Censor Watch
 2009: March
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18th May   

Update: Filtered Out as Low Priority...

Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

Andy Burnham's international internet censorship going nowhere fast
Link Here  full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

Andy Burnham Months after announcing his intention to work with the Obama administration to develop new restrictions on unacceptable material online, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham is still waiting for anyone in Washington to listen to him.

At the end of December, Burnham took to the airwaves and newspaper pages to decry content that should just not be available to be viewed . He also suggested international cooperation to create a system of cinema-style age ratings for English language websites.

But yesterday in response to a question from the Liberal Democrats, Burnham's junior minister Barbara Follett conceded that four months into the new US administration, no progress had been made on the plans. Officials in London were still waiting for someone interested to be appointed across the Atlantic, she explained.

I remain keen to discuss an international approach to areas of public concern about certain internet content and look forward to engaging with the appropriate member of the US Administration once the relevant appointment has been made, Follett said.

 

31st March   

Prime Ministerial Belly Aching...

  Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

US Mainstream DVDs

Video Universe
 

RTE news report censored over caricature of Irish prime minister
Link Here

Brian Cowen caricature on RTE news Irish painter Conor Casby has turned himself in to police after hanging unflattering nude portraits of the Irish prime minister Brian Cowen in Dublin galleries.

The Irish state broadcster, RTE, reported the story on its news programme and included one of the portraits.

Pressure has been brought to bear and RTE ended up pulling the report from their website and issuing a public apology during a subsequent news bulletin.

The apology and withdrawn news report has caused an uproar amongst the Irish online community. There is now an over-6,000-member-strong Facebook group railing against the police investigation, Twitter abuzz (search for #picturegate), and bloggers infuriated over the spectre of censorship.

Damien Mulley wrote: Last night part of the freedom of the press was murdered in front of our eyes, in prime time hours. We should be crying at that apology. Hope is quickly diminishing in Ireland and more of it went tonight. The country is going to hell in a handcart and now they're attacking satire in a most brutal way. RTE News has been shut down. RTE cannot report news anymore without having to secondguess themselves and the reaction from Government press officers.

Allan Cavanagh of Caricatures Ireland wrote: When the government can so clearly meddle in the broadcast decisions of the national broadcaster this should cause all of us concern. The news was changed today to reflect the offended sensibilities of those in power. This has been par for the course for years no doubt; but when something as frivolous as a report on a funny painting can be withdrawn from the RTE archive, that is cut and dried censorship of the innocuous. We are now not allowed to laugh at Brian Cowen. -

 

31st March   

Age Discrimination...

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Melon Farming Fresh

 

Massachusetts to legislate to ban 'oldie' porn
Link Here

Massachusetts state seal Adult industry businessman and performer Dave Cummings has blasted a bill wending its way through the Massachusetts Legislature that would place a ban on producing and distributing porn involving anyone age 60 or over or anyone who has physical or mental impairment.

In my 69-year-old opinion, sex between consenting adults, or with oneself, is a God-given gift to mankind that is natural, normal, and healthy, Cummings told XBIZ: And by healthy, I mean not only sexually, but also emotionally and physically — sex provides focus, stress relief, increased productivity and a myriad of other beneficial effects for normal humans.

Cummings went on to say that pornography is legal; obscenity is not and questioned the legality of the proposal: I wonder if prohibiting my right to work based upon age/occupation is constitutional. Is Massachusetts also restricting employment to church ministers, physicians, legislators, politicians, volunteers and public safety folks who are over 60?

The piece of legislation is House Bill 1688. Regional District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel, who helped craft the legislation, said that the intention with the bill is to protect our two most vulnerable populations.

But Boston-based attorney Harvey Silverglate said the proposal amounts to blatant censorship.

 

31st March   

Mass Kiss-Off Protest...

Lesbian kiss censored from Australian soap after nutter pressure
Link Here

Hone and Away logo Protesters are planning to pucker up in a mass 'kiss-off' at Melbourne's Federation Square tonight to rally against Channel Seven's decision to censor a lesbian kiss on teen soap Home and Away .

Hundreds of people are expected to gather as the soap airs at 7pm to demonstrate against the move by the station to reportedly cut scenes from a lesbian storyline.

Policewoman Charlie Buckton, played by actor Esther Anderson, and deckhand Joey Collins, played by Katie Bell, were due to kiss on tonight's episode.

But according to News Limited reports, some intimate close-up shots were cut following complaints from nutter groups and viewers.

A Melbourne lawyer said word of tonight's gathering for straight and gay people was spreading through text messages and emails. She said she believed a minority of conservative voices were being given an undue level of influence over what was being screened: In this case the conservative minority has been able to sway public opinion to the detriment of the majorit y.

 

31st March   

Stick 'Em Up!...

John Beyer caught red handed firing dud comments
Link Here

iPhone gun An application which draw a gun image on the iPhone screen has caused 'outrage' among anti-gun campaigners.

The software is available from Apple's iTunes download store, enabling any iPhone or iPod Touch user to transform their handset into a mock firearm.

Makers of the app boast it allows users to experience the sweet release you can only get from a finely crafted firearm – a firearm so smooth and well-balanced it feels like an extension of your own hand.

The applications are known as Bang Bang , Tak Tak and Boom Boom among other names.

Claudia Webbe, the chair of an independent advisory group for the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident gun-crime force, told the Evening Standard: This is hugely irresponsible in a climate when we are trying to get guns off the streets. I am stunned this game should ever have been allowed to have been made. We have spent years trying to get imitation guns out of shops and this sort of product undermines that effort.

John Beyer of mediawatch UK added: In view of recent events in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, I think anything that glamorises guns and shooting is in extremely poor taste. I would hope that whoever is responsible for this would withdraw it immediately.

Apple is said to have no immediate plans to withdraw the applications.

Comment: STICK EM UP!

John Beyer of mediawatch UK added: In view of recent events in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, I think anything that glamorises guns and shooting is in extremely poor taste. I would hope that whoever is responsible for this would withdraw it immediately.

Can you include our war mongering leaders who think the only way to solve disputes is through guns, shooting and violence Johnny Boy?

Anything that glamourises guns….Should we start banning wild western movies then Johnny?

Claudia Webbe, the chair of an independent advisory group for the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident gun-crime force, told the Evening Standard: This is hugely irresponsible in a climate when we are trying to get guns off the streets. I am stunned this game should ever have been allowed to have been made. We have spent years trying to get imitation guns out of shops and this sort of product undermines that effort.

It's not really an imitation gun is it? It's still a mobile phone! Anyone who walks in to a shop and holds up a gun and yells STICK EM UP! is just gonna look stupid!

Never let the facts gets in the way of a good rent-a-quote opportunity!

 

31st March   

Update: Bruno Buggered...

Too much gay sex for the US film censor
Link Here  full story: Bruno...Supporting the hype for Bruno

Bruno publicity still The MPAA has slapped a dreaded NC-17 rating on Universal Pictures' comedy Bruno.

The ratings board objected to a number of sexual sequences in the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy set to open on July 10, in which he plays a gay Austrian fashionista.

The studio is hoping to land an R rating for the film and is making the necessary cuts before resubmitting the film to the MPAA. The deleted sequences will likely be saved for the DVD release.

 

31st March   

Censorship War with Israel...

Leaked list of films banned in Lebanon
Link Here

Lebanon flag The Lebanese Ministry of the Interior refuses to give a list of what books, DVDs and CDs are banned in Lebanon. The file here presents a partial list of banned films that was, according to our source, sent to a DVD retailer in Lebanon.

The list accords with known banned films and blacklisted studios owned by Jewish or Israeli interests.

Perhaps the oddest example is a ban on Mein Kampf on the grounds of sympathy for Jews

A few other examples:

Banned for homosexuality:

  • Priscilla Queen of the Desert
  • La Répétition
  • My Summer of Love
  • Show Me Love

Connections with Israel:

  • Anything Else (Woody Allen)
  • Bullet
  • Daniel Deronda
  • Deja Vu
  • History of the World Part 1
  • La Dictator
  • Life of Brian
  • Omen films
  • Pianist
  • Schindler's List
  • Siege
  • Sophie's Choice
  • Storm Front
  • Toute une Vie
  • You Don't Mess with the Zohan
  • Canon productions
  • Mirish productions
  • Republic Pictures productions

Banned people:

  • Jane Fonda
  • Harry Belafonte
  • Laurence Harvey
  • Misha Segal
  • Phil Silvers
  • Viveca Lindfors
  • Paul Newman

Offensive to Arabs/Islam:

  • Heaven's Burning
  • Independence Day
  • Rules of Engagement
  • Sheltering Sky
  • True Lies

 

30th March   

Update: Intruding on Intruders...

CAAN calls on Jacqui Smith to sign up to the right to bedroom privacy
Link Here  full story: UK Parliament Expenses Scandal...Claiming Television X on expenses

CAAN logo Clair Lewis, national convenor for Consenting Adult Action Network (CAAN), today reflected on the irony of Jacqui Smith being caught out over the porn habits of her own husband and issued an invitation to the Home Secretary and her husband to sign up to CAAN's statement of aims. This endorses the right of individuals not to be pilloried for legitimate sexual activity between adults.

CAAN statement of aims:

We believe in the right of consenting adults to make their own sexual choices, in respect of what they do, see and enjoy alone or with other consenting adults, unhindered and unfettered by government.

We believe that it is not the business of government to intrude into the sex lives of consenting adults.

Clair Lewis said:

It is ironic that Jacqui Smith, who has done more than almost any other politician to meddle in the private sex lives of consenting adults, should be placed in this position. We would hesitate to suggest it was richly deserved.

If public money has been misused, then Ms Smith and her husband must face the consequences: however, the sexual focus, whilst no doubt titillating, is really not relevant.

CAAN works to protect consenting adults from having their lives wrecked by this type of press voyeurism.

We shall therefore be contacting Richard Timney - and also his wife - to see if they would now agree that what adults get up to in the privacy of their own bedrooms is not the business of either government or an over-intrusive press, and whether they would now be prepared to sign up to our statement of aims on this issue.

 

30th March   

Child Internet Safety Censors...

Government announce key players in UKCCIS
Link Here

UKCCIS logo The Government's UK Council for Child Internet Safety launches working groups to take forward the Byron Review recommendations -

Children's Minister Delyth Morgan announced the membership for four groups of professionals tasked with taking forward the work of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS).

The Council has established four working groups to take forward priority actions over the coming year and leading the groups will be four senior figures from the world of child internet safety.

The working groups are as follows:

  • Industry standards:

    Chaired by Amanda Jordan, Chair and co-founder, Corporate Citizenship

    Aim: To develop clearer common standards (in the form of codes of practice or other guidelines) that are adopted, monitored and consistent with EU partners and are widely recognised as good practice.
     
  • Better education:

    Chaired by Niel McLean, Executive Director, Becta

    Aim: To ensure that children, families and the children's workforce have access to consistent and comprehensive support and information that improves their knowledge, skills and understanding of internet safety.
     
  • Video games:

    Chaired by Brian Leonard, Retired Director at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, previous roles included responsibility for the Byron Review

    Aim: To ensure that children and young people have a safer gaming experience and parents are aware of the issues, and support mechanisms around gaming.
     
  • Public information and awareness:

    Chaired by Clive Michel, Head of Communications and Public Awareness, Child Exploitation & Online Protection (CEOP)

    Aim: To develop a comprehensive and joined-up public awareness campaign on internet safety for children and families based on consistent messages which forms the basis of the one stop shop for all aspects of internet safety.

 

30th March   

Update: Screened Off...

Saudi grand mufti has a whinge about cinemas
Link Here

Saudi flag Cinema and theatre are against Sharia because they distract people from work and weaken their efforts in achieving progress, said Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdul Aziz Alu Al Sheikh during a conference on leisure, visual arts and literature.

Theatrical performance, whether it is a cinema or a song, would generally make an impression that is against Sharia. People need only those (art forms) that are useful to them to change their way of life (in an Islamic manner), he decreed.

The mufti's pronouncements are however a sign that Saudi society is increasingly split between a ruling establishment made up of very conservative clerics who espoused strict adherence to Islamic precepts and a broader group of more liberal-oriented young Saudis who want greater openness, more freedom for women and a greater range of entertainment.

Like young people across the Middle East young Saudis routinely go online which gives them access to US action movies, but they cannot go to the movies, an issue that is still taboo.

Yet the recent screening of a Saudi comedy, Menahi , in two movie theatres twice a day for eight days—with women dutifully seated in the balcony, and men in the stalls—was cheered by many Saudis.

We put sound and visual equipment, we sold tickets for the first time in Saudi Arabia, and we even sold popcorn, said Ayman Halawani, general manager of Rotana Studios, the production arm of a company owned by Waleed bin Talal, a financier and member of the royal family, who has become the target of ultra-conservatives for his liberal ideas and investments in the TV and show business. Overall some 25,000 people actually saw the film.

 

30th March   

Badmouthing Arbitrary Censorship...

India censor's inconsistent approach to strong language
Link Here

Gulaal soundtrack CD Out of the five movies which released over the weekend, three of them had one thing in common - liberal usage of swear words. Whether it was Straight , Firaaq or Barah Aana , each of the films had it's protagonists using swear words in abundance. However, the surprising part was to hear the beep sound every now and then in Barah Aana . So while Censors did allow Straight and Firaaq to retain the words in the final print, when it came to Barah Aana , it was a different approach altogether.

Says a source from the unit of Barah Aana on condition of anonymity, The film had taken a realistic route and the words were not used for mere affect but because they went with the day to day language of the characters. There was nothing that was forced or added on just for the sake of it. However, we didn't have any other alternative but to beep the words. The audience did eventually get the context but still such beeps do break the narrative.

Straight and Firaaq were fortunate enough to have the words being retained. In case of Firaaq though, it is understandable since the film dealt with a real issue and the situations demanded a liberal use of cuss words.

However, what came as a surprise was to see the four letter F word being mouthed in at least a couple of scenes in Straight . Not just that, when Vinay Pathak is instigated by Gul Panag to give it back to the Brits who used foul language in abundance in one of the sequences, the former went on to show that he is ‘the real man' by using the choicest of Indian expletives.

In fact if one looks at the releases in the month of March, Censors have indeed become liberal when it comes to usage of foul language. Gulaal which released a fortnight back didn't leave anything to imagination when it came to cuss words. One wonders though why Barah Aana didn't get a similar treatment and instead suffered from a step-motherly treatment!

 

29th March   

Teacher Tantrums...

Teachers blame TV for naughty kids
Link Here  full story: Teacher Tantrums...Teachers blame the media for troublesome kids

ATL logo Children in reception class, who are aged just four and five, are increasingly using bad language, talking back to staff and throwing tantrums when they don't get their own way – re-enacting scenes they have seen on screen, according to members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Even programmes aimed at improving children's behaviour, such as Supernanny, are giving pupils ideas about how to create havoc in the classroom.

In a motion at the union's annual conference next month, teachers will vote to lobby broadcasters to cut swearing, routine violence, inappropriate name-calling and unruly behaviour from programmes which are likely to be seen by children.

 

29th March   

Softcore Integrity...

Daily Mail catches Jacqui Smith's husband watching cable softcore porn at the tax payers expense
Link Here  full story: UK Parliament Expenses Scandal...Claiming Television X on expenses
Jack & Jacqui

  I wouldn't worry about the press Jacqui,
but Harriet and your man hating mates
aren't going to be very pleased

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's political future was in jeopardy after it was revealed that her husband used her Commons expenses allowance to pay to watch softcore pornographic films.

Richard Timney, who works as Smith's Commons adviser, used part of the Minister's second-homes allowance to pay for the not so blue movies he watched on a subscription television channel.

Tory MP Philip Davies said last night that if the porn-movie claims were true, the Home Secretary would have to resign: Claiming that her sister's back bedroom is her main home is one thing but this could push her over the cliff. It is surely not legitimate to use Commons' second-home allowances to buy blue movies. If this is true, I cannot see how she can survive.

Just three months ago, The Mail on Sunday revealed that Timney – who is paid £40,000 of public money a year as Smith's to run her Redditch constituency office – was behind a letter-writing campaign defending the Government in her local paper.

Timney had a series of letters published in the Redditch Advertiser backing Smith's identity card plans and attacking the Tories over schools, without revealing that he was married to the woman responsible for the policies.

The ACA allows MPs to claim for television subscriptions at their second home. Last year, under freedom of information requests, it emerged that Gordon Brown claimed for a Sky TV subscription and television licence.

 

29th March   

Update: Colorado Blame Game...

Police come up with video games as being behind a Colorado shooting spree killer
Link Here  full story: Counter Strike in Illinois...Blaming video games for school shootings

Grand Theft Auto IV game A Colorado police officer has suggested that a troubled 22-year old man who went on a random shooting spree last October may have been influenced by violent video games.

The Denver Post reports that the police investigator made the comment in regard to Stefan Martin-Urban, who killed two people and wounded two others before turning his gun on himself:

He was said to be an obsessive player of video games. Those games, authorities said are the closest police and FBI investigators can come to an explanation for Martin-Urban's actions that killed two and injured two.

Sergeant Clayton said: In the last year, he had no friends. No boyfriend. No girlfriend. No pets. He was consumed with the video games. He spent an enormous amount of time playing them, .

Martin-Urban lived mostly in isolation... after enrolling in a state college... He stopped going to classes within two weeks. His father had committed suicide in Alaska four days before the previous Christmas. His favorite videos included a prophecy that a 2,000- mile-long spaceship containing cosmic beings was going to appear in the Earth's atmosphere three days after the shooting.

 

29th March   

Protectionism or Morality...

Sweden looks to block internet access to foreign gambling websites
Link Here

Sweden flag The Swedish government is consulting about its proposal to block the internet sites of foreign gambling companies.

Gambling is regulated by the state in Sweden. There are a small number of gambling companies, all of them operating with the permission of the Swedish state.

The consultation process is not yet complete but already it stands clear that several important agencies are very negative to the proposal.

The idea gets the thumbs-down from both authorities and ISPs. Censorship , the ISP Bahnhof writes in their response to the report: Is it really a good idea that the state shall decide which internet sites that are allowed for people to reach , says CEO Jon Karlung to newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Today do several ISPs voluntarily block internet sites that depict child pornography. But there are no state filtering, and Jon Karlung thinks this is an important issue: For the first time is state censorship of the internet proposed in Sweden.

Also the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency, the High Courts and Agency for Administrative development have issues concerning the blocking of internet access. They wrote in their response that the regulation could bring limitations in the freedom of speech for individuals. It is not illegal, yet, to visit the internet sites of foreign gambling companies, and the agency thus asks why a legal activity should be stopped.

The High Courts in the counties of Skåne and Blekinge calls the proposal disproportional and point to the risk that one kind of state filtering of internet access leads to also the block of other types of internet sites.

At the same time the Agency for Administrative Development writes that the proposal will mean a ban for Swedish citizens to use parts of the internet and asks for a greater discussion about the consequences of the proposal.

 

29th March   

Offsite: Searching for Responsibility...

Italian trial to test Google's responsibilities over YouTube content
Link Here  full story: Google on Trial...Google sued for YouTube bullying video

Google logo TBack in 2006, a group of four Turin youths insulted and physically abused a young classmate with Down syndrome so severely that the terrified boy soiled his pants. One of the four filmed 191 seconds of the unsettling episode and uploaded it to Google Video, where it remained for about two months before the company finally pulled it.

Now, two and a half years later, a judge working from a dusty and worn Fascist-era courtroom in Milan will help decide whether companies like Google Video should be responsible for the content they host. At stake could be the way business on the Internet evolves over the coming years.

A hearing on Wednesday confirmed that Italy is a legitimate venue for the trial, and a further hearing is scheduled for next month.

See article from reuters.com

 

29th March   

Update: The Nub of the Issue...

US protests ask for smoking scenes to be R rated
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

He's just Not That Into You Smoking in a film? Rate it R, so that no children are exposed to it. That idea, at least, is what anti-smoking advocates were promoting at a rally in Downtown Indianapolis.

About 30 teens donned masks and hoisted signs outside a movie theater at Circle Centre mall to protest smoking images in G, PG and PG-13 movies.

Those are ratings that say to us as parents, this is appropriate for young people, said Karla Sneegas, executive director of Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation. But we know it's not acceptable to have smoking images in movies that we think are appropriate for younger age groups.

The effort by Indiana's VOICE, a youth-led movement protesting the tobacco industry's influence on minors, was one of a series of anti-smoking demonstrations around the country.

The issue made headlines recently when the American Medical Association Alliance announced its intention to lodge a complaint with Warner Brothers over images of specific cigarette brands in the PG-13 comedy He's Just Not That Into You.

Two years ago, the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents the six largest movie studios, added smoking as a factor to consider in rating movies and added disclaimers about the presence of smoking in films alongside notes on sexual content or violence.

Last July, the studios also began including anti-smoking public service announcements on millions of youth-rated DVDs that include scenes with tobacco use.

 

28th March   

Family and Economics before Media...

Jesse Jackson talks about violent media in UK Parliament
Link Here

Jesse Jackson The Reverend Jesse Jackson downplayed the influence of violent media in testimony before the British Parliament's Home Affairs Committee. The committee, which has been investigating knife crime, is chaired by long time video game nutter Keith Vaz.

GamePolitics has transcribed the portions of Jackson's testimony which relate to media violence issues:

Labour MP Martin Salter: Rev. Jackson, we've been taking evidence on the effects or the increasing effect of violent media images on young people, whether it's in video games, whether it's on TV, whether it's the cinema. It seems the evidence were hearing, that there's a general danger that young people can be desensitized to the concept of violence by the images that they see, but there's a greater predisposition to violence if those young people are brought up in families and households and communities where actual violence is the norm. Do you have any lessons from America for us on this issue?

Rev. Jesse Jackson: For a long time we challenged music artists and movie makers to be sensitive to the impact that their music and their movies have on children and they have some force... But those who grow drugs in Afghanistan and poppy seeds – they don't listen to music. This thing is not about music and movies. It's about a form of economy... we've lost more lives from [the drug] war than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we seem to see it as something marginal but it is in the center of our security and it's getting worse in my judgment... the structural crisis of poverty and drugs and guns is more real than just movies and music.
Labour MP Keith Vaz: Do you accept that there is a link between violent video games and violence that is perpetrated by individuals? Do you think that those images do have an effect on young people?

Rev. Jesse Jackson: There may be some link of imitation. The question, Mr. Chairman, is art imitating life? Is life reflecting art? There's always a big debate there. What we do know in these troubled times… there's increased domestic violence in the home. [Children are] more likely to imitate parents fighting physically. Domestic violence is maybe even a bigger factor on violent behavior than the movies and the worst games that are played. So, yes, we urge artists to not use their considerable skills to desensitize people to violence. Sure, these games that think that killing is a game must be challenged. But the economic impact of life options determines whether one is headed up towards university or down toward prison.

 

28th March   

Free Gaza...

West Midlands police censor graffiti mural
Link Here

Free Gaza mural West Midland's police were accused of wanton censorship after it erased a Free Gaza mural by a renowned Muslim graffiti artist.

Despite receiving the permission of the property owner police assessed Mohammed Ali's work as a supposed security risk.

The force, which did not receive a single complaint, was also accused of deploying underhanded scare tactics in getting the mural removed by suggesting to the elderly homeowner that it could trigger a petrol bomb attack.

The 30 year-old award winning artist accused police of wanton censorship. He told The Muslim News: The murals are not racist or homophobic and they do not incite violence but the police implied that they could stir up trouble and trigger violence between Jews and Muslims.

Police had approached the homeowner and asked her to withdraw mission for the mural and sign a form authorising its removal. The owner's son Mohammed Azam said: The police arrived out of the blue and told my mother that the house could be petrol-bombed because of the mural - my mother is scared stiff. I asked them on what a risk assessment was carried out, and the officer at the police station told me his sergeant had seen the mural and decided it should come down.

Local Jewish bodies backed the mural. Ruth Jacobs, of the Israel Information Centre in Birmingham, said, I would not complain about these images because I see them as part of the right to free speech in this country. They are actually quite good pieces of art.

Birmingham Labour MP, Khalid Mahmood, said he was concerned by the police's action. He said, The murals are expressive and show the emotion of young people about what is going on in Gaza. The police need to clearly demonstrate that these murals have put somebody at risk.

Lib-Dem Councilor, Tariq Khan, described police claims that the mural may trigger a bomb attack as outrageous.

 

28th March   

Dan Hannan Shames the BBC...

A devalued news service for a devalued nation
Link Here

Daniel Hannan Daniel Hannan is a conservative MEP who had the opportunity to tell Gordon Brown what he thought of his handling of the economy in recession.

He wrote:

Most of us, I suspect, have a thing or two that we'd like to say to Gordon Brown. But few of us get the opportunity. On Tuesday, I was one of those few. The Prime Minister was in the European Parliament, trying to persuade the rest of the EU to react to the financial crisis in the way that he has, viz by fire-hosing cash at it. I was one of the eight MEPs who got to respond, and was given three minutes to make my point.

According to convention, Mr Brown had to remain in his place while I spoke. Right, I thought, for once you're going to have to listen to what people are saying. The country was in negative equity, I said; the weight of his debt would press down on our children yet unborn and unbegot, I said; surely he could see that his bail-outs and nationalisations had failed, I said; we should stop throwing good money after bad, I said.

No doubt you can imagine how Mr Brown reacted; you might have watched him do it week after week at Prime Minister's Questions. He chatted ostentatiously to his neighbours; he pretended to doodle; he pulled his face into that grin that makes us think of the cold glint of moonlight on a silver coffin plate. Not for the first time, it struck me that the PM won't listen to criticism. I don't mean that he won't respond to criticism; I mean that he literally won't listen to it.

Daniel Hannan's speech was ignored by British media services but was a big hit on YouTube where it was viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Commentators have been asking how come the BBC and others ignored such a powerful speech of such obvious public interest.

Janet Daley wrote:

Yes indeed, Dan Hannan has become a global internet phenomenon. And he is absolutely right to say that the stupendous impact of his speech proves that the web is a new force in the political game. But it is also true, as so many commenters and bloggers have noted, that this entire incident constitutes a shameful note in British broadcasting history - perhaps even a turning point.

For this splendid speech and all the dramatic significance of a prime minister having to face a relentless critique across a democratic chamber, was ignored not just by the BBC but by all of the mainstream television and radio news media in this country.

Belatedly, and presumably out of sheer embarrassment, one BBC programme, The Daily Politics showed a brief clip of the speech followed by a discussion between two bloggers - the whole segment being designed to depict this phenomenon as a rather amusing internet story rather than a political one. On the BBC website, the item is now being carried under a headline implying that an obscure MEP has become a surprise hit on the web by attacking Gordon Brown: so Dan's speech is categorised as a kind of weird popular oddity, like a skate-boarding duck.

But the really significant thing to remember is that it was not just the BBC that systematically ruled his performance out: all of the news and current affairs programmes on the terrestrial and digital channels did the same. (Channel Four's seven o'clock news eventually made an effort, on very similar lines to The Daily Politics: this was a story about the power of the internet.)

What must we conclude?

 

28th March   

Update: Anti-Smoking in the Movies...

Learning to be a nutter Lesson 1: Claim to speak for 'the public'
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

D-Myst logo D-MYST is a smokefree movement led by and for young people in Liverpool. D-MYST provides young people with an opportunity to air their views and concerns on tobacco and to take action to de-normalise and de-glamorise smoking.

