Deanna Zandt

Are the Cyber Battles with the Enemies of WikiLeaks the New Civil Disobedience?

The WikiLeaks controversy has opened up one of the most complicated intersections of politics and the Internet that we’ve seen in a while. One particularly interesting development has been the launch of attacks against companies and politicians perceived to be foes of WikiLeaks, by a loose group of online activists called Anonymous.

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How You Will Change the World with Social Networking

The following is an excerpt from Deanna Zandt's 'Share This! How You Will Change the World with Social Networking' (Berrett Koehler, 2010).

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Outrage Builds Over Extermination of Hundreds of Geese from Major City Park in New York

It was a sickening shock that no one saw coming: In the dark, early morning hours of July 8, officials from the US Department of Agriculture, along with NYC Parks Department representatives, rounded up several hundred resident geese in Brooklyn's largest park, ziptied their feet and legs together and carted them off--to gas them with carbon dioxide. They were then double-bagged, and shipped off to a landfill. It's not entirely clear how many geese were killed altogether; estimates range from 250-400 in total. (Also notably missing are the several hundred mallard ducks that also populate Prospect Park's lake; at the moment, only a few dozen black ducks are seen now.)

The reason? Well, it all starts with America's favorite hero, Captain Sully. Since the Hudson landing in January 2009, rules around geese populations near airports have been shifting. Recently, it was decreed that no geese can exist within seven miles of New York's airports. The decree is fraught with numerous problems.

First, the geese that US Airways Flight 1549 struck were not resident geese -- they were migratory geese from other parts of the continent. It's well-known in Prospect Park that the geese there are resident; not only do they stay their year-round, but their flight muscles are relatively atrophied in comparison due to their sedentary lifestyle. They are simply unable to fly as high as the airplanes that make their way over the park. (It's a common joke amongst park regulars that some of the geese spent their winters in nearby Green-Wood Cemetery.)

Second, I'm told by local Park waterfowl aficionados Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman that the measurement that was taken of the new seven-mile rule is wrong: officials measured from the border of the airport's property, and not the runways. Measuring from the runways, they say, would have spared the lives of the park geese.

Even if the park geese were a danger, no public opportunity to discuss or brainstorm a better solution (such as those offered by groups like GeesePeace), contributing to the outrage and feelings of powerlessness  Last year, Mayor Bloomberg supported the killing of local geese in a radio address, saying, "There is not a lot of cost involved in rounding up a couple thousand geese and letting them go to sleep with nice dreams." Protests outside City Hall and his home resulted; the Mayor is notably silent now.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is "distraught" over the killings, but so far has not taken further action against the federal officials and park representatives who sanctioned them. Park administrator Tupper Thomas (noted for her ushering in the era of public-private partnerships taking over Prospect Park) is reportedly not answering any questions, and is directing inquiries back to the USDA. Park officials are already on the public's hotseat with the ongoing garbage problems within the park.

For days after the geese disappeared, there were lies and confusion being spread about their whereabouts. The Audubon Society claimed the geese suddenly flew off to nearby Jamaica Bay, for example, though the geese had otherwise never left the park in large numbers. Finally, on Monday, the USDA admitted publicly what they'd done.

No one disputes that public safety is everyone's top priority. But these geese posed no threat, and were senselessly taken from the community. According to the Brooklyn Paper, the Humane Society of the US "called on federal officials to 'immediately halt' its killing program and focus on 'a plan that will truly protect public safety.' The group claims that evidence shows that airplanes typically encounter migrating birds, not resident populations like the hundreds that call Prospect Park home."

The park community mourns the senseless death of these animals that were so much a part of our Prospect experience. On a telephone pole near the lake, an anonymous poster has been taped to a telephone pole. It reads, "R.I.P. Geese. Call 311, voice your outrage." 

Solving Hunger at SXSW

The annual SXSW festival of music, film and interactive may be well known for its party atmosphere—they don’t call it “spring break for geeks” for nothing—but this year’s conference also set a lofty goal: to end hunger in America.  

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Are Celebrities Destroying Twitter?

On April 17, Oprah joined Twitter, topping off a several-month media frenzy around the new microblogging service that allows people to post 140-character messages for others, known as "followers," to read.

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Iraqi Journalist Killed In Raid

Via Nathan Freitas, I learned that last night that Iraqi journailist Ali Shafeya Al-Moussawi was killed during an Iraqi raid on his neighborhood in Sadr City:

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Take Back America Next Week in DC

Next week, thousands of progressive activists are descending on Washington, DC for the yearly conference put on by Campaign for America's Future: that's right, everyone, it's time to Take Back America!

From June 18 -20, you'll have a chance to hear Edwards, Barack, Hillary and Dennis all within the few days of the conference. Not to mention Michael Moore talking about Sicko, plus loads of progressive and liberal elected officials laying out their plans. Add in the labor leaders, immigration reformers and other grassroots activists, and you've got a conference of folks coming together to hammer out their visions for the future of the country.

Register here for the conference, and if you're coming -- AlterNet will be there in the Progressive Media Row, so be sure to stop by our table and say hello!

Demanding progressive infrastructure

In more ways than one, progressives are sorely lacking in some basic infrastructure that the right has had in place for years-- media machines, intensive internship programs to rear the young activists, business associations, etc. But one area that neither side has addressed, and which is rapidly becoming a blinding necessity as online interactivity skyrockets, is the area of technology standards and interoperability.

Inter-wha'? It's just a geeky way of saying that all our tools can play well with others. Fundraising technology, social networking, email lists-- believe it or not, all these things should actually talk together. Yes! Really!

Fortunately, a new group, helmed by former AlterNet Managing Editor Tate Hausman, is tackling these issues head on with the Integration Proclamation. Here's the dream:

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Election Protection volunteers needed

This just in from Ray Beckerman:

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Indy journalist slain in Mexico violence

It was a horrific weekend in Oaxaca, Mexico. After months of teachers and other workers protesting against the conservative government of the state, and the country, pro-government forces cracked down on the protesters. Violence erupted, and people were shot and killed at the mercy of plainclothes para-military special forces removing a protest barricade.

Among those killed was American independent journalist William Bradley Roland, aka Brad Will, on location reporting for Indymedia. Also killed were striking schoolteacher Emilio Alfonso Fabian and Oaxaca resident Esteban Zurrita.

I knew Brad and was shocked to learn of his death via a front-page photo of his bleeding body in La Jornada. Here was a guy who believed so deeply in the power of making media, whose convictions drew him to struggles around the world for democracy and human rights, that they ultimately brought him his demise. Activist Ben Shepard had this to say:

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