Censor Watch
 2008: May
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31st May   

Update: British Board of Byron Officers...

Up to the BBFC how they organise their staff
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

BBFC logoThe BBFC has responded to ELSPA'
s decision to ‘warn off'
 publishers to its advances – stating that its relationship with UK games firms is a private matter.

ELSPA had requested that leading publishers hold fire on implementing any changes to classification of their games until the Government has officially executed proposals influenced by Dr. Tanya Byron'
s Review of the industry.

The statement was sparked by the BBFC appointing a Byron Implementation Officer to oversee relationships with publishers – something ELSPA sees as a premature move.

However, BBFC director David Cooke told MCV: We have made clear that we welcome Byron'
s findings and it is a matter for us how we organise our resources over the coming period.
Dr Byron made clear that she expects the cooperation between the BBFC and PEGI to continue.

 

31st May   

Update: Cinema Erotica...

Season of 13 hardcore movies to be shown on Dutch public TV
Link Here

Deep Throat DVDDutch culture minister Ronald Plasterk plans to take no action against public TV channel Nederland 3 to prevent it from broadcasting 13 X-rated movies this summer, reports the NIS News Bulletin.

The scheduled series, titled Cinema Erotica , follows a broadcast by the channel last February of adult classic Deep Throat , and is being protested as that broadcast was by Christian party leaders.

These films are characterized by connoisseurs as artistic, Plasterk said in a letter to parliament. He maintained that there is no reason to stop the broadcasts, nor does the government have the means to do so.

 

31st May   

Update: Guru Study Guide...

Study guide for film viewers to better understand the nonsense being parodied
Link Here  full story: Love Guru Nonsense...Love Guru Mike Myers movie winds up hindus

The Love GuruHindus have urged the Viacom and its brand Paramount Pictures to post a study guide about Hinduism and guru tradition on their websites and place it in movie theaters worldwide to undo the supposed damage done by their upcoming Hollywood movie The Love Guru .

Bhavna Shinde, representing Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Society for Scientific Spirituality, in a communique to Paramount Pictures said: ...We also feel that the parody on Gurus will contribute to the misunderstanding about the sacred concept of the 'Guru'...

Shinde urged Viacom and Paramount to immediately issue a study guide about Hinduism and the sacred tradition/role of the 'Guru' confirming to Hindu scriptures, post it on the official websites of Viacom and Paramount and 'The Love Guru', and make it available free of cost in printed form at the movie theaters worldwide.

She further said, This guide should also offer the viewers a framework in which to see the film, so that the viewers do not carry any misconceptions about Hinduism and that the characters portrayed in this movie are in no way depicting authentic Gurus from the Hindu and spiritual tradition.

 

31st May   

Fuck the American President...

Ofcom whinge at UKTV Gold
Link Here

The American President DVDThe American President
UKTV Gold, 13 January 2008, 14:55

The American President is a film about the difficulties of an emerging romance for a fictional president of the United States in the midst of a re-election campaign. It was transmitted in UKTV Gold'
s regular Sunday afternoon movie slot.

Ofcom received complaints that this film contained highly offensive language (“fuck”), which was inappropriate for a pre-watershed transmission when children could be watching.

Decision

Rule 1.14 of the Code states that the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed or when children are particularly likely to be listening. The broadcast of the word “fuck” three times within this film in an afternoon slot when children were particularly likely to be viewing was clearly unacceptable. We welcome UKTV'
s broadcast apology as soon as it was alerted to the issue, and its review of scheduling processes. However, it is the licensee'
s clear responsibility to ensure that material originally intended for post watershed transmission is scheduled correctly and in accordance with the requirements of the Code, to ensure that viewers under eighteen are protected from broadcast of harmful or offensive material.

In this instance the most offensive language was broadcast before the watershed. UKTV have encountered similar problems before in that technical and human errors have resulted in inappropriate material being broadcast before the watershed. We treated the issues as resolved on those occasions, given UKTV's assurances that it had reviewed its compliance processes. However, as there have been repeated lapses in compliance procedures of this nature at UKTV, on this occasion we have recorded a breach of the Code.

 

30th May   

Censor Survey...

Irish censor publishes Annual Report for 2007
Link Here

IFCO logoThe results of a national survey on attitudes to classification, carried out by MRBI for IFCO, (the Irish Film Censor'
s Office), are included in the Film Censor'
s Annual Report for 2007, which was published on 29th May.

The survey sample consisted of 1,000 persons aged 15+ representative of the national population in terms of gender, age, social class and region.

Among the main findings of the survey:

  • 80% of respondents agreed with the Film Censor'
    s decision to ban the video game Manhunt 2 on the grounds that its level of gross, unrelenting and gratuitous violence was unacceptable.
  • 85% would like to see IFCO'
    s age ratings on films downloaded over the internet (even though respondents were advised this is currently outside IFCO'
    s remit)
  • 72% said they would like to see IFCO'
    s age ratings displayed before films shown on Irish television channels such as RTE and TV3.
  • Asked which types of screen media they believe can have the most potentially negative effect on children, 44% of respondents said the internet, 32% video games, 17% television, 4% DVDs and 2% said cinema.
  • Asked which film content might be considered most potentially harmful for children, 63% said violence, 21% drugs, 11% sex and 4% said language.

Speaking today on publication of his report, John Kelleher said: Our research shows that those parents who do use our website - www.ifco.ie - appreciate the consumer advice it provides. It will therefore be our main priority now to significantly increase the level of public awareness, particularly among parents.

In 2007, almost 9,000 cinema films and DVDs were certified by IFCO.

 

30th May   

Lesser Spotted Whinging Tits...

Nutters whinge at Bill Oddie's light hearted commentaries
Link Here  full story: Bill Oddie...Whingeing at light hearted nature commentaries

Springwatch logoMillions of viewers tune in every week to BBC's Springwatch , fronted by Bill Oddie. It came as a shock to many when the presenter used rather direct language when narrating sexual congress in the natural world.

Describing a mating scene between two sparrows, Oddie  said: The female is asking for it – and getting it, basically. She is doing that wing-fluttering think like that as if to say: 'I am a baby, feed me'... [and] is getting quite the opposite. He concluded the piece by saying: That's a wing-trembler she's just had there.

An item on beetles reignited the sensitivities of some viewers. Describing the sexual congress taking place in front of viewers' eyes, Oddie abandoned euphemism altogether. He crash-lands on top of a likely looking lady – there's a bit of luck! One thing's for sure: this boy is horny!

Then, as the male fought off a competing suitor for the right to mate, Oddie went into character, adopting the part of the female and saying in a high-pitched voice: Come on big boy, come and get it. Oh, be gentle with me!

A few viewers reacted with predictable outrage. One man complained: I am sick to death of the constant innuendo being offered by Bill every time a scene of mating appears.

It isn't funny or witty... just downright embarrassing when you are watching it with children. For example, being asked by my 10-year-old daughter: 'What does horny mean, daddy?' when watching mating beetles isn't right.


Another viewer said: This is schoolboy sniggering, behind-the-bike-sheds type humour and it's out of place in a programme that is otherwise marvellously educational for all age groups.

The BBC commented that many viewers endorsed the "light-hearted view" of Springwatch and Oddie. The programme is always looking at new, creative and entertaining ways of bringing nature to a wider audience. Storytelling is one of many ways of doing this. No offence was intended.

 

30th May   

Liverpool: Capital of Censorship...

Authorities mar Liverpool Streets Ahead events
Link Here

Streets Ahead logoAs part of Liverpool Streets Ahead over the weekend, Cacahuète performers were based in the windows of shops on Bold St. Some of the performances were stopped by the police. A guy walking around Bold St in a loin cloth with a fake penis. A girl in a lingerie store sitting in her underwear, had been told to cover or up she wouldn't be allowed to perform. A lady wrapped in clingfilm with bits covered by banana skins and various food items had been told that some people have complained, and that performers were being provocative. The Amy Winehouse styled performer had been asked to remove the cocaine looking substance.

Pascal, who was the leader of the group, said that Liverpool was the "Capital of Censorship." Bit of a shame to invite people to perform in the Capital of Culture and then censor them.

Having been one of the performers I have to say that it really was a travesty for these performances to be stopped - do the police now have artistic control over this capital of culture year?

Hundreds thoroughly enjoyed the mannequins yet a minority dictated the actions of the police. Instead of abandoning the final performance completely we thought it would be more beneficial to make the actions of the police known to the Liverpool public. I have seen this protest mentioned on one website only so please keep the debate going....

The lady in her underwear in a wheelchair was told she could continue if she covered herself up (which totally changes the meaning of the piece) yet it was ok for a guy dressed as a pimp simulating sex with a blow up doll! It was also ok for Kate Lawler to run the London marathon in her underwear.

If any form of pleasure is exhibited,
Report to me and it will be prohibited.
I`ll put my foot down. So shall it be!
This is the land of the free!
Rufus T Firefly in Duck Soup

 

30th May   

Nipple Brains at Ofcom...

Ofcom continue to whinge at babe channels
Link Here

Turn On TV logoEarly Bird
Turn On TV, 28 October 2007, 07:15 – 09:00

Turn On TV (now broadcasting as Tease Me) is a free-to-air unencrypted channel shown in the “adult section” of the Sky Electronic Programme Guide (“EPG”). It broadcasts programmes based on interactive chat services: viewers are invited to contact on-screen female presenters via premium rate telephony services (“PRS”).

A viewer complained that the presenter on the channel'
s Early Bird programme broadcast in the early morning was shown rubbing her crotch over a pair of skimpy knickers and tweaking and blowing on her nipples to make them erect. The complainant objected that the presenter'
s behaviour was unsuitable for the time of broadcast.

Ofcom Decision

Ofcom has repeatedly made clear its concerns about inappropriate, sexually explicit content being shown on “babe” channels whose programmes are based on interactive “adult” chat. Turn On TV has itself previously been found in breach of the Code for the inappropriate scheduling of sexual content (Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin issue number 85).

In this case, Ofcom considers that the actions of the presenter were not explicit. However, they were clearly sexual in nature and unsuitable for the time of broadcast. We note the broadcaster has taken certain remedial steps as a result of the complaint, but are concerned that at the time of these breaches it did not have sufficient procedures in place to satisfy itself that the material it transmitted was fully compliant with the Code.

Breach of Rules 1.3, 1.17 and 2.1

 

30th May   

Community Pressure...

TV station gives up advertising for adult chat lines
Link Here

Imparja TV logoAustralia's Imparja Television has decided to ban advertisements for x-rated chat-lines.

Outgoing chairman Owen Cole says the local community has expressed concern about the advertisements. It seemed a logical decision, given the problems faced by remote Indigenous communities.

He says the broadcaster was making a statement by giving up revenue from the sexually explicit advertisements: Now the effectiveness of whether it's going to stop people from downloading pornography, that's questionable, but nevertheless sometimes you have to take a principle stance and that's what we've done.

Cole is calling on the Federal Government to take a more pro-active role in raising public awareness about the effects of pornography, domestic violence and sexual abuse in communities.

 

29th May   

2257 Reasons for Concern...

Netherlands considers porn website age record keeping law
Link Here

Netherlands flagOperators of porn sites have to demonstrate that the models they use, at least 18 years.

The Lower House Tuesday adopted a motion to that effect from the SP and the PvdA unanimously adopted.

The government should put forward suggestions for July 1. It is claimed that this is a fair requirement for the operators of porn sites.

It is intended to make it easier for 'virtual searches', not only to detect child pornography, but also other forms of crime and terrorist crimes.

 

29th May   

What a Bunch of Doughnuts!...

Scarf offends Fox News
Link Here

Rachael Ray and scarfDoes Dunkin' Donuts really think its customers could mistake Rachael Ray for a terrorist sympathizer?

The Canton-based company has abruptly cancelled an ad in which the domestic diva wears a scarf that looks like a keffiyeh, a traditional headdress worn by Arab men.

Some observers, including ultra-conservative Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, were so incensed by the ad that there was even talk of a Dunkin' Donuts boycott.

The keffiyeh is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad, Malkin yowls in her syndicated column. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant and not-so-ignorant fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons.

The company at first pooh-poohed the complaints, claiming the black-and-white wrap was not a keffiyeh. But the right-wing drumbeat on the blogosphere continued and by yesterday, Dunkin' Donuts decided it'd be easier just to yank the ad.

Said the suits in a statement: In a recent online ad, Rachael Ray is wearing a black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design. It was selected by her stylist for the advertising shoot. Absolutely no symbolism was intended. However, given the possibility of misperception, we are no longer using the commercial.

 

29th May   

Update: Kitty Porn...

Catty comments about PETA pet fertility control ad
Link Here  full story: Peta...Animal activists challenging the media

Kitty PornA new campaign featuring cats engaged in the act of making kittens is apparently too frisky for some television networks which are banning the "kitty porn."

The public service announcement, titled Sex and the Kitty, a take-off of the new movie Sex and the City, is produced by PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The spot shows animatronic cats in heat, to say the least, as it focuses attention on the need for animal birth control.

Daphna Nachminovitch, vice president of PETA said: When you consider the millions of unwanted cats and dogs born each year, it's clear that the purrfect solution is spaying and neutering companion animals.

The animal-rights group issued a release, claiming its PSA was banned from MTV and most networks for being "too steamy," but said the ad will run in Seattle this week on KSTW-TV.

However, when contacted by WND, the Seattle station was not so sure.

 

29th May   

Sing a Song of Litigation...

Indian censor's sensitivity to religious litigation
Link Here

Dhoom DadakkaposterAarti Chhabria didn't know what hit her when her hit song Hari Om Hari Om which has been on the air for one month now turned into Jale Mome Jale Mome when the film Dhoom Dadakka released on Friday.

Not only that, huge chunks of the song had to be dropped because they apparently would've offended religious sensibilities.

So many songs suggesting so many things are freely being played on radio. My number's promo has been playing for a month. What sense does it make to censor it when everybody has already heard it? says the livid producer-director, Shashi Ranjan.

A few members of the censor board objected to my song. They feared Public Interest Litigations (PIL) against the words and the visuals. I had no choice but to change the words. What I want to ask is, what is the validity of the censor board if they're so scared of people going to the court? Let us filmmakers directly fight the PILs straight in the courts instead of going through the censor board, sighs Ranjan.

I've constantly fought to discipline vulgar songs. But my song in Dhoom Dadakka is by no means vulgar. And then to subject me to this. Eight days before release I was told to make the deletions and changes. It was a nightmare.

 

28th May   

Black Mark...

Ofcom whinge at Blackpool Medics for muffled 'cunt'
Link Here

Blackpool Medics titlesBlackpool Medics
BBC1, 28 January 2008, 19:30

Blackpool Medics is a fly-on-the-wall three-part documentary series about the difficulties faced by NHS staff in Blackpool.

Ofcom received a complaint that this episode contained the words “ Oi, you fat cunt ”, which they found unacceptable for broadcast at this time of the evening when children could be watching.

The BBC agreed that the inclusion of this language was inappropriate in a programme broadcast at that time of the evening when there was a strong likelihood that a significant number of children may have been watching. It apologised unreservedly for its error.

The offending word was contained in a sequence illustrating night life in Blackpool and was in one of a series of shots edited to music and commentary. The spoken words which were distant and muffled. In particular the expletive complained of was not spotted during the later stages of production, including the technical review stage which was the final viewing for both technical quality and editorial content.