They wrote in their blog:

DMYST have been writing to the BBFC for over two years. We wrote to them and told them about our Smokefree Movies campaign and requested a meeting with them a number of times to which we got quite an unpleasant response!

They eventually agreed to meet with us in February this year. They said that three members would be allowed to go to London to meet with them.

We met with Pete Johnson, the Chief Policy Manager of the BBFC. He told us about how exactly they classify films. He said they concentrate on issues such as violence and drugs to decide on the age range for films and smoking was not one of their main focuses. We told them that we thought they should focus more on smoking as young people take it up when they watch their favourite stars smoking – this they didn't agree with and said that if the public wanted it out of youth rated films then they would consider it but don't think that the public do want it out.

We have evidence to support that the public do want smoking out of films and will continue to campaign to prove to the BBFC that the public do want it out of youth rated films!

 

28th March   

Update: Challenging Art...

Art Monthly Australia reprises Bill Henson pictures controversy
Link Here  full story: Art Censorship in Australia...Getting wound up by children in art

Art Monthly Australia cover Art Monthly Australia , the magazine criticised by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last year for carrying a photo of a nude schoolgirl on its cover, has published more naked images to test the Government's guidelines aimed at protecting children.

But editor Maurice O'Riordan said the three pictures of nude girls had been found to comply with the Australia Council's children in art protocols, even though they were starker than last year's image.

The protocols demand that naked images of children be considered by the Classification Board to ensure they are not obscene. Anyone who photographs children needs parental permission before the pictures can be exhibited and must declare the photographs did not involve exploitation of the subject.

The full-frontal photographs - taken from an American book and exhibition, The Century Project , by Frank Cordelle - are used to illustrate a review of David Marr's book, The Henson Case , about last year's controversy over a Sydney exhibition by photographer Bill Henson that included images of pubescent girls.

Both the Henson photographs and the image used by Art Monthly Australia last year - a photograph by Polixeni Papapetrou of her six-year-old daughter, Olympia - were given an unrestricted rating by the classification board.

O'Riordan described Papapetrou's photograph as more demure because of the lighting than Cordelle's images in the latest edition, which he said were more suited to a documentary: It was important for us to test the protocols because we are funded by the Australia Council. He had not considered putting Cordelle's photographs on the cover because he said even the arts community appeared divided over the use of Papapetrou's image.

 

28th March   

Flagging Up Inane Censorship...

Philippine TV reprimanded over a vertical flag
Link Here

MTRCB logo The Philippines Movie And Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has reprimanded two TV shows, one for mocking the disabled, the other for improper display of the Philippine flag.

In an incident report sent to MTRCB Chair Marissa Laguardia, special board agents said there was probable violation in the Feb. 14 episode of the comedy show Banana Split .

According to the report, the show's Pedro Pendukleng segment made a mockery of cross-eyed people .

In another report, MTRCB special agents said there was probable violation of the Flag Law in the March 18 episode of Tayong Dalawa . The report stated: The Philippine flag was displayed vertically, [instead of horizontally] .

 

28th March   

Censorial Culture...

Vietnam's film censor whinges that cuts and bans are ignored for TV
Link Here

Vietnam flag Hot scenes which are banned in Vietnamese cinemas still appear on some TV channels, whinged the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. They said that some Vietnamese television stations didn't cut such scenes in foreign movies screened on foreign channels like HBO, Cinemax, and Movie Star.

The scenes asked to be cut by the Ministry's film censorship council when they were introduced at box offices were not cut when they were screened on TV. Some movies that were banned for cinemas were shown on TV.

The audience of HBO in Vietnam might get shocked with very sexy scenes in a movie entitled Tell Me You Love Me. This film is flooded with nude and sex scenes. Many critics said that this movie is like a gentle sex movie.

Why are hot scenes not cut from movies on TV? The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said that it is responsible for censoring movies screened at box offices while the Ministry of Information and Communications covers movies on TV. The Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Hoang Tuan Anh, said while waiting for the law being amended the two ministries will better combine themselves in movie censorship.

 

27th March   

Update: UNHuman Rights...

'Human Rights' Council passed defamation of religion motion
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

  UN Flag

A United Nations forum has passed a resolution condemning defamation of religion as a human rights violation.

The UNHuman Rights Council adopted the non-binding text, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic states, with a vote of 23 states in favour and 11 against, with 13 abstentions.

Western governments and a broad alliance of activist groups have voiced dismay about the religious defamation text, which adds to recent efforts to broaden the concept of human rights to protect communities of believers rather than individuals.

The resolution claimed Muslim minorities had faced intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, including laws and administrative procedures that stigmatise religious followers.

Defamation of religious is a serious affront to human dignity leading to a restriction on the freedom of their adherents and incitement to religious violence, the adopted text read, adding that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.

It called on states to ensure that religious places, sites, shrines and symbols are protected, to reinforce laws to deny impunity for those exhibiting intolerance of ethnic and religious minorities, and to take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and beliefs.

The 47-member Human Rights Council has drawn criticism for reflecting mainly the interests of Islamic and African countries, which when voting together can control its agenda.

 

27th March   

Dumbest Advert Censors that Ever Lived...

Even pub TV has to be censored for kids
Link Here

Tropic Thunder A TV ad, for the 15 rated film Tropic Thunder , appeared on the Setanta pub channel. The ad showed scenes from the film which included characters saying This motherfuckers dead and Youre the dumbest motherfucker that ever lived. A character was shown holding a severed head dripping blood. Another character hit his own hand with a mallet.

A viewer, who saw the ad during a football match screened at her local conservative club, complained that the graphic scenes and swearing were offensive and inappropriate.

Setanta, the broadcaster that cleared the ad, said the target audience for their pub channel was adults. Setanta argued that in the context of a pub environment, the swearing in the ad was not sufficient to cause offence against generally accepted standards. They believed the use of humour throughout the ad would reduce the risk of offence, and that the swearing would take a secondary role behind the action and humour of the piece, reducing its impact significantly.

Setanta believed it was adults decision and responsibility to take children into pubs and they should recognise the likelihood of adult language being used, particularly during sporting events.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted the viewer reported seeing the ad at 15:00, 17.15 and 18.15, during coverage of weekend football matches. We also noted the ad contained repeated use of a swear word that was generally regarded as highly offensive, along with graphic footage of a severed head with its contents dripping, and other scenes that featured blood and violence.

We noted Setanta's argument that the ad appeared on a pub channel, and that it was parents decision to take their children in to a pub and that they should be prepared for the possibility of encountering swearing and anti-social behaviour in a pub environment, especially during sporting events. We noted, however, that pub channels could also be seen at licensed premises such as social clubs, which catered for families with children. We concluded that the ad was offensive and unsuitable for broadcast during the afternoon and early evening.

 

27th March   

Update: Yes Minister!...

Australians have a good laugh at minister's risible attempts to justify internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Stephen Conroy The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has admitted that Bill Henson images were added to the communications regulator's list of prohibited websites in error, while blaming the addition of a dentist's site to the blacklist on hacking by the Russian mob.

The admission by Senator Conroy on ABC television's Q&A program last night casts significant doubt on the Government's ability to filter the internet without inadvertently blocking legitimate websites.

Q&A was inundated with 2000 questions from the public about the Government's hugely unpopular policy, and the audience last night ridiculed Senator Conroy by laughing at a number of his responses.

Senator Conroy, under siege after this website's report yesterday afternoon that an innocuous link containing Henson's artistic photographs of young boys had been added to the blacklist, said the classification board looked at this website and actually said it's PG.

A technical error inside ACMA I'm advised included it ... but it was actually cleared by the Classification Board so it shouldn't be on the list, Senator Conroy said: I've asked ACMA in the last few hours to go through their entire list again to see if there are any other examples of this.

But the presence of innocuous sites on the blacklist, such as that of a Queensland dentist, a school canteen consultancy and an animal carer, and euthanasia sites, abortion sites, fetish sites, gambling sites, regular porn sites and a site containing harmless Henson photographs, were only revealed after the list was leaked by the Wikileaks website this month.

The Opposition's communications spokesman, Nick Minchin, said: This error only came to light because content from the secret blacklist had been publicly leaked. Under Senator Conroy's regime how many similar errors will result in the wrongful filtering of legal sites and content?

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said: If the whole net censorship debate has done one good thing, it's shown us just how flawed the existing system is, let alone the Minister's proposed radical expansion of it.

The Minister continued to claim last night that his proposed censorship regime was sound because it targeted only "refused classification" content, however, the RC classification includes sites that are perfectly legal to view, such as regular porn sites and fetish sites.

 

27th March   

Blinkered MPs...

Parliamentary internet filter blocks MP's own newspaper column
Link Here

Daily Sport MPs are prevented from surfing the internet for pornographic and other inappropriate material in their Commons offices, it has emerged.

A filter on the Commons IT system blocks access to websites that contain supposedly offensive or illegal content or are sources of malicious software.

The policy emerged after an MP was unable to access colleague Lembit Opik's column on the Daily Sport site.

Opik said he did not believe the site should be blocked: Because of the things they are trying to censor they may have made an assumption about this particular website . But he said he did not believe the site was inappropriate and that although he backed the filters, which prevented MPs from being bombarded with utter rubbish , he did think they were too restrictive and sometimes prevented MPs from accessing sites they needed for their work.

 

27th March   

Update: Sheepifying Australia...

Australian film censor's website hacked
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Australian Film Classification Board The website of the Australian Film Classification Board has been hacked.

The front page was defaced to reads

Welcome to the Classification Website

This site contains information about the boards that have the right to CONTROL YOUR FREEDOMZ. The Classification Board has the right to not just classify content (the name is an ELABORATE TRICK), but also the right to DECIDE WHAT IS AND ISNT APPROPRIATE and BAN CONTENT FROM THE PUBLIC. We are part of an ELABORATE DECEPTION from CHINA to CONTROL AND SHEEPIFY the NATION, to PROTECT THE CHILDREN. All opposers must HATE CHILDREN, and therefore must be KILLED WITH A LARGE MELONS during the PROSECUTION PARTIES IN SEPTEMBER. Come join our ALIEN SPACE PARTY.

 

27th March   

Morrison Minor...

Supermarket encourages parents to leave children outside while shopping
Link Here

Morrison's logo A mother was stopped while buying a 12 certificate DVD at a  Morrisons supermarket because she was with her young children.

Karen Richards said she was amazed and outraged after the incident at her local Morrisons.

She was shopping with her eight-year-old son, Sean, and nine-month-old baby when she was stopped at the checkout trying to buy the film Ladies in Lavender , a drama starring Dame Judi Dench.

The assistant said she could not buy it because she was with her young children.

Miss Richards said: Is Morrisons suggesting I should leave them both outside while I shop in case I want to buy something of a slightly adult nature? Does Morrisons not realise how totally ridiculous this is?

She added: The ironic thing is the staff member was quite happy to sell me a bottle of wine at the same time. It is further proof, if it is needed, that this 'PC' world of ours has gone barking mad. But with regards to films, I'll decide what my son does or does not watch, not Morrisons.

She said after talking to the supermarket's supervisor she was eventually allowed to buy to film.

A Morrisons spokesman said customers suspected of buying an age-restricted product for a minor should be refused sale: The DVD product in this case had an age restriction applied to it and the store followed procedure.

 

27th March   

Offsite: Advertising an Advertising Code Consultation...

Advert censors launch public consultation over their advertising codes
Link Here

CAP logo CAP and BCAP have today launched a full 12-week public consultation on all aspects of the Advertising Codes. We need you to have to your say in determining the way advertisements in the UK will be regulated.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is the industry body responsible for the UK advertising codes. The Broadcast Committee is responsible for the Broadcast Advertising Codes. The Advertising Standards Authority is the independent body that endorses and administers the Codes.

...Read full article

 

27th March   

Update: Baleful Apology...

BBC Breakfast forgiven for Christian Bale outburst
Link Here  full story: Christian Bale...BBC Breakfast News hosts Christian Bale outburst

Terminator Salvation poster The BBC Breakfast
BBC1, 16 February 2009, 06:55


BBC Breakfast is an early morning news and entertainment programme transmitted weekdays on BBC1. At 06:55 the programme featured part of a sound clip of the Hollywood actor Christian Bale losing his temper on a film set. The incident, which, when played in full, featured a number of expletives, had been recorded and distributed to the media and was widely reported at the time.

The programme's presenter introduced the Christian Bale item and almost immediately the word “fucking” was heard. The clip was immediately stopped and the presenters apologised stating that the clip should have been edited. 16 viewers complained to Ofcom that the word “fucking” was broadcast.

Ofcom considered Rule 1.14 which requires that: The most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed…

The BBC said that it accepted that the transmission of the word “fucking” before the watershed was in breach of Rule 1.14. It said that the broadcast of this word was the result of human error. Two versions of the item existed in its production database – one containing the most offensive language and one with this language bleeped out for transmission. The original unedited version was played by mistake because the two different versions were not clearly labelled.

Ofcom Decision: Resolved

Ofcom acknowledged the swift action of the director to take the clip off-air immediately once the first swear word was heard, therefore avoiding any further offence to viewers. We also note the swift steps taken to apologise to viewers for this error and to put in place revised procedures to prevent a recurrence. Ofcom therefore considered the matter was resolved adequately by the broadcaster.

 

27th March   

Update: Shi'a Nonsense...

Ofcom wisely back off from matters of religious 'balance'
Link Here

The Qur'an title The Qur'an
Channel 4, 14 July 2008, 20:00

The Qur'an was a two-hour documentary made by the film-maker, Antony Thomas. It was broadcast as part of Channel 4's Islam Unveiled season, a week of programmes dealing with Islam. The Qur'an examined what the Qur'an itself says on a range of issues such as crime and punishment, violence and conflict, and the treatment of women. The programme attempted to relate present-day Islamic practice and beliefs to the Qur'anic source text.

The programme contained several sequences discussing Shi'a practice and beliefs. In particular, it focussed on “intercession”. Intercession is the practice of directing prayers and requests to God through certain members of the family of the Prophet Mohammed. This includes Imam Ali Reza and his descendents, the eighth of the twelve Imams who are perceived by some to be the religious and political successors to the Prophet Mohammed.

Ofcom received 21 complaints from individuals on the grounds that it portrayed Shi'a Muslims in a negative, unbalanced and irresponsible light , with a series of misrepresentations of the Qur'an's teachings. Ofcom also received a detailed complaint from 12 organisations representing Shi'a Islam within the UK.

Based on article from broadcastnow.co.uk

The complainants said the film risked increasing tensions within the Muslim community between Sunnis and Shi'as, and inspiring violence against Shi'as. They also chastised it for not using Shi'a scholars and commentators in the UK and for giving insufficient time to Shi'a contributors in general.

Ofcom ruled that the programme did not mislead viewers on Shi'a belief and practices and that it could not be judged as likely to inspire violence against Shi'as.

The regulator was unable to rule on the grounds of balance, as its remit in this area covers only news and factual output relating to political or industrial controversy or public policy.

C4 commissioning editor, religion and multicultural Aaqil Ahmed said: Hopefully we can now remember this film for what it was - a truly original piece of landmark television. Antony Thomas and Samir Shah's amazing efforts to get it made and made so well should be applauded and from now on any film made on the subject will have a remarkable benchmark.

I am pleased that Ofcom has endorsed the views of TV critics, who described The Qur'an as 'scrupulously fair-minded', 'exhaustively researched' and 'an exemplary piece of programme making.

I am grateful that this ruling, by the independent regulatory body responsible for broadcasting, completely dismisses the unfounded allegations

 

26th March   

Update: Australia Embarrassed...

The ACMA internet block list found to be rubbish
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

ACMA logo Not only is the list published by whistleblower website Wikileaks over the weekend definitely the ACMA blacklist of banned internet content, it's also rubbish , according to an industry source.

Senator Stephen Conroy finally admitted that the Wikileaked material seemed to be close to ACMA's current blacklist of banned internet content.

ACMA's blacklist is compiled from complaints received from the public. Manufacturers of internet filters pay $15,000 for the list, which must be included in their products to be eligible to participate in the government's current field tests of ISP-level internet filtering.

Our contact in the internet filtering industry is highly critical of the ACMA blacklist's quality. I've had a look at the list and it's rubbish, they told Crikey this morning: I wouldn't pay $100 for it, let alone $15,000. That list would make my filtering look really bad.

The leaked ACMA blacklist dated 18 March 2009 contains 1168 URLs, of which roughly half relate to child-abuse material. The rest is material Refused Classification (RC) for other reasons, or adult hardcore rayed X18+ or is rated MA15+ or higher without an age-verification mechanism in place. Or potentially so on the secret say-so of an unaccountable ACMA staffer.

Our source says around two-thirds of the URLs in the ACMA blacklist don't go anywhere or are otherwise out of date. By comparison, their own company's list contains around quarter of a million URLs covering child-related activity alone, checked every three months to remove out of date or inactive entries.

 

26th March   

Hyper-Sensitivity...

David Jason and the old muslim fear of offence joke
Link Here

Christian O'Connell Show David Jason apologised yesterday for a joke he made about Pakistanis on a radio show.

Appearing on the Christian O'Connell Show on Absolute Radio, the Only Fools And Horses star was asked to leave a question for the next guest as part of the Who's Calling Christian? feature.

The actor replied with a joke, he asked: What do you call a Pakistani cloakroom attendant? before delivering the punchline: Mahatma Coat.

O'Connell immediately said, No more jokes like that, and the incident was edited out of the show before it was put on the station's website as a podcast.

A spokeswoman for Sir David said: He is very sorry if he has offended anyone. He was horrified when he found he had given offence. He hadn't thought it was a racist joke, but if people took it that way, he's very sorry about it.

 

26th March   

Update: Unintended Consequences...

Utah governor vetoes law aimed at enforcing age restrictions on games
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

Utah state seal Utah Governor, Jon Huntsman, has vetoed HB 353, the video game/movie bill passed overwhelmingly by the Utah House and Senate.

Saintless has Gov. Huntsman's explanation of his veto:

After careful consideration and study, I have decided to veto HB 353...

While protecting children from inappropriate materials is a laudable goal, the language of this bill is so broad that it likely will be struck down by the courts as an unconstitutional violation of the Dormant Commerce Clause and/or the First Amendment.

The industries most affected by this new requirement indicated that rather than risk being held liable under this bill, they would likely choose to no longer issue age appropriate labels on goods and services.

Therefore, the unintended consequence of the bill would be that parents and children would have no labels to guide them in determining the age appropriateness of the goods or service, thereby increasing children's potential exposure to something they or their parents would have otherwise determined was inappropriate under the voluntary labeling system now being recognized and embraced by a significant majority of vendors.

 

26th March   

Update: Down the Tubes...

China blocks YouTube over a series of videos showing Chinese violence in Tibet
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Chinese beating Tibetans Video images of Chinese police beating Tibetans as they lie trussed-up on the ground may have prompted the country's censors to block access to YouTube, the popular video-sharing website.

The video released by the Tibetan government-in-exile at the weekend quickly made its way on to the site, which has been freely accessible in China since before the Beijing Olympics in August last year.

China has offered no official confirmation that it has blocked the California-based website, or any reason why it might want to bar its people from seeing images available on it.

The first of 3 videos shows paramilitary People's Armed Police storming the Jokhang temple in the heart of Lhasa during a riot in 1988. The police hit out at fleeing maroon-robed monks in Tibet's holiest site, beating one to the floor.

The exiles say that the second clip was shot in or near Lhasa soon after the riot on March 14 last year when Tibetans protesting against Chinese rule rampaged through the city's streets, setting fire to shops and offices and leaving 22 people dead. Paramilitary security forces are seen dragging Tibetans, including several monks, on the ground after they have been arrested.

Their hands and wrists tied with rope, the Tibetans can be heard moaning as paramilitaries hit them with sticks. One man has his wrist tied over his shoulder to his other hand in an agonising position.

The final part, the most gruesome, shows a Tibetan man identified as Tendar being treated by hospital doctors after he was beaten and tortured for trying to stop a monk being attacked in the 2008 protests.

It may be no coincidence that the blocking of YouTube occurred around the anniversary of the Tibetan unrest. The site was blocked last year from March 15 to 23 — starting the day after the riot in Lhasa.

 

26th March   

Carrey Rubbers Up...

Supporting the hype for I Love You Phillip Morris
Link Here

I Love You Phillip Morris book Jim Carrey black comedy I Love You Phillip Morris may not get a US cinema release because it contains an explicit gay sex scene.

Despite securing distribution deals in the UK and Europe, US firms are uneasy with a love scene between Carrey and Ewan McGregor's character Phillip Morris, reports The Times.

The depiction of the sexual activity was far more than I've ever seen in a mainstream film with a mainstream celebrity, said Lewis Tice, director of publicity and marketing for TLA Releasing: There's a graphic sex scene in the first 10 minutes that I was surprised to see.

Filmmakers are re-cutting the movie for US distribution companies in an attempt to secure a theatrical release. If no agreement is reached, the movie will go straight to DVD.

Mostly straight, multiplex-going audiences don't want to see a romantic comedy in which two dudes get it on; unless it is meant as a joke, commented Scott Stiffler, author of Why Hollywood Avoids Gay Movies.

 

26th March   

Leave Off Right Now...

Ofcom whinge at Chris Moyles gay take on Will Young
Link Here

Chris Moyles Chris Moyles
BBC Radio 1
20 January 2009 at 08:15

During the broadcast of his breakfast show, Chris Moyles discussed the birthdays of celebrities with his studio team. During the discussion he told listeners that it was the birthday of singer Will Young. He then imitated Will Young by singing alternative versions of two of the singer's well known singles: Evergreen and Leave Right Now . During the imitation the presenter adopted an effeminate and high pitched voice.

When singing his alternative version of Evergreen , Chris Moyles broadcast the lyrics: It's my birthday, gonna wear my new dress tonight. And I smell nice. I've had a shower and I've shaved my legs. Going out later, might go to Nob-oooh for dinner.

During the alternative version of Leave Right Now , Chris Moyles broadcast the lyrics: Oooh Will Young here, mmmmh. I'm here, it's Will's birthday and as the years go by I get more very gay. When you saw me years ago you didn't know, but now I'm the gayest fella you probably know. mmm I like to wear a silly hat, I get camper by the hour, oh would you look at the muck in here. I'm Will Young and I'm gay.

Ofcom received eight complaints from listeners who were concerned that Chris Moyles ridiculed Will Young because of his sexuality. The complainants also said that the comments were offensive and derogatory towards the gay community.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 of the Code (material that may cause offence must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 2.3

Ofcom recognises that the Chris Moyles show is well known for its irreverent style and humour, with satirical sketches, studio banter and discussion making up a key part of the show. We also acknowledge that Chris Moyles commonly uses celebrities as the target of his humour in this way.

Ofcom notes the BBC's response that the comments made by Chris Moyles about Will Young were not intended to be taken as hostile or derogatory. However, in Ofcom's opinion, the comments were clearly based on the singer's sexuality and therefore capable of giving offence.

The BBC acknowledged that the comments were unacceptable. Ofcom was also concerned by this material, and in particular the language used and the tone and manner in which the comments were made. In Ofcom's opinion, the language used to imitate Will Young could have reasonably been interpreted by listeners as promoting and condoning certain negative stereotypes based on sexual orientation. Ofcom considered that the presenter's use of an effeminate and high pitched voice would have promoted these stereotypes further. Although no doubt intended to be humorous, comments such as these and the manner in which they were delivered, in Ofcom's view, could reasonably have been perceived as hostile and pejorative. In Ofcom's opinion, the broadcast of this language by Chris Moyles, taking account of both the tone and words, had the potential to cause considerable offence.

We also had regard to the time of broadcast - the weekday breakfast time slot that attracts a young audience, including large numbers of children. Ofcom was therefore particularly concerned that the broadcast of this type of material may have the potential to encourage listeners, especially children, to discriminate against others because of their or perceived sexual orientation. Such material runs the risk of being imitated by children, for instance in the playground, causing unnecessary distress.

In light of these factors, Ofcom concluded that the material was not justified by the context and so went beyond generally accepted standards for this type of programme. While we acknowledge the action taken by the BBC to prevent the future broadcast of similar material, we concluded that the programme breached Rule 2.3.

 

26th March   

Update: A Reputation for Repression...

Egypt found to have arbitrarily imprisoned bloggers
Link Here  full story: Blogging in Egypt...Heavy handed Egyptian authorities jail bloggers

Egypt flag Experts of the Human Rights Council have concluded that the Egyptian authorities have detained blogger Karim Amer arbitrarily for his online criticisms and for exercising his right to freedom of expression. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) communicated its decision to Amnesty International.

Amnesty International, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC) welcomed the decision. They described it as ground-breaking and a landmark in the fight against arbitrary detention and restrictions to freedom of expression in Egypt.

Amnesty International and the two Egyptian human rights organizations, whose lawyers worked extensively on the case of Karim Amer, are urging the Egyptian authorities to urgently comply with the WGAD's decision and release Karim Amer immediately and unconditionally. The three organizations have considered Karim Amer a prisoner of conscience and campaigned for his release.

Karim Amer was sentence in 2007 to four years in prison for writing on his blog criticizing Egypt's al-Azhar religious authorities and President Mubarak. Charges against him include spreading information disruptive of public order and damaging to the country's reputation , incitement to hate Islam and defaming the President of the Republic.

The three organizations are calling on the Egyptian authorities to review or abolish legislation that, in violation of international law, punishes the exercise of the rights of freedom of thought, conscience and religion

 

26th March   

Offsite: This is legal blackmail...

Britain's libel laws are a malign force. Radical reform is overdue
Link Here

Old Bailey Libel laws remain the most significant daily chill on free speech in the UK. Although there is currently a rare momentum for change, with a select committee inquiry and a number of consultations scheduled or under way, it's likely that politicians will shrink from the necessary radical reform. The establishment's ingrained suspicion of the press, coupled with some of the media's more egregious recent excesses, means that the push for reform may be hamstrung by the fear that this would release the media from all restraint.

...Read full article

 

25th March   

Updated: Easy Targets...

German president joins the tirade against computer games
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Far Cry 2 game Thousands of people converged on the grieving German town of Winnenden on Saturday for a memorial service for the 15 victims of a shooting spree by a 17-year-old.

All Germany mourns with you, President Horst Koehler told a congregation of 900: Each child is born innocent, and when a child dies, it is hope and the future which dies too, Koehler said, calling for curbs on the kind of violent video games believed to have influenced the teenage gunman, Tim Kretschmer.

Koehler backed families of the victims who appealed in an open letter for tighter gun control laws and a ban on violent video games of the kind which Kretschmer regularly played.

He said there should be restrictions on the spread of the innumerable films and videogames of extreme violence, with their display of dead bodies, while individuals should be able to say no to what they feel to be bad.

In their open letter addressed to Merkel and Koehler, the families of five of the victims said: Despite our pain and anger, we can't just do nothing. We want to make sure there is not another Winnenden. They called for teenagers to be denied access to guns, for violent videos to be banned and violence on television to be restricted by the introduction of quotas taking into account the hours when children are likely to be viewing.

 

25th March   

Long Arms of the Law...

Australian block list posting earns wikileaks raid by German police
Link Here  full story: Wikileaks in Germany...Wikileaks under duress in Germany

Wikileaks On the 24th of March 2009, seven police officers in Dresden and four in Jena searched the homes of Theodor Reppe, who holds the domain registration for "wikileaks.de", the German name for wikileaks.org. According to police documentation, the reason for the search was distribution of pornographic material and discovery of evidence. Police claim the raid was initiated due to Reppe's position as the Wikileaks.de domain owner.

