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 2009: April
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30th April   

Gambling on a Legality...

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Minnesota tells ISP to block 200 gambling websites
Link Here  full story: Online Gambling in the US...US censorship problems with online gambling

Minnesota state seal The state of Minnesota has decided to try its hand at Internet censorship. Officials from the Minnesota Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division have commanded Internet service providers to block almost 200 online gambling sites.

To reconcile its action with actual law and statutes, the Division is citing the federal Wire Act of 1961 as the basis for attempting to prevent residents from accessing online casinos. However, federal courts have ruled that the Wire Act pertains only to sports betting, which leaves Minnesota in an uncomfortable legal position.

Officials notified Comcast Cable, AT&T, Charter Communications, and eight other sources of Internet connections to respond within the next two to three weeks. ISP spokesmen had no immediate comment.

 

30th April   

Update: International Criticism...

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

US Mainstream DVDs

Video Universe
 

Human rights groups call on Thailand to revise lese majeste laws
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Reporers without Borders logo I posted a video of the king on the Internet, Suwicha Thakor told Reporters Without Borders from behind a plexiglas screen in Bangkok’s Klong Prem prison on 20 April. The police should have told me what I was doing was wrong. It is not right to be sentenced to 10 years in prison for this. I am not a problem for the country or its security. I am in prison for nothing.

Suwicha was given the 10-year sentence on 3 April on a charge of lese majeste. Reporters Without Borders wrote to the king yesterday asking him to grant Suwicha a royal pardon.

Reporters Without Borders and 31 other human rights, press freedom and journalists organisations have issued a joint appeal to the Thai government for a revision of article 112 of the Thai criminal code on lese majeste.

Since a new government took over last December, the authorities have stepped up enforcement of the lese majeste law and the Internet has been one of the leading victims. Access to more than 50,000 websites is currently blocked because of content critical of the monarchy. Around ten people are being prosecuted (or have been prosecuted) for lese majeste and two of them have been convicted. The crime of lese majeste is punishable by three to 15 years in prison.

Call to the Prime Minister to review the lese majeste law:

We, human rights groups, journalists and the victims of arbitrary lese majeste prosecutions appeal to Thai authorities to review criminal code article 112 on national security offences, under which any defamatory, insulting or threatening comments about the king, queen, crown prince or regent is deemed to be a crime of lese majeste punishable by three to 15 years in prison.

Access to more than 50,000 webpages has been blocked because of content critical of the monarchy, some 10 people are currently being prosecuted on lese majeste charges, at least two are in prison, and more held without bail.

This situation has gone unresolved far too long.

 

30th April   

Offsite: Ireland Goes Sharia...

For God's sake, why have blasphemous libel?
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law

Oireachtas logo The proposal to make blasphemous libel an offence would likely criminalise many writers and publishers.

What about other religious groupings and faiths? The proposed amendment makes the degree of outrage among adherents of any religion, in response to things said or written about them, a defining factor in determining whether an offence has been committed. We have seen elsewhere in Europe large-scale expressions of outrage by members of the Muslim community in response to films, books and cartoons. Books such as Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and films and cartoons, such as those published by a Danish newspaper and which offended some Muslims, would almost certainly be criminalised in Ireland by the present proposal.

...Read full article

 

30th April   

Petition: Cover Up...

Relax the censorship laws and role of the BBFC
Link Here

BBFC logo Relax the censorship laws and role of the BBFC

The BBFC is responsible for classifying and censoring all film releases in cinemas and on DVD in the UK. During the early 70/80s there were concerns over the effects of the "video nasties" - causing viewers to re-enact deviant behaviour or "corrupting" the youth. As a result, the BBFC were handed guidelines by the government to censor certain materials. These measures saw a massive decline in the production of "video nasties". Although any film could be labelled a "nasty", the ones particularly targeted were so for their disturbing portrayal of sex, violence, sexual violence and real wild animal violence.

However, despite research, there is no conclusive proof that events portrayed in the movies have any significant effect in altering the moral values or behavior of the veiwers, whats more animal violence occurs in nature naturally and is merely being documented.

Therefore, I petition the PM to take the initiative, lift the censorship laws that are not in place to protect unwilling participants, liberate the British film industry from censorship and allow the general public to choose what they WANT to watch for themselves.

 

29th April   

Update: Pandering to Nonsense...

Irish Minister of Injustice proposes Saudi pleasing blasphemy law
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law

Oireachtas logo A new crime of blasphemous libel is to be proposed by the Irish Minister for Injustice in an amendment to the Defamation Bill, which will be discussed by the Oireachtas committee on injustice today.

At the moment there is no crime of blasphemy on the statute books, though it is prohibited by the Constitution. Article 40 of the Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of speech, qualifies it by stating: The State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State. The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent material is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.

Last year the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, under the chairmanship of Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ardagh, recommended amending this Article to remove all references to sedition and blasphemy, and redrafting the Article along the lines of article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which deals with freedom of expression. It also stated that a special protection for Christianity was incompatible with the religious equality provisions of Article 44.

Minister for Injustice Dermot Ahern proposes to insert a new section into the Defamation Bill, stating: A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000.

Blasphemous matter is defined as matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

Labour spokesman on justice Pat Rabbitte is proposing an amendment to this section which would reduce the maximum fine to €1,000 and exclude from the definition of blasphemy any matter that had any literary, artistic, social or academic merit.

 

29th April   

Update: Fleeting Justice...

FCC win their case to censor US TV over fleeting expletives
Link Here

FCC logo The US Supreme Court has ruled that the FCC can penalize broadcasters for airing as little as one single expletive over the air. The decision will not affect cable TV, satellite broadcasts or the Internet, none of which is transmitted over public airwaves.

In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court reversed a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said the FCC's decision to sanction fleeting expletives was arbitrary and capricious under federal law. That court decision had agreed with Fox Television stations, which broadcast the Billboard Music Awards, that such isolated utterances are not as potentially harmful to viewers as are other uses of sexual and excretory expressions long deemed indecent and banned by federal regulators.

Even isolated utterances can be made in vulgar and shocking manner, and can constitute harmful first blows to children, Scalia wrote in the opinion.

Dissenting were liberal Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. In a statement by Breyer, signed by the others, they said the FCC failed adequately to explain why it changed its indecency policy from a policy permitting a single 'fleeting use' of an expletive, to a policy that made no such exception.

The court pointed out that broadcasters can go back to the federal appeals court in New York and argue that the FCC policy violates the 1st Amendment.

Bono's televised strong language at the 2003 Golden Globes led the FCC to reverse a longstanding policy that had punished only repeated expletives and declare that a single use of certain words could be sanctioned as indecent.

The new policy was developed under FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a George W. Bush appointee who resigned in January.

 

29th April   

Have I Got Nutters for You...

Nutter calls the police in over ill-judged jest on Have I Got the News For You
Link Here

Have I Got News For You DVD The Metropolitan Police have received a complaint from George Hargreaves, the leader of The Christian Party over a jest on Have I Got News For You

Openly gay Tory MP Alan Duncan has weighed in on the Miss California gay marriage row.

Miss California Carrie Prejean had been asked by blogger Perez Hilton her thoughts on gay marriage at the Miss America contest last week. She replied: I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman."

Appearing on BBC comedy news quiz, Alan Duncan called her a silly bitch. I don't agree with her at all. A few minutes later he added: If you read that Miss California has been murdered, you will know it was me, won't you?

Fellow guest Katy Brand appeared shocked by the comment, saying: That's a hell of a statement to be making on camera there, Alan.

The complainant George Hargreaves said: How can we stop gun and knife crime when the man who thinks he will be the next Home Secretary makes death threats?

Duncan said yesterday: Of course it was in jest. It is a comedy show after all. I'm sure Miss Prejean's very beautiful and that if we were to meet we would love each other. I have no plans to kill her. I'll send her a box of chocolates - unpoisoned.

 

29th April   

Updated: Faith Fighter...

Nutters whinge at Faith Fighter flash game
Link Here

Faith Fighter game Nutters are calling for a ban on an online game where holy figures such as Jesus and the prophet Muhammad fight to the death.

Critics say the free Faith Fighter flash game is deeply provocative and disrespectful towards all world religions.

Muslims are particularly outraged because Islamic tradition prohibits drawings of Allah.

Hindus and Buddhists are also upset as the god Ganesha and Buddha are two of the six players .

This game is going out of its way to upset people and I think it should be taken off the internet, said Douglas Miller, pastor of the Link Church in Birmingham: Playing violent video games will ultimately affect your behaviour and this game is deeply offensive and provocative.

A spokesman for the Federation of Muslim Organisations said: In the current climate, this game can only create fear about religion. 'Having images depicting Muhammad in this way is also very offensive to our faith.

Brian Appleyard, former chairman of the Buddhist Society, called the game an offensive futile project.

Update: Inciting Intolerance

29th April 2009. Based on article from mediawatchwatch.org.uk

OIC flag The repressive Organisation of the Islamic Conference - representing muslim nations - have released a statement about the Faith Fighter computer game which has led to its replacement on the Molleindustria website.

When his attention was brought to the online game, a spokesman of the OIC Islamophobia Observatory in Jeddah expressed his concern stating that the computer game was incendiary in its content and offensive to Muslims and Christians.

He said that the game would serve no other purpose than to incite intolerance. He called on the Internet service providers who are hosting the game to take immediate action by withdrawing it from the web.

Molleindustria have now replaced the game with Faith Fighter 2 a game to show your love and respect for the easily offended deities (complete with a blob over the face of Mohammed).

Update: Showing Faith in Faith Fighter

2nd May 2009. See article from gamepolitics.com

Molleindustria have brought the original Faith Fighter 1 game back

 

29th April   

Blame Alert...

2006 Film Severance cited as inspiration for murder method
Link Here

Severance A teenager was set alight by jealous love rivals who copied a scene from a spoof horror movie, a court heard yesterday.

Simon Everitt died after being tied to a tree and having petrol poured down his throat, it was claimed.

The teenager had allegedly been lured to a meeting and attacked after beginning a relationship with Fiona Statham. Jimi-Lee Stewart and Jonathan Clarke are said to have then bundled him into the boot of a car driven by a friend, Maria Chandler.

The group drove to a wooded area near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk where their victim's hands and ankles were bound and he was doused in petrol before a burning match was thrown at him. The gang later allegedly returned to the spot and Clarke dragged the engineering student's body to a shallow grave nearby.

Karim Khalil, QC, prosecuting, said that a year before the attack Clarke had been with a friend watching British horror spoof Severance , in which a group of Britons go on a teambuilding exercise in a remote part of Hungary and are slaughtered by masked soldiers. In a scene shown at in court, a woman is tied to a tree and covered in petrol while a man tries to ignite a lighter and throw it at her. When it fails to light, he uses a flame thrower.

Khalil said: When Clarke watched that DVD he made a comment to this effect, "Wouldn't it be wicked if you could do that to someone in real life?'' [The murder] reflects some of the worst aspects of the film clip - but it is for real.

The trial continues.

Update: Guilty

31st May 2009. See article from telegraph.co.uk

Maria Chandler, 40, Jimi-Lee Stewart, 25, and Jonathan Clarke, 20, killed 17-year-old student Simon Everitt in a re-enactment of a scene from a spoof horror movie called Severance.

Jurors returned guilty verdicts at Norwich Crown Court following a four-week trial.

 

29th April   

Offsite: 30 Years On...

The Williams Report still offers a better framework for film classification than the OPA
Link Here

Index on Censorship logo Thirty years ago, a Home Office committee chaired by Bernard Williams produced that rarest of publications — a sensible official document on the subject of obscenity.

Commissioned in 1977 by a Labour government that still retained the last vestiges of the liberalism associated with Roy Jenkins’s first period as Home Secretary, the Williams Committee Report had the misfortune to be published in the early days of the anything-but-liberal Thatcher government.

The report was hastily kicked into the long grass by the new regime at the Home Office, greatly aided by papers such as the News of the World, The Times, the Express, the Telegraph and the Sunday People running scare stories — many decked out with alarmist quotes from Mrs Whitehouse — about it being a ‘pornographers’ charter’, ‘too blue for Maggie’ and ‘giving official sanction to filth’.

In July 1980, when Leon Brittan, then Minister of State at the Home Office, announced that the government had still not reached any view on the Williams Committee’s recommendations and that he did not anticipate any legislation on the subject being introduced in the current session, it was abundantly clear that the report was dead in the water.

...Read full article

 

29th April   

Update: Watching Sudan Abuse Human Rights...

Human Rights Watch considers Sudan's draft press law to be repressive
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Human Rights Watch logo The international rights group Human Rights Watch has urged the Sudanese legislators to make major changes to a draft press law before the national assembly, saying current version retains many repressive provisions.

Human Rights Watch said these revisions are needed to bring Sudan's laws into line with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to create an environment for free and fair elections, now slated for February 2010.

Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch said the revision of the draft press act is a critical step in the law reform process: The government's pre-print censorship, harassment, and arrests of journalists, editors, and human rights activists are stifling free speech as Sudan faces crucial elections.

Local reports said the measures which maintain the press under government control include strict media registration rules, vague reporting prohibitions, a National Press Council controlled by the president with broad regulatory powers, and heavy fines and criminal sanctions for media outlets and journalists.

Human Rights Watch has also expressed concerns over the draft law which contains powers for security services to detain individuals for up to one month without judicial review. This is in contravention of international standards that require individuals arrested to be promptly brought before a judge, the international rights organisation said.

 

28th April   

Pig Headed...

The dread disease that cannot be named
Link Here

Israel flag Israel's deputy health minister Yakhov Litzman has urged reporters to refer to the worrying new virus as 'Mexican flu' rather than 'swine flu.'

He made this recommendation at a press conference on Monday in order to update the public on developments regarding the epidemic in Israel.

 

28th April   

Sanctioning Censorship...

Syria censored by the US
Link Here  full story: Axis of Evil...US censor their computer products from export

Syria flag Syrian internet users have grown used to years of censorship but now they face a new challenge – and it comes from outside the country.

While people have been able to get around government-imposed barriers on politically sensitive sites, a harsher form of restriction is being enforced from the US.

Over the past few years, the Bush administration has imposed a series of sanctions on Syria. Most exports were prohibited after a key part of the Syria Accountability Act came into force in 2004. It meant Syrians were not allowed to download software from the US, but that should not have had an affect on logging on to American websites.

Travel to Syria and try to have a look at your PayPal account, and you will be confronted by a message from the company telling you: You have accessed your account from a sanctioned country. Per international sanctions regulations, you are not authorised to access the PayPal system.

Things get a lot worse if you want to order something from Amazon when you are in Syria. It even bans UK citizens, using British credit cards, from using their non-US site Amazon.co.uk.

This is their explanation: Syria is an embargoed country under US law. The law covers some products sold even by non-US subsidiaries of US companies [like Amazon.co.uk]. Because it is not practical for us to determine which products are capable of export to Syria from those that are not, we have blocked all exports of products to Syria.

Some companies have seen sense though. Last week, social networking company LinkedIn deleted the accounts of its Syrian users, blaming the sanctions. Syrian bloggers got together on Twitter to vent their anger. One of the company's press officers quickly saw what was going on and realised it was turning into a PR nightmare. Hours later, Syrians were back online.

 

28th April   

Update: Forbidden Art...

Russian museum directors under duress for banned art which wound up the nutters
Link Here

Andrey Sakharov Museum Two Russian men could face up to five years’ imprisonment for inciting hatred or enmity and denigration of human dignity after they organized a contemporary art exhibition in Moscow.

Yurii Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeev staged the Forbidden Art 2006 exhibition at the Sakharov Museum in March 2007.

A Moscow City court will consider both men's appeals against the charges. The defendants will be told whether the hearing into their case will go ahead or whether it will be sent back to the prosecutor's office for further investigation.

When the charges were brought in May 2008, Yuri Samodurov was director of the Sakharov Centre and Andrei Yerofeev was head of the Department for Contemporary Art at the State Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow and curator of the exhibition.

The exhibition gathered together a number of works of art that had been refused inclusion at various exhibitions in 2006. Several of the pieces had already been shown at other exhibitions of contemporary art in Russia and across the world. The exhibition included Mickey Mouse, Lenin, pornography pictures, and obscene sexual slang painted on crucifix and other Christian symbols, which are to be observed through holes in a sheet.

When the Taganskii District Prosecutor brought charges against both men, he said that the exhibition was clearly directed towards expressing in a demonstrative and visible way a degrading and insulting attitude towards the Christian religion in general and especially towards the Orthodox faith.

Amnesty International has called on the Russian authorities to respect the right to freedom of expression and to stop the criminal prosecution of Yurii Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeev.

 

28th April   

Opposition Radio Stations Silenced...

Madagascar goes to shite
Link Here

Madagascar flag Freedom of speech in ubder threat in Madagascar from Andry TGV Rajoelina's High Authority for the Transition (HAT) government.

First, there was the arrest of three demonstrators, most famously, Razily, a young man who was proudly bearing his country's flag when ruthlessly arrested by soldiers.

He is hailed a hero by Malagasy internet users. Malagasy mainstream media seem not to have followed up with his fate. Malagasy social media users, like Solofo Rafeno, on his twitter account and his blog are orchestrating a campaign to demand that the HAT government free Razily and the other two men who were with him. A petition now circulates on Facebook for those demanding Razily's freedom.

Then, last sunday, Andry TGV Rajoelina's government seized equipment from two radio broadcasting stations, Radio Fahazavana and Radio Mada, which both support the ousted President Marc Ravalomanana. Mydago.com reports the closure of the two stations :

The HAT government, which professed last month that elections were not needed because the people had already spoken through the streets, then proceeded to forbid all public rallies.

Update: Radio Fahazavana employees freed

16th September 2010. Based on article from  en.rsf.org

Reporters Without Borders hails the conditional release on 8 September of the 10 Radio Fahazavana employees who have been in pre-trial detention since 27 May, even if they still have to face trial on a charge of inciting a revolt, but condemns a government decision to suspend the broadcasts of another radio station, Radio Mahafaly, until further notice.

We are relieved to learn that the Radio Fahazavana employees are free and have been reunited with their families, Reporters Without Borders said. The formal judicial investigation is finally due to begin this month and we reiterate our call for a fair trial that is not subject to political pressure.

The press freedom organisation added: We deplore the fact that political tension between the members of the transitional government and the leaders of the opposition continues to impact the media. The suspension of the Radio Mahafaly, an opposition station, is a flagrant example of this.

 

27th April   

Abortificients...

Nutters whinge about morning after pill TV adverts
Link Here

CCFON logo Christian Concern For Our Nation has spoken out against the UK’s first TV advert for the morning after pill.

The advert for Levonelle One Step was aired for the first time last Thursday night after the 9pm watershed on ITV, Channel 4 and Sky. The advert shows a woman waking up next to her partner and going to buy the contraception, which can terminate pregnancy in the first 72 hours after intercourse.

Manufacturers Bayer Schering Pharma were allowed to run the advert after the recent lifting of bans on TV and radio advertising for pregnancy advisory services and condoms pre-watershed.

CCFON said it was concerned the advert signalled: the further liberation towards abortificients.

It is clear that increased availability of the morning-after pill is a move towards abortion on demand, said a spokesperson for the organisation: It has also clear that such attitudes will not increase responsibility but rather will encourage promiscuity and irresponsible sexual behaviour, with a consequent risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases.”

The adverts have also been criticised by the ProLife Alliance. The group’s leader, Dominica Roberts, said the advert would have little impact on the numbers of unplanned pregnancies and abortions: It is advertised inaccurately as emergency contraception, when in fact its major function is to cause the abortion of an embryo that has already been conceived, not as suggested by the name to prevent conception.

 

27th April   

Update: Blocked FACT...

Freedom Against Censorship in Thailand website blocked
Link Here  full story: Red ShIrt Censorship in Thailand...Overt censorship of Thaksin supporting politicians

FACT Thai logo Two ISPs, TOT ADSL and Buddy Broadband along with Kasetsart University have been blocking Freedom Against Censorship in Thailand (FACT) since at least noon on April 25.

The fact that three networks are now blocking the FACT site indicates that the blocking order did, in fact, come from MICT and is not just an ISP decision.

This means that probably more ISPs will start to block FACT as the MICT request is implemented by them. Some may be inefficient and not get around to blocking; others may simply ignore MICT’s request.

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) has prepared a formal letter of complaint to send to Ranongruk Suwanachee, ICT minister, and the CEOs of the three ISPs.

 

27th April   

Update: Daggered by Grenada...

Grenada bans Jamaican Dancehall artist Vybz Kartel
Link Here

Most Wanted CD The Government of Grenada has banned the popular Jamaican Dancehall Artist Adija Palmer aka Vybz Kartel, and his band.

The red-hot entertainer, whose controversial lyrics have brought him lots of media attention both in and out of Jamaica, was scheduled to perform a rap-it-up concert in Grenville St. Andrews on Sat. May 2nd 2009, where his popular Daggering condom was to be officially launched.