Ofcom Decision

Rule 1.14 of the Code states that the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed or when children are particularly likely to be listening. The inclusion of the words Oi you fat cunt within this programme, albeit slightly muffled but still audible, was clearly offensive and inappropriate before the watershed.

We note the BBC'
s apology. However, the BBC'
s broadcast of this language before the 21:00 watershed was a breach of Rule 1.14 of the Code.

 

28th May   

Update: Looking Good for Pervez...

Afghan student accused of blasphemy equipped for a quick getaway
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Afghanistan...Afghan sentenced to death for blasphemy

Free Pervez!Sayed Pervez Kambaksh believes his long nightmare is almost over.

The 24-year-old student, sentenced to death in Afganistan for downloading internet reports on women's rights, is allowing himself to be hopeful for the first time since he was condemned.

The Independent has learnt, however, that the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has privately assured Kambaksh's campaign team that he will be freed. Senior government figures have also indicated that they believe his sentence, by a court in Mazar-e-Sharif, was based on a mistaken interpretation of the country's constitutional law.

Kambaksh has already discreetly been issued with a passport which will enable him to start a new life abroad if and when he is freed.

A petition by readers of The Independent to secure justice for him has attracted more than 100,000 signatures. Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, said on a visit to Afghanistan yesterday that he would be raising the matter with Karzai.

Kambaksh said from his cell yesterday that he was aware that the Afghan President may save his life. This is very, very important for me. It was a court which said I must die without even hearing my side of the story. There are many judges who are very conservative and say I have insulted Islam without really considering the evidence.

They themselves are also afraid of extremists and this could influence their decision. That worries me. But I am very grateful to the international media, especially The Independent, for taking an interest in my case. I think that makes it difficult for them to just get rid of me.

According to Samay Hamed, the co-ordinator of Kambaksh's campaign team, President Karzai first agreed to pardon the student in March this year. I ... have been told repeatedly by government ministers that [they] want the matter resolved quickly.

 

28th May   

Stereotypical Nutters...

Indian campaigners push for restrictions on the depictions of women
Link Here

NCW logoThe National Commission for Women (NCW) is campaigning for an amendment to a law governing the portrayal of women in media.

Chairperson Girija Vyas urged the industry, particularly the electronic media, to ensure that they did not show women in an 'indecent' manner. Expressing disappointment over the regressive and stereotypical depiction of women in TV serials and ads, Vyas said the NCW would push for an amendment to the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

Soap operas of the 'saas-bahu' kind reinforce gender stereotypes. This can be dangerous because they condition the thought process of the youth. Ads use provocative images of women to sell products that bear no relation to them, while Bhojpuri music albums contain erotic lyrics and dances. Such influences must be curbed. The past few years have seen a steady rise in crimes against women and the media has the power to influence a change in mindset. Vyas said.

Supreme Court advocate Aparna Bhat has drafted the proposed amendments on behalf of the panel. We recommend the institution of an advisory council comprising women's organisations and advertising professionals. This panel should install screening committees to filter advertisements that are in bad taste. said Bhat.

Using a two-pronged strategy, the panel advised the TV and advertising industries to devise a self-regulatory mechanism of censorship. Panelist Mahesh Bhatt agreed that TV wields the widest influence among the media: I oppose censorship being enforced on creative professionals but news channels and advertisers must self-regulate content.

 

28th May   

Comment: Mary Quite Contrary...

Mary Whitehouse: Clean Up National Television
Link Here

Filth posterThe Sixties were swinging and letters signed “Disgusted of Tun-bridge Wells” went unanswered by the permissive executives at the BBC. Who could stem this rising tide of filth?

Step forward an indomitable housewife-superstar from Wolverhampton, She Who Must Be Dismayed. Her clean-up crusade brought down the BBC'
s Director-General and terrified liberals in the Church, the state and the stage.

It has taken the BBC eight years since her death to dare mine the comic potential of her life as the self-appointed leader of the “moral majority”.

The Mary Whitehouse I knew was a tough, feisty, vainglorious woman, in league with the right-wing moral rearmament movement, instinctively aware of her opponents'
 weaknesses and unscrupulous in exploiting them.

However, in all her autobiographies (she wrote three), she created the myth of the humble, self-effacing teacher, chosen by God to lead the country out of the moral wilderness cultivated by clever liberals. She was David, who dared to take on the Goliath at Broadcasting House, slaying him, not with pebbles, but with postbags of complaints by her legion of followers, who sat glued to BBC Two solemnly recording every swearword in the Play for Today and every innuendo in Pinkie and Perky.

The dramatist Amanda Coe has taken her at face value and run with her own account of the humble housewife who has greatness thrust upon her. It is a richly comic story and Mary is robustly reincarnated by Julie Walters, upstaged every few minutes by Alun Armstrong as Ernest, her bewildered postman husband, who alerts her to the acronymic danger of her original name for her campaigning organisation, Clean Up National Television .

To make the production work, Mary'
s enemies must be made equally ridiculous. So, Sir Hugh Carleton Greene is reinvented as a manic John Cleese figure, a lecherous, upper-class, overclever twit brought down by the simple soul he is too stuck-up to meet. Hugh Bonneville does a fine imitation. And there is a wonderful (and more accurate) portrayal of Lord Hill, the smarmy “radio doctor” who ran ITV and disarmed Mary with tea and cakes. But it was Harold Wilson, not Mrs Whitehouse, who really engineered Sir Hugh'
s removal by making the pliant Hill chairman of the BBC. It was Greene'
s penchant for satirising politicians and not his support for Play for Today that was his undoing.

The television play ends by showing how Mary learns to manipulate the media – a formidable talent she had from the outset. It swallows her pretence that she was not interested in politics, but, on the contrary, despite the laughable obsession of her followers with sexual innuendo, her true concern was with liberal and left-wing ideology. Her early target was Cathy Come Home – Ken Loach'
s drama about the underclass – and she discerned psychological discord and social anarchy in every Dennis Potter play.

Her fear of homosexuals was visceral. She claimed that homosexuality was caused by abnormal parental sex during pregnancy or just after .

Her real political agenda came to the fore in her alliance with Mrs Thatcher, whom she supported at every election. This was a betrayal of her cause at the time that it could have meshed with the antiporn feminists in the Labour Party. It was under free enterprise Thatcherism that sexual profiteering began to thrive in the Eighties – from the groaning “adult” shelves of every corner newsagent to the dirty talk on telephone lines leased from the newly privatised British Telecom.

Mary'
s bandwagon was finally derailed when her prosecution of the National Theatre for staging The Romans in Britain   (Howard Brenton'
s play attacking British Army actions in Northern Ireland) collapsed. She had privately prosecuted the play'
s director, but had been too mean to pay for her solicitor witness to occupy the best seat in the stalls, forcing him to sit at the back of the Olivier Theatre. From this vantage point, he could not say for certain whether the object that touched the naked buttocks of Greg Hicks (playing a druid priest) was the tip of a centurion'
s penis or the tip of a centurion'
s thumb. After the case was thrown out and she had been ordered to pay costs, she cut a doleful figure, muttering tearfully that God will provide.

Nonetheless, Mary'
s cultural vandalism left its mark, curbing the most creative period in British TV drama. If the corporation ever wishes to pay her a genuinely backhanded compliment, it should run a Mary Whitehouse season, devoted to all the comedy, drama and current affairs programmes condemned by her National Viewers'
and Listeners'
 Association. It would provide more entertaining and enriching television than its current output.

 

27th May   

OfcomNZ...

New Zealand media companies resist Ofcom style regulation
Link Here

TVNZ logoNew Zealand media companies are resisting calls for a combined telecommunications and broadcasting commissioner to regulate the converging industries.

Ministry for Culture officials have opened a hornets' nest of ill feeling in their review of broadcasting regulations.

It is the first time in 20 years that the Government has considered pulling back from New Zealand's laissez faire broadcasting rules.

TVNZ and TV3's owner MediaWorks have called for radical changes including a Telecom-style break up of Sky TV and unbundling its sports rights.

But despite the tough talking against Sky, TVNZ and MediaWorks have joined Sky steering the bureaucrats away from a powerful regulator like the United Kingdom's Ofcom.

It is unclear if any government - whether led by Labour or National after the election - would support a tough regulator. Politicians from both sides have resisted regulations.

Under Labour the Government has cracked down on Telecom with the Telecommunications Commissioner and the Commerce Commission now playing a key role in the running of the industry.

According to a summary of the submissions there was a consensus that a converged regulator should not have both cultural and financial obligations. Broadly speaking media companies were against media ownership rules of any kind while a number of consumers, though not all, were in favour, it said.

 

27th May   

Strange Days on ITV4...

Strange Days broadcast uncut
Link Here

Strange Days DVDStrange Days is a 1995 US action film by Kathryn Bigelow

The BBFC provided the following justification for their 15s of cuts to the DVD:

The already reduced rape-murder scene in Strange Days was also found unacceptable on video, where the murder was further reduced to remove sexualised images of forcible breast exposure in a medium which could permit the repeated viewing of such scenes out of context. The scene was designed to convey the dangerous pleasures purveyed by 'snuff movies', but it seemed to the Board to have come perilously close to providing those same pleasures itself.

But now Daniel reports:

From what I could tell, ITV4 recent screening of STRANGE DAYS was uncut, including the 2 seconds removed from the Point of View rape / murder for the 1995 theatrical release, though this needs confirmation.

Hopefully this means that the BBFC would now allow an uncut DVD release.

 

27th May   

Censors Send the Boys Round...

Singapore authorities not impressed by critical film
Link Here

On Nation Under LeeThe Singapore authorities attempted to stop a private screening of a critical film on Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew on 17 May 2008, alleging that the screening violated the Films Act, according to news reports.

Section 21(1)(b) of the Films Act forbids the screening of a film that has not been vetted by the censors, punishing violators with a maximum fine of S$40,000 (approx. US$29,428), or jail term of up to six months, or both.

Three officers from the Media Development Authority (MDA), claiming they were acting on a "tip-off", went to the hotel where the film, One nation under Lee , was being premiered and requested for the disc, alleging that it has not been vetted by the censors.

The night before the screening, the Board of Film Censors had warned the organisers of the offence they would be committing under the law if they had not submitted the film for approval.

The 45-minute film is produced and directed by artist/activist Seelan Palay. It documents former premier Lee's rise to power through a host of restrictive measures on civil liberties, criticises the economic and political governance of the ruling party and pays tribute to the efforts of activists and citizens who persist in claiming and exercising their democratic rights.

The MDA officials later brought in plainclothes officers in an attempt to hold the organisers supposedly for obstruction of justice. They left, however, when Chee agreed to hand over the film as the screening had fortunately ended by then.

 

26th May   

Really Simple Stitch-up...

Publishers using RSS news feeds held liable for content in France
Link Here

RSS logoA French court has punished web publishers because of snippets of text that appeared on their sites via an RSS feed. It is believed to be the first time that a website operator has been held responsible for content delivered by a third party's RSS feed.

RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a common way for publishers to make their content available to others. Individuals use RSS readers to see the latest headlines from their favourite sites without needing to visit each site.

A French court, the Tribunal De Grande Instance De Nanterre, has said that three websites, Planete Soft, Aadsoft and Lespipoles, are liable for invasion of privacy because of articles published by other people but available via RSS from their sites.

The articles concerned the director Olivier Dahan and actress Sharon Stone and were taken via RSS from publisher Gala.fr. Dahan's lawyer Emmanuel Asmar told OUT-LAW Radio that as well as a successful privacy suit against Gala, they also won cases against the three RSS feed publishers.

In this particular case the RSS reader displayed information made up of a simple link and the headline content: Sharon Stone and Olivier Dahan, the star has a romantic embrace with the director . This was sufficient to constitute an attack on his private life.

Media law expert Kim Walker of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said that there has not been a test case in the UK on link liability.

 

26th May   

Update: Strike Against Press Freedom...

Satellite TV company on trial for coverage of police violence at Egyptian factory strike
Link Here

Cairo News Company logoNader Gohar has been in the business of broadcasting for the past 25 years, but he is now standing trial for importing and owning television equipment and transmitting broadcasts without permission.

At least that is the official line.

In reality, Gohar is on trial for broadcasting the Mahalla al Kobra protests on April 6, including footage of protesters tearing down and defacing a large poster of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president.

The following day, the head of the board of the Radio and Television Union filed a complaint with Egypt'
s prosecutor general, alleging that Gohar'
s Cairo News Company (CNC) – which provides satellite broadcast services and equipment to such television networks as Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN – had been operating without the required permits.

On April 17, 35 plainclothes police officers raided CNC'
s Cairo offices, confiscating its five sets of satellite transmission equipment, effectively shutting it down.

The date of the strike, April 6, was originally set by factory workers in Mahalla al Kobra, 120km north of Cairo, who were protesting against high food prices, low wages and widespread poverty.

Clashes erupted and continued until the following day and police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, killing at least two and wounding about 100. More than 300 people were arrested. Footage of the violence sent tremors through Egyptian society.

 

26th May   

Kill Jill...

TV ad encouraging organ donation cleared
Link Here

Kill Jill advertlA TV ad, for The Scottish Government, encouraged viewers to register as organ donors. It showed an image of a young girl's head set against a black background. The voice-over and on-screen text stated Would you allow your organs to save a life? You have 20 seconds to decide . The girl's face started to fade gradually and become distorted. The voice-over stated Kill Jill? and on-screen text stated Kill Jill accompanied by a choice "Yes" or "No". The voice-over and on-screen text then stated No ... register and you could save a life.

10 viewers complained. Several viewers objected that the ad was misleading, offensive and distressing, because it implied that people who did not register as organ donors were killing someone. One viewer called Jill, whose seven-year-old son had been upset by the ad, objected that it was likely to cause distress to children.

ASA Decision

The ASA noted many of the viewers objected to the claim "Kill Jill", because it implied that people who did not sign up to the register were choosing to kill someone.

We considered, however, that most viewers were unlikely to interpret the claim literally and would understand the ad was intended to highlight that by signing up to the register they could save someone's life, which was made clear in the statement register and you could save a life. We noted the ad was hard-hitting and referred to a difficult and sensitive subject matter, which could be upsetting for some. We considered, however, that in the context of the important message the ad was promoting, the ad was unlikely to mislead, cause serious or widespread offence or undue distress.

We noted the ad had been given an ex-kids restriction, which helped to prevent it being seen by very young children when they were watching programmes specifically designed for them. We acknowledged that the complainant's son had been upset by the ad. We considered, however, that the images used in the ad were unlikely to distress the vast majority of children. We considered that the ad was unlikely to cause undue fear or distress to children. We considered that it was not necessary to impose a greater restriction to direct the ad away from all children and concluded that it had been appropriately scheduled.

Complaints not upheld, no further action required.

 

25th May   

Indiana Jones and the Land of the Red Censors...

Russia offended at being the bad guys
Link Here

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull posterMembers of the Russian Communist party have called for the new Indiana Jones film to be banned in the county because they say it distorts history.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull , set during the Cold War, sees Harrison Ford's character battle Cate Blanchett's evil KGB agent.

St Petersburg Communist Party chief Sergei Malinkovich told the Reuters news agency it was rubbish . Why should we agree to that sort of lie and let the West trick our youth?