Police did not want to give any further information to Reppe and no contact was made with Wikileaks before or after the search. It is therefore not totally clear why the search was made, however Wikileaks, in its role as a defender of press freedoms, has published censorship lists for Australia, Thailand, Denmark and other countries. Included on the lists are references to sites containing pornography and no other material has been released by Wikileaks relating to the subject.

 

25th March   

Update: The Right to Bare Arms...

Afghan TV station manager arrested over short skirts on TV
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in Afghanistan...Afghanistan TV, an unsuprising target for censors

Afghanistan flag The manager of an Afghan television network who refused to censor images of women dancing in short skirts and plunging necklines has been arrested.

The government has previously censured television stations and taken others to court, but the arrest of Emrose TV's Fahim Khodamani was the first for airing overly salacious content, the Afghan deputy attorney general said Tuesday.

Since the Taliban fell in 2001, television stations have flourished, pitting the issue of freedom of the press against conservative norms in a country where most women wear clothes that cover everything but their face and neck.

Aggressive Afghan government attempts to censor TV programs could be part of a strategy to temper conflict with the Taliban. Or it could be an attempt to siphon support from Afghans drawn to the Taliban's conservative style of Islam.

Many Afghan TV stations cut or blur scenes with women showing more than their face or neck, taking a conservative stance to avoid violating a vague government law that prohibits media content that is not within the framework of Islam.

Khodamani was arrested for refusing repeated requests to pixelate or otherwise obscure images of women dancing in short skirts or outfits with low necklines, said Deputy Attorney General Fazel Ahmad Faqiyar. The videos are relatively tame by Western standards.

The arrest comes days after Afghanistan's top Muslim clerics called on the government to block stations from airing prohibited and hypocritical anti-Islam programs and immoral scenes and movies.

 

25th March   

Update: Censorship Demons...

Catholics wound up by Angels and Demons
Link Here  full story: Angels and Demons...Another Dan Brown film/book winds up the nutters

Angels and Demons poster The Vatican is poised to boycott Angels & Demons , the prequel to Hollywood blockbuster The Da Vinci Code .

Avvenire, the Vatican's official newspaper, says in its latest edition that the church cannot approve of the film.

Italian newspaper La Stampa reported that the Vatican will soon call on Catholics to boycott the film. However, the same article quoted Archbishop Velasio De Paolis warning that a boycott could create a boomerang effect by giving the movie more publicity.

Based on article from indiancatholic.in

Meanwhile in India the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) has objected to the Columbia Pictures film

In a statement issued to Indian Catholic, Joseph Dias, general secretary of CSF said that the anti-Church depictions in the film are sufficient reason for Christians to call for action against the film, as was the case with Dan Brown's earlier Da Vinci Code .

Angels & Demons has been roundly criticised by Vatican, which has also refused permission to the makers to shoot the film on its premises, leading them to recreate important parts of Vatican city in the studios & go ahead, he said.

Dias said CSF has sent memorandums on the film to India's Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, besides the Censor Board at Mumbai.

Dan Brown, the author of Da Vinci Code seems to have excelled in the art of Catholicism-bashing and he takes his anti-Catholic agenda further with the novel - Angels & Demons . Co-producer, Brian Grazer wants Angels & Demons to be ‘less reverential' than The Da Vinci Code , meaning more liberally anti-Catholic – which it is, if one goes by the book, he said.

 

25th March   

Domestic Dispute...

Indian censors cut out the domestic violence in Videsh
Link Here

Videsh poster Filmmaker Deepa Mehta seems to have become the favourite child of controversies. Deepa Mehta's new directorial venture Videsh has run into bad weather regarding censorship issues.

In a screening session, Censor Board felt that Videsh , a movie based on domestic violence, portrays too much violence on Preity and thereby asked for cuts to make the film less gruesome.

A representative of Deepa Mehta wanted a U/A certificate for the movie but the Censor Board was unrelenting. Videsh shows several violent scenes between Preity and her on screen husband actor Vansh Bhardwaj.

According to the Regional Officer of the Censor Board Vinyak Azad, “We have asked them to tone down the domestic violence scenes by 50%. And we had one more objection. The film has used expletives too, which will have to be either beeped or deleted.

 

24th March   

Update: Obscene Delay...

Barristers get involved in UK text obscenity trial
Link Here

Girls Aloud CD single The obscenity trial of the writer of the short text story Girls (Scream) Aloud has been delayed.

At a directions hearing in January, the defendant made it known that given the seriousness of the case he would be represented by a barrister.

Not wishing to be out-gunned, the Crown Prosecution Service also gave notice of its intention to field a QC.

The trial is now set for five days in Newcastle Crown Court, starting on 29 June later this year.

 

24th March   

Dogs of War...

Whinging that dogs are killed in a computer game
Link Here

Call of Duty: World at War The animal rights activists of PETA wrote on their blog:

Not since we were pitted against Nazi attack dogs when we first escaped from Castle Wolfenstein 17 years ago have we seen such barbaric treatment of dogs in video games as we did in Call of Duty, World at War .

During the course of the game, you are forced to shoot attack dogs and you can actually unlock a reward that allows you to unleash a pack of attack dogs on enemies.

In a post–Michael Vick world, you'd think that Activision Blizzard, which publishes the popular game, would take abusing dogs for entertainment purposes more seriously.

Fortunately, some students at a Massachusetts high school are not keeping quiet about their disgust with Activision. Breanna Lucci said: Killing dogs as a form of entertainment … over and over again. That's one of the objects of the game. Parents need to know what they are buying their kids. Killing animals should not be a form of entertainment.

 

24th March   

Update: Men Only TV...

Saudi clerics call for a ban on women on TV
Link Here  full story: Death to TV Companies in Saudi...Clerics call for death of offending TV broadcasters

Saudi TV A group of Saudi clerics urged the kingdom's new information minister on Sunday to ban women from appearing on TV or in newspapers and magazines, making clear that the country's hardline religious establishment is skeptical of a new push toward moderation.

In a statement, the 35 hardline clergymen also called on Abdel Aziz Khoja to prohibit the playing of music and music shows on television.

We have great hope that this media reform will be accomplished by you, said the statement: We have noticed how well-rooted perversity is in the Ministry of Information and Culture, in television, radio, press, culture clubs and the book fair.

Although it raises the pressure on the new minister, the recommendation is likely to have little effect. Khoja's appointment was part of a government shake-up by Abdullah that removed a number of hardline figures and is believed to be part of an effort to weaken the influence of conservatives in this devout desert kingdom.

No Saudi women should appear on TV, no matter what the reason, the statement said: No images of women should appear in Saudi newspapers and magazines.
Saudi Arabia was founded on an alliance with the conservative Wahhabi strain of Islam that sees the mixing of sexes as anathema and believes the playing of music violates religious values.

 

24th March   

A Cruel World...

Even wildlife documentaries are the target of Daily Mail whinging
Link Here

Nature's Great Events DVD some viewers are struggling to stomach the lingering death scenes on Nature's Great Events on BBC1.

The series, fronted by Sir David Attenborough, has attracted a flurry of complaints, while on wildlife message boards the debate has raged over whether the distressing nature of some of the footage made the show too difficult to watch.

The series was broadcast on Wednesdays at 9pm but repeated on Sundays at 6pm, before the watershed and causing concerns for parents watching with children.

One episode followed a lion pride close to death as they struggled to find food in the Serengeti. The weakest cub was shown with its bones jutting through its skin before being abandoned. Viewers faced 45 seconds of footage as the cub curled up to die alone.

In another episode, a gannet chick was shown being beaten by waves as it attempted to fly for the first time. As it lay dying the camera panned to a close-up of its face. The whole sequence lasted for more than 90 seconds.

Other episodes saw a sea lion beaten to death by a group of killer whales, and seal pup drowning. The BBC said it had received 11 formal complaints about the series, most about the cub and the gannet.

The show's executive producer Bruce Leith dismissed complaints that it lingered too long on animal deaths: It is important to reflect the reality of what we find. Sometimes-that can be difficult for some viewers but if we only showed one side of things that would be misleading.

And a spokesman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare said that while some scenes might be distressing> this series encourages humans to think about the daily struggle of individual animals to survive.

 

24th March   

Updated: Turbulent Times...

Opposition newspapers banned in Malaysia
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Malaysia...Newspapers forced to toe the government line

Malaysia flag Malaysia's government has imposed a ban on two main opposition newspapers, ahead of key political developments.

Harakah and Suara Keadilan have been told they cannot publish for the next three months, with immediate effect.

It comes a week before the expected designation of a new and controversial prime minister, Najib Razak, and two weeks before important by-elections.

Analysts say the government, which has faced strong opposition challenges, is increasingly intolerant of criticism.

This latest suppression underscores the insecurity and fear that Najib and his supporters feel about their political situation, Tian Chua, a spokesman for Suara Keadilan , is quoted by AFP news agency as saying: We fear that this action by the government is a prelude to a general clampdown on press freedom in Malaysia .

 

24th March   

Update: A Bill of Responsibilities...

Jack Straw publishes discussion document on tights and responsibilities
Link Here  full story: Human Rights Act...Government for curtailing human rights

Jack Straw Jack Straw pledged to bring together economic and social rights, including the right to free healthcare, victims' rights and the right to equality, into a single bill of rights and responsibilities.

The injustice secretary told MPs that also enshrining responsibilities such as the duty to vote and serve on juries, to live within our environmental limits, and to promote the wellbeing of children in a bill of rights could be the first step towards a written constitution for Britain.

In the face of promises by David Cameron to repeal the Human Rights Act, Straw made clear that the government was proud to have introduced it: We will not backtrack from it or repeal it. But we believe more could be done to bring out the responsibilities which accompany rights.

Straw's green paper makes clear that while a bill of rights would extend the coverage of the Human Rights Act to social and economic rights, such as free healthcare, it would stop short of making them newly legally enforceable in the courts.

The green paper, which is designed to launch a public debate on the issue, says that these social and economic rights that are part of our well-established welfare state go beyond the civil and political rights set out in the European convention on human rights.

Today's green paper is expected to be followed by a white paper before the next election.

 

 

24th March   

Update: Turks Cursed by Repressive Law...

Ministry of Injustice continues insulting Turkishness case
Link Here  full story: Insulting Turkishness...Insulting Turkishness law used to repress

Turkish gag Turkey's decision to try two Christians under a revised version of a controversial law for insulting Turkishness because they spoke about their faith came as a blow to the country's record of freedom of speech and religion.

A court on Feb. 24 received the go-ahead from the Ministry of Justice to try Christians Turan Topal and Hakan Tastan under the revised Article 301 – a law that has sparked outrage among proponents of free speech as journalists, writers, activists and lawyers have been tried under it. The court had sent the case to the Ministry of Justice after the government on May 8, 2008 put into effect a series of cosmetic changes to the law.

The justice ministry decision came as a surprise to Topal and Tastan and their lawyer, as missionary activities are not illegal in Turkey. Defense lawyer Haydar Polat said no concrete evidence of insulting Turkey or Islam has emerged since the case first opened two years ago.

A Ministry of Justice statement claimed that approval to try the case came in response to the original statement by three young men – Fatih Kose, Alper Eksi and Oguz Yilmaz – that Topal and Tastan were conducting missionary activities in an effort to show that Islam was a primitive and fictitious religion that results in terrorism, and to portray Turks as a cursed people.

Prosecutors have yet to produce any evidence indicating the defendants described Islam in these terms, and Polat said Turkey's constitution grants all citizens freedom to choose, be educated in and communicate their religion, making missionary activities legal.

Update: Vindictive Farce Continues

20th October 2009. See article from christianpost.com

After three prosecution witnesses testified yesterday that they didn't even know two Christians on trial for insulting Turkishness and Islam, a defense lawyer called the trial a scandal.

Speaking after the hearing in the drawn-out trial, defense attorney Haydar Polat said the case's initial acceptance by a state prosecutor in northwestern Turkey was based only on a written accusation from the local gendarmerie headquarters unaccompanied by any documentation.

Yesterday's three witnesses, all employed as office personnel for various court departments in Istanbul, testified that they had never met or heard of the two Christians on trial. The two court employees who had requested New Testaments testified that they had initiated the request themselves.

For the next hearing set for Jan. 28, 2010, the court has repeated its summons to three more prosecution witnesses who failed to appear yesterday: a woman employed in Istanbul's security police headquarters and two armed forces personnel whose whereabouts had not yet been confirmed by the population bureau.

Update: Vindictive Farce Continues and Continues

7th June 2010. See  article from  inspiremagazine.org.uk

The eleventh hearing of a case of alleged slander against two Turkish Christians closed just minutes after it opened this week, due to lack of any progress.

Prosecutors produced no new evidence or witnesses against Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal since the last court session four months ago. Despite lack of any tangible reason to continue the stalled case, their lawyer said, the Silivri Criminal Court set still another hearing to be held on 14 October.

They are uselessly dragging this out, defence lawyer Haydar Polat said moments after Judge Hayrettin Sevim closed the 25 May hearing. The two Protestant Christians were accused in October 2006 of slandering the Turkish nation and Islam under Article 301 of the Turkish criminal code.

The prosecution has yet to provide any concrete evidence of the charges, which allegedly took place while the two men were involved in evangelistic activities in the town of Silivri.

At this point, we are tired of this, Tastan admitted. If they can't find these so-called witnesses, then the court needs to issue a verdict. After four years, it has become a joke!

 

23rd March   

Updated: Killer Blame...

German police union chief calls for ban on killer games
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Far Cry 2 game The head of Germany's national police union has called for a ban on violent video games in the wake of a horrific school shooting earlier this month.

Echo Online cites comments made by Heini Schmitt, head of the Hessen German Police Union:

It is known that in every situation in which a violent rampage has occurred, the perpetrator has had a remarked addiction to so-called killergames. The manner of the deed is astonishingly similar to virtual examples.

For him, the fact that roughly a third of children and youths regularly and addictively escape into a virtual world sets off alarm bells. Age restrictions for such games are often ignored. There is admittedly no proof that these frequent escapes into virtual killerworlds can contribute to such insane deeds. But neither can the role killergames be completely dismissed.

When a chance to remove a probable cause exists, it must be used, he insisted: The world would be no poorer if there were no more killergames.

 

23rd March   

Update: Disconnected Government...

ISP pulls out of internet filter trials over unjustified censorship
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

iinet logo iiNet has pulled out of the federal Government's internet filtering trials.

iiNet only agreed to participate in the trial to demonstrate that the filter was flawed and a waste of taxpayers' money, iiNet managing director Michael Malone said.

Malone cited drawn-out negotiations with the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, constant changes in policy, and last week's leak of a secret internet blacklist as reasons for pulling out.

It became increasingly clear that the trial was not simply about restricting child pornography or other such illegal material, but a much wider range of issues including what the Government simply describes as ‘unwanted material' without an explanation of what that includes, Malone said.

iiNet's withdrawal from the ISP filter trials is another blow for the controversial project. Last week the federal Government's plans for the nationwide internet filter were put in jeopardy when its top-secret blacklist of banned web pages was leaked.

 

23rd March   

Updated: Coup de Tat...

Mauritania arrests online journalist and blacks major new site
Link Here

Mauritania flag Abbass Ould Braham, a Mauritanian online journalist was arrested on 16 March 2009, for an article he published on Taqadoumy.com website.

Abbass's article Deep into Mauritania: A Cross-Section of the new Mauritanian Regime deals with the August 6 coup d'état, the Junta and the Mauritanian political system:

Dozens of Mauritanian journalists tried to stage a sit-in late Monday in front of the UN office in Nouakchott in solidarity with the journalist Abbass Ould Braham when the Mauritanian riot police raided the site, firing tear gas at them and allegedly beating them with truncheons.

A Facebook group has also been created in support of Abbass.

The two main ISP's in Mauritania have been ordered by the General Persecutor, Seyid Ould Ghaïlani, to block access to what is considered to be the country's second biggest news website, Taqadoumy.

Today, Mauritel, Mauritania's state-owned telecommunications company, followed the block order by banning the website. If confirmed, this is the first case (since 2005 Mauritanian coup d'état) of barring Mauritanian Internet users from accessing a Mauritanian website.

Update: Released

23rd March 2009. See article from indexoncensorship.org

Writer and journalist Abou Abbass Ould Brahim, the editor of the news website Taqadoumy, was released after being held for three days in the Mauritanian capital. The website was allowed to reopen 24 hours after the Nouakchott prosecutor's office ordered its closure.

A Nouakchott criminal court had ordered Taqadoumy's closure at the request of prosecutors for posting mendacious and defamatory information. The court accused the site of violating journalistic ethics and undermining national unity by means of defamation and inciting hatred.

Update: Mauritania Offends Public Decency

22nd August 2009.  See article from rsf.org

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the six-month jail sentence which a Nouakchott court passed yesterday on Hanevy Ould Dehah, the editor of the website Taqadoumy, on a charge of offending public decency. Dehah has been held for the past two months in Dart Naim prison.

The sole aim of this disproportionate sentence is to restore the reputation of Ibrahima Moctar Sarr, a politician whose financial dealings Dehah examined, Reporters Without Borders said: We hope this verdict is overturned on appeal and Dehah is soon released.

While finding Dehah guilty on the public decency charge, the court acquitted him on charges of defamation, inciting rebellion and inciting crimes and offences because of the absence of enforceable laws applicable to electronic media offences.

As well as sentencing him to six months in prison, it fined him 30,000 ouguiyas (83 euros) and ordered him to pay another 21,000 ouguiyas (59 euros) in legal costs. He has appealed.

 

23rd March   

Offsite: JackBoots Lays in to Widow Twankey...

Will they lock me up for playing Widow Twankey?
Link Here  full story: Gay Hate Law in the UK...Christian MPs and ban on anti gay speech

Widow Twanky During the dark days of Soviet oppression, there was a joke that did the rounds in Russia. Homosexuality is a crime and the punishment is seven years in prison locked up with other men. There is a three-year waiting list.

Don't laugh too loudly. It could soon be illegal to repeat a joke like that.

I'm not kidding. In the name of challenging homophobia , the Government is planning to push legislation through Parliament that will make it a serious crime to use any language which could be construed as offensive to gay men and women.

The new law will even override the basic requirements of freedom of speech, one of the pillars of our democracy.

....Read full article

 

22nd March   

Update: GetUp and Get On TV...

Campaign against Australian internet censorship to advertise on TV
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

GetUp logo Activist group GetUp is set to launch a television advertising campaign against the government's proposed internet censorship regime after a blacklist of banned websites was leaked online.

GetUp has invited members to submit their creative ideas for an ad to be screened nationally next month.

GetUp said the ACMA blacklist included a Queensland dentist, a tuckshop management consultant, animal carers and a tour operator.

This time it was a dentist from Queensland. The next time it might be a website that criticises internet censorship, or a rival political party, GetUp national director Simon Sheikh said in a statement: The government is asking us to trust them that a flawed system won't be abused. Australians know and demand better.

Sheikh said Australians would not stand by and let potentially innocent people get caught up in the federal government's internet censorship.

He said that was why GetUp had decided to step up the campaign against the government's ludicrous internet censorship plans.

People have been invited to submit script ideas, music, images and personal anecdotes to collaborate in creating a national TV ad to be screened next month.

Sheikh said GetUp's Save The Net campaign had already attracted the support of more than 98,000 Australians and has included an online petition and an online advertising blitz viewed more than 3.5 million times.

The campaign has been funded by thousands of small donations from members.

 

22nd March   

The Shut Your Mouth Bill...

Dominica justifies state censorship by the failure of self regulation in the US banking sector
Link Here

Dominica flag The Media Workers Association of Dominica and the public have expressed grave concern about  proposed legislation which has been labelled as The shut your mouth bill.

Information Minister Loreen Bannis-Roberts claimed: This Bill is not about censorship as is being stated, neither does it seek to undermine or infringed upon any of the fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the Dominica constitution .

Local and Caribbean journalists have said that self-regulation instead is best for the media, but the Information Minister said the matter cannot be left to the preferences and biases of individual broadcasters.

A good example of the dangers inherent in the doctrine of self-regulation is the prevailing global financial crisis which originated in the United States of America. Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve System in the United States of America or the governor of that country's central bank Mr Allan Greenspan, took a gamble with self regulation in selective areas of the financial sector…in the United States which over a period of several years resulted in disaster.

 

22nd March   

Offsite: Little Jack Straw Britain...

Comedic gay-bashing isn't funny, but it shouldn't be banned
Link Here  full story: Gay Hate Law in the UK...Christian MPs and ban on anti gay speech

Only hay in the village This Government seems determined to abolish freedom of speech. It has made it a criminal offence to incite religious or racial hatred and, as of last year, there is also an offence on the statute book (but not yet in force) of inciting hatred based on sexual orientation. If this legislative trend continues, telling someone you don't like their slacks could soon land you in the slammer.

Bucking this trend, the House of Lords inserted a "free speech" exception to the gay-hate offence, which protects people who discuss or criticise sexual conduct, or urge others to refrain from it. Now, though, the Ministry of Justice has added a clause to the current Coroners and Justice Bill which, if passed, will repeal that "free speech" exception. The justice secretary, Jack Straw, said that there were no circumstances in which the right to freedom of speech could justify homophobic behaviour.

When seeking to outlaw homophobic acts, Mr Straw is thinking of extreme political groups and nasty rap lyrics. He probably doesn't have in mind the "only gay in the village" sketches from Little Britain. But his political opponents fear that that kind of comedy could fall foul of his new law

....Read full article

 

21st March   

Update: Proof of Censorship Creep...

The real ACMA block list posted on Wikileaks?
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Wikileaks WikiLeaks has released a copy of what is alleged to be the current ACMA blacklist. This list is dated March 18 and includes 1170 URLs, including the now high-profile AbortionTV page and the Wikileaks page containing the Danish blacklist.

URLs belonging to Betfair, The Peaceful Pill Handbook, Redtube, AbbyWinters, IShotMyself, TheHun and xTube are present on the list.

Update: For Sure Real

24th March 2009. See article from crikey.com.au

Evidence is mounting that the list of websites published by Wikileaks is almost certainly ACMA's "secret" blacklist.

 

21st March   

Update: The Appeal of Wilders...

Wilders appeals against the decision to ban him from the UK
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders Dutch MP Geert Wilders has launched an appeal against the Home Office's decision to ban him from travelling to the UK.

Wilders was scheduled to screen his controversial film, Fitna, in the House of Lords when he was refused entry into the country last month. The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, refused to allow him into the country on grounds of public security.

 

21st March   

Updated: Unfit for Purpose...

Games developers object to advert associating games with early death
Link Here

Risk an early death, just do nothing Tiga, the trade association which represents UK video game developers, has filed a complaint with Britain's Advertising Standards Authority.

At issue are print ads placed by the British government's Change4Life campaign which show a young boy holding a game controller. The ad's text reads, Risk an early death, just do nothing.

Tiga CEO Richard Wilson said:

This advert is absurd and insulting in equal measure. To imply that playing a video game leads to a premature rendezvous with the Grim Reaper is a non-sequitur of colossal proportions. Alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, obesity and involvement in violent crime are forms of behaviour that risk an early death...

This advert is offensive to the 30,000 people who work in the UK's video games industry, particularly the 10,000 who work in games development. Game developers are typically intelligent, very qualified and creative individuals who work to produce high quality games for people's entertainment. They are not in the business of driving people to an early grave...

Update: Sedentary Lifestyle Not the Playing Games

20th March 2009. Based on article from reghardware.co.uk

ASA logo The advertising censor, the ASA has stood behind an advert that some consumers complained connected videogames with an early death: the ad did not claim that playing computer or console games alone would lead to illness or premature death.

The ASA claimed that most readers would understand that the ad was discouraging a sedentary lifestyle, with games consoles used purely as an illustration of how health problems may occur if you sit on your bum all day playing Grand Theft Auto IV without doing any exercise.

Offsite: Blame Game Tactics

21st March 2009. See article from computerandvideogames.com , thanks to JAK

Risk an early death, just do nothing Here's an interesting article on a gaming website that has been partly lifted from Private Eye.

Private Eye suggested that The Risk an Early Death, Just Do Nothing campaign which targets gamers has been funded by such companies as Coca Cola, Nestle and Kellogs - companies that sell junk foods which can also contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle and early death.

Perhaps the message said companies want to send out is do more physical work so you can eat our junk.

Of course all concerned are refuting everything suggested.

 

21st March   

Glamourising Censorship...

Advert censor whinges at TV ad for Wanted DVD
Link Here

A TV ad for the DVD of the film Wanted showed the actress Angelina Jolie driving a car in a chase. A male voice-over stated The coolest movie of the year. Wanted, on DVD ... . A hand was then shown holding a gun; Angelina Jolie subsequently held a gun outstretched and fired a bullet towards the viewer. A female voice stated Welcome to the fraternity. There were further chase scenes before Angelina Jolie was shown instructing the actor James McAvoy: I want you to curve the bullet. Shoot the target; he then fired shots. On-screen text showed quotations from press reviews of the film and corresponded with the voice-over, which stated Bone-crunchingly brilliant and Angelina is blazingly sexy. She was shown from the back and appeared to be naked aside from the towel she held around her middle. Both actors were then shown kissing each other before action scenes featured each holding guns and shooting. A bullet, which had just been fired, moved into the frame and was inscribed with WANTED; the voice-over stated Hunt it down. On DVD Monday.

One viewer objected that the ad:

  1. glamorised the use of guns, and
  2. was not suitable to be shown at 9 am on a Sunday morning, when children were likely to be watching.

ASA Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA noted the ad was intended to depict a film with a fantastical setting and a strong female lead. We noted it depicted several guns being fired by both the male and female leads and considered that, in conjunction with the on-screen text and voice-over that stated Angelina is blazingly sexy and The coolest movie of the year the overall impression was that using guns was sexy and glamorous. We concluded the ad could be seen to condone violence by glorifying or glamorising the use of guns.

2. Upheld

We noted the ad had been given an ex-kids restriction, which could help prevent young children from seeing it. We were concerned however that it was also inappropriate to be seen by older children because it could be seen to condone violence by glorifying or glamorising the use of guns. We concluded that the ex-kids restriction was insufficient.

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.

 

20th March   

Nutter Overkill...

Australian nutters whinge about House of the Dead: Overkill game
Link Here

House of the Dead: Overkill A violent video game has been slammed by nutter groups.

House of the Dead: Overkill , released by Sega for use with the Wii console, is full of gory scenes. Players mow down waves of mutants, leaving a trail of lost limbs, gutted bowels and heads with shattered brains.

The MA15+ rated game includes the word 'fuck' 189 times, a record that has made it into Guinness World Records - Gamer's Edition.

The gaming industry has been mischievously misrepresenting the classification system on this issue, said Angela Conway, director of the Pro Family Perspective: I feel very distressed that a large number of teenagers and adults would play this game and soak up this amount of sexually aggressive violence and aggressively violent language.

Conway is calling for a study of the type of impact games such as House of the Dead: Overkill have on youngsters -- and adults: We need to draw a deep breath and look at the research, which will show a need to scale back this level of violence.

A spokesman for Sega, Vispi Bhopti, defended the game: House of the Dead: Overkill has been rated as suitable for people over 15. It is not an R-rated game . The swearing in it is very much stylised so it matches the Grindhouse cinema style made famous by director Quentin Tarantino. In playing the game, players attack zombies or humanoid characters but never humans. This is an important distinction that the classification board makes when it gives a rating.