Vybz Kartel, who is well known for his hard hitting ghetto lyrics and rival showdowns with popular Artist Marvado, has been leaning towards more positive messages in his songs, with emphasis on respecting Women and Mothers and hints of Rasta-fari teachings. His recent condom campaigns for saving lives have also been well received. Vybz Kartel’s recent release Mama has taken the charts by storm, and the Artist will be doing several performances in the Caribbean, to include neighboring Trinidad and Tobago on May 8th 2009.

No reason was given by the Ministry of Labour in Grenada for the ban, but the sensitive issue of censorship or freedom of expression may have been at the forefront.

 

26th April   

Clear Conscience?...

Clearcast consider domestic violence awareness advert too violent for TV
Link Here

Clearcast logo TV advertising censors have branded an anti-domestic violence advert starring Keira Knightley 'too shocking' for TV, and are refusing to allow it to be broadcast unless key scenes are cut.

The ad shows the actress returning home from a film set, where she is confronted by a violent boyfriend who accuses her of having an affair with a co-star, before launching into a vicious attack. The disturbing footage ends with Knightley left sprawled on the floor, being repeatedly kicked.

The Cut was made for the charity Women's Aid, and launched in cinemas at the beginning of this month.

It seems pathetic. It is really important to raise awareness about domestic violence, and TV gets into people's homes said Sandra Horely, chief executive of Refuge, a charity that provides accommodation for women and children escaping from domestic violence.

It was hoped that the ad would air on TV this month, but it will now only be seen on British television if scenes showing Knightley being thrown to the floor and kicked are axed.

The reason we are still in conversation with Clearcast about it is because they believe it is too violent, said Chris Hirst, managing director of Grey London Advertising Agency, which created The Cut .

Some believe that Clearcast is being overly cautious in failing to approve the full advert, and that advertisers are reluctant to even try to address the issue for fear of being censored. You can't tread softly-softly on these issues. It is important that we have these public awareness campaigns, and that the message gets to the people affected by it, said the Labour MP Kerry McCarthy.

The Advertising Standards Authority has received just two complaints from the public about the new campaign, both of which were from viewers who saw the unedited version on the Women's Aid website.

 

26th April   

For a Freer World...

The 2009 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award winners
Link Here

Index on Censorship logo The ceremony, hosted by Index on Censorship Chair Jonathan Dimbleby, with a keynote speech by Sir David Hare, honoured those who had made a contribution to free expression in five categories: books, films, journalism, new media and law and campaigning.

Speaking at the event, Jonathan Dimbleby said: Freedom of expression helps to define our essence as human beings and citizens. Everywhere this right is under growing threat. The Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards are a chance to celebrate those who against all odds have made distinguished contributions to this vital cause - to protect and enhance liberty in Britain and around the world.

The recipients of the awards for 2009 are:

The Guardian Journalism Award: The Sunday Leader – Sri Lanka

The Sunday Leader and its journalists have been subject to continual threats and brutal harassment since it was launched 15 years ago. The assassination of the Sunday Leader’s editor and co-founder Lasantha Wickrematunge in January provoked protests and vigils around the world. His brother Lal has since bravely taken on the position of editor, continuing the important work of the newspaper.

The Economist New Media Award: Psiphon

Psiphon is a revolutionary software programme that allows Internet access in countries where censorship is imposed. The programme turns a regular home computer into a personal, encrypted server, capable of retrieving and displaying web pages anywhere. Psiphon was developed as a human rights software project by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. One of its aims is to design software that is easy to use, so that those with limited technical abilities can take advantage of the technology.

The TR Fyvel Book Award: Beijing Coma – Ma Jian

Spiked with dark wit, poetic beauty and deep rage, Beijing Coma takes the life (and near death) of one young student to create a dazzling novel about contemporary China. In May 1989, tens of thousands of students are camped out in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. But what started as a united protest at the slow pace of their government’s political reform has begun to lose direction. People from all over China are coming to join the demonstration, but the students at its heart are confused by the influence they suddenly wield, and riven by petty in-fighting. One of them, Dai Wei, argues about everything from democracy to the distribution of food to protesters, little knowing that, on 4 June, a soldier will shoot a bullet into his head, sending him into a deep coma.

The Bindmans Law and Campaigning Award: Malik Imtiaz Sarwar – Malaysia

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar is a leading human rights lawyer and activist and the current president of the National Human Rights Society (HAKAM). Imtiaz has been a central figure in fighting lawsuits brought against journalists and bloggers, and was the lead counsel for Raja Petra Kamaruddin, popular blogger and editor of Malaysia Today, whose release he secured last year. In August 2006, a poster declaring him to be a traitor to Islam and calling for his death was circulated in Malaysia. He has proposed setting up an inter-faith council, and spoken in a series of public forums on the need for religious freedom.

The Index on Censorship Film Award: The Devil Came on Horseback

Using the exclusive photographs and first-hand testimony of former US Marine Captain Brian Steidle, Directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern The Devil Came on Horseback takes the viewer on an emotionally-charged journey into the heart of Darfur. Steidle had access to parts of the country that no journalist could penetrate; he was unprepared for what he would witness and experience, including being fired at, taken hostage, and being unable to intervene to save the lives of young children. Ultimately frustrated by the inaction of the international community, Steidle resigned and returned to the US to expose the images and stories of lives he believed were being systematically destroyed.

 

26th April   

Update: Situation Normal...

Thai government lifts their block on opposition websites leaving just 9,000 sites blocked
Link Here  full story: Red ShIrt Censorship in Thailand...Overt censorship of Thaksin supporting politicians

Prachatai logo On Apr 24, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology sent an e-mail to inform internet service providers (ISPs) of its unblocking of red-shirted websites, noting the situation has returned to normal.

Aree Jiworarak, the Director of MICT's Information Technology Supervision Office, said in the e-mail that the Emergency Decree had now been lifted, and the situation had returned to normal, so ISPs and concerned persons could lift the blocking of the websites.

However, he said that ISPs should advise their clients that there were still other laws in place, and they should take into consideration good conscience and social responsibility in doing their jobs. He thanked ISPs and concerned persons for having cooperated or attempting to cooperate when unable to do so for business reasons. He hoped that in future difficult times, they would cooperate and serve the country yet again.

Situation Normal

Based on article from facthai.wordpress.com

The Thai internet censors at MICT are currently blocking 6,218 websites 'affecting national security' which includes lese majeste, 2,307 pornographic websites and 430 gambling websites, admitting to 8,955 blocked websites.

 

26th April   

Update: Wasn't Us Guv...

IWF statement regarding Pirate Bay
Link Here  full story: Pirate Bay...Pirate Bay, Swedish file sharing site

Pirate Bay logo The IWF list contains only publicly available web based content and only URLs related to indecent images of children. We have no role regarding peer-to-peer traffic and have never taken any action regarding Pirate Bay as it is outside our remit.

The UK code of practice for the self-regulation of new forms of content on mobiles is available on our website for informational purposes, however, it is not overseen by the IWF nor do we have any role in its implementation.

Unfortunately we do not know why our organisation has been referenced in relation to any action regarding Pirate Bay.

 

26th April   

Slasher...

An interview with a Singaporean film censor
Link Here

mda singapore logo Singapore's reviled censors call themselves the Board of Film Censors (BFC). At the Media Development Authority I spoke with film classifier Dinesh Pasrasurum.

Movie ratings — which range from G (for general entertainment) to R21 (restricted to those 21 years and above) — that has put the censors in the line of fire of everyone from irate cineastes who discover they’re literally not getting the complete picture to conservative moralists who kick up a fuss about movies with questionable themes.

While you don’t really need the entire group to give a stamp of approval for Finding Nemo, in cases dealing with touchy subjects such as race, religion, sex, homosexuality and vicious violence, it seems like there’s an awful lot of bureaucratic consultation going on.

For potentially tricky flicks, the BFC asks the opinions of the Films Consultative Panel, a 60-member group of folks ranging from housewives to lawyers and doctors. They may also decide to consult certain focus groups or ethnic groups. There’s also a Films Appeal Committee, should a distributor feel unhappy about the rating they end up with.

But there’s a difference between commercial films and ones slated for festivals. Take the case of the on-going Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF). Its history is chockfull of some of the region’s best directors is also dotted with clashes with censors. This year is no exception. The BFC has banned two films: The Berlin Festival-awarded Shahida , a documentary about female suicide bombers by Natalie Asouline, and the gay coming-of-age story Boy by Filipino Aureaus Solito, whose film The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros was released commercially here. Four other films garnered an R21 rating with proposed cuts, but because the festival has a (justified) policy of showing only uncut films, organisers have also pulled them.

According to the BFC, only four films (or 0.5 per cent) were banned in Singapore last year. Compared to the United Kingdom rating of 18, the SIFF film Klass was given an NC16.

The Passion of the Christ got an 18 rating both here and in the UK. Milk , however, was rated R21 in Singapore, R (those under 17 require an accompanying parent or adult guardian) in the United States, and only 15 in the UK.

When asked why violence seems to be more acceptable than sexual issues (both hetero and homosexual ones) in movies, Dinesh said: The cue we’re getting from the community is that in terms of sexuality — or homosexuality, for that matter — the community is very conservative at the moment. You could say society’s tolerance for violence and coarse language (is higher). But as society progresses and becomes more relaxed with regards to (the former), so will we.

 

26th April   

Update: Incestuous Book Banners...

Australia's book censors ban library incest books
Link Here  full story: Book Censorship in Australia...Australian book censor bans incest novels

Australian Film Classification Board The Film Classification Board has banned the two books that caught press attention for their incest storylines and availability in public libraries:

  • Bet and Zak by Charles Kevin (2006 Anthos Publishing)
  • Sibling Love by Charles Kevin (2007 Anthos Publishing)

Sibling Love is a series of vignettes concerning sex between brother-sister. Whilst Bet and Zak describes sex between mother and son.

Charles Kevin, an 82 year old author had sent 530 copies of the books to libraries around Australia.

 

25th April   

St George and the Feeble Welsh Dragon...

David Starkey winds up the whingers about national day debate on Question Time
Link Here

Question Time logo David Starkey has provoked 'fury' by describing Scotland, Wales and Ireland as feeble little countries.

The acid-tongued historian also said Scottish poet Robert Burns was deeply boring and dismissed bagpipes as awful.

The comments on BBC1's Question Time prompted a backlash from viewers and politicians, who called them silly, offensive and disrespectful .

The BBC said 72 people had made formal complaints.

Starkey, who for 25 years was a lecturer in history at the London School of Economics, made the remarks after being asked whether St George's Day should be an English national holiday.

If we decide to go down this route of an English national day, it will mean we have become a feeble little country, just like the Scots and the Welsh and the Irish, he responded.

We do not make a great fact about Shakespeare, like the Scots do about that deeply boring, provincial poet Burns, and we do not have national music like the awful bagpipe.

The Scots and the Welsh are typical small nations with a romantic 19th century-style nationalism.

Scotland's culture and external affairs minister Mike Russell accused him of simply creating controversy to attract publicity.

Russell Brown, Labour MP for Dumfries and Galloway said: Starkey should apologise to Scotland.

Starkey's agent last night insisted he would not be making an apology, adding: I don't think David has anything further to add at this stage.

 

25th April   

Anonymous Sentencing...

US to increase penalties for criminals using internet proxies
Link Here

US Senate Proxy servers used in a crime could soon lead to more time in the clink.

A key vote on new US federal sentencing guidelines would classify the use of proxies as evidence of sophistication, increasing sentences by about 25%. It's akin to judges handing down stiffer sentences when a gun is used in a robbery.

Yet digital-rights advocates are worried. Although they aren't absolving criminals, they complain that the proposal is so broad, it could lead to unnecessarily harsh sentences for tech neophytes who didn't know they were using proxies in the first place or who were simply engaging in a practice often encouraged as a safer way of using the Internet.

It sends a bad message about protecting your own privacy, said John Morris, general counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology: This is the government saying, 'If you take normal steps to protect your privacy, we're going to view you as a more sophisticated criminal.'

Proxies are computers that sit between a user and the Internet at large. They can be used to disguise that person's numeric IP address. Corporations routinely use proxies to let their employees work from home; virtual private networks, or VPNs, make traffic look like it's coming from within the company's internal network, thus bypassing its security firewalls.

 

25th April   

Squeezing Credibility...

Supporting the breast squeezing hype for the Indian film Hostel
Link Here

Titty Twister bar Imagine a scene in which the film’s hero is told to squeeze the heroine’s breasts! No wonder the Indian Censor Board is in shock.

Filmmaker Manish Gupta, known for his hard-hitting films Matrabhoomi and The Stoneman Murders , has gone a bit too far in depicting realism in his next film Hostel . As the title suggests, the film revolves around a bunch of students living in a hostel.

There is a scene in the film where the characters played by Vatsal Seth and Tulip Joshi are ragged by their seniors. In this scene, one senior tells Vatsal to squeeze Tulip’s breasts.

The Censor Board was so shocked by the dialogue that they refused to give even an ‘A’ (Adults Only) certificate to the film. The director was straightaway told that such kind of dialogue would not be allowed in films.

Gauzing the gravity of the board’s reaction, Manish Gupta has now decided to change the scene. Now, the seniors will force Vatsal to kiss Tulip.

 

24th April   

Self Censorship?...

Authoritarian Poland looks to ban images of authoritarian regimes
Link Here

Chez Guevara poster Poland's equality minister, Elzbieta Radziszewska, wants to expand a Polish law prohibiting the production of fascist and totalitarian propaganda so that it includes clothing and anything else that could carry an image related to an authoritarian system.

Anybody found guilty could face a two-year prison sentence.

Radziszewska said that the proposed amendment to current legislation would help organisations fighting racism.

The proposal, which could see the faces of some of the leading lights of communist history such as Lenin and Trotsky removed from t-shirts and flags, reflects a Polish view on communism far different from the rose-tinted and romantic images often found in the West.

After experiencing 40 hard years of communism, as well as the horrors of Nazi occupation, few Poles have qualms equating under law the inequities of Nazism and communism.

Communism was a terrible, murderous system that claimed millions of lives, said Professor Wojciech Roszkowski, a leading Polish historian and member of the European parliament: It was very similar to National Socialism, and there is no reason to treat those two systems, and their symbols, differently. Their glorification should be prohibited. He added communism had accounted for the slaughter of thousands of Poles in the Katyn Massacre while its gulags had consumed countless millions of victims.

The proposed changes, which have already reached the committee stage in the Polish parliament, also testify to Polish determination to ensure that with the passing of time nobody starts to view the country's communist past with nostalgia.

 

24th April   

Rock a Bye Baby...

Apple ban Baby Shaker iPhone game
Link Here

iPhone Apple has apologised for a deeply offensive iPhone application called Baby Shaker , which made a game of quieting crying babies by shaking them.

It removed the $0.99 game from its iTunes Store two days after it went on sale.

It sparked 'outrage' from children's groups and brain injury foundations.

The aim of the game was to quiet babies by shaking the iPhone until a pair of thick red Xs appeared over each eye of a baby drawn in black-and-white.

This application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store, Apple said in a statement We sincerely apologise for this mistake and thank our customers for bringing this to our attention.

The iTunes description included the line: See how long you can endure his or her adorable cries before you just have to find a way to quiet the baby down! It also included a disclaimer: Never shake a baby.

Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children, said: I am disheartened that with this new application Apple is encouraging frustrated adults to shake infants, not only to end their crying, but to end their lives.

 

24th April   

Hated Law...

Hate Crimes Act debated in US legislature
Link Here

US Senate The US House Judiciary Committee is debating hate crimes legislation that seeks to add homosexual and transgender people to a list of specially protected categories of people under federal law.

HR 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Act of 2009 , would add sexual orientation, gender and gender identity to a list of federally protected classes that already include race, religion, color, or national origin.

During the debates, Republican lawmakers attempted to include members of the military, seniors, unborn babies and pregnant women in the measure but Democrats rejected the proposed amendments.

Rep. Steve King sought to change the name of the legislation to Local Law Enforcement Thought Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. This hate crimes bill is actually a bill to control our thoughts, said King, while citing George Orwell's 1984 : The party is not interested in the overt act, the thought is all we care about.

John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties organization, said the legislation is riddled with problems. The problem, which few want to acknowledge for fear of being labeled politically incorrect, or worse homophobic, is that in order to crack down on hateful behavior, hateful thoughts and expression must also be targeted-which runs diametrically counter to the First Amendment's protections for free speech and expression.

Conservative groups say that the legislation would violate the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law for all citizens, by granting special protections to some victims and not to others.

Update: Expanded hate

1st May 2009, See article from christianpost.com

The U.S. House of Representatives has now passed the expanded hate crimes bill.

The expanded hate crimes bill seeks to add violence against individuals based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability to the list of federal hate crimes.

The bill is now headed for the Senate, which Obama urged to work with his administration to finalize this bill and to take swift action.

The president had urged both sides of the House to pass the legislation that will enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association.

 

24th April   

Gloomy Censorship...

South Korea financial blogger cleared of damaging public interest
Link Here  full story: Financial Censorship in Malaysia...Financial blogger arrested for doom and gloom

South Korea flag A South Korean blogger accused of spreading false information on the internet has walked free from court. 

Park Dae-sung, better known as Minerva, built up a huge online following by making largely negative - and accurate - predictions on the economy.

Prosecutors said his brand of financial journalism was damaging to the public interest - but a Seoul court ruled there was no proof of malicious intent. He is now free to continue his blog.

Minerva served up some uncannily accurate online predictions, including the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers. He became a blogging sensation, with intense speculation about his true identity - a learned professor perhaps, or maybe an experienced market trader? The authorities were less impressed, arguing that much of what he wrote was misleading and beginning to affect the money markets.

When they finally tracked him down in January they found the unemployed man picking up his financial know-how by surfing the web and reading mail-order text books.

 

24th April   

Offsite: Political Censorship...

Thai government moves to suppress media
Link Here  full story: Red ShIrt Censorship in Thailand...Overt censorship of Thaksin supporting politicians

Index on Censorship logo Following the anti-government protests, the Thai government has begun to crack down on the opposition media. Will the heavy-handed tactics will incite further chaos?

Radio and television stations in Thailand have been warned by authorities against airing anti-government criticism that could cause civil unrest. Satit Wonghnongtaey, who is in charge of government’s media policy, told reporters that the government needed to shut down these media, suggesting they had been used to incite unrest in the country.

Opposition websites have also become a target. Thai Netizen Network (TNN), an Internet freedom campaign group, said in a statement on Tuesday that the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has blocked 66 ‘political websites that aired views different from those in power’ since 18 April.

...Read full article

On the Political Crisis and Information Censorship

See article from prachatai.net

Prachatai logo Thai Netizen Network (TNN) would like to express our deepest regret with regard to the political conflict that intensified until it led to the loss of lives and properties, and the government's enforcement of the Emergency Decree on Government Administration In States of Emergency B.E. 2548, which infringes upon citizens' rights and freedoms by controlling Internet media.

The government has blocked numerous websites that offer viewpoints that differ from those in power, pursuant to news report that the ICT Ministry has ordered censorship of over 60 websites.

...Read full article

 

23rd April   

A Plague of Whingers...

ASA find in favour of advert highlighting dangers of buying drugs via internet
Link Here

Get Real ad A cinema ad, about the dangers of purchasing prescription-only medicines over the Internet, showed a man in a kitchen. He took a tablet from a packet and swallowed it. Shortly afterwards he reached into his mouth and pulled out a tail; he appeared to gag as a dead rat gradually emerged from his mouth, tail first. The voice-over stated Rat poison. Just one of the dangerous ingredients that may be found in fake medicines purchased from illegal websites. The man held the rat out in front of him; it dropped to the floor as he turned to the sink and appeared to vomit. On-screen text stated GET REAL. GET A PRESCRIPTION ; a web address was shown below.

  1. 12 complainants objected that the ad was offensive
  2. Most of the complainants objected that the ad was unduly distressing
  3. Seven of the complainants also objected that the ad was misleading, because they understood that some legally prescribed medicines also contained dangerous ingredients such as rat poison
  4. Three of the complainants also objected that the ad was likely to cause particular distress to people who took those legally prescribed medicines that contained dangerous ingredients.

Assessment Not upheld

Complaints 1 & 2

The ASA noted the ad was intended to raise awareness of a serious issue and was designed to be hard-hitting so as to achieve the desired impact. We also noted the CAP Code stated that, without good reason, ads should not cause fear and distress or include shocking claims or images simply to attract attention.

We considered that the ad included images that some people might find offensive or distressing. Because the ad was designed to highlight an important issue, the dangers of which could result in damage to health or in fatality, we considered the metaphor of regurgitating a rat was likely to justify, for most people, the approach. We noted the ad was restricted to being shown with 15 or 18 rated films and considered that was sufficient to minimise the number of younger people who saw it. We considered that the aim of the ad justified the use of hard-hitting imagery. We concluded that it did not cause fear and distress without good reason and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

Complaint 3

We understood some prescription medicines contained an ingredient that might also be used in rat poison. We considered that people were likely to realise that the aim of the ad was to raise awareness of the dangers of buying medicines from unregulated sources. We considered they were unlikely to infer that only medicines bought from unregulated sources contained potentially dangerous ingredients. We concluded that the ad was not misleading.

