Washington Post

When young people get involved in online communities, it leads them toward politics

[Commentary] We analyzed data from the Youth Participatory Politics (YPP) Survey, which we collected in partnership with political scientist Cathy Cohen and her team at the University of Chicago. Here's what we found:

When young people are involved in nonpolitical online communities, they become more likely to participate in politics.
Young people involved in nonpolitical online communities become more likely to take part in political discussions online and to be encouraged to vote.
Young people with large online social network are more likely to be exposed to politics.

In summary, online communities aren’t the problem. In fact, they might be part of the solution. Online communities appear to provide pathways into political engagement. Of course, online social activity isn’t enough to guarantee a robust and healthy civic life. Youth turnout in the 2014 elections was a record low, with fewer than 20 percent of 18 to 24 year-olds voting. This figure should concern everyone interested in the political engagement of American youth. But online communities might be a good place to start for those who want to activate young voters in 2016 and beyond.

[Benjamin Bowyer is a lecturer in political science at Santa Clara University. Joseph Kahne is the Ted and Jo Dutton Presidential Professor of Educational Policy and Politics at the University of California at Riverside.]

DOS Attack Causes Twitter, Spotify, and Other Major Services To Be Down

Someone attacked a key part of the Internet's infrastructure the morning of Oct 21, causing some major services such as Twitter, Spotify and Airbnb to be inaccessible for some users. The attack targeted Dyn, a company that helps people connect to websites, with a huge amount of traffic in an attempt to knock the service offline, according to Dyn's director of Internet analysis, Doug Madory. The digital assault appears to have started around 7:30 am Eastern, and Dyn said it was resolved at roughly 9:20 am.

dThe service Dyn provides is called the Domain Name System. It works sort of like a phone book for the Internet — it translates URLs into the numerical IP addresses for the servers that actually host sites so your browser can connect to them. This type of attack is commonly known as a distributed denial of service, or DDoS attack. The effects of the attack were intermittent, and many of the details remain scarce, although it appears to have primarily affected users on the East Coast, according to Dyn.

Government alleges massive theft by NSA contractor

Federal prosecutors in Baltimore (MD) said they will charge a former National Security Agency contractor with violating the Espionage Act, alleging that he made off with “an astonishing quantity” of classified digital and other data in what is thought to be the largest theft of classified government material ever. In a 12-page memo, US Attorney Rod Rosenstein and two other prosecutors laid out a much more far-reaching case against Harold T. Martin III than was previously outlined.

They said he took at least 50 terabytes of data and “six full banker’s boxes worth of documents,” with many lying open in his home office or kept on his car’s back seat and in the trunk. Other material was stored in a shed on his property. One terabyte is the equivalent of 500 hours worth of movies. The prosecutors also said Martin had an “arsenal” of weapons in his home and car, including an assault-rifle-style tactical weapon and a pistol-grip shotgun with a flash suppressor. Martin, who will appear at a detention hearing in US District Court in Baltimore on Oct 21, also took personal information about government employees as well dozens of computers, thumb drives and other digital storage devices over two decades, the government alleged. In a complaint unsealed earlier in Oct, the government charged him with felony theft of government property and the unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, a misdemeanor. Conviction under the Espionage Act could send Martin to prison for up to 10 years on each count and is considered the most serious of the three charges.

Men were seen and heard twice as much as women in 2015’s top films

Men were seen and heard about twice as much as women in the 200 highest-grossing films of 2015. The figures come from a new machine-learning technology developed by researchers at Google and the University of Southern California to analyze the role of women in film.

The software, created with backing from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and Google’s philanthropic division, is the first to automatically measure how screen and speaking time in film and TV break down by gender. In the past, researchers fulfilled this task with time-intensive, manual hand-coding. The data shows that, when the film had a male lead, male characters appeared on screen and spoke about three times more often than female characters in 2015. In films with both male and female co-leads, men still had far more speaking and screen time. And even in films with female leads — about 17 percent of the top-grossing films in 2015 — men had a roughly equal amount of screen and speaking time as women.

Despite a post-Snowden push for openness, report shows secret laws still abound

The Justice Department has kept classified at least 74 opinions, memos and letters on national security issues, including interrogation, detention and surveillance, the Brennan Center for Justice. Also still classified are between 25 and 30 significant opinions issued between 2003 and 2013 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the secretive federal court that interprets the law governing foreign intelligence-gathering inside the United States. And at the State Department, 807 international agreements signed between 2004 and 2014 have not been published.

The opinions and memos by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) were written between 2002 and 2009, said the report’s author, Elizabeth Goitein, who obtained several data sets through Freedom of Information Act requests. “This is an extensive body of secret law, which is fundamentally incompatible with democratic self-governance,” said Goitein, the co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “When the government makes law out of the public eye, the results are more likely to be tainted by bias or groupthink, and are frankly more liable to violate statutes or to be unconstitutional.” But senior national security officials said the government has in fact been particularly transparent in recent years.

Big Newspaper continues to wield its waning power in opposition to Donald Trump

Once upon a time, a newspaper endorsement for a political candidate was about as good as it got. In the era before the internet, newspaper editorial boards (not to be confused with the reporting arms) evaluated the pros and cons of the candidates and eventually offered down an endorsement that could make or break a candidacy. Big, important newspapers could shift the fortunes of people seeking the presidency. Nowadays, that's ... less of the case.