For comparison the BBFC rated the game as 18 uncut:

BBFC logo The House of the Dead: Overkill is a spoof horror shoot-'em-up game for the Nintendo Wii, that serves as a prequel to the first game in the series. Set in 1991, Special Agent G is fresh out of the AMS academy, and teamed up with Detective Washington, to investigate stories of mysterious disappearances in a small town in Louisiana. It has been classified '18' for frequent strong bloody violence, gore and language.

Frequent strong bloody violence and gore is seen as waves of humanoid zombies are continuously maimed and dispatched, generating large blood splatts/sprays which - whilst unconvincing - stay on the walls/floors/ceiling, emphasising the massive carnage taking place, albeit in self-defence. The weapons blow zombie bodies apart into bloody chunks; we see decapitations and limbs flying off and littering the environment, which are quite horrific, strewn with dead human bodies. In one level, we see men loading severed limbs into a grinder in a gory hospital basement, plus several dead and bloodied corpses of men strung up on chains. Defeated zombie bodies disappear very quickly, and there is little opportunity for sadistic treatment. Despite this, and the fantastical setting, the level of detail was considered to be too gory and detailed for '15', where BBFC Guidelines direct that 'Violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury ... the strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable'.

The game features frequent strong language throughout, with humorous and ironic exchanges between the detectives generating literally hundreds of uses of 'f***' (and its derivatives) and 'motherf****r'. There are also has a number of strong verbal sex references as the men tease each other, with comments like 'You use your tongue better than a $30 hooker .... you finally found the g-spot huh? ... you were having a fucking wet dream'. There are some overtones of incest, and also a surreal scene where it is implied that a man crawls into the body of a giant woman, entering between her legs - although this is not shown explicitly.

 

20th March   

Update: Glorified Failure...

Questions asked about there being no formal extremist website closures
Link Here  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

House of Commons logo Stopping extremist websites operating was one of the measures unveiled by Tony Blair in the aftermath of the 7 July suicide bombings in London in 2005.

Although the powers were enshrined in law with the Terrorism Act 2006, the Home Office has now admitted that not a single website has been shut down in the past two years.

Under Section 3 of the legislation, a police officer can order that unlawfully terrorism-related material is removed or modified within two working days.

However, Vernon Coaker, a Home Office minister, said: The preferred route of the police is to use informal contact with the communication service providers to request that the material is removed. To date no Section 3 notices have been issued as this informal route has proved effective. Coaker added: Statistics covering the number of sites removed through such informal contact are not collected.

Patrick Mercer, the Conservative backbench MP who obtained the information, said he was shocked that despite spending over £100million on preventing radicalization, not a single extremist website had been closed down.

 

20th March   

Update: Grossly Irresponsible...

Conroy blames the leakers over his own failure to keep the block list limited to sites with community wide consensus
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Stephen Conroy The publication of a leaked list of prohibited URLs which are allegedly part of the Australian Media and Communications Authority's secret list of 2,395 banned websites, has been slammed by Communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy as grossly irresponsible.

The list which was leaked this week by global whistle-blower site Wikileaks claims to be derived from ACMA's censorship list. The Australian government plans to use this list as a basis for its mandatory ISP filtering scheme and under the ACMA guidelines linking sites contained to the list can attract fines of up to $11,000 a day.

The list leak, which includes Telstra's Yellow Pages and YouTube as offending sites, is a further blow to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy's plans to block ISP content. Conroy denied the authenticity of the list .

The leak and publication of prohibited URLs is grossly irresponsible. It undermines efforts to improve cyber-safety and create a safe online environment for children. No-one interested in cyber-safety would condone the leaking of these addresses. I am aware of reports that a list of URLs has been placed on a web site. This is not the ACMA blacklist, Conroy said.

He admitted however that there are some common URLs to those on the ACMA blacklist. ACMA is currently investigating the incident and considering a range of possible actions it may take including referral to the Australian Federal Police. Conroy warned in a statement that any Australian involved in making this content publicly available would be at serious risk of criminal prosecution.

Hands off Wikileak's Sources

Based on article from inquisitr.com

Wikileaks Wikileaks has upped the ante in its skirmish with the Australia Government, warning that any attempts to find the source of the leaked censorship list would cause an international incident, and could see Australian Minister for censorship Stephen Conroy indicted on criminal charges in Sweden.

Wikileaks issued a press release:

The Stockholm based publisher of Wikileaks today issued a warning to the Australian Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Steven Conroy, who is responsible for Australian internet censorship.

Senator Conroy issued an official media release yesterday in response to Wikileaks' release of last year's confidential Australian internet censorship blacklist. The Senator said that his department, is investigating this matter and is considering a range of possible actions it may take including referral to the Australian Federal Police. Any Australian involved in making this content publicly available would be at serious risk of criminal prosecution.

The Senator is perhaps unaware of the legal and diplomatic risks associated with the statement.

Sunshine Press Legal Adviser Jay Lim stated: Under the Swedish Constitution's Press Freedom Act, the right of a confidential press source to anonymity is protected, and criminal penalties apply to anyone acting to breach that right.

Wikileaks source documents are received in Sweden and published from Sweden so as to derive maximum benefit from this legal protection. Should the Senator or anyone else attempt to discover our source we will refer the matter to the Constitutional Police for prosecution, and, if necessary, ask that the Senator and anyone else involved be extradited to face justice for breaching fundamental rights.

ACMA admit to blocks on consensual adult hardcore

Based on article from australia.to

ACMA logo They explained that they have the remit to irresponsibly add adult hardcore and betting sites etc to the censorship list.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is aware that a list purporting to be the ‘ACMA blacklist' has been posted on an overseas website. ACMA does not consider that the release and promotion of URLs relating to illegal and highly offensive material is responsible.

The regulatory scheme for online content that has been administered by ACMA since 2000. ACMA's role is to investigate complaints and take such actions as prescribed by the legislation on materials assessed to be prohibited or potentially prohibited content.

The ACMA blacklist has at no stage been 2300 URLs in length and at August 2008 consisted of 1061 URLs. It is therefore completely inaccurate to say that the list of 2300 URLs constitutes an ACMA blacklist.

ACMA considers that any publication of the ACMA blacklist would have a substantial adverse effect on the effective administration of the regulatory scheme which aims to prevent access to harmful and offensive online material. Such publication would undermine the public interest outcomes which the current legislation aims to achieve.

The following categories of online content are the categories that are prohibited:

  • Online content that is classified RC or X 18+. This includes real depictions of actual sexual activity, child pornography, depictions of bestiality, material containing excessive violence or sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use, and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act.
  • Content which is classified R 18+ and not subject to a restricted access system. This includes depictions of simulated sexual activity, material containing strong, realistic violence and other material dealing with intense adult themes.
  • Content which is classified MA 15+, provided by a mobile premium service or a service that provides audio or video content upon payment of a fee, and not subject to a restricted access system. This includes material containing strong depictions of nudity, implied sexual activity, drug use or violence, very frequent or very strong coarse language, and other material that is strong in impact.

ACMA's current list of approximately 1100 URLs relating to prohibited content and potential prohibited content hosted outside Australia includes material in the following categories:

  • depictions of child sexual abuse
  • depictions of bestiality
  • material containing excessive violence or sexual violence
  • material containing detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use
  • real depictions of actual sexual activity
  • depictions of simulated sexual activity which are not subject to a restricted access system.

Schedule 7 to the BSA also requires ACMA to investigate complaints about ‘links services' which are hosted in Australia and which lead to prohibited content. If as a result of investigating such a complaint ACMA determines that a link relates to potential prohibited content, ACMA is required to direct the provider of the links service to remove the link, pending classification of the content concerned by the Classification Board.

The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 makes it an offence to provide, or advertise, certain interactive gambling services.

Prohibited internet gambling content is content that can be accessed, or is available for access, by customers of a prohibited internet gambling service.

A prohibited internet gambling service is a gambling service provided in the course of carrying on a business to customers using an internet carriage service, and an individual physically present in Australia is capable of becoming a customer of the service.

If ACMA receives a complaint about prohibited internet gambling content that is hosted in Australia, ACMA will refer the matter to the Australian Federal Police.

If prohibited internet gambling content is hosted outside Australia, ACMA will notify the content to makers of the approved Family Friendly Filters listed in Schedule 1 to the Interactive Gambling Act Industry code.

Google Illegal in Australia

Based on article from inquisitr.com

Google logo Recent action by the Australian Government may see Google and many other popular websites banned in Australia under existing censorship laws.

Under the Communications Legislation Amendment (Content Services) Act 2007 sites that link to content that is Refused Classification (RC) are considered themselves to be RC, and if hosted in Australia, site owners can be ordered to remove the link(s), or fined AU$11,000 a day.

If I was linking to XYZ blog, and XYZ blog was linking to ABC blog who had linked to the leaked ACMA list, all the pages in the chain are illegal, because each one links to prohibited content. Any site linking to me then becomes illegal, and so on.

And Google links to them all!

 

20th March   

Port 80 Nutters...

Mormon conspiracy to censor the web
Link Here

CP80 logo Mormon anti-pornography nutters led by SCO Group chairman Ralph Yarro III are calling on ICANN to give more political clout to those who want to kick porn off the web.

Scores of Yarro's followers have this week petitioned ICANN to OK the formation of a new Cybersafety Constituency which would help develop binding policies for the internet's domain name system. The Cybersafety Constituency would represent the interests of families, children, consumers, victims of cybercrime, religions and cultures.

The drive is being orchestrated by Cheryl Preston, the top lawyer for CP80.org, an Internet Zoning censorship campaign headed by Yarro. CP80.org wants all adult material banned from Port 80, the standard protocol port for the web, and confined to a new port.

ICANN is responsible for managing internet port and IP address allocations globally.

ICANN has asked for comments on the Cybersafety Constituency proposal. So far, the vast majority of commenters support the move, and a majority of those are identikit stock letters, written by and sent at the request of Yarrow. The large majority of commenters giving physical addresses or phone numbers appear to be located in the Mormon stronghold of Utah.

 

20th March   

Updated: I Love S.E.X...

ASA don't like the mix of partying and alcohol
Link Here

I Love S.E.X. A poster for S.E.X. - the Saturday Entertainment Xperience, a nightclub event, showed pictures of young women dressed in mini-skirts and cropped-tops. A large circle on the left of the poster and a smaller circle in the centre stated I love (using a heart symbol) S.E.X (R) Text underneath stated the Saturday Entertainment Xperience! Large headings above the women stated Leeds' Wildest Saturday Night Party - SATURDAYS!" and "THE BIGGEST SATURDAY NIGHT PARTY IN LEEDS - NOW AT BAJA!!!" Smaller circles towards the bottom of the poster stated £1 SHOTS! SAMBUCA - TEQUILA - YES! and £2 VODKA REDBULL - YES!

1. The complainant challenged whether the wording I love S.E.X. together with the pictures of the women was offensive, particularly because it appeared on a hoarding where it could be seen by children.

2. The ASA challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it linked alcohol with sexual activity.

ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted that the ad was for a party event. We considered that most of the people who saw the poster would be unlikely to think the women's clothing or pose indecent or provocative. We acknowledged the use of the phrase I love S.E.X and the style of the women's clothing might not be to everyone's taste but concluded that, in the context of an ad for a party event, those elements were unlikely to be considered inappropriate for children or more widely offensive by most people.

2. Upheld

We noted that the poster advertised a party night. We noted the advertiser's comments but considered, nevertheless, that, while the clothing and poses of the women were not in themselves likely to be considered sexually provocative or sexually explicit, their appearance was likely to be considered attractive and appealing to young people wanting to meet and socialise. We considered that to show the images in conjunction with the phrase I love S.E.X. evoked an atmosphere of sociability that focused at least in part on sexual activity. We considered that, in the context established by those elements of the ad, the circles that stated £1 SHOTS! SAMBUCA - TEQUILA - YES! and £2 VODKA REDBULL - YES! went beyond advertising alcohol at the event simply in the context of price or entertainment and linked it with sexual activity.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We welcomed Taking Liberties' assurance that the ad was not to be repeated. We told them that future ads should not link alcohol with sexual activity.

Update: Vodka Nationwide

20th March 2009. Based on article from asa.org.uk

Vodka Natiowide ad A leaflet for a nightclub stated VODKA NATIONWIDE. Teesides's biggest student only party! Welcome to the world's wildest club! 'Super sexy boys and girls get ready ... Vodka Nationwide is dedicated to all of you out there who love to Party hard dance til dawn wake up in someone elses [sic] bed, lose your shoes your inhibitions & your mind! ... underwear recommended but not essential!. The body copy also featured, several images of young people in various costumes and details of the drinks prices at the event, for instance £1 VODKA SHOTS! and £1.50 KRONENBOURG, STELLA, FOSTERS BOTTLES.

A complainant objected that the ad promoted binge drinking and irresponsible sexual behaviour.

ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld

The ASA noted the ad was targeted solely at students. We noted it featured several images of young women dressed provocatively, including some wearing bikini tops with Vodka written across the front.

We considered that the references to alcoholic drinks in conjunction with claims such as Super sexy boys and girls get ready ... Vodka Nationwide is dedicated to all of you out there who love to Party hard dance til dawn wake up in someone elses [sic] bed, lose your shoes your inhibitions & your mind! ... underwear recommended but not essential! was likely to lead some readers to infer that excessive drinking and sexual related themes were a part of the event.

Although we noted Taking Liberties' argument that the approach was merely intended to hype the promotion of an event targeted solely at students, we considered that the ad, when taken as a whole, focused on alcohol as an important part of the event and was likely to be seen by some readers to have allusions to sexual activity. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and in breach of the Code.

 

20th March   

Update: Weakened National Sentiments...

Syria jails writer for his political views
Link Here  full story: Free Tariq...Syrian blogger jailed

Syria flag Syrian writer Habib Saleh was sentenced to three years in prison for criticizing the country's government in a series of articles published on the internet.

Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully expressing his political views, and has called for his immediate and unconditional release.

The charges against Habib Saleh were related to several articles on domestic political issues that he had written and published online. He had criticized policies of the Syrian government and expressed support for a prominent opposition figure, Riad al-Turk.

The 61-year-old was found guilty of weakening national sentiments (Article 285 of the Penal Code) and broadcasting false or exaggerated news which could affect the morale of the country (Article 286). The court dropped other charges against him.

 

19th March   

Update: Trust in the Censor Evaporates...

Australian list of blocked internet sites leaked
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Wikileaks The Australian government secret ACMA internet censorship blacklist from 6 Aug 2008 has been leaked to wikileaks.org

This list contains 2395 webpages or site variations derived from the those secretly banned by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and used by a government approved censorship software maker in its "ACMA only" censorship mode. The last update to the ACMA list is August 6, 2008.

While Wikileaks is used to exposing secret government censorship in developing countries, we now find Australia acting like a democratic backwater. Apparently without irony, ACMA threatens fines of up to $11,000 a day for linking to sites on its secret, unreviewable, censorship blacklist -- a list the government hopes to expand into a giant national censorship machine.

This week saw Australia joining China and the United Arab Emirates as the only countries censoring Wikileaks. We were not notified by ACMA.

Most of the sites on the Australian list have no obvious connection to child pornography. Some have changed owners while others were clearly always about other subjects.

One of Australia's largest owned and operated adult websites, AbbyWinters.com, is included on the ACMA blacklist of prohibited websites. Also banned is the TheHun.com, one of the web's longest running and most visited free adult link directories.

AbbyWinters, which is owned by Victorian company GMBill, complies with 18 U.S.C. 2257 Record-Keeping Requirements, meaning all models are over 18 years of age. Most of the material on the site would be rated no higher than X18+, which is legal to purchase and view in Australia.

Gambling sites such as PartyPoker.com are also included in the block list.

 

19th March   

Update: Censorshop...

Major German store removes 18+ computer games from its stores
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Kaufhof store Major German retailer Kaufhof will no longer sell violent video games and films, after a teenager - who was an avid gamer - shot dead 15 people before killing himself last week.

On the basis of what happened in Winnenden, we have decided to take all the games and films deemed unsuitable for below 18 year olds out of our product range, Kaufhof spokesperson Sonja Kittel told AFP: The products which we now have in the stores will be sold until the end of March but by April the sales will be stopped all together.

Thomas Burkhart, director of Kaufhof's media department, said within an hour of the decision, most of the games had been removed from the shelves.

Critics are now saying that Kaufhof, with over 20 000 employees and more than 100 branches in Germany, has overreacted and that this form of self-censorship is not necessary.

Knee jerking politician calls for 18+ certificate for everything Tim Kretschmer ever played

It's politicians that need to be 'sensibilized'

Based on article from welt.de

Minister for Social Affairs Mechthild Ross-Luttmann aims to achieve a general age restriction for addictive computer games. World of Warcraft, for example – available to minors at the age of 12 – might in the near future only be sold to adults. In addition to this, parents need to be further sensibilized. Parents must know what danger potential exists in their children's bedrooms, Ross-Luttmann said.

Computer game expert and author of Digital Paradise Andreas Rosenfelder is rather skeptical about demands like this. I don't see a connection between digital role playing games like World of Warcraft and shooting sprees, he said. World of Warcraft is a game set in medieval times in which the protagonists can take on the roles of dwarfs, elves and wizards. There is no shooting in this game.

In heated debates there can easily be some confusion, Rosenfelder said.

 

19th March   

Update: Defamation Off the Durban II Menu...

Now religions can only whinge about negative stereotyping
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logo United Nations officials have said that Muslim-backed references to defamation of religion and criticism of Israel have been dropped from a draft being prepared for next month's world racism meeting, Durban II.

The latest draft declaration, a compromise 17-page text issued by Russian working group chairman Yuri Boychenko after private consultations, omits any reference to the Middle East conflict as well as defamation of religion.

It now speaks only of concern about the negative stereotyping of religions and does not single out Israel for criticism, according to the officials.

The April 20-25 meeting in Geneva is designed to review progress in fighting racism since the global body's first such conference eight years ago in Durban, South Africa.

Israel and Canada said they would boycott this year's meeting in Geneva. The United States and Italy have also vowed not to attend unless countries commit to a balanced declaration. The European Union and Australia have threatened to follow suit unless Muslim countries backed down.

 

19th March   

Updated: Zed Grade Whinge...

Nutter complains about nude photo in art exhibition
Link Here

Marita Liulia A photograph of a naked man in an exhibition at an art museum in Helsinki is sparking nutter outrage, as Hindus have taken offence to the image and demanded its removal from the show.

Rajan Zed, an Indo-American hindu leadfer living in Nevada who heads the Universal Society of Hinduism, issued a press release calling the photograph, which is titled Hinduism: The Night of Pushkar 2, disrespectful, hurting, and irreverent.

The work is part of an exhibition by Finnish artist Marita Liulia at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. The show, Choosing My Religion, is a multimedia project that examines the major world religions. Hinduism is represented by a number of photographs, including The Night of Pushkar 2 , which depicts a naked man sitting on a balcony wall with his head down. His genitals are visible.

Zed is calling for the removal of the photo as well as a public apology from the artist; the director of the Kiasma museum; the director general of the Finnish National Gallery, of which the Kiasma museum is a part; and the Finland Minister of Education, Henna Virkkunen.

Update: Title Change

19th March 2009. Based on article from scoop.co.nz

The controversy has now been resolved by changing the title of the nude photo. The word 'Hinduism' has been dropped from the original title: Hinduism: The Night of Pushkar 2

Rajan Zed, who spearheaded this protest, has appreciated this step of the government run Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, saying that it was a sigh of relief for the agitated Hindu community. He urged the Museum to remove word 'Pushkar' also from this photograph of nude man with visible genitals, arguing that town of Pushkar, which is associated with Hindu god Brahma, was sacred to Hindus.

Kiasma Director Brendt Arell reportedly said that he would consider it.

Rajan Zed points out that Hindus are for freedom of expression as much as anybody else if not more. Hindu tradition encourages peaceful debates, won on their intellectual merit. ...BUT... faith is something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees.

This controversial photograph is on display till April 19 as part of Marita Liulia's Choosing My Religion multimedia exhibition at Kiasma, in which her art pieces juxtapose Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, and Animism. This exhibition will later travel to Tampere, Turku and Vaasa cities in Finland.

 

19th March   

Diary: March in March...

Protest against Australian internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

March in March March in March
Parliament House side of Federation Mall, Canberra
21st of March 2009, 1pm

March in March is an upbeat event to give people an opportunity stand up, be heard, and hold the government accountable for their plans of forcing mandatory censorship on a very unwilling public.

With a mix of live entertainment of bands and DJs, speakers from all sides of the political spectrum and other special guests, the day will be topped off with the annual Canberran Skyfire Festival, just for us ... okay, maybe not.

So whether it's the social activism, the free gigs, or the big bangs in a V for Vendetta-esque climax in prime position at the front gates of Parliament, come along!

This is YOUR opportunity to stand up, your TIME to say no to censorship, your chance TO BE HEARD!

 

19th March   

Diary: Dead by Dawn 2009...

Scotland's premier horror film festival
Link Here

Dead by Dawn 2009
Filmhouse, Edinburgh
Thu 30 April - Sun 3rd May

Four days of utter horror indulgence with the usual stunning programme of previews and glorious indie discoveries, complemented by a superb selection of classics, more short film programmes than you can shake a splintered bone at, special guests, endless give-aways, goodies, a late bar every night and much more!??

The Dead By Dawn festival pass costs £65.

Part of the Dead by Dawn horror film festival, Spawn of Dawn is a slightly-kinder-to-the-brain night of horror treats featuring a selection from the Dead by Dawn programme.

This movie marathon kicks off at midnight on Saturday 2 May 2009.

Tickets cost £25.

 

19th March   

Offsite: Derek and Clive Live at the DPP...

Records released from the National Archive
Link Here

Derek & Clive Live CD The infamous Derek and Clive tapes recorded in ad-libbed late night sessions in New York in 1973 included a series of scabrous, foul-mouthed sketches which were described at the time as making your average stag club compere sound like the Pope.

Files from the director of public prosecution released this week by the National Archives at Kew reveal that the tapes provoked complaints from police forces across England demanding they be banned.

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore created Derek and Clive to distinguish the X-rated sketches from their more wholesome Pete 'n' Dud Not only ... but Also routines.

In the most memorable of the sketches, the Worst Job I Ever Had, Clive [Cook] claims he once nursed Jayne Mansfield through an affliction he referred to as lobstericimus bumbequissimus - removing lobsters from her rectum. Chris Blackwell's Island records finally got up the nerve to put out Derek and Clive (live) in Britain. The warning on its sleeve that this record contains language of an explicit nature that may be offensive and should not be played in the presence of minors did little to forestall nutter outrage.

The DPP's office listened to the album. One official said he had listened to the worst parts - Jayne Mansfield's lobsters (rather funny but too long). The case officer, Graham Grant-Whyte said: It is crude - 'fourth form lavatory humour' - excretory topics abound as does foul language.

Derek and Clive had escaped prosecution. But the BBC banned it, and the album went on to sell more than 100,000 copies - it was said mainly to adolescent boys - in Britain and America and revitalised the two comics' reputation for youthful rebelliousness.

...Read full article

 

18th March   

Update: Tangled Web of Censorship...

Australian internet censor emails out the very link it is banning
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

ACMA logo The accountability of the Australian federal government's Internet content filter has been called into question following revelations that the decision to ban Web sites lacks consultation and can be made by a single staffer.

Privacy advocacy groups have expressed concerns that the looming Internet content filter could become authoritarian unless adequate accountability and review is included into how the communications watchdog bans Web sites.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) was left red-faced after it was attacked in a recent Senate Estimates hearing by Senator Scott Ludlam for banning an anti-abortionist Web site without consulting the classification board.

The embarrassment follows a heavy-handed redress by the watchdog in which online hosting company BulletProof Networks was threatened with an $11,000 a day fine for allowing the publication of a Web address to a banned anti-abortion Web site.

The infringing Web address — contained in a response from the ACMA's own public relations department — was published in online forum Whirlpool, after a user requested the watchdog in January to ban the Web site.

Users are goading the internet censor to ban its own Wikipedia page by including the link to the blacklisted Web site. User edits have removed the details of the site at the time of publication and further edits have been locked by the site.

 

18th March   

Playing Games with Probability...

Multiplying unrelated long odds reveals that violent games provoke aggressive thoughts
Link Here

Iowa State University In a guest lecture at Macquarie University, Sydney, Professor Anderson, Director of Centre of the Study of Violence at Iowa State University spoke of the risks of violent videogames.

Research was clear by 1975 that media violence caused aggressive behaviour, Prof. Anderson said: We know that short term exposure to violent media can lead to aggressive behaviour and aggressive thinking within five minutes of watching a violent film or playing a violent game, while long term exposure can lead to aggression into early adulthood.

To highlight this connection, Prof. Anderson examined the likelihood of violent videogames leading to aggressive behaviour by drawing on well-known examples of cause and effect. Such examples included the chances of regular consumption of aspirin leading to heart attacks, the chances of asbestos causing cancer, and the chances of condom use reducing the risk of contracting HIV. In all these examples, violent videogames proved to be a higher risk factor, going as far as being approximately three times more likely to happen than asbestos exposure leading to cancer.

On the scale of youth violence risk factors, violent videogames were more likely to increase aggression than substance abuse, poverty, and anti-social peers. Violent games are more likely to provoke aggressive thoughts in players.

Anderson was careful to point out that this did not necessarily mean that everyone who played violent videogames would begin committing violent acts. Rather, violent games made players more prepared to think aggressive thoughts.

He cited another study where college students were asked to play a pro-social, neutral, and violent game, after which each was tested to see how willing they were to help their peers solve puzzles. The study showed that those who played non-violent, pro-social games were more inclined to be helpful by choosing easier puzzles for their peers to complete, whereas those who had just played violent games chose difficult puzzles to impede on their peers' ability to complete the challenge.

While Anderson believes that this increase in aggressive behaviour is a cause for concern, he doesn't think that violent games are solely to be blamed for anti-social behaviour.

Extreme acts of violence always require multiple risk factors being present. You just don't ever have a school shooter, for example, who only has one risk factor. It just doesn't happen. There's usually four, five, six, seven risk factors, sometimes more. Media violence is one of those risk factors. he said.

Does that mean playing violent videogames is going to create a school shooter? No, not if there aren't any other risk factors. But in kids who have a lot of other risk factors, can it contribute to the likelihood of some sort of extreme violent behaviour occurring? Probably, it can. More so than other risk factors? We don't know. There's no data on it.

 

18th March   

Diary: Freedom of Expression Awards 2009...

Index on Censorship
Link Here

Index on Censorship logo The 2009 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards
Tuesday 21 April
Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG

The evening will bring you stories from around the world that the mainstream media often overlooks. Stories of courage, sometimes of sacrifice, occasionally of humour, that combine to inspire and remind us of the importance of freedom of expression, and why we should defend it more than ever.

Five awards will be presented: the Economist New Media Award, the Guardian Journalism Award, the T R Fyvel Book Award and the Bindmans Law and Campaigning Award.

