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e-Democracy update - 27/9/06 - China's MySpace, Thai Coup Blogged, and US Bloggers report bill-signing ceremony

27 September, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

News Corp's MySpace looks for right way to enter China

News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch will launch a Chinese version of MySpace in 12 months but wants to avoid the political obstacles Google and Yahoo! Encountered..

In a speech to an investors conference Mr Murdoch said the company was trying to find a way to enter the Chinese market without running into political obstacles and "heavy weather" that Google and Yahoo have encountered.

Murdoch's wife Wendi Deng is currently in China overseeing MySpace China, which will be a joint-business venture with local Chinese businesses.

Social networking and video sharing sites are increasingly being used for political purposes, such as organising rallies and uploading political content.

Human rights groups have accused internet companies, such as Yahoo!, of sharing information with China's government, which has lead to the arrests of Chinese dissidents. Sharing of this type of information was banned by the US Congress in July this year.

News Corp bought MySpace in July 2005 for $580 million. The site has 1.5 million new users every week and passed 100 million registered users in August.

Thai Coup Blogged

Several blogs are covering the 19th September coup d'état in Thailand amid restrictions on national and international news coverage.

One blog 19Sep offers commentary on the coup and video news reports of the Royal Thai Army’s announcement of the coup.

It originally operated from http://19sep.org until this was blocked by the Thai Army.

The site now operates from the US-based Blogger site.

Another site (Thai language} also offers commentary on the situation.

The RTA has formed an interim government -  The Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM). (visit their website)

Deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was in New York to deliver a speech to a United Nations summit when the coup was staged.. He declared a "state of emergency" by phone.

He is currently in Britain with members of his family.

CDRM has taken control of all newspapers, radio and television stations in the country.

Bloggers join Bush in bill-signing ceremony for spending database

This week US President George W. Bush invited bloggers from both left and right to cover the signing of a bill to create a database to monitor federal spending in recognition of the mobilisation of suppor for the bill..

The legislation will establish a searchable database of all federal spending, particularly contracts and grants.

Senior senators from both parties blocked the bill using a "secret hold" - a parliamentary procedure that allows one or more Senators to anonymously prevent a motion from reaching a vote on the Senate floor.

Several Bloggers started a campaign asking readers to call their senators and demand to know whether they were the blocking the bill.

The senators using the "secret hold" relented.

University of Tennessee law professor and blogger Glenn Reynolds says blogs like his have given a voice to people who want spending controls and accountability so that lawmakers "can't talk about financial responsibility while getting away with profligate spending on pet projects".

"What blogs make it hard for people to do in a whole lot of different ways is tell one group of people one thing and tell another group something different, and hope nobody noticed," he said.

A spokesperson for the Bush administration says the government supports the database as a way to improve transparency and accountability.

Last chance to vote for GetUp! guys in Top Ten list

PoliticsOnline and the World e-Gov Forum are issuing a final call for voting in their Top Ten Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics.

The founders of Australian political advocacy organisation GetUp! - David Madden and Jeremy Heimans - are nominated amongst the twenty finalists for "bringing a new generation of Australians back into the political process and inspiring a host of new online initiatives".

The deadline for voting is October 1, 2006.

The winners will be invited to the World E-Gov forum (October 18-20), in Issy-les-Moulineaux, (Paris, France). They will take part in an awards ceremony and other special programs throughout the three-day forum.

You can vote for them here.

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