The 2016 election has been an aberration in a lot of ways, including in the world of editorial endorsements. We've noted before how many newspapers are breaking with long-standing tradition to come out in opposition to Donald Trump or, for the first time in decades, to support a Democratic candidate for the presidency. The overwhelming majority of newspapers, particularly in larger cities, have weighed in to oppose Donald Trump's candidacy. It fits neatly into Trump's overall campaign message: The establishment system wants to see him lose, and few things better encapsulate the stodgy establishment than newspaper editorial boards.

But it's not 1950. The Washington Post is an important institution that is worthy of your subscription, but I think we can accept that the endorsement of our editorial board doesn't carry the weight that it once may have. This, too, captures the moment well: Trump came along at a moment when traditional power systems were shifting or hobbled. Newspaper editorial boards aren't the most powerful example of that, but they're a good one. Like the stalwart graybeards of the Republican Party, it's not clear that their warnings and advice make any difference to the voters powering Trump's support.

McNewspapers are gobbling up small-town America

About 14 years ago, Leonard Downie Jr. and Robert Kaiser — then of The Post — warned about the corporatization of journalism in “The News About the News: American Journalism in Peril.” Profit motive, they argued, runs counter to the sorts of values needed to cover government and communities. “Profits do matter at the Washington Post — they pay for the increasing costs of producing good journalism — but it is news that matters most. This attitude is shared at some other newspapers, but too few,” wrote Downie and Kaiser. In the intervening years, newspapers have shrunk to the puny extremes of a national crisis. It’s a trend that words struggle to express.

Now comes a study from the University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism highlighting the impact of chainification on local news. According to “The Rise of a New Media Baron and the Emerging Threat of News Deserts,” the last 12 years have seen a steady march of newspaper ownership among investment companies across the country. As of 2004, the report notes, the “three largest investment companies owned 352 newspapers in 27 states.” Now? The “seven largest investment companies owned [sic] 1,031 newspapers in 42 states.”

Justice Department asks court to review decision on Microsoft e-mails held in Ireland

The Justice Department asked the full appeals court for the Southern District of New York to review a decision that upheld Microsoft’s refusal to comply with a search warrant for an alleged drug trafficker’s e-mails held in a server in Ireland. The July ruling by a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Manhattan was a win for Microsoft, which has argued that the court’s power to issue the warrant and the government’s authority to seize the data do not extend overseas. Microsoft, one of the world’s largest e-mail providers, received the warrant in December 2013. But what might ordinarily have been routine compliance with a federal law enforcement request has instead become a pitched battle over government access to digital data held overseas — one that might be headed to the Supreme Court.

The warrant came in the wake of disclosures that shed light on tech firms’ role in complying with US surveillance programs, damaging the burgeoning cloud computing industry. The law at issue is the Stored Communications Act, passed in 1986. “Congress did not intend the SCA’s warrant provisions to apply extraterritorially,” US Appeals Court Judge Susan Carney wrote in the opinion. “The focus of those provisions is protection of a user’s privacy interests.” Prosecutors argue that the panel erred. They say the law’s focus is disclosure, not privacy. There is “widespread recognition that the limit of privacy is reached where the warrant begins,” US Attorney Preet Bharara argued in the petition to the full appeals court.

A new digital divide has emerged — and conventional solutions won’t bridge the gap

[Commentary] Though the United States has made profound progress in making Internet access universally available, a new digital divide has emerged that defies conventional solutions. Since both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have promised to expand broadband opportunities if elected president, it’s crucial for future policy decisions that we understand who is still offline and why.

According to the most recent findings of the Pew Research Center, 13 percent of Americans still do not use the Internet. Of that group, the most telling variable is no longer race, sex or even income. It’s age. Over 40 percent of seniors are offline, compared with 1 percent of millennials. Two other groups stand out as digital holdouts — rural Americans (22 percent) and those with less than a high school education (34 percent). This is our new digital divide. And closing the inclusion gap demands a significant change in strategy. The new digital divide can only be bridged by making digital life more relevant. And there’s a relatively simple way to do it.

Older, rural, and less-educated Americans share one important characteristic — they are all heavy users of government services. Migrating entitlements to easy-to-use applications, and providing training through community-based groups, will make the Internet essential, if not irresistible, to those still disconnected.

[Downes is a project director at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy. Levin is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. In 2009, he oversaw development of the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan.]

Sen Thune wanted Donald Trump gone. Now it looks like he’ll vote for him.

On October 8, Sen John Thune (R-SD), the Senate Commerce Committee Chairman, was the highest-ranking Republican to call for Donald Trump to quit the presidential race. On Oct 11, Sen Thune said he'll probably vote for him.

A reasonable reading of this situation is that Trump has managed to stop the bleeding among Republicans tempted to ditch him — whether by a stronger-than-expected debate performance, or by making life hard for Republicans who did bail. There could be a few reasons high-profile Republicans such as Sen Thune have reversed their decision to jump ship. The first is obvious: the ticking clock. Sen Thune still thinks Trump should go, he told Steva, but said it may be too late.