An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

"Yahoo Says It Gave China Internet Data: Journalist Jailed By Tracing E-mail"

For your information, from the Post:
A co-founder and senior executive of Yahoo Inc., the global Internet giant, confirmed Saturday that his company gave Chinese authorities information later used to convict a Chinese journalist now imprisoned for leaking state secrets.

The journalist, Shi Tao, was sentenced last spring to 10 years in prison for sending foreign-based Web sites a copy of a message from Chinese authorities warning domestic journalists about reporting on sensitive issues, according to a translation of the verdict disseminated by the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

D18 Games

Del. John Hurson of District 18 (a large slice of Silver Spring and its surroundings) recently announced his resignation to take a DC lobbying job. This leaves a number of past candidates, activists, and other would-be lawmakers jockeying to replace him. According to the talk around town, this includes longtime Democratic activist and election board member Sam Statland, Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) member and civic activist Vic Weissberg, cable administrator Jane Lawton, several local lawyers and young activists, and a member of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Committee in the running.

Does anyone know the process for selecting a replacement to serve for about a year until someone is elected next November? I have only the vaguest idea that it appears that a caucus of current and former elected officials, and current Democratic precinct chairs will have something to say, but that the MCDCC will have the final say and probably the most influence. Interestingly enough, the governor is the one actually makes things official; one wonders if he might not like to muck about a bit in Montgomery County...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Doing Nothing

A lot of progressives wonder why we don't seem to make any progress. Despite formidable foes, sometimes it's something within that stops us. Karyn Strickler details how she first saw this and how it has invaded national organizations.

The Do Nothing Strategy was a detailed plan with very specific strategies and tactics about how we, the pro-choice community, would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and boundless energy—to do nothing. That way none of the Chair’s friends in the State legislature would ever have to make a tough vote on the contentious issue of abortion. The Chair had this strategy elaborately detailed on flip charts and went through it point by excruciating point. I looked around the room several times at my coalition partners and waited for someone to laugh.

America’s national environmental organizations who made up the Steering Committee of the ESC had become giant bureaucracies where self-perpetuation, the quest for funding from large foundations, and the desire for a seat at the political table has replaced environmental protection as the primary goal. It’s arguable whether environmental protection even remains on the list of goals for some national, environmental organizations. At best these groups have been out of touch with the public and grassroots activists, engaged in destructive competition for media coverage and funding and resistant to change for more than a decade. At worst, they have been cavorting with industry to destroy the environment...