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First POST: Bad Boys

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, September 26 2013

Bad Boys

  • Digesting the repercussions of Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz's marathon stand against Obamacare on the Senate floor yesterday, The New York Times' Jeremy Peters makes a point that we've made here before: the rise of social media has widened the cracks in the once-solid Republican coalition (See "How Social Media is Keeping the Republican Primary Going." Noting how Cruz's staff fired up the Tea Party online base prior to his taking the Senate floor, saying "something big" was afoot, Peters writes: "As the party looks to take the Senate majority next year and recapture the White House in 2016, the split pits an emerging, younger class of social-media-savvy leaders like Mr. Cruz of Texas, who claim the mantle of a resurgent grass roots, against those who believe their colleagues are recklessly pursuing a strategy that builds up individual political brands at the party’s expense." Ask yourself if this doesn't sound like some netroots leaders talking about the Democrats back in the mid-aughts:

    “Every senator thinks that they’re the center of the universe, and now it is literally the case that a very decentralized community has a lot more say,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks. “We now have a seat at the table,” Mr. Kibbe added, taking stock of his detractors in the Senate. Voters, he said, “can choose their leaders based on who’s performing, and that very competitive, bottom-up atmosphere is really what they’re complaining about. They’re like the dinosaurs seeing the first icebergs floating by.”

  • BuzzFeed discovers a few tweets between Cory Booker, NJ Senate candidate, and a stripper in Portland, and the NYTimes jumps on the story. Booker, who is single, appears to have done little more than flirt lightly in a direct message. The folks at Jezebel boil it down: "I wanted to title this Idiotic BuzzFeed Article Makes You Scroll Through Sea of NSFW Photos and Also Gifs of Buzzfeed Contributors, All in Order to See Utterly Innocuous Conversation."

  • Nicholas Kristof speculates that life in the Republican "echo-chamber" may not just have bad political effects, it may have actually caused more conservatives than liberals to avoid getting flu or HPV vaccinations.

  • A bipartisan group of four Senators--Ron Wyden, Ron Paul, Mark Udall and Richard Blumenthal--announced a comprehensive package of surveillance reform measures, titled the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act. Reports the Guardian:

    It would prohibit the NSA's bulk collection phone records of Americans under section 215 of the Patriot Act, the most controversial aspect of US surveillance revealed by documents supplied by Snowden to the Guardian. The bill would also prevent a similar data trawl of internet communication records, which was stopped in 2011, and definitively close a so-called "backdoor" that potentially enables the NSA to intercept the internet communications of Americans swept up in a program protected by Section 702 of the of the Fisa Amendments Act….It also incorporates aspects of more than a dozen legislative efforts that surfaced in the wake of disclosures by Snowden, such as allowing technology companies to disclose how many court orders they receive for their users' data, and the strengthening of a privacy watchdog.

  • Secure email provider Lavabit, which shut itself down rather than abide by government surveillance orders is trying to get an appeals court to unseal the proceedings.

  • Former New York Times Pentagon Papers lawyer James Goodale says, "To reform the NSA, fire officials who lie."

  • Did you know that many teens delete their Facebook accounts instead of logging out, knowing that the next time they go back to the site their data will still be there--but that this way no one else can see their account in the meantime? Read this eye-opening article by Ars Technica editor at large Jacqui Cheng for an eye-opening tour of how inner-city kids she work with this summer in Chicago are using social media.

  • Legistorm, the online legislative resource, catches competitor Columbia Books lifting names from its regular staff moves email, without attribution, by inserting some fake ones and watching them get used.

  • The average white-collar worker spends close to 30% of their work day dealing with email, a form of work that didn't exist a generation ago. On the Huffington Post, TechSoup Global's Daniel Ben-Horin offers a semi-defense of email, crediting it for helping change work for the better:

    "People in the middle can now influence organizational behavior--trivial and consequential--on levels that would have been unimaginable even 15 years ago. In the process, they form bonds and discover commonalities worth nurturing, at work and off. Analogously, intelligent management recognizes that engaged employees are better employees, so there is more sharing of information that was previously held close. There is a discourse in the white collar workplace that never existed before."

    On the other hand, he admits, "the bad boys--too much input and not enough time--are in town to stay."

  • TorrentFreak, "the place where breaking news, BitTorrent and copyright collide," reports that the Pirate Parties International NGO has been denied observer member status at the World Intellectual Property Organization. It's worth noting that non-state organizations representing copyright industries have many seats at the WIPO table.

  • GlobalVoices reports on two new online tools for emergences, inspired by Saturday's Nairobi mall attack, that have been launched by Ushahidi. The Ping app "is a binary, multichannel check-in tool for groups." A "Blood Donation Kenya" is a crowdmap of blood drive centers.

  • Related: Twitter Alerts, a new program that enables users to sign up for "push" notifications directly to their phone from credible organizations during times of emergency or disaster, launches.

  • EasyJet refused to let a law professor named Mark Leiser who writes a tech law column get on a flight after he tweeted critically about the airline. This isn't going to end well for EasyJet.