Complaint 4

We noted patient organisations were involved in the campaign and represented people who used warfarin. We acknowledged that patients prescribed medicines that contained potentially dangerous ingredients, including warfarin, might feel that the ad had particular significance to them. We considered however that they were likely to be aware of the associated dangers and the importance of drugs being prescribed and supervised by qualified medical professionals. We concluded that the ad did not cause undue fear and distress to people who took prescribed drugs that contained potentially dangerous ingredients.

 

23rd April   

Bitching at Ali G...

Ali G wins the right to speak absurd gibberish
Link Here

Da Ali G Show Season 2 Channel Four claimed a landmark victory yesterday when a US judge ruled that Ali G, the character created by Sacha Baron Cohen, is so absurd that no reasonable person would take him literally.

Heddi Cundle, a British-born woman who now lives in the US, was seeking damages for what she claimed were defamatory comments made on HBO television in 2004.

Interviewing the American writer Gore Vidal, Ali G was talking abut the US being constitution constantly amended.

He explained: Me used to go out with this bitch called Heddi Cundle and she used to always be trying to amend herself. Y'know, get her hair done in highlights, get like tattoo done on her batty crease, y'know gave the whole thing shaved very nice but it didn't make any more difference. She was still a minger.

Ms Cundle, who met Cohen 20 years ago in Israel, claimed that these comments were untrue and damaging. HBO twice settled out of court, but Channel Four, which holds the worldwide rights, fought the action.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Friedman said: The Ali G character is absurd, and all his statements are gibberish and intended as comedy. No reasonable person could think otherwise.

C4 controller Prash Naik said: This is an important ruling for Channel 4 and sends out a clear signal that we will not hesitate to fight unmeritorious claims of this nature.

 

23rd April   

Poles Apart...

Facebook accused of allowing racist groups to congregate
Link Here

Facebook logo Facebook has become a breeding ground for racists and far-right extremists, according to immigrant leaders and anti-racism campaigners, who believe the site's owners.

The Federation of Poles in Great Britain has written a letter to Facebook's owner Mark Zuckerburg, calling on him to close down an anti-Polish group where one member said Polish people should be thrown down the well.

Jan Mokrzycki, a spokesman for the federation said: Generally we try not to react against every inflammatory gesture against Polish people, but the language within the website was so rude and racist that we felt like we had no choice.

He added: I recognise that you can't stop every racist website out there, but I would like to think that a supposedly respectable site like Facebook would have better checks and controls on what gets put on their site.

The sheer size of Facebook's online community makes monitoring extremists difficult. But a number of groups calling on Britain to throw out, and even kill, foreign nationals have been operating freely for months.

Dennis MacShane, the Labour MP for Rotherham whose father fled Poland before the Nazi invasion and fought for Britain during the Second World War, said social networking sites had allowed racists to talk openly without fear of reprisals: The way you defeat extremism, intolerance, prejudice and racism is to atomise it and make people feel that even if they think racist thoughts they can't say it openly. But websites like Facebook have unfortunately allowed people to come together in one space and say, 'there are people out there like me'. That is something that worries me greatly. For all the good social networking sites do, they also allow people to express prejudice that in a civilised society should be kept under lock and key.

 

23rd April   

Dangerous Copies...

Chinese authorities target copy DVD sellers dealing in porn
Link Here

China flag China has detained or sentenced nearly 30 people in recent months after seizing hundreds of thousands of audiovisual discs, some containing pornography, a government censorship agency has said.

The crackdown appeared aimed at eradicating porn more than copyright infringement, though pirated DVDs, software and books are sold at many stalls and street corners around China. It follows a government campaign against online pornography launched in January that has seen dozens of arrests and over 2,000 Web sites closed.

Thirteen people have been sentenced this year on charges of copyright violations or selling obscene materials, according to a statement on the Web site of China's General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). The people were given prison terms of up to seven years and fined as much as 105,000 yuan (US$15,400) each, the GAPP said.

GAPP suggested the agency's goal was to target porn rather than intellectual property violations. The agency urged following through on such cases to deter the spread of porn in China.

 

23rd April   

Iran Winds Up US...

Iranian-American journalist jailed in Iran for spying with no details of the charge
Link Here

Iran flag An Iranian-American journalist claimed to be a US spy has been jailed for eight years by Iran after a brief trial held behind closed doors.

Roxana Saberi who was arrested in January and went on trial this week, denies the charge and plans to go on hunger strike, her father said.

Ms Saberi has reported for a number of foreign news organisations including the BBC, NPR radio and Fox News.

A spokesman said the US president was deeply disappointed at the outcome.

The journalist originally faced the less serious accusation of buying alcohol, and later of working as a journalist without a valid press card. Then, in a period of less than two weeks, the charge of spying was introduced, and she was tried by the Revolutionary Court and sentenced. No evidence of espionage was made public.

Ms Saberi's lawyer Abdolsamad Khorramshahi and her father confirmed that an appeal would be made. Mr Saberi, who was not allowed to attend the trial, said his daughter's lawyer had not been allowed to argue the case for the defence properly.

 

23rd April   

Offsite: American Compromise...

What does 'Rated R' really mean?
Link Here

R Rating How the MPAA's inflexibility keeps parents from figuring out which films are really offensive -- and which just touch on politically sensitive subjects

As a film critic, I want artists free to photograph anything they want, outside of child pornography.

As a father, I want to be given enough advance information so I can make up my own mind about what I let my son and daughter see.

These desires aren't necessarily in opposition.

Yet, more and more, the Motion Picture Association of America -- whose ratings, begun in 1968, are supposed to provide that freedom and that information -- fails miserably at both, confusing parents and censoring filmmakers.

...Read part 1 from nj.com
...Read part 2 from nj.com

 

22nd April   

Tackling of Issues Best Left Untackled...

Unpolitically correct to explain politically correct rugby selection
Link Here

SKy Sports News logo Former international rugby coach Dick Best is likely to come under fire after making an on-air racial slur directed against England full-back Delon Armitage.

Best was being interviewed by Sky Sports News at Heathrow ahead of today's squad announcement for the British and Irish Lions.

And after his choices for the Lions' first XV were published on-screen, which included Armitage out of position on the wing, Best was asked why he had selected the England man over impressive Ireland winger Tommy Bowe.

You've always got to have a coloured boy in the team, Best remarked.

Coverage then cut back to a visibly shocked presenter Mike Wedderburn, who is black.

Soon afterwards Wedderburn's co-presenter Millie Clode issued an apology, stating: [Dick Best] made remarks that he thought were off-camera. We would like to apologise for any offence this may have caused.

A spokesperson for Ofcom confirmed to inthenews.co.uk that, as yet, no complaints have been received.

 

22nd April   

A Monopoly of the Morally Bankrupt...

How to explain the moral bankruptcy of bankers brought up before video games were ever invented
Link Here

Monopoly board game Even the good old days of old fashioned morality are just an illusion. Rowan Pelling notes that games were to blame way before the invention of the video game:

I wonder if Joanne and Darren Jones, found guilty this week of snaffling over £60,000 from a faulty cash machine, ever played Monopoly when they were young? For all the modern angst about violent computer games, this innocent-looking board game has probably had a more corrosive influence on western morals. For starters, Monopoly brazenly encourages players to plunder their savings and put every last penny into property. And just look where that's got us all: the Joneses were symbolic of our crazy age, owning three properties yet up to their gills in credit-card debt.

Most pernicious of all Monopoly's venal influences, however, is surely the Community Chest card that says, Bank error in your favour, collect £200. There's no suggestion you should alert the bank to its mistake when you can buy a couple more houses and profit by some idiot's error. This was precisely the kind of thinking that landed the Joneses in court.

The trouble is that the Joneses aren't children, but hulking great adult delinquents. Yet isn't this also true of many of our leading bankers who also behaved like greedy children? Indeed, most of the worst offenders have been rewarded for their bank errors with vast pensions and bonuses.

 

22nd April   

Update: Easily Led Astray...

Zack and Miri can't make a porno in Thailand
Link Here

Zack & Miri DVD The Thai film censors have banned the US comedy: Zack and Miri Make a Porno

The screening of this film may encourage copycats here, Thai Culture Ministry permanent secretary Vira Rojpojchanarat claimed.

The film's distributor, M Pictures, argued that Zack and Miri Make a Porno was a satirical take on contemporary US society and was suitable for viewers aged over 18.

When the National Film Board decided to ban the film during its meeting on Monday, M Pictures appealed and a panel was set up to review the board's ruling.

After viewing the film, the panel upheld the decision to ban Zack and Miri Make a Porno from Thai screens.

The film is rated as 18 for adults only in the UK and R in the US meaning that children can view at cinema only if accompanied by responsible adults.

 

22nd April   

Update: Easily Hurt Religious Sentiments...

Indian bishops whinge about Angels and Demons
Link Here

Angels and Demons poster The Catholic Bishops Conference of India, the country's top Catholic body, is calling for a ban of the Tom Hanks-starring Angels & Demons set for worldwide release on May 15.

This film could seriously hurt religious sentiments, CBCI spokesperson Father Babu Joseph was quoted as saying in media reports over the weekend: Christianity is not understood by the majority of people in India yet, and many non-Christians may mistake the content as the truth.

CBCI secretary general Stanislaus Fernandes reportedly has written to the chair of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) asking to stop the film's release.

We are still waiting for a print to arrive from our head offices, after which we will submit the film to the CBFC, Sony Pictures Releasing India managing director Kersy Daruwala said.

Father Anthony Charanghat, a spokesman for the Catholic archdiocese in Mumbai also called for a boycott: We are calling on Christians to adhere to the principle of not supporting anything that goes against our faith. We are asking people not to watch it.

 

21st April   

Updated: Z Rated Whinging...

Indian video game with religious setting winds up the easily offended
Link Here  full story: Boy Warriors Censorship...Indian computer game under fire from Hindus

Hanuman: Boy Warrior game Hindus have urged Sony Corporation to withdraw the new Indian release Hanuman: Boy Warrior video game for PlayStation2, saying it trivializes the highly revered deity of Hinduism.

Perennial whinger Rajan Zed, in a statement from the US, said that in a video game set-up, the player would control the destiny of Lord Hanuman while in reality the believers put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that reimagining Hindu scriptures and deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Controlling and manipulating Lord Hanuman with a joystick/ button/keyboard/mouse was denigration. Lord Hanuman was not meant to be reduced to just a character in a video game to solidify company/products base in the growing economy of India.

Zed explained that Lord Hanuman was greatly revered and his worship was very popular among Hindus and there were numerous temples dedicated to him. Son of wind-god, besides incredible strength and changing shape at will and flying, he was believed to be a perfect grammarian, great scholar and excelled in all the sciences.

Rajan Zed pointed out that as Sony was said to be a socially responsible and ethical corporation, it would effectively understand the feelings of Hindu community on this issue.

Zed suggested that until India came up with such organization, Central Board of Film Certification should be given the authority of rating and deciding whether the particular video game was suitable for public distribution in India.

Rajan Zed stressed that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. Hindu tradition encouraged peaceful debates, won on their intellectual merit ...BUT... faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as these games left lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people.

Update: Disrespectful & Disgraceful

21st April 2009. Based on article from webnewswire.com

More Hindus have joined the protest movement against Sony Corporation’s newly released Hanuman: Boy Warrior video game for PlayStation2.

The protest has now even extended to Australia, where Vamsi Krishna of Sanatan Sanstha found it very disrespectful, disgraceful and an insult to all those devotees of Lord Hanuman and followers of Hindu dharma.

Vamsi Krishna requested Sony to remove this video game with immediate effect from the market before this causes further unrest in the Hindu community worldwide and issue an apology to all those who have been hurt by this insensitiveness.

Meanwhile, Bhavna Shinde of Forum for Hindu Awakening argued that using a sacred figure from Hinduism, namely, the Hindus' revered Deity, Sree Hanuman, as a character in a video game is highly objectionable to us Hindus worldwide.

Shinde urged Sony to withdraw this video game, Hanuman: Boy Warrior at the earliest, and publish an apology to the Hindu community and Hanuman devotees worldwide. She requested all distributors and sellers of video games to exclude Hanuman: Boy Warrior.

 

21st April   

Ten Years After...

The blame game 10 years on from Columbine
Link Here

Bowling for Columbine Ten years ago, Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered their campus armed to the teeth and killed 12 students and one teacher, and wounded 23 other people. Then they killed themselves.

In the hysteria following the tragedy, many people attempted to blame video games for the violence. A decade later, Youth Radio's Noah Nelson looks at whether the correlation between video games and violence correlation is still all the rage. From Youth Radio:

What we’ve found is that violent crime has decreased dramatically starting in 1996 while video games sales have soared. More than doubling last year, said Dan Hewitt, a spokesman for the Entertainment Software Association the trade association for the video game industry. He cites a report that contrasts the Department of Justice numbers on violent crime and sales figures for games. Hewitt contends that if there was some type of causal connection between video games and real life violence that the rate of real lifer violence would actually be going up, but actually the opposite is true.

Dr. Karen Sternheimer, a professor of Sociology at USC says that because a game is interactive it seems like logically that it could cause some kind of casual effect. She notes that the decline in the rate of violence is most notable in youth, especially juveniles. While the data and the perceived connection don’t agree, the perception remains compelling because it’s really easy for us to understand. The professor points to Dave Cullen’s recent book on Columbine that paints a picture of Klebold and Harris as not just everyday kids who played video games, and just kind of became crazy from too many video games. These were seriously disturbed individuals. We make a really big mistake when we overlook issues like that.

 

21st April   

Offsite: Lost Voice...

Freethinker notes near silence from Christian Voice
Link Here

Christian Voice logo Something's been bothering us over the last few months: A deafening silence from Stephen “Birdshit” Green.

Goodness knows there’s been enough in the media to prompt another piece of nutty prose from the head of Christian Voice, but his website has been utterly devoid of any statements since February 11, when Green posted a piece headed “Kent Police undermining families in gay essay stunt.”

Is there any truth in an anonymous note we received suggesting that Christian Voice was no more; that it had been absorbed into an outfit called the National Council for Christian Standards in Society.

...Read full article

 

21st April   

Searching for Google...

Microsoft Family Safety Filter blocks Google
Link Here

Microsoft logo Some users have been experiencing problems using the latest version of Microsoft's Family Safety Filter, which has been blocking access to none other than Google.

Slashdot poster mike.rimov notes:

I saw that part of the brand new Windows Live package is the Family Safety Filter

So I decided to give it a spin. Turned it on, set it to 'basic filtering' (their lowest level), and went to Google ... oops, it blocks Google!

So I logged into the settings and added Google as an exception. Google still wouldn't come up. Just in case, I turned off the family filter: voila, Google.

Oh yeah — and with the filter on, Microsoft's own search engine, live.com comes up."

 

20th April   

Update: Subdued Voice...

One man Christian Voice protest at latest production of Jerry Springer: The Opera
Link Here

Jerry Springer The Opera Around 20 supporters of a nutter Christian group last night held a peaceful protest against the staging of the musical, Jerry Springer The Opera , in St Andrews.

It was in stark contrast to Saturday’s opening night of the production, a centrepiece of a new arts festival organised by students at St Andrews University.

Only one member of the national Christian Voice group, which had branded the institution a cesspit , turned up to demonstrate on the first night of the production.

Lecturer Dr Charles Ferguson mounted his one-man protest outside the students’ union where the show was staged. The doctor of theology handed out leaflets condemning the production to members of the audience entering the Union building and to passers-by, said: This show degrades Jesus and it is offensive and blasphemous. The Lord’s name is taken in vain and it degrades his person.

However, last night he was joined by a party of supporters of the Christian Voice organisation from the East Kilbride area, many carrying placards and banners, who travelled to St Andrews to participate in the peaceful demonstration.

Also taking part was the national director of Christian Voice, Stephen Green, who said, This production is just filth. It is a great shame that the St Andrews students have put this on and I hope and pray it will be the last time.

 

20th April   

Comment: A Talent for Whinging...

Whinging at burlesque act on Britain's Got Talent
Link Here

Fabia Cerra Dozens of people have complained to the TV censor after a burlesque dancer stripped down to nipple tassels and a basque on Britain's Got Talent .

Ofcom said it had received 39 complaints about ITV1's show - aired at 19.45 on Saturday - in which Fabia Cerra removed some of her clothes.

Ofcom is examining the show to see if a full investigation is needed.

A spokesman for ITV said: Fabia's performance was given careful consideration by ITV, the producers Talkback Thames and the licensee Channel Television. As a result, the segment was edited in order to obscure any inappropriate detail, and it was felt that the overall effect was comedic rather than titillating.

It is understood ITV received about 40 complaints about the housewife's performance. The show's peak audience was 11.8 million.

Comment: Boring Old Farts

20th April 2009. See article from sundaysun.co.uk by Ken Oxley

What a bunch of boring old farts we’ve become. Not all of us, obviously, but some of us clearly need to get a life.

I’m thinking here specifically of those who complained about the episode of Britain’s Got Talent , with burlesque dancer Fabia Cerra.

Scores of viewers called broadcasting watchdog Ofcom or ITV itself after the 20-stone dancer lost a nipple tassel, moaning that the raunchy routine was unsuitable for family viewing.

First of all, it wasn’t raunchy. The woman is named after a car and is the size of one . . . it was pure comedy. Secondly, the tassel incident appeared to be a genuine accident and – even if it wasn’t – ITV saw fit to digitally cover her modesty with Union flags.

Thirdly, the “offending” routine was broadcast after the 9pm watershed, so what’s the problem?

That Ofcom has chosen to launch a probe into the incident is even more laughable than the footage itself.

 

20th April   

Update: The Lunatics Have Taken over the Asylum...

Jonathan Ross has a dig at Ofcom, John Beyer and the Daily Mail
Link Here
John Beyer

 What’s the point of
having a media watchdog,
if the people who fall foul of it
just make fun of it?

The Daily Mail have had a bit of fun in a rant about Jonathan Ross being a little flippant over a statement about the Ofcom fine:

Jonathan Ross remained unrepentant over the Andrew Sachs scandal and made a string of sarcastic remarks and jokes on his Radio 2 show after a damning watchdog ruling into his conduct was read out.

Instead of taking the opportunity to apologise after the Ofcom ruling was detailed before his Saturday morning slot, he made a series of gags and the played Fun Boy Three’s The Lunatics Have Taken over the Asylum.

The ruling was over obscene messages that Ross and Russell Brand left on the 78 year-old actor’s answermachine about his granddaughter Georgina Baillie.

It described the messages as offensive, humiliating and demeaning. The statement continued: The material that was broadcast was exceptionally offensive, humiliating and demeaning.

After the announcement had finished, Ross said: You can never find a pen when you need one, can you? You didn’t get that email address down, did you? I want to get the full thing sent over because I can’t read enough about it.

He then played The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum and made loaded comments with sidekick Andy Davies that suggested the lyrics were a fitting response.

After the song ended, Ross commented: You know, I’ve never really listened to the lyrics of that before. Davies laughed in the background and added: That was a lucky accident.

Conservative MP, Philip Davies, who sits on the media select committee, said: These comments show Jonathan Ross still does not think he has done anything wrong. He just didn’t seem to understand how angry the general public are about what he did.

A senior BBC insider told the Daily Mail: There are plenty of people at the BBC that would just like to see him go when his contract runs out. Ross just behaves like he has no respect for the people that have put their neck on the line, or lost their jobs, so he can keep his.

Mediawatch director John Beyer said: The BBC should be reviewing his contract. What’s the point of having an official regulator, if the people who fall foul of it just make fun of it?

Once again the corporation opted to defend his behaviour.

A BBC spokeswoman said: We are satisfied Jonathan’s light-hearted comments did not detract from the seriousness of the statement.

 

19th April   

Send Your Pink Chaddis to Facebook...

Facebook prove to be a failure in defending campaign group from hackers
Link Here

Pink Chaddi poster I have written before about the brilliant Pink Chaddi Campaign and highlighted the important role played by Facebook in helping the campaign go viral.

Briefly, journalist Nisha Susan set up The Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose, and Forward Women on Facebook and urged women to gift pink panties to Pramod Mutalik, the head of the ultra-conservative Hindu group Shri Ram Sena, in order to shame him into backing down from his threats to disrupt Valentine’s Day celebrations.

The campaign has become one of the best Indian examples of how a grassroots community can come together, collaborate and take collective action using social media tools.

The Pink Chaddi Facebook Group has been getting hacked throughout last month, and, instead of dealing with the hackers, Facebook suspended both the group and Nisha's account last week.

Before the group was suspended, the hackers changed the name of the group to A Good Bong is a Dead Bong and posted vulgar and violent messages on the group.

In an open letter to Facebook posted Nisha wondered if the first rule of Facebook activism is to not use Facebook.

