01/27/2012 archive

Twitter Boycott

Perhaps you have heard by now that Twitter has a new policy (or not so new) of blanket censoring Tweets by country of origin and topic-

Twitter Allows for Censorship of Tweets in Individual Countries

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Friday January 27, 2012 10:15 am

I think we should definitely be concerned that Twitter is bowing to pressure and allowing for the censorship of tweets in individual foreign countries.

I guess they’re selling this as an advance. But really it’s a way for countries to censor content inside their borders, without the messiness of having to kill the entire Internet, like they did in Egypt briefly during the uprising.

Twitter does plan to share the content censored at Chilling Effects. And the fact that the rest of the world can see the tweets means that someone can bear witness. But this unquestionably makes censorship easier in individual countries. I don’t know how you could say otherwise.

Twitter faces censorship backlash

Charles Arthur, The Guardian

Friday 27 January 2012 07.19 EST

The company has insisted that it will not use the gagging system in a blanket fashion, but would apply it on a case-by-case basis, as already happens when governments or organisations complain about individual tweets.

The new system, which can filter tweets on a country-by-country basis and has already been incorporated into the site’s output, will not change Twitter’s approach to freedom of expression, sources there indicated.

Twitter insists that the system will only formalise a system it already uses, where tweets are blocked or deleted following full judicial process. Being able to limit tweets to particular countries, rather than blocking them altogether, expands its ability to “let tweets flow”.

Terence Eden, a London-based mobile developer, complained on Twitter: “I don’t want to develop on an API which contains a ‘withheld_in_countries’ field. What’s next, a ‘for_your_own_good’ field?” He added: “I helped develop a Twitter client that Chinese pro-democracy activists used. Guess that’s dead now. Thanks, Twitter.”

Eden, who describes the move as censorship, said it would be difficult to work around because Twitter will identify which country a user is in by their internet address. “You can spot the censorship, but it’s hard to route around it,” he said.

This Action Item Breaking-

Twitter users threaten boycott over censorship accusation

Julian Borger and Charles Arthur, The Guardian

Friday 27 January 2012 15.55 EST

“The Tweets must flow”, Twitter declared a year ago, and quickly became an instrument of fast-moving revolution across the Arab world, coordinating mass protests in Egypt and sidestepping the state censorship in Syria. But, the microblogging site conceded that the tweets would not flow evenly in every country.

The company was accused of censorship by many users and threatened with a one-day boycott on Saturday after announcing that it could remove tweets in certain countries which have “different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression”.

Jeff Jarvis, the media commentator, said the move set the microblogging site onto the “slippery slope of censorship”. “I understand why Twitter is doing this – they want to be able to enter more countries and deal with the local laws,” he said. “But, as Google learned in China, when you become the agent of the censor, there are problems there.”

Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and dissident, put it more simply, posting: “If Twitter starts censoring, I’ll stop tweeting”.

The US civil liberties website, Demand Progress, opened a petition declaring: “Twitter’s importance as an open platform has been demonstrated time and again this year. We need you to keep fighting for and enabling freedom of expression – not rationalize away totalitarianism as a legitimate ‘different idea’.”

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Taylor Marsh; Time for a Tea Party of the Left

President Obama takes his base for granted on issues like the Bush tax cuts, Plan B, and the economy

Where’s the Democratic version of the Tea Party? You’d think after Obama’s anti-progressive economics, foreign policy, and adoption of Bush antiterrorism policies (though to a more methodically lethal, anti-progressive effect), the Democratic base would have taken the Tea Party template and run with it by now. [..]

When Obama recently decided not to relax restrictions on the emergency contraceptive Plan B, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi gave him a pass, while the Colorado Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, a member of the so called “Pro-Choice Caucus,” stated she was “disappointed.” There are never any repercussions for such decisions on the left, while repercussions have defined the Tea Party and its power on the right. [..]

The Democratic base has a passive-aggressive relationship with Obama that resembles a dysfunctional love affair. He has all the power and the base has absolutely none, unless you count the gay and lesbian contingent which was as good a model as the Tea Party on how to get it done. It’s not that progressives couldn’t have power; it’s that they refuse to wield any.

Paul Krugman: Jobs, Jobs and Cars

Mitch Daniels, the former Bush budget director who is now Indiana’s governor, made the Republicans’ reply to President Obama’s State of the Union address. His performance was, well, boring. But he did say something thought-provoking – and I mean that in the worst way.

or Mr. Daniels tried to wrap his party in the mantle of the late Steve Jobs, whom he portrayed as a great job creator – which is one thing that Jobs definitely wasn’t. And if we ask why Apple has created so few American jobs, we get an insight into what is wrong with the ideology dominating much of our politics.