  • Host Jonathan Dimbleby
  • Keynote speaker Sir David Hare
  • Judges Emily Bell, Shaheed Fatima, Martin Rynja, Christina Lamb, Mark Kermode

The award short lists for 2009 are:

The T R Fyvel Book Award nominees are:

  • Rebel's Hour by Lieve Joris (Atlantic Books)
  • Bejing Coma by Ma Jian (Chatto and Windus)
  • Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker (Simon and Schuster)
  • A Field Guide for Female Interrogators by Coco Fusco (Seven Stories Press)

The Bindmans Law and Campaigning Award nominees are:

  • Gamal Eid, founder of the Working Group for Freedom of Expression in North Africa (WGFENA), Egypt.
  • Harrison Nkomo, a human rights lawyer defending journalists in Zimbabwe.
  • Harry Roque, a campaigner for human rights and media freedom in the Philippines.
  • Malak Imtiaz, a human rights lawyer and activist and the current president of the National Human Rights Society (HAKAM) of Malaysia.

The Index on Censorship Film Award nominees are:

  • Hunger , Dir. Steve McQueen (Pathe).
  • The Devil Came on Horseback , Dir. Ricki Stern (Dogwoof).
  • Terror's Advocate , Dir. Barbet Schroeder (Artificial Eye).
  • On the Verge , directed and distributed by SchMovies.

The Guardian Journalism Award nominees are:

  • The Sunday Leader, a platform for some of Sri Lanka's most outspoken journalism despite its editor's assassination.
  • Sanjuana Martinez, an award-winning freelance journalist investigating and exposing corruption in Mexico.
  • Tamer Almishall, the youngest reporter for the Arabic television network, Al Jazeera, who reported from the recent invasion and bombardment of Gaza.
  • Sakit and Genimet Zakhidov, who are both serving prison sentences for their dedication to freedom of speech after writing articles and poetry critical of Azerbaijan's authoritarian government.

The Economist New Media Award nominees are:

  • Global Advocacy, an international network for bloggers and activists.
  • Psiphon, a computer programme and network created to circumvent censorship, Canada.
  • Hossein ‘Hodder' Derakhshan an Iranian blogger.
  • Mizzima, a Burmese-exile run news website.

 

18th March   

Updated: The Censorship Crown...

Malaysia prosecutes bloggers for criticising sultan
Link Here

Malaysia flag The Malaysian government should stop persecuting six bloggers charged for comments criticizing a Malaysian Sultan, Amnesty International have said.

One of the bloggers has already pleaded guilty and been fined, while the five others face charges in Kuala Lumpur under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

The organization called on the Malaysian government to drop all charges against five of the blockers, and to reverse the conviction of one of the bloggers who pleaded guilty and paid a RM10,000 (US$2700) fine to avoid being imprisoned for five months.

This development is a serious blow to freedom of expression in Malaysia and has set a very dangerous precedent for people wishing to express their views on the internet, said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director.

The charges against the six come at a time of heightened tension in Perak State about the role of the monarchy and accusations that the government is trying to shut down discussion about this debate. Malaysia has a rotational monarchy, where the heads of each of the nine hereditary states occupy the throne for five years.

The internet was one of the few venues available for Malaysians to express their views relatively freely, and now it looks like the government will extend its restrictions on free press to the web, Zarifi said: For a country that claims to be on the cutting edge of communications technology, this is a very troubling step backward.

Amnesty International said that the use of the Act to convict and charge the six violates the Act's stated objective that it would not be used to censor the internet. Section 3(3) of the Act states that nothing in the Act shall be construed as permitting the censorship of the Internet.

Update: Two bloggers more added to the charge list

18th March 2009. See article from amnesty.org

Eight people have been charged with criticizing Malaysia's Sultan of Perak on the internet, as the authorities stepped up a crackdown on the country's bloggers this week.

Businessman Fuad Ariff Abdul Rashid and his lawyer wife, Fatimah Maisurah Abdullah, were charged on Monday with two counts of posting critical comments against the Sultan on the ruler's official website. This followed a nationwide swoop on bloggers last Friday, which saw six people charged with similar offences.

Amnesty International has called on the Malaysian government to drop all charges against the bloggers.

This development is a serious blow to freedom of expression in Malaysia and has set a very dangerous precedent for people wishing to express their views on the internet, said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director.

The charges against the eight come at a time of heightened tension in Perak State about the role of the monarchy and accusations that the government is trying to shut down discussion about this debate. Malaysia has a rotational monarchy, where the heads of each of the nine hereditary states occupy the throne for five years.

The internet was one of the few venues available for Malaysians to express their views relatively freely, and now it looks like the government will extend its restrictions on free press to the web, Sam Zarifi said. For a country that claims to be on the cutting edge of communications technology, this is a very troubling step backward.

 

18th March   

Burkha TV in Tral...

Clerics request an end to 'obscene' TV channels in Indian Kashmir
Link Here

India flag Muslim clerics in Tral, a scenic south Kashmir town, have issued a diktat to cable operators to stop beaming obscene channels in Tral.

Cable TV came recently to this town after years of it being cut off from the mainstream. However, on Friday, Muslim clergy issued a diktat to a gathering at a local mosque asking cable operators to stop telecasting channels that did not fit with the social order.

We have received complaints from the local people that some channels are very obscene and are not compatible with our social and religious norms. Therefore we have issued an appeal to the cable operators not to show them, said Moulana Noor Ahmad, a prominent Muslim cleric in Tral area.

 

18th March   

Diary: Million Fag March...

Rallying against Fred Phelps and his hateful Westboro Baptist Church
Link Here  full story: Westboro Baptists...Reprehensible nutters hate gays and soliders

"God hates you" poster Million "Fag" March
Rally at Gage Park in Topeka, Kansas
30th May 2009

Phelps and his church are notorious for their anti-gay protests of funerals and schools, claiming that most natural disasters and terrorist attacks are God's punishment for a society that tolerates homosexuality.

He is known for the slogans that he and his ministry use against people he deems sinful, including God Hates Fags.

According to organizer Chris Love, the primary goal of the March is to take the offensive, using the very same rights and laws as the Westboro Baptist Church. Love says his event expresses a message of acceptance of all people; a message that the group hopes will spread beyond the Topeka church.

Last year's event -- the first -- drew a crowd of 420 people from all parts of the country. Love said that the 2008 March was a diverse mix of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and political viewpoint that drew national media attention. The March stresses the use of peaceful and lawful demonstration, and is open to anyone who wishes to join without fear of negative incident.

 

17th March   

Updated: Dribble Drivel...

A sad state of affairs in the English sport of whinging
Link Here

Match of the Day Match Of The Day 2 pundit Alan Pardew has apologised for a comment which prompted 35 viewer complaints.

Pardew used the word 'rape' to describe a tackle while discussing a game between Manchester City and Chelsea.

He said in a statement released by the BBC that he apologises unconditionally for any offence caused in Sunday's programme.

The BBC said it had not taken a decision on whether the pundit would be invited back to work on the show.

The corporation also explained why there has been no on-air apology, saying: What Alan Pardew said was misheard, it was thought he used the word 'rakes.'

Pardew was describing a challenge by midfielder Michael Essien on Manchester City player Ched Evans: He's timed it perfectly. He's a strong boy. He knocks him off - he absolutely rapes him.

 

17th March   

Update: Wedging In...

Australian internet censorship ramps up despite worthless promises from politicians
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

ACMA logo It has been revealed that Australia's internet censor, ACMA, has blacklisted a page on the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.org that contains a leaked copy of the Danish blacklist of banned websites.

Like the anti-abortion page recently blacklisted by ACMA, this page was also submitted to the media authority for investigation by a Whirlpool user. The complainant, ‘Tardis42', believes there may be possible repercussions for publishing the link to the now-blacklisted page on Whirlpool.

 

16th March   

Book Burners...

USA consigns pre-1985 children's books to the incinerator
Link Here

Farenheit 451 book It's hard to believe, but true: under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children's products, the federal government has now advised that children's books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute.

Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores, Goodwill outlets, and the like have accordingly begun to refuse new donations of pre-1985 volumes, yank existing ones off their shelves, and in some cases discard them en masse.

The problem is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), passed by Congress last summer after the panic over lead paint on toys from China. Among its other provisions, CPSIA imposed tough new limits on lead in any products intended for use by children aged 12 or under, and made those limits retroactive: that is, goods manufactured before the law passed cannot be sold on the used market (even in garage sales or on eBay) if they don't conform. The law has hit thrift stores particularly hard, since many children's products have long included lead-containing (if harmless) components: zippers, snaps, and clasps on garments and backpacks; skateboards, bicycles, and countless other products containing metal alloy; rhinestones and beads in decorations; and so forth.

Not until 1985 did it become unlawful to use lead pigments in the inks, dyes, and paints used in children's books. Before then—and perhaps particularly in the great age of children's-book illustration that lasted through the early twentieth century—the use of such pigments was not uncommon, and testing can still detect lead residues in books today. This doesn't mean that the books pose any hazard to children. While lead poisoning from other sources, such as paint in old houses, remains a serious public health problem in some communities, no one seems to have been able to produce a single instance in which an American child has been made ill by the lead in old book illustrations—not surprisingly, since unlike poorly maintained wall paint, book pigments do not tend to flake off in large lead-laden chips for toddlers to put into their mouths.

At any rate, CPSIA's major provisions went into effect on February 10. The day before, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published guidelines telling thrift stores, as well as other resellers and distributors of used goods, what they could safely keep selling and what they should consider rejecting or subjecting to (expensive) lead testing. Confirming earlier reports, the document advised that only “ordinary” children's books (that is, made entirely of paper, with no toylike plastic or metal elements) printed after 1985 could be placed in the safe category. Older books were pointedly left off the safe list; the commission did allow an exception for vintage collectibles whose age, price, or rarity suggested that they would most likely be used by adult collectors, rather than given to children.

Since the law became effective the very next day, there was no time to waste in putting this advice into practice. A commenter at Etsy, the large handicrafts and vintage-goods site, observed how things worked at one store:

I just came back from my local thrift store with tears in my eyes! I watched as boxes and boxes of children's books were thrown into the garbage! Today was the deadline and I just can't believe it! Every book they had on the shelves prior to 1985 was destroyed! I managed to grab a 1967 edition of The Outsiders from the top of the box, but so many!

Whatever the future of new media may hold, ours will be a poorer world if we begin to lose (or “sequester” from children) the millions of books published before our own era. They serve as a path into history, literature, and imagination for kids everywhere. They link the generations by enabling parents to pass on the stories and discoveries in which they delighted as children. Their illustrations open up worlds far removed from what kids are likely to see on the video or TV screen. Could we really be on the verge of losing all of this? And if this is what government protection of our kids means, shouldn't we be thinking instead about protecting our kids from the government?

 

16th March   

Updated: Not a Role Model...

Supporting the hype for Bronson
Link Here

Insanity: My Mad Life book A biopic of the criminal Charles Bronson, who has been called the most violent man in Britain, has been condemned for glorifying his life and encouraging copycat behaviour in prisons.

Bronson was made in collaboration with the notorious inmate, whose real name is Michael Peterson. Promoted as A Clockwork Orange for the 21st century , the film is an unsparing depiction of Bronson's brutal attacks on prison warders, hostage-taking and fights with fellow inmates. He has spent 29 of the past 35 years in solitary confinement and is now in a specially constructed cage deep inside Wakefield maximum security prison.

It's a sad state of affairs in society when we want to glorify someone who has committed horrendous acts of crime by making a film about him, said Glyn Travis, assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers Association: Charles Bronson has cost the taxpayer an inordinate amount of money because of his life of crime. This is not a role model we want to portray for people who come into prisons.

The film's Danish director, Nicolas Winding Refn, insists he has no interest in trying to win sympathy for the 56-year-old criminal. He said he agreed with the view expressed by Travis that Bronson should not be glorified.

The film will be released on 13 March 2009.

Update: Christopher Tookey Recommends

16th March 2009. See article from dailymail.co.uk , Thanks to Dan

Christopher Tookey

  Tookey Recommends...
Bronson

British Lottery-funded projects don't come much more barking than Bronson , a heavyweight contender for most unpleasant, ugly and pointless film of 2009.

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn's ill-advised excursion into art-house brutalism begins with the actor playing Britain's most violent prisoner saying to the camera: I am Charles Bronson, and all my life I've wanted to be famous.

Well, now he is. That's one of the most obvious gripes about the movie. In taking a studiously nonjudgmental, fashionably nihilistic line, it will prove to morons the world over that attacking people for no reason is one sure fire way to attain celebrity.
Bronson

Why on earth such a creep should be glorified, I cannot imagine, especially as the film makes no attempt to understand him or derive any lessons from his behaviour.

In addition to celebrating violence, this most brutal of biopics is virulently homophobic. And its other disagreeable overtones of pretentiousness and precious fringe-theatricality make it a uniquely gruesome experience.

Especially distasteful is the use of classical music, in the questionable tradition of Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, to add a pretence of ironic nobility to Bronson's thuggishness.

Verdict: Could be a big hit... among psychopaths

 

16th March   

Update: Trust Us to Ban Political Web Pages...

Conroy admits to a crisis of trust
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship
Stephen Conroy

  Trust Us!
Have faith in us to
ban all pleasures
known to man

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has urged detractors of the Government's proposed Internet filtering plot to have faith in elected politicians after a row blew up over threats to an ISP whose client unknowingly published a banned political URL campaigning against abortion.

Immediately the blogosphere flooded with quips on whether Conroy means political or religious faith. Most said they had none of either.

Speaking at the annual Australian Telecommunications User Group conference, Conroy described some of this opposition as "conspiracy theories. He ridiculed suggestions the filtering trial is the thin edge of the wedge ­ the beginnings of a government cracking down on political dissent.

Conroy also reiterated that the Government is clear on which content is to be filtered and how. It will attack RC (Refused Classification) content, he said, using the same rationale under which the Australia Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) already classifies content under the Broadcasting Services Act. But he continually avoids admitting that standard adult consensual hardcore is to be banned.

But despite this public stance, the mechanism of Internet filtering of Australian ISPs looked like a loose cannon of censorship, more likely to damage the Government than protect children.

 

16th March   

Updated: Sky No Action...

Yet another version of Die Hard with a Vengeance
Link Here

Die Hard with a Vengeance DVD cover Die Hard with a Vengeance deserves the kind of censorship cult status that only classics like The Toxic Avenger, Cannibal Holocaust and The Evil Dead can whip up. Sadly, it never will never gain such notoriety. And why should it? Its a Die hard movie. It doesn't need any help, or media publicity.

However since its release in 1995 the 3rd film has gone through something of an Enter the Dragon trend, with every living room format re-release being a little different. The only similarity between them all is the fact that a very under rated and (surprisingly) clever action film, is constantly butchered by the ghost of James Fermans scissors.

Some releases have been laughable, some 90% complete (on the action front anyway), and all have retained the cringe worthy dubbing.................. Until today. This morning on Sky action we had both, and then some. A full screen pan and scan (which really messes with the action sequences on this film, even on my 60"), with all the swearing and hardly any violence.

I've seen a lot of versions of this film, but never this one. I'd say it loses maybe another 12 seconds of violence compared to the Buena vista (so called) special edition. Not having seen the British Theatrical release since the initial release I can't tell if this is that.

The Brit release was cut for Theatrical, but only for violence. So there is a good chance that this is what this is. It does contain some tell tale age signs, namely, print rot, speckles, and significant grain, not present on the DVD release.

It does seem strange that this version should surface now, what with the BBFC having waived all previous cuts, and UK gold showing it totally unedited this time last year.

Comment: Half Cut Strong Language

16th March 2009. Thanks to Gav

Whilst the usual Sky version of Die Hard with a Vengeance is certainly not the widescreen original ratio of 2.35:1, it is a actually a 1.78:1 version extracted from the original.

In terms of strong language, The BBFC did actually cut the cinema version. They requested: Throughout film, reduce the cumulative incidence of sexual swearwords by half, retaining those justified by dramatic tension.

Strangely, the usual Sky version includes the uncut lift shootout scene so notably excised by the BBFC

 

16th March   

Updated: Blame Alert...

German gun killer played CounterStrike and had thousands of horror movies
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Tim Kretschmer, the German teenager whose shooting rampage has just left 16 people dead  was a fan of the first-person shooter Counter-Strike , according to an early report from the Associated Press:

A 17-year-old who would give only his first name, Aki, said had played poker with Kretschmer, both in person and online, as well as a multiplayer video game called Counter-Strike that involves killing people to complete missions. He was good, Aki said.

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Michael V, another 19-year-old who lived nearby, said Kretschmer had thousands of horror videos.

Update: Don't they know how angry youngsters can become if you take their games away

13th March 2009. Based on article from gamepolitics.com

From Google-translated segment from Heise:

The President of the German Foundation for Crime, Hans-Dieter Schwind, calls... for a total ban on violent computer games, and a further tightening of the arms law.

The Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann has... expressed demand for a ban on so-called killer games renewed... he said, it generally must be clearly said that the games were available, the obvious just in young people cutting inhibitions...

Romandie News reported via Google translation:

In a report prepared for a long time and voted Thursday by an overwhelming majority, the European Parliament calls for common strategy is developed at EU level providing for severe sanctions for retailers who sell adult games to minors, or owners of Internet cafes that allow children to play games unsuitable for their age group...

Update: Far Cry 2

16th March 2009. See article from timesonline.co.uk

Far Cry 2 game German police investigating the Winnenden school shooting, in which 15 people died before the killer turned his gun on himself, believe one motive might have been a rebuff from a teenage girl who attended a New Year's Eve party at his home. The girl was one of his first victims.

Detectives disclosed yesterday that Kretschmer, who was described by friends and family as quiet and polite, had a secret identity on the internet, where he participated in a discussion about school shootings under the name “JawsPredator1”.

The funny thing is that even when people like that announce what they are about to do in advance, no one believes it, he was said to have written in an online chatroom.

Detectives searching for clues to his character found more than 200 pornographic images on his computer's hard disk, including 120 photographs of female bondage.

The teenage gunman spent the night before his spree playing a violent video game in which a heavily armed mercenary tracks down and kills an arms dealer, police revealed.

Tim Kretschmer spent from 7.30pm to 9.40pm playing Far Cry 2 , in which the player takes on the role of the killer.

Parallels emerged between the video game and the 17-year-old's rampage. In the game it is essential to hijack cars to move around. Kretschmer hijacked a car, held a pistol to the driver's head and asked: Should I have fun and pick off some more drivers? Characters in the game, which is made by the French company Ubisoft and has sold 2.9m copies, wear black camouflage uniforms – the clothing Kretschmer wore on Wednesday.

Far Cry 2 's killer uses a Beretta 92 handgun, the weapon fired 112 times by Kretschmer.

The game, which carries an 18 certificate in Britain, includes sequences in which the aiming, firing and reloading of a Beretta are portrayed in detail. It also rewards players who shoot their victims in the head, the style of killing chosen by Kretschmer.

Kretschmer also played Counter-Strike , another game featuring gunplay, and TacticalOps , a special forces action game, both of which have a 16+ PEGI rating in Britain.

 

16th March   

Diary: The Tangled Web...

Public forums about the internet regulation debate in Australia.
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

NewMatilda logo The Tangled Web
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane
Tuesday 24th March, 6pm

newmatilda.com presents a series of public forums about the internet regulation debate in Australia.

The Federal Government's proposal to block internet sites with a mandatory filter has drawn overwhelming opposition from voices across politics and civil society. So what are the real questions for policy-makers?

These forums explore the ethical, social and political questions raised by government regulation of the internet. With the growing intersection between technology, politics and media, how do existing and proposed classification regimes measure up?

Is filtering inevitable? Or are there better ways to regulate the world wide web?

CHAIR:
Peter Black, QUT Faculty of Law

SPEAKERS:
Senator Scott Ludlam, The Australian Greens
Irene Graham, libertus.net
Nic Suzor, Electronic Frontiers Australia

 

16th March   

Martyrs to Censorship...

Martyrs causes controversy in France as the first horror film to be rated 18+
Link Here

Martyrs DVD The film Martyrs , is definitely worth watching if you haven't seen it yet.

It has been given an 18 rating by the BBFC with no cuts for its DVD release in a few weeks, despite being one of the most controversial films ever released in France (in terms of censorship).

See article from en.wikipedia.org

The film was categorized as a new example of new era French horror films akin to Inside (À l'intérieur) by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury with regards to the level of violence it depicts. It received mostly positive reviews. Ryan Rotten at shocktillyoudrop.com claims that the film is the new yard stick against which all forms of extreme genre films should be measured against.

The film received an 18+ rating in France (unsuitable for children under 18 or forbidden in cinemas for under 18s) which the producers of the film appealed. The French Society of Film Directors (SRF) have also asked the Ministry of Culture to re-examine the decision remarking that this is the first time a French genre film has been threatened with such a rating. The Union of Film Journalists has adopted the same position as the SRF, claiming censorship.

The appeal succeeded and the film ended up with a 16+ rating in France.

 

16th March   

Internet Enemies...

Australian, South Korea and Thailand
Link Here

Internet Enemies report Reporters Without Borders has issued a report entitled Enemies of the Internet in which it examines Internet censorship and other threats to online free expression in 22 countries.

The 12 ‘Enemies of the Internet' - Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam - have all transformed their Internet into an Intranet in order to prevent their population from accessing ‘undesirable' online information, Reporters Without Borders said.

All these countries distinguish themselves not only by their ability to censor online news and information but also by their virtually systematic persecution of troublesome Internet users, the press freedom organisation said. Reporters Without Borders has placed 10 other governments including Thailand under surveillance for adopting worrying measures that could open the way to abuses. The organisation draws particular attention to Australia and South Korea, where recent measures may endanger online free expression.

Not only is the Internet more and more controlled, but new forms of censorship are emerging based on the manipulation of information,
Reporters Without Borders said: Orchestrating the posting of comments on popular websites or organising hacker attacks is also used by repressive regimes to scramble or jam online content.

A total of 70 cyber-dissidents are currently detained because of what they posted online. China is the world's biggest prison for cyber-dissidents, followed by Vietnam and Iran.

 

16th March   

War Zone...

Killzone 2 advert pulled from Toronto bus shelters
Link Here

Killzone 2 game About 300 Toronto bus shelter ads for a violent video game are coming down ahead of schedule this week after complaints surfaced about its images of war and violence.

Teacher Davis Mirza emailed Sony Canada, which makes PlayStation games, after seeing an ad for Killzone 2 in the bus shelter near his Scarborough school: My kids, who come from a lot of different countries, who have to experience violence, who basically come here to seek shelter and safety, that's the stuff they don't need to see.

The central image in the ad is a menacing head with glowing eyes, wearing a mask with a breathing tube, Mirza said : The secondary image shows what appears to be a war zone.


In the future, PlayStation will establish an off-limits radius around schools for advertising similar products, a Sony spokesman Kyle Moffatt said.

 

16th March   

Update: Funding Legislation Abuse...

New York State bill to tax strip club customers $10 entry charge
Link Here  full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA

New York State seal Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix Ortiz introduced a bill that would require gentlemen's club patrons to pay the state $10 every time they visit.

Ortiz said the fee could raise as much as $500 million, which would be earmarked for victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse and child prostitution.

We have to protect people who have been victimized by unscrupulous individuals, and we cannot continue, especially in this economy, to have government pay for everything, Ortiz said.

Ottiz' bill has yet to find a sponsor in the state senate.

 

16th March   

Update: Free to Insult Religion...

Dutch High Court finds it not illegal to insult religion
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Netherlands In a decision which could have positive consequences for Geert Wilders' upcoming prosecution , a supporter of the Dutch extreme right National Alliance has had his conviction for insulting Islam overturned by the High Court.

The man had displayed a poster in his window after the murder of Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh. It read: Stop the tumour that is Islam. Theo has died for us. Who will be next? Resist now! National Alliance, we will not bow down to Allah. Join now.

Originally given a suspended sentence, he was acquitted by the High Court. The judged concluded that it was not an offence to express insults towards religion. Not even if that happens in such a way that the devotees feel their religious feelings are hurt.

 

16th March   

Updated: Scoring Gamer Points...

Australia's R18+ political censor sees little threat from gamers votes
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ banned South Australian Attorney-General and R18+ opponent Michael Atkinson wrote to the Adelaide Advertiser about his favourite topic, banning R18+ games:

A Queensland letter writer (The Advertiser, 7/3/09) claims that democracy is at an end because I, as Attorney-General, will not agree to an R18+ category for interactive computer games; that "every other state AG is against him"; and the only way to bring back democracy is to vote me out at the next election. It is true that I am opposed to an R18+ category for interactive games, but I am one of at least four Attorneys so opposed.
I welcome a challenge in my electorate of Croydon at the next general election on this issue.
Among my constituents are hundreds of refugees who are trying to find lodgings for the family, gain employment and sponsor relatives from the old country.

Their vote is hardly likely to hinge on the "right" to score gamer points on the computer screen by running down and killing pedestrians on the pavement, raping a mother and her two daughters, blowing oneself up in a market, cutting people in half with large calibre shells, injecting drugs to win an athletics event or killing a prostitute to recover the fee one just paid her (Welcome to the world of R18+ computer games).

Those of my constituents who are refugees have been subjected to the practical instead of the virtual suffering that R18+ nerds seek to inflict for their gratification on the computer screen.

MICHAEL ATKINSON,
Attorney-General, Adelaide.

Response from Terry O'Shanassy

And here's a response from Kotaku reader - and 57-year-old grandparent - Terry O'Shanassy:

Face the real world yourself, Mr. Atkinson!

...Read the response

Update: Michael Atkinson's Blunt Reply to Terry O'Shanassy

16th March 2009. See article from kotaku.com.au

This debate has heated up because gamers want me to agree to the release of a discussion paper about an R18+ classification for games. I agreed to the discussion paper last year. I want the discussion paper to include depictions of actual games, including the types of games that are currently above the MA15+ rating. I intend to take my version of the paper to other ministers at the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) in Canberra in April so they can decide whether it will be released. I hope Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls doesn't stop the discussion paper's being released in April.

Everyone who has a view on this issue can write to any of the censorship ministers or their local member of parliament. That might be more useful than bagging me anonymously on blogs and by anonymous emails, but use up your time this way if it makes you feel better. This debate continues whether the discussion paper is released or not.

...Read the full letter

 

15th March   

Consumer Focus vs Consumers...

Nutters get wound up by teen magazines featuring articles on sex
Link Here

Consumer Focus logo Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus, a government quango,  said the magazines were pushing the envelope and warned that parents would be shocked by much of their content.

An article by the Sunday Telegraph featured several magazines aimed at teenage girls and found that they contained sexually-explicit material which was potentially in breach of the industry's editorial code.

Bliss magazine, whose readers have an average age of 15, features on the front of this month's issue the cover lines The Sex Factor and Gang raped – for a mobile phone.

April's Sugar magazine, with readers aged 14 on average, features a spread entitled Is it a crush or are you gay? . This month's Top of the Pops Magazine, with readers aged 11 to 15, is sold with a set of Kiss Me! stickers.

The Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel (TMAP), the industry's self-regulatory body whose members include publishers and editors, is tasked to ensure that the sexual content of teenage magazines is presented in a responsible and appropriate manner.

However, critics say that few parents know about TMAP. Since it was launched in 1996, to head off the threat of legislation clamping down on the magazines' sexual content, it has ruled on only three complaints, and in the past three years it has received only one.

Mayo said: Teenage magazines do have a role to play in guiding teenagers through difficult issues, but when it comes to what is responsible and what is not, clearly the envelope is being pushed and parents would be shocked by much of their content.

There is no doubt that some of these magazines are responsible for the early sexualisation of children. If you let industry set the rules, the industry will often find a way through. The answer is not always new rules, but I would welcome the current guidelines actually being enforced.

