|Published by NetAction||Issue No. 22||July 10, 1997|
In a remote corner of the Southern Czech Republic, near the tiny village of Temelin, several hundred anti-nuclear activists from all parts of the globe are half way through a week-long blockade of the Temelin Nuclear Power Plant. You won't see this demonstration live on the 6 o'clock news, but you can get blow-by-blow reports on the Web at: www.ecn.cz/temelin.
Anti-nuclear protests have attracted little media coverage in recent years, in part because the Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense Council, and other high-profile environmental organizations have trivialized nuclear pollution in their zeal to win minor concessions on air quality emissions. And what media coverage there has been has generally been lacking in substance. But as this week's Temelin blockade dramatically demonstrates, the Web offers anti-nuclear activists a powerful new medium for communicating their concerns directly to the public.
The Temelin Web site is being updated several times each day, with print quality photos, reports from participants, and other details. An English language version of the site is available in text-only format as well as with full graphics.
Four years behind schedule and many millions of dollars over budget, the plant has recently become the focus of renewed debate both within the Czech Republic and internationally. While a leader of the Czech opposition party has condemned the plant as a bad investment and is seeking a local public referendum to decide the plant's fate, representatives of the Czech electric utility have claimed that protest organizers invited violent anarchists from Germany to participate in the blockade.
Protesters hope to stop all construction work on the plant during the week. Supporters from around the world can find out whether they succeed by clicking on the site.
As the Czech anti-nuclear activists are demonstrating with this week's blockade, the Internet can give us an immediate connection to events taking place in distant corners of the globe. It can also be used to monitor, and regularly report on, an infinite range of issues, industries, and political activities.
This issue of NetAction Notes reports on two organizations, with vastly different agendas, using the Internet in similar ways to monitor and report on developments in their areas of interest:
U.S. West Territory Consumer Watch, sponsored by a multi-state coalition of consumer rights organizations, uses the Web to monitor regulatory and legislative developments in states where U.S. West is the incumbent local exchange carrier. The site, with links to regulatory agencies in the states served by U.S. West, is at http://www.seanet.com/~westwatch/.
Visitors to the site can register consumer complaints and provide suggestions on what sorts of services they want from their local phone company. In addition, it features a report on the top ten anti-competitive and anti-consumer tactics of U.S. West.
Participating organizations include Arizona Citizen Action, Colorado PIRG, Idaho Citizens Network, Minnesota COACT, Oregon CUB, and Washington Citizen Action.
Using similar tools for a very different purpose, People for the American Way (PFAW) publishes Right Wing Watch Online, a free electronic newsletter on the Religious Right political movement. The site, at http://pfaw.org/rww, includes an archive of past issues as well as other information on right-wing religious groups that use the political process to impose their values on all U.S. citizens. Subscription information is on the site.
Right Wing Watch Online monitors all aspects of the Religious Right's work, and PFAW maintains a library that archives the movement's political propaganda, including videos of television and radio broadcasts, direct mail, newsletters, and books.
PFAW describes the newsletter as an objective source of information: "We'll tell you what they're saying and doing in their various communications, and you can draw your own conclusions."
NetAction Notes is a free electronic newsletter, published by NetAction. NetAction is a California-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting use of the Internet for grassroots citizen action, and to educating the public, policy makers, and the media about technology policy issues.
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