“Bloggers and internet pundits are exerting a “disproportionately large influence” on society, a report by technology researchers says.

More than half of the continent’s internet users are passive and do not contribute to the web at all, while a further 23 per cent only respond when prompted. But the remainder who do engage with the net – through message boards, websites and blogs – are helping change national conversations, the study says.” (Age)
The study seems to be more about the impact of grass roots campaigns but it would be interesting to examine whether dissatisfaction with traditional media also had an effect.

“The United Nations has warned Australia not to punish people fleeing persecution or deflect its international responsibilities to refugees.

Under the changes, anyone entering Australia illegally by boat – whether they make it to the mainland or not – will be sent to one of three offshore immigration detention centres for processing.
The government hopes to send even those found to be genuine refugees to a third country.
But the United Nations refugee agency has raised concerns about the implications of the new hardline policy.” (Age)

Will Howard get off scot free?
“What is all too often overlooked is that the $290 million paid in kickbacks to Saddam was money originally earmarked for medicines and food for the Iraqi people. Year after year, AWB inflated its contracts to redirect this money from an escrow account supposedly overseen by the UN.
Howard and Downer have since 2003 wanted to be seen as champions of ordinary Iraqis. But for a long time, although warnings about AWB and oil-for-food kept popping up, they and the people who worked for them demonstrated almost zero interest – even though any rorting would have added to the suffering of many Iraqis.
If the real business of a government is to remain in government, such things probably do not matter. And there is a fair bit of evidence around that for most of us they do not.” (Age)

“Bosses at a Stockholm hospital have asked a nurse called Jesus to change his name after concerns that patients told “Jesus will be coming soon” might get confused and think they were already dead. Jesus will now use his middle name Manuel.” (An old Age Odd Spot.)

“A female secret service agent has been honoured by the Royal Air Force – 63 years after first complaining at the “injustice” of not getting her “wings”.
Pearl Cornioley, formerly Witherington, became the leader of 1,500 French freedom fighters during World War II.
She was recommended for the Military Cross but, as a woman, was not allowed to receive it.

“It was a complete accident that I ended up leading 1,500 resistance fighters. I was not a military person, I was supposed to be a courier, but I ended up having to use whatever sense I had – but I certainly didn’t do this on my own,” she said.” (BBC)

I don’t think the Germans have quite caught onto the art of spin:
“Julia Kienbaum, a spokeswoman in Berlin for football’s governing body Fifa, says: “Germany’s image is not that good and we want to show we’re not as bad as people think.
“People think of Germans as very serious and they still have a bad impression because of the Second World War, brutal Prussian discipline and the idea we want to be the leaders of the world.”” (BBC)

“Search users ‘stop at page three'” (BBC)
I’m surprised they get that far, as earlier studies showed that most people didn’t go beyond the first page.
This has all kinds of implications: “It also found that a third of users linked companies in the first page of results with top brands.”
This is kinda encouraging, however: “And 41% of consumers changed engines or their search term if they did not find what they were searching for on the first page.”

“…science has come to the rescue with a wearable computer system that alerts speakers when the person they are addressing is becoming bored.” (Age)

A.Word.A.Day was quite amusing today, stating:
“In late seventeenth century, William III of UK imposed a window tax, levied on each window in a house.
Three hundred years later, William III of US imposed a Windows tax, levied on each personal computer manufactured, whether it had Windows or not, but I digress.”

“Internet prank targets Berlusconi
An apparent internet prank targeting Silvio Berlusconi days before a general election is causing a Google search of the words “wretched” and “failure” to bring up the Italian premier’s CV posted on the government’s official website.” Age
We need to do one for John Howard. But which two words sum him up best?