Michael Gove, the shadow children's secretary, said: These magazines are pushing the boundaries of what parents would consider acceptable. Their publishers have to explain why publications aimed at girls below the age of consent carry this sort of material. The industry needs to look again at how it regulates itself.

Sue Palmer, an educational consultant and the author of Toxic Childhood, said: The reality is that children as young as 10 read these magazines, and what they are being exposed to is often horrific and entirely inappropriate. The very blatantly sexual ethos expressed in them is becoming normalised among young girls. Then we wonder why we have such high teenage pregnancy rates and a booming ladette culture. The regulatory body is clearly a toothless watchdog. Magazines are blatantly flouting the guidelines, which need to be tightened up and have a real force of law behind them, with a watchdog that is independent of the industry.

 

15th March   

Voice Silenced...

BT closes Catholic Voice website after complaints from MPs
Link Here

Catholic Voice screenshot lBT has banned a religious website critical of extremist Jews that it has hosted for four years following a campaign from a group of MPs claimed it was anti-Semitic.

It is understood to be the first time that a website in Britain has been shut down under such circumstances.

The website, www.catholicvoice.co.uk, takes an inflammatory stance over extreme sections of Judaism that reject non-Jewish races.

The website editor, Timothy Johnson from Sheffield, a radical Catholic, told the Sunday Herald last night he was the subject of a smear campaign. He and his supporters say the action highlights a growing campaign against critics of the actions of extremist Jews and is a breach of free debate in a free society.

The site was shut after John Mann, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Committee on anti-Semitism, raised an early day motion supported by other MPs, including Glenda Jackson and Labour MP for Livingston Jim Devine.

Mann says the website is vile and anti-Semitic and seeks to inspire hate against the Jewish community amongst others.

Mann complained in particular about two statements on the websites. The first - To call Jesus a Jew is blasphemy - was the heading for an explosive theological essay on Christ's origins.

Johnson says the second - Jews are followers of Satan - has never appeared on the site.

Though not mentioned by either BT or Mann, the website more recently defended Richard Williamson, the Catholic bishop who questions whether millions of Jews died in Nazi gas chambers.

It is now understood Johnson is looking to find a host in another country, having accused BT of hounding the site off the internet.

 

15th March   

Update: Starbucks to Replace the Rovers Return?...

More whinges about soaps reflecting social life being centred around pubs
Link Here  full story: Queen Vic Prudes...Whinging at TV soaps centering around the pub

Rovers Return Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks have been accused of sending out harmful messages to youngsters by airing drinking scenes too frequently.

An article in the Mirror newspaper found that the pre-watershed soaps are the worst offenders for showing characters consuming alcohol.

ITV1's Emmerdale contained 21 booze scenes in a one-week period. Coronation Street and BBC One's EastEnders both had 16, while Channel 4's Hollyoaks featured 11.

Alcohol Concern's Don Shenker has described the results as shocking , adding: Children learn to familiarise themselves with alcohol as another commodity, like bread or milk, rather than a potentially harmful substance. Alcohol on film and television often leaves out the possible harm it can cause - binge-drinking may be glamorised and humourised. If young people in particular see their favourite characters and role models drinking heavily, we need to think about what kind of message that puts across.

A spokesman for the BBC insisted that the corporation is always careful to show the consumption of alcohol in context. EastEnders is mindful of its family audience and is careful to portray responsible drinking. As with most continuing dramas, it features a pub.

 

15th March   

Updated: Geocensored...

Pakistan silences independent news channels
Link Here

Geo News logo Amid widespread civil demonstrations and a growing political crisis, Pakistan's largest independent news broadcaster, Geo TV, has been removed from cable carriers in five major cities, Managing News Editor Azhar Abbas told CPJ.

Aaj Television, another independent broadcaster, was also taken off cable in major cities today but was restored later in most places, according to Talat Hussain, the station's executive director for news and current affairs. Hussain said Aaj was still not being carried in several smaller markets.

The stations' signals started being dropped around 7:30 p.m. local time, Abbas and Hussain said. The stations became aware of the situation when viewers called the newsrooms asking why they could no longer see the channels. Abbas said Geo's signal had been removed from carriers in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Rawalpindi.

Where they remained on the air, the two stations were moved to less prominent positions not available to most cable viewers, they each reported.

Cable operators contacted by Geo TV said government officials had ordered them to drop the station, a directive they felt compelled to follow. This is the same tactic we saw under the Musharraf government. Nothing has changed, Abbas told CPJ.

Update: Minster tenders resignation over censored TV news

15th March 2009. Based on article from newstrackindia.com

Pakistan's information minister Sherry Rehman on Saturday resigned from her post for her differences with the government over the handling of media.

The setback came a day after PPP-led Pakistani government blocked the telecast of Geo and Aaj TV channels in major Pakistani cities in an annoyance over the coverage of protesting lawyers and opposition parties' point of views by the media.

President Asif Ali Zardari's spokesman however, denied that she had resigned. Media reports say Prime Minister Gilani has not yet accepted her resignation. Even her ministry has not yet confirmed her resignation.

Earlier, a Paris based Media Rights Body, Reporters Without Borders, has demanded immediate transmission of News channels, stating: We urge the authorities in Islamabad to restore transmission of Geo News and Aaj TV without delay. Such crude censorship will in no way help to resolve Pakistan's political crisis.

 

15th March   

Skeletal Censors...

World of Warcraft expansion rejected by Chinese censors
Link Here

World of Warcraft: Lich King A World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King has encountered some censorship stumbling blocks on its way to the lucrative Chinese market.

JLM Pacific Epoch reports that it has been rejected twice by Chinese censors:

The applications were rejected due to content that didn't meet requirements, including a city raid and skeleton characters.

World of Warcraft has undergone changes specific to the Chinese market in the past, namely removing skeletons altogether in order to receive approval to operate the game in mainland China.

 

15th March   

Update: Burkhas Off at Dawn...

Afghan TV station defiant of government censorship threats
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in Afghanistan...Afghanistan TV, an unsuprising target for censors

Afghanistan flag A new private Kabul television station, Emrooz, has made a name for itself by airing entertainment and music programs mainly focused on youth.

But the upstart broadcaster's quest for ratings has earned the wrath of authorities, with prosecutors accusing it of undermining Afghan society's traditional Islamic values and influential detractors threatening to revoke its broadcast license.

Critics are upset at the station for broadcasting scenes and clips of immodestly dressed women, notably Tajik and Indian singers and dancers.

Emrooz staff were questioned by Kabul prosecutors this week.

Fahim Kohdamani, a program editor at Emrooz, tells RFE/RL that station managers were repeatedly summoned by the Information and Culture Ministry before their case was referred to the Office of the Prosecutor-General.

Emrooz is the only Afghan television that does not censor music clips, Kohdamani says: We air video clips by Tajik, Iranian, Afghan, Indian, and even sometimes Arab and European music clips that show female and male performers signing and dancing. The Ministry of Culture has always had this problem with us.

Emrooz producers insist they have violated no laws but are being forced to choose between overly aggressive self-censorship and even more rigid censorship by government agencies.

Despite Emrooz's pending legal wrangle, and the threat of a lost television license for the station and lost freedom for some individuals within the company, Emrooz appears defiant.

The station is launching a national search for male and female models. The show will be broadcast monthly, with more than 2,000 contestants competing for two top prizes over four months. It will be Afghanistan's first publicly declared fashion program -- and it has already incurred threats.

But Emrooz executives, defiant in the face of such threats, say they will continue to break down taboos -- even if they must pay a price for doing so.

 

14th March   

Chump...

News reader banter over likeness to chimp offends the waiting to be offended
Link Here

  Chris Eakin

A BBC News presenter has apologised after comparing fellow newsreader George Alagiah to a chimpanzee live on air.

Chris Eakin made the comment as he handed back to Alagiah following a newspaper review at the end of a 10pm bulletin on the BBC News Channel.

Alagiah, who was born in Sri Lanka and is of Tamil descent, subsequently called the incident unfortunate and inappropriate but said he had accepted Eakin's apology.

Eakin pointed to a copy of the Guardian showing a photograph of a chimp at a zoo in Sweden which collects stones to throw at visitors when he asked: Can you see any likeness? before handing back to Alagiah.

The newsreader looked surprised before attempting to laugh it off.

In a statement, Eakin apologised for the remark: This was a light-hearted comment with absolutely no other intended overtones and I know that George did not interpret it as anything other than that .

A BBC spokeswoman said it was an inappropriate remark that shouldn't have been made. We have accepted the explanation given by Chris and he has reassured us that it will not happen again.

The spokeswoman added that one complaint had been received following the remark, which occurred at 10.25pm on Monday night.

 

14th March   

Update: A New Angle...

Utah passes bill targeting the selling of mature games to youngsters
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

Utah state seal A fair few US states have tried to laws to prohibit computer games sellers from retailing Mature rated games to under 17 year olds. Such laws have been found to be unconstitutional.

But Utah have come up with a new angle. They are targeting shops that advertise themselves as family friendly etc. (And American stores do like to emphasise this). If the shops then go on to sell Mature games to youngsters then law HB353 enables parents to sue such shops for false advertising of their family friendly credentials.

Following a lively debate, the Utah State Senate have now passed HB 353 by an overwhelming 25-4 margin.

 

14th March   

Censorship Binge...

Australian MP calls for adult drinking game to be censored
Link Here  full story: Pass Out Drinking Game...Nutters pissed at Pass Out drinking game

Pass-Out game Steve Irons is a Not so Liberal MP who lost two sisters through the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. He mentioned them as reasons why he's seeking a ban on a board game that he says encourages dangerous drinking.

Sabra Lane interviewed Steve Irons on ABC local radio

Sabra Lane: Parliamentary rookie MP says he's no wowser, that he enjoys a beer ...BUT... says it's time to end Australia's binge drinking culture.

Late yesterday Mr Irons told Parliament he couldn't understand why a board game called Pass-Out is sold here without any classification.

Steve Irons: I will argue today that the advertising of the game Pass-Out should be stopped and that we must consider whether this is a game that is appropriate for sale in Australia.

Sabra Lane: A Perth man who received a flyer in his local newspaper advertising two drinking games alongside children's board games wrote to the MP suggesting it was inappropriate. Mr Irons agrees.

Steve Irons: It says on the website that it's not about alcohol and it's not recommended for people under 18. So if it's not alcohol it wouldn't matter if it was for people under 18. But I can't think of any other liquids or fluids that we can drink safely other than alcohol that would make us pass out.

So if that's the achievement of the game I just think that, you know, in a society now that's trying to reduce binge drinking, here we have companies still selling games that encourage drinking to the extent that we pass out, which is just crazy.

Sabra Lane: Mr Irons has asked the Classification Board to ban the game and he's challenged the Government to restrict it from advertising.

 

14th March   

Update: UNHuman Rights...

Alarms at the UN resolution to ban free speech to criticise religion
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

National Secular Society logo The National Secular Society has warned government officials that a new resolution proposed by Pakistan at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will define any questioning of Islamic dogmas as a human rights violation . It will intimidate dissenting voices and encourage the enforced imposition of sharia law.

NSS Executive Director Keith Porteous Wood told top officials at the Foreign Office at a meeting yesterday that the new resolution would seriously undermine free speech, other human rights and, indeed, democracy around the world, and that its first victims would be the more moderate voices in the increasingly radicalised Islamic countries.

The Human Rights organisation UN Watch had obtained a copy of the Pakistani-authored proposal after it was distributed this week among Geneva diplomats attending the current session of the UNHRC. The document, entitled Combating defamation of religions, mentions only Islam.

While non-binding, said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer: the resolution constitutes a dangerous threat to free speech everywhere. It would ban any perceived offense to Islamic sensitivities as a 'serious affront to human dignity' and a violation of religious freedom, and would pressure U.N. member states to erode the free speech guarantees in their ‘legal and constitutional systems.'

This is an Orwellian text that distorts the meaning of human rights, free speech, and religious freedom, and marks a giant step backwards for liberty and democracy worldwide. The first to suffer will be moderate Muslims in the countries that are behind this resolution, like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan, where state-sanctioned blasphemy laws stifle religious freedom and outlaw conversions from Islam to other faiths.

Next to suffer from this U.N.-sanctioned McCarthyism will be writers and journalists in the democratic West, with the resolution targeting the media for the ‘deliberate stereotyping of religions, their adherents and sacred persons.'

Ultimately, the very notion of individual human rights is at stake, because the sponsors of this resolution seek not to protect individuals from harm, but rather to shield a specific set of beliefs from any question, debate, or critical inquiry.


Keith Porteous Wood said that the new resolution was dangerous and shocking: We call on all liberal democracies to resist this new attempt to close down legitimate debate about the place of religion in a human rights context. The resolution is a corruption of the concept of universal human rights and would give a free hand to every Islamic despot and tyrant in the world.

 

14th March   

Update: Political Censors...

Australian government censors link to political anti-abortion website
Link Here

ACMA logo Australia's internet censor, ACMA, has issued Whirlpool's web host Bulletproof Networks with a notice to remove a link to a blacklisted anti-abortion web page .

At risk of their host being hit with $11,000 fines per day, Whirlpool has complied.

This comes as Senator Stephen Conroy urged those opposed to the Government's mandatory ISP filtering plan to have faith the right legislation will be passed, saying There is no political content banned in the existing Broadcasting Services Act.

On March 10, ACMA issued Sydney web hosting company Bulletproof Networks with an interim link-deletion notice for allowing its customer, the Whirlpool internet community website, to post the link to an anti-abortion web page blacklisted by the regulator.

 

14th March   

Update: Erotic Underams...

Sharia dress code law targets traditional dancers
Link Here  full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Jaipong dance The West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan has warned dancers of the jaipong dance – performed at official ceremonies and cultural festivals – to tone down their erotic moves and hide their underarms to comply with the law.

Islamic parties are also targeting the dance ahead of the April general elections, after parliament passed a controversial anti-porn law in December.

The dance shouldn't be too erotic, Tifatul Sembiring, a senior leader of the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party, said: The worry is that once the anti-porn bill is fully implemented, the dance may be banned because it's too erotic.

Outraged and insulted, professional dance groups have called on Indonesians to teach the perpetrators a lesson at the ballot box come April.

What are they talking about? The dancers are all covered up in long-sleeved traditional kebayas, not sexy tubes, Mas Nanu Muda of the Jaipong Care Community, said.

Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, a candidate for presidential elections in July, said the anti-porn law was the most terrible thing in the process of building our nation. He said the law criminalises all works and bodily movements including music and poetry that could be deemed obscene and capable of violating public morality, and offers heavy penalties.

 

14th March   

Twilight Zone...

Afrique Magazine banned in Algeria
Link Here

Am Magazine The latest issue of monthly Afrique Magazine (AM) in French was banned in Algeria for violating national values , according to the Secretariat of State for Communication.

Based in Paris, AM has been covered with a folder: Algeria: the twilight of the generals.

Questioned by the press, Zyad Limam, publisher and owner of Africa magazine has confirmed the seizure of the latest edition of his monthly Saturday at the international airport of Algiers: We do not know the reasons for this seizure, but I think it's because of a report by our colleague Farid Alilat ‘the twilight of the generals' on the relationship between President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and the principal generals of the army since 1992 .

 

13th March   

Update: Oh Yes There Is, Oh No There Isn't...

ASA stays well away from the religious debate on the sides of buses
Link Here

There definitely is a god The advertising censor, the ASA, has decided not to launch a formal investigation into an advertisement from the Christian party proclaiming that there is definitely a God, even though it has become one of the four most criticised adverts of all time.

The advertisement was unveiled by the party last month in response to the British Humanist Association's bus adverts, which state: There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life. The Christian party's advert – displayed on 50 London buses – carries the slogan: "There definitely is a God. So join the Christian party and enjoy your life."

Figures from the Advertising Standards Authority reveal that the advertisement has so far attracted 1,045 complaints – and rising – making it the fourth most complained about advert since the ASA's records began. But it has decided not to launch an investigation because the poster is deemed to be electioneering material, and falls outside the remit of its codes of practice.

In January the ASA concluded that the aetheist There's probably no God bus ad campaign by the British Humanist Association did not breach the current advertising code and again decided not to launch an investigation.

People complaining about the Christian party advert believe the claim there definitely is a God is misleading because it cannot be substantiated, while some individuals have also objected that the advert is offensive to atheists.

The ASA has also decided not to investigate two other advertising campaigns of a similar nature. An advertisement from the Russian Orthodox Church that stated There IS a God, BELIEVE. Don't worry and enjoy your life was, the ASA council considered, a reflection of the opinion of the advertisers and unlikely to mislead readers.

Similarly, the Trinitarian Bible Society's ad that claimed The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Psalm 53.1  generated complaints that it was offensive and was insulting to atheists and non-Christians.

 

13th March   

Endowed with Nonsense...

HBO apologise for any offence caused by depiction of an endowment ceremony
Link Here

Big Love Season 3 DVD HBO, the network behind television polygamy drama Big Love , apologized on Tuesday for any offense to Mormons in a depiction of a sacred ritual but made clear it would air the controversial episode as planned.

The HBO network's program about a non-Mormon polygamous family has stirred up a hornet's nest of complaints over an episode to be broadcast on Sunday showing its version of an endowment ceremony within a Mormon temple.

It is thought to be the first time the ritual, in which participants move to a higher level of understanding of their religion, will be shown on TV.

News of the episode prompted calls and e-mails for cancellation or an HBO boycott by angry members of the Mormon Church, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

The Church itself has not officially called for a boycott.

HBO said the writers had gone to great lengths to be respectful and accurate in the ceremony's portrayal.

Obviously, it was not our intention to do anything disrespectful to the church, but to those who may be offended, we offer our sincere apology, the network said in a statement.

This is a very sacred event in the lives of LDS church members. To have it splashed all over television for entertainment purposes (and ultimately for monetary gain) is just offensive, wrote a poster called 'nanberg' on HBO's official Big Love message board on Tuesday.

 

13th March   

Updated: The Evolution of Censorship...

Turkish government science institute bans article on Darwin
Link Here

Bilim & Teknik magazine Controversy erupted in Turkey after a science institute withdrew a planned cover story about evolution theory founder Charles Darwin from its magazine and sacked the publication's editor who had approved the article.

The television news channel CNN Turk, on its website, accused the state-run Turkish Science and Research Institute (TUBITAK) of unbelievable censorship in removing the planned cover story marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of the the British scientist.

The March edition of Bilm ve Teknik (Science and Technology) came out a week late after TUBITAK Deputy Director Omer Cebeci ordered the cover be changed and that a 15-page article on Darwin and the theory of evolution be removed, Turkish media reported Tuesday.

Cigdem Atakuman, the editor of the magazine who had approved the original cover, was sacked last week.

The opposition immediately pounced on the issue, posting a number parliamentary questions demanding that the government explain the decision to ban the original cover story. The Islamic-rooted government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accused in the past of placing its own conservative Islamists in positions of power at TUBITAK.

Update: Evolving Blather

13th March 2009. See article from todayszaman.com

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) announced yesterday that it did not censor of a story on the founder of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin.

TÜBITAK answered recent debates on an alleged censorship of Darwin in Bilim ve Teknik with a written statement released yesterday. The statement said the problem, as evaluated by the council, was caused by an executive editor exceeding her authority, which worried both scientific circles and TÜBITAK. According to the statement, TÜBITAK had decided to run a story on global climate change in Bilim ve Teknik's March issue, but just before it went to press, Executive Editor Çigdem Atakuman added 16 pages on Darwin and the theory of evolution.

The magazine's new version was presented to Deputy President Ömer Cebeci on March 2. It was natural that the new version was questioned since this additional dossier was not planned or scientifically evaluated beforehand. Atakuman realized her mistake and sent the magazine's first version to the print, changing the cover page as well.

TÜBITAK also announced that they plan to allocate one of its subsequent issues in 2009 to Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution.

 

13th March   

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor...

Guide from Global Voices Advocacy
Link Here

Global Voices logo Global Voices Advocacy announce that the third update to the Anonymous Blogging guide with Wordpress & Tor is now available online!

The guide outlines several methods of protecting one's identity in order to avoid retaliation and can considerably reduce the risks that a blogger's identity will be linked to his or her online writings through technical means.

In order to provide you with the most up to date information on how to blog anonymously, the guide has been updated once again so that all the tips are compatible with Tor's recent updates.

This update introduces the Tor Browser Bundle, an open source version of a portable browser developed by Tor Project, that lets you use Tor with zero install. Tor Browser is a great pre-configured Tor bundle with self contained Mozilla Firefox browser for USB drives or any other portable media (SD Card, Hard Drives, Compact Flash Card).

If you're going to pursue your blogging activities primarily from shared computers (like cybercafe computers) or if you're unable to install software on a computer, please follow the steps on how to run Tor Browser Bundle without needing to install any software.

The update includes tips on how to acquire the Tor bundle if your internet connection blocks access to the Tor website. It also includes tips on what to do if you encounter problems connecting to the Tor network.

Please link to it, download it and help disseminate this important information. Feel free as well to help us translating the guide into your own language.

 

13th March   

Update: Beware of Dogma...

US nutter whinges at atheist billboard in Boise
Link Here  full story: Imagine No Religion...Atheist posters cause a stir

Idaho Dogma advert A billboard in Idaho declaring Beware of dogma is the latest example of humanist activists using advertising to promote atheism.

Several atheist groups in Idaho, including Humanists of Idaho, recently erected the billboard in Boise.

The ad was sponsored by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which launched a national billboard campaign in late 2007, taking its religion-free messages state-by-state.

Bryan Fischer, executive director of Idaho Values Alliance, responded to the billboard in a statement saying: The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

Ironically we actually agree with the slogan, but we think the dogma Americans need to be aware of is the dogma of secular fundamentalism, which is at odds with the worldview of the Founders.

This country was founded on a fundamentally religious concept that there is a Creator and that Creator is the source of our fundamental civil liberties.

The FFRF has placed 27 billboards in 15 states so far. The organization is headed by Dan Barker, a former Christian Pentecostal preacher and musician.

 

13th March   

Update: Master Censors...

Croatian tram company bans atheist adverts after a run of 1 day
Link Here

Croatia flag According to the Googlish version of the Croatian delo.si report, adverts on Zagreb trams reading Without God, without a master (Brez boga, brez gospodarja) were taken down after only one day.

This in spite of the fact that the Women's Network of Croatia had paid for a month's worth of publicity in advance. A statement from the tram company stated that ads were not allowed.

 

12th March   

Internet TV Censor...

Burnham will create co-regulatory censor for Video on Demand services
Link Here  full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

Andy Burnham Culture secretary Andy Burnham has confirmed he will create a co-regulatory body, led and funded by the industry, to take on responsibility for regulating programme content on video-on-demand services. Under the new rules, all UK providers of VOD services will need to notify the co-regulator that they are providing a service, Burnham's department for culture, media and sport said.

Burnham's announcement signals the UK government's acceptance of most of the provisions in the European Commission's new Audiovisual Media Services directive (AVMS), drafted in 2007 to replace its 20-year-old Television Without Frontiers rules. AVMS, which is being implemented by EU member states, makes the first regulatory distinction between linear and on-demand media, which was designated to get only light-touch regulation.

Burnham's implementation through co-regulation will throw the spotlight on the existing Association for Television On Demand (ATVOD), which has operated since 2003 to self-regulate the sector.

Burnham said: Video-on-demand services only come within the scope of the AVMS directive if they are mass media services whose principal purpose is to provide TV programmes to the public on demand.

But technology is changing rapidly and the interpretation already appears out-dated. Not only is YouTube already available on TV sets through Apple TV, Nintendo Wii etc, and not only do services like Joost absolutely want to provide TV shows on-demand… most web-based VOD services ultimately also want carriage to the TV, too. In appealing to those such services, BBC's Project Canvas, for example, is aiming to make internet VOD mass media , just as Burnham defined.

 

12th March   

Change of TV Censor...

David Currie now replaced by Colette Bowe
Link Here

Colette Bowe Ofcom Chairman David Currie stepped down yesterday after more than six years in the post.

Currie – who sits on the cross-benches in the House of Lords as Lord Currie of Marylebone - became Ofcom's inaugural chairman in July 2002.

Ofcom's new chairman is Dr Colette Bowe.

Bowewas the founding chairman of the Telecoms Ombudsman Council and chaired Ofcom's Consumer Panel (now the Communications Consumer Panel) from its inception in 2003 to December 2007.

 

12th March   

Making a Monkey of the President...

Iranian TV show canned over a toy monkey named Ahmadinejad
Link Here

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad An Irania children's show has been cancelled due to a toy monkey called Ahmadinejad

The father who nicknamed his child's toy monkey after Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, must have been mortified to have his private joke cruelly exposed when the youngster took part in one of the country's most popular TV phone-ins.

The embarrassing disclosure was made on Amoo Pourang (Uncle Pourang), a programme watched by millions of Iranian children three times a week on state TV. It came when the unsuspecting presenter, Dariush Farziayi, asked the name of the toy animal his young caller had been given as a reward for good behaviour.

Well, my father calls him Ahmadinejad, the child replied.

Now the father's discomfort has spread to the programme-makers after the state broadcaster, IRIB, responded by withdrawing it from viewing schedules. The final episode will be screened next week after a successful seven-year run.

A conservative website, Jahan News, quoting reliable sources, said the decision was prompted by the high financial and spiritual damage inflicted by live broadcasts. Stopping short of identifying the president by name, it highlighted an incident in which a child in a live telephone line compared its doll to one of the well-known authorities and managers.

 

12th March   

Censorship Anthem...

India censor rejects Gulaal but passed after cuts on appeal
Link Here

Gulaal soundtrack CD Anurag Kashyap's ambitious film, Gulaal , will finally see the light of the day. After being rejected outright by the Censor Board for its volatile contents, the revising committee has given the film a go-ahead with four cuts and a A (adult) certificate.

A source close to the production house said: The film was stuck with the Censor Board for three days posing a question mark over its release. The film then went to the revising committee who raised objections in four scenes. Anurag understood their point of view as he did not want to invite controversies.

Confirming the news, Vinayak Azad, Regional Officer, Censor board says, Yes it is true that the revising committee has asked for four changes. References have been made to Mahatma Gandhi and the national song, ‘Jana gana mana', which were objectionable. I would not like to elaborate any further as I have not seen the film. However, from whatever I have gathered from the board members, they have asked for the cuts as per the guidelines and Anurag and the producers too have agreed to it.

Director Anurag Kashyap said, In a scene, a mad man says ‘Gandhiji' when he sees a man with round frames, the word Gandhiji has been deleted. Then there was a scene about our national song, ‘Jana gana mana', which was also chopped. Apart from that there were minor cuts like a shot where the brand of a cigarette is visible. The Board is strict about not showing the brand names of any cigarette or alcohol. That's about it.

 

12th March   

Seeing Red...

Thai Anti-Government radio station ordered to close
Link Here

NTC building The Thai government has denied ordering the closure of an anti-government radio station.

PM's Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey said only the National Telecommunications Commission had the authority to close radio stations.

The minister insisted the government treated all radio frequency operators equally, regardless of their colour, in a reference to the country's biggest anti- and pro-government movements.

A community radio station operating on the FM 97.25 frequency was reportedly ordered closed after speaking out in favour of Thaksin Shinawatra and attacking the government.

 

11th March   

Updated: Pulping Books in Modern Britain...

