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First POST: Apologies

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, February 14 2013

Republican rage

  • This weekend's New York Times Magazine will include a lengthy summation of the Republican Party's growing generational tension — between younger, less socially crusading, more technologically savvy operatives, and an old guard they say is not giving room to their ideas the way the kingmakers of the Democratic Party have for the past ten years.

Civic hacking

  • Two civic hackers talk with Nick Judd about why they slog through all the difficulties involved in working with city governments and trying to use technology to solve civic problems.

  • Socrata has released its open data field guide.

  • Event: Gavin Newsom speaks with Fortune senior editor-at-large Adam Lashinsky in "Angry Birds for Democracy," held at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. More information is here; nonmember tickets are $45-$20.

  • Civic hackers built a web platform that allows people to "adopt" a fire hydrant in their neighborhood, promising to dig it out of the snow after a storm. Here's an example of how to promote that type of program. Step one: Get an absurd fire-hydrant costume and some firefighters. (Via Public Innovation)

Apologies for an apologist

  • The Knight Foundation has expressed regret for paying a $20,000 honorarium to serial plagiarist and fabulist Jonah Lehrer for a speech earlier this week. Intended to be a talk focused on decision-making for an audience interested in the information needs of communities, it turned out to concentrate significantly on Lehrer's own foibles.

Around the web

  • The White House Office of Management and Budget has promised to improve the accuracy of USASpending.gov after a Sunlight Foundation report found that agencies had "misreported more than $1.55 trillion," Federal Computer Week reports.

  • Coding is not the be-all and end-all of the tech sector.

  • Rep. Eliot Engel used Twitter to tell NBC that President Barack Obama did, in fact, shake his hand before the State of the Union address. Engel is famous for staking out an aisle seat well in advance of the address in order to be seen on TV, hobnobbing with the commander-in-chief, and it appeared from certain camera angles used in coverage of Tuesday's speech that the president had passed him by.

  • Via Morning Tech: Three more states were hit with fake warnings of a zombie apocalypse.

    Straight from the article:

    In Los Angeles, a radio station that had its alert system breached sent out a zombie message, according to Richard Rudman, a broadcast engineer and vice chair of the California State Emergency Communications Committee. He declined to name the station but said any that were hacked were using default passwords for their alert systems or lacked adequate computer security.

    Shorter version: Anyone wanting to rationalize the militarization of the Internet because of "increasingly sophisticated" attacks on public infrastructure should first take a close look and figure out if the real problem isn't that people are often careless and lazy.

  • Local councils in England are set to screen their meetings online.

  • Winning Valentine's Day: #NOIPickupLines, in which the authors use online organizing jargon to compose a well-tested script before knocking on the doors of your heart.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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