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First POST: Bows

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, February 23 2015


  • As was widely expected, "CitizenFour," Laura Poitras' powerful documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, won the Best Documentary Oscar last night at the Academy Awards. In the New Yorker, Amy Davidson explains why this is a big deal.

  • Here is Snowden's statement on the award.

  • Poitras' main companion on the Oscar stage, her Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald, gets some heat from investigative journalist Ken Silverstein, who recently resigned after working 14 months for First Look Media. Charging First Look management with "dishonesty" about allowing journalists to fearlessly and independently report, Silverstein posted a series of comments to his Facebook page, including this: "Glenn’s role at FL is troubling in some ways, especially standing by silently (as far as I can tell) and tolerating the terrible actions of corporate management. Glenn’s work is excellent but Matt [Taibbi, the editor of the now-shuttered Racket] would never put up with the bullshit from management that Glenn has."

  • With the FCC set to vote Thursday on Chairman Tom Wheeler's open internet proposal, Dustin Volz reports for National Journal on how the GOP plans to challenge the decision as another example of President Obama's "executive overreach," with three congressional committees planning to investigate if the White House exerted improper influence over Wheeler.

  • The debate over net neutrality is making lots of money for some Washington DC lobbying firms, reports Tony Romm for Politico.

  • Two expert political scientists, Lee Drutman and Steven Teles, argue in a piece for the Washington Monthly that the way to reduce the power of corporate interests to shape Congressional policy is not by reducing private money's role in politics or increasing voter participation, but by getting Congress to hire more expert permanent staff and paying them well. They've got a point--ever since the 1994 takeover of the House by Newt Gingrich and crew, Congressional staff was decimated and the Office of Technology Assessment was killed entirely. Drutman also suggests, in an accompanying piece, creating an "Office of Public Lobbying" for underfinanced interests and making lobbying advocacy more transparent by posting records of meetings and lobbying papers online.

  • To challenge their thinking, the new Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has banned the use of PowerPoint presentations in an upcoming summit of high-ranking commanders and diplomats aimed at reviewing the US-led international campaign against the Islamic State, reports Craig Whitlock for the Washington Post. That's actually not the lede of his story, but we're hopeful that it could be the start of a trend.

  • In Fast Company, Sarah Kessler looks at how workers in the so-called "gig economy" are using platforms like and Dynamo to try to organize for better wages and conditions.

  • Some online feminists are being so besieged by personal attacks and harassment that they are dropping out of public view, a worrisome trend that Michelle Goldberg documents in a Washington Post op-ed. She writes, "Once a woman is singled out by a men’s rights group such as A Voice for Men, the misogynist Reddit forum The Red Pill or even just a right-wing Twitter account like Twitchy, she is deluged with hatred. The barrage, in addition to scaring its target, serves as a warning to onlookers."

  • Stanford fellow Vivek Wadhwa says in this Washington Post oped that he's "going to bow out" of the women in tech debate.

  • In a press release, Upworthy says it booked more than $10 million in revenue from partnerships with top national brands and nonprofits in 2014, more than twice its goal. Its clients included Unilever, Whirlpool Brand, Gap, Holiday Inn, TOMS, Pantene, Dove, A&E, Universal Pictures, Virgin Mobile, American Family Insurance, COVERGIRL, as well as The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The United Nations, The Atlantic Philanthropies and The U.S. Fund for Unicef. Sponsored posts on key topics garnered more than a half million views each and/or more than 100,000 likes, the company reports.

  • Egyptian blogger and democracy activist Alaa Abdel Fattah was sentenced to five years in prison, reports Amira Al Hussaini for Global Voices.