Well known figure objects to phrase in book
Link Here

A History of Modern Britain book Two years after it was published to great acclaim, Andrew Marr's bestseller A History of Modern Britain has been urgently recalled from bookshops amid great mystery.

Pan Macmillan has issued an urgent stock recall notice in which it said that shops needed to return all unsold copies immediately for unspecified legal reasons.

I understand that the recall is because of a complaint by a very well known figure who objected to one silly little phrase in the book.

It's quite unbelievable, says my bookworm. Because of one tiny phrase, which is hardly the world's biggest libel, a book which has already been been bought by 250,000 people has to be pulped. I've never known anything like it.

Anthony Forbes Watson, the managing director of Pan Macmillan, refuses to elaborate on the legal issues surrounding the recall of Marr's book. It is believed that the publisher intends to re-issue it when the changes have been made

The Angry Brigade

11th March 2009. Thanks to Floyd. See article from en.wikipedia.org

Unsold copies of the book, a best seller, were recalled in March 2009 when it emerged legal action had been taken out against the book for false claims that women's rights campaigner Erin Pizzey had been a member of The Angry Brigade terrorist group.

 

11th March   

Best Wind Up Award...

Sloggi 'female bottom' advert honoured at feminist awards
Link Here

Sloggi advert An image of a female bottom with the slogan On Special Offer has been named the most degrading advertisement of the year by a European women's group.

The poster of protruding buttocks clad in see-through tights by Swiss underwear giant Sloggi was given the award for promoting pornography and prostitution by the Guard Dogs - a French and Swiss feminist association.

Italian coffee company Lavazza snagged the gratuitous nudity that has nothing to do with the product prize for using a picture of a naked woman on all-fours used to sell its coffee.

And a special award for the most sexist image of 2008 was given to car giant Renault for an advert showing a man and woman in bed, with him reading a magazine about the new Clio hatchback and her reading a baby magazine. Underneath was the slogan: Good things come in pairs.

 

11th March   

Victims of the Blame Game...

Richard Taylor suggests violent video game tax
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV game Gordon Brown should levy a tax on violent video games to help tackle knife crime, according to the Richard Taylor, the father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor.

Taylor, who advises Gordon Brown on knife crime, said he would be urging the Prime Minister to impose new taxes on the games

Violent games are too cheap and taxes on them should be very high, Taylor told MPs of the Home Affairs Committee: I have young people who I mentor and I see them go up and buy the games and it saddens me that they are being able to have such a negative impact.

Taylor also told MPs that he was concerned about the content of much rap music: It is creating more of a problem because of the language that is used. It is language that, as a father, I would not allow my children to hear. To me, there is a lot of negativity that comes out of this music, especially that which is coming from America.

Taylor became Brown's special envoy on youth violence and knife crime last month. Part of his role is to offer new ideas to the Premier on how to change young people's behaviour.

Violent Video Game Tax Discussed in Pennsylvania

Based on article from gamepolitics.com

GamePolitics recently covered a committee hearing of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The topic was violent video games .

State Representatives question employees of the Pennsylvania Joint State Commission as to possible alternatives by which violent video games might be targeted. One suggests that a 5% tax be levied on sales of violent games with proceeds used to fund a parental education program. A second ponders whether state tax incentives could be withheld from companies which create violent games.

Overall, the meeting was largely exploratory and action on either the 5% tax idea or the restriction on financial incentives seems unlikely.

Comment: Reactionary Bollox

From Dan

You would think that the tragic loss this man has suffered would make him want to refrain from pandering to the kind of sensationalist reactionary bollox that is pushed by the tabloids.

I hope video game fans oppose a tax on their consumer choices

 

11th March   

Georgia Don't Wanna Putin...

Georgia's song rejected from the Eurovision Song Contest
Link Here  full story: Georgia Don't Wanna Putin...Georgia song rejected from Eurovision song contest

Eurovision Song Contest logo Georgia's entry has been ruled unacceptable by organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow, because of some of its lyrics.

The disco-funk song, We Don't Wanna Put In , appears to poke fun at Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

However, it is against the competition's rules to allow political content in entries.

A contest spokesman said: No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature shall be permitted.

The event, which is being held in the Russian capital in May, is taking place less than a year after Russia and Georgia went to war over the region of South Ossetia. Relations between the two countries have been tense for several years.

The song, which was chosen by a public vote and jury, was due to be performed by female trio 3G along with male vocalist Stephane.

The song, which has a distinct 1970s feel, contains the chorus: We don't wanna put in, the negative move, it's killin' the groove.

Even the title of the song appears to be play on the politician's name.

The Geneva-based European Broadcasting Union, which runs the contest, said Georgia can rewrite the lyrics of its entry or select another song.

 

11th March   

Whipping Up Controversy...

Australia's TV censor investigates corporal punishment video on radio website
Link Here

flogging Australia's TV censor, ACMA, is pursuing a formal complaint against radio station 6PR for publishing a video of a brutal corporal punishment caning which took place in Malaysia approximately four years ago.

The 6PR website warns readers with two warning messages before they watch the corporal punishment footage.

ABC's MediaWatch host Jonathan Holmes says: This is on a general-use website. And there's nothing to stop a child intrigued by the warning clicking through to this.

The caning video was posted as background to a debate on whether Western Australia should introduce caning

 

10th March   

Update: Supreme Injustice...

Afghanistan's Supreme Court upholds 20 year blasphemy sentence
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Afghanistan...Afghan sentenced to death for blasphemy

Save Pervez Afghanistan's Supreme Court has upheld a 20-year jail term for blasphemy handed to Afghan journalist Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh, who claimed men and women were equal.

Kambakhsh's brother said the family had just learned of the closed-door ruling delivered a month ago in the absence of Yaqub Kambakhsh, his lawyer or family members, the Information Safety and Freedom media watchdog reported.

We thought there would be some justice in the capital of Afghanistan and even at the highest level of the judicial system, wrote Yaqub Kambakhsh in a letter sent to Information Safety and Freedom: But their silent decision seems that first of all there is no justice in Afghanistan at any level. Kambakhsh is the latest victim.

Twenty-eight year-old Kambakhsh's troubles began in 1997, when he wrote in his blog that extremist mullahs had distorted the true meaning of Islam's holy book or Koran: If a Muslim man may have four wives, why shouldn't a wife have four husbands .

He was arrested on blasphemy charges in the northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif in 2007 and in October that year a local court condemned him to death

The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment following pressure from international human rights organisations.

 

10th March   

Update: Censors Out of Favour...

Maltese opinion poll marginally goes against the censors
Link Here  full story: Stage Censorship in Malta...Maltese censors ban stage play Stitching, then get disbanded

Stitching book of the play 51.1% of Maltese people oppose the ban on Anthony Nielson's play Stitching imposed by the censorship board, with a majority stating they want the censorship board stripped of its power to determine what adults can watch.

This emerges from a MaltaToday survey conducted among 300 respondents.

Stitching was banned by the censorship board chaired by Therese Friggieri on the grounds that it contains blasphemy against the state religion, contempt for the victims of Auschwitz and references to the abduction, sexual assault and murder of children.

Update: Court Hearing

20th June 2009. See article from timesofmalta.com

A priest told the Court this morning he would have classified Anthony Nielson's play Stitching 18R, meaning all adults with reservations.

Fr Joe Abela, a member on the film analysis and classification board of the Church, was testifying in Unifaun Theatre's case and Malta's decision to ban the play.

The next hearing is in September.

Update: Church Distances Itself from Abela's comment

23d June 2009. See article from di-ve.com

The Archbishop's Curia has distanced itself from the testimony given in court by Fr Joe Abela, chairman of the its film classification board, about the play Stitching , which was recently banned.

In a statement released on Monday, the Curia said that Fr Abela was giving witness on his own behalf and on his own initiative and was not representing the board.

 

10th March   

Update: A Blasphemy Against Free Speech...

Offence of blasphemy still on the books in Malta
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Malta...Malta prosecutes many for villifying the chruch

Malta flag A Council of Europe (CoE) study on freedom of expression and freedom of religion, argues that it is no longer desirable for European democracies to criminalise blasphemy, and calls for the abolishment of such laws.

Malta is one of the few European states that penalises the public vilification of the Roman Catholic religion with a maximum term of sixth months' imprisonment – and three months for other religions.

Only Greece contemplates a higher term – two years' imprisonment – for malicious blasphemy.

The debate on so-called religious insult was brought to the fore by the Board of Film and Stage Classification's decision to ban the play Stitching, for reasons that included blasphemy.

And adding to the dose of ecclesiastical umbrage, only this week seven revellers at the Nadur carnival were arraigned for dressing up as priests – much to the outrage of the bishops. It seems Malta has reverted back to 1959.

The report on European laws on religious insult and incitement to hatred in all the European nations, was prepared by the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe composed of experts of constitutional law.

In their two-year study, the experts concluded that it is neither necessary nor desirable to create an offence of religious insult, that is insult to religious feelings, without the element of incitement to hatred as an essential component.

The Commission argues that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness means that freedom of expression should not be limited to protect an individual's belief from criticism.
The right to freedom of expression implies that it should be allowed to scrutinise, openly debate, and criticise, even harshly and unreasonably, belief systems… as long as this does not amount to advocating hatred.

The Commission argues that the offence of blasphemy should be abolished” and that democratic societies must not become hostage to the excessive sensitivities of certain individuals… the level of tolerance of these individuals who would feel offended by the right to freedom of expression should be raised. A democracy must not fear debate, even on the most shocking or anti-democratic ideas… persuasion, as opposed to ban or repression, is the most democratic means of preserving fundamental values.

 

10th March   

More Subtle Censorship...

Burmese press censors want to edit the digital files
Link Here

Burma flag Starting from beginning of June, Burma's Press Scrutiny and Registration Board will digitize its press censorship.

Currently the editors and publishers of print media have to submit the draft copy of their publications in hard copies to the censor. Now this will be changed to digital format by presenting soft copy stored in either CD or memory stick.

In the first stage, the edited draft copies and layouts will be sent back to the journals concerned by printed copies. Later these draft copies will be sent back to the media concerned by email and vice versa, this assessor said.

An editor who usually deals with the censor board viewed this new system of editing and censoring on computers connected by network by the censor board staff will create more manipulations in censorship by rewriting the news and articles as they wished.

 

9th March   

Update: Booking Adverts...

Religious advertising heads for Irish radio
Link Here  full story: Religious Advertsing in Ireland...Advertising nonsense

Oireachtas Irish broadcasting legislation on religious advertising is to be relaxed to avoid embarrassment over bans on promotions for first holy communion presents and cribs.

Eamon Ryan, the communications minister, plans to allow organisations such as Veritas, a religious bookshop, to advertise on radio. The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI), which polices the independent-radio sector, has banned a series of planned Veritas advertising campaigns in recent years.

Government sources say Ryan is keen to retain provisions of the existing law that prevent churches or quasi-religious groups from using the airwaves to recruit members. But he will introduce legal changes when the broadcasting bill comes back to the Dail at report stage this month to ensure proportionality in applying the law.

If the Oireachtas adopts the changes, the minister will direct the BCI and its successor, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), to accommodate the spirit of the change in a new code of practice on advertising.

At Christmas, Veritas was refused permission for an ad on RTE and four local stations for different and thoughtful gifts, which included books for children.

Veritas says it has held constructive discussions with officials from the department of communications about the ban in recent weeks. A spokeswoman said: In these difficult commercial times, we need to advertise all the more, so any change in this area would be welcome.

 

9th March   

Brave but Arrested...

Moroccan blogger arrested over petition against prosecutor
Link Here  full story: Blogging in Morocco...Bloggers under duress in Morocco

Morocco flag Moroccan blogger and anti-corruption journalist, Hassan Barhoum, who has been arrested since February 25th for exposing a corruption case involving the prosecutor-general for the king of Morocco.

Barhon circulated a petition calling Mohamed Masmouki, the prosecutor-general at Tetouan's court of appeals, a dangerous criminal undermining people's sacred beliefs and the state institutions. The petition, which has been signed by scores of journalists, bloggers and activists, called for the need to put Mohamed Masmouki on a popular trial.

According to the CPJ, blogger Hassan Barhon was charged under Article 263 of the penal code with defaming a member of the judicial body. If convicted, Hassan Barhon could face up to five years in prison: The Moroccan authorities must stop criminalizing freedom of expression and punishing critical bloggers and journalists [...] Morocco cannot pursue criminal proceedings for defamation, which is a civil matter, while at the same time claiming that the country continues to make progress in the field of press freedom.

 

9th March   

Propaganda Practitioners...

Botswana recruits propaganda team to talk up restrictive media law
Link Here

Botsawana flag Botswana's Ministry of Communications Science and Technology has marshalled a team of about twenty reporters to defend the Media Practitioners' Act - by informing and educating the public about the Act.

The government's use of the extensive media under its control as a powerful propaganda tool leaves little doubt as to the real intention of the Media Practitioners Act - to restrict reporting by the private media while bombarding the public with government propaganda.

The Government is coming under increasing pressure locally and internationally to allow Botswana media to report news freely without interference. Many institutions in Botswana and abroad have called on President Khama to initiate a review of the restrictive media law.

They pointed out that while the Act says it aims at preserving media freedom, upholding standards of professional conduct and promoting ethical standards and discipline, these good intentions are undermined by many sections, which we believe restrict media work and have the effect of cowing media practitioners into fear and self-censorship.
“We raise particular concern with the setting up, composition and duties of the Media Council and its mandate to monitor journalists, administer accreditation and impose an outside regulatory system on the media. It is troubling that this media council will in fact be appointed by the Minister without any stated criteria for the participation of media practitioners and organisations, which have been relegated to membership and associate membership roles.

 

9th March   

Offsite: Liable to Debate...

The future of online obscenity and social networks
Link Here

ars technica logo Is it time to revisit and tweak a critical portion of the Communications Decency Act (CDA)?

Adam Thierer, Director of the Progress and Freedom Foundation's Center for Digital Media Freedom, and John Palfrey, Harvard law professor and Vice Dean, debate whether ISPs and social networking sites should be more liable for the things their users post.

...Read full article

 

8th March   

Updated: Watchmen Again...

2nd version of Watchmen appears on the BBFC database
Link Here

Watchmen poster A second entry has appeared on the BBFC website for the cinema release of Zack Snyder's Watchmen.

The first time the film appeared on the database, it was rapidly removed but appeared a few days later on 13th Feb running at 161:54s and 18 uncut.

Now there is a second entry logged at 3rd March that runs for 4.5 minutes shorter at 157:35s. Still noted as 18 uncut with the same extended classification information as below.

BBFC explain their uncut 18 rating for the film

BBFC logo Watchmen is the latest film from director Zack Snyder and the team behind 300. Based on a famous graphic novel from the 1980s it tells the story of an alternate America in which the Vietnam War was won, Nixon was elected for a third term and costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of society. It was passed ‘18' for strong bloody violence.

The BBFC Guidelines at ‘15' state that ‘violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury'. In Watchmen however there are a number of scenes that focus on strong detailed violence and its gory result. In one such example, a man is stabbed through the arm, with it forcefully twisted and broken as the knife is shown penetrating his arm and emerging from the other side. In another, a man is shown being struck in the head with a meat cleaver followed by repeated bloody sight of the cleaver striking the head. Both of these scenes, in addition to one or two others, were considered inappropriate at ‘15' and better placed at the adult ‘18' where detail of strong violence is permitted.

Watchmen also contains an attempted rape scene, strong language and sexual activity without strong detail.

Update: IMAX Version

7th March 2009. Thanks to Mark

I contacted the BBFC regarding Watchmen being resubmited, and that it has a shorter running time, and they replied back with this:

I suspect you are referring to the IMAX version of WATCHMEN which was submitted recently. This version is identical to the previous film, and was classified '18'.

So the shorter version is the IMAX version, and for some reason they sometimes run shorter. So the original version runs for 161:54 uncut, unless you see the IMAX version.

Update: Director's Cut

8th March 2009. Based on article from cosmos.net.au

The theatrical version of Watchmen has been rated MA 15+ in Australia and R in the US. It runs to 161 minutes plus change.

Director Zack Snyder promises two longer versions this year, the director's cut at 190 minutes, and the 205 minute Black Freighter version, which is the DC with an animated cartoon edited into the narrative, as per the graphic novel. Synder has also said that the DC will be more violent and sexually explicit. It's not clear yet whether this footage was cut for the US R rating, or it's just extended juicy material.

 

8th March   

Update: UNConvinced...

Suggestions that the UN will push to make its blasphemy against islam resolution binding
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logo For the last nine years, the UN's annual ban on defaming Islam has been non-binding. In March, the United Nations may try to impose its view on Islamic blasphemy on all of its member nations thus making criticism of Islam a crime.

In December, the UN General Assembly, as it has every year since 1999, passed a resolution titled Combating Defamation of Religions. The vote was 86-53, with 42 nations abstaining.

Originally titled Defamation of Islam, the name of the resolution has changed over the years but not the intent. The only religion mentioned in the seven-page document is Islam.

The resolution's main sponsor is the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Although the current resolution is non-binding, recent reports suggest the U.N. Human Rights Council will attempt to pass a binding version of the resolution when the council meets in Geneva in March.

In November, when the most recent version of the anti-blasphemy resolution was introduced, Pakistan's Ambassador Masood Khan told the Human Rights Council the OIC wants to see a new instrument or convention that addresses the issue of blasphemy, one that would be binding on member states, according to Canwest News Service.

CNN's Lou Dobbs also reported that the United Nations will seek to impose its religious defamation resolution on all of its members.

German MP calls for Durban II boycott

Based on article from jpost.com

Pressure is rising on Germany's Social Democrat-controlled Foreign Ministry to walk away from the so-called Durban II meeting - the UN's World Conference Against Racism - which opens in Geneva on April 20.

When asked about Rome's decision to pull out of Durban II because, as Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said, the preparatory document and negotiations are filled with aggressive and anti-Semitic statements, a German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that Germany had not changed its position and would participate in the text negotiations.

Germany remained undecided on whether it would take part in Durban II itself, the spokeswoman said.

Germany must boycott this anti-Semitic and anti-Western spectacle. Either together with its EU partners, or if necessary alone. We are not the fig leaf for Iran's Islamist and anti-Semitic activities, Christian Democratic Union MP Kristina Köhler said in a statement.

Responding to the draft Durban II final document, Köhler said, These passages exude the spirit of Teheran, not the spirit of freedom and human rights. Anti-racism is to be misused in the fight against Israel, the fight against the West, and not least the fight against freedom of opinion and the press.

The United Nations is to be misused to give universal validity to the Islamic anti-blasphemy concepts in countries like Iran. That is unacceptable.

 

8th March   

Not So Family Friendly...

New Zealand's mad censor pushes prosecution for parents who disagree with his ratings
Link Here

Bill Hastings Parents who give their underage children access to violent video games should be prosecuted to serve as shock value to other families, says chief censor Bill Hastings.

Laws around video games were an even stricter regime than alcohol , because if an adult gives a child aged under 18 access to a restricted video game even in their own home they are breaking the law, he said.

Hastings told The Dominion Post yesterday that if someone was caught knowingly allowing a child access to restricted video games such as the R-18 Grand Theft Auto series they could be punished by up to three months' imprisonment or a fine of up to $10,000: They might think the offence is silly, but it ain't.

No-one had yet been prosecuted under the law, but Hastings said there could be merit in a parent being charged: That's what the law says, but . . . you're not going to have police officers in every bedroom ... There would certainly be some shock value to prosecuting a parent who gives their under-18 child access to a restricted game. It would send out a message that the enforcement agency means business.

Hastings said parents were often hampered in educating themselves about video-game ratings because of out-of-date legislation, which meant many titles slipped onto New Zealand shelves without a rating.

Although all films and DVDs must be rated, electronic games such as those played on PlayStation or Xbox consoles do not need to go through the classification process unless they have objectionable material, he said.

Hastings said he intended to ask the Internal Affairs Ministry to repeal parts of the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act, drafted in 1993, so that all video games receive classification.

Internal Affairs Minister Richard Worth said he provisionally supported the chief censor's view.

 

8th March   

Dangerous Thailand...

Arrest for senior reporter over 5 year old Swiss TV documentary
Link Here

SF TV logo A leading Swiss TV reporter arrested nine days ago has described the defamation action bought against him by a local Aids charity over a documentary made six years ago as bizarre.

Christoph Muller the head of documentary programmes at the German-language SF (Swiss National) TV broadcaster, was arrested and handcuffed on Feb 27 at Suvarnabhumi airport and taken to Bang Lamung police station in Chon Buri.

Muller was held in custody for 24 hours and granted bail after appearing in a Pattaya court. His passport has been confiscated. At the time of his arrest, Muller said he had no clear idea what the charges against him were as the court documents and arrest warrants were in Thai.

After consulting his lawyers, he learned that a defamation charge had been brought by the charity C.Care Asia International over a documentary aired in Switzerland in December 2002. The documentary, which investigated a Swiss man associated with the charity, was never shown outside Switzerland, but the defamation complaint was lodged with Chon Buri police on Aug 28, 2005.

The documentary was released on the 6th of December 2002 and you get sued four or five years later? It's bizarre, said Muller.

The offence carries a maximum jail term of two years and a fine of 200,000 baht. Muller, who heads a team producing four-and-a-half hours of programming a week, could be forced to spend up to one year in Thailand while the case is processed.

SF TV described the measures as a 'judicial farce' and 'out of all proportion to his apparent offence' . The authorities have not told Muller exactly why he was arrested, but it appears to have been the result of a 2006 complaint about a report by Muller in 2002 about a bogus Swiss doctor based in Thailand ... the station said in a statement.

The editor of current affairs, Ueli Haldimann, said: We don't understand the arrest of our head reporter and we demand instantaneous clarification from the Thai authorities. We protest against the method of the arrest. The film Muller made was only shown in Switzerland. That's why we don't understand why a Thai court stood up the complaint.'

Reporters Without Borders have called on Thai authorities to immediately rescind the order banning him from leaving the country and to return his passport.

 

7th March   

Update: X-Men...

US nutters whinge at Watchmen
Link Here

Movieguide.com logo The Christian Film & Television Commission, a nutter group in Hollywood, has filed a complaint with the MPAA about the R rating for the movie Watchmen.

This movie contains extreme violence, nudity, and sex, including rape said Dr. Ted Baehr, chairman and spokesmen of the Commission: Throughout most of the whole picture, one male character walks around completely naked, with his private parts waving in the breeze.

This kind of content used to be rated X or NC-17. The motion picture industry keeps changing its standards. No wonder the MPAA's rating system confuses parents.

Dr. Baehr said, The MPAA office told us that it would bring our concerns about this movie and its rating to their board. Whatever they decide, we appreciate the board taking another look at this issue. Even so, the movie industry needs to clean up its act and stop inserting graphic violence, sex, nudity, and drug use into its movies.

After all, would Casablanca become an even better work of art if the script contained a bunch of “f” words, or if Ingrid Bergman appeared completely nude? Definitely not!

 

7th March   

Update: Unmoderated...

Office of Thai online news website, Prachatai, raided by police
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Prachatai logo On the same day that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told a meeting of news editors of his intention to restore Thailand's press freedom reputation, police officials raided the offices and arrested the executive director of a popular online news site, Prachatai.

Prachatai's executive director Chiranuch Premchaiporn was arrested when a group of five or six Crime Suppression Division police officials entered the Web site's Bangkok offices. Officers also took copies of the hard drives of some of the office's computers. Chiranuch was later released on bail.

The director was charged under national security-related articles 14 and 15 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act for postings apparently critical of the Thai royal family made on one of the site's boards, according to Prachatai. It is unclear if Chiranuch would also be charged under the country's lese majeste law, which criminalizes any criticism of the royal family. Guilty convictions are punishable with a maximum of 15 years in prison.

We call upon the relevant authorities to immediately cease and desist from harassing all online journalists and commentators like Chiranuch Premchaiporn, said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia Program Director : Thailand has unleashed one of the most aggressive crackdowns on Internet freedom seen anywhere in Asia and we strongly urge them to reverse course.

Prachatai has developed a reputation for independent reporting, particularly through its hard-hitting reports on the conflict between government forces and Muslim rebels in the country's three southernmost provinces. The site was threatened with closure last year because of comments deemed harmful to the monarchy posted to one of the site's online public forums.

 

6th March   

Three Quarters Concerned about Nutter MPs...

Keith Vaz bangs on about about the latest BBFC survey
Link Here

Keith Vaz Keith Vaz had his moment in Prime Ministers Questions. Harriet Hatemen was standing in for Gordon Brown

Keith Vaz: In a survey published last week, 74% of parents said that they were very concerned about the increasing violence in video games. Given the increasing availability on the internet of games that exhibit scenes of graphic and gratuitous violence, when do the Government propose to implement the Byron report in full? This is not about censorship; it is about protecting our children.

Harriet Harman: I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his long-standing campaign on the issue. We need to make sure that we have tough classifications that are properly enforced. We need to make sure that parents have the information that they need. We need to make sure that the industry plays its part. The Government will take action on all those fronts.

 

6th March   

Update: Branded as Out of Control...

BBC bans stars from editorial control of their own programmes
Link Here  full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

BBC logo The BBC has announced new policy guidelines to make it clearer who is responsible for editorial compliance when the on-screen/on-air talent owns the company making the programme or has a senior role in the production team.

Applying immediately to all BBC commissions in television and radio, the new guidelines state that for in-house and independent programmes, on-screen/on-air talent or their agents must not be responsible for editorial standards or compliance procedures for the programme in which they appear, and therefore should not be credited as the Executive Producer.

In exceptional circumstances, an additional Executive Producer must be appointed to take responsibility for editorial controls and compliance procedures.

The BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee recently asked the BBC Executive to assess the editorial controls and compliance procedures in place for all programmes where the production company is owned and/ or managed by the featured performer.

George Entwistle, Controller of Editorial Standards, BBC Vision, said of the changes: On-screen and on-air talent plays a vital role in BBC productions, both independent and in-house, and their creative input is very highly valued. But creative input must not be confused with responsibility for editorial standards and compliance.

Artists and their agents need to be free to focus on the creative process while another senior member of the team takes responsibility for ensuring that compliance procedures are followed and editorial standards are met.

 

6th March   

Blurred Thinking...

Californian legislator proposes that Google Earth should be blurred
Link Here

Google Earth A California state legislator has submitted a bill that would limit the amount of detail allowed in images available from applications such as Google Maps and Google Earth, contending that terrorists are using such online tools to plot attacks.

Assemblyman Joel Anderson submitted Bill AB 255 to the California legislature on Feb. 11. The bill, which is waiting to go to committee, would not allow online mapping tools from companies such as Google to provide aerial or satellite images of schools, places of worship, government buildings and medical facilities unless they have been blurred.

Anderson told Computerworld that he is looking to limit the amount of detail that Internet users can see: We heard from terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks last year that they used Google Maps to select their targets and get knowledge about their targets. Hamas has said they were using Google Maps to target children's schools. What my bill does is limit the level of detail [in Google Earth]. It doesn't stop people from getting directions. We don't need to help bad people map their next target. What is the purpose of showing air ducts and elevator shafts? It does no good.

If passed, this bill would only affect California, but Anderson said he's confident that other states, as well as federal lawmakers, will introduce similar bills.

 

5th March   

Nutters, Angels and Demons...