Bill Buzenberg: Super Pac pacts after Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren’s in Massachusetts

The deal to block outside ads in the Senate race is admirable, but futile: Citizens United has embedded big bucks in politics

Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, are attempting some creative political jujitsu to end massive outside spending on advertising in their 2012 US Senate race. I applaud them and you should, too. But, their experiment, however laudable, is unlikely to work. [..]

Unfortunately, the candidates do not control this outside spending. The candidates would like the media to turn down such outside advertising. But the dirty secret every campaign year is that commercial broadcasters love – and, in fact, have come to depend upon – the money thrown at them in election years.

New York Times Editorial: So Who’s a Lobbyist?

Under the federal lobbying law, Newt Gingrich can legitimately claim that he is not a lobbyist. That alone demonstrates how much the law needs to be changed. [..]

The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 has three tests: 1) Do you make more than $3,000 over three months from lobbying? 2) Have you had more than one lobbying contact? 3) Have you spent more than 20 percent of your time lobbying for a single client over three months?

Only a person who has met all three tests must register as a lobbyist. So a former lawmaker who has many lobbying contacts and makes $1 million a year lobbying but has no single client who takes up more than 20 percent of his time would not be considered a lobbyist.

Congress has shown little interest in tightening these requirements, in part because lawmakers don’t want to close off a lucrative career in lobbying after they leave office. More than 400 former lawmakers have become lobbyists or consultants in the last decade.

George Zornick: Enforce Dodd-Frank: Break Up Bank of America

Section 121 of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill provides a pretty clear mandate: if the federal government determines that a financial institution poses a “grave” risk to the financial system, the government is entitled to take action to mitigate that risk.

Specifically, if the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System makes that assessment, it can take action with the approval of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which is part of the Treasury Department. The potential actions can range from limiting mergers and acquisitions, imposing conditions on how the institution does business or ordering it to liquidate. [..]

To that end, Public Citizen filed a petition (pdf) this week to the Federal Reserve and FSOC to break up Bank of America-a bank that’s clearly too big to fail, since it holds assets equal to one-seventh of the United States’ gross domestic product. It’s got the second-biggest holdings of any US bank and is interconnected with so many other institutions that few people-if any, even inside the bank-truly understand the complexity of those arrangements and dependencies.

Jennifer Abel: The bigger picture of Rand Paul’s brush with the TSA

Go Rand Paul, for refusing a patdown! But ordinary Americans will still be daily deprived of their constitutional rights by the TSA

The brouhaha over Senator Rand Paul’s refusal to submit to a full-body groping by blue-gloved minions of the Transportation Security Administration shows, again, how the more things change, the more they stay the same. [..]

For all that Rand Paul was right in refusing the TSA patdown, though, his proposed solution is little better than the status quo. Paul supports the creation of a “trusted traveler” program for frequent flyers who would be exempt from TSA procedures. That would surely be an improvement for frequent flyers like Senator Paul, but it still does not address the odious idea that the TSA’s routine treatment of passengers is acceptable.

Fourth amendment rights should not be special privileges, doled out only to those the government deems “trustworthy”. Or did 9/11 really change all that?

Ari Berman: Mitt’s Money Problem

“Romney, sinking in polls, says ‘banks aren’t bad people.’ ” That headline from the LA Times encapsulates, in a nutshell, why Mitt Romney is in trouble, both in the Republican primary against Newt Gingrich and in a possible general election campaign against President Obama. [..]

The key problem for Romney is that at a time when Americans are increasingly concerned about income inequality and the political voicelessness of the 99 percent, Romney is an unabashed proponent of Wall Street and the 1 percent. The fact that he paid only 13.9 percent in taxes on $21.6 million in income in 2010, that he had investments in offshore tax havens, that he profited at Bain Capital from bankrupt companies and shuttered steel mills, and that he believes corporations are people all reinforce this central weakness of his candidacy.

This Week In The Dream Antilles: Mud Season Edition



Last year there was a fierce Winter. Huge, frequent snowfalls. Extraordinary, aching, persistent cold. And this year, as if finding mercy, Winter has so far been quite mild. A deep snow at the end of October melted quickly. There has been no extended, sub zero cold. And there has been little snow. Yesterday’s foul weather warning was unjustified: the feared storm turned into copious rain. Streams and ponds and lakes are not fully frozen. In short, mud season has arrived early and it may persist.

Mud season turns the world monochromatic. The sun is weak. The sky is overcast and gray. There is no snow cover.  Fields and forests and dirt roads are all brown. And so we wait. We make it a practice not to complain.  Not to jinx whatever clemency we’ve received.  We wonder.  Is the future a plunge into growling arctic blizzards, or is it a slow but muddy slog toward the Equinox?

