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First POST: Greenwald's Day

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 28 2013

Greenwald's Day

  • Natasha Vargas-Cooper's profile of Glenn Greenwald in The Advocate is full of gems. Where did Greenwald get his politics? From his socialist grandparents in Florida. Why did Edward Snowden reach out to Greenwald rather a more mainstream reporter? Snowden told her, "“The bottom line is that sources risking serious harm to return public information to public hands must have absolute confidence that the journalists they go to will report on that information rather than bury it." Snowden added:

    “Glenn’s work is a foreshadowing of the death of ‘access journalism.’ What we’re seeing with the NSA reporting is that prioritizing the interests of officials over the public, the news audience, is not a winning strategy. Journalists and institutions that hold power to account will attract sources who can provide the facts you aren’t going to get in a briefing room. The access game is a mirage; the officials alienated by hard questions have no choice but to take your calls when confronted with the truth.”

  • Schadenfreude Dept. As repercussions continue to spread across Europe from German chancellor Angela Merkel's angry call to President Obama denouncing the NSA's spying on her cell phone, Berlin Internet privacy activist Anke Domscheit-Berg offered some useful perspective: “Merkel is embarrassingly late with her reaction. In the past few months, Chancellor Merkel did very little to make the U.S. government answer all those questions that should have had highest political priority. Now she gets a taste of what it feels like when foreign secret services spy on all your communication.”

  • Der Spiegel continues to dig deeper on the NSA-Merkel story, reporting that documents from Snowden indicate the spying on her started in 2002, when she was just her party's chair.

  • In the same vein, Greenwald notes the hypocrisy of European governments that are suddenly up in arms about Snowden's revelations but failed to offer him asylum back in the summer. His last column for the Guardian will appear October 31.

  • The New York Times former executive editor Bill Keller engages Greenwald in a fascinating back-and-forth. It's quite something to see Keller give Greenwald, who has been a vociferous critic of the Times, a respectful hearing. Inevitably, they get to WikiLeaks, and the Times' decision (led by Keller) to delay publication of James Risen's story about the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program. But it's about much more: whether the media can be objective, how to relate to power, and Greenwald's new venture with Pierre Omidyar. Read the whole thing.

  • Thousands of people rallied Saturday in Washington, DC, to protest the NSA's mass surveillance programs, the Guardian reports.

  • Rep. Alan Grayson says, "Congressional overstay of the NSA is a joke. I should know, I'm in Congress."

In other news around the web:

  • Pushing back on the legion of commentators who have been explaining the problems with on the government's procurement process, Clay Shirky writes in the Guardian, "Building a bad website is a technology failure. Launching a bad website is a management failure."

  • The Wall Street Journal has a blow-by-blow reconstruction of how disjointed leadership produced the mess.

  • Meet Gittip, a platform for crowd-funding salary support for independent workers. Andrew Leonard of Salon calls it "a bold experiment in creating a financial infrastructure that will support people who want to do their own thing."As of this month they have 1,900 active users exchanging $6,600 a week.

  • David Karpf questions whether's new Decision Maker feature will fly. While it is aimed at enabling Members of Congress and other top political figures targeted by petitions to respond directly to petitioners, Karpf thinks there may be a "disconnect between the new tool and the core product," since most petitions on Change are aimed at corporations and social issues, not politicians or traditional political issues.

  • Scholars Chris Hoofnagle and Michael Zimmer have launched "The Zuckerberg Files," an online archive that is collecting every public statement made by the Facebook founder.

  • Netroots blogger Ian Welsh has prompted a fascinating debate with a post called "A brief note on why the progressive blog movement failed." His argument: the Democratic netroots didn't have enough "juice" to defeat incumbents. Chiming in to comment:'s Bob Fertik, former OpenLeft blogger Matt Stoller, and most interesting of all, MyDD founder Jerome Armstrong. Key moments: Joe Lieberman's 2006 re-election as an independent; Barack Obama's routing around the bloggers in 2008 (and the cult of personality his campaign built); and perhaps most crucial and least heralded: the failure of the netroots effort to primary Senator Blanche Lincoln in 2010 despite her vote for the bank bailout.

  • Susannah Vila and Christopher Wilson of engine room are live-blogging this week's Open Government Partnership summit in London for our WeGov section. Follow their reports here.

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