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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.

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

In Mexico, A Wiki Makes Corporate Secrets Public

Earlier this year the Latin American NGO Poder launched Quién Es Quién Wiki (Who's Who Wiki), a corporate transparency project more than two years in the making. The hope is that the platform will be the foundation for a citizen-led movement demanding transparency and accountability from businesses in Mexico. Data from Quién Es Quién Wiki is already helping community activists mobilize against foreign companies preparing to mine the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.


thursday >

NY Study Shows How Freedom of Information Can Inform Open Data

On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails. But those datasets do not include several data resources that are most sought after by many New York businesses, a new study from advocacy group Reinvent Albany has found. Welcome to a little-discussed corner of so-called "open government"--while agencies often pay lip service to the cause, the data they actually release is sometimes nowhere close to what is most wanted. GO

Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.