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First POST: The Big Chill

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, January 6 2014

The Big Chill

  • Fred Kaplan, Slate's long-time defense correspondent, has a smart and tough piece arguing the reasons "Why Snowden Won't (And Shouldn't) Get Clemency." His bottom line: Snowden didn't just reveal the NSA's domestic surveillance or spying on allies, but also also exposed the agency's programs in places like Pakistan, Iran and China.

  • Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) disagreed on the Snowden clemency question on ABC's This Week yesterday.

  • Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sent the NSA a letter asking if the agency has spied or is currently spying on members of Congress or other elected officials, and the agency's response, so far, is a non-denial, reports the Washington Post's Brian Fung.

  • Lawrence Wright explores whether the NSA's massive collection of phone metadata could have prevented 9-11, as Judge William Pauley recently argued in upholding the program, and concludes that it wouldn't have made a difference, since the FBI already had the same capability. The real failure to prevent 9-11, he argues in the New Yorker, was the lack of cooperation between federal agencies, citing the CIA's refusal to share critical intelligence with the FBI.

  • The seventeen groups that make up the conservative billionaire Koch brothers political network raised a whopping $407 million (at least) in 2012, the Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics reported, based on an analysis of 2011 and 2012 tax filings. Unlike union spending on politics, which is at a similar scale, there is little information on the actual sources of this money or how it was spent.

  • Maggie Haberman details the triumvirate of independent groups that are laying the groundwork for a potential Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign: Ready for Hillary, which is focusing on voter data and field; Priorities USA, which is for fatcat donor fundraising; and Correct the Record, which is a media watchdog effort.

  • As many predicted, Facebook's becoming a public company has pushed founder Mark Zuckerberg to embrace advertising--including inserting "nonsocial" ads in the once sacrosanct news feed--in all its glory. Among the nuggets in the Wall Street Journal's in-depth report: the company does more than 35,000 surveys a day to monitor user sentiment.

  • While it breaks no new ground, Alice Marwick's article "How Your Data Are Being Deeply Mined" in the New York Review of Books is a solid primer for anyone who needs just one piece to understand the topic.

  • Former FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has been hired by the Carlyle Group to work on tech, media and telecom investments, the New York Times reports.

  • The Motion Picture Association of America's top lawyer Steve Fabrizio tells the Hollywood Reporter his industry isn't seeking new copyright legislation like SOPA, but that companies like Google "haven't done enough" to protect intellectual property.

  • The Atlantic's James Fallows looks at two tech companies that have succeeded far from Silicon Valley or any other major of Burlington, VT and Esri of Redlands, CA--in an effort to understand how they did it.