 

19th April   

Vietban...

Vietnam magazine banned for praising anti-China demonstrators
Link Here

Vietnam flag A newspaper in Vietnam has been banned for three months for publishing controversial articles on China.

The Ministry of Information and Communication decided to suspend the Du lich (Tourism) bi-weekly for serious violations of Vietnamese Press Law.

Du lich ran a number of articles criticising China over territorial disputes between Vietnam and China. A story written by Trung Bao praised the courageous spirit of those who participated in anti-China demonstrations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh last year. Thousands of people joined the protests against the Chinese government's policies in the South China Sea.

The paper was accused of writing untruthful information and inciting violence, causing hatred between nations - charges that Du lich's deputy editor-in-chief denied.

The Ministry of Information said it would consider reshuffling the paper's editorial leadership in order to improve its management.

 

19th April   

Update: Blog Resurrected...

Saudi apostate blogger surprisingly released from jail
Link Here  full story: Blogging in Saudi...Saudi bloggers arrested and imprisoned

Apostasy CD Hamoud Saleh Al-Amri, a Saudi blogger imprisoned in January for writing about his decision to convert to Christianity, was released by Saudi authorities at the end of March 2009 instead of being put death as an apostate as prescribed by Sharia.

However, he has been banned from travelling outside Saudi Arabia or appearing in the media.

According to Hamoud himself, who is back writing on his Christ for Saudi blog, his release is due to pressure brought on Saudi authorities by the Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information, one of several rights groups that have campaigned for his release.

Following his arrest in January, the Saudi authorities blocked access to his blog inside Saudi Arabia. Google then censored the blog with a bollox claim of a technical violation of their terms of service, before restoring it on 5 February 2009 following public pressure.

The relative leniency of the Saudi police and regime in this case has surprised some analysts, given Hamoud's explicit claim to have left Islam, which amounts to apostasy punishable by death, and his outspoken criticism of the regime, something which is not normally tolerated.

 

19th April   

Offsite: Take Courage...

Courage Beer poster banned by the advert censor
Link Here

Take Courage advert A poster, for Courage beer, showed a nervous looking man sitting on a sofa with a can and glass of beer beside him. A woman was standing with her back to him wearing a figure-hugging dress that had its sales label still attached. Text, in a speech bubble coming from a large pint of beer, stated TAKE COURAGE MY FRIEND.

Three members of the public believed the poster implied that the beer would give the man confidence to either make negative comments on the woman's appearance or take advantage of her.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted Wells & Youngs Brewing Company comments that the text TAKE COURAGE MY FRIEND was a call to action to buy Courage over other beers and also that it used the brand name in a manner that was evocative of earlier campaigns. However, we considered that the combination of the text and the image of the man with an open beer can and half empty glass of beer was likely to be understood by consumers to carry the clear implication that the beer would give the man enough confidence to tell the woman that the dress was unflattering.

We did not consider that consumers generally would believe that the poster suggested that the man would be unnecessarily negative or take advantage of the woman, but would simply tell the truth. Although we understood the humorous intention of the scenario, we concluded that the poster breached the Code by suggesting that the beer could increase confidence.

Comment: Dutch Courage

17th April 2009. Thanks to Alan, See letters from guardian.co.uk

letter writing The same point about courage is made in a letter to the Guardian today:

Who are these people who persuaded the Advertising Standards Authority to rule that beer does not increase courage?

I hope that Courage Brewers have the conviction to stand up to such an absurd denial of the facts. Alcohol reduces both fear and inhibitions. Dutch or otherwise, courage is courage.

Dr Allan Dodds
Consultant neuropsychologist, Nottingham

Offsite: A confidence trick we can all drink to

19th April 2009. See article from guardian.co.uk by David Mitchell

Mthchell & Webb DVD There are lots of bad things to be said about alcohol. It wrecks and costs lives, often because it boosts confidence. It gives people the confidence to argue, fight and rape, as well as to chat more at parties or enjoy karaoke. It makes people dependent on the confidence it gives, to the extent that they'll poison themselves to get it. But it definitely gives you confidence - I know, I've had some.

And the Courage advert is even admitting that there may be a downside to boozy confidence. Their beer, it's telling us, is about to give the man the false confidence to say something that he shouldn't. They're not portraying it as lending confidence in a life-saving situation, like spinach for Popeye: "Let me have a quick glug of Courage and then I'll be able to save that coach-load of schoolchildren from falling into the volcano!"

God only knows the tearful, relationship-ending consequences of that man's forthcoming bout of Dutch courage. Rather than glamorising alcohol, I'd say it's a playful admission of some of its adverse effects and rather more, in terms of candour, than the ASA has a right to expect.

...Read full article

 

18th April   

Update: Delaying Games...

Commonwealth Minister of Home Affairs takes over R18+ for games consultation
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ banned The much-anticipated discussion paper on the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia will be released to the public by the office of the Commonwealth Minister of Home Affairs, Bob Debus, after censorship ministers stood divided over its contents at the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) meeting in Canberra.

It is expected that the discussion paper will propose changes to Australia's current classification guidelines and will include relevant research and literature on the classification of video games. No specified timeline has yet been given for its release.
The paper will ask Australians to voice their opinions on whether the country should have an R18+ classification for video games. Once the consultation period expires, it will be up to the censorship ministers to decide whether or not to introduce the R18+ classification. Once again, their decision must be unanimous before any changes to Australia's current classification system can be made.

The main opponent of an R18+ for games is South Australian attorney general Michael Atkinson. He acknowledges the fact that Australia's current classification system may lead to the incorrect classification of some video games, but attributes this to a misapplication of the federal government's classification guidelines by the Classification Board of Australia: I don't doubt gamers when they say that some games that are classified MA15+ in Australia should have been classified R18+; that is a possibility in my experience. I am critical of the OFLC [the Classification Board of Australia]. I believe it bends over backwards for the industry rather than the public interest.

 

18th April   

Update: 75% Filter...

Five major German ISPs agree to implement internet filtering
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany flag Five of Germany's eight major Internet service providers — Deutsche Telekom's T-Online, Vodafone's Arcor, Kabel Deutschland, Telefonica's O2 and Alice's Hansenet — signed a legally binding agreement with the government and the Federal Crime Office, agreeing to install software to block consumer access to child pornography sites. The five companies together cover around 75% of the German market.

Software blocks installed by the ISPs will redirect consumers attempting to click on blacklisted websites to a red stop sign. The Federal Crime Office has compiled a blacklist of 1,000 sites, which is updated daily.

Under the agreement, the ISPs have six months to install the page blockers.

The German cabinet is expected to announce changes to the telecommunications law by summer that would force the remaining Internet providers to block child porn sites.

 

18th April   

The Democracy of Death Threats...

Christian journalist under duress in Pakistan
Link Here

Aaj Kal logo A Christian journalist in Pakistan has received death threats after publishing articles calling for greater democracy and for refusing to convert to Islam.

George Masih who writes for the Lahore-based newspaper Aaj Kal, wrote a number of columns which provoked the ire of Muslims.

Last August, he wrote a column entitled The Nation should wake up now. In the autumn he wrote a further three columns entitled The Sunrise of Democracy, The Triumph of Democracy and I am Pakistan. The articles were aimed at promoting religious tolerance and democracy in Pakistan.

Masih claimed to receive the first threatening letter late in October from the Islamic Tanzeem Organisation, which threatened dire consequences for him and his family if he did not become a Muslim.

In December, Masih said he received another letter in which the senders directly threatened to kill him and his family if he still did not convert.

At first he ignored the threats, but as more threatening letters came he sought police protection. The police at first refused to take action but were later ordered by the Session’s Court Lahore to act on 11 February of this year.

This Easter George and his family were in hiding for fear of attacks as no suspects have been detained yet.

 

18th April   

No Bottle...

Samoa censor bans the award winning film Milk
Link Here

Milk DVD The Samoa Censor Board has banned the movie Milk from playing in Samoa

The movie is based on the life of gay activist Harvey Milk, and was rejected by the Censor Board after it was presented by one of the local movie stores for approval.

Principal Censor Leiataua Niuapu Faaui confirmed the board had rejected the application, and the movie would not be distributed in movie stores in Samoa. He declined to give a reason.

Eteuati Junior Esau, General Manager of Movies4U, the largest chain of movie stores in the country said: I really just want a reason why, because my customers are demanding this movie.

Esau says he does not understand why the movie has been banned, since it had great reviews, won numerous awards and is based on a true story.

Ken Moala, a well known Human Rights Activist in Samoa, says banning the movie is uncalled for: I do not think it should be banned. It is basically a documentary about the human endeavour to conquer something that people tend to discriminate against.

 

17th April   

Update: Fitna 2...

Geert Wilders plans follow up to Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna The Dutch MP Geert Wilders is planning a follow-up of his provocative anti-Koran film, Fitna . The outspoken leader of the opposition Freedom Party, who has labelled the Koran fascist , says the new film will deal with the growing Islamisation of Western countries.

Wilders told the newspaper De Telegraaf that the film would tackle freedom of speech and Sharia: And I will offer solutions.

The National Counter-Terrorism Coordination Services said that they had taken note of the new announcement and would monitor the security situation.

 

17th April   

Update: Bruno Censored...

Supporting the hype for Bruno
Link Here  full story: Bruno...Supporting the hype for Bruno

Bruno publicity still Universal Studios have announced that Bruno is officially an R-rated movie. The MPAA's rating board toned down the NC-17 rating to R rating reportedly after viewing a new edit of the film.

Of the new rating, the board explained that the movie contains pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language.

 

17th April   

Red Raids...

Police raid radio and TV stations supporting Thaksin
Link Here  full story: Red ShIrt Censorship in Thailand...Overt censorship of Thaksin supporting politicians

red shirts The Thai government has begun forcibly dismantling red shirt networks by raiding and closing down community radio stations.

Police raided the pro-Thaksin DStation in Bangkok and, in central Chiang Mai, police raided a community radio station operated by the anti-government Rak Chiang Mai 51, which is known to support former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Police seized transmission equipment against a backdrop of angry protests by more than 200 red shirts who gathered outside the hotel. Chiang Mai provincial police chief Sommai Kongwisaisuk said the station was told to stop broadcasting after 6pm on Monday.

Provincial branches of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) also asked community radio operators not to use their stations to incite unrest.

In Udon Thani, police raided a pro-Thaksin community radio station run by the Khon Rak Udon group. Police seized transmission equipment. Wachira Khamsueb, a radio host, was charged with operating radio equipment without a licence and released on bail. More than 100 members of the Khon Rak Udon group turned up at the police station to protest the police action.

A team of 30 police officers raided DStation, the satellite TV station run by the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, based in Bangkok. The UDD used DStation to broadcast protest activities and air Thaksin's speeches.

Troops seized control of the Thaicom satellite station in Lat Lum Kaew, Pathum Thani, used by DStation to broadcast reports to UDD supporters in Bangkok and around the country.

 

17th April   

Another Economist Goes Missing...

More self censorship of The Economist magazine in Thailand
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

The Economist magazine cover The Economist has again decided not to distribute its magazine in Thailand this week because of coverage of the Thai monarchy.

In an email to subscribers the magazine confirmed: Due to the sensitive nature of our coverage on the Thai monarchy, we decided not to distribute the April 18th 2009 issue of The Economist in Thailand.

This week's magazine appears to have two Thailand related articles although the sensitive article is entitled The trouble with Thailand's King . It is sure to thrust Thailand's lese majeste laws into the global spotlight once again.

This is the third edition of the magazine this year to suffer distribution problems this year.

 

17th April   

Offsite: Fret Saw...

Save me from torture porn: the theme-park rollercoaster
Link Here

Saw ride poster The place my 17-year-old brother and his friends really wanted to go this Easter was Thorpe Park, for it was there, in the bucolic Surrey countryside, that they could be dropped from 100 feet into what the amusement park calls the head chopper . The head chopper is a series of rotating blades that you may well have seen on television, in adverts for Saw: The Ride, the world's first horror-movie-themed rollercoaster.

The term "horror" doesn't quite cover it though: really, it is torture porn, a phrase that first entered our vernacular a couple of years ago, only to become almost as successful a genre as the romantic comedy. In Hostel, a group of tourists are sold to wealthy businessmen who get off on tormenting them. In Captivity, a model is made to drink liquified body parts. Wolf Creek, Vacancy, Turistas, Wrong Turn, Saws I through V… all feature gratuitous, prolonged violence that invites the audience to glory in the demise of the victim, who is usually female and semi-naked. Thirty years ago they would have been banned along with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre; today they are freely available to watch at cinemas or to rent from your friendly DVD store. And now we have torture porn: the theme-park ride.

...Read full article

Comment: Total utter bollox!

From Dan

"Thirty years ago they would have been banned along with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre; today they are freely available to watch at cinemas or to rent from your friendly DVD store. And now we have torture porn: the theme-park ride."

Obviously the writer wants to go back to the days when such evil corrupting violent filth was banned and nobody was allowed to see it for "their own good".

"A few weeks ago, a Telegraph reader, Andrew Schofield, wrote in to criticise the British Board of Film Classification for allowing films such as Saw into the mainstream ( I do not comprehend the mentality of otherwise intelligent and responsible adults who cannot see the effect of screen sadism on young, developing minds, he said). A few days later, some young boys were found in Doncaster beaten to within an inch of their lives by their peers."

And what evidence do you have to show that such a violent attack was caused by violent torture porn movies?

None eh? Just your own personal opinions and prejudices based not on fact but hysterical scaremongering eh?

Thought so!

It just I think violent films turn youngsters into violent brutal monsters so I just know every incident where youngsters behave like violent brutal monsters is caused by violent films, total utter bollox!

 

17th April   

Artless Vietnam...

Vietnam bans nude art exhibition
Link Here

Vietnam flag Authorities in Vietnam have refused to allow an exhibition of nude paintings because they are inappropriate for the society.

The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism in the central city of Hue refused a licence for painter Nguyen Kim Dinh to exhibit 12 nude paintings, the VietNamNet news website said.

His exhibit was approved by the Thua Thien-Hue provincial art association but Hue's culture department then ruled that some of the paintings don't meet artistic standards and are inappropriate to Vietnamese habits and custom.

 

16th April   

Demon Infested Censors...

Australian bans NecroVisioN, the first games ban of 2009
Link Here

NecroVisioN PC game The computer game NecroVisioN is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. The title, which takes gamers all the way from World War I battlefields into a demon-infested underworld, is officially the first game to be banned in Australia in 2009 due to in-game depictions of violence that exceed a strong playing impact.

When the player shoots an enemy combatant, a large volume of blood spray results and the enemy may be dismembered or decapitated. Injury detail is high with pieces of flesh seen flying from bodies when shot or a high level of wound detail visible on bodies. Post mortem damage occurs when bodies are shot resulting in blood spray, dismemberment and decapitation.

This level of blood and injury detail occurs frequently and throughout the game and in the Board’s view, exceeds a strong playing impact and therefore cannot be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification and so must be banned in the absence of an R18+ certificate.

NecroVisioN is rated as 18+ by PEGI for European distribution.

 

16th April   

Updated: Sci-Fi Cooking...

Under Siege 2 shown uncut on Sci-Fi Channel
Link Here

I was channel hopping on Saturday (11th April 2009), and noticed that the Sci-Fi Channel were showing the Uncut USA version of the Steven Seagal classic: Under Siege 2: Dark Territory.

This film suffered around 2 minutes of James Ferman directed cuts on video/DVD.

All the knife action/arm breaks/man on fire sequences etc were present .

There is another showing this Wednesday evening 9:45pm (15th April 2009), on Sci-Fi & Sci-Fi +1 and SC-FI HD.

Update: Shoddy DVD

16th April 2009. Thanks to Andrew

Well once again Under siege 2 was shown uncut. This time on Sci - fi. This is the umpteenth time its been shown (in its official cut, not the preferable Canadian cut) here in the UK.

Yet the DVD still remains in a shoddy form. Although that being said. There is now an official region B Blu-ray release of this film. So we might have an uncut version and just not know (Blu-rays are mostly the uncut original master prints). Either way the standard def DVD is still languishing in the bowels of Ferman's action fearing BBFC.

 

16th April   

Poor Show...

Italian broadcaster sacks cartoonist over reference to earthquake coffins
Link Here

Italy flag One of Italy's most popular cartoonists has been fired by state television company RAI for an anti-government drawing deemed offensive to victims of last week's earthquake.

Vauro Senese's dismissal sparked an angry reaction from the center-left opposition which branded it censorship.

The cartoon appeared on current affairs program Annozero. As well as firing Senese, RAI Director General Mauro Masi ordered the program's anchorman Michele Santoro to re-balance his coverage in this Thursday's program.

The cartoon, aimed at government plans to ease restrictions on home extensions to boost the economy, featured an exhausted grave digger standing over a line of coffins under the caption Increasing the cubic meters ...of the cemeteries.

Masi said it was gravely damaging to feelings of pity for the dead.

 

16th April   

Update: Freedom Leaks Away...

Germany censors wikileaks.de
Link Here  full story: Wikileaks in Germany...Wikileaks under duress in Germany

Wikileaks On April 9th 2009, the internet domain registration for the investigative journalism site Wikileaks.de was suspended without notice by Germany's registration authority DENIC.

The action comes two weeks after the house of the German WikiLeaks domain sponsor, Theodor Reppe, was searched by German authorities. Police documentation shows that the March 24, 2009 raid was triggered by WikiLeaks' publication of Australia's proposed secret internet censorship list. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) told Australian journalists that they did not request the intervention of the German government.

On March 25 the German cabinet finalized its own proposal to introduce a nation-wide internet censorship system. Australia and Germany are the only Western democracies publicly considering such a mandatory censorship scheme.

While last week German police claimed to the news magazine Der Spiegel that they had been ignorant about WikiLeaks' role as an international press organization, this "excuse" is surely no longer valid. Despite being questioned by the press, German authorities have still not contacted WikiLeaks or its publishers to resolve the issue, or indeed, at all. The lack of contact is inexcusable. German authorities have attempted to silence an entire press outlet over their objection to a handful of documents or articles.

WikiLeaks continues publishing on its other (non-German) domains. If the German cabinet's censorship proposal passes the Bundestag, presumably those WikiLeaks domains would be added to Germany's secret blacklist.

Germany and China are now the only two countries currently censoring a WikiLeaks domain.

Update: Leaked details of hosting dispute

16th April 2009. See article from theregister.co.uk by John Ozimek

Rumours of state censorship in Germany may turn out to have been just a little exaggerated. The take down of wikileaks.de may have a more mundane explanation than state censorship.

...Read the full article

Update: Wikileaks Back

26th April 2009. See article from wikileaks.org

On 17th of April, WikiLeaks.de was returned into an operational status and the project is available again via its German domain.

 

16th April   

Police Cum Censors...

Pakistan censors raid cinemas showing 'vulgar' films
Link Here

Pakistan flag Pakistan Film and Censor Board Chairman Barrister Shahnawaz Noon has sealed two cinemas supposedly showing vulgar movies.

A seven-member team of the board, assisted by local police, raided Shabistan and Motti Mehal Cinemas and found that they were showing vulgar English movies.

Shahnawaz Noon said: The team found that Shabistan and Motti Mehal Cinemas were showing vulgar movies. Hence, their machinery was taken into board’s custody and they were sealed till next order. He said administration of the cinemas managed to escape and investigations are underway.

 

16th April   

Update: An Insult to Free Press...

New UAE press law with fines of £1 million for insulting the government or royal family
Link Here

Human Rights Watch logo A new draft law to regulate the news media unlawfully restricts free expression and will unduly interfere with the media's ability to report on sensitive subjects, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The pending law also includes provisions that would grant the government virtually complete control in deciding who is allowed to work as a journalist and which media organizations are allowed to operate in the country.

The report: Just the Good News, Please: New UAE Media Law Continues to Stifle Press says that the new law contains some improvement over the draconian media law currently in effect. But it will continue to punish journalists for such infractions as disparaging government officials or publishing misleading news that harms the country's economy. Human Rights Watch researched the report by analyzing the provisions of the pending law as well as interviewing foreign and local journalists based in the UAE.

The law will muzzle the press, preventing honest reporting about the country's continuing financial crisis or about its rulers, said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch: Its vague clauses and harsh fines will almost guarantee arbitrariness by government authorities and self-censorship by the media.

The Federal National Council, the UAE's legislature, passed the draft law on January 20, 2009, and it awaits the signature of President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. More than 100 leading Emirati academics, journalists, lawyers, and human rights activists have urged the president to reconsider the law. The Human Rights Watch report also urges the president not to approve the pending law in its current form.

Unlike the current law, the proposed law contains no criminal penalties and will be part of the civil law. It reduces the number of administrative infractions that media organizations can be held liable for. The law also instructs government institutions to facilitate information flow to media, and, most significant, mandates that journalists cannot be coerced into revealing their sources.