They will go to the cinema and will be sure that in 1957 we made trouble for the United States and almost started a nuclear war.

The Associated Press news agency quoted Moscow Communist official Andrei Andreyev as saying: It is very disturbing if talented directors want to provoke a new Cold War.

 

25th May   

Update: Image and Blocking...

Thailand ponders how best to block websites accused of lese majeste
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

Old Thai website blocking pageTwenty nine "inappropriate" websites are being investigated for content deemed to be critical of or offensive to the Thai monarchy.

A police source at the High-Tech Crime Centre said a list of inappropriate websites, compiled about a month ago, has been handed over to the Special Branch Police.

The SBP is working with the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in tracking down operators or owners of those websites, the source said.

Note that Lese Majeste accusations are sometimes more to do with settling personal scores rather than strident attacks on the monarchy.

The newspapers published the list of sites under investigation. Having compiled the list, the thorny issue of how to block them seems to be causing problems. The recent law suggests that blocking should be via court orders but these have not been obtained. So it seems that the blocking has been delegated to ISPs with assurances that they will not be prosecuted.

See full article from Prachatai

Information and Communications Technology Minister Man Pattanothai said that so far internet service providers had not dared to block websites found to have lèse majesté content for fear of breaching the National Telecommunications Commission law that forbids blocking information flows, with a maximum penalty of licence revocation.

After consulting with the National Telecommunications Commission, the ICT Ministry has assured all ISPs that they will not be subject to the penalty if they block the truly offensive websites, said the Minister.

The National Telecommunications Commission has confirmed with the ministry that blocking websites offensive to the royal family can be carried out without breaching the law. Therefore, the ICT Ministry can guarantee all ISPs that their licenses will not be revoked, said the Minister.

ICT Minister said that there had been an order from ‘high above'
 not to block the websites and to allow the free flow of information, on the grounds that foreigners do not understand the blocking and may form negative perceptions.

See full article from Reporters without Borders

Reporters Without Borders is alarmed about the comments made by Man Pattanotai, the Thai minister of information and communication technology (ICT), in a radio interview on 14 May. He said prosecuting websites because of their content would cause a “big scandal” and that it was better to just “suppress the news” by closing them down or blocking access.

By voicing a preference for radical censorship measures, the minister is in complete contradiction with the Computer Crime Act, which has been in force since the summer of 2007 and which requires the authorities to bring a complaint against a website before requesting its closure, Reporters Without Borders said: We condemn the reinforcement of online controls, which includes the creation of a toll-free number for people to call to denounce any website criticising the monarchy.

 

25th May   

Update: Games Off...

Gamecock magazine to be pulled from Amazon to settle law suit
Link Here

Gamecock magazineA poultry magazine from western Arkansas has agreed to ask Amazon.com to stop selling its publication online, but a lawyer representing The Gamecock says the publication does not promote cockfighting or violate a federal ban on the bloody sport.

The settlement filed in US District Court in Washington, DC, is related to a lawsuit the Humane Society of the United States filed against Seattle-based Amazon.com in February 2007.

In the lawsuit, the HSUS accused Amazon.com of violating federal animal-cruelty laws by selling The Feathered Warrior and The Gamecock, which HSUS described as two cockfighting magazines.

The Marburger Publishing Co., which publishes The Gamecock, agreed to settle with HSUS because it was a way to remove itself from the case, said attorney Ali Beydoun. Beydoun said that the magazine also promised in the settlement to be more vigilant in its content. He said the magazine intends to follow the agreement and all applicable laws.

HSUS lawyer Jonathan Lovvorn said his organization is hoping the agreement with Marburger, which had not been signed yet by the judge hearing the case, will encourage Amazon.com and The Feathered Warrior , another Arkansas magazine, to come to similar agreements.

Amazon has argued that it has a constitutional right to sell the publications and called pulling them from the shelves a form of censorship.

 

25th May   

Free to Write but not to Draw...

Magazine loses Belgian law suit over cartoon
Link Here

MO MagazineOn 25 April a Brussels court sentenced the “anti-globalist”  monthly magazine MO to a payment of 1 euro in moral damages to the businessman George Forrest because the magazine had printed a cartoon on its front page depicting Mr. Forrest, who owns a copper empire in Congo, in the traditional costume of Congo'
s former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

The court ruled that freedom of the press, as protected by article 25 of the Belgian Constitution, does not apply to cartoons because article 25, which dates from 1831, applies to “writers” but not to illustrators.

Article 25 of the Belgian Constitution states: The printing press is free; censorship can never be introduced; no deposits can be demanded from the writers, publishers and printers. If the writer is known and has his domicile in Belgium the publisher, printer or distributor cannot be prosecuted.”

Judges Valvekens, De Ridder and Morel of the 20th Chamber of the Court of First Instance in Brussels ruled that The cover illustration cannot be considered to be a direct expression of a thought or opinion protected by the freedom of the press because

Article 25 explicitly refers to ‘the writer.'
 The illustration used on the cover is merely a depiction of a person, and not a writing, to which the exceptional status that applies to offences relating to the printing press has no effect.

 

25th May   

Update: No Women's Rights in Iran...

Iran blocks websites promoting women's rights
Link Here

Iran flagIranian bloggers and activists have condemned a move by a government panel to block access to several Web sites related to women's issues and human rights.

It's like a big attack , said Parvin Ardalan, who works for www.change4equality.net , a Tehran-based feminist Web site affected by the new restrictions: Now, most sites related to women's and human rights issues have been blocked in one day

Ardalan's site is part of a campaign to collect 1 million signatures aimed at pressuring the government to change what activists call discriminatory laws against women. The authorities want to silence us, she said.

The Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Culture's supervisory board for the media notified Iranian Internet service providers about the new restrictions, which affected dozens of sites.

 

25th May   

Offsite: Avoiding the G-word...

Euphemistic Europeaness and Repressive Turkishness
Link Here  full story: Insulting Turkishness...Insulting Turkishness law used to repress

Gagged in TurkeyThis week the European parliament will seek to introduce a new euphemism for genocide into the lexicon of international relations. Diplomats who follow MEPs' advice will no longer have to run the risk of offending countries with a dishonourable history by uttering the 'genocide' word. They can, instead, refer to the most egregious crimes against humanity as "past events".

...

Last month, the Turkish assembly agreed to modify the law, reportedly to placate the EU's most powerful institutions. Out went the crime of insulting Turkishness. In came the crime of insulting the Turkish nation.

Several analysts have concluded - rightly - that this amendment is cosmetic and ambiguous. Yet according to the European commission, it is very much a welcome step forward . The socialist grouping in the European parliament, which includes Britain's Labour MEPs, has made a similar statement ahead of this week's debate.

...Read full article

 

25th May   

Offsite: Platform for free speech ... or hate?...

Newspapers, blogs and user comments
Link Here

MyTelegraph logoImagine that you are the editor of a national newspaper. After launching a new service on your website, a minority of your journalists start submitting copy that is clearly distasteful. None of the content is libellous or in breach of hate laws, but it would be considered as offensive by large sections of the public. What do you do?

You could advise your journalists to desist, order a rewrite or spike the offensive content. Beyond that, the only choice for many editors is to fire them. But what if the questionable content is coming from your readers? Do you treat it any differently? Would you likewise censor the offensive content, even though it's not quite breaking the law?

...Read full article

 

24th May   

Public Hypocrisy...

Beyer slates the public he usually claims to speak for
Link Here

John Beyer

The British public continues to
retain a high degree
of common sense

[...BUT...]
allowing the public to decide
what is acceptable or not,
is simply passing the buck.
[...A buck that Mediawatch
is happy to accept]

Thousands of people have been able to watch a sickening video showing the massacre of young Russian men before it was eventually deleted from YouTube. The horrific footage shows the terrified men lying beside a road having their throats slit in turn. It was posted on Sunday, May 18. Three days later it was still there and had been viewed more than 8,300 times. YouTube promises that videos flagged by users as inappropriate will be removed from the site.

The film clip was removed within two hours of Sky News Online contacting YouTube. The 10-minute video was apparently posted by a 17-year-old Russian. The description which accompanied it said: This is a little part of the full horror!

But John Beyer, director of campaign group Mediawatch-uk, said:

While I recognise the argument about regulation at the periphery, allowing the public to decide what is acceptable or not, is simply passing the buck. It points up a lack of internal regulation. People take advantage of the system and by the time someone takes notice it's too late - the damage has been done. It's a huge problem. We need an international legal framework to decide what is permissible. This sort of material should simply not be uploaded.

Comment: Public Hypocrisy

Well if the public can't be trusted to decide what is acceptable or not, Then it rather puts a dent in Beyers usual rhetoric eg ...

British public demands accountability for film censors

The results confirm what we have always believed. The British public continues to retain a high degree of common sense and is not impressed by the self interested demands of the film industry.

 

24th May   

Update: Byron Implementation Officer...

Games publishers not keen on rushing into bed with the BBFC
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

ELSPA logoThe Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association has instructed its members to ignore any request from the BBFC to change the current age ratings process.

The UK industry representative has requested that leading publishers hold fire on implementing any changes to classification of their games until the Government has officially executed proposals influenced by the Byron Review.

The industry is now in an 18-month period of consultation with Government following Dr Tanya Byron'
s recommendations – which included BBFC ratings on all video games boxes and a statutory ‘12'
 classification.

However, ELSPA believes that rival European ratings body PEGI – which seems to have the support of publishers – may be able to make a strong claim to hold greater power, possibly in contradiction to Dr. Byron'
s proposals.

ELSPA told MCV:

You may have heard that the BBFC has appointed a ‘BBFC Byron Implementation Officer'
. Apparently his brief is to contact PEGI and interested trade bodies as well as the country'
s games companies ‘with a view to implementing the Byron recommendations'
.


Our view is that this appointment at the BBFC – along with the brief itself – is somewhat hasty since we still await actual details of the full consultation promised in the Byron Review.

 

24th May   

Update: Undercover Investigation...

Parliamentary call for investigation into police action against Undercover Mosque
Link Here  full story: Undercover Mosque...Police made false accusations re Undercover Mosque

Dispatches: Undercover MosqueThe National Secular Society invite you to write to your MP and suggest signing Roger Godsiff's Early Day Motion (no. 1586)  which criticises West Midlands Police for its behaviour over the Channel 4 Undercover Mosque programme. The matter is one of immense public importance going to the very heart of the Justice system.

The motion reads:

That this House welcomes the unreserved public apology given by the West Midlands Police and the Crown Prosecution Service and the six figure libel settlement paid by them to Channel 4 over the Dispatches programme broadcast on 15th January 2007 which contained covert filming inside mosques in Birmingham and Derby; notes that the comments and allegations made by West Midlands Police and the Crown Prosecution Service had already been dismissed by the industry regulator, Ofcom; further notes that the individuals shown in the programme broadcast were using highly derogatory and racist language against a variety of non-Muslim groups which included Christians, Jews, homosexuals, lesbians and women and were in clear breach of existing legislation in respect of incitement to religious and racial hatred; calls on the Home Secretary to launch an immediate investigation into why the West Midlands Police and the Crown Prosecution Service chose to attack the programme makers at Channel 4 rather than investigating and prosecuting the individuals who were shown in the programme; and asserts that incitement to religious and racial hatred has no place in British society.

 

24th May   

Inappropriate Bollox...

Play cancelled after whinge that dialogue is inappropriate for an 18 year old
Link Here

Vermont state sealThe board of the Arts Council of Windham County, Vermont, is unanimous in condemning the shutting down of Zeke Hecker's play, The Lift . We are appalled by what appears to be an act of intimidation that has robbed the public of the opportunity to see a production that took many months to bring to the stage, and who knows how many months, even years, to write.

It is our understanding, that a member of the audience felt the age of the individual playing the part of the "younger man" was too young.

A woman in the audience complained of "inappropriate" material; namely, a segment involving aural suggestions of sex between an 18-year-old and an older woman.

 

23rd May   

Animated by Anime...

Villain inspired by the Koran animates the easily offended
Link Here

JoJo's Bizarre AdventureA popular Japanese cartoon is sparking off outcries in the Muslim world.

Shueisha Inc, a Japanese publisher involved in the production of the cartoon JoJo'
s Bizarre Adventure
and its animation version, suspended sales of some of the original comics and the DVD series, but said the material was not intended to be offensive.

At issue is a 90-second segment from JoJo'
s Bizarre Adventure
, which depicts Dio Brando, a villain, picking up a Quran from a bookshelf and apparently examining it as he orders the execution of the hero and his friends.

After a viewer posted negative comments and the still scene, it sparked off more protests. Eventually responses were carried on more than 300 Arab and Islamic Web forums with some accusing Japan of insulting the Quran.

Sheikh Abdul Hamid Attrash, chairman of the Fatwa (religious edict)
Committee at Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni authority based in Cairo, dismissed the cartoon as an insult to Islam: ‘ This scene depicts Muslims as terrorists, which is not true at all. This is an insult to the religion and the producers would be considered to be enemies of Islam.'


In responding to the accusation, the Shueisha official explained that it was a simple mistake. Neither the original comic nor the animation intends to treat Muslims as villains. But as a result, the cartoon offended Muslims. We apologize for the unpleasantness that the cartoon may have caused and will carefully consider how to deal with religious and culture themes.

Gamal Qutb, the former head of the Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar suggested that Muslims would boycott Japanese products unless Japan takes action against the controversial video.

 

23rd May   

Update: Only Australia Left with Children's Version...

New Zealand gets an uncut version of Grand Theft Auto IV
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV gameWhen it was announced that New Zealand would receive the same edited version of the hit video game Grand Theft Auto IV that was destined for the Australian market, there was anger in the local gaming community.

There has never been an official announcement by publisher Take-Two Interactive about the reasons behind this, but logic suggests it was because it would be easier to supply the Australiasian region with a single version of the game.

New Zealand, which does have an R18 rating, received a version of the game which was watered down to please the censors in neighbouring Australia, where the highest possible rating for a game is MA15+.

One man who was not happy with situation was Stan Calif, founder and director of First Games. Stan was not only annoyed that New Zealand would be receiving an edited version of the game courtesy of Take-Two - he also thought it was more than a bit cheeky that New Zealanders would be paying “full price” for a cut-down game. He was determined to give Kiwis the right to buy the uncut version locally.

Stan filed a submission to the OFLC in the week after the release of GTA IV. Stan'
s efforts and perserverance were rewarded, when the OFLC gave the uncut version of GTA IV a classification of R18, paving the way for First Games to sell the game legally in New Zealand.

First Games are proud to be able to deliver GTA IV uncut to New Zealanders, says Stan. The uncut GTA IV is now available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 from www.firstgames.co.nz for the price of $99.50 and carries a NZ classification of R18 (contains violence, offensive language, and sex scenes).

 

23rd May   

Serious Games...

Anti-games nutter, Jack Thompson, in the shit
Link Here  full story: Jack Thompson...Winding up the Florida Bar with frivilous filings

Jack Thompson cardsThe judge who presided over Jack Thompson's Florida Bar trial late last year has recommended that the controversial attorney be found guilty on 27 of 31 professional misconduct charges. The Florida Supreme Court must now rule on those recommendations.

In a report issued last week, Judge Dava Tunis made 21 recommendations of guilt in relation to Thompson's participation in Strickland vs. Sony, an Alabama case in which the anti-game attorney represented the families of two police officers and a police dispatcher slain by 18-year-old Grand Theft Auto player Devin Moore.

