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Daily Digest: From Local Gadfly to Internationally Known

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, October 1 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • The Email Heard 'Round the World: The LA Times' Erika Hayasaki has the back story on Anne Kilkenny. Anne Kil-who? Oh, you know, the Alaskan who wrote an email critiquing her fellow Wasillan Sarah Palin that landed in your inbox at least one thousand times just after the Palin pick was announced. The LA Times brands Kilkenny a "gadfly" who was a regular at local political meetings when even the town's political reporter wouldn't show. And some on the local political scene, it seems, aren't too happy with Kilkenny's standing as a "Palin expert" these days. But she's a gadfly whose opinion on a major new American political figure whose missive went, for whatever reason, entirely viral. Beats waiting for open mic night down at town hall. #

  • Deconstructing Voiceover-Gate: Media Matters senior fellow Eric Boehlert is slamming right-leaning bloggers for their quixotic campaign to tie an anti-Palin YouTube clip to the Obama campaign, despite, well, the total lack of evidence -- unless, that is, voiceovers that kinda sound like other voiceovers counts. Eric's piece is a gleeful no-holds-barred tearing apart of the right's blogosphere, sure. But somewhere in there there's also an interesting dissection of how this particular "story" started with a kernel of truth, warped into an ungrounded political mission, and ultimately fizzled out. #

  • Man Down!: Bad news for ActBlue: The Democratic fundraising hub went down yesterday afternoon for at least two hours. Even badder news: The snafu happened right in the middle of the very final moments of the fundraising quarter. The panicked emails coming out of campaigns and allies yesterday were a testament to how ActBlue, which has raised more than $68 million online since 2004, has become a cornerstone of the progressive infrastructure. That's especially true for smaller campaigns, where it can function like an outsourced finance team. The site was back up and running by early evening. And in an email, ActBlue called the downtime "unacceptable" and offered to help hand-process contributions that had piled up in the meantime. No official word yet on what went wrong. #

  • Picking up the Schleppin' Tab: If this were still the '90s we'd be calling it synergy. But since it's 2008, we'll go with calling it a mashup. ObamaTravel is a volunteer-run grassroots organization that partners potential volunteers with people who have cash to spare, that quite naturally, grew out of the 2004 Dancers for Democracy movement. The Great Schlep is a Sarah Silverman-fronted effort to get Jewish folks to visit their grandmas and grandpas in Florida to convince them to vote for Obama. Put 'em together, and you've got a way to new pay for that plane ticket down to South Florida. #

The Candidates on the Web

  • Taking to the Blogs to Condemn McCainCare: The Obama campaign has taken heat for supposedly giving short shrift to progressive bloggers. Now, one of their own has tried to reach out. With McCain and Obama's back-and-forth during the first debate over the Republican's health care plan causing more confusion than it erased, David Blumenthal, one of the Obama campaign's top health care advisers, penned a lengthy early morning post on Daily Kos condemning McCain's health care plan for its "blind embrace of de-regulated free markets." Crickets, my friends, crickets. David's post produced only 11 comments and 9 recommendations, and questions posed to the advisor in the comments went unanswered. By way of comparison, a diary from an unknown Alaskan on "Creating Candidate Palin" has attracted 276 responses and garnered too many recommendations to bothering counting. #

TechCongress and Beyond

  • Version Tracking the Big Bill: Software develop ors working collaboratively often use revision control tools that help to keep track of changes in complex projects. Inspired by the idea, GovTrack has launched a rough version tracking of the evolving Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, a.k.a H.R. 3997, a.k.a. the bailout-out bill, a.k.a. the economic rescue plan. Here, for example, is a side-by-side comparison of Thursday and Sunday's drafts, with the differences highlighted. "Why is this so ugly?," asks GovTrack's Josh Tauberer (rhetorically, as he built the thing). Because while Congress loves that sense of resolute finality that PDFs provide, converting PDFs more user-friendly format can be problematic. "If you think the public should be able to do this better, tell your representative to support The Open House Project report recommendations," suggests Josh -- in particular, we'll note, the part about setting government data free in a wonderfully structured format like XML, so that the rest of us can easily make use of it. #

  • Dennis Kucinich's Video Recommendations: The liberal Democratic congressman from Ohio not surprisingly voted no Monday on the $700 billion bailout measure. Calling this "a teachable moment," yesterday he sent around an email attempting to explain the U.S.'s so-called fractional reserve system. But, with admirable self-awareness that his economics lesson might have fallen flat, Kucinich said 'just go an watch this Google video instead.' Called "Money is Debt," it's a somewhat quirky 47-minute animated take on modern banking that was created by a Canadian artist in partnership with the American Monetary Institute. (Here's the entirely interesting "Producer's Comments" on how the video came into being.) And no, it's not every congressperson who sends around links to obscure explanatory web videos he or she had nothing to do with. #

In Case You Missed It...

With an eye on the many state-wide ballot initiatives up for a vote this election, Nancy Scola has your mini guide to navigating direct democracy, as well as a look at how the House of Representatives has resorted to turning back emails in a bid to keep its IT infrastructure up and running.

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.


The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.


wednesday >

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media and India's General Election

The biggest democratic election in the world to date is taking place in India from April 7 to May 14, and, for the first time in India, the results might hinge on who runs a better social media campaign. The Mumbai research firm Iris Knowledge Foundation has said that Facebook will “wield a tremendous influence” but Indian politicians are not limiting their attentions to India's most popular social media platform. In addition to virtual campaigning are initiatives to inform, educate and encourage Indians to participate in their democracy.


EU Court Rejects Data Retention Law, But Data Retention Won't End Overnight

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg struck down a data retention law Tuesday that required telecoms to keep customers' communications data for up to two years, declaring it violated privacy rights. However, experts warn that the ruling will have no automatic effect on relevant laws in member states, which could lead to “messy consequences.”