  • The U.S. Senate yesterday defeated the Republican-supported Blunt Amendment, which would have overturned President Barack Obama's order that most employers or their insurers cover the cost of contraceptives. Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren was one of many rallying against it online, criticizing her opponent, the incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, for supporting the measure.

  • Hank the Cat's Senate run in Virginia is now being met with negative campaigning. The local NBC station reported the following:

    As with Mordor, you cannot just walk into a Senate seat. "He has enemies," an email warned us today...[He] is being branded as a carpetbagger in a new video from an unnamed opposition." Hank has never released his birth certificate or tax returns, and has never responded to allegations that he used catnip," the video also warns.

    NBC also reported that the ad says it was paid for by Canines for a Feline-Free Tomorrow Super PAC, but was uploaded to Youtube by THE BiG HONKIN', a group of writers and filmmakers.

    His campaign manager responded in another article that "Hank is refusing to respond to baseless attack ads. Hank states that this is exactly the type of advertising and wastefulness in Washington that he is running against, and absolute proof that he is scaring those in charge. Hank will not respond to these allegations, and will continue on his positive campaign of job creation, spay/neuter programs, and ridding the Capitol of rats."

    Almost related: In the New Republic, Perry Stein explores why cats are so popular online.

  • Republican Senators, including John McCain, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and Lisa Murkowski, have introduced the SECURE IT Act. The cybersecurity bill would increase prison terms for certain cybercrimes, provide legal protection to entities that share information about cyberthreats, and does not, sponsors say, increase the power of any federal agency to oversee or monitor Internet traffic. The sponsors of the bill claim it is less burdensome and regulatory than the Cybersecurity Act, which was previously introduced by a bipartisan group of Senators.

  • The Romney campaign has released a web video asking for donations to its "One Term Fund," an ongoing fund-raising pitch around making President Barack Obama a one-term president.

  • Newt Gingrich has been increasingly asking his supporters to use social media, but is still struggling a little bit. In Georgia, "he told a packed house in Covington, to "go to hashmark gas 250" - a description that would have sent them searching for the incorrect search term #gas250 on Twitter (instead of #250gas, which the campaign is promoting)." He has also been urging "people to type "Newt (equals) $2.50 a gallon" in their Facebook status lines."

  • EU's Justice Commisioner Viviane Reding said that Google's new privacy policy is in breach of EU law because transparency rules have not been applied. France's data protection authority has called for an EU-wide investigation of the policy. Google responded to some of the criticism in a blog post and emphasized that "the new policy doesn't change any existing privacy settings or how any personal information is shared outside of Google." Department of Commerce General Counsel Cameron Kerry, who is visiting Europe, said, "I do think that Google has been very transparent about these changes. Google has responded to some of the concerns that are out there and is trying to address them." He met with Reding and said he was looking forward to negotiating the "interoperability" of the U.S. and EU's approaches to online privacy. "Google privacy changes" was a trending search on Google for some of the past 48 hours.

  • A federal appeals court ruled that police can search a cell phone for its number without a warrant. Reuters' Terry Baynes explains that having a phone's number allows police to subpoena call histories,

  • Pandodaily profiles Votizen, which aims to run campaigns with an emphasis on social media outreach, instead of the traditional reliance on advertising. We've been tracking Votizen since last year.

  • Foursquare is moving to use OpenStreetMap instead of Google Maps.

  • The Guardian explains its approach to open, participatory journalism through use of multimedia and social media with a video on its hypothetical coverage of the fate of The Three Little Pigs.

  • Facebook users with public profiles and who accept friend requests from strangers have a higher incidence of identity fraud, according to a report.

  • A laptop stolen from NASA last year contained command codes used to control the International Space Station, according to an internal investigation.

  • The New York Times looks at continuing education options for professionals who need to build social media skills for their jobs.

  • One piece of commentary in the National Review warns against too much legislative regulation of the Internet, while a response argues that if popular illegal behavior is costing American companies business, it is a law enforcement problem not a innovation problem.

  • More than 50 percent of Americans now have smartphones, although eight percent are not sure what kind of phone they have, according to a new Pew survey.

  • Senators are targeting Facebook with proposed legislation that would close a stock-option loophole, the Washington Post reported.

  • Same-sex couples might find it more difficult to use tax preparation software.

  • Next month, a court in California will hear arguments as to whether a trial judge can compel a former juror to turn over Facebook entries he posted during the trial for review by the court.

  • Trial lawyers seeking plaintiffs "are paying almost three times more for keyword advertising than the Obama campaign spent in 2008," according to a report.

  • The Washington Post looked at how the National Domestic Workers Alliance has been using the success of the film The Help to raise awareness of its legislative priorities.

    Before the film hit theaters, the alliance posted a YouTube video called "Meet Today's Help," featuring real domestic workers. The alliance was encouraged that it got 9,000 hits. Then the film came out and was a box-office success, grossing about $170 million. Participant Media, a producer that helped finance "The Help" and specializes in building "social action" campaigns around its movies, designed one for "The Help." It included inviting nannies to send in their personal stories and producing more short videos featuring real domestic workers. Those videos have gotten 100,000 hits on the campaign's Web site, according to Participant Media

  • A new website announced at the TED Conference will stream radio frequencies that are transmitted from the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Allen Telescope Array in California, and the public is encouraged to search for signs of unusual activity.

  • European Trade Commissioner Karl De Gucht is defending ACTA.

  • A British ethics group is launching a debate on the ethical dilemmas posed by new technologies that could tap into the brain and bring super-human strength, highly enhanced concentration or thought-controlled weaponry.

  • On the urging of Wikipedia, the German Space Agency has decided to release all its videos and images under the Creative Commons license.

  • Ireland has signed a so-called "Irish SOPA bill" into law.

  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced on Twitter that he was recovering well from surgery, reportedly for cancer.

  • China's top Tibet official has ordered tighter control of the Internet.

  • The BBC looks at the unexpected role LiveJournal has played in online Russian activism.

  • The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry have sent a memo outlining Japanese privacy laws to Google's Japan subsidiary.

With Raphael Majma