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e-Democracy update - 14/12/05

14 December, 2005
By Daniel Macpherson

Cronulla violence debate goes online

Users on various forums have vented their frustrations and sided with police after the last few days of mob violence in Cronulla.

One writer from the forums of realsurf.com says, \"This shit is growing so fast that I doubt the police can handle.\"

\"Now all we have to do is wait in for a retaliation (which I hope wont happen) from the other side. We don\'t try bash people to gain territory, we\'re not living in the prehistoric era.\"

Another writer on muslimvillage.net wrote: \"How long can the police keep up this level of vigilance? They are doing double shifts and are getting stressed and tired and there seems to be no let down in this violence.\"

Various bloggers have also discussed the violence.

Lebanese Blogger Forum writer Fernando Kallás says anti-Lebanese sentiment has been brewing for a long time.

\"There is plenty of blame to go around… Evolving poverty, lack of opportunities and even radical Islamic clergy in [Australia],\" he said.

Commentator John Quiggin discussed in his blog the role of talkback radio fuelling anti-Lebanese sentiment.

\"Radio stations like 2GB get free allocations of valuable spectrum under a system of licensing which includes a prohibition on broadcasting matter that is likely to incite violence,\" Mr Quiggan said.

\"If this system is to be maintained, 2GB should be stripped of its license by the Australian Broadcasting Authority for broadcasting people like Jones.\"

Young Australians hate to vote

A recent study shows most young Australians think voting is boring.

The study \"Australia\'s Democratic Report Card - Young People Assess Democracy In Australia\" shows two out of three 16 to 25-year-olds find voting boring and just over half consider it a hassle.

One half of respondents also feel Australia’s politicians cannot be trusted to act in the country\'s best interests.

\"Why bother voting when politicians don’t keep promises?\" asks one respondent.

However, the report also shows that most young people are interested in political issues and demonstrate factual accuracy when discussing them.

Study shows people see internet as politically powerful

A recent study in the US shows more people believe the internet to be a powerful political tool.

The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future\'s new report shows an increase of people who believe the internet can give more political power, from 27.3 per cent in 2004 to 39.8 per cent in 2005.

The study also shows 61.7 per cent of respondents agree going online is important to political campaigns.

School Center for the Digital Future director Jeffrey I. Cole says there is now tangible evidence of the increasing role of the Internet in political decision-making.

\"The Internet\'s growing role in political decision-making cannot be underestimated,\" Mr Cole says.

\"More than three-quarters of users who went online for political campaign information sought insight regarding issues and candidates about which they were undecided.

\"Clearly, the Internet\'s role in the American political process will continue to grow, and it could have a significant impact during the Congressional elections of 2006.\"

Read highlights from the study.

Net surveillance laws in US Patriot Act to expire

US Democrat senators have proposed a three-month extension to the Patriot Act after sixteen portions expire on December 31, 2005.

These portions relate to electronic and Internet surveillance.

The Bush Administration has supported calls from Republicans to expand surveillance authority to detect and fight terrorism.

However, Democrats and some Republicans are wary of the proposed additions and are asking for a temporary three-month renewal.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (Dem) and New Hampshire Senator John Sununu (Rep) co-authored the three-month extension bill on Monday.

\"We should make every effort to make this a better bill that will strengthen, instead of jeopardize, the public\'s faith and trust,\" Mr Leahy said.

Washington Post launches votes database

US newspaper Washington Post has incorporated a database where users can track every congressional vote since 1991.

The site also provides RSS feeds on each active member of congress.

Washington Post editor of editorial innovations Adrian Holovaty says the site will have a positive effect.

\"We were influenced by the BBC Backstage project,\" said Mr Holovaty.

He also said 50 blogs published links to the site before any announcement of the Washington Post front page.

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