Tunis also recommended that Thompson be found guilty on four out of five counts relating to his 2006 attempt to have Rockstar's Bully declared a public nuisance in a case before Miami Judge Ronald Friedman.

Among the Florida Bar offenses for which Judge Tunis has recommended a guilty verdict:

  • Knowingly making a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal
  • Knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal
  • Communicating the merits of the case with a judge before whom the proceeding is pending
  • Using means that have no purpose other than to embarrass, delay or burden a third person
  • Engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation
  • Engaging in conduct in connection with the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, including to knowingly or through callous indifference disparage or humiliate litigants or other lawyers
  • Making statements that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge

 

23rd May   

Cue Wait...

Kuwait blocks the internet adult world
Link Here

Kuwait flagA Kuwaiti official has confirmed the country'
s Ministry of Communications is blocking access to adult sites on the Net.

Eng Nasser Al Khandari, director of the Telephones Monitoring Department within the ministry, said the agency also is monitoring the Web for illegal internet telephony.

So far, the ministry has disconnected 85 mobile phones and landlines officials found were being used for connecting to porn sites. The resulting fines brought in KD 32,229, Al Khandari said. Some of the offenders were arrested, he noted.

The ministry has shut down 59 porn websites within the past year.

Internet service in Kuwait is only available to licensed individuals and businesses that have filed applications with the government. The government reserves the right to monitor all internet usage, including that at internet cafes, which have been warned not to allow children younger than 18 to go online.

Of additional concern to the ministry are websites from which users can download mainstream feature films.

The information ministry is planning to block such sites as well, Al Khandari told the daily newspaper Al Seyassah.

 

22nd May   

Withered Remains and Mummified Brains...

Manchester museum curators cover up their mummies
Link Here

A Spokesman for Manchester
Museum who admitted to being
out of touch and a  little
behind the times

Complaints about naked mummies have led to the remains of Asru, a mummified chantress at the Temple of Amun in Karnak, plus the partially-wrapped male Khary and a child mummy, all being covered in shrouds to protect their modesty.

The decision, which has prompted wholesale derision, came after Manchester Museum said it had received 'feedback' from the public saying it was 'insensitive to display unwrapped mummies'.

Having ordered the cover up, managers claim they are following Government policy and are carrying out a public consultation.

Last night the museum, whose Egyptian department has a worldwide reputation, was accused of being ridiculous and told it risked becoming a 'laughing stock'.
Mummies at Manchester Museum

Bob Partridge, chairman of the Manchester Ancient Egypt Society, said the cover-up was 'absolutely incomprehensible': The mummies have always been sensitively displayed and have been educational and informative to generations of visitors. We are shocked this has been done in advance of any results from the public.

Josh Lennon, a museum visitor, said: This is preposterous. Surely people realise that if they go to see Egyptian remains some of them may not be dressed in their best bib and tucker. The museum response to complaints is pure Monty Python - they have now covered them from head to foot rendering the exhibition a non-exhibition. It is hilarious.

 

22nd May   

Rabbiting On...

Gordon Ramsay not the flavour of the month with animal lovers
Link Here

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVDGordon Ramsay has come under fire for showing a rabbit having its neck broken on his Channel 4 show, The F Word.

The chef was shown using ferrets to hunt for the creatures with his son before viewers saw the rabbit being killed.

Animal lovers have attacked the programme for showing footage of the death.

It comes less than a week after Ramsay claimed his eight-year-old son had accidentally pulled off a live rabbit's head during the same expedition.

Those comments and Tuesday night's show - which did not feature the incident involving his son - have provoked 'outrage' at Ramsay's behaviour.

The rabbit that was shown being killed on screen was put to death by one of the men who owned the ferrets. RSPCA officers have received calls from viewers expressing their concern about the episode. But the organisation said no laws had been broken.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: As part of the current series of Gordon Ramsay's F Word, Gordon features in a regular strand in which he sources and cooks new or unusual ingredients.

Within this strand he explored the viability of finding, hunting and eating wild rabbit, historically a widely-consumed food but no longer part of a mainstream diet.

The location of the shoot was private land where rabbits cause extensive damage. In this context Department for the Environment guidelines were being followed and control measures - including ferreting - legal and in place."

 

22nd May   

A Date with Sexy Google Adverts...

News agency website not impressed by dating ads served by Google
Link Here

Google's Adsense advertising program has sneaked in a wide range of ads that are found to be offensive in Arab and African states.,

These adverts said to trash Arab and African women are being displayed potentially on millions of sites worldwide..

Advertisements such as "Meet Sexy Arab Women - Thousands Sexy Women Online Free! " and Hot Sexy Older Women - Meet Sexy Single Older Women, View Private Photos and Profiles have started appearing on Arabic languages on the Mathaba News Network, whilst English language pages target Muslims with dating services.

As Google are expert in search technology, they know full well that they are allowing ads which are offensive to Arab and African culture which holds women in high respect, unlike the so-called western world, where women are regarded as sex objects , according to Libya's leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi.

Sites that work hard to generate quality content, such as Mathaba News, are hit in the face by offensive advertising that turn visitors away, whilst being unaware of exactly which ads are being served to their visitors.

Google claim that the ads will target the readership and be based upon the content of the page. This is shown to be a lie by the fact that Mathaba is an international news agency with serious content, and its readership do not come to the site to look at sex adverts.

Mathaba has responded by posting a See Nasty Ads - Please Help Us notice on the bottom left of all 60,000 news pages, but it is a losing battle as recently these nasty ads have proliferated to be the norm.

The suspicion is that the few independent news sites like Mathaba may be being targeted with poor quality ads as the revenue has fallen catastrophically over the past year to unsustainable levels, made worse by the collapse of the US Dollar, the only currency Google pay publishers in.

However, Arab men as well as Asian men from Muslim backgrounds are infamous for using the Internet to view "sexy women" and to try to "chat up white women" who are regarded by many of them as "cheap sex objects", spurned to this simplistic view by the proliferation of western women in pornography. This market must be hard for Google to ignore.

Comment: Fair's Fair

And one of the Google ads on the Matahaba news page did in fact read:

Hot Black Women
Find Black Singles Online. Join Our Free Chatrooms, IM & Photo Gallery!
www.BlackSinglesConnection.com

Well if they will include the word 'sexy' so often in their content, what do they expect?

 

22nd May   

Update: China Quaking over Criticism...

So the critic is arrested
Link Here  full story: Human Rights in China...Chinese round up the usual suspects

Olympic handcuffsChinese police have detained a political dissident because of remarks he made about the government's handling of the Sichuan earthquake, according to his family and supporters.

Guo Quan, the founder of the China Democracy party, was seized outside his home by seven or eight police officers four days ago. They searched his house and confiscated his computer.

The following day, police officers told his wife Li Jing. that her husband was being detained for at least 10 days because of false information he posted online.

It was unclear which comments upset the authorities. Guo has written a string of critical articles on the communist one-party political system. He was stripped of his professorial post at Nanjing university last year.

In the past week, he is said to have raised questions about the emergency services' response to the quake and the safety of nuclear facilities in Sichuan. Fellow members of his small party believe his detention is connected to last week's disaster.

Guo Quan is a co-founder of China'
s Netizen Party and litigant in a recent lawsuit against Yahoo!

 

22nd May   

Mouldy Slimy Green Internet in Vietnam...

Trying to pass off ISP blocked internet as a positive 'green' service
Link Here

Vietnam flagThe Vietnam News Agency has reported that the country will have its first network-level Web filtering service later this year.

DTS Corp., Plantynet and Vietnam Datacommunication Co. have agreed to offer Green Internet services starting in November.

The service will enable users to block websites containing pornographic, violent or other objectionable content by blocking access to sites inside and outside Vietnam, with a blocking rate of 99%.

Vietnam Datacommunication representatives said network-based Web filtering would overcome the shortfalls of other methods, such as keyword-based filtering software.

Harmful websites have had a significant negative influence on society and culture, said Vu Hoang Lien, general director of Vietnam Datacommunication. Both government and parents have spent a lot of effort trying to alleviate this adverse impact. The introduction of the Green Internet service is our commitment to families and society to keep the Internet environment ‘green' for our next generation.

Vuong Manh Son, chairman and general director of DTS, said the advantage of the service is that it is impossible for users to disable the Web-blocking function. Son said the Green service has already achieved success in the Republic of Korea, China and Taiwan.

 

22nd May   

Update: No Cleanfeed...

No Internet Censorship for Australia
Link Here

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has expressed its disappointment at the Federal Government'
s decision to fund its mandatory “clean-feed” Internet in the 2008-09 federal budget.

At a time when the Government is cutting services to fight inflation, it'
s bewildering that they would decide to spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on a filter before feasibility trials are even complete,
said EFA spokesman Colin Jacobs: Given the manifest impracticality of the clean-feed scheme, I'
m sure this money could have been put to much better use.


The 2008-09 budget allocates $24.3 million to the Government'
s “cyber-safety” initiative, with the number to rise to $51.4m in the 2009-10 financial year. A media release from the Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, confirmed that the clean-feed remains a budgetary priority for the Government. Some funding will come from the Government'
s now-defunct NetAlert filter scheme, which made PC-based software filters available for free to all Australian homes. Funding will be redirected to support ISPs making available a filtered internet service, or ‘clean feed'
, to all homes, schools and public internet points accessible to children,
said the Minister.

No Clean FeedAustralians are very uncomfortable with the idea of having the Government decide what'
s appropriate for them and their families,
said Jacobs. In fact, in a survey of 18,000 Internet users, only 13% agreed with the policy. That'
s why we feel it is a shame, when the Government has identified real needs for better education and policing, that their approach to Internet policy is so skewed towards the filter initiative. There are greater risks to Australian children online, and real steps can be taken to mitigate these risks. That'
s where the funding should be going.


The Minister'
s announcement will undoubtedly rekindle concerns amongst the Internet industry about the priority the national filter has been given, and the effect this will have on data services in Australia.

EFA has launched a web site to highlight the concerns and educate Internet users about the Government'
s plans, at http://nocleanfeed.com

 

22nd May   

Indian Censor Cuts...

But relief that a film does not provoke religious sentiments
Link Here

Dasavatharam posterThe Indian film Dasavatharam is nearing its release date and has recently been cut by the censor. The panel members, after watching the movie, have advised 9 cuts and passed the movie with U certification. Censor scissors seem to have sheared a few scenes from the Mallika Sherawat item number. Mallika has never been in the good books of Censor Officials.

That apart, a few other scenes also succumbed to scissor hands. However, according to a censor board official, the movie does not have any controversial scenes that might provoke the religious sentiments. There are no scenes that show the idols of Hindu Gods in poor light and no idols are shown being smashed, another official was quoted as saying.

 

21st May   

BBFC.Online...

BBFC Launches Download Classification Scheme in Partnership with the Home Entertainment Industry
Link Here

BBFC Online logoThe BBFC'
s widely recognised and trusted classification system is moving to the world of downloadable films, programmes and video games. The BBFC has worked closely with the home entertainment industry to develop this voluntary regulatory scheme that will bring the benefits of the DVD classification system to the world of downloads and the internet. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Europe, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox have signed up and other key industry players, who have been involved in the development of BBFC.online, are poised to join the scheme.

Launched today, BBFC.online – as the new service is called – has been designed to give consumers the assurance they seek when choosing new media content. The scheme will see the BBFC'
s famous ‘black card'
, category symbols and Consumer Advice appearing on a wide range of ‘new media'
 content, including video-on-demand and streamed video which is offered to the public through websites, set-top boxes and portable media devices.

There is currently little independent classification of downloadable or streaming video content, either on the internet or delivered by video-on-demand services and via set-top-boxes. This is in spite of independent research that indicates that 63% of adults (74% of parents) are concerned about downloading video material which does not come with independent content advice and labelling. In addition, 84% of adults (91% of parents) want to see BBFC film and DVD classification on downloadable/streaming films and other digital audiovisual content.

BBFC.online has been developed over the last 18 months, in close partnership with the video and new media industries and the British Video Association. There are already some 700 videos with ‘online certificates'
 and this is likely to rise to about 1000 by the end of the month.

The major studios as well as e-tailers and VoD suppliers, are keen to ensure that online content is accompanied by clear and independent content information and age-restrictions using a system trusted by consumers.

The scheme will also require e-tailers and VoD services to have age verification or gate-keeping systems in place for parents to monitor and control underage viewing, and the effectiveness of these protocols will be monitored by the BBFC. Major e-tailers and VoD services are poised to join as soon as their services have been updated in accordance with the requirements of the scheme.

Speaking at the launch, David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:

We are extremely pleased to have been able to work with the video industry to develop a scheme that will give online consumers the same assurance that our symbols and content information provide for cinema films, DVDs and video games. I am particularly pleased by the support and commitment from the industry for this voluntary scheme. Consumers considering buying into the world of downloads will be able to rely on our familiar symbols and advice, to decide which films or video games are suitable for them and their children. They will also be assured that the film makers and download services in the scheme are keen to ensure their customers get genuine independent information about the digital films or games on offer.

Culture Minister Margaret Hodge said:

The introduction of the BBFC system for online film downloads will provide some welcome clarity for consumers, to help them gain greater confidence that their purchases are appropriate before they commit themselves. I hope to see more studios sign up to the scheme.

Lavinia Carey, Director General of the British Video Association said:

“The online world is still an ‘open frontier'
 and the industry is determined to get its own house in order with this new type of business. Our involvement and input into the development of BBFC.online has shown how seriously we take this. We chose to work with the BBFC because of the universal recognition of their system across the UK, and their commitment to supporting both consumers and the industry in making the most of the online world in a safe and recognisable environment.”


The BBFC also note:

  1. The BBFC.online scheme includes console-style games which are supplied to the customer via download.
  2. The research referred to is available on www.bbfc.co.uk entitled Downloading Classification Study February 2007 and was carried out by TNS.
  3. The BBFC'
    s legal advice is that works supplied by ‘non-physical'
     means (eg by streaming or download) are not covered by the Video Recordings Act 1984.
  4. Membership of the Scheme is voluntary and by subscription and there is no cost to consumers.
  5. BBFC.online is ‘Platform Neutral'
     – it is designed to cover all forms of digital content delivery (eg web, set top boxes, hand-held devices and mobile phones).
  6. BBFC.online complies with the self regulatory model advocated by ATVOD.

 

21st May   

BBFC.Online.R18...

BBFC Download Classification Scheme to Include the Adult Industry
Link Here

The BBFC'
s widely recognised and understood classification system is moving to the world of downloadable films and will include the ‘R18'
 category which covers explicit sex works. The first adult entertainment company to join the scheme is Strictly Broadband.

Launched today, BBFC.online – as the new service is called – covers the full range of BBFC classifications from ‘U'
 through to ‘R18'
. The scheme is designed to give consumers the assurance they seek when choosing new media content. This is particularly relevant in the area of sexually explicit adult content as the scheme will provide potential customers with guarantees that the content is legal, consensual and non-violent.

Membership of the scheme will also require e-tailers and VoD services to have age verification or gate-keeping systems in place to control underage viewing, and the effectiveness of these will be monitored by the BBFC.

