January 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’.”

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

These featured articles-

This is an Open Thread

The Stars Hollow Gazette

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

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

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.

He Should’ve Opened With An Al Green Song

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Jon Stewart gives his critique of President Obama’s State of the Union.

He doesn’t spare the Republican response for Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels or the GOP candidates.


Rocket Squad

The Big Fail

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

First thing- it doesn’t have anything to do with “Health Care” nor is it “Reform”.  It’s about Mandated Insurance Coverage, taking money from your pocket and forcing you to give it to ghouls.

Health Care All But Ignored in the State of the Union

By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake

Wednesday January 25, 2012 7:46 am

If you look at President Obama’s State of the Union address as primarily a political speech to kick off his re-election effort, you get a strong sense of what the Obama campaign thinks are his strengths and weaknesses.

(I)n the entire 7,000 word speech, there are only two lines, one of which ignores the proposed large expansion of government Medicaid, sandwiched between other unrelated talking points.

I take this as a strong sign that the Obama campaign is basically admitting they simply can’t win the politics on Obamacare. It’s a sign they believe their best political approach is just to ignore the issue as much as possible in the campaign. The law was unpopular when it passed and is still unpopular to this day. There is no reason to believe it will get any more popular by November.

It’s not working-

Number of Uninsured Americans Steadily Increasing

By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake

Tuesday January 24, 2012 8:58 am

Since President Obama took office the percentage of uninsured people in America has been steadily raising and has now reached a new high.

I simply don’t know how the Administration can successfully campaign on passing a law to expand coverage, when the level of uninsured has increased significantly during Obama’s tenure. It is tough for people to see such a law is any form of a real accomplishment when over a year after its passage it hasn’t even begun to accomplish its main promises and the exact opposite is taking place in people’s lives.

Instead of campaigning on delivering for the American people with his signature legislation, Obama will be forced to explain that even though the insurance situation has gotten worse, voters need to trust his claims that his signature law will eventually improve things in the future.

“Eventual change in the future I hope you believe me about” just doesn’t have that nice campaign ring to it.

The decision to delay the start date of the primary expansion in the Affordable Care Act until 2014 should be remembered as one of the most idiotic political and policy decisions ever made. I would argue that if Obama narrowly loses in 2012, it could be the single decision that is most responsible.

Almost no one will remember the bill’s official CBO score come November 2012, but plenty of people will remember they haven’t seen any tangle benefits from the law Obama spent a year working on in the middle of an economic and unemployment crisis.

It’s deeply, deeply unpopular-

American People Still Really Hate the Individual Mandate

By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake

Thursday January 26, 2012 8:48 am

Even after almost two years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate continues to be as unpopular as always. An overwhelming 2/3rds of the county holds an unfavorable view of the mandate and the majority thinks the Supreme Court should strike it down.

The individual mandate was clearly politically toxic long before the Democrats voted for the law and it has remained politically toxic ever since. The Democrats had both ample warning and ample time to replace it with a less controversial and unquestionably constitutional alternative to encourage individuals to get insurance. Such a modest correction would have been easy to make right before passage to increase support for the law.

I don’t know if I can think of another policy that was ever viewed so unfavorably by the electorate yet was still very publicly pushed forward by one party. The disdain this move showed toward public opinion played an important role in driving the conservative energy that allowed the GOP to win a historic victory in the House. The fact that Democrats could have easily avoided this political problem yet actively choose not to makes it one of the greatest unforced political errors in American politics.

Given how many people actually expect the Supreme Court to strike down the mandate, it is hard to guess whether a favorable ruling for the administration would be a political positive or negative for Obama.

They currently don’t think they need a Republican to win the Presidency for the highly unpopular mandate to go away. If the Court doesn’t get rid of it as these people expect, that could give many a new incentive to help elect Republicans in order for the GOP to get rid of the mandate with legislation.

Remember, it’s all about electoral victory!

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

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Seeping 1

Is This A Sell Out?

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

I realize that there has been a lot of speculation about what went down in the 24 hrs prior to the SOTU after Miller announced that there was no bank/state settlement deal. There is a lot of speculation about Schneiderman and not without good reason. When I was writing my article for Stars Hollow I was careful not to join in the “sell out” theme that was running hot with some very respected bloggers. I think Obama is desperate. He knows that he is losing the Independents and moderate Republicans and needed to do something fast, especially in the light of the unpopularity of the 50 state agreement and the massive push to stop it. On the other side, and I somewhat agree with RJ Eskow on this, Schneiderman has the upper hand. He is wildly popular and scares the crap out of Cuomo & company. Schneiderman is not dropping the investigation here in NY, he’s expanding it from what I hear.

