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First POST: Gobbler and Cobbler

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, November 21 2012

Enjoy your stuffing, dear reader — First POST will not be coming out Thursday or Friday and will resume on Monday.

Morning must-reads

  • The Huffington Post reported on the plans to use the Obama campaign organization to push for President Obama's legislative priorities, with the support of an effort backed by various progressive groups who are focusing on "The Action to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest two percent" at

  • There was some confusion yesterday about a news report on Cnet which suggested that Senate legislation backed by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) had been rewritten under pressure from law enforcement to allow authorities to access emails without a warrant. Kashmir Hill wrote that the report was flawed and that "the version of the bill that Declan McCullagh excerpts in his report appears to be one of many that have been drafted and passed around, but is not a version that would be considered seriously at a hearing to review the bill next week." A Judiciary Committee aide denied that Leahy had supported such language, as did Leahy's Twitter account. Demand Progess has launched a campaign encouraging supporters to urge the Senate not to give authorities easier access to email.

  • Ahead of the International Telecommunication Union conference in December that is expected to address regulatory issues related to the Internet, Google has launched a campaign encouraging users to express their opposition to such decisions being made by governments in a closed-door session. Earlier, Larry Downes had written in Cnet commentary that leaked documents suggest Russia is calling on the U.N. to take on authority over key aspects of Internet governance including addressing and naming. Tim Bray, a Google employee, wrote on his Google Plus account that "smart people here at Google are actually looking worried, and asking us to pass the word along."

  • Anshel Pfeffer of Haaretz critiques the IDF's social media campaign, noting that "Nineteen-year-old soldiers compete with each other to come up with wickedly cynical tweets on the IDF’s official Twitter account," but also suggesting that the PR effort can't really overcome images of violence or broadly change public opinion. "It’s no longer an orderly sovereign state fighting a terror militia in a tiny coastal strip but two Twitter accounts wrestling with each other."

From techPresident

Around the web

  • The White House announced in an e-mail and blog post yesterday that the American public would have the chance to weigh in on the which turkey President Barack Obama will pardon this year. On its Facebook page, users could vote with a Facebook like for either Gobbler or Cobbler. By late last night, Cobbler seemed to be leading with over 2,200 likes compared with just over 2,000 for Gobbler.

    TechPresident wonders: Will the loser face his sentence by secret drone strike?

  • Hamas briefly interrupted satellite broadcasts of to Israeli TV channels with a message that "“that showed an exploding tank and warned about the terror group’s capabilities," according to an Israeli newspaper, while Electronic Intifada reported that a Palestinian satellite channel was hijacked by Israel to show an animated message that compared Hamas leaders to mice and rats living in the sewer. In addition, the social media accounts of an Israeli politician were targeted by hackers.

  • The New York Times suggested that Anonymous attacks on Israeli websites were a minor inconvenience compared with attacks coming out of Gaza and Iran in the past year.

  • The Daily Beast reported on how an online activist who started the Facebook page that helped spark the revolution in Egypt is now documenting the violence in Gaza.

  • David Cole at the Daily Beast explores a Christian group's claim that the Hamas Twitter account might be illegal.

  • The founder of Unskewed Polls has set up a website
    , aiming to prove that Democrats stole the 2012 election, citing voter fraud.

  • At Red State, Neil Stevens argues that the Republican Study Committee should not have withdrawn its study on copyright policy.

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation writes that "Congress shouldn't debate copyright in a reality-free zone."

  • A We the People petition asks the White House to "work to modify copyright laws to end the predatory practice of copyright trolling."

  • The House is expected to vote on a bill to expand the number of green cards next Friday.

  • Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass) has urged House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to move forward on a bill to protect the electrical grid from cyberattacks.

  • The San Diego County Sheriff is refusing to release documents related to drones requested as part of a "drone census" effort backed by MuckRock and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

  • Atlantic Cities highlighted a video visualization showing New York City's greenhouse-gas emissions in 2010.

  • Code4Kenya has launched a website at
    to highlight the locations of voter registration centers ahead of the 2013 elections.

  • British palace officials had to act quickly to remove photos of Prince William from the Internet after it became clear that they showed Ministry of Defense passwords in the background, the AFP reported.

  • Nieman Lab reported on how the Globe and Mail used citizen-journalist expatriates to cover the 2012 election.

  • The Guardian Datastore and Google have launched a competition to visualize world aid data.

  • Reuters recently reported on how slow Internet infrastructure is a symptom of Kuwait's economic difficulties.

  • IBM is piloting a system in Lyon, France, that allows a city's transportation management center to reduce congestion using real-time traffic data and analysis of incidents using “predictive traffic management technology," Mashable reported.

  • A French news magazine is reporting that French officials are accusing the U.S. of using American-Israeli spy software to breach the French presidential office earlier this year.

  • The European Network and Information Security Agency has published a report that is skeptical of the European Commission's "right to be forgotten" proposals."

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