Strictly Broadband has been an active partner during the development and testing of the scheme and is the first adult industry company to join.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:

The Video Recordings Act does not cover the world of downloads so adult content that is not on video or DVD is subject to very little regulation. There are all sorts of potential problems associated with the downloading of sexually explicit material including the possible criminalisation of internet users who download extreme violent pornography, which the BBFC refuses to classify. Online material rated ‘R18'
 by the BBFC will comply with the same guidelines and laws as apply to R'
18'
 videos and DVDs sold in licensed sex shops. Companies like Strictly Broadband that sign up to the BBFC.online scheme are sending a clear message to their potential customers that they are acting responsibly to ensure that their product is properly labelled and subject to effective gate-keeping measures.

Jerry Barnett, Managing Director of Strictly Broadband said:

As the UK market leader in internet-streamed adult entertainment, we're pleased to be founder members of the BBFC Online scheme. It has been difficult in the past for legitimate companies to sell adult video on the internet, as the law is far from clear in this area. We welcome the clarification that the new scheme will bring to the business, which will allow the further development of a strong and legal British adult entertainment industry, and give British consumers the ability to decide whether they are buying legal material or not."
Notes for Editors


The BBFC also note:

  1. The BBFC'
    s legal advice is that works supplied by ‘non-physical'
     means (eg by streaming or download) are not covered by the Video Recordings Act 1984.
  2. Membership of the Scheme is voluntary and by subscription (£900 per annum) and there is no cost to consumers.
  3. BBFC.online is ‘Platform Neutral'
     – it is designed to cover all forms of digital content delivery (eg web, set top boxes, hand-helds mobile phones).
  4. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act has created a new offence of the possession of ‘extreme violent pornography'
     – BBFC classified material is specifically excluded under this definition.

 

21st May   

Censor's Annual Report 2007...

BBFC Tougher on Violence than US Counterpart
Link Here

BBFC Report 2007The BBFC is taking a tougher stance on violence in films aimed at young teenagers than the US film regulator, the MPAA (the Motion Picture Association of America). The differences are highlighted in the BBFC'
s 2007 Annual Report, published today.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:

In 2007 a number of blockbuster Hollywood cinema films, in particular Cloverfield , Disturbia and I Am Legend came in to the BBFC for classification having received a ‘PG13'
 classification (cautioning parents but allowing unrestricted access for children of any age) in the USA. In each case, the distributor request for a ‘12A'
 classification was refused and the films were all classified ‘15'
. The studios were very keen to obtain a ‘12A'
 classification for them from the BBFC, but all featured extended periods of intense violent threat and moments of horror. The Board'
s view was that, based on the extensive public consultation exercises, the films went beyond what most members of the UK public would consider appropriate for children younger than fifteen. In each case, the Board'
s own judgement was that the films were likely to be disturbing to many younger children. These were not the only cases. Around 10% of films each year which come in with a particular category request end up with a higher one than asked for.

These decisions mark an increasing divergence between the US approach to classification for adolescents and young teenagers, and the position taken by the BBFC in the UK. While the US body, the industry led MPAA, takes a strict line on issues relating to nudity and sex, the BBFC is significantly more restrictive on violence and horror. Different, but equally significant, points of divergence can also be identified between the standards applied by the various European classification bodies: for example, French and British attitudes to children being exposed to graphic sexual representations are poles apart. Notions of harm and appropriateness remain culturally dependent: that is why all past attempts to develop a pan-European film classification system have fallen at the first hurdle. This is also why the BBFC puts so much emphasis on consultation with the UK public – BBFC decisions reflect UK public attitudes. All classification decisions are based on criteria set out in published Guidelines which are updated every few years.

The current Guidelines, published in 2005, were drafted following consultation with over 11,000 people in the UK. During 2008 the BBFC will embark on a new programme of consultation which will lead to the publication of new Guidelines in 2009. The consultation will cover the full range of categories and issues but initial qualitative research has suggested that the public would like particular attention paid to the criteria for works at ‘12'
/‘12A'
 (as this is the age at which children begin to have greater control over their own viewing) and to consider a number of issues in particular. These include: the importance of ‘psychological impact'
 as well as visual detail, the treatment of issues such as racism and homophobia, and the usual concerns surrounding violence, horror and bad language.

The consultation will take place in stages. In the first stage, focus groups will discuss the issues in detail and identify any criteria which need to be added or amended. The Board will then produce a set of draft Guidelines which will be examined by reconvened groups from the first stage. After any necessary further revisions, support for the draft will then be assessed using large scale quantitative research methods.

The Annual Report also focuses on the new online classification scheme for downloadable films and games, which was launched today.

 

21st May   

Update: Unreasonable Outcome...

Appeal court reckons that reasonable Australians are offended by hardcore
Link Here

AdultShop.com logoAdultshop.com has lost a legal challenge to Australia's film classification system after arguing that most adults are no longer offended by seeing actual sex in movies.

The Federal Court today dismissed an appeal by Adultshop.com against an X rating given to the adult film Viva Erotica .

Adultshop.com had been fighting a legal battle for the movie to be given an R18+ rating, following a 2006 decision by the Classification Review Board to give Viva Erotica the more restrictive X18+ rating.

The application by Adultshop.com for a review of the board's decision was unsuccessful and in November last year Federal Court Judge Peter Jacobson upheld the board's ruling.

Today the full bench of the Federal Court dismissed Adultshop.com's appeal against Justice Jacobson's judgment.

In its appeals, Adultshop.com argued the guidelines for the classifications of films were invalid because they failed to properly consider whether most adults would be offended by Viva Erotica

Adultshop.com argued that community standards have changed and that most reasonable adults would not be offended by the depictions of actual sex in Viva Erotica , which had led to its X-rating, rather than simulated sex.

But the court today ruled there were no inconsistencies in the guidelines and they were still broadly representative of current community standards.

Adultshop.com's managing director Malcolm Day said the Office of Film and Literature Classification should commission new research into community views and update the guidelines. He said governments were imposing their own "puritan' views on all Australians: The guidelines are simply a reflection of the conservative, subjective views of the (state and federal) attorney generals .

Adultshop.com is considering an appeal to the High Court.

 

21st May   

Sex and the City...

Jerusalem: No sex and not much of a city
Link Here

Sex and the City bookJerusalem in Israel has effectively banned sex. No, not the act but the three-letter word that appears elsewhere in billboard advertising for the new film Sex and the City.

 Sex in the city became an issue when the advertising company Maximedia told the news media that it would not post billboards featuring Sarah Jessica Parker, above, one of the stars, in deference to requests from city officials concerned about offending public sensitivities by mentioning sex ,

Agence France-Presse reported. Then the distributor, Forum Films, said that without “sex” there would be no billboards in Jerusalem or Petah Tikva, a town near Tel Aviv that has a large ultra-Orthodox Jewish population. But in other Israeli cities, “sex” in advertising is O.K.

 

21st May   

Censorship Today?...

Radio 4 Today online discussions moved to moderated forum
Link Here

Radio 4 logoListeners to BBC Radio 4's Today programme have accused the corporation of censorship after it announced that it would axe the show's online messaging board next month.

In a cost-cutting move, the BBC will encourage listeners to post comments instead on the Have Your Say section of its news website, which has no direct links to any BBC shows, from 2 June.

In a statement posted on the board, the BBC: We've thought long and hard before reaching this decision, but in the end we do not believe that providing two such similar services would be a sensible use of resources,"

A thread started by the board's moderator about the move has attracted almost 200 responses, many of them hostile.

Several point to the BBC's earlier move to stop contributors posting messages on subjects of their choice.

One said it was unwarranted and draconian 'censorship' by the BBC , while another added: The Today board was a means for the public to speak to each other rather than have information forced into their heads by government and the media. Well, that has been kicked to death now.

As with all of Radio 4's boards, the Today board has stressed that it is "for adults". Messages are not pre-moderated and are only checked if a complaint is made about them.

However, the Have Your Site section of bbc.co.uk/news vets messages on several conditions, including language, prejudice, illegality or commercial gain and these strict conditions have moved several Today listeners to complain about the move.

 

21st May   

New Broom Sweeps Clean...

Film Producer in prison in Kano State, Nigeria
Link Here

Nigeria flagA film producer in northern Nigeria has been charged with breaking ludicrously restrictive new Islamic censorship laws.

Hamisu Lamido, known in the Nigerian film world as Iyan Tama, faces a jail term for releasing his film without allowing it to be censored.

Lamido says he did not release the film in Kano and denies he has broken any law or censorship regulation.

Lamido was arrested last Friday and was remanded in custody until his court appearance. His film Tsinstiya  (The Broom) , is a Hausa language version of West Side Story , funded by the US embassy in Nigeria.

Co-star of Tsintsiya, Baballe Hayatu said: This is a political thing. It seems the censors have a personal grievance against Iyan Tama. In Kano the film industry is really suffering.

 

20th May   

Update: Google Supports Free Expression...BUT...

Hands over identification records when asked
Link Here  full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Google logoGoogle is under fire again today for cooperating with Indian police trying to track down an Orkut user who had been rude about a politician.

Police asked Google for user information for the person behind a post called I hate Sonia Gandhi - Gandhi being a Congress party politician. Google provided an IP number and email address which were used to identify Rahul Krishnakumar Vaid.

On Friday Vaid was arrested at home and charged with uploading obscene and derogatory text in breach of section 292 of the Penal Code and section 67 of the Information Technology Act, according to ExpressIndia.

Google, which owns Orkut, sent us the following statement: Google supports the free expression of our users and is committed to protecting user privacy [...BUT...] Like all law-abiding companies, we comply with local laws and valid legal process, such as court orders and subpoenas. In compliance with valid Indian legal process, we provided Indian law enforcement authorities with the IP address information they requested in this case.

Vaid has been remanded in custody until 21 May.

 

20th May   

Factory Strike, Truncheon Strike and Hunger Strike...

Egyptian blogger on hunger strike
Link Here

egyworkers blogReporters Without Borders calls on the Egyptian authorities to free Kareem El-Beheiri, a blogger who was arrested on 6 April in the industrial town of Mahalla (100 km north of Cairo) while covering a strike in the textile plant where he worked. He has been held in Borg El Arab prison since April.

We are worried about Beheiri'
s health as he is being mistreated and has gone on hunger strike,
the press freedom organisation said. The prison'
s management refuses to move him to the hospital so that he can receive appropriate treatment. We call on the authorities to release him while they decide exactly what charges they are going to bring against him.


Beheiri and two other activists who were arrested the same day, Tareq Amin and Kamal el-Fayyoumy, described their mistreatment in a joint letter on 18 May to Zakareya Abdel Aziz, the head of the Cairo Judges Club. We were tortured at state security headquarters in Mahalla on 6, 7 and 8 April, the letter said: Policemen administered electric shocks to Kareem and insulted and beat Tareq Amin and Kamal El-Fayyoumy.

Since his arrest, Beheiri has been fired from his job on the grounds of absenteeism, although his employers have received documents confirming that he is being detained. The authorities accuse him of encouraging the strike on his blog, in which he referred to the actions being organised by Egyptian workers in protest against their poor living standards.

In his last blog entry, Beheiri wrote: It is now 7 a.m. on 6 April, and I am going to Mahalla to cover the factory strike. Pray for me and I hope that everyone will succeed in demonstrating the flaws in the Egyptian regime. Kareem El-Beheiri, for a free country, that of Egyptian revolutionaries.

The 6 April strike in protest against increases in the prices of basic staples was observed by several thousand people in Cairo and Mahalla. A “6 April” group on the social-networking website Facebook urging Egyptians to protest by all possible means had attracted 64,000 members by the eve of the protest.

Esraa Abdel Fattah Ahmed was detained for more than two weeks for being a member of this group. Its organiser, 27-year-old engineer Ahmed Maher, was beaten by the Mahalla police for 12 hours to get him to give the password to the Facebook group and the real names of its members. Facebook cancelled his account because it thought all the messages he was sending to members of the “6 April” group were spam.

This strike organised on the Internet was unprecedented for the authorities, who did not know who to blame it on, Reporters Without Borders said: We condemn the fact that people have been detained for several weeks just for using their right to free expression.

Update: Police Thugs

23rd May 2008

neamaher

Ahmed after police interview

Egyptian authorities should immediately investigate and prosecute those security officials responsible for beating Ahmed Maher Ibrahim, Human Rights Watch said. Maher used the social-networking site Facebook to support calls for a general strike on May 4, 2008.

Maher told Human Rights Watch that officers from the Interior Ministry'
s State Security Investigations (SSI) department apprehended him on a street in the suburb of New Cairo on May 7, blindfolded him and took him to a police station where they stripped him naked, and beat him intermittently for 12 hours before releasing him without charge.

This is the work of thugs, pure and simple, said Joe Stork, Middle East deputy director at Human Rights Watch: The government must show that those responsible for upholding the law are also subject to the law.

Update: Released

3rd June 2008

Egyptian blogger Kareem El Beheiry has been released yesterday from prison.

 

20th May   

Gaza Stripped of Fun on the Internet...

Filtered according to islamic principles
Link Here

Palestine flagThe Hamas-run Telecommunications Ministry will start blocking websites deemed unfit according to Islamic rules.

This was made possible after a deal was struck with the Palestinian telecommunications company, said Ihab al-Hussain, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza, adding that the plan went into effect last week.

Hamas said that the ban was to ... protect the Palestinian community from cultural pollution and to protect the young generations from the misuse of the Internet through viewing pornographic sites.

 

20th May   

Censor Priest...

Cayman Islands reorganise their film censors
Link Here

Caymen Islands flagThe organisation that has censorship powers over films shown in the Cayman Islands will be changed from an authority dominated by politicians to a board that consists solely of political appointees.

Right now, the Cinematograph Authority consists of five members including; the governor, three elected members of the Legislative Assembly and an appointee of the Governor.

Under the change, all five members of the newly formed Cinematograph Board would be appointed by Cayman Islands Cabinet members. At least one of the five Cinematograph Board members would have to be a minister of religion, according to the proposal.

The amendment would also give the board even more leeway than it now has to rule on what films can be shown on island. According to amendment section three, part four: The board may adopt whatever procedure it considers appropriate in determining any matter before it.

The Cinematographic Authority was dormant for a number of years after successive governments failed to nominate active members going back to 2002. The authority was reformed in December 2007 following a controversy surrounding the film The Golden Compass .

The law that established the authority allows theatres that exhibit blasphemous, seditious or obscene material to be fined, and also provides for jail terms of up to six months for those responsible for the public viewing of such material.

 

20th May   

Traditional Headcases...

Malaysian nutters push for internet censorship
Link Here

Malaysia flagWebsites featuring Malaysian couples, women in traditional headgear and students has prompted a group to urge authorities to block the sites.

The Harian Metro reported that more than 4,000 video clips and photographs were posted on several websites and showed Malaysians in various sexual acts.

The Negri Sembilan Umno Youth organization has set up a team to monitor the websites and gather information to present to authorities, and leader Datuk Jamlus Aziz has asked officials to block access to the sites.

 

19th May   

Politicians Banned from Making Party Political Points...

Only in Wales
Link Here

Welsh Assembly logoThere is a current storm brewing in the Welsh Assembly over the proposed policing of members blogs.

The Assembly Commission, the body which looks after the day-to-day running of the Senedd is looking to ban Assembly Member's from attacking the views of a rival party.

