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First POST: Tipping Points

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, April 16 2014

Tipping Points

  • Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg is spending $50 million to build a grassroots network of women, and mothers in particular, called "Everytown for Gun Safety" that will focus on expanding background checks for gun buyers.

  • Notes New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters, "[Bloomberg's] financial commitment to reducing gun violence could grow. When asked how much he was willing to spend, he tossed out the $50 million figure out as if he were describing the tip he left on a restaurant check. 'I put $50 million this year, last year into coal, $53 million into oceans,' he said with a shrug, describing his clean energy and sustainable fishing initiatives. 'Certainly a number like that, $50 million. Let’s see what happens.'”

  • Remember when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg insisted that it only made sense to have one identity online? "Having two identities for yourself is an example of lack of integrity," he told Facebook Effect author David Kirkpatrick. Now he tells the New York Times' Farhad Manjoo that "there are some sets of experiences that are just better with other identities," adding, "There are different forms of identity you can use to forma relationship. You can use your real identify, or you can use phone numbers for something like WhatsApp, and pseudonyms for something like Instagram."

  • In less than a week, Medicare's big data release on the billing practices of more than 800,000 doctors has been downloaded more than 100,000 times, reports Alex Howard for TechRepublic as part of a round-up on some recent big events in US data transparency.

  • Abhi Nemani, who recently stepped down from co-running Code for America, takes to Medium to argue for more app diversity in the civic tech ecosystem.

  • Julia Angwin points out the big lesson of the Heartbleed bug: it's time to get serious about Internet security. Also, have you updated your passwords?

  • Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky blogs at the Huffington Post about the $21 million his company "is legally prohibited from helping collect and remit" in New York.

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Rainey Reitman is asking web developers for volunteer help building a "free software backend for contacting Congress." The core work is done, but they're looking for volunteers who will help customize the tool for each of Congress' 535 members.

  • I'm coming to this late, but this essay by Zephyr Teachout, former Howard Dean campaign internet director and Fordham Law School professor, on what Chief Justice John Roberts gets wrong about the meaning of corruption and a quid pro quo in American jurisprudence, is a must-read.

  • New feature from our WeGov section: Weekly Readings, a round-up of what our editors Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao are reading on the international scene.

News Briefs

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In Mexico, A Wiki Makes Corporate Secrets Public

Earlier this year the Latin American NGO Poder launched Quién Es Quién Wiki (Who's Who Wiki), a corporate transparency project more than two years in the making. The hope is that the platform will be the foundation for a citizen-led movement demanding transparency and accountability from businesses in Mexico. Data from Quién Es Quién Wiki is already helping community activists mobilize against foreign companies preparing to mine the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

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On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails. But those datasets do not include several data resources that are most sought after by many New York businesses, a new study from advocacy group Reinvent Albany has found. Welcome to a little-discussed corner of so-called "open government"--while agencies often pay lip service to the cause, the data they actually release is sometimes nowhere close to what is most wanted. GO

Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

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