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First POST: Reconsidering

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, March 27 2012

A March 21 New York City protest after the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Photo: Joe Lustri


  • The Wall Street Journal reported on campaign advertising online and noted the following:

    The Obama campaign had already spent some $10.4 million on Internet advertising and other online expenses by the beginning of March, according to a review of campaign-finance reports by the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Romney had spent $2.3 million, more than any of his rivals. Rick Santorum's campaign had spent just $323,000 or so on Internet ads, according to the Center, but Santorum aides have been aggressively using Twitter and other social-media networks for fundraising and to get out their candidate's message.

  • As questions rise over what exactly happened when 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot, MoveOn and ColorofChange are sharing a video featuring a "Song for Trayvon" in an e-mail to supporters. Earlier, an I Could Be Trayvon Tumblr had emerged, as well as a Tumblr showing Fox News journalist Geraldo Rivera in a hoodie following remarks he made in which he suggested that African-American parents should tell their children not to wear them. Brian Stelter from the New York Times reported on how journalists from minority backgrounds in part were drawn to the Martin case through posts directed at them on social media.

  • The U.S. government scientist who first used the now infamous "pink slime" did so in an e-mail that he thought was private.. He had criticized the beef industry's proposal for a mix of fatty beef by-products and connective tissue, ground up and treated with ammonium hydroxide, and blended with ground beef, in an e-mail to co-workers that later was released through a Freedom of Information Request submitted in the course of reporting a 2009 New York Times article on food safety. The term has since become a rallying cry for consumer advocates.

    The issue got renewed life when British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who advocates for American children to eat healthier food, devoted an episode of his television show to the topic in April last year. Disgusted by the product, consumer activist organizations, food safety blogs and the media have pounced on the issue. More than a million people have watched a YouTube video of Oliver's show, an online petition has begun and consumers have complained to major grocery companies ... "The whole thing went viral ... Just blew the top off everything," said [the scientist] Gerald Zirnstein...."I am really an involuntary whistleblower," he said. But he added, "It looks like pink slime. That is what I said."

    The company that makes the product announced yesterday it is suspending operations at three of four plants.

  • Some fund-raising for the Susan G. Komen foundation is lagging following the dispute over its financing of Planned Parenthood. In a column, David Carr, looking at exits from the Komen Foundation, the investigation of the Trayvon Martin case, and more, concludes that maybe he was mistaken in his initial skepticism of online activism.


International Headlines

  • A new stock exchange called BATS Global Markets had to halt trading on its own stock after technical glitches and errors in its system, also affecting companies like Apple.

  • Germany's Pirate Party received 7.4 percent of the vote in the elections for the state parliament of Saarland, its second electoral success after winning 8.9 percent in elections for Berlin's city-state assembly last year. The liberal FDP party, Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partner, only received 1.2 percent and will not be represented in the parliament. Der Spiegel reported that the center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote:

    These Pirates, who owe some of their image to their racy name, have now established themselves in provincial Saarland following their grandiose success in big city Berlin. Until recently, they didn't even have political platforms. Ahead of the general election, the other parties can now safely assume that the success of the Pirates is more than just hype. The Pirate Party evidently satisfies a trusting, impartial, heartfelt, grassroots desire for politics. This desire has become alien to an increasingly frumpy and jaded FDP, and the Greens have lost this desire in the daily grind of parliamentary politics.

  • German police forces are increasingly using social media to hunt for suspects and witnesses in spite of data protection concerns.

  • Nicolas Sarkokzy has joined Google Plus.

  • Canada's opposition party faced delays in voting for a new leader as hackers attacked the computer system that allowed party members to cast their ballots online and slowed down the system.

  • Several countries have kicked off a six-month-long campaign that will involve volunteers using the Internet to target illegal trash dumps.

  • Greeks have come together to fund a Times Square ad advertising Greek tourism using a crowdfunding site called Loudsauce, dedicated to crowdfunding advertisements.

  • The Guardian highlighted the Satellite Sentinel Project backed by George Clooney, which uses satellite imagery to monitor potential human rights abuses in Sudan.

  • The European Union has banned the sale of Internet surveillance equipment to Iran. Meanwhile, U.S. and European officials say that Iran is providing technology and expertise on monitoring the Internet to Syria.

  • An activist in the United Arab Emirates is free on bail, but faces charges for commenting on uprisings against autocratic Arab rulers in his Twitter posts.

  • Teletubbies have become part of a code for Chinese microbloggers seeking to escape censorship.

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