As Labour'
s Leighton Andrews rightly points out, he can deliver a political speech in the Senedd, which will be broadcast online and on TV, paid for by Assembly resources.

He can then e-mail the speech to the Western Mail, the Rhondda Leader and the BBC, using the Assembly-provided e-mail system. He can post links to his speech in the Assembly'
s Record of Proceedings, and to the online stories about his speech.

But because his speech is political and polemical, he is now not allowed to carry the record of his speech, or the video footage of the speech, or his own press release based on it, on his blog, because the website is paid for by Assembly funds.

How does that make sense? By that logic, the Assembly should stop carrying verbatim records of proceedings in the Senedd on its website as it'
s overtly party political. Or, as Mr Lewis suggests, go one step further and ban parties from making political points in the chamber: We could engage the nation with fascinating discussions of the weather or the sports results instead .

There is one caveat: there doesn'
t appear to be anything in the new rules banning AMs from attacking members of their own party.

Still, there is one, sneaky, roundabout way of avoiding the draconian new rules. AMs could get their own blog and simply pour their anger onto that. Peter Black and Bethan Jenkins already have.

Crisis averted; let the bickering resume.

 

19th May   

Update: Appeal to Save Pervez...

Appealing for at least a lawyer who will brave the death threats
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Afghanistan...Afghan sentenced to death for blasphemy

Free Pervez!Pervez Kambaksh, the Afghan student sentenced to death after being accused of downloading internet reports on women's rights, yesterday pleaded innocent to charges of blasphemy. He told an appeal court in Kabul that he had been tortured into confessing.

Kambaksh, 24, vehemently denied that he had been responsible for producing anti-Islamic literature. He insisted the prosecution had been motivated by personal malice of two members of staff and their student supporters at the university in Balkh, where he was studying journalism.

He was convicted in proceedings behind closed doors in a trial which he said had lasted just four minutes and where he had been denied legal representation.

Yesterday, in the first public hearing of the case, the prosecution claimed that Kambaksh had disrupted classes at the university by asking questions about women's rights under Islam. It also said he distributed an article on the subject after writing an additional three paragraphs including the phrase This is the real face of Islam ... The prophet Mohamad wrote verses of the holy Koran just for his own benefit.

In a highly emotional statement, Kambaksh said: I'm Muslim and I would never let myself write such an article. These accusations are nonsense, [they] come from two professors and other students because of private hostilities against me. I was tortured by the intelligence service in Balkh province and they made me confess that I wrote three paragraphs in this article.

Kambaksh represented himself because his family are having difficulties finding a lawyer to represent him after threats by fundamentalist groups that anyone taking on the job would be killed.

The head of the panel of three judges at Kabul, Abdul Salaam Qazizada, adjourned the trial until next Sunday to allow Kambaksh further attempts to find a lawyer. As of last night they had not succeeded.

Kambaksh's case has been raised with President Hamid Karzai by Foreign Secretary David Miliband and the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.

 

19th May   

Arms Off to Channel 4...

Commando shown uncut on Channel 4
Link Here

Commando DVDChannel 4 showed Commando last night and it looks as though it was uncut. I notice from your site that the BBFC have passed it uncut but I don't think it is available to buy on DVD. [the Blu-ray release is said to be uncut though]

Bennett's death was longer and the tool shed fight was complete with second circular saw been thrown and the arm being chopped off.

It good to see TV companies starting to show longer versions and good for channel 4 who always had the balls to show full versions and look like being back to their usual selves!

 

19th May   

Nintendo Nazis...

Nintendo ban the name Hitler from Mario Kart online game
Link Here

Mariokart gameNintendo have banned the use of any Miis named Hitler from Mario Kart Wii's online mode.

According to GoNintendo, anyone trying to enter a race using a Mii with the name, will see this a screen requiring a change  of name.

 

19th May   

Freezing Chilling Forum Law...

Israel backs off from law making web forums responsible for user comments
Link Here

Knesset buildingThe Israeli Knesset has decided to freeze legislation regulating readers'
 ability to respond to articles via the so-called “Talkback Law”, in an effort to allow web sites to practice self-regulation.

The Talkback Law, submitted by MK Israel Hasson (Yisrael Beiteinu), passed its preliminary reading. It would make web sites responsible for the talkbacks (user generated comments) of its readers as though they were articles of the site itself.

 

19th May   

Update: Turkey Blocks YouTube Again...

Turkey abuses its laws on website blocking
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

YouTube logoReporters Without Borders is astonished that access to the video-sharing website YouTube has again been blocked again in Turkey since 5 May as a result of court orders issued by Ankara magistrate courts on 24 and 30 April. The grounds for blocking the website were not given in either case.

Reporters Without Borders said. This is the third time in less than two months that YouTube has been blocked in Turkey. The authorities do not need to block an entire website just because of a few videos they consider ‘shocking.'
 Doing this is an abuse, as YouTube is able to stop the distribution of offending videos in any given country.”


Law 5651 on the organisation of online publications and the fight against crime committed by means of such publications, in effect since November 2007, enables a prosecutor to get a website banned within 24 hours if its content is deemed likely to incite suicide, paedophilia, drug use, obscenity, prostitution or offend the memory of Atatrk, the Turkish republic'
s founder.

This law opens the door to too many abuses, Reporters Without Borders said. Its collateral damage has included the blocking of entire sites such as YouTube, Indymedia Istanbul and WordPress. We urge the authorities to amend Law 5621 so that people can express themselves freely on the Internet again. Turkey has a legislative arsenal that places too many restrictions on freedom of expression.

 

18th May   

Textual Harassment...

Red Rose author pleads guilty to obscenity in US text fiction
Link Here

US Dept of Justice logoThe US government has chosen agoraphobic Karen Fletcher to indict for text-based obscenity, and now that she's pleading guilty, it's not unreasonable to ask, Why Karen?

We know her "subscription base" consisted of just 29 people. We know that she charged a mere $10 for access to her (and others') stories about abuse and torture of children - fictional children, not real children - not to make income from the site, but in order to keep minors away - minors who might get the wrong idea that she was writing about them.

And we know, as the government with all of its resources must also have known, that this poor indigent invalid was so scared of nearly everything that she could barely go out of her house - not to go shopping at the mall, not to go to the movies, not to attend a sports game - not to do any of the things that give more sane people pleasure.

And it's just possible that someone in the bowels of that great government machine decided that that combination made 54-year-old Karen Fletcher the perfect "test case" for the first text-based obscenity prosecution in more than 30 years - so Fletcher was indicted in September, 2006, for publishing six "obscene" stories.

US attorney Mary Beth Buchanan opined that the targeted stories were disturbing, disgusting and vile. Of course, in order to render that opinion, if she hadn't had FBI print-outs to reference, Buchanan would have had to affirmatively sign on to RedRoseStories.com, pay her $10 like anyone else and then search out the stories in question ... and actually, voluntarily, read them.

With text, you can always stop reading, First Amendment attorney Reed Lee told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. You're less likely to be offended than if an image is just splashed at you.

 

18th May   

Update: Censorship Orders...

Websites still being blocked in Thailand
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

Old Thai website blocking pageCensorship in Thailand has always been accomplished by government in secret. The number of websites blocked, its blocklists and the methods it uses to block have never been disclosed to the Thai public..

However, the new cybercrime law required that the government seek a court order before blocking. However, since passage of the law, Web censorship has become far murkier, with Thailand'
s 100 ISPs blocking blocking independently in order to avoid being criminalised under the law for illegal content transiting their servers. And no court orders have been requested.

Now ISPs are required to keep all Internet traffic logs for 90 days. Two cyber-dissidents have already been arrested under the new law tracked by their IP addresses for comments they made on Thailand'
s monarchy to public Web discussion boards.

Make no mistake: Internet censorship is illegal in Thailand under at least 11 articles of the 1997 Constitution, by decree of the lawmakers'
 Council of State and by order of the Administrative Court. Has this stopped the censors? Didn'
t even slow them now.

Now Thailand'
s newly-elected government and its new ICT Minister are using lèse majesté as its ongoing excuse to block freedom of opinion and expression by Thais on issues vital to our society.

The past few weeks have seen YouTube blocked again as well as Prachatai, Thailand'
s foremost independent news portal and Same Sky, a journal of social criticism. Both sites have popular public Web discussion boards. In the past, both sites have been warned by MICT to self-censor “sensitive” public comments.

However, both Prachatai and Same Sky were closed this week without court order by the ICT Minister who was interviewed on May 14 on the Khao Den Praden Ron radio news programme. His comments reveal that, not only was he completely aware he was acting above the law, but that suggestion for the censorship came from those higher up in Thai government.

Quoting the Minister: [Pursuing legal action] will…become a big scandal. We'
d better suppress the news. Someone higher than me is of this opinion
. This means, of course, that the rose-apple is rotten to its core and that Thai bureaucrats engage in criminal acts with impunity.

 

18th May   

Hitman Hit Deflected...

ASA reject about Hitman poster showing a gun
Link Here

Hitman DVDA poster, for the film Hitman , showed a close-up of a man who was dressed in a suit and holding a gun, which was pointing upwards. A woman in a red dress was in the background. She seemed to be looking at the man, who was staring pointedly at the viewer.

The ASA received one complaint that the ad was irresponsible and unsuitable to appear in a public place where children and young people could see it, because it suggested that the use of guns was acceptable.

Twentieth Century Fox said the image in the Hitman poster was adapted from advertising for the computer game of the same name. They stated that the ad was no longer appearing.

The ASA, although recognising growing levels of public concern about the use of guns, considered that the presence of a gun in this particular ad reflected the content of the film. Because the title of the advertised film was Hitman , we considered the weapon was likely to be seen as having a fictional context and was unlikely to be seen as suggesting that the use of guns in real life was acceptable.

We concluded that the ad was unlikely to be seen as irresponsible or as condoning or provoking violence and did not find it in breach.

 

18th May   

Update: Free Tariq...

Syrian blogger Tariq Biassi jailed for 3 years
Link Here  full story: Free Tariq...Syrian blogger jailed

Free TariqOn Sunday 11th May 2008 the State Security Court in Damascus stated its verdict on the Syrian blogger Tariq Baiasi who was held in detention since July 2007. Tariq was detained for leaving a comment on websites disfavored by the Syrian government. Free Tariq Campaign condemned the State'
s verdict and asks for freedom to the Syrian blogger:

The State Security Court in Damascus has sentenced Tariq to three years after lessening it from six years to three years (originally, Tariq received three years for each of the following charges):

  • Dwindling the national feeling
  • Weakening the national ethos.

The militarily security arrested Tariq on 7-7-2007 for leaving a comment on websites considered “suspicious” by the Syrian government.

Syrian bloggers continue to call for freedom to fellow blogger Tariq Baiassi.

 

18th May   

Update: Repressive Epoch...

Chinese journalist imprisoned for 4 years
Link Here  full story: Human Rights in China...Chinese round up the usual suspects

China flagQi Chonghuai, a journalist in China'
s Shandong province who had written critically about local officials, has been sentenced to four years in prison for fraud and extortion in a trial that lasted 12 hours, according to his wife and lawyers.

Access to the trial was limited, and reporters were not allowed to attend. According to Qi'
s wife, Jiao Xia, and his defense lawyers, Li Xiongbing and Li Chunfu. Qi denied the charges.

Qi said two police officers hit his head against the floor during a break in the trial, Li told CPJ by phone from Tengzhou after emerging from court. Qi reported being beaten while in prison in August 2007.

We condemn Qi Chonghuai'
s sentence and the brutal treatment he has received throughout his detention,
said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. This case, coming less than three months before the Olympics, illustrates the government'
s failure to institute the freedom of the press promised when the Games were awarded to China in 2001.


Qi and a friend, Ma Shiping, wrote a June 8, 2007, article accusing a low-level Tengzhou official of beating a local woman for arriving late to work. The article was published on the Web site of the U.S.-based Falun Gong-affiliated Epoch Times, according to a written report provided to CPJ by Li. Qi and Ma also posted photographs of a luxurious Tengzhou government building on the anti-corruption Web forum of the government-run Xinhua News Agency on June 14. Officials questioned Qi about the article and the photographs before his arrest on June 25, according to Li.

 

18th May   

Offsite: A state in denial needs reality checks...

So what made the police spout bollox about Undercover Mosque?
Link Here  full story: Undercover Mosque...Police made false accusations re Undercover Mosque

Dispatches: Undercover MosqueThe most charitable interpretation of the reaction of Anil Patani, the Assistant Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, to the Channel 4 documentary Undercover Mosque is that he was in a state of deep denial.

The programme recorded preachers at the Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham making remarks that were not only bigoted and full of hate but also bordered on incitement to murder. Abu Usamah, one of the main preachers, was shown saying: Osama Bin Laden, he'
s better than a thousand Tony Blairs, because he'
s a Muslim
; Allah has created the woman, even if she gets a PhD, deficient. Her intellect is incomplete ; and advocating that homosexuals should be “thrown off” mountains. Mr Patani'
s reaction? To refer the programme makers to the Crown Prosecution Service for inciting racial hatred.

He also referred the programme to Ofcom, the TV regulator, sending out a press release as he did so. Mr Patani'
s press release claimed that those featured in the programme had been misrepresented and that it had undermined community cohesion. Those claims were blatantly false, as the Ofcom investigation itself made crystal clear. But why on earth did Mr Patani make them?

...Read full article

 

17th May   

Watching the Kids Watch TV...

Ofcom have been surveying PINs passwords and games
Link Here

Ofcom logoOfcom'
s Media Literacy Audits are part of a programme of Ofcom research into Media Literacy in the UK.

The audits are used to provide a base of evidence to develop new policies and initiatives to help consumers access and use digital media services and technologies.

The report draws on quantitative research in which 2905 UK adults and 2068 UK parents and children were surveyed.

PINs and Internet Filters

There has been a significant increase in using PIN/password protection on multi-channel television in households of 8-11s since 2005 (25% to 31%) and as a result this younger age group is now more likely than 12-15s to have such restrictions to their television viewing.

There has, however, been a decline in households with internet access having blocking software or controls regarding online access, particular in households with older children (55% to 51% of 8-11s and 50% to 43% of 12-15s). This is mainly due to parents'
 beliefs in their child'
s ability to self-regulate their internet behaviour. Four in five parents who have not set controls have not done so because they trust their child to be responsible.

Mobile phones

One in three adults has a concern about mobile phones. Concerns include risks to society, e.g. “happy slapping”, affordability and risks to health.

Games and downloads

Although academic research to date has largely failed to demonstrate a proven link between violent games and behaviour, children appear to share the wider public concern around this issue.

Around two-thirds of older children agree that violence in games affects people'
s behaviour outside the game. There are high levels of agreement with controls setting age ratings for some games.

Around the same number of adults also show concern about gaming, with 68% believing that violent games can affect behaviour in the real world.

For children, awareness of online shops and free file sharing services is high, even among non-internet users. However, most (77%) are not aware that downloading music or videos from some file sharing services is illegal. Of those who are aware, 50% believe that such downloads should be free.

 

17th May   

Update: Dangerous Times Ahead...

Commencement date of Dangerous Pictures Act not yet announced
Link Here

MOJ logoBacklash have asked a few useful questions of the Ministry of Injustice re the Dangerous Pictures Act.

In particular the commencement date has not actually been announced, even though reported by the BBC as January.

