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First Post: Feuds

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, April 18 2012

Online, presidential campaigns argue over who's the better dog owner. Photo: victorsounds

What's eating Mitt Romney?

  • It looks like the general election campaign has gone to the dogs, following a post on the Daily Caller last night. The post noted that in Barack Obama's autobiography Dreams from my Father, first published in 1995, he writes that as a child, his stepfather in Indonesia introduced him to dog meat, which he characterizes as "tough." Later in the post, the Daily Caller linked to the page in Google Books. Last night on Twitter, Republicans began seizing on the anecdote to respond to that now oft-used line of attack against Mitt Romney, that he drove his family to Canada with an Irish setter in a crate strapped to the roof. Twitter users began posting #ObamaDogRecipes. Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom reposted a photo that Obama adviser David Axelrod had posted several weeks ago, showing Obama with Bo in his car and the note "How loving owners transport their dogs" and added the comment, "In hindsight, a chilling photo." @BuddyRoemer's initial response, which he appears to have since deleted, was, "And you thought the Titanic tweets were annoying?"

Open vs. Closed

  • At the Open Government Partnership meeting in Brasilia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "In the 21st century, the U.S. is convinced that one of the most significant divisions between nations will be not between east or west, nor over religion, so much as between open and closed societies. We believe those governments that hide from public view and dismiss ideas of openness and the aspirations of their people for greater freedom will find it increasingly difficult to create a secure society."


  • On Russia Today, the Russian television network with close links to the Kremlin, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange interviewed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the militant Islamist group Hezbollah. In addition to talking about Israel, Lebanon, Syria and theology, Nasrallah said that his group, considered a terrorist group by the U.S. and Europe, used Arabic farm slang to get around Israeli code breakers, and then joked, "That's not going to do you any good in WikiLeaks, by the way."

The case against surveillance

  • Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. tells the Guardian that he is opposed to Britain's Internet surveillance plans:

    He said that if the government believed it was essential to collect this kind of sensitive data about individuals, it would have to establish a "very strong independent body" which would be able to investigate every use of the surveillance powers to establish whether the target did pose a threat, and whether the intrusion had produced valuable evidence. But he said that since the coalition had not spelled out an oversight regime, or how the data could be safely stored, "the most important thing to do is to stop the bill as it is at the moment".

Around the web

  • Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told The Hill that Google has been supportive of CISPA, though it hasn't released an opinion publicly.

  • GSA was a top-trending search on Google yesterday as hearings about the agency's spending spree in Las Vegas continued.

  • Some FCC Commissioners may be open to compromise on the issue of requiring TV stations to post public information about the political ads they air.

  • ICYMI: The Wall Street Journal looked at the role of Twitter in the Ann Romney-Hilary Rosen political flame war:

    The fact that such major figures as first lady Michelle Obama, Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod and Mrs. Romney weighed in via Twitter shows how the microblogging network, built on short messages, or "tweets,'' is helping to drive campaigns...At Romney headquarters in Boston, several staffers spend their days in a screen-filled room monitoring Twitter feeds, among other forms of media. Compilations of posts-many from campaign reporters' accounts-are emailed to staff after Mr. Romney's events to give aides a sense of which stump lines got the most attention. "You have to be constantly aware of things that are moving and how people are talking about things," said Zac Moffatt, digital director for the Romney campaign. "You've got real-time engagement."...The Romney campaign considered Twitter important enough that it set up an account in Mrs. Romney's name about a year ago. But it wasn't deployed until Wednesday night,...The Twitter format seemed the right one for a response, Mr. Moffatt said, given the late hour and how quickly the story was picking up steam.So, the first message went out under Mrs. Romney's @AnnDRomney sign-on: "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it's hard work."

  • The Department of Labor has announced the winners of the Equal Pay App Challenge, a contest to develop apps encouraging women to demand equal pay for equal work.

  • The Washington Post featured the political action committee Votesane, which allows people to give money to any any candidate on either side of the political spectrum.

  • Twitter announced that it would implement the Innovator's Patent Agreement, a new structure for handling patents that would only allow patent ownership to be used in "offensive" litigation — that is, in a legal attack on another company — with the inventor's consent.

  • Apple revealed information about the energy usage at a data center for its iCloud service after Greenpeace criticized the company, and other technology companies, for relying on coal.

  • Wireless carriers are warning that they need more government-allocated spectrum to meet the rising demand of mobile data, but others say that the companies are avoiding adapting more effective technologies that go beyond spectrum to protect income and monopolies.

  • WNYC reported on the mixed long-term outcomes of New York City's Big Apps competition. While it has attracted buzz for small developers and created ties between the city government and its burgeoning tech sector, few of the apps built through the competition have survived to grow into companies.

  • The New York Times profiles Nadim Kobeissi, creator of the encrypted chat program Cryptocat.

Around the world

  • Under new Chinese copyright rules, music rights would switch over to the government after three months, when it could allow others to others to use, record or distribute songs at government-set rates, Reuters reports, while rights holders would lose veto power of who could use their work. The proposal, aimed at combating piracy, would also apply to foreign music distributed in China.

  • The far-left candidate in the French election, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, has inspired a viral YouTube spoof video in which a lightly-dressed blonde woman sings a song titled, "Take power over me, Jean-Luc." Meanwhile, Nicolas Sarkozy has been hurt by footage circulating online of him wearing an expensive gold watch ahead of a rally on Sunday.

  • Google commissioned the Boston Consulting Group to independently produce a report about how the Internet economy could help revive Greece's financial troubles.

  • A former Microsoft Africa chairman is now interim prime minister of Mali, a country that is dealing with the aftermath of a coup.

  • The Canadian Postal Service has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against a website that offers free access to a crowdsourced compiled database of Canadian postal codes, saying it holds the exclusive copyright on all Canadian Postal Codes, Michael Geist writes.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.


The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.