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First POST: Nerdfighters

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, December 18 2013

Nerdfighters

  • The Washington Post's Cecilia Kang and Ellen Nakashima report on what went on yesterday in President Obama's meeting with 15 Silicon Valley tech executives. Not surprisingly, much of the conversation focused on company concerns about NSA overreach. We'd like to know which participant "suggested the president pardon Snowden," which Obama said he could not do.

  • President Obama also joked that he wished Washington was as "ruthlessly efficient" as portrayed in the Netflix series House of Cards. The relatives of the 17 people killed earlier this month when a U.S. drone mistakenly hit a wedding convoy in Yemen were not available to comment.

  • Edward Snowden has not made a new request for asylum in Brazil, Glenn Greenwald told BuzzFeed; his original request is still pending.

  • After getting whacked with criticism, CNN deleted its tweet saying that Snowden had offered "to spy" for Brazil and replaced it with a more accurate one.

  • A former Microsoft executive, Kurt DelBene, is taking over oversight of HealthCare.gov. His wife is freshman Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA).

  • Chinese hackers took down the Federal Elections Commission website the day the government shutdown began in October, the Center for Public Integrity Dave Levinthal reports. That's just the icing on a detailed and depressing story of how the watchdog agency is sinking into dysfunction.

  • A Harvard sophomore. Eldo Kim, has been arrested for alleged emailing a bomb threat to university authorities Monday. The Harvard Crimson reports that he told the FBI he wanted to avoid a final exam. According to the FBI agent's affidavit, the threat was sent using Guerrilla Mail, a service that generates temporary anonymous email addresses, by someone using TOR. The university was able to determine that the student had accessed TOR using the Harvard wireless network in the hours before the receipt of his messages.

  • Oakland's East Bay Express reports that the city's new surveillance system, the Domain Awareness Center, is being built for far more than crime-fighting. Internal documents obtained by the Oakland Privacy Working Group suggest plans to not only merge live data from license-plate scanners, gunshot detectors and hundreds of cameras, but also include monitoring of social media and text messaging, which privacy advocates say will be used to surveil political activity.

  • Self-described "government geek" Andrew Hoppin explains why open source software-as-a-service is poised to make headway with government.

  • GitHub and StackOverflow visualized as sprawling cities.

  • The nerdfighters' group Project for Awesome (P4A), which comes out of the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, Inc., is in the middle of its annual two-day online YouTube marathon to raise money for other non-profit groups (which is its sole purpose). In 2012, the P4A raised $483,296 and viewers left 724,167 comments. Halfway thru the marathon, P4A has already tallied $441,000 in donations.

  • Nathaniel Heller of Global Integrity takes the Knight Foundation to task for including for-profit companies like Airbnb in its recent big report on the state of the civic tech sector. In the comments thread that follows, Jon Sotsky of Knight replies. Civility reigns.

  • Don't miss out: Tickets for Personal Democracy Forum 2014, taking place June 5-6 in New York City, are on sale now. Early-bird prices are the best time to buy and the supply is limited.

  • First POST is taking off a few days early for some R&R in warmer climes. Merry Holidays and Happy New Year to all! See you January 2nd.