From a letter from the Ministry of Injustice

First in respect of the “Sex Offenders'
 Register”, it is the case that offenders will be subject to notification requirements under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 if they are 18 or over but only if they are sentenced to two years'
 imprisonment or more. This is towards the top of the scale for an offence where the maximum penalty is three years'
 imprisonment, i.e. in respect of violent images, and at the very top in the case of an extreme image in the less severe categories i.e. bestiality and necrophilia. Such a sentence would reflect the concerns of the Court about particular aspects of a case, such as the amount and severity of the material or the number of previous convictions.

You have also asked when the law will take effect, whether clearer guidance will be issued on what material will be illegal and what the implications will be for people who have images on their computer which were legal to possess before the law came into force.

The law will be implemented by Commencement Order. Whilst we are aware that some press reports have suggested a commencement date of January 2009, the implementation plan is still being finalised and therefore the date for commencement has still to be confirmed. We will do so as soon as possible. New criminal offences are not normally brought into force for at least two months after enactment and this period is often significantly longer given the need to ensure those likely to be affected by the measure are aware of it, and the police and other agencies have guidance on its operation. An explanation of the offence will be made available closer to the time of implementation but, as a general rule, BDSM material that is currently legal to publish under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 should not be affected by the new legislation. Beyond that, the details of the material covered by the offence are given within Sections 63-67 of the Act itself.

Update: January Back On

17th May

The MOJ now informs us that the planning date for bringing provisions 64 to 67 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 into force is January 2009. This date is indicative only at this stage and is subject to confirmation nearer the time.

It said further guidance or advice will also be given closer to that time.

 

17th May   

Legs Akimbo...

Nutters get 'outraged' by Starbucks logo
Link Here

Starbucks logoChristian nutters based in San Diego have found grounds for outrage over the new retro-style Starbucks logo.

The Resistance says the new image has a naked woman on it with her legs spread like a prostitute, Mark Dice, founder of the groupsaid: Need I say more? It's extremely poor taste, and the company might as well call themselves Slutbucks.

The group, which claims more than 3,000 members nationwide and has found a place on the fringe advancing various conspiracy theories, is calling for a national boycott of the coffee-selling giant.

The logo will run on Starbucks cups for several more weeks, said company spokeswoman Bridget Baker, and will live on as the logo for Pike Place bags of coffee.

The image is a less-revealing version of what the chain used for many years, starting when it first opened in Seattle in 1971. The explanation for that initial logo is explained in the book Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time, written by company founder Howard Schultz:

[Creative partner Terry Heckler] poured [sic] over old marine books until he came up with a logo based on an old 16 Century Norse woodcut: a two-tailed mermaid, or siren, encircled by the store's original name, Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice. That early siren, bare-breasted and Rubenesque, was supposed to be as seductive as coffee itself.

 

17th May   

Update: Marriott and the Nutters...

Why do nutters want to deprive people of private enjoyment of life?
Link Here

Marriott logoMarriott International is coming under heavy fire from nutter activists urging the hotel giant to banish  sexual fare from its bedroom TV.

Focus on the Family met with hotel executives in Washington DC, and provided Marriott with a petition signed by 102,000 nutters who want pornographic films purged from the list of movie offerings.

Daniel Weiss, media and sexuality analyst for the group, said Marriott has billed itself as a family-lodging establishment, and its decision to provide adult films to its customers is contrary to its reputation.

Weiss said hotels and motels have been major contributors to the proliferation of pornography in mainstream culture: We've heard from people who have developed addictions, businessmen, people who travel a lot, who found that away from their support structure and families they were very vulnerable to this type of material. They indicated that hotel porn was very significant in their addiction.

When WND asked Marriott Vice President of Communications Roger Conner why the hotel offers sex films in its rooms, he provided the following response: That's one of those any-kind-of-'why' questions. It's very universal in nature. For 25 years or more, not just Marriott, but the whole industry has offered a wide range including adult movies.

Asked if he believes customers would miss the pornographic films if they were not offered, Conner said, It would be interesting to know. I don't want this to sound flippant, but who knows?

Marriott International offers families an option to block pornographic movies by calling the front desk or using the remote control, but Focus on the Family and other nutter groups would like the hotel chain to consider a policy where the pornography would automatically be turned off unless a guest requests it.

For some people, that may just be enough of a hindrance that they won't access that material, Weiss said. They won't get caught up in it if they have to come out of the anonymity of ordering it in their room and call somebody.

Marriott executives said they will think about the suggestions and respond to concerns by July 1, though Conner acknowledged that not everyone left the meeting satisfied: We know it's not a perfect world that we live in, unfortunately, so it's not a perfect response for those that we met with yesterday. There were some who said they wanted more of an immediate response or decision. But, based upon the complicated business model and contracts that are in place, we can't simply walk away from it as we speak.

Hotels do not lose a large percentage of revenue when they boycott adult content because they only take 10 to 15% of the profits from the sale of pornographic films, Weiss said. He has faith that Marriott International will live up to its reputation as a family friendly establishment and make its 3,000 hotels porn free: I think at this point we want to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they will do the right thing. We're going to take a cautious wait-and-see approach.

 

17th May   

Living in the Past...

Madonna dreams of an era when nutters didn't give a fuck about strong language
Link Here

Hard Candy by Madonna CDPop star Madonna has caused another upset - by swearing during a live broadcast on the BBC. The star was heard uttering 'fuck' twice during a Saturday airing of Radio 1's Big Weekend.

She performed a number of tracks during her 40 minute set. Madonna introduced her track Hung Up to the Maidstone crowd, saying: You guys are going to have to start fucking it up out there 'cos I need to feel some love. I'm going to do an old song. But not too old. Fuck the present. Let's live in the past. She said.

Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe apologised shortly afterwards.

 

17th May   

Update: Blocking Opposition...

Egypt's main ISP blocks opposition website
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Egypt...Egypt blocks political and porn websites

Egypt flagThe major Egyptian government-owned ISP has blocked the website of a leading opposition movement, a rights group said, in the latest crackdown on the country's cyber dissidents.

The website for the Egyptian Movement for Change - Kefaya has been blocked in Egypt (for) users who have access to the Internet through TE-Data ... since May 4, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said in a statement.

TE-Data, a branch of Telecom Egypt and the largest Internet service provider (ISP) in Egypt, is controlled by the Egyptian government.

 

16th May   

Twilight World of Unreality...

Taking a shot at the media for a study of violent city life
Link Here

GTA: Vice City gameVideo games that glorify gangs and soap operas with violent storylines are leading young people into a life of crime, says a mother whose son was stabbed to death.

Ann Oakes-Odger told a panel of 'experts' in Birmingham led by former Prime Minister's wife Cherie Blair that she believed over-exposure to such images meant many young people lived in a "twilight world" between reality and unreality.

The commission - visiting the five cities in Britain with the worst records for gun and knife crime - also heard from Barbara Sawyers, whose son Daniel Bogle, 19, was shot dead in Smethwick five years ago.

Ms Oakes-Odger's 27-year-old son Westley bled to death on a street in Colchester, Essex, after being stabbed in the neck while drawing money from a cashpoint.

If you look back when advertising first became a medium on TV, there used to be such things as subliminal shots which were banned, said Ms Oakes-Odger. It was banned because it was considered to be interrupting the natural psyche of one's thinking. I believe video games and violent computer games have the same effect.

Ms Oakes-Odger, who now works with young people highlighting the danger of knife crime, added: I think many soaps should tone down some of the storylines because the young mind is very impressionable. It has been proven through studies that throughout our adult years our minds are still capable of being malleable to information.

We have a responsibility as adults to protect our children and the information that is input into them. If we can't tone down the information they are receiving we must give them the balance of information. We can't allow them to live in a twilight world of reality and non-reality.


Evidence-taking by the commission at Birmingham Town Hall will go towards a Channel 4 series - The Truth About Street Weapons - examining gun and knife crime in Britain . It will be broadcast this summer.

 

16th May   

Update: Shock Horror!...

The British Film Institute will not be distributing Love Guru
Link Here  full story: Love Guru Nonsense...Love Guru Mike Myers movie winds up hindus

The Love GuruHindu groups have contacted various cinema/film related organizations around the world and mist recently to Canada urging them not to distribute/screen upcoming Hollywood movie The Love Guru till its presenter Paramount Pictures makes 'necessary changes' to it.

Furthering the drive pioneered by Indo-American leader Rajan Zed, various organizations and leaders have been coming out expressing concern about the possibility of The Love Guru hurting the sentiments of Hindus worldwide and urging filmmakers to be more responsible when handling faith related subjects.

Zed has been saying that from the information available about the movie, it appears to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and using Hindu terms frivolously.

G. Kendrick Macdowell, Vice President of the National Association of Theatre Owners, largest exhibition trade organization in the world, replying to one such request wrote, I am sympathetic to your concern as I have been to the ashrams in India and know a little bit about the guru-disciple relationship. I have not seen the trailer or the movie, but I can guess that it satirizes 'gurus on the make'. I doubt I would find it funny. Nevertheless, we are not in a position to take action you recommend ...we are a trade association, and we cannot interfere with the decisions of our members regarding what movies or trailers to play...

Ilona Cheshire, Press Officer of prestigious British Film Institute (BFI), wrote in her reply, Please rest assured that the BFI will not be screening this title nor will be involved with a possible release of it.

J.L. Green, Chief Assistant (Policy) to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), replying the communique, said, The BBFC is sympathetic to your concerns. However, THE LOVE GURU has not been submitted to the BBFC for classification...

 

16th May   

Iron Clad Case...

Whingeing at toys promoting PG-13 films
Link Here

Iron Man toyCiting thousands of toys and kid-targeted promotions already under way for a slew of violent summer blockbusters, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood launched a letter-writing campaign today to the MPAA to stop allowing film companies to promote PG-13 movies to young children.

In January, in response to a complaint by CCFC, the Federal Trade Commission urged the MPAA to develop an explicit policy, incorporating objective criteria to ensure that PG-13 movies are not marketed in a manner inconsistent with their rating, but the MPAA has refused that request. As a result, ads promoting PG-13 movies and their related merchandise continue to be a staple of children'
s television programming.

CCFC'
s Director, Dr. Susan Linn, said: The PG-13 rating states that parents should be ‘strongly cautioned'
 that ‘material may be inappropriate for children under thirteen,'
 but the film industry is doing everything and anything to ensure that violence-packed movies are the talk of elementary and preschool playgrounds. In their cynical attempt to wring every last dollar from families, film companies are undermining parents who are trying to shield their children from media violence.

While the MPAA claims it reviews marketing plans for every PG-13 movie, they focus primarily on the content of the ads, not whether the film advertised is appropriate for a younger audience. The MPAA does not review ads for licensed toys and movie-linked food promotion.

 

16th May   

Syria Bans Knowledge...

Or at least that available on the internet
Link Here

Syria flagAccording to anasonline blog, access to Wikipedia Arabic , the Arabic language version of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, is now blocked by all ISPs in Syria.

 

16th May   

Offsite: Playing Games at the BBFC...

So you want to be a games examiner?
Link Here

BBFC logoSpong interviewed Sue Clark of the BBFC about the job of a games examiner.

SPOnG: What qualifications do they need?

Sue Clark: They have to be good at playing games. There are no 'formal' qualifications for being a BBFC examiner, but you do have to have a good level of education and a good grasp of English as you are required to produce well argued written reports.

You also have to have an interest in film because games examiners don't just classify games. It also helps if you have an understanding of child development because the majority of the works classified are for people under the age of 18.

SPOnG: What does an examiner get paid?

Sue Clark: The salary scale is £33.950 to £45,758

. ..Read full article

 

16th May   

Offsite: Time to Say Sorry...

About attempting to prosecute the messenger re Undercover Mosque
Link Here  full story: Undercover Mosque...Police made false accusations re Undercover Mosque

Dispatches: Undercover MosqueBack in August 2007 I wrote a defence of the Undercover Mosque programme and, among many reasonable responses, I came in for the now obligatory charges of Islamophobia, neocon activism and, of course, racism. This kind of thing is standard these days if you state your opposition to the idea that hitting 10-year-old girls is reasonable, that women are lesser beings then men, that killing homosexuals is wrong, that killing apostates is unacceptable, and that all Muslims supposedly hate the kuffar. All of those views were propagated by the preachers who were recorded in Undercover Mosque, a diligent documentary made in difficult circumstances. And yet the West Midlands police not only attempted to prosecute the filmmakers but also, having failed in that absurd endeavour, reported the documentary to Ofcom.

...Read full article

 

15th May   

New Kids on the Block...

Government kick off the new children's censor
Link Here

Department of Children, School and FamiliesKevin Brennan and Vernon Coaker have announced that the UK Council for Child Internet Safety will launch in September 2008, six months ahead of the recommended timescale set out by Dr Tanya Byron in her recent report .

A mixture of children'
s charities and industry will be informed about how they can join the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, which will be responsible for developing and leading a Child Internet Safety Strategy and advising Government on e-safety.

On 27th March the Government accepted all of Dr Byron'
s recommendations in full and today the Government is committing to a timescale outlining the next steps which are:

• Inviting stakeholders to join the Council – 14 May
• Cross Department Action Plan - end of June 2008
• Launch of the UK Council on Child Internet Safety – September 2008
• First Child Internet Safety Summit hosted by the Prime Minister - spring 2009.

Kevin Brennan Minister for Children and young people said:

We are inviting experts within industry and children'
s charities to come forward and provide their expertise and advice by joining the UK Council on Child Internet Safety. By developing an e-safety strategy together, we can help children to learn and play safe online whilst at the same time supporting parents to manage new pressures they face in a modern technological world.

These next steps show our commitment to acting on Dr Byron'
s recommendations with the same pace and strength that they were set out. By engaging across Government and industry we will provide a robust and coherent strategy within the outlined timeframe.


Culture Minister Margaret Hodge said:

The freedom the internet brings must be balanced by appropriate safeguards, and this ke recommendation from Dr Byron's landmark report will help children and parents safely enjoy the wealth of benefits that the internet can offer.

 

15th May   

Thin Skins...

ASA whinge at Skins poster
Link Here

Skins Season 2 DVDA billboard poster for Skins , which featured Michelle in her underwear and other characters in various stages of undress , was supposedly indecent and should not have been used, advertising regulators have decided.

In the advert, Michelle, the character played by April Pearson in the teen drama, is sitting on the edge of a bed with dishevelled hair and smudged eye make-up. Sid (Mike Bailey) is in the background, sitting up in the bed naked, with a pillow over his crotch.

Several other couples are embracing at Michelle's feet, also naked or in their underwear.

About ten people complained to the Advertising Standards Agency about the poster - most saying it was offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children. Others said it could be seen as condoning underage sex.

Channel 4 said it took care not to place the adverts near schools. It added that all the characters involved were over 18.

Though it rejected the complaints about underage sex, the ASA said the poster breached its code. We considered that the image, showing characters from the programme embracing in varying states of undress, implied that an orgy was taking place, said the regulator: We concluded that the poster could cause serious or widespread offence to those who saw it and was unsuitable to be used in a medium where it could be seen by children.

The ASA rejected complaints about another poster that showed character Tony (Nicholas Hoult) lying under the water in a bath, leaving it unclear whether he was dead or alive. Some were concerned the image was offensive, distressing and could be copied by children.

 

15th May   

Update: False Accusations...