That said, I think that if this unit doesn’t move quickly in the evidence they already have, evidence BTW Schneiderman has not had access to, he will drop this like a hot potato and walk. Obama is walking a thin line and realizes that Wall St money alone will not get him reelected. I think Schneiderman is playing on that and hopes to at least hold some of them more responsible and get some better compensation for the homeowners that got screwed along with some regulation of the securitization that caused this all.

I have my doubts. There are better ways to do this, namely appointing a special prosecutor with a budget, investigators and subpoena power. I’m not willing to throw Schneiderman under the bus just yet.

I also think Obama wants him to succeed Holder who said he would leave this year even if Obama is reelected. It’s either him or CA’s AG Harris.

This was a complete surprise, so I’m being very cautious here, knowing what I do about Schneiderman and who is politically afraid of him. Like after Obama was elected, I’m watching and listening very carefully. Hoping that it is not as bad as it looks.

Eskow’s opinion appeared in Huffington Post and he disclosed that he is a fellow at Campaign for America’s Future, a left wing strategy center. (This site, however, is not affiliated with any outside organization and opinions expressed here are solely are own.) He gives a good analysis of the reasons for the skepticism of David Dayen, Yves Smith and Duncan Black (Atrios) who said, “It’s hard to see the Schneiderman thing as anything but bad news.”

Eskow dissects the reasons for the skepticism

The administration’s lack of prosecutions has been inexcusable. His administration has refused to prosecute even the most compelling prima facie cases of and has appointed one revolving-door banker after another to key economic positions. Its financial settlements with Wall Street have been disgraceful. For far too long the president pushed the nonsensical argument that “Wall Street and Main Street rise and fall together.”

And with an election coming up, bankers can write big checks that most other people can’t.

He also points out that if the Department of Justice and the SEC had been doing their jobs in the first place neither the Financial Fraud Task Force or this unit would be necessary. It’s hard not to agree with him that committees are “designed for paralysis and gridlock, not efficiency” and that president who promoted “”streamlining government” and “eliminating bureaucracy” would create this committee. Looking back on what happened with health care and financial reform everyone on the left has good cause to be wary of anything that President Obama does at this point and some groups, perhaps shouldn’t have been so effusive in their praise of this deal. Eskow, as do I, thinks that the White House, left scrambling after Iowa AG Tom Miller announced that there was no settlement with the banks and presented with citizen petitions that had hundred of thousands of names, reversed course in desperation. Then with the announcement that Schneiderman would “chair” the committee, there was a rush of exuberant relief that Obama was finally showing some signs of supporting the 99%.

As to the possibility that Schneiderman “caved”to pressure from the White House, Eskow backs up what I have said, Schneiderman has too much leverage:

Whatever Eric Schneiderman’s goals are, I doubt they include being stigmatized by progressives as a sell-out. His actions over the last few months have not been those of a guy who rolls over easily. It’s safe to assume that he wants to prosecute bank fraud, and that this appointment will give him access to the resources he’s needed to conduct a thorough investigation. [..]

Consider this: What would it do to the White House if Schneiderman labeled the entire effort a sham, resigned in protest, and continued his investigations alone? He must know he has leverage now, and presumably will use it if necessary.

Escow appeared with Cenk Uygur on “The Young Turks” to discuss the unit and Schneiderman with Cenk’s panel:

I certainly don’t agree with Michael Shure and what basically is “the lesser of two evils” meme. It can be just as bad with Obama. That said, could this turn out as the cynics are predicting? Sure and if it does we here at Stars Hollow, like Eskow, will say so.

Another good discussion of this new committee was with Delaware AG Beau Biden who appeared with Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC and his other guest real estate analyst, Jack McCabe:

I’m not ready to throw in the towel nor am I going to get on the cheer-leading band wagon. I will wait to see what transpires and keep my fingers crossed for the best outcome for the most people, the 99%.

Late Night Karaoke

Grampa Steampunk

That Jules Vernesy thing below is a telescope made by my great-grandpa back in 1936.  He was a machinist back in the olden days when people made stuff (aside from the usual wars of aggression, financial collapses, snarky blog comments).  Cool stuff that worked and lasted and made you go, “Huh.”  I didn’t know the man, but I knew his son, a dashing man enough in a tux (Cary Grant-ish) but when Granny was at his side “fuggeddaboutit” they were drop-dead handsome; also capable with his hands on boats, paintings (a very decent draughtsman), and according to the large nasty dagger he also left behind, apparently, Nazis; he seriously questioned, yelled from shore, who gave my brother and I “permission to go onboard” when we were shark-scared kids (pre-Jaws!) swimming out at Monomoy Island about thirty yards out.  Sharks! dude.  The friggin’ sharks gave us permission!


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