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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 >

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.


tuesday > Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and And strangely enough, seems to want its early users to ask for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.


monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.


The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.


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.