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First POST: Travels

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, March 16 2012

David Axelrod and Mitch Stewart, chatting about the new Obama "Road We've Traveled" Video

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  • The Obama campaign has released its 17-minute campaign video The Road We've Traveled, which it streamed live online at 8 p.m Thursday night. In the video, narrated by Tom Hanks, former and current administration officials talk about the progress made since Election Day and juxtapose Obama’s efforts against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis. Heavily promoted by several emails to campaign supporters, as of this morning the video had just 16,000 views, though YouTube is notoriously bad at live-counts of video views. A different link to the video says it has had 111,000 so far. (More than 500,000 have watched the trailer for the video.) The campaign has also posted an hour-long video of a live-stream event around the video it did with Mitch Stewart and David Axelrod last night, the first 23 minutes of which (and last 8 minutes) consist of silence and a still shot of the film’s title. Expect that to be taken down shortly. [UPDATE: Instead of taking the video down, the campaign has smartly added two buttons that let you jump ahead to either watch the movie or the Q&A that followed it.] Axelrod took questions via Twitter, and talks about having a “big cry” the night health care reform was finally enacted, the president’s plans to cut the deficit, attacking Iran, his relationship with David Plouffe, “West Wing,” the economy, and restrictive voter ID laws.

  • Rick Santorum's promise of a crackdown on Internet pornography is receiving wider attention after the position on his website was highlighted by the Daily Caller.

  • Following the primaries earlier this week, Obama and Romney advisors were once again engaged in spirited Twitter discussions. Reports the Times:

    “With overnight wins in Hawaii and American Samoa, Romney gets largest share of delegates out of yesterday’s contests,” Mr. [Eric] Fehrnstrom wrote. That earned a quick and mocking reply from David Axelrod, a senior campaign adviser to Mr. Obama, who wrote on Twitter, “You know what they say: as America Samoa goes, so goes the nation!”

  • Rush Limbaugh announced that he would start using his Twitter account, @limbaugh, which he created in 2009. Within hours of announcing he would start tweeting, Limbaugh amassed over 100,000 followers. His first tweet links to a blog post by William A. Jacobson, a Cornell Law School Associate Clinical Professor, titled “Media Matters Astroturfed the Limbaugh Secondary Boycott.”

  • The New York Times highlights a Syrian activist who hid his true identity for more than six months while documenting the crisis in his country online and through his iPhone, using the pseudonym Alexander Page.

    After escaping to Cairo, he is still involved in the Syrian opposition: “There are thousands of people in Syria who were doing exactly what I was doing, so I just thought that the ‘Page project’ would be something that represented them,” he said. “When I was outed, it became me, so we began the Activists News Association.” Working out of a small apartment in Cairo, the association he founded alongside fellow exiled activists connects activists in Syria with mainstream journalists. They are organizing the videos flowing out of Syria, compiling information of the dead and spreading it all via Twitter and Facebook. In the future, they plan to forward everything to the International Criminal Court. “We want to document Assad’s crimes. To do that, we have to gather up every video that was taken in Syria,” Mr. Jarrah said as he sat in the office alongside a wall of televisions projecting newscasts in which many of the activists’ videos were being used. “You have over 1,000 videos filmed every day, maybe more. What we see on TV is really just a small percentage of what is filmed.

  • A documentary about Syria that was to be shown on Al Jazeera was filmed entirely by an unnamed journalist with an iPhone, which Syria has reportedly banned.

  • In an editorial, Israeli newspaper Haaretz suggests that

    "Israel should take note of ‘Kony 2012.’ It would not be far-fetched to assume that a similar film will be made about the Palestinian conflict. And once the heartrending images of bleeding children are seared into the consciousness of tens of millions of people, it's doubtful that even 46 pauses for applause in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to AIPAC will be able to erase the damage."

    Testifying about a recent trip to Sudan before Congress, George Clooney said he was unaware that the Kony 2012 video had gone viral online while he had been gone last week. Clooney is the co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project, which uses satellite imagery to watch for aerial attacks and troop movements in Sudan and South Sudan. Nicholas Kristof argues in a column that in spite of the video's oversimplification, "it’s true that indignation among Americans won’t by itself stop Kony. Yet I’ve learned over the years that public attention can create an environment in which solutions are more likely."

  • Notable

  • The State Department is moving to fire a foreign service officer who wrote a critical book about the reconstruction effort in Iraq for charges that include linking on his blog to documents on Wikileaks.

  • Rep. Cliff Stearns, the Florida member of Congress who launched the investigation that prompted the Susan G. Komen foundation to initially withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood, now finds himself under renewed fire after a video surfaced on Youtube and liberal websites in which he seems to question President Obama's birth certificate.

  • The Economic Development Administration, an agency that is part of the Commerce Department, is suffering its eighth week of an Internet outage, and the Washington Post would like to know how the federal workers there are coping.

  • Stephen Colbert's Super PAC raised just over $33,000 in February, compared to the $219,000 it raised in January and $825,000 it raised in the second half of last year.