Robert Frost:

Looking For a Sunset Bird in Winter

The west was getting out of gold,

The breath of air had died of cold,

When shoeing home across the white,

I thought I saw a bird alight.

In summer when I passed the place

I had to stop and lift my face;

A bird with an angelic gift

Was singing in it sweet and swift.

No bird was singing in it now.

A single leaf was on a bough,

And that was all there was to see

In going twice around the tree.

From my advantage on a hill

I judged that such a crystal chill

Was only adding frost to snow

As gilt to gold that wouldn’t show.

A brush had left a crooked stroke

Of what was either cloud or smoke

From north to south across the blue;

A piercing little star was through.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Usually, it appears on Friday. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles. For the essays you have to visit The Dream Antilles

On this Day In History January 27

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 27 is the 27th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 338 days remaining until the end of the year (339 in leap years)

On this day in 1888, the National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C., for “the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”

The 33 men who originally met and formed the National Geographic Society were a diverse group of geographers, explorers, teachers, lawyers, cartographers, military officers and financiers. All shared an interest in scientific and geographical knowledge, as well as an opinion that in a time of discovery, invention, change and mass communication, Americans were becoming more curious about the world around them. With this in mind, the men drafted a constitution and elected as the Society’s president a lawyer and philanthropist named Gardiner Greene Hubbard. Neither a scientist nor a geographer, Hubbard represented the Society’s desire to reach out to the layman.


The National Geographic Society began as a club for an elite group of academics and wealthy patrons interested in travel. On January 13, 1888, 33 explorers and scientists gathered at the Cosmos Club, a private club then located on Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., to organize “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.” After preparing a constitution and a plan of organization, the National Geographic Society was incorporated two weeks later on January 27. Gardiner Greene Hubbard became its first president and his son-in-law, Alexander Graham Bell, eventually succeeded him in 1897 following his death. In 1899 Bell’s son-in-law Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor was named the first full-time editor of National Geographic Magazine and served the organization for fifty-five years (1954), and members of the Grosvenor family have played important roles in the organization since.

Bell and his son-in-law, Grosvenor, devised the successful marketing notion of Society membership and the first major use of photographs to tell stories in magazines. The current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of National Geographic is Gilbert Melville Grosvenor, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 for the Society’s leadership for Geography education. In 2004, the National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C. was one of the first buildings to receive a “Green” certification from Global Green USA The National Geographic received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for Communications and Humanity in October 2006 in Oviedo, Spain.

Congratulations to Barney Frank and Jim Ready On Their Engagement!

“I have a partner now, Jim Ready. I have an emotional attachment. I’m in love for the first time in my life”

Barney Frank on the announcement of his engagement to Jim Ready

Massachusetts US Rep. Barney Frank has announced his engagement to his partner of five years, Jim Ready of Maine. No date has been announced for the nuptials that will take place in Massachusetts which recognizes marriage between same sex couples. Rep. Frank recently decided to not run for reelection to his House seat that he has held since 1981.

We here at The Stars Hollow Gazette and Docudharma extend our heartfelt best wishes to Barney and Jim. May they have a long, happy, healthy and prosperous life together. Blessed Be.

“I’m in love, I’m in love

I’m in love, I’m in love

I’m in love with a wonderful guy!”

“Nellie Forbush”, South Pacific

Elizabeth Warren: “Pats Gonna Spank The Giants”

Democratic challenger for the US Senate seat from Massachusetts and Harvard Law professor, Elizabeth Warren has been a popular guest this week on the cable networks. She appeared on MSNBC Thursday following the Republican debate and assessed Republicans as favoring a policy to “invest in those who already made it”. She specifically addressed wealthy businessman Mitt Romney’s income and his preferred tax rate:

“Mitt Romney pays 14 percent of his income in taxes, and people who get out there and work for a living pay 25, 28, 30, 33 percent. I get it, Mitt Romney gets a better deal than any of the rest of us because he manages to earn his income in a way that has been specially protected for rich folks,” said Ms. Warren.

Her assessment of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was equally critical on his proposed tax policy of reducing everyone’s tax rate to 15% and expressed her support of “Warren Buffett rule” that would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

Earlier on Tuesday night with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show, she informed Jon that “The Pats are gonna spank the Giants” and addressed tax policy, lobbying, and investment, her signature issues. She opposes cuts in education research as detrimental and the need to invest in the middle class. In Part 2, she goes on to describe the role that government should play in regulating America’s private sector.  This is the unedited interview that is only available on line

There are those who are concerned that Warren, a political novice, will compromise her principles to the pressure of Wall St. hawks like Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). After watching her dress down Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner during hearings as chair of the five-member Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the implementation of TARP, I think she’ll be able to stand her ground. I’ll forgive her for her support of the Patriots. Nobody’s perfect.


I hate repeating myself.

This is an Open Thread.