Skip to Content

e-Democracy update - 2/11/05

02 November, 2005
By Daniel Macpherson

Doctored photo causes controversy on political blog

A US political blog has received complaints from Democrats and Republicans for a racially charged photograph of a US senate candidate.

The blog displayed a doctored photograph of Republican candidate Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele as a minstrel.

The photo prompted Virginia gubernatorial candidate Timothy M. Kaine (Democrat) to pull advertising from the blog.

A spokesperson for Steele has blamed Democrats for supporting the blog.

"The Democratic Party has finally reached a new low with the worst kind of racist gutter politics, and it's the kind of racism that people in Maryland reject, regardless of their political party," Steele campaign spokesperson Leonardo Alcivar says.

Democrats deny any connect to the blog. Former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi says he was shocked Steele would blame Democrats.

"That's almost as bad as what the Web site did - to try to smear an entire party with what one random person threw up on the Web," Trippi says.

The offending photo has been removed from the blog entry.

Blogs: The New Talk Radio

A spokesperson for US Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has described weblogs as the "new talk radio" after recent plans to launch the Speaker’s own weblog.

Last week, House Republicans gathered for the first ever "Capitol Hill Blog Row". A dozen bloggers were provided with a high-speed Net connections and access to top Republican figures for half a day. This led to plans for Speaker Hastert to launch his own blog.

"People listen to talk radio because the mainstream media is too liberal for them. It makes sense for the Speaker to get the Republican message out to them," spokesperson Ron Bonjean says.

Bloggers discussed issues from how to cut government spending to the future of the Republican Party.

US Blogger Tim Chapman says members were forthcoming and excited to talk with bloggers.

"To be certain, lawmakers left the event hearing the growing concern in the blogosphere about spending. And conversely, the members who attended all were upbeat about cutting government spending," Chapman says.

Vote-by-phone plan in US

The US Department of Defense will look at implementing phone polling systems for military and overseas voters in future elections.

"Voting by phone offers a future possibility and alternative to the by-mail process for these absentee voters," US Voting Assistance Program director Polli Brunelli says.

Brunelli witnessed the positive effect of phone voting earlier this month when the Vermont state government demonstrated a public phone voting system. Vermont is the first state to announce that it will offer telephone voting next year.

"Voter instructions were clear… The system allowed me to make candidate selections, review my choices, change my selections, write in a candidate, and verify my choices before casting my ballot," Brunelli said.

US ISPs use Wi-Fi against phone giants

A US-based ISP provider is promoting wireless technology to attract consumers from cable providers and telephone companies.

EarthLink Municipal Networks president Donald B. Berryman says Wi-Fi equipment and installation costs are falling, which makes them an attractive option for US customers.

"There is so much going on in the wireless market," Mr. Berryman said.

"We see this as a huge opportunity to grow our business."

In the last month, EarthLink has won rights from Philadelphia and Anaheim (California) city governments to provide inexpensive Wi-Fi access to people. Currently, they are seeking approval from San Francisco to provide the same.

EarthLink are not alone. Other companies, such as Google, Nortel and Cisco, are also looking to provide such services to San Francisco.

Visit EarthLink’s website here.

New e-Democracy system in Thailand

A new web-based system will allow Thai citizens to participate in public debates and online communities.

The Knowledge Unifying Initiator (KUI) will allow people in Thailand to monitor public hearings and express their ideas in an open forum.

Thai Computational Linguistics Laboratory (TCL) will develop a set of online tools in KUI to enable such e-participation as an ongoing research project.

TCL director Virach Sornlertlamvanich said the idea was to make public discussions more convenient and safe while gaining larger audiences.

"We will set up a website and allow people to use the service with no charge," he said.

Visit TCL's website here.

More Articles