But the law imposes exorbitant civil penalties that could bankrupt media outlets and silence dissenting voices found to violate the overbroad restrictions on content. Media organizations found to have disparaged senior government officials or the royal family face fines up to 5,000,000 dirhams (US$1,350,000), and those found to have misled the public and harmed the economy face fines of up to 500,000 dirhams (US$135,000). It also requires media organizations to post an unspecified security deposit against which fines may be charged, which would set a significant barrier to entry for smaller, independent press organizations.

The law also gives the government authority to regulate who can work as an editor, reporter, correspondent, or producer in the country. This authority is susceptible to abuse and infringes on the media's freedom of expression by preventing media outlets from organizing, managing, and operating free from governmental interference, the report says.

These intrusions make a mockery of the notion that an independent media exists in the UAE, Whitson said: The president has the option to send this law back and to show leadership in seeking a law that truly supports a free press.

 

15th April   

Vulnerable People...

Whinging at Coronation Street for mention of christian indoctrination
Link Here

Coronation Street Coronation Street producers have defended the TV soap against claims that it was anti-Christian after a character’s attack on the faith during an Easter Sunday episode.

Viewers complained after Street veteran Ken Barlow, played by Bill Roach, said Christians forced their views on vulnerable people.

At one point Ken accused his grandson Simon’s school of indoctrinating him, before vowing to tell the youngster the truth about religion.

Ofcom confirmed it had received dozens of complaints and fans of the show posted comments on ITV1 message boards labelling Ken’s rant completely unacceptable.

Stephen Green, of campaign group Christian Voice, said: What is it about Christianity that is so scary for these people. I don’t know if they do it out of ignorance or antipathy but it is not the kind of example television should be setting.

 

15th April   

Open Secrets...

UK intelligence services fail to get book banned
Link Here

Secret Wars book MI5 and MI6 have conceded they cannot stop the publication of a book on Britain's security and intelligence agencies even though it is said to contain the names of officers who have not previously been identified.

The courts would not grant an injunction, officials said, because the book, Secret Wars - One Hundred Years of British Intelligence Inside MI5 and MI6 , by Gordon Thomas, has already been published, and is widely available, in the US.

Journalists and editors were asked yesterday to consult Andrew Vallance, a retired air vice-marshal, secretary of the D notice advisory committee, before publishing the names of what he referred to as alleged MI5 or MI6 officers. The committee runs a system of voluntary self-censorship on defence, security and intelligence matters, in co-operation with the media.

Thomas's book was published in the US two months ago and is due to be published in the UK on 4 May.

Whitehall officials made clear yesterday that while they could do little about the book, its publication was unwelcome. They have little control now over what can be published about the activities of Britain's security and intelligence agencies and would like the public to rely on officially approved accounts of their work.

 

15th April   

Update: Draft Filtering Law...

Germany politicians continue to debate internet filtering
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany flag Several German ministries seem to be in a footrace to draft legal text for a filtering regime blocking child pornography from German users’ personal computers agreed by the government last week.

Initiated by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) the government has debated for months how to step up blocking of child pornography from servers outside of the country. Now the Justice Minister has announced a draft special law. The Economics Minister pointed to the already ongoing review of the German Telemedia Law, a law covering rights and obligations of telecommunication media content providers. The obligation to block access to child pornography sites listed by a government agency would fit in there.

The German government pointed to an announcement by the European Commission from earlier last week that systems to block access to websites containing child pornography will be developed and to existing systems in Denmark, Finland, Italy and Norway.

BMFSFJ Minister Ursula von der Leyen (Christian Democratic Party), in a debate in the German Parliament last week reiterated: The rights of children carry more weight than unhindered mass communication. Von der Leyen for months has pushed fervently for a quick private agreement with big internet service providers (ISPs) including Deutsche Telekom, Arcor or 1und1 Internet.

Yet Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries and members of Parliament from her own party and the Green Party warned against a contractual solution. The filtering regime must be dealt with in a regular law because it could touch on fundamental rights of citizens and requires policies for liability for possible errors. In addition, Germany’s federal police - designated as contract partner for the ISP and manager for the list of child pornography sites according to existing law - has no competence in dealing with other than terrorism when it comes to preventive action.

Zypries welcomed that some ISPs had agreed with von der Leyen to work right away on the technical implementation that is necessary in the servers of the companies. When a special law is ready, expected by summer, technical implementation will be in place, too, she said.

Zypries also underlined that blocking of internet addresses alone might not be enough. We should go deeper than that, she said. Criminal prosecution also is a must, she said. If and how information collected through the filtering regime should trigger prosecution has not been discussed so far. A page with a stop-sign to which users trying to access child pornography sites will be redirected can only inform users why this special site is not available. Yet it also is possible to log users’ IP addresses during this process allowing authorities to identify and prosecute them.

 

15th April   

Updated: Emergency Rule...

Police censors move into the newsrooms of Fiji
Link Here

Fiji flag Police officers raided the newsrooms of several publications in Fiji on Saturday to censor current and past news reporting, BNO News has learned. The move comes just hours after the president imposed an emergency rule which limits freedom of speech and gave police expanded powers.

Police officers [are] here at our newsroom, checking what we have reported and what we [are] yet to report on, a journalist for a publication in Fiji told BNO News on Saturday: Police officers in Fiji have been dispatched in teams to various local newsrooms to censor items that have been published and yet to be published, particularly by newspapers.

A local television [station] got two news items pulled out of their news segment, a local newspaper we understand had 56 pulled out, the journalist said. The emergency regulation decree, which was announced by President Iloilo on Saturday, states, among other rules, that media organizations must submit any material to the government before it is allowed to be published.

Update: Last Foreign Journalist Deported

13th April 2009. Based on article from stuff.co.nz

One of the last foreign journalists left in Fiji is facing deportation as the military regime there tightens its control. Australian Broadcasting Corporation Pacific correspondent Sean Dorney told Stuff that he had been called to the Ministry of Information and told they did not like his reporting. He was asked to voluntarily leave Suva but declined, saying he had a valid visa.

He returned to his hotel and while he was talking to Stuff he received a phone call from the Ministry asking him report to them: I've no idea what they're doing now, it looks like deportation .

Dorney believes he is being deported because he reported on how the local media responded to the censorship. Fiji TV has refused to air a censored bulletin and newspaper the Fiji Times has run blanks where stories had been censored.

Update: No Political News Reported

15th April 2009. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

The authorities called in Fiji Sun publisher Peter Lomas and senior journalist Maika Bolatiki. It is believed the meeting was to do with the newspaper's extraordinary front page statement, We ban politics in which Lomas announced that the paper would no longer publish political stories of any kind.

The Fiji Times has also refused to publish any political stories, and the national television station Fiji One has reportedly done the same.

Three senior News Ltd executives were also summoned to the information ministry - managing director Anne Fussell, editor-in-chief Netani Rika and company lawyer Richard Naidu - to explain why the papers ran blanks on their pages (to show that stories have been spiked due to censorship).

Update: Radio Off Air

15th April 2009. Based on article from brisbanetimes.com.au

Frank Bainimarama's military regime is forcing ABC to shut down its radio transmitters in Fiji to limit negative reports about the government's undemocratic rule.

The broadcaster says it has been ordered to close its FM relay stations in the capital, Suva, and in the tourist town of Nadi.

Local sources have since confirmed Radio Australia is off the air in both locations, ABC said. However, it is still able to broadcast in the troubled country on its shortwave transmitter.

 

15th April   

Update: Immoderate...

Web forum moderator faces 50 years for not deleting posts quickly enough
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Prachatai logo Chiranuch Premchaiporn, webmaster of independent Thai online news portal Prachatai, was arrested March 6 under Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act. Her charges resulted from allowing comments posted by readers of Prachatai’s online discussion fora alleged to be lèse majesté.

On April 7, Chiranuch was called to Royal Thai Police headquarters for further investigation. Thai police laid nine new charges against Chiranuch resulting from the information she herself gave them after her arrest.

Police claim the alleged illegal postings were allowed to remain on Prachatai for periods of one to fifteen days. Police consider each posting to be a separate violation of the computer law even though these were removed promptly after notification by Thailand’s ICT ministry.

None of the webboard posters have been arrested possibly as it is beyond the data retention period when IP addresses can be traced.

Additional charges under the cybercrime law mean that Chiranuch is facing 50 years in prison for comments she did not create and not self-censoring webboard posts fast enough for government censors.

Police also told Chiranuch that six more persons will be charged later this month under the computer act.

 

15th April   

Investing in Repression...

Goldman Sachs bully critical blogger
Link Here

Goldman Sachs logo Goldman Sachs is attempting to shut down a dissident blogger who is extremely critical of the investment bank, its board members and its practices.

The bank has instructed Wall Street law firm Chadbourne & Parke to pursue blogger Mike Morgan, warning him in a recent cease-and-desist letter that he may face legal action if he does not close down his website.

Florida-based Morgan began a blog entitled Facts about Goldman Sachs just a few weeks ago.

Goldman Sachs Information, Comments, Opinions and Facts

This website has NOT been approved by Goldman Sachs, nor does this website have any affiliation with Goldman Sachs. This website was designed to provide information about Goldman Sachs direct from the public, and NOT from Goldman Sachs's marketing and public relations departments.

According to Chadbourne & Parke's letter, dated April 8, the bank is rattled because the site violates several of Goldman Sachs' intellectual property rights and also implies a relationship with the bank itself.

Morgan claims he has followed all legal requirements to own and operate the website – and that the header of the site clearly states that the content has not been approved by the bank. On a special section of his blog entitled Goldman Sachs vs Mike Morgan he predicts that the fight will probably end up in court.

It's just another example of how a bully like Goldman Sachs tries to throw their weight around, he writes.

 

15th April   

Updated: Strike Against Free Speech...

Radio stations taken off air in Congo
Link Here

DR Congo flag The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in the southeastern Congolese city of Likasi to allow two private stations to return to the air.

On March 11, the mayor of the southeastern city of Likasi, Denis Kalondji Ngoy, ordered the closure of Radio Communautaire du Katanga (RCK) and Radiotélévision Likasi 4 (RTL4) in connection with their coverage of a local strike, according to local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED).

The orders, which were backed by an official notice from provincial Communications and Interior Minister Dikanga Kazadi, occurred during a tense social crisis in Likasi, with increasing inflation and an ongoing strike by national railway workers, who were demanding 36 months in back pay, according to local journalists. Local authorities accused the stations of inciting the public to strike and of broadcasting defamatory statements, according to JED.

Update: TV Station taken off air

15th April 2009. See article from cpj.org

CPJ logo Authorities in Republic of Congo should immediately lift their ban on private TV station Canal Bénédiction Plus (CB Plus), the Committee to Protect Journalists have said. The ban was enacted in February in response to political coverage in the lead-up to presidential elections in July.

CB Plus was forced off the air on February 12 shortly after it aired footage of a 1991 national political convention that marked a transition from the one-party rule of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso to a multiparty democracy. Jacques Banaganzala, the president of the national media censor (CSLC) told CPJ he ordered the station off the air because the footage included violent and abusive statements, including testimonies about the 1977 assassination of former President Marien Ngouabi.

It's outrageous that a broadcaster should be censored for telling the people of Congo their own history, said CPJ's deputy director, Robert Mahoney> We call on authorities in Brazzaville to immediately let CB Plus return to the air and allow the media to cover all sides in the lead-up to the July presidential elections.

 

15th April   

Update: Critical Censorship...

Sudan bans Ajras Al-Hurriya newspaper
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan flag The Sudanese authorities banned a daily newspaper for two days for their coverage of press conference held by the Secretary General of the Sudan people’s Liberation Movement and articles on the press freedom.

Ajras Al-Hurriya, a pro-SPLM daily newspaper had been banned by the security service on Thursday and Friday for the coverage of a press conference held by Pagan Amum the SPLM secretary general and some editorials written by the editor in chief and other journalists on the draft of new press law.

In a press release the daily denounced the abusive censorship saying other newspapers were allowed to publish the same coverage of Pagan statements. It also added that security officials remove official’s news, interviews and even the commercial advertising.

 

14th April   

Wishing for an 18 Certificate...

Supporting the hype for Wishbaby
Link Here

Wishbaby DVD The BBFC initially gave a 15 rating to Wishbaby, which is billed as a savage fairytale.

But director Stephen Parsons demanded an increase in the rating to 18, insisting the film was meant for adults only.

In one sequence a teenager is shown having his eyeball gouged out with a hat pin while other teens record his misery on mobile phones. Another shows a mother being suffocated and beaten to death with a hammer. [Beware of Daily Mail exaggeration]

Parsons said he was concerned that children as young as 12 and 13 would be able to see the film if they looked old for their age or had slightly older friends. He said: I deliberately set out to make a horror film for an adult audience. If my daughter had been allowed to see a movie like this when she was 15 I would have been extremely concerned.

I assumed my film would have an automatic 18 rating. It includes scenes of kids doing horrific things to each other. When I was told it had been given a 15 certificate I was disturbed, not least because one of the scenes, which involved a character being filmed as he was tortured and the footage being sent around via mobile phones, could have incited copycats.

Parsons made a formal complaint to the BBFC, which reviewed the film and agreed it needed an 18 certificate. In a letter to Parsons the BBFC said: We ultimately agreed that the cumulative effect of the sex, violence and drug use just tips the film into the lower end of 18.

A spokesman for the classification body said: On some occasions, particularly in the horror genre, film companies and producers prefer a higher rating because it makes the film appear to be more graphic or frightening than it is. They feel that a 12A or 15 rating makes the film less appealing to those who enjoy horror films.

This was the case with the recent Nicholas Cage film The Wicker Man when we gave it a 12A rating, but producers wanted a 15 rating. We assessed the film under our guidelines and stuck with the original decision.

Parsons is now calling for the BBFC to review the standards it uses to classify films. He said: It is widely accepted in the film business that the standards used by the BBFC are all over the place. In fact there are no standards any more.

 

14th April   

Updated: No Comment...

Google bans South Korean YouTube contributions
Link Here

YouTube logo Google has disabled user uploads and comments on the Korean version of its YouTube video portal in reaction to a new law that requires the real name of a contributor be listed along each contribution they make.

The rules, part of a Cyber Defamation Law, came into effect on April 1 for all sites with over 100,000 unique visitors per day. It requires that users provide their real name and national ID card number.

In response to the requirements Google has stopped users from uploading via its Korean portal rather than start a new registration system.

We have a bias in favor of freedom of expression and are committed to openness, said Lucinda Barlow, a spokeswoman for YouTube in Asia: It's very important that if users want to be anonymous that they have that chance.

But while the move obeys the letter of the law it skirts around the spirit of it by allowing users based in South Korea to continue uploading and commenting on YouTube by switching their preference setting to a country other than Korea.

YouTube noted this work-around on its Korean Web site and any videos and comments contributed this way will still be seen by Internet users in the country.

The new law was rushed into force after the suicide of a popular actress in October focused attention on the problem of online bullying in the highly-connected country.

Already many major Korean portals and Web sites require users to provide their national ID card number when registering accounts.

 

14th April   

Pause for Thought...

Researchers claim that fast paced media affects morals
Link Here

Twitter logo Today's fast-paced media could be making us indifferent to human suffering and should allow time for us to reflect, according to researchers.

They found that emotions linked to moral sense are slow to respond to news and events and have failed to keep up with the modern world. In the time it takes to fully reflect on a story of anguish and suffering, the news bulletin has already moved on or the next Twitter update is already being read.

As activities such as reading books and meeting friends, where people can define their morals, are taken over by news snippets and fast-moving social networking, the problem could become widespread, researchers warn. Children are said to be particularly vulnerable because their brains are still developing.

If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people's psychological states and that would have implications for your morality, said Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, from the University of Southern California, and one of the researchers.

Their work, published next week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition, involved studying the response of volunteers to real-life stories to induce admiration for virtue or skill, or compassion for physical or social pain.

Using brain imaging, they found that humans can sort information very quickly and respond in fractions of a second to signs of physical pain in others, but admiration and compassion - two of the social emotions that define humanity - take much longer.

The volunteers needed six to eight seconds to fully respond to stories of virtue or social pain, but once awakened, the responses lasted far longer than the volunteers' reactions to stories focused on physical pain.

 

13th April   

Gay and De-listed...

Amazon.com hides away gay books that it deems adult
Link Here

Amazon.com logo Amazon.com recently de-listed gay and lesbian titles from its sales ranking system it deemed adult , raising the ire of some who characterize the move as online censorship.

Author Mark R. Probst wrote on his blog Sunday that he noticed the change a few days ago:

On Amazon.com two days ago, mysteriously, the sales rankings disappeared from two newly-released high profile gay romance books: Transgressions by Erastes and False Colors by Alex Beecroft. Everybody was perplexed. Was it a glitch of some sort? The very next day HUNDREDS of gay and lesbian books simultaneously lost their sales rankings, including my book The Filly . There was buzz, What's going on? Does Amazon have some sort of campaign to suppress the visibility of gay books?

Probst, the author of a novel with gay characters in the Old West, said he was perplexed by the move and used his status as a publisher to contact Amazon for an explanation. He said he received the following response from an Amazon Advantage service representative:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

Of course, being delisted from the rankings doesn't mean that the book giant has stopped selling the title; it just means that the title won't show up with a public sales ranking or in the best-seller lists--often a factor in how shoppers make their purchases.

 

13th April   

Diary: The Heresy Project: Kill Your God...

Censored in Leicester, Banned in Swansea, Atheist Comedy Comes to Brighton
Link Here

Kill Your God The Heresy Project: Kill Your God
Brighton Festival Fringe 2009
The Quadrant, 12 North St Quadrant, Brighton
18:30 May 8 9 10
Tickets in advance or on the door


After already being forced to change their show title and promotion for their 2009 Leicester Comedy Festival show, Atheist comedy duo ‘The Heresy Project’ have now had their July date at The Dylan Thomas Centre cancelled by Swansea City Council.

The council run Dylan Thomas Centre, a venue named after the son of a devout atheist, claimed that the show The Heresy Project: Kill Your God , booked to perform as part of the venue’s Beyond The Fringes series, has been vetoed by line management and are seeking a replacement.

The Heresy Project are in the process of choosing an alternative venue for their Welsh debut, but this time will avoid any city that didn’t lift its ban on Monty Python’s The Life of Brian until 1997.

Despite selling out at the Glasgow and Leicester Comedy Festivals, this show can’t be seen in Swansea, it can however still be seen at the Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe.

no-holds-barred comedy…satirising both religion and militant atheism
Edinburgh Evening News

reminiscent of early 90s, late night Channel 4…...if you don't manage to catch them now, you'll probably see them in hell
The Skinny

 

13th April   

Nutters Photoshopped...

Israel newspaper airbrushes out picture of female cabinet ministers
Link Here

Israel flag Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver, two apparently inappropriate ministers, simply "disappeared" from a photograph of the new cabinet in the weekly newspaper Shaa Tova, with black holes visible in the spaces where they had been standing. Meanwhile, in the newspaper Yated Neeman, male cabinet members were blown up and superimposed on to the images of the two female ministers in the frame.

Shaa Tova told the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv: Anyone who is acquainted with the ultra-orthodox press knows that from time immemorial, ultra-orthodox newspapers avoid publishing pictures of women.

 

12th April   

Update: Freedom Leaks Away...

Germany censors wikileaks.de
Link Here  full story: Wikileaks in Germany...Wikileaks under duress in Germany

Wikileaks On April 9th 2009, the internet domain registration for the investigative journalism site Wikileaks.de was suspended without notice by Germany's registration authority DENIC.

The action comes two weeks after the house of the German WikiLeaks domain sponsor, Theodor Reppe, was searched by German authorities. Police documentation shows that the March 24, 2009 raid was triggered by WikiLeaks' publication of Australia's proposed secret internet censorship list. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) told Australian journalists that they did not request the intervention of the German government.

On March 25 the German cabinet finalized its own proposal to introduce a nation-wide internet censorship system. Australia and Germany are the only Western democracies publicly considering such a mandatory censorship scheme.

While last week German police claimed to the news magazine Der Spiegel that they had been ignorant about WikiLeaks' role as an international press organization, this "excuse" is surely no longer valid. Despite being questioned by the press, German authorities have still not contacted WikiLeaks or its publishers to resolve the issue, or indeed, at all. The lack of contact is inexcusable. German authorities have attempted to silence an entire press outlet over their objection to a handful of documents or articles.

WikiLeaks continues publishing on its other (non-German) domains. If the German cabinet's censorship proposal passes the Bundestag, presumably those WikiLeaks domains would be added to Germany's secret blacklist.

Germany and China are now the only two countries currently censoring a WikiLeaks domain.

 

12th April   

Disney Unsuitable for Children...

Researchers find Disney films with inappropriate personal contact of children by adults
Link Here
Pinocchio

   Carleton University researcher

Classic Disney cartoon films are giving children the wrong message about how to deal with stranger danger , psychologists have warned.

They claim films like Sleeping Beauty , Snow White and Robin Hood contain scenes in which children receive unwanted personal contact or threatening approaches from adults, and that the victims fail to set a good example in the way they respond.

