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First POST: The Bloggers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 18 2013

The Bloggers

  • Edward Snowden tells James Risen of The New York Times that he didn't take any secret documents with him to Russia, giving them to the journalists who met him while he was in Hong Kong. He also made an eloquent defense of his decision to blow the whistle by going public: “The secret continuance of these programs represents a far greater danger than their disclosure…So long as there’s broad support amongst a people, it can be argued there’s a level of legitimacy even to the most invasive and morally wrong program, as it was an informed and willing decision,” he said. “However, programs that are implemented in secret, out of public oversight, lack that legitimacy, and that’s a problem. It also represents a dangerous normalization of ‘governing in the dark,’ where decisions with enormous public impact occur without any public input.”

  • The European Union is moving towards requiring private companies like Google and Yahoo to get approval from European officials before giving their citizens' data to the NSA.

  • President Obama on the end of the government shutdown: "And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio, and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do – and that’s grow this economy, create good jobs, strengthen the middle class, lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity, and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul." [Emphasis added.]

  • Tea Party Insult Generator. Made from "actual insults posted on John Boehner's Facebook wall."

  • Several tech experts interviewed by USA Today's Kelly Kennedy, including the CTO of Rackspace, say the HealthCare.gov health care exchange portal was built with out-of-date technology and needs a total overhaul. Kennedy reports:

    Recent changes have made the exchanges easier to use, but they still require clearing the computer's cache several times, stopping a pop-up blocker, talking to people via Web chat who suggest waiting until the server is not busy, opening links in new windows and clicking on every available possibility on a page in the hopes of not receiving an error message. With those changes, it took one hour to navigate the HealthCare.gov enrollment process Wednesday.

  • Reuters reports that CGI Federal's contract to build HealthCare.gov tripled from $93.7 million to $292 million, starting last spring, as the feds overseeing the project realized it need much more work than originally envisioned.

  • Henry Farrell blogs on the Monkey Cage on "Why Glenn Greenwald's new media venture is a big deal":

    Capital of USD $250 million can hire some very good people. The venture has the potential to become the kind of news source that can turn information into knowledge. Yet it doesn’t sound as if it’ll be bound by the kinds of political relationships that most newspapers are embedded in. The Columbia Journalism Review gets this best when it describes the venture as I.F. Stone’s Weekly, if it had been lavishly funded by a friendly billionaire. If this works, it is likely to change the relationship between information, knowledge and politics in some very interesting ways. Most obviously, it will make it even harder for the U.S. government to control the politics of leaks by pressuring newspapers not to publish stories that it thinks hurt the national interest.

  • Former Hawaii Civil Beat city hall reporter and Washington bureau chief Adrienne LaFrance describes what it was like to work with Pierre Omidyar side-by-side in Civil Beat's newsroom.

  • Want to learn how to upgrade the security of your communications? Starting today, members of the Guardian Project will be hosting weekly public hangouts every Friday from 1-3pm ET for the rest of year to answer questions about their apps and services.

  • Perugia's International Journalism Festival is shutting down, due to a shortfall of sponsorship income (attendance has always been free). Festival maestro Chris Potter explains that, given the success of 2013's gathering, he wanted to "stop at the top."

  • Speaking of festivals, don't miss this snarky review in The Baffler of last spring's South by Southwest Festival Interactive. Key lines: "If SXSW has a political sensibility, then, it's a very masculinist form of corporatism. Great men lead great corporations that know what's best for us."

  • And now, your moment of zen: Former congressman Anthony Weiner tells GQ's Marshall Sella that "if the Internet didn't exist…Like, if I was running in 1955? I'd probably get elected mayor."