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After Sandy, Are FEMA and the Red Cross Helpmates to Neighborhood Volunteers, Not Their Leaders?

BY Joe Maniscalco | Friday, November 16 2012

The Internet didn't create the outpouring of citizen-to-citizen care that has so often beaten traditional relief agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross to Hurricane Sandy-ravaged communities all over the tri-state area - but it certainly helped to channel it. The rise of grassroots organizing channeled through online resources in times of crisis has been so profound that FEMA and the Red Cross aren't even pretending they can do a better job than web-adept citizens groups like Occupy Sandy when it comes to immediately moving people or supplies - or even that they are supposed to. Read More

For Hurricane Sandy Relief, a Text-Messaging Solution

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, November 15 2012

In Hurricane Sandy's wake, many developers have come up with websites or applications created to help. But when volunteers are on the ground in hard-hit areas like the Rockaways section of New York City, they are often unable to access the Internet or use their mobile phones. A group of volunteers have responded to this challenge by developing Occupy SMS, a text-messaging tool for aid communication. Read More

In Red Hook, Mesh Network Connects Sandy Survivors Still Without Power

BY Becky Kazansky | Monday, November 12 2012

A Red Hook Houses resident accesses mesh network-provided wifi using a smartphone. Photo: Becky Kazansky / techPresident

Offered through Personal Democracy Plus: A mesh networking experiment in Brooklyn turned into an exercise in 21st-century disaster relief this weekend when an innovation fellow with the Federal Emergency Management Agency teamed up with neighborhood activists and tech volunteers to bring Internet access back to Red Hook Houses after Hurricane Sandy. Read More

Hurricane Sandy Moves Occupy Wall Street from Protest to People-Powered Relief

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, October 30 2012

Hurricane Sandy's winds toppled trees and caused widespread damage throughout New York. Photo: p_romano / Flickr

A group of people from the Occupy Wall Street movement is collaborating with the climate change advocacy group 350.org and a new online toolkit for disaster recovery, recovers.org, to organize a grassroots relief effort in New York City. Using Recovers.org, a web-based platform for organizing disaster response, Occupy volunteers are processing incoming offers of help and requests for aid, said Justin Wedes, a longtime occupier who 350.org put me in touch with when I contacted them about this project. Read More

As Sandy Approaches the East Coast, Hackers Build Tools to Understand the Storm

BY Nick Judd | Monday, October 29 2012

A group of volunteer hackers concentrated in MIT's Media Lab have built this map of live-streaming webcams in and around Hurricane Sandy's expected path. The page also allows users to add live streams to the list. The live stream map reuses source code originally written to compile a list of live streams for people to follow along with Occupy Wall Street protests, says Charlie deTar, the MIT Media Lab Ph.D student who is hosting the map. Read More

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

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wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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