The study warns that the films also undermine efforts to teach children about personal safety and how to minimise the risk of sexual abuse, by treating the victims' discomfort with humour.

In one example, the researchers found that the Pinocchio had been groomed by the adult characters Honest John and Gideon but that his response to the abuse resembled victim blaming.

The report says: It is possible that viewing these scenes could influence children to believe that telling a trusted adult about a stranger's advances is unnecessary because the film characters model successful independence. The academics wrote that they were surprised to find depictions of children being touched, usually by adults, contrary to the expressed desires of the child.

The research, published in the journal Child Abuse, was conducted by a team of psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists at Carleton University, in Canada.

They studied 47 animated feature length Disney films, released between 1937 and 2006. In ten of them, they found examples of unwanted personal contact or scenes which show child characters in risky situations.

The report concludes: The findings raise questions about potential impacts on child audiences. Is the unwanted contact and risky situation content appropriate viewing for children, given efforts to teach children sexual safety?

 

12th April   

Cybersecurity Act of 2009...

US Government to grab control of the internet in the name of security
Link Here

US Senate There's a new bill working its way through Congress that is cause for some alarm: the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, introduced by Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe. The bill as it exists now risks giving the federal government unprecedented power over the Internet without necessarily improving security in the ways that matter most. It should be opposed or radically amended.

Essentially, the Act would federalize critical infrastructure security. Since many of our critical infrastructure systems (banks, telecommunications, energy) are in the hands of the private sector, the bill would create a major shift of power away from users and companies to the federal government.

One proposed provision gives the President unfettered authority to shut down Internet traffic in an emergency and disconnect critical infrastructure systems on national security grounds goes too far. Certainly there are times when a network owner must block harmful traffic, but the bill gives no guidance on when or how the President could responsibly pull the kill switch on privately-owned and operated networks.

Furthermore, the bill contains a particularly dangerous provision that could cripple privacy and security in one fell swoop: The Secretary of Commerce— shall have access to all relevant data concerning (critical infrastructure) networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access…

In other words, the bill would give the Commerce Department absolute, non-emergency access to all relevant data without any privacy safeguards like standards or judicial review. The broad scope of this provision could eviscerate statutory protections for private information. Even worse, it isn’t clear whether this provision would require systems to be designed to enable access, essentially a back door for the Secretary of Commerce that would also establish a primrose path for any bad guy to merrily skip down as well.

A privacy threat still in the cocoon is the provision mandating a study of the feasibility of an identity management and authentication program with just a nod to appropriate civil liberties and privacy protections. There’s reason to fear that this type of study is just a precursor to proposals to limit online anonymity. But anonymity isn’t inherently a security problem. What’s “secure” depends on the goals of the system. Do you need authentication, accountability, confidentiality, data integrity? Each goal suggests a different security architecture, some totally compatible with anonymity, privacy and civil liberties. In other words, no one identity management and authentication program is appropriate for all internet uses.

The Cybersecurity Act is an example of the kind of dramatic proposal that doesn't address the real problems of security, and can actually make matters worse by weakening existing privacy safeguards – as opposed to simpler, practical measures that create real security by encouraging better computer hygiene. We’ll be watching this bill carefully to ensure that it doesn’t pass in its present form.

 

12th April   

New Internet Censor...

Eve Salomon appointed as Chair of the Board at the IWF
Link Here

Eve Saloman The Internet Watch Foundation has announced the appointment of a new independent Chair of its Board. Eve Salomon brings vast experience to the role including national and European level expertise in regulatory structures, law, media, and communications and is a committed and eminent advocate of the UK’s 'better regulation' agenda. Eve takes up her role on 1st April 2009.

Eve is an independent international consultant in media regulation and law. She is a legal expert for the Human Rights Division of the Council of Europe and the author of the UNESCO/Commonwealth Broadcasting Association Guidelines for Broadcasting Regulation. Her previous jobs include Deputy Secretary of the Independent Television Commission, Director of Legal Services at the Radio Authority and Interim Secretary of Ofcom. She is a Commissioner of the Press Complaints Commission and also a Gambling Commissioner. Eve was also a member of the independent Better Regulation Commission, advising government on how to improve the quality of regulation and reduce regulatory burdens.

Eve Salomon, Chair of IWF Board said: This is an exciting and challenging time to be joining the IWF as concern about criminal use of the internet is high on the public agenda. The UK internet industry, through the IWF, has an excellent track record in standing up to the challenges and working in the public interest. I look forward to drawing on our considerable expertise to ensure the right balances are drawn between freedom of expression and protection from illegal content.

IWF is managed by a single Board of 10 members, comprising six independent members, three industry members, and an independent Chair. The role of the Board is to monitor and review IWF’s remit, strategy, policy and budget in order to enable the IWF to achieve its objectives.

 

12th April   

Radio Heads...

Antigua looking to introduce a broadcasting censor
Link Here

Antigua flag The censorship of Antiguan and Barbudan airwaves may be just around the corner, as Government recently announced that it is pursuing research on the implementation of a Broadcasting Commission.

According to the Antigua Sun, the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Telecommunications is conducting in-depth research into regional Broadcasting Commissions with the view to preparing a white paper in the near future.

An official speaking to the Sun under condition of anonymity said that all media in the country would have to be brought under standards and sanctions to ensure that questionable material was removed from the airwaves.

If the Broadcasting Commission were to be implemented, it would likely be self-regulated by members, rather than have the Government decided on what is suitable and what is not the official added.

 

12th April   

Update: My Tongue is My Pen...

Egyptian blogger missing after arrest for supporting strike
Link Here  full story: Blogging in Egypt...Heavy handed Egyptian authorities jail bloggers

Egypt flag Although he was released by the Public Prosecutor, Egyptian blogger Abdel Rahman Fares is still missing. Fares who blogs at Lesani Howa Qalami (My Tongue is My Pen) was arrested on April 5, while handing out flyers in his city of Fayoum, calling people to take to the streets and protest against the government, as a part of the 6th April strike.

The young blogger was charged with handing out literature promoting the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and for calling for strikes. Besides, he is recognised as a Muslim brotherhood blogger, which means he is member of an outlawed group.

A friend of Fares wrote in his blog that he was released last night, but nobody knows his whereabouts. Recently, Fares told the readers of his blog, that he was summoned to the State Security headquarters:

I don’t know whether the both incident are related! I was summoned to State Security office and ordered to be their on 1st April. Right after that, I had a chat with someone I don’t know on Facebook, he commented on my status, then chatted with me, describing me and the supporters of 6th April strike as rioters. And he told me ‘don’t regret when you are punished!

Update: No Release

14th April 2009. See article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

Next Tuesday will mark one week since the eighth release order has been made for Egyptian blogger Mos'ad Suleiman Hassan (a.k.a. Mos'ad Abu Fagr); Despite that fact, Fagr remains locked at a police station in El Arish (North Sinai).

Fagr, a Sinai activist and novelist has a blog called Wedna Ne3eesh (We Want to Live), where he writes about the demands and life of the Bedouins of Sinai, as well as the citizenship rights they seek.

Update: Re-Detained

26th April 2009. See article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

In an unexplained action, Egyptian Ministry of Interior issued a new detention order for blogger and activist, Mos'ad Abu Fagr. The detained blogger was transferred again to Borg El Arab prison in Alexandria instead of north Sinai prison. This transfer imposes hardship on Abu Fagr's family to visit him, as they are based is the Sinai.

Abu Fagr was arrested on 26 December 2007, but the court and D.A issued eight order of release to him, even though he was kept behind bars.

Update: Comic Accusation

19th May 2009.  See article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

After being detained for 15 days under investigation, the Egyptian blogger Ahmed Mohsen is to still imprisoned, as he is accused of Exploiting the democratic climate to overthrow the government

Mohsen was arrested on April 29th, 2009, after a State Security force broke into his house and searched it. As Mohsen was already moved to Upper Egypt, a police officer summoned him to the prosecution office in Fayoum.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights (ANHRI), described the accusation as a ‘comic' one, stating: It is normal for a State Security officer to tell lies, but when the Public Prosecution believes this lie and approves to imprison a young blogger for exploitation of the democratic climate, this is black comedy, what democracy did this young man exploit

Update: Warned Off

29th September 2009.  Based on article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

The Egyptian blogger Abdel Rahman Fares was summoned to State Security headquarters, where he was blamed for his online writings. Fares was warned that he would be arrested if he goes on blogging, and asked to give up both his online and offline activities.

Fares is blogging at Lesani Howa Qalami (My Tongue is My Pen). On Friday, 25 September, 2009, he received a phone call from States Security, and was asked several questions related to his blogging, then summoned to State Security office in Fayoum (North of Cairo) where Fares is living.

Update: Warned Off

28th October 2009.  Based on article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

Two separate orders were issued last week to prolong the detention of two Egyptian bloggers. The first is yet another arrest order for Mus'ad Abu Fagr, who has been arrested since December 2008. Abu Fagr had a number of court decisions allowing his release, but unfortunately each one of them was followed by a new arrest order! The blogger is also transferred from Al- Arish police station, in his neighborhood, to Borg El-Arab prison in Alexandria, which make it difficult for his family to visit him.

 

11th April   

Meet Your Ancestral Censors...

Harold Ramis cuts Year One for a PG-13
Link Here

Year One poster Despite a personal appeal from director Harold Ramis and producer Judd Apatow, the MPAA refused to lift the R-rating on Year One .

Since Ramis, Apatow and Sony lost their one and only appeal, that meant one of two things could happen: they could release the film with an R-rating or they could cut it down to a PG-13. They chose the latter.

The MPAA revisited the film and has now given the film a PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, brief strong language and comic violence.

The PG-13 rating was sought on the grounds that it would help bring in some of Michael Cera's teen fans and hopefully give the film a better chance to break even.

 

11th April   

Challenging the System...

Activists secure the right to challenge broadcasters who refuse their adverts
Link Here

Adbusters logo Adbusters are a group challenging some aspects of the media and capitalist system whilst pursuing their ecological objectives. They have issued the following press release:

Adbusters Media Foundation, the publisher of Adbusters magazine, has won an important appeal in its case against Canadian broadcasters of CBC and Global Television Network. Adbusters initiated a landmark legal action against the media companies for refusing to sell airtime to Adbusters for its social marketing television campaigns.

In a unanimous decision released on April 3, the BC Court of Appeal overturned a previous BC Supreme Court ruling. Adbusters can now take its case against the media conglomerates to the BC Supreme Court.

Since 1989 Adbusters has attempted to purchase airtime from major commercial broadcasters in order to air its socially-minded public service spots. Routinely denied by network executives in Canada and the US, Adbusters is often left with little to no explanation as to why these citizen-produced messages are being censored. The case against the CBC and Global Television Network Inc. was brought about because Adbusters believes that the Canadian Charter grants every Canadian the right to access the public airwaves; to walk into their local TV stations and purchase 30-seconds of airtime under the same rules and conditions as advertising agencies do.

This is a great day for Adbusters, says Kalle Lasn, editor and co-founder of the magazine. After 20 years of legal struggle, the courts have finally given us permission to take on the media corporations and hold them up to public scrutiny.

 

11th April   

Adverse Verse...

Magazine banned for supposedly blasphemous poem
Link Here

Egypt flag An Egyptian court has withdrawn the publishing licence of a monthly magazine, Ibdaa (Creativity), because it carried a supposedly blasphemous poem.

In its ruling the court said the poem, printed two years ago, had included expressions that insulted God.

Egyptian courts have in the past convicted individuals or groups of people in blasphemy cases. But correspondents say that it is unusual for a magazine to have its licence withdrawn.

The offending poem, On the balcony of Leila Murad , by Egyptian poet Hilmi Salem, was published in the small circulation magazine in 2007.

The court's ruling said: Freedom of press... should be used responsibly and not touch on the basic foundations of Egyptian society, and family, religion and morals.

 

11th April   

No Internet Rights in Bahrain...

CPJ protest internet censorship in Bahrain
Link Here

Bahrain flag The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to protest the recent deterioration of press freedom in Bahrain and the government's ongoing campaign against critical or opposition Web sites and blogs. The crackdown against those sites has resulted in dozens of them being blocked inside the kingdom.

CPJ is concerned about a campaign targeting independent or critical Web sites that discuss social, political, and human rights issues, especially with the backdrop of an escalating crackdown on Shi'a activists, opposition figures, and human rights defenders. In January, local media outlets published ministerial order 1/2009, issued by Culture and Information Minister Sheikha Mai bint Muhammad Al Khalifa, ordering telecommunications companies to block specific Web sites without warning or providing specific reasons when ordered to by the ministry. Dozens of blogs, discussion forums, and sites of local and regional human rights groups have been blocked since.

The Ministry of Culture and Information is using advanced technology that can filter keywords and block sites, multiple sources inside Bahrain told CPJ.

For example, the Google Translation service has been blocked for the last three months, sources told CPJ. Abduljalil Alsingace, who blogs at alsingace.katib.org, told CPJ that his blog was blocked on February 10, after he posted a petition by an international group of intellectuals. The political forum Multaqa al-Bahrain, the cultural forum Muntadayat al-Bahrain, and the cultural and political forum al-Sarh al-Watani have all been blocked. In addition, the Web sites of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Arab Network for Human Rights Information have also been blocked for long periods of time and remain inaccessible inside the kingdom. Dozens of sites that provide proxy services are also inaccessible.

 

10th April   

Nagging the BBC...

Complaints about the TV documentary slaughter of a horse in Siberia
Link Here

Horse People still More than 100 viewers have complained about a graphic scene showing the killing of a horse in the BBC Two documentary Horse People.

The programme on Tuesday at 2100, which was filmed in Siberia, showed a horse being choked to death before being stabbed through the heart.

A BBC spokeswoman said viewers were warned in advance that: Tonight's programme features a community who cares deeply for their animals, but ultimately, in scenes which some may find upsetting, kill them for food. She said the death was included to show the life the horse herders lead.

 

10th April   

BBC Set for a Kick in the Teeth...

Ofcom consider insensitive remarks in Grand National interview
Link Here

Race Country The BBC may face an Ofcom investigation after Clare Balding's jibe about the teeth of Grand National-winning jockey Liam Treadwell provoked more than 2,000 viewer complaints.

The TV censor is considering whether to launch a formal inquiry into the remarks broadcast during a post-race interview.

After congratulating Treadwell on his 100-1 win in Saturday's race, Balding urged the young jockey to give us a big grin to the camera.

When he smiled shyly but kept his mouth closed, she demanded: No, no, let's see your teeth. He hasn't got the best teeth in the world, but you can afford to go and get them done now if you like. An embarrassed Treadwell mumbled: Well, I could do, but I ain't complaining.

The BBC received 1,962 complaints and Ofcom received 39. Ofcom will decide next week whether Balding's comments merit investigation under section two of the broadcasting code, which states that broadcasters must avoid material which may cause humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity .

The BBC said in a statement: Clare Balding had no intention whatsoever of upsetting or embarrassing Liam Treadwell, but she fully accepts that she shouldn't have raised the subject with him. The presenter apologised personally to Treadwell via text message.

 

10th April   

Mer-gay...

Gay interpretation of Dvorak opera winds up a few Greeks
Link Here

Rusulka DVD Dvorák’s opera Mermaid was played in Athens in the beginning of March. It stirred up people’s feelings and provoked an unexpected scandal. It happened over a kiss between two men and because of the half naked mermaids at the end of the show, which the director, Marion Wasserman added for the good development of the act.

Mostly it was the kiss, which made the orchestra musicians in the National Opera House to make a list against Wasserman, because she not only changed the libretto but she gave the main character a homosexual orientation, because of which we have officially filed a complaint to the police.

The young French woman Marion Wasserman found herself in the eye of the storm and had to defend her decision for the brave creative decision.

Meanwhile, the Greek gay association found a convenient occasion to storm out in the opera hall, where Mermaid was played. Its members entertained one part of the audience but irritated the rest, who jumped from their seats, in order to try and defend their right to see the performance without being disturbed by calls for sexual tolerance.

Marion Wasserman left the country bewildered. Her version of Mermaid will be played in France this upcoming season, where she hopes her interpretation will be understood and will not provoke similar reactions as the ones in Greece.

 

10th April   

Diary: Deep Red International Festival of Fantastic Film...

Film festival in Portland, Oregon and Seattle
Link Here

Deep Red logo Deep Red International Festival of Fantastic Film
Clinton Street Theater, Portland, Oregon, April 24-25
Grand Illusion Cinema, Seattle, May 8-9

Intent on rescuing genre films from premiering on video store shelves, Shade Rupe and Chris Bavota set out to unearth classic and contemporary 'cult movies' that deserved to be showcased on the big screen, and thus, DRIFFF was born.

We are proud to present the northwest premieres of several feature films including David Gregory’s nightmarish PLAGUE TOWN (USA), Martin Weisz's GRIMM LOVE (Germany) based on the homosexual cannibal killer Armin Miewes, Jonathan Lewis’ BLACK DEVIL DOLL (USA), a microbudget film with a big kick, Gadi Harel and Marcel Sarmiento's DEADGIRL, Justin Johnson and Aaron Marshall's ZOMBIE GIRL: THE MOVIE, the Bryan "RE-ANIMATOR" Yuzna--produced anthology film, TAKUT: FACES OF FEAR (Indonesia) and Frank “BASKET CASE” Henenlotter’s late-night 'comely' shocker, BAD BIOLOGY (USA). We will also be serving up the 1970s grindhouse classic INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (Italy), the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s latest epic.

Be sure to drop by to meet directors Jonathan Lewis and David Gregory in Portland, and GRIMM LOVE screenwriter T.S. Faull in Seattle.

 

9th April   

Putting a Smile on your Face...

ASA deflects whinge about orgasmic Durex TV ad
Link Here

Durex Play O advert A TV ad for durex featured a montage of clips of women who appeared to express sexual ecstasy set to an excerpt from Mozart's Magic Flute . A female voice-over stated Feel like never before. New durex play O. Pleasure enhancing gel for women. durex play, all you need .

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with a post 11 pm timing restriction.

A viewer, who saw the ad at 10.05 pm on Channel 4, challenged whether it was offensive and overly graphic to be broadcast.

ASA Assessment Not upheld

The ASA understood that the viewer noticed the ad shortly after 10 pm but was of the opinion that it was unsuitable for broadcast at any time. We recognised the viewer's concern, and appreciated that advertisers and broadcasters needed to be aware of the sensitive nature of ads for this type of product. We noted ME had explained that they felt the ad was unlikely to offend or be inappropriate for those aged over 12 years and we agreed. We considered that this ad was not overly graphic, contained no explicit material and was unlikely to cause offence, provided it was scheduled appropriately.

We understood that the post 11 pm scheduling restriction applied by Clearcast would have helped to avoid exposure to viewers under the age of 12 years. We noted, however, that Channel 4 had broadcast the ad shortly after 10 pm. We checked the audience index figures for the films broadcast before and after the break in which the ad featured and for the break itself, noted that they did not attract a significant proportion of younger viewers, and concluded that neither film had demonstrated particular appeal to younger children.

Although the ad was broadcast by Channel 4 earlier than Clearcast's scheduling advice, in consideration of the child audience index figures for the break and surrounding programming, we considered that it had been scheduled appropriately and was unlikely to cause offence to viewers.

 

9th April   

Ultra Nationalistic...

China has a downer on Ultraman
Link Here

Ultraman DVD According to chinaz.com's webmaster report, one of the most famous animation website kaicn.com had recently been shut down. Kai.com had been well known for its rich Japanese animation contents.

Coincidentally, a few days later (early April), Premier Wen Jiaobo visited an animation production lab in Wubei province and made a comment that my grandson loves animation, but his selection is usually Ultraman (Japanese animation), he should watch more of Chinese animation production.

According to Chinese news agency report, Wen's comment quickly echoed by netizens over the country, many supported banning and boycotting of Japanese animation Ultraman.

 

9th April   

Update: A Sheltered Childhood...

Child internet restrictions introduced in Japan
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Japan...Japan considers internet censorship

Japan flag The Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry has made public a program to promote a safe Internet environment. It lists measures the central and local governments and enterprises must carry out by the end of fiscal 2011.

Among other things, they must effectively cope with information on the Internet that is harmful to children and intrudes on individual privacy.

On April 1, the law to restrict the Internet environment for users under the age of 18 went into effect. In principle, Web sites deemed harmful or inappropriate to children will be filtered. But parents can use their judgment to remove the filters.

In preparation for the law's enforcement, the government program called for promotion of the use of filters to block children's access via mobile phones and personal computers to Web sites that are deemed harmful or inappropriate. It also called for development of filtering services aimed at different age groups and development of functions parents can use to decide which Web sites or categories of Web sites should be filtered. It also called for examining the effectiveness of Internet service providers' blocking access to Web sites featuring child pornography.

Third-party organizations will certify Web sites as harmless or "R18" indicating the Web site is harmful to children under 18.

 

9th April   

Diary: GoreZone Weekend of Horror...

