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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.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.


wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

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.