Catholic League starts campaign against latest Dan Brown movie
Link Here  full story: Angels and Demons...Another Dan Brown film/book winds up the nutters

Angels and Demons poster Catholic League president Bill Donohue announced today the start of a campaign against Angels & Demons.

The movie, which opens May 15, is based on the book by Dan Brown.

Bill Donohue writes:

Next week we will begin to make available to the public a booklet that I wrote on Angels & Demons . It details the myths, lies and smears that are made against the Catholic Church. It also provides evidence of the anti-Catholic animus harbored by those associated with the film.

Author Dan Brown and director Ron Howard are getting good at this. The Da Vinci Code was replete with falsehoods presented as fact, and now the tag team is back again delivering a curious blend of fact and fiction. All done at the expense of the Catholic Church.

Brown-Howard are obsessed with Catholicism. It is not enough to criticize it—they are hell bent on demonizing it. It is not enough to drag out dirty laundry—they invent it. And the fact that they pay absolutely no price for their propaganda shows beyond dispute that anti-Catholicism is the one bigotry Hollywood likes.

We will have something to say about the lies tomorrow. On Wednesday, we will address the anti-Catholic sentiments of the producers and film crew. Next week we will release the booklet. By the time we are finished with Angels & Demons , there should be few who won't know what the Brown-Howard agenda entails.

 

5th March   

The Evil that Iowa Legislators Do...

Very high probability that parents will be labelled as child abusers
Link Here

Iowa state seal A bill under consideration by Iowa lawmakers proposes that parents face punishment if their children are allowed access to pornographic content.

Under the bill, House 443, and its companion bill, Senate File 271, parents whose children view adult content would be guilty of child abuse and earn placement on the state child abuse registry.

Since its initial proposition last week, House 443 has been a subject of controversy.

Supporters of the bill are saying that several existing bills of a similar nature contain loopholes exempting parents from accountability in obscenity distribution, and that child abuse has a direct relationship to pornography.

This legislation isn't the icing on the cake. It's the cake, said Kathy Lowenberg, director of counseling for Growth and Healing in Iowa City: We have to have it.

The bill's critics claim that the bill is broad to the point that even a child who sneaks a peek at a Playboy magazine could push parents into legal turmoil, according to the Des Moines Register.

This would have the state intervening in families every time a parent drops their guard, said Randall Wilson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa: You have adolescent hormones raging here, you have curiosity and I think, truth be told, you would find that a whole lot of kids would qualify as children in need of assistance who belong to perfectly normal families.

Critics have also raised the issue of the bill's stance on children viewing pornography inadvertently or without their parents' knowledge. It is reported that the bill does not answer these and other questions.

We need to do a lot more discussion, said Sen. Becky Schmitz, and be a little more specific about what we mean and the ramifications of it.

 

5th March   

Update: Putting the Mockers on Religion...

Comedy documentary passed 15 uncut by the BBFC
Link Here

Religulous poster The new 'documentary' by the man behind Borat has been passed 15 uncut by the BBFC. Provocatively titled Religulous (think 'religious' and 'ridiculous'), it will mock the beliefs of the world's major religions, recruiting unwitting assistance from the ranks of the faithful.

The BBFC helpfully explained their decision:

Religulous is a documentary by Bill Maher, an American comedian, on the beliefs and practices of the major religions. It was passed '15' for strong language, drug use and sexualised nudity.

The film questions the tenets of all the major religions in a mocking fashion but with some serious intentions underlying it. A number of the dialogues contain strong language and one quite explicitly refers to paedpohilia involving Catholic priests. As part of his global exploration Maher conducts several conversations in a Dutch coffee house and samples a marijuana cigarette. BBFC Policy and Guidelines allow for scenes of drug taking at '15', but does not allow the promotion of illegal drug use at any category. This film, as a whole, does not promote or encourage drug use.
As part of the ironic style of the film, excerpts from unrelated and dated features are inserted in order to make humorous statements. Examples of these include soft porn style shots of a naked man and another caressing a naked woman. The film also contains some strong dialogue references to sex acts. More conventional techniques include the insertion of reality footage of terrorist attacks, including 9/11, the London bombings and sight of the corpse of the Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh.

 

5th March   

Incitement to Censor...

Italians extending internet blocking to sites 'inciting' crime
Link Here

Italy flag The Italian Senate approved - and the lower chamber is ready to pass draft law 733 called Pacchetto sicurezza (Security Package).

Under section 50 bis of this forthcoming law, a public prosecutor which is given serious circumstantial evidence that an online activity of inciting crime has been committed, is allowed to ask the Minister of Home Affair to order the ISP's to shut down the concerned network resource. ISP refusal to comply with Minister's order should be fined with a penalty up to 250,000 Euros.

Crime-inciting is very difficult to handle, since the border between free-speech and law violation is often blurred (would a website supporting freedom rebels of a country be - per se - inciting to commit crimes?).

Italy had a "sound" tradition in trying to enforce citizen's global surveillance systems through ISP's and telco operators, adopting every sort of justifications (from copyright, to child pornography, to online gambling and now to crime-inciting actions). Oddly enough, nevertheless, these good intentions fell always on innocent citizens' shoulders, while true criminals stay absolutely free.

 

5th March   

Update: Striking a Chord...

Wilders surges in Dutch opinion polls after prosecution and ban
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders Britain's controversial ban on the anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders has helped push his Freedom Party into the lead for the first time, according to Dutch opinion polls.

Geert Wilders began to see a rise in his popularity after an Amsterdam appeals court decided to try him for anti-Muslim comments in January.

New opinion polling now puts Mr Wilders ahead of the Christian Democrats, who lead a coalition government.

How happy I am about this. These are of course just polls, but it is an enormous sign of confidence from the Dutch voter, said Wilders: As far as I am concerned, elections can be held tomorrow, then I will be the next premier.

Polling by Maurice de Hond has predicted that the Freedom Party or PVV would take 18% of the vote to win 27 seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament. This would put Wilders in the position of being a power broker and prime minister in a traditionally complicated Dutch multi-party coalition.

 

4th March   

Update: Stereotypical Whingers...

More actions against England People Very Nice
Link Here  full story: England People Very Nice...Muslim protests about play that stereotypes everyone

Engand People protestors The National Theatre has been warned it faces further protests from anti-racism campaigners if it continues to show England People Very Nice by Richard Bean.

Campaigners have already disrupted one talk before a performance of Richard Bean's play, England People Very Nice, by mounting the first onstage demonstration in the National Theatre's 32-year history.

Last Friday, two protesters clambered on to the stage at the National's Olivier Theatre and condemned Bean as racist. For 10 minutes, playwright Hussain Ismail and teacher Keith Kinsella interrupted a talk that Bean was giving prior to a performance of the play, before being ejected by security guards.

Bean's play charts the settling of the French Huguenot, Irish, Jewish and Bengali communities in Bethnal Green since the 17th century. The National has billed it as a riotous journey through four waves of immigration in the East End of London.

But the protesters have failed to find anything humorous about its themes.

After his protest smail said: Richard Bean is making it seem like all Bangladeshis are drug dealers or users, muggers and marry their cousins.

Kinsella said: I find it outrageous that a play that could have been written by a racist Year Nine pupil has been allowed to be performed at the National – a publicly funded theatre.

Ismail outlined his plan to take the protest to currency exchange firm Travelex, which sponsors the National's £10 ticket season. He said: I've asked Travelex to support and mediate our claim for a public debate. If they don't come back we will have to say that Travelex supports a racist play.

The protest has been planned for March 21 outside Travelex's London head office in Kingsway, he said.

He also hinted that audiences could be picketed, but would not reveal exactly what form the action would take.

Ironically the play was meant to lampoon the sort of racist 'Alf Garnett' attitudes that all the four immigrant groups have experienced. Nicholas Hytner, the director of the National Theatre, said: The play lampoons all forms of stereotyping. Every stereotype is placed in the context of its opposite and it clearly sets out to demonstrate that all forms of racism are equally ridiculous.

 

4th March   

Diary: R18 Means R18?...

New Zealand nutters concerned about children's access to video games
Link Here

Bill Hastings R18 Means R18?
Wintec, Hamilton, New Zealand
Thursday March 5th from 5:30pm
Open to the public and entry is free

Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) hosts the New Zealand Chief Censor's  public seminar on children's access to violent video games

Hamilton based child advocacy agency Parentline says there is a very high chance that children will be exposed to violence before the age of 18 – the legal age to view and purchase such explicit material. The research claims that 70% of the Hamilton's children aged from five to fourteen year olds years were playing restricted video games.

Parentline said there was concern that young people were being inundated with violet behaviours and imagery before they were capable of contextualising it.

New Zealand's chief Censor, Bill Hastings is guest speaker at the seminar. The discussion forum will include demonstrations of various video games and provide information about censorship and the reasons some video games have age restrictions. Graphic violence, sexual themes, drug use, horror and offensive language are routinely incorporated into games children are playing.

Parentline surveyed 1187 five-14 year olds and 496 parents to gather information on the children's video gaming habits. 90% of the children said they played video games with one in five playing every day, and 11% playing for an average of five hours or more. This was significantly more than the adults reported.

Nearly 600 games were named as ‘the best' they had played in the past month. These included one banned game, and 55 with age restrictions. The top 10 favourites included Grand Theft Auto (R18) and the combat war game Halo (R16).

 

4th March   

Sexy Mama...

Indian censors get wound up by the movie 13B
Link Here

13B poster The song Sexy Mama, in forthcoming horror film 13B has wound up the Indian censor.

The censor board objected to the song and it will now be known as Crazy mama .

The horror flick has been directed by Vikram K. Kumar and stars R. Madhavan and Neetu Chandra.

Thankfully, the change in words will affect only television promos of the song since the number will remain intact in its Sexy Mama in the film.

We had applied for a censor certificate for the promos to be beamed on satellite channels. They objected to the word 'sexy' and were willing to grant an ‘A' certificate, which meant that the song could be played only during late nights, said Preeti Puri Sharma of BIG Pictures, who are producing 13B .

There is another twist to the tale as well. Since the film is a bilingual and has been made in both Hindi and Tamil, it required a separate certificate for the Tamil version.

But the censor board was far more liberal for the Tamil version and were fine with the entire song without any cuts or beeps.

They have their own way of operating. The Tamil song doesn't see any word being replaced and plays on as ‘Sexy mama'. Anyway, we are okay with the visibility that the song is getting, regardless of a change in word, said Sharma.

Similarly, different yardsticks seem to have been used for the certificates as well. While the Hindi version carries an ‘A' certificate, the Tamil version has been granted a ‘U/A' certificate.

13B is set to release March 6.

 

3rd March   

Evil Hype...

BBFC comment on Resident Evil 5
Link Here

Resident Evil 5 The BBFC has dismissed suggestions that a particular scene in Resident Evil 5 is racist.

A scene was reported where a white blonde woman being dragged off, screaming, by black men, as our preview put it. Then: When you attempt to rescue her, she's been turned and must be killed.

The BBFC's Sue Clark responded:

In the version [of the scene] submitted to the BBFC there is only one man pulling the blonde woman in from the balcony, and I can't say the skimpiness of her dress impressed itself on me. The single man is not black either.

As the whole game is set in Africa it is hardly surprising that some of the characters are black, just like the fact that some of the characters in an earlier version were Spanish as the game was set in Spain.

We do take racism very seriously, but in this case there is no issue around racism. Even there was an issue: the BBFC would not automatically cut a work for racism.

We would normally give a work a higher rating to take it away from younger consumers who might not understand the issues surrounding racist remarks or attitudes. In this case the game is already rated 18 by us, so we would be unlikely to intervene further.

The BBFC have also explained their uncut 18 decision:

Resident Evil 5 is the latest game in Capcom's survival horror series. This time Chris Redfield investigates a possible biohazard outbreak in Africa. It is the first game in the series to be released on the next generation Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles.

The game was classified '18' for strong bloody violence and gore. As with previous games in the series we see blood spurts from the infected enemies' bodies as they are shot, and their heads being blown off by gunfire. The player's character also bleeds when shot, and can be decapitated if killed by a chainsaw-wielding enemy. In this instance we see the chainsaw blade cutting into the player's neck with blood spurting from the wound, although the actual decapitation is masked by the camera angle. When killed, bodies disappear within seconds, usually with a bubbling mass of liquid signifying their death. Some of the human enemies spout tentacles if their head has been blown off, with the organism controlling the person forcing them to stagger towards the player in a last-ditch attack. The player is also able to stomp on enemies as they lie on the ground, sometimes resulting in a large spray of blood. During some 'cut scenes', we also see a character put their fist through an enemy's chest with sight of spraying blood as a result.

At '15', the BBFC's Guidelines state that 'violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury', and that 'the strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable'. In the case of Resident Evil 5 , there is frequent violence that dwells on such detail, and some strong gory images that go beyond a level that would be suitable for a game classified '15'. Therefore the game was given an '18' certificate.

The game also contains one use of strong language.

 

3rd March   

Updated: Combination of Factors...

Race riots film pulled after fights break out at cinemas
Link Here

The Combination A film set during the race riots that hit Australia four years ago has been pulled from cinemas in Sydney after fights broke out during screenings.

The Combination centres on tensions between gangs of Australian Lebanese and white youths in Sydney's western suburbs in 2005.

It was pulled by one of Australia's cinema chains, Greater Union, after violence flared outside two cinemas. Greater Union said it had cancelled screenings of the film in all four of its Sydney cinemas after violent incidents in its suburban Parramatta cinema on Thursday and Saturday nights.

Maintaining the safety and security of our staff and patrons is our main concern and priority, Greater Union general manager Robert Flynn said in a statement.

The Australian Film Syndicate (AFS) managing director Allanah Zitserman said Greater Union's decision to pull the critically-acclaimed film was devastating for everyone involved, especially for the audiences: Although we do not support the decision by Greater Union to pull the film from its NSW sites we respect and understand their position.

The Combination, directed by David Field, is set in late 2005, when ugly race riots between white and Lebanese Australians flared at the city's Cronulla Beach.

The film can still be seen at other cinema chains in New South Wales state, as well as cinemas in other Australian cities.

Update: Resuming

3rd March 2009. See article from news.bbc.co.uk

The screening will now resume on Wednesday with extra security provided by the film's distributor.

 

3rd March   

Update: A Festival of Book Bans...

100 books banned from Saudi Book Fair
Link Here

Saudi flag One hundred books have been banned from the Riyadh International Book Fair, according to the Saudi Ministry of Information and Culture.

Some books were banned for religious and moral reasons, and some for not conforming to public taste, said Yousef Al-Yousef, director of the ministry's publications administration.

Twenty-five people representing a range of specialties took part in the identification and removal of books. Some publishers also left out some publications at their own discretion, Al-Yousef said: All the participants in the event recognize that the censorship ceiling is particularly high.

The 2008 festival was unsurprisingly marred by low attendance.

 

3rd March   

You Don't Say!...

Researchers find that high age ratings make games more attractive to youngsters
Link Here

18 cert If you want to make blood-and-gore video games less appealing to minors, toss those restrictive age and violent-content warnings. The lure of something off-limits only increases demand, a new study says.

In the study, researchers tested 310 Dutch children ranging in age from 7 to 17. Participants read fictitious game descriptions and rated how much or how little they wanted to play each game. In every group, the more objectionable the content, the more kids clamoured for the controller— forbidden fruit, the researchers called the games.

The findings are published in the March issue of Pediatrics.

While research has found that ratings increase the attraction to raunchy TV shows and movies, the hypothesis had never been tested with video games, reported two of the study's authors, Brad Bushman of the University of Michigan and Elly Konijn of VU University Amsterdam.

They suggest that youth should not be allowed to buy their own games, that parents and physicians be aware of risk factors (such as a drop in grades) and that policy-makers rethink the classifications (such as M, appropriate for those 17 and older), which will only make the games "unspeakably desirable."

 

3rd March   

Update: Nutter Tax...

Californian proposal for a sales tax on harmful goods
Link Here  full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA

California state seal State Assemblyman Alberto Torrico has introduced a bill that would place a tax on adult entertainment products sold in California.

The tax percentage was not written into the bill introduced Friday; however, Torrico spokesman Jeff Barbosa told XBIZ that the bill is still in the beginning process” and that legislative analysts will provide a tax amount shortly.

The timing of Torrico's proposal comes on the heels of dwindling state coffers, as well as the assemblyman's push to provide a domestic abuser surveillance fund to track abusers and stalkers.

The bill's language, as it stands, only includes a proposed tax on the sale of harmful matter goods at the retail level.

 

3rd March   

Update: Fatwa against Movies...

Saudi nutter claims TV station owners as bad as drug dealers
Link Here  full story: Death to TV Companies in Saudi...Clerics call for death of offending TV broadcasters

MBC logo A Saudi religious scholar is accusing a royal tycoon and another Saudi businessman of being as dangerous as drug dealers because the TV channels they own broadcast movies.

The fatwa calling for their prosecution is unusual because it publicly chastises two such prominent Saudi figures by name: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world's richest people, and Waleed al-Ibrahim, a brother-in-law of the late King Fahd.

Youssef al-Ahmed, a professor in the Islamic law department at the ultraconservative al-Imam University, issued the fatwa in response to a question regarding Alwaleed's assertions last month that the kingdom will have movie theaters one day and that movies play a positive social role in Saudi Arabia.

Cinemas were closed in Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s amid a rise in conservatism. Conservatives believe the movie industry encourages decadence by showing the drinking of alcohol and portraying men and women together in a country that bans liquor and the public mixing of the sexes.

Movies are a tool that hypocrites use to implement their plot to Westernize society, corrupt it and drive it away from (religion), said al-Ahmed in his response, posted on Islamlight.net: It is a duty to bring him (Alwaleed) and people like him, such as Waleed al-Ibrahim, to justice. They are no less dangerous ... than drug dealers."

Waleed owns the Dubai-based MBC Group media conglomerate, which includes several satellite channels that broadcast movies, entertainment, news and children's programs in Arabic and English. Those include American and European sitcoms and movies.

 

3rd March   

Offsite: Freedom of Defamation...

Freedom of Expression in an Intolerant India
Link Here

ShivSena logo The Indian blogosphere is abuzz with discussions on freedom of expression after the Supreme Court refused to throw out Shiv Sena's defamation case against 19 year old computer science student Ajith D.

However, the Indian blogosphere's reactions to the controversy are mostly based on reports on the incident in Indian media and the quality of this reporting has been very mediocre, with few details and little background information. As a result, bloggers are reacting to incomplete information. As a result, bloggers are reacting to incomplete information.

So, before I do a roundup of the Indian blogosphere's reactions to the story and share my own views, let me present the basic facts.

...Read full article

 

2nd March   

Update: Fitna for the US Senate...

Wilders calls for an International First Amendment on free speech
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders has called for an International First Amendment that would repeal all hate speech laws.

During a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., Wilders discussed the recent attacks and prosecution he is facing for speaking against Islam and for showing his film.

He also joined the International Free Press Society in announcing a global initiative to protect free speech from laws that criminalize hate speech, whether they are criticisms of Islam or the doctrines of Shariah.

Lars Hedegaard, president of the International Free Press Society, said in a statement that hate speech and blasphemy laws in many European countries lack clarity as to precisely what they aim to criminalize and are usually unequally applied.

The way to deal with controversial, offensive or even hateful statements — unless they are directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action — is to expose them to public debate and criticism, he stated.

The press conference included a screening of Fitna . Wilders toured the United States this past week, with stops in New York, Boston, New York City and Washington, to rally support for the campaign to protect free speech worldwide. He also screened his film to the U.S. Senate.

 

2nd March   

Update: England People Very Nice Protest...

England People Proud to be Humorously Stereotyped
Link Here  full story: England People Very Nice...Muslim protests about play that stereotypes everyone

Engand People protestors A demonstration against the play England People Very Nice was held outside the National Theatre.

The play by Richard Bean looks at immigration in London's East End. It is directed by the National's artistic director Nicholas Hytner who says that the play lampoons all forms of stereotyping: it is a boisterous satire of stereotypes of French, Irish, Jews, Bangladeshis, white East End cockneys, Hampstead liberals and many others.

Every stereotype is placed in the context of its opposite and it clearly sets out to demonstrate that all forms of racism are equally ridiculous.

The outdoor demonstration preceded a Platform event during which the play's writer Richard Bean was due to discuss his work. The protest, under the banner 'Love Theatre Hate Racism', was organised by Bethnal Green playwright Hussain Ismail.

Proud to be stereotyped

  Counter protest?

Cllr Abjol Miah, leader of the Respect group on Tower Hamlets Council, was present with several objectors from the East End.

I am passionate about theatre and I don't think theatre should be used to peddle racist filth under the guise of comedy and serious theatre. Hussain Ismail told the small crowd of passers-by on the riverside who stopped to listen to speeches.

The National Theatre is staging two debates about the play in April.

 

2nd March   

Update: God Hates Westboro Baptists...

Phelps thwarted in attempt to erect anti-gay monument in a Casper park
Link Here  full story: Westboro Baptists...Reprehensible nutters hate gays and soliders

"God hates you" poster A U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week affirmed the Casper, Wyoming City counsels decision not to allow anti-gay pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas to place an anti-gay monument in one of it's city parks, when the justices unanimously agreed that governments receiving monument donations for public parks are not compelled to take everything they are offered.

The city had placed a Ten Commandments statue, donated by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, in a plaza along with other monuments of historical significance and Phelps had sought to place his own monument in the Casper plaza condemning homosexuality.

Phelp's monument stated: Matthew Shepard Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God's Warning ‘thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination. Leviticus 18:22.

Matthew Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and subsequently murdered because he was gay.

The Casper City Council had denied Phelps' request in both 2003 and 2007.

Phelps had argued it was his First Amendment right to have his monument included.

 

2nd March   

Secret Sex...

Sex education book predictably controversial in UAE
Link Here

UAE flag Fierce controversy has erupted in the Emirates over a book about the secrets of sex within marriage written by Wedad Lootah, a female lawyer who works on matrimonial cases at the court in Dubai.

The book, The Secrets of Sexual Congress Between Married Couples , which came out about a month ago, includes several chapters on marriage within Islam, Islamic law on the issues of co-habiting and sex, and possible solutions to sexual problems.

Arab News reports that it is mainly men who are against the book, maintaining that issues of this nature should not be discussed publicly. Some of the detractors have even gone so far as to accuse the author of being an infidel and sinner for writing the book.

Supporters however say that there is a great need for published information on the issues and that until know Arab society has not wanted to recognize problems arising from ignorance in sexual matters.

Lootah does not seem too surprised by the criticisms, and maintains that she based the book on Islamic sources, stressing that it was even approved by the mufti of Dubai. The book was suggested by her own six years of experience working on divorce cases, and from the knowledge that many of these cases come about because of a lack of preparation for couples in the matter.

 

2nd March   

Offsite: H-Games...

Amazon Blacklists Adult Video Games
Link Here  full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

Rapelay game Have you ever played a porn game? No, of course you haven't. Neither have I. And if I ever did, it would have been purely for research purposes.

This week, in Robot Punch!, we'll discuss a genre of video game that doesn't often find much coverage in the media, despite its significant role in the industry: The H-game. Also known as eroge (short for “erotic games”), the genre recently caught some heat and now we're feeling a little more guilty about ourselves.

...Read full article

 

1st March   

Update: Out of the Poo...

CPS end action against Jo Brand's BNP gag
Link Here  full story: Jo Brand...Jo Brand quips about sending poo to the BNP

Crown Prosecution Service Comedienne Jo Brand will not be prosecuted over her remarks about the British National Party during a BBC comedy programme.

Referring to the leaking of the BNP's membership on to the internet, Brand told the asudience at the Hammersmith Apollo: Hurrah. Now we know who to send the poo to.

Following complaints from the BNP, Brand was investigated for allegedly committing an act of incitement to cause racial harassment but the Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday: We have advised the police to take no further action.'

 

1st March   

Update: US Opt Out of Durban II...

UN conference hijacked to promote action against the defamation of religion
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logo The United States has decided not to participate in a UN conference on racism in April unless the final document is changed to drop all references to Israel and the defamation of religion, a senior US official said.

The conference is a follow-up to the contentious 2001 conference in Durban which was dominated by clashes over the Middle East and the legacy of slavery. The U.S. and Israel walked out midway through that eight-day meeting over a draft resolution that singled out Israel for criticism and likened Zionism to racism.

Israel and Canada have already announced that they will boycott the upcoming World Conference Against Racism in Geneva from April 20-25, known as Durban II, but President Barack Obama's administration decided to assess the negotiations before making a decision on U.S. participation.

Last week, the State Department sent two US representatives to Geneva, where the final document to be issued by conference participants at the end of the conference is being negotiated. A US official said that in the negotiations, a bad document got worse.

The United States has decided that it will not participate in further negotiations on the outcome document and will not participate in the conference itself on the basis of the latest text, the US official said.

The Obama administration would reconsider its position if the document improves in a number of areas including dropping references to any specific country, references to defamation of religion which the US views as a free speech issue, and language on reparations for slavery.

 

1st March   

Comment: Daily Mail Wankers...

Nonsense article about Bono using the word wanker on daytime radio
Link Here

No Line on the Horizon CD Pop star Bono wound up the Daily Mail's soundbite ntters on  BBC radio after the broadcaster kicked off a day-long promotion of his band U2.

The band were being interviewed by Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley when Bono called Coldplay star Chris Martin a 'wanker'.

A shocked Whiley immediately interrupted the star to demand an apology for the word which was being broadcast at 11.45am.

The corporation issued an on-air apology on behalf of Bono. The BBC later uploaded the interview onto it's iPlayer website without edits.

The incident occurred after Whiley played a Coldplay track ahead of the band's arrival in the studio. She asked Bono if he thought that Martin was as talented as Paul McCartney.

Bono replied: I think he's that good a melodist, but he's a wanker.

Whiley then cut the star off mid way through his answer saying: Would you like to apologise for what you've just said live on my show?

Bono joked: I'm a reformed character, I don't do that any more. Whiley retorted: You're not showing any signs of being reformed.

Whiley made an apology herself and added: I'm sorry if anyone is listening at the moment who were offended by the words that Bono said. I will apologise on his behalf.

Bono then added: I'm sorry, it's early.

Tory MP, broadcaster and Daily Mail sound bite nutter, Ann Widdecombe hit out at the BBC for failing to learn from past mistakes, including the Andrew Sachs fiasco.

She told the Daily Mail: If the BBC are really serious about trying to clean up their act then this not the way to go about doing it. It just shows complete contempt for the public.

John Beyer, director of Mediawatch UK, ccused the corporation of failing to warn its guests about the use of bad language.

He said: They should have edited the interview they put online. This type of language is not acceptable. The public opinion on this is clear and most people do not want to hear it. The BBC need to be able to properly advise the interviewees about the use of bad language and make sure it is not offensive on-air. If the artists can't accept this they should not be invited back again.

The BBC said they had received six complaints from listeners after the outburst.

Comment: Sometimes 'Wanker' is very appropriate indeed

John Beyer 1st March 2009. Thanks to Alan:

Beyer: This type of language is not acceptable.

To whom is it not acceptable? I've used it in the car when cut up by a wanker, in the pub when I've thought the pub bore was a wanker, in the factory canteen when I thought the managing director was a wanker, in the senior common room when I thought the vice-chancellor was a wanker. In fact I've just used it in front of my computer when I thought the odious, Pooterish, sanctimonious, fun-hating, authoritarian Gruppenfuhrer von Beyer was a wanker.

Just who does this noisome little pillock think he is?