Horror film festival in London's West End
Link Here

GoreZone logo GoreZone Weekend of Horror
Prince Charles Theatre, Leicester Square, London
31st October & 1st November 2009

Now in its second year, this October hundreds of horror fans will gather together in the heart of London's West End at the prestigious Prince Charles Theatre for two packed days of premiers, previews, personal appearances, signings and surprises all hosted by Emily Booth.

Tickets now on sale at £20 for each day

 

8th April   

That's Blog's Truth...

US advert censors look to include bloggers in their remit
Link Here

FTC logo The US advertising censor, The Federal Trade Commission recently released proposed changes to their Consumer Product Testimonial and Endorsement Rules.

All the usual ideals about fairness and evidence of claims etc but one new direction is that they are looking to include bloggers in their remit.

The FTC addressed advertising in new media (Web 2.0). Essentially, if an advertiser pays a blogger to write a review endorsing a product or service, the advertiser and the blogger must disclose the financial relationship. In addition, both blogger and advertiser both will be liable for any false or unsubstantiated claims regarding results of products or services.

  1. When using bloggers to endorse product or services, advertisers should make certain that their products do what they claim to do. Advertisers should extensively test products, run trials, and document evidence that substantiate results for most individuals.
     
  2. Advertisers should provide data to bloggers that evidence typical results for most individuals. Advertisers should stress to bloggers that if the product does not produce the desired results as documented, do not write a favorable review.
     
  3. Advertiser should include disclaimers on consumer endorsements that state that results are typical of most individuals using the products. However, if a consumer achieves an unfavorable result, it is atypical and may be based on a variety of personal factors unknown to the advertisers.
     
  4. When writing a favorable review or endorsement of a product, bloggers should always disclose they received the product for free or was paid to write the review.
     
  5. Bloggers should always give their true opinion of the product whether paid or not.
     
  6. Bloggers should post any product disclaimers and company trials or evidence substantiating your review of the product.

 

8th April   

Disco Stick Sends TV Censors GaGa...

Australian TV censors have fun with Lady Gaga pop video
Link Here

Lady Gaga CD Australian TV censors have banned Lady Gaga's video for Love Game for frequent verbal and visual sexual references.

The song, at No.18 in Australia this week, repeats the sexual euphemism: I wanna take a ride on your disco stick multiple times.

Channel 10's in-house censors have given Love Game an M rating; clips must be rated either G or PG to appear on Video Hits.

Ten's censors objected to the lyrics heavy touching' , I'm educated in sex ' and I want it bad' as well as Gaga's sexual postures in her dance moves, a near-naked outfit and her male dancer's fetish-like costumes'.

It's not just the lyrics and the visuals, if you were to judge it just upon either of those it might not be so bad,' Fletcher said: It's the cumulative impact of all those things together. We have been advised it would be very difficult to edit it down to PG, so we have made the call not to play it.

 

8th April   

Update: Censorship Syllabus...

Teachers concerned government influence over syllabus
Link Here  full story: Censorship Syllabus...Politicians get involved in reading matter for schools

Carol Ann Duffy poems Teachers have attacked politicians' meddling in the national curriculum and the censorship of English literature, warning against the schools secretary, Ed Balls, winning the power to dictate what pupils read and learn.

Delegates at the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) voted to raise the issue of censorship with Balls following the banning of Carol Ann Duffy's poem Education for Leisure , which refers to knife crime, from an AQA exam board anthology last year after extreme pressure from a group of MPs.

Teresa Dawes, an ATL member from Park House school in Berkshire, said: It rather makes one think of historical book burnings and all that implies. If young people don't get the opportunity to think critically about difficult but important topics in school, topics that often trouble them, where do they discuss them? The idea of any politician determining which parts of history or science children are taught or which books they study is indeed a chilling and frightening one

 

8th April   

Mail Censors...

Supporting the Hype for Anchor Bay's Look
Link Here

Look DVD T he United States Postal Service (USPS) has refused to mail 800 postcards promoting the May 5 DVD release of Anchor Bay's Look . The postcards feature a man in his boxers with his pants around his legs, a woman’s legs wrapped around him, as they fool around in a retail warehouse. There is no nudity in the scene, which has It is LEGAL for your company to get permission to install HIDDEN CAMERAS IN THE WORKPLACE! written above it.

Look advert The mailing house that was sending the cards received a letter from the USPS, telling them the postcards could only be mailed in envelopes, citing United Stated Code 3010, Paragraph D, which prohibits the mailing of any sexually oriented advertisement, meaning any advertisement that depicts, in actual or simulated form, or explicitly describes, in a predominantly sexual context, human genitalia, any act of natural or unnatural sexual intercourse, any act of sadism or masochism, or any other erotic subject directly related to the foregoing.

Look takes on the lack of privacy for Americans today, with more than 30 million surveillance cameras, reality TV, Webcams and more constantly monitoring our daily moves.

 

7th April   

Return of Media Coverage...

Obama overturns ban on media coverage of the homecoming of fallen soldiers
Link Here

US flag For the first time since the Obama administration reversed an 18-year-old ban on news coverage of returning fallen soldiers, the military allowed media to cover the arrival tonight of an airman killed in Afghanistan.

The arrival of remains of Staff Sgt. Phillip A. Myers, a 30-year-old supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, at Dover Air Force Base at 11 p.m. today marked the first time that the transfer of any of the nearly 5,000 U.S. troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan was open to the media. The transfer of the flag-draped casket was carried out with great dignity, for the seven family members present.

In February, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates lifted the ban on media coverage of returning war dead, ending what some have called an era of censorship enforced by President George W. Bush.

Under the new policy, Myers' family was given the option of whether to admit the media and they chose to let news media cover the dignified transfer.

 

7th April   

Update: Educating the Whingers...

Ofcom again reject complaints about educational daytime programme, KNTV Sex
Link Here  full story: Sex Education on TV...Wound up by TV sex education for children

Channel 4 logo Ofcom has rejected 38 complaints against controversial sex-themed episodes of daytime educational series KNTV Sex .

Repeats of the series aired in March, attracted viewer complaints for their sexual content, with one episode alone receiving 33 complaints. One focused specifically on its place in Channel 4's mid-morning educational schedules.

 

7th April   

Update: Soiled Souls...

Petition opposing the first steps to the return of cinemas to Saudi Arabia
Link Here  full story: Cinema in Saudi...First steps to re-opening cinemas in Saudi

Saudi flag Hundreds of muslims in Saudi Arabia have signed a petition demanding a stop to what they say is a trend of films being shown in public.

There have been no cinemas in Saudi Arabia since the 1970s. And there are unlikely to be any soon.

The petition has been motivated in particular by the showing of a home-grown Saudi film in Jeddah last year. It was financed by the Rotana network, which dominates Arab entertainment and is owned by the billionaire Saudi Prince Waleed bin Talal.

But even a one off event as the showing of the first Saudi feature film at two venues has aroused the suspicions of Islamic conservatives. They claim cinemas fill people's minds with evil and pollute the purity of their souls.

 

7th April   

Unhealthy Government...

Malaysian government whinge at porn access at cyber cafes
Link Here

Malaysia flag Access to pornographic and other unhealthy websites at public places such as cyber cafes and premises with WiFi should be banned, said MCA treasurer-general Senator Tan Sri Tee Hock Seng.

The Federal Territory MCA chairman suggested that enforcement authorities be empowered to impose punitive measures on operators of these places: For instance, fine them if their customers are found surfing banned sites.

Tee also urged parents to monitor their children’s use of computers: Many children have computers in their room. Parents should check what sites their children are surfing.

 

6th April   

Offsite: Brand Premium...

Call for Ross and Brand to top up expense account funds rather than TV license payers
Link Here
Jack & Jacqui

  It doesn't seem fair that the tax payer
 should pay for your husband's porn.
Better if Jonathan Ross pays.

Senior government expense account holders have backed demands for Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to pay the £150,000 fine imposed on the BBC for their antics.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell all added their voices to the outcry.

There is outrage that the licence-fee payer will have to meet the fine imposed on Friday by the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.

There are also calls for Brand's production company Vanity Projects, which produced the broadcast, to pay at least some of the money.

Straw, the most senior expense account holder to have spoken out about the fine, said the performers should pay out of their own pockets. It is wrong that licence-fee payers will have to pick up the bill for this. It is ridiculous that the penalty will be paid by the public.

Jowell, the former Culture Secretary, added: I think it would be honourable for Jonathan Ross to offer to pay it himself.

Miss Blears told the BBC's Any Questions: The BBC is funded by all of us as licence-payers, so are we having to pay the fine? Maybe Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand should pay it … that might be quite a good idea.

The BBC has said the money for the fine will come out of its general budget.

An Ofcom spokesman said: Parliament decided for very serious breaches of our broadcasting rules the BBC would be subject to a maximum fine of £250,000. These powers only allow for fines to be levied against the BBC and not individuals. 'To do so would require a change in the law.

 

6th April   

Would you Adam 'n' Eve It...

German toy company gets wound up by biblical adaptation of its toys
Link Here

Adam & Eve A German pastor has incurred the wrath of a German toy company, Playmobil, by using one of its Klicky figurines to create an Eve with boobs, and by nailing another to a miniature cross.

Playmobil has ordered Rev Markus Bomhard an evangelical preacher from Eschborn, Hesse, to remove pictures of the figurines, created for children, from his website , as they are said to be in breach of copyright.

According to this report, company spokesperson Gisela Kupiak said the pastor was violating the company’s commercial rights for his own benefit: We are quite tolerant if this is done in the privacy of the home but if someone crucifies a Playmobil figure, or, as in the case of Eve, glues on breasts, then this is a completely different dimension.

Bomhard said that the figurines are not Playmobil originals. Not all in the Bible Klicky figures and scenes are available to purchase. It is a deliberate and creative adaptation.

 

6th April   

Freedom on the Net...

An international report
Link Here

Freedom on teh Net report Freedom on the Net: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media

As internet and mobile phone use explodes worldwide, governments are adopting new and multiple means for controlling these technologies that go far beyond technical filtering. Freedom on the Net provides a comprehensive look at these emerging tactics, raising concern over trends such as the "outsourcing of censorship" to private companies, the use of surveillance and the manipulation of online conversations by undercover agents. The study covers both repressive countries such as China and Iran and democratic ones such as India and the United Kingdom, finding some degree of internet censorship and control in all 15 nations studied.

 

6th April   

Discipline Police...

Egyptian graphic novelist charged with morality offence
Link Here  full story: Metro Censors...Egypt's first graphic novel gets censored

Metro Egypt's first graphic novelist Magdi al-Shafei is set to face charges of publication and distribution of publications contrary to public morals over his Metro book.

If convicted, Shafei and his Malamah publisher could face up to two years in prison for violating articles 178 and 198 of the Egyptian Penal Code, which punish publications contrary to public decency. These are the same laws that are used to prosecute pornography.

The controversy started last April, when police broke into the publishing house and confiscated all copies of the book. They then went to all bookstores and took the novel from the shelves.

The raiders were from the Vice Squad, or discipline police, who have been more active recently in their attempts to rid society of unnecessary material.

Their interest in Shafei has surprised many observers. The discipline police do not usually deal in such affairs as censorship. The discipline police are a sector of the ministry of interior who deal with prostitution mainly and a few other things.

The novel deals with politically sensitive issues, but what may have sparked government interest is the limited sexual content of the book. Many surmise that the government may be using the sex as a scapegoat to keep the politics from reaching a wider audience.

Leading the legal attack against Shafei and Malamah is a ruling National Democratic Party lawyer who last year also filed a number of lawsuits against journalists, including against outspoken Al-Dustour editor Ibrahim Eissa.

Rawda Ahmed, the lawyer in the legal counsel unit for the freedom of expression at the human rights organisation, ANHRI, said: if we allowed police officers or clergy to prosecute literary works, that would completely kill creativity and freedom of expression. The violation by police of freedom of expression in Egypt is not unusual, but the acceptance of the Public Prosecutor to initiate this lawsuit is completely absurd.

 

5th April   

Updated: Putting a Smile on your Face...

Sex shop advert winds up Wellington's Archbishop
Link Here

D.Vice advert A Wellington sex shop has upset the Catholic Church with a billboard advertisement showing a praying woman with a smile on her face. The D.Vice store's ad shows four parishioners in a church and three of them have their eyes closed and hands clasped. But the fourth, a woman, is smiling and below her is a tagline: Anal beads from $55.99.

Wellington's Catholic Archbishop John Dew told the paper it was unnecessary and distasteful to associate a church with a sex shop device, adding: It is an insult to anyone who recognises a church as a sacred gathering place for believers in God and a place of prayer.

Wendy Lee, a director of D.Vice, said the billboard was meant to make people laugh and not intended to offend.

Update: Family First haven't a prayer of a chance with their whinge

5th April 2009. Based on article from scoop.co.nz

Family First NZ Nutters of Family First NZ are slamming a Wellington sex shop advertisement as highly offensive and tacky and is perfect evidence of the need to have a pre-vetting procedure on public billboards.

Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ said:

It is completely inappropriate for public billboards to have sex toy advertisements which are both offensive and inappropriate, especially for children to be confronted with, and the church setting simply adds to the offensive nature by offending a sector of our community who would find the ad in particularly bad taste.

A company that associates people praying in church and sex toys is quite simply out to offend.

The only redeeming factor of the Prostitution Reform law was that it dictated the level of advertising that brothels could do, in order to protect children and families from unwanted exposure.

It is time that we applied this principle to all billboards.

Family First NZ will be laying a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority – for what it’s worth.

 

5th April   

Update: EastEnders Rundown...

Whinges about a car accident in EastEnders
Link Here

Eastenders logo 'Shocked' viewers have complained to the TV censor after a 'violent' EastEnders special.

Now Ofcom have launched a probe into Thursday's hour-long episode. The latest instalment ended in the shock death of Archie's estranged grand-daughter Danielle Jones, played by Lauren Crace, when she was run over by Albert Square bad girl Janine Butcher.

Danielle was then seen dying in the arms of her mother Ronnie Mitchell, played by Samantha Janus, just minutes after telling her she was her daughter.

Ofcom confirmed they had received complaints about the violent content and the fact the show was aired before the 9pm watershed. A spokesman said: The complaints were mostly about the violent nature of the show and the horrific death at the end. It was broadcast before the 9pm watershed cut-off, so we're looking into complaints about that too.

 

5th April   

Updated: Little Britain Teachers...

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

Little Britain DVD Television executives are to be urged by schoolteachers to tone down the language and behaviour shown in programmes because pupils are copying what they see and hear in the classroom.

A survey of almost 800 teachers found that the rudest behaviour in the classroom was caused by pupils copying Big Brother and Little Britain .

Two-thirds of teachers said they believed Big Brother had led to bad or inappropriate behaviour in their school – while 61% cited Little Britain .

Other offenders include Waterloo Road – the BBC1 drama about a comprehensive school – which is said to encourage pupils to wear their uniforms in a sloppy fashion and The Catherine Tate Show which has prompted pupils to reply to teachers with the Lauren Cooper catchphrases Whatev-ah! and Am I Bovvered?

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which conducted the survey, said: School staff believe that television has an even greater influence on the behaviour of young people than computer and video games. More and more pupils believe the violence depicted on television and computer games is cool, heroic and something they want to emulate. It is not just aggressive behaviour – our members face swearing, inappropriate language and general rudeness on a daily basis, which is frequently picked up from the TV programmes pupils are watching.

The survey revealed that 88% of teachers believed the level of general rudeness in the classroom had increased as a result of the TV programmes children were watching.

Three out of four believed that TV programmes should be given an age classification in the same way as films at the cinema.

Comment: TV is turning our children into little yobs

5th April 2009. See article from dailymail.co.uk by Anne Diamond

Catherine Tate Show Anne Diamond in the Daily Mail is happy to concur and blame pretty much all of the teachers woes on TV:

Kids soak up television faster than kitchen paper absorbs household spills. Any parent knows it, and has seen it in children's behaviour since the days of Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which turned my boys into hyperactive aliens until I carefully limited their TV time and steered them back towards Postman Pat.

Now, however, the nation's teachers are reporting that too much television is making life unbearable at school - transforming our little Siennas, Chloes, Joshuas and Mohammeds into a generation of foul-mouthed Vicky Pollards and Gordon Ramsays.

I know they're right - because I have heard it, too. Kids do copy swearing from TV and it's not the same sort of swearing you used to overhear several years ago from the kids at the corner shop or the bus stop, who'd let a fourletter word slip out, have a giggle and then instinctively hush up because adults were within earshot.
Catherine Tate

A bad influence? Lippy schoolgirl Lauren from the Catherine Tate Show

Nowadays, the swearing, aggressive, defiant behaviour is right in your face. They're proud of it. It defines them. After all, it's on the telly, isn't it?

...Read full article

 

4th April   

Update: Ofcom Fucks Sachs' Auntie...

Ofcom fines BBC £150,000 over Russell Brand Show
Link Here  full story: Performers Censored in China...Quick to ban and censor star performers from the west

Russell Brand Show Ofcom have fined the BBC £150,000 over the Sachsgate row, describing the Radio 2 broadcast of messages left by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand on actor Andrew Sachs's voicemail as gratuitously offensive, humiliating and demeaning.

The TV censor said the scale of the fine reflected the extraordinary nature and seriousness of the BBC's failures and the resulting breaches of the broadcasting code.

Ofcom said the corporation had broadcast explicit, intimate and confidential information about Sachs's granddaughter, Georgina Baillie, without her consent in Brand's Radio 2 programmes that aired on 18 October and 25 October last year.

This not only unwarrantably and seriously infringed their privacy but was also gratuitously offensive, humiliating and demeaning, Ofcom said.

The media regulator said it had imposed a fine of £70,000 for breaches of the broadcasting code on standards and over the Radio 2 broadcast of offensive material, and a further £80,000 for the unwarranted infringement of Sachs's and Baillie's privacy.

Ofcom said that despite the BBC considering Brand's show to be high risk , it had ceded responsibility for some of management of the programme to people working for the comedian. The presenter's interests had been given greater priority than the BBC's responsibility to avoid unwarranted infringements of privacy and minimise the risk of harm and offence and to maintain generally accepted standards, the Ofcom report said.

 

4th April   

Updated: Minister Hallucinates...

Bavarian minister likens violent video games to illegal drugs
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Far Cry 2 game In the latest political attack on computer games, Bavarian Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrmann, a frequent critic of violent games, upped the ante by likening such games to illegal drugs and child pornography.

Herrmann made the charge in a [translated] press release:

...such games are one of the causes for youth violence and also for school shootings, where images from killer games become reality.

...more and more children are getting mired in this virtual world of violence. They have no time left for school or job training, and are lost to our society.

...In regards to their harmful effects, [violent video games] are on the same level as child pornography and illegal drugs, the ban on which rightly is unquestioned

However, a second German official, Commissioner for the New Media Thomas Jarzombek, criticized Herrmann's remarks: The comparison is completely inappropriate... anyone making such statements is unqualified to participate in any further debate [regarding the] protection of minors from harmful media.

 

4th April   

Update: A Bad Image...

Than internet user jailed for 10 years for posting insulting pictures of king
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Thailand flag A Thai internet user has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for violating strict laws against insulting the monarchy.

A court in Bangkok said Suwicha Thakho digitally altered images of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his family and posted them on the internet.

The court did not say how the pictures were changed or where they appeared, but local media cited YouTube.

Thailand's royal family is sheltered from public debate by some of the world's most stringent lese-majeste laws, as the police and army try to suppress what they fear is a rising tide of anti-monarchy sentiment.

Now up to 7000 blocked pages or websites

Based on article from prachatai.com

On April 1st, Aree Jiworarak, of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, said the Ministry's recently established Internet Security Operations Centre (ISOC) had blocked over 7,000 improper URLs or web pages, which included 1,403 culturally and morally offensive pornographic pages.

Now the Ministry is investigating the case of the pornographic animation clip Ninja Love which was posted at mthai website, and is trying to find the poster for prosecution.

 

4th April   

Update: Prejudicial Comments...

Conroy described as the worst Communications Minister ever
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship
Stephen Conroy

  Contemptible

Stephen Conroy's watch as Communications Minister seems to be going from bad to worse after publicly making comments that could land him legal hot water. The comments at a public telecoms conference about a high profile court case involving ISP iiNet have been deemed by a number of sources as inappropriate, defamatory and potentially prejudicial to the case.

iiNet, Australia's third largest ISP, is doing battle in the Federal Court of NSW with a consortium of movie studios and a TV network that have accused it of allowing its network to be used to illegally download copyright entertainment.

The public slanging between the Communications Minister and iiNet is hard to find a precedent for in the ICT industry. The CEO of iiNet, Michael Malone, has told iTWire and a number of other media sources quite openly that he believes Senator Conroy is the worst Communications Minister ever and described him as incompetent.

Senator Conroy stunned the bemused audience at a telecoms conference this week by making sarcastic and denigrating remarks about the iiNet defence strategy for its court case.

