In Case You Missed It

How to help the Amazon; Bedbugs? Trouble in OZ; and more.

  • This is civic tech: Our friend Emily Jacobi of Digital Democracy has pulled together everything you need to know about the fires ravaging the Amazon and what we can do about it. And if you want one quick thing you can do, she recommends you donate to the indigenous coordinating body of the Amazon, COAIB.

  • Julie Menter of New Media Ventures says it’s going to take a lot more coordination from everyone from activists to funders to win the fight for platform accountability.

  • Organizing for democracy: Joan Walsh reports for The Nation on the internal divisions of Indivisible, as the grass-roots group born from a viral Google doc written by two congressional staffers in the winter of 2016-7 deals with its growing pains.

  • The rather portentously named London College of Political Technologists at Newspeak House in London have just posted their crowdsourced and still growing 2019 Election Tech Handbook, in anticipation of the UK’s next general election.

  • Media matters: Dave Karpf (yes, Civicist contributing editor) wrote a tweet about New York Times columnist Bret Stephens and you’ll never believe what happened next!

  • Information disorder: A new report on coordinated tweeting around the term #VoterFraud by Zach Verdin, Brett Horvath, and Alicia Serrani and a team of researchers at suggest that the weaponization of disinformation is getting more sophisticated.

  • Internet shutdowns “have become one of the defining tools of government repression in the 21st century” in a growing number of countries, Patrick Kingsley reports for The New York Times.

  • Tech and politics: The “opportunity zone” tax break that was steered into law by tech VC Sean Parker‘s Economic Innovation Group as a way to drive capital to distressed neighborhoods across America is instead channeling billions of dollars from rich people looking to reduce their capital gains tax costs into developments for…wait for it…the wealthiest Americans, report Jesse Drucker and Eric Lipton for The New York Times. Among the many grifters benefiting from the tax dodge, which was championed into law by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC), are Jared Kushner and Anthony Scaramucci.

  • Impact Alpha editor David Bank argues that it’s too soon to throw in the towel on Opportunity Zones, pointing to projects aiming to deliver mental health in Phoenix, residential solar in Chicago, affordable housing in Los Angeles, and the like.

  • A lot of embattled MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito‘s friends are speaking up in support of him, including Lawrence Lessig, Jonathan Zittrain, and Marshall Ganz. On the other side, Media Lab graduate student Arwa Mboya writes that Ito should resign.

  • Related: Evgeny Morozov‘s dissection of literary agent John Brockman’s long relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

  • P.S. In the last First Post, I mistakenly left our colleague Matt Stempeck off my list of folks who are esteemed graduates of Ethan Zuckerman‘s Center for Civic Media at MIT. I regret the error.

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