  • A class-action lawsuit has been filed against 18 social networking and technology companies including Path, Twitter, Apple and Facebook over user privacy in mobile apps.

  • All Facebook spoke to the communications director of the House Ways and Means Committee about the committee's adoption of the Facebook Timeline.

  • In spite of an online campaign and his own expressed interest, the White House says Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia and a development expert, is not under consideration for the World Bank.

  • Internet Service Providers will begin implementing a program to notify their customers about piracy violations in July, according to the head of the RIAA. Meanwhile, the TV network CW announced it would shorten the "window" for when it makes its programs available online, after internal research revealed that about 20 percent of all streams online of CW programming are illegal, and 50 percent of piracy occurred in the first three days after broadcast.

  • The Pentagon is considering the use disposable mini-satellites that could be deployed at the "push of a button."

  • A former online editor for the Encyclopedia Britannica talks to Jim Romenesko.There were over 50 edits to the Wikipedia page for Encyclopedia Britannica after the announcement of the end of its print edition.

  • AT&T is offering a settlement to an iPhone user who recently won against the company in small claims court over allegations that it was throttling his unlimited data service. "In its letter, AT&T asked Spaccarelli to be quiet about the settlement talks, including the fact that it offered to start them, another common stipulation. Spaccarelli said he was not interested in settling, and forwarded the letter to The Associated Press."

  • A court in Nevada recently declared that Democratic Underground did not infringe the copyright of the Las Vegas Review-Journal when a user posted a five sentence excerpt from an article in an online forum with a link to the newspaper's website.

  • A company created by the Associated Press and other publishers to monitor the Internet for unauthorized use of news content has signed its first licensing agreement with another company that monitors how its clients are portrayed in the media. Nieman Journalism Lab highlighted a startup called NewsCred, which aims to collect newsfeeds from hundreds of publishers in a single API.

  • New York City will be paid a little over $500 million by a computer contractor which "conducted the biggest fraudulent scheme against any municipality in history" for its role in the implementation of CityTime, a city payroll system.

  • New York City's MTA plans to introduce an app with information about artwork in the subway system.

  • The New York Times has hired the founder of as its chief information officer.

  • A bill that would have allowed Hartford government officials to skirt “right-to-know” laws and meet privately has been abandoned.

  • The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that courtroom transparency project OpenCourt can continue to record and stream online video of public court proceedings.

  • The U.S Education Department will be tracking completion rates for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and releasing the data to the public online, sorted by high school.

  • Tablet ownership has tripled among college students within a year, according to a study.

  • Two Arizona State University professors are threatening litigation over the ownership of online courses they created.

  • CFOWorld reports that approximately 40% of federal agency sites are non-compliant with authentication requirements, which are meant to prevent hackers from altering the site.

  • McDonalds has run into renewed Twitter trouble when it didn't realize that its #shamrocking hashtag campaign for a milkshake could also have a sexual meaning.

  • International Headlines

  • A website called electionista, created by Tweetminster, is monitoring political and particularly election discussion on Twitter for countries all over the world. It also has a page with a worldwide elections calender.

  • According to German news reports, 50,000 people have signed a parliamentary petition against ACTA, meaning that the petition committee of the German parliament will have to debate publicly their demand that the parliament vote against the treaty.

  • The Slovenian government has joined other members of the European Union in suspending its ratification of the controversial ACTA treaty.

  • After a committee discussion, a new copyright law in Canada is moving towards a third reading in the House of Commons.

  • EU antitrust regulators are questioning five European telecommunications companies on suspicion of collusion.

  • The British immigration minister praised the country's e-border initiative, a project "designed to collate and store information on all passengers who enter and leave the UK on a single database by 2014 to enable the police and immigration officials to check them against "watch lists"."

  • The head of the German Social Democratic Party has apologized and tried to explain posts he made on his Facebook page in which he referred to "apartheid" in Israel after a visit to the Palestinian city of Hebron.

  • A Facebook campaign to save a pub in Southampton called The Hobbit now has over 50,000 supporters after high-profile actors like Stephen Fry, who is acting in the new Hobbit movie, and Ian McKellen from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies expressed solidarity with the pub. The pub, which has had that name for 20 years, is being accused of copyright infringement by a U.S. company that owns the worldwide rights to several brands associated with author JRR Tolkien, including The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings.

  • The Chinese national legislature enacted new safeguards for criminal suspects and defendants, but ignored an online campaign by critics and upheld the right of the police to hold certain suspects in secret residential locations for up to six months.

  • Nieman Journalism Lab highlighted a report that looked at how online media are connected in Colombia.

  • According to an Indian housing census, "A computer or laptop is owned by 20 percent of the households in urban India and just 5 percent in rural areas. Only 3 percent of overall households have an Internet connection." Almost 60 percent of households have a mobile phone.

With Raphael Majma and Micah L. Sifry

[This post has been updated.]