He described iiNet's claim that it didn't know what material its customers were downloading as stunning and he likened iiNet's defence strategy to a Yes Minister episode.

Both remarks made by a Federal Government Minister about an ongoing court case have raised the ire of not only iiNet but members of the legal community as well as the opposition. It has been suggested that iiNet could have a case for pursuing Senator Conroy for defamation but even worse for the Minister there is a possibility his remarks could be deemed as contempt of court.

 

4th April   

Update: Shared Repression...

China issues detailed rules for video sharing sites
Link Here  full story: Video Sharing in China...China bans most video sharing websites

SARFT logo Although Youtube has been unblocked, the China administration is determined to control audio and video content circulated in the Internet.

On March 30, the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) issued an administrative notice, Concerning the tightening of management on Internet audio-visual content, In the notice that the following content should be banned from the Internet:

  1. against constitutional principle
  2. damaging to national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity
  3. disclosure of state secret, harmful to state security, national honor and interest
  4. inciting ethic hatred, ethic discrimination, undermining ethic unity, culture and custom
  5. promoting cults and superstition
  6. disrupting social order and social stability
  7. inducing underage youth to commit crime; rendering violence, pornography, gambling and terrorist activities
  8. humiliating and slandering contents that violate citizen's privacy and rights
  9. harmful to social morale and national culture and tradition
  10. other contents that prohibited by other laws and regulations.

Internet audio-visual content providers have to edit and delete the following content:

  1. maliciously distorting Chinese culture, history and historical fact; maliciously distorting other countries' history and disrespectful to human civilization and other countries' civilization and customs
  2. deliberately ridiculing revolution leaders, heroic figures, significant historical figures, prominent figures inside and outside China
  3. maliciously ridiculing people's army, armed police, police, and judicial bodies; contents that show physical abuse and torturing of prisoners and criminals
  4. showing the arrogant and heroic side of criminal acts, details of crimes and investigation, image and voice of witnesses and whistle blowers
  5. advocating religious extremism, creating conflicts among different religions, sects, believers and non-believers that hurt people's feeling
  6. promoting fortune telling, fung-shui, exorcism treatment and other superstitious acts
  7. depicting nature disasters, accidents, terrorist acts, wars and disasters in a spoofing manner
  8. explicitly presenting promiscuity, rape, incest, necrophilia, prostitution, sexual perversion, masturbation and other similar acts
  9. showing or implicitly presenting sexual behavior and bodily intimacy
  10. deliberately exhibiting private parts of human bodies that covered up by body parts or small objects
  11. inducing sexual fantasy
  12. advocating unhealthy acts of extra marital sex, polygamy, one night stand, SM, exchanging partners, and etc
  13. titled and tagged with seductive words or pictures that associated with adult films, pornographic movies, AV, hidden video, nipple slip, and etc
  14. agitating content related with homicide, extreme violence, abduction, drug, gambling, and supernatural phenomena
  15. excessive horrible image, subtitle, background music and sound effects
  16. demonstrating slaughtering of animals, and human consumption (eating) of protected animal species
  17. violating individual privacy
  18. positive presentation or presentation that encourage fight, humiliation and vulgar languages
  19. advocating negative and decadent life style, world view and value; exaggerating national backwardness and dark side of the society
  20. video clips that have been banned by SARFT
  21. violating the principle of relevant laws and regulations.

 

4th April   

What's Your Birth Date Dad?...

Approved age verification scheme for BBFC Online
Link Here

Aristotle logo The BBFC has formally accepted Aristotle International as a provider of approved age verification for digitally-delivered home entertainment.

The decision means that movie studios, online distributors, and eventually producers of all forms of digital content will comply with BBFC regulations when using Aristotle's age verification service, Integrity.

We are pleased to certify Aristotle as an appropriate age verification and gate-keeping mechanism for our Aggregator Members for those digital home entertainment works classified '12', '15', '18', or 'R18' for digital delivery by the British Board of Film Classification, said Andy Cooke, Business Manager of BBFC.online.

Aristotle's Integrity solution provides identification and verification of digital access to content in over 130 countries. More than 50 million consumers have been age verified by Integrity to date. Motion picture properties recently in theatres or about to be released that utilize Aristotle's Integrity age verification service include www.iloveyouman.com, www.sexdrivethemovie.com, and www.tropicthunder.com.

Aristotle is also approved for use by leading global Fortune 1000 companies in financial services, tobacco, and alcohol advertising and distribution, social networks, online gaming and video gaming where financial, regulatory, or social responsibility guidelines must be met.

Aristotle's Integrity is a suite of widely accepted identity and age verification solutions based on government issued ID.

 

3rd April   

Playing the Protection Game...

Quebec to ban English language only games when French version is available
Link Here

Canada flag In Lara Croft's latest action adventure, part of the popular Tomb Raider video game series, the lithe heroine can demand of her evil doppelganger either, What the hell are you? or, Qu'est-ce que tu es, exactement?

And that's exactly the way Quebec wants it, from now on. French language rules on video games come into force today prohibiting the sale of new English-only video games in Quebec if a French version is available.

It's causing a lot of consternation among retailers and gamers alike, who fear the rules will lead to delays in video games arriving in the province.

Ronnie Rondeau, co-owner of the eight Game Buzz stores around Montreal, said he even fears bankruptcy. He said gamers are notorious for wanting new games the minute they come out. It's why he has had numerous midnight sales with lines stretching around the block. If there's a delay of even a few days, they'll find other options, such as buying online or across the border.

 

3rd April   

Updated: Berserk Censors...

ASA declare advert to be offensive for depicting Pope Paul at nightclub
Link Here

Fire Club advert featuring Pope Paul A flyer for a nightclub featured an image of the late Pope John Paul II holding a bottle of beer and dancing with a blonde woman in a short dress. Headline text stated BESERK. Smaller text stated AT THE NEW CLUB FIRE MONDAYS.

The Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality challenged whether:

1. the depiction of the deceased Pope John Paul II was offensive;

2. the ad was particularly offensive to Polish people, because Pope John Paul II was a well-respected Polish figure;

3. the ad was irresponsible, because it linked alcohol to sexual success and could encourage immoderate drinking.

ASA Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA noted Warped's intention not to repeat the flyer. Despite their assertion that the ad had been distributed only to those people who were the club's target audience, we nonetheless considered that the depiction of the deceased Pope caused serious offence. Because it had caused serious offence, we concluded the ad was irresponsible.

2. Not upheld

Although we noted the deceased Pope John Paul II was a well-respected Polish figure, we did not consider his nationality was the primary factor associated with his papacy, or that the ad had set out to denigrate Polish people. Whilst we accepted that some members of the Polish community in Ipswich may find the image distasteful, we concluded the ad was unlikely to cause widespread offence on the grounds that the Pope was Polish.

3. Not upheld

We noted the deceased Pope was depicted holding a bottle of beer and dancing with a young woman. However, we also noted that the bottle of beer was not given particular prominence in the scene. We therefore considered its role in the relationship between the dancing figures was incidental, and it was unlikely to be seen as a contributory factor in any perceived sexual success. We concluded the ad was unlikely to encourage immoderate drinking and did not link alcohol with sexual success.

The ad must not appear again in its current form.

Comment: Flyers

3rd April 2009. Thanks to Alan

The ASA really makes me wonder. The utter triviality of some of its rulings, like this about the late Pope, is truly astonishing.

They hand down some "ruling" (unenforceable so far as I am aware) after the ad has run its course. It was a bloody FLYER, for freak's sake - a totally ephemeral one off.

Why don't they bother with some of the really iniquitous adverts, like the "Fly FREE!!!!" offers, where the small print reveals the £10 to check in, the £20 to take a suitcase, the £5 for the privilege of paying them your money by credit/debit card, the £20 to sit inside instead of standing on the wing....?

 

3rd April   

Updated: Law for Bloggers...

Court reporting restrictions only apply to those that know about them
Link Here

Old Bailey Bloggers might be able to escape court reporting restrictions because they have not been informed of the restrictions. An ongoing case about a boy said to have fathered a child at 12 years of age has highlighted the issue.

Reporting on that case has been restricted but foreign news outlets have carried stories about it, with versions of those stories appearing on websites accessible from the UK.

Some bloggers have picked up the stories and may be within their rights to publish while national newspapers cannot. The court order imposing the reporting restrictions says that it only applies to people who know about the restriction.

There is no central database of reporting restrictions, so while newspapers are informed of restrictions, bloggers generally are not, opening a legal loophole for their possible publishing of restricted information.

The order does, in principle, apply to 'bloggers' because it applies to all persons who know that the order has been made, said James McBurney of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM. Bloggers, along with any other person or corporation are therefore prohibited from publishing any of the restricted material, but only if they know that it is in place to start with, which is where the difficulty arises: how are they supposed to know about it?

McBurney said that publishers and bloggers should take down material from a case once they find out that it is the subject of a reporting restriction.

 

3rd April   

Update: Macho Censors...

Singapore censors ban macho dancer film
Link Here

Singapore flag Boy , the new film of Aureaus Solito, the famed director of the critically-acclaimed indie films Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and Pisay , was banned by the censors of Singapore.

In his Facebook notes, Solito said the Singapore censors would not allow his new film to be screened.

Solito said Boy is his ode to a phenomenon in Filipino movies, the macho dancer genre. In the film, an unnamed boy is smitten by a macho dancer—or male stripper—and decides to bring him home for the New Year.

It's like a cross between a coming-of-age film and an erotic one and it was supposed to have its premiere in competition at the Singapore International film Festival, which opens on April 14. A week ago, I was so happy to see the Festival had put the film on their website. And now suddenly it has been banned, said the filmmaker.

He continued: I am still waiting for the censor's statement on my film, but I predict it will have something to do with its gay erotic nature. Zhang Wenjie proposed that it remain in competition, just the jury to watch it. I replied that I make my films for my audience, not for a jury, and withdrew it from the Festival.

After his film Boy was banned by the censors in Singapore, Solito decided not to go through the MTRCB here at home. Boy will be screened for a public audience in the censorship-free UP Film Institute and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

I have had enough of being censored, ended Solito.

 

2nd April   

Transphobia...

Complaints about jokes targeting Moving Wallpaper lady boy
Link Here

Moving Wallpaper DVD Ofcom has received more than 50 complaints about an episode of ITV comedy Moving Wallpaper over alleged transphobia.

The complaints focus on an episode aired on 20th March, in which trans character Georgina was mocked by other characters.

Viewers complained that she was the subject of a barrage of taunts such as She’s a walking GM crop, it’s not natural and her identity was derided by the other characters, who referred to her as it and 'joking' about her hairy hands, stubbly face and Adam's apple.

A Facebook group of 424 members is encouraging viewers to complain to Ofcom, arguing that production company Kudos blatantly flouted official guidelines in order to use a transsexual character as the butt of cruelty.

The show's broadcast has inspired Ryan Combs to create a group called Trans Media Watch , which serves to acknowledge transphobic rhetoric where it exists and call people to action to fight against harmful representations of trans people and trans lives.

In response to a letter of complaint, an ITV spokesperson apologised, saying: It is never our intention to upset or to offend our viewers but obviously for you on this occasion we got it completely wrong. The episode did highlight, in a comedic way, the prejudice suffered by many, and I should like to mention that positive comments were made by the characters of Gillian and Kelly in defence of Georgina to counter those made by Jonathan Pope.

 

2nd April   

Update: Army of Whinging Clones Denied...

Matrix style fighting in Volkswagen adverts restricted to after the TV watershed
Link Here  full story: Volkswagon Matrix Advert...Complaints re fighting in advert at Volkswagon factory

VW fighting ad A Volkswagen advert with fight scenes inspired by the Bourne and Matrix movies has received a pre-9pm TV ban after more than 1,000 complaints to the advertising watchdog made it the fifth most complained-about UK commercial ever.

The Advertising Standards Authority received a total of 1,066 complaints about the VW campaign, consisting of four TV ads and a cinema ad, featuring a Volkswagen designer fighting a series of running battles against sinister clones of himself.

Complaints to the ASA ranged from the violence in the series of ads, which were all versions of an original, single 100-second commercial, to whether they were unsuitable to be seen when children might be watching and could lead to copycat behaviour.

VW said the struggle in the ads was metaphorical rather than real and that the exaggerated, cartoon-like sound effects and actions were designed to dispel the gravity of the fighting.

However, the ASA ruled against two versions of the TV ad that showed particularly graphic images, including fight scenes using car parts.

The regulator said that the 100-second cut included an opening punch [that was] shocking and set up a series of violent set pieces that included the use of weapons.

In its ruling, published today, the advertising watchdog concluded that the VW commercial needed a further restriction to not be shown before the 9pm watershed.

The ASA cleared all the VW ads of complaints that they specifically targeted children and could lead to copycat behaviour. The cinema ad was also cleared.

 

2nd April   

Update: Expressing an Opinion...

The latest amongst a dozen cases of lese majeste
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Thailand flag Suwicha Thakhor has spent two months in a Thai prison, accused by police of insulting the royal family. He says he should be allowed to express an opinion.

Arrested Jan. 14 and charged in connection with material posted on the Internet, the 34-year-old oil engineer said: We have to be able to think freely. They cannot stop ideas by sending people to jail.

More than a dozen similar cases are pending under Thai law as a widening political divide prompts discussion on the future role of the monarchy.

The lese-majeste law is no different from contempt-of- court laws where you protect institutions that are neutral, that have no self-defense mechanism, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva claimed, he told reporters the law would be reviewed to make it clearer.

Suwicha, wearing a prison-issued yellow shirt emblazoned with a royal insignia, said his views on the monarchy changed after the coup that deposed Thaksin. Police tracked his Web postings, which he wouldn’t discuss, and read his e-mails, he said. He was arrested after dropping his kids off at school.

In the past, people fled to the jungle to share their political beliefs, Suwicha said, referring to a Communist insurgency in the 1970s that was suppressed by the government: Now we have Web sites. If they want to stop it, they must stop the technology itself.

Suwicha, who has twice been denied bail, said he’s hoping for a miracle. If freed, he plans to work on a farm and live a private life. Still, he makes no apologies for his beliefs.

 

2nd April   

Malaysia Muzzled...

Police seize political DVDs on grounds of a lack of film censor certificate
Link Here

Malaysia flag Malaysian police have seized DVDs used by the opposition to campaign for upcoming special elections, heightening fears of a crackdown on political dissent.

The April 7 balloting to fill three legislative seats is being fiercely contested because the results will be considered a barometer of public support for the incoming prime minister and other newly elected ruling party leaders.

Police seized 30 DVDs at an opposition campaign rally and briefly detained an opposition official late Sunday in northern Perak state, said Ngeh Koo Ham, a Perak opposition lawmaker.

Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said the action was the latest example of the increasing intolerance toward fundamental liberties like freedom of speech, thought and expression in Najib's Malaysia.

The DVD showed clips of opposition lawmakers being barred from holding a meeting at the Perak state legislature after the National Front wrested control of the state administration from the People's Alliance.

District police chief Azisman Alias denied any political motivation, saying the government's film censorship board has not approved the DVDs for public distribution.

 

1st April   

Update: Owning up to Crap Censorship...

Conroy seems to back off from banning adult consensual hardcore
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship
Stephen Conroy

  Sorry for the crap
censorship so far!

Australia's internet censorship Minister, Stephen Conroy, has begun distancing himself from his controversial internet censorship policy in what one internet industry engineer has dubbed the great walkback of 2009.

Last night he said the mandatory filters would be restricted to content that has been "refused classification" (RC).

When the ACMA blacklist was leaked last month, it caused great controversy, partly because it included a slew of R18+ and X18+ sites, including regular gay and straight pornography and other legal content.

But on SBS' Insight program last night, Conroy said it's mandatory refused classification, and then parents - if the trial says that it is possible to go down this path ... have the option to block other material.

This about-turn has done little to assuage the concerns of online rights groups, the Federal Opposition and the internet industry, as the RC category includes not just child pornography but anti-abortion sites, fetish sites and sites containing pro-euthanasia material such as The Peaceful Pill Handbook by Dr Philip Nitschke.

Sites added to the blacklist in error were also classified as RC, such as one containing PG-rated photographs by Bill Henson. And the websites of several Australian businesses - such as those of a Queensland dentist - were classified RC and blacklisted after they were hacked by, as Senator Conroy described, the Russian mob. They were on the blacklist even though they changed hosting providers and cleaned up their sites several years ago.

Senator Conroy conceded many of the decisions regarding what sites appeared on the blacklist were made by faceless bureaucrats . He said he was working to build in further safeguards , but would not abolish the policy because some sites were found to be put on the blacklist in error.

Others sites confirmed by ACMA as being included on the blacklist include a YouTube clip showing an excerpt from a horror movie and an astrology website.

ACMA said the horror movie clip was added because it is classified as R18+ but not subject to a restricted access system that prevents access by children.

At the time of investigation, access to the YouTube content required only a declaration of an age of 18 years or older which was not verified by evidence of proof of age, ACMA spokesman Donald Robertson said.

On the astrology website, ACMA said it was blacklisted because, at the time it was being investigated, it had been defaced with an image which depicted an adult female posed naked and implicitly defecating on herself. This image has since been removed and ACMA said it was in the process of removing the astrology site from the blacklist.

ACMA conceded innocent sites could be blacklisted if they are defaced with content not usually associated with the site. Robertson acknowledged this material was often only visible for a short period before being removed by the site owner.

 

1st April   

Update: Cut and Spin...

6 second lesbian kiss cut from Home and Away
Link Here

Hone and Away logo Channel Seven has claimed that a lesbian kiss on the soap Home & Away has not been censored, despite reports to the contrary.

The drama had received complaints from Christian groups and seen Australian ratings drop as a result of its lesbian storyline.

Policewoman Charlie Buckton, played by actress Esther Anderson is depicted falling in love with Joey Collins, played by Kate Bell.

Speaking to Australian news provider Same Same, Bevan Lee, head of creative drama and development at Channel Seven, said an artistic decision had been made to show the kiss as warm and intimate, rather than "lusty" as this was felt to be more natural to the story line.

He explained: The kiss, as played, was two part. A very gentle, loving, sensual, tender kiss from which the two women pull back and then there’s another, more lusty follow up.

There was a lot of discussion, artistic and not censorish, about where to finish the scene. We finally settled on the conclusion of the warmer, intimate kiss and not the more lusty follow through because we felt it was more in keeping with Charlie getting there by degrees rather than one kiss making her comfortable straight away with the full on pash.

I think the version that airs is much truer to the tone of the build up to the moment over the last few weeks. The decision taken was artistic and had nothing to do with running from the conservative right. This work was done before the article about the lesbian story and conservative reaction to it even broke.


He added that he was saddened as a gay writer that the storyline had been reduced to a facile argument about six seconds of missing screen time.

Update: Kiss Off

2nd April 2009. See article from advocate.com

Just before Home and Away aired on Tuesday, about 20 people gathered in Melbourne for a mass "kiss-off" to protest the prospect of censorship.

 

1st April   

Rapt Attention...

French rapper comes to the attention of politicians
Link Here  full story: Rapper Orelsan...French rapper winds up the politicians

Orelsan CD A French rapper who threatens to break his adulterous girlfriend's limbs in one of his recordings has apologised following an outcry from politicians and rights groups.

Orelsan often hailed as France's answer to Eminem, said he was sorry that the lyrics of the track, Sale Pute (Slut), may have offended some people but that he never considered himself an aggressor of women.

Christine Albanel, the culture minister, last week described the lyrics as a sordid apology for brutality against women. She said: Liberty of expression stops where inciting violence starts.

The Socialist opposition and Communists also condemned the song.

The online music video shows Orelsan holding an empty bottle of whisky as he raps: You're just a slut, slut, slut ... If I break you're arm, consider that we parted on good terms.   I hate you, I want you to die a slow death. I want you to become pregnant and lose the baby. We'll see how you manage when your legs are broken, sweetie. I want to see you go back burning in flames.

The record label said Orelsan had dropped the song from his repertoire several months ago, that it appeared on none of his albums, and was never meant to incite violence against women.

Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissive), a group which defends women's rights particularly in the suburbs with a high concentration of immigrant communities, has called on Le Printemps de Bourges, one of France's biggest music festivals, to take Orelsan off the perfomer's list next month.

 

1st April   

Strike Struck Off...

Tunisian hunger strikers page blocked
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Tunisia...Blogs and websites banned in Tunisia

hunger strikers Tunisian authorities have blocked access to the Matroudine website dedicated to provide information and support for the five students and activists from the Tunisian General Student Union (UGET) who went on hunger strike to protest their arbitrary exclusion from Tunisian universities and deprivation of their right to education because of their activism within the UGET.

The five young UGET unionists, namely Ali bouzouzeya, Taoufik Louati, Aymen Jaabiri, Mohamed Boualleg, and Mohamed Soudani, have been on hunger strike since February 11th, 2009. After more than 48 days of hunger strike their health condition has greatly worsened. However, Tunisian authorities continue not to react.