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„Obama Lies, Grandma Dies“, „Obamahdinejad“  or „euthanasia bill“ are slogans you find on protest poster angry people hold up at town hall meetings, where the US health care reform is debated.  In general, everybody in a community is invited to attend Town Hall meetings to discuss political issues with elected officials. Such meetings are usually seen as a good way of giving voice to people in decision-making, therefore making politics more democratic by enhancing its input legitimacy. That is why social scientists like to take it as an example for studying public deliberation and discursive participation.  But in the current health care debate, there is not a lot of deliberation taking place. Instead, you see an explosion of emotions, fierce resistance and conflict. Mailing-lists and websites give advice on how to best disrupt those meetings. Here are some examples:

“The objective is to put the rep [representative] on the defensive with your question and follow-up. The rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the ‘Socialist agenda’ in Washington…If he blames Bush for something or offers other excuses – call him on it, yell back and have someone else follow-up with a shout-out.” (rightprinciples)

anti Health care reform protest

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More than seven years ago in 2002, Google launched its automated news aggregator “Google News”: Articles are selected and ranked by an algorithm according to characteristics such as issue frequency, freshness, location, relevance and diversity. On its front page Google News presents the headlines and about 200 characters of some articles together with links to the full texts where available online.

Not later than 2005 Google had to face the first law suits dealing with alleged copyright infringement filed by news agencies (e.g. Agence France Presse). Their claim: Google generates revenue using their content without proper compensation. But news agencies are not the only ones demanding their share from Google’s profits. Recently, the European Publisher Council (EPC) as well as the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and several of their member organizations signed the “Hamburg Declaration on Intellectual Property Rights” (see list of signatories) that bemoans too little protection and compensation of online content. In Germany, the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers (BDVZ) even calls for a new and all-embracing ancillary copyright with lump-sum payments as compensation for revenues third parties like Google make with their content.

Critics of these claims, however, accuse publishing houses of simply failing to develop new business models and therefore now trying to lobby for legally enforced compensation. One of these critics, blogger Malte Welding, compared the CEOs of publishing houses to zoo directors in a very entertaining piece (in Google-English) in the German online-only paper “netzzeitung”: Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
August 2009
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All texts on governance across borders are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License.