Police to cough up for their accusations about Undercover Mosque
Link Here  full story: Undercover Mosque...Police made false accusations re Undercover Mosque

Dispatches: Undercover MosqueThe Crown Prosecution Service and West Midlands Police will apologise in the High Court today for wrongly accusing a Channel 4 film of faking an exposé of Islamic extremism.

The producers of Undercover Mosque , a Dispatches investigation that showed preachers predicting jihad and calling for the murder of non-believers, have also accepted a six-figure libel settlement reported to be £100,000

The programme, screened last January, showed footage gathered at a number of mosques in the West Midlands using hidden cameras. It included one preacher who praised the Taleban for killing British soldiers.

Another, Abu Usamah, a preacher at the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham, was filmed saying: If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that is my freedom of speech isn't it?

However, instead of pursuing a prosecution of the preachers, police and the CPS began an investigation into the producers, accusing them of selective editing and distortion. The film-makers were accused of undermining community relations.

The police took the highly unusual step of referring Dispatches to Ofcom, the media watchdog.

Ofcom threw out the complaint. It found that the programme had accurately represented the material it had gathered and dealt with the subject matter responsibly and in context. It was a legitimate investigation, uncovering matters of important public interest. Each quote was justified by the narrative of the programme and put fully in context.

Hardcash Productions, which made the film, joined Channel 4 in a libel complaint against the police and CPS over the “distortion” claim.

West Midlands Police and CPS will apologise unreservedly for comments that they accept were incorrect and unjustified. They said that there was no evidence that the broadcaster or programme-makers had misled the audience or that the programme was likely to encourage or incite criminal activity”.

Kevin Sutcliffe, deputy head of current affairs at Channel 4, said: This is a total vindication of the programme team.

 

15th May   

Update: Reasonable Argument...

Appealing that hardcore is no longer offensive to a reasonable adult in Australia
Link Here

AdultShop.com logoOnline business Adultshop.com has appealed against the failure of its legal bid to reduce the X rating given to an adult film.

In November last year, Justice Peter Jacobson dismissed the online store's application for a judicial review of the Classification Review Board's decision to rank the film Viva Erotica as X18+.

For a film to fall under this classification it must contain real depictions of actual sexual activity ... in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult'.

 

15th May   

Update: Marriott Meets the Nutters...

I wonder what the nutters watched on their hotel room TV?
Link Here

Marriott logoPro-family nutters have wrapped up what is being called a "productive" meeting with officials of Marriott International.

The meeting focused on the hotel chain's practice of selling in room pornographic movies at some of its properties.

Last month, leaders of 47 pro-family groups sent a letter to Marriott CEO John W. Marriott the Third, which asked for a meeting with Marriott executives about the issue.

Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association, says the meeting in Washington D.C. was a good first step: Two things came out of the meeting . They are going to look into a system where people would have to call the front desk and get the movie turned on.

Secondly, notes Wildmon, the Marriot executives will discuss the issue further with some of their franchisees. And he says pro-family nutters will have another meeting with Marriott representatives in about six weeks to check progress on the issue.

 

14th May   

18 Assumptions...

MP finds that few retailers are found selling 18 rated games to kids
Link Here

18 certificateFigures unearthed by Tory MP David Ruffley, showed that
not a single person received a caution for supplying 18 rated video games and DVDs to someone underage. Only eight fines were imposed.

Ruffley, the Tories' police reform spokesman, said: Selling 18+ rated violent computer games such as Grand Theft Auto IV to underage children is more likely when many retailers have no fear of being caught, as my figures demonstrate.

This poor enforcement of the law is damaging to children. But I'm not surprised when officers are overwhelmed by a colossal amount of red tape.

 

14th May   

Update: Leaking Watershed...

MPs discuss 9pm watershed for the internet
Link Here  full story: Harmful Content...Parliament Inquiry: Internet And In Video Games:

Ofcom logoOfcom has dismissed claims by a group of MPs that the 9pm watershed is failing to protect young children because they can now access television online.

Giving evidence at a culture, media and sport committee hearing today, the Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards, denied the regulator had put itself in an "impossible and absurd position" by not doing more to regulate objectionable content on the web.

Richards was responding to claims made by Nigel Evans a conservative MP who argued that Ofcom's powers over broadcasting should be more rigorously applied to internet content.

It's important to remember that the watershed isn't dead, Richards said: Despite the internet, television remains remarkably resilient as a medium. The watershed is still a very important and I think it will remain so for several years.

The cross-party group of MPs raised concerns about services such as the BBC iPlayer, which make it possible for anyone to view post-watershed content at any time of the day.

The Ofcom partner for content and standards, Stuart Purvis, said a lot of the responsibility rested with parents to make sure their children were not watching inappropriate material: If you look at the iPlayer, it immediately asks you if you are over 16. The question that arises is: Are children going to understand that or are they going to override it?

He added that new technology had in a sense disadvantaged parents who might not necessarily know how to use access locks to protect children from post-watershed content.

However, both Purvis and Richards dismissed suggestions that it was the role of Ofcom on its own to encourage parents to become more aware of their children's online activities.

Richards said: We are definitely not the right body to deliver a mass campaign to promote media literacy. We are not qualified enough to do it. We don't have the skills to do it. I think somebody does have to do that, but it's not the duty of Ofcom. That sort of mass campaign to bring parents understanding of literacy issues is not appropriate for us.

Update: Related

15th May 2008

Back bench Labour MP Margaret Moran has introduced a private members bill in the House of Commons calling for online retailers to take reasonable steps to establish the age of its customers when selling adult goods and services.

The Online Purchasing Of Goods And Services (Age Verification) Bill gets its second reading on 16th May.

Update: No Mention

21st May 2008

No mention of the Bill in Hansard on the 16th May so presumably parliament didn't find time to debate it. So presumably it is no more.

 

14th May   

Morality Tax...

Debating a 25% tax for adult businesses in California
Link Here

California logoSex shops and strip clubs would have to pay an extra 25% tax on their sales and services under a proposed state law supposedly meant to offset the costs of allowing such businesses into a community.

But California's $4 billion-a-year adult industry has attacked the proposal by Assemblyman Charles Calderon as unconstitutional and based more on opinion than on fact. Adult-business owners in Orange County say the tax would put strippers out of business and break sex shops that already must abide by strict rules about where they can operate.

I don't know how this business has any kind of bad reputation, said Jerry Tatarian, the manager of the Flamingo Theater, a strip club in Anaheim. You walk in here on your own free will. We don't show anything outside. We're just a regular business. Twenty five percent? he added. What's he trying to do, become a partner?

On the other side of the debate are teacher unions, which see a new line of revenue for districts hard-hit by budget cuts and layoffs. The sex tax would essentially target luxury items, said Linda Barnett, the president of the Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association.

The bill would add the 25% tax to any items sold in an "adult entertainment venue." That would be anyplace that gets at least half of its revenue from sexually explicit performances or from the sale of adult videos, magazines or other media.

In other words, you would have to pay a 25% tax on anything you bought in a porn store – even a pack of gum.

Calderon's bill says that strip clubs, sex stores and other adult venues generate community problems such as prostitution, drug use and sexually transmitted diseases. It also says the easy availability of Internet pornography is unhealthy for children. The tax would pay for education as well as social services that could include law enforcement and treatment for substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases.

The industry has challenged the legality of Calderon's bill, saying that it targets sexually explicit performances at strip clubs, but makes exceptions for "legitimate" theatrical productions. Gray also dismissed many of the claims made in the bill, saying they were based more on opinion than on studies or other real evidence.

See full article from AVN

After an hour and a half of discussion, Charles Calderon's porn tax bill, AB 2914, never made it before the nine members of the Assembly Revenue & Tax Committee for a vote yesterday, with Calderon electing to keep the bill in the suspense file.

The suspense file is for any bill that costs more than a certain dollar amount, a threshold, and in this committee, that's $500,000 to implement, explained Matt Gray, California lobbyist for the adult entertainment industry.

What happens is that all the bills that cost over that $500,000 mark are put in that suspense file, and then at the end, they prioritize which bills come out based upon how much money they have to spend. The earliest it could come out is this coming Monday, and the latest is sometime probably in August. It's a two-thirds vote bill and can move without deadlines. But the important part to remember is, it was supposed to be considered along with all other bills on suspense file yesterday, and he announced that it would not be taken up on suspense.

Update: Reduced Impact

25th June 2008

Assemblyman Charles Calderon has reduced his proposed California state tax on adult entertainment to 8.3% in the latest version of the bill.

The bill originally called for a 25% on adult entertainment, including porn videos, strip clubs and other goods and services. The proposal met with strong opposition from Republicans as well as adult industry lobbyists who denounced the measure as selective taxation.

The tax would now be levied on the gross receipts from the sale of qualified tangible personal property, as defined, of a qualified business whose gross receipts from the sale or rental of adult material exceed 50% of all gross receipts of the retail establishment.

The previous version of the bill called for a tax on any business whose gross receipts from adult material exceeded 10% of the business's total gross receipts.

As the Free Speech Coalition pointed out, such a sweep could easily include art galleries, mainstream bookstores and any video store that rented or sold a substantial amount of "R-rated" or "Unrated" mainstream videos.

 

14th May   

Update: Lust, Caution, Blacklisting...

Ongoing Chinese fallout for all concerned, even the censors
Link Here  full story: Lust Caution...Ang Lee's Lust, Caution gets worldwide attention

Lust Caution posterTwo months after being banned in China as lewd and unpatriotic following her critically acclaimed role in Lust, Caution , Tang Wei has yet to work again.

Activists and people in the film industry are now beginning to take up her cause on commercial, artistic and legal grounds.

Lust, Caution was made chiefly in Shanghai by Oscar-winning Taiwanese director Ang Lee, and applauded by many Asian critics as a masterpiece. But China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) insisted that seven minutes - essentially, a sex scene with Tang and the male lead, played by Hong Kong actor Tony Leung - be removed.

The film has nevertheless been a massive hit since its theatre release in China. Thousands of mainland Chinese travelled to Hong Kong to watch the uncut version, helping make it the most popular Chinese language film of the past year.

But during the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, a veteran Communist Party cadre viewed the film on DVD and was disgusted by what he saw as its glorification of traitors and insult to patriot" , the phrase he is said to have used when complaining to SARFT. He was angry that SARFT allowed the film to be shown at all, even with the requested cuts. He was disgusted that Tang's character, a member of a resistance group during the Japanese occupation, warns and ultimately saves a Japanese collaborator from execution.

As a result, several SARFT staff lost their jobs. And after the rap over its knuckles, SARFT hastened to issue a statement reasserting censorship guidelines , warning all film and broadcasting bodies that it was renewing its ban on products that show promiscuous acts, rape, prostitution, sexual intercourse, sexual perversity, masturbation and male-female sexual organs and other private parts . SARFT reassured the powerful official by issuing an internal instruction to China's television stations and print media - which are all ultimately owned by the Government or Communist Party - to drop Tang's advertisements for a cosmetics company.

Tang'sHong Kong-based agent tells The Australian that she is not answering questions about the issue. She appears to be hoping the storm will blow over.

But Zhao Guo-jun, director of China Law Watch Centre, a legal affairs non-government organisation based in Beijing, says: We are pursuing this case because it highlights what we see as a cultural blockade, which restricts artistic creativity and breaches workers' rights.

It is a characteristic case, he says, because there is no legal, public document, no formal procedure or hearing. That leaves the victim with no chance to make a formal complaint, or get legal help.

Update: Unsuitable

19th May 2011. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk

Scenes involving Tang Wei hit the cutting room floor after objections that explicit nude sex scenes in the 2007 Ang Lee spy thriller Lust, Caution had rendered her unsuitable for such a sensitive role, according to leaks sourced to the film's crew.

The casting of Miss Tang as Tao Yi , the young revolutionary who Mao fell in love with in the late 1910s, was seen as a signal of her political rehabilitation when it was announced earlier this year.

The role effectively ended a three-year year exile for the Hong Kong-based actress who was banned by state censors from the China's TV screens and billboards in March 2008 in order to guard public morals after clips of the sex scenes emerged on the internet.

However China's film gossip bulletin boards have been buzzing all week to the news that Miss Tang, 32, had been cut from The Founding of a Party after renewed political objections from Red families that guard the legacy of the former Communist leader.

 

14th May   

Surveying Self Interest...

Lawyers find that bloggers should agree to copyright and defamation rules
Link Here

DLA PipersFiguresA voluntary code of conduct for bloggers and internet commentators is supported by almost half of all internet users, a survey has claimed.

The researchers said 46 per cent of web users believe bloggers should agree to a set of guidelines which reflected the laws on defamation, intellectual property rights and incitement.

Four per cent strongly opposed the suggestion and 15 per cent had no opinion.

Just one in three of the web users questioned said they had ever read the legal terms and conditions of the sites they use, despite 14 per cent having had material removed for breaching the terms.
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The report also indicated that three quarters of internet users who comment on blogs are unaware that could be breaking libel laws.

Under the laws, it is the person commenting rather than the site hosting the comment who is liable for any offence.

The survey was conducted by legal firm DLA Piper.

Duncan Calow, of DLA Piper, said: "The combination of confusion and complacency about the relationship between the law and user-generated content puts users at risk as they come under increasing scrutiny online.

"It is clear that many internet users would benefit from some clearer guidance about posting comment online."

 

13th May   

Buried under Complaints...

BBC watchdog has a whinge at Eastenders
Link Here  full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

Eastenders logoEastenders scenes in which a love-cheat was drugged and buried alive by his wife have been criticised by the BBC's complaints unit.

The corporation's internal watchdog said the storyline involving the characters Max and Tanya Branning caused unintentional upset among a segment of the audience.

The BBC had previously defended the Easter holiday episodes after they prompted more than 150 complaints.

They claimed they had taken "great care" to flag up the nature of the episode before it was broadcast.

Regulator Ofcom is investigating the shows, in which Max was eventually let out, after 118 viewers complained.

 

13th May   

O God, bring me the head of Salman Rushdie...

Geo TV censured for murderous prayers
Link Here

Geo News logoA Pakistani TV channel was wrong to broadcast a prayer in which a Muslim scholar called for God to "ruin" Salman Rushdie, Ofcom have ruled.

During a live broadcast on Geo TV, in Urdu and from Pakistan, scholar Dr. Aamer Liaquat Hussain said:

O God I beg you for the sake of this night; ruin those who have blasphemed against Your beloved Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon Him.

Ruin them. Ruin Rushdie, I beg you for his death. O God, give him death, O Provider; he has blasphemed your beloved. Oh God, we beg in Your Court for his death.


Some Muslims judged Rushdie's 1988 novel The Satanic Verses to be blasphemous against Islam.

Two viewers complained that the statements made on the Shabeqadar programme in October were offensive. Under Ofcom's broadcasting code, offensive statements are allowed but must be justified by the context.

Geo TV said Rushdie had, in its view, committed serious blasphemy , and the host had exercised his freedom of expression, in this very specific context, by condemning the blasphemous act.

Ofcom said offensive material, where broadcast, had to be justified by the context. Dr. Hussain'
s remarks, albeit primarily addressed to a specific audience outside the UK (i.e. Pakistan), and in the context of a prayer, were broadcast without, for example, comment or editorial narrative.We therefore concluded the remarks complained about were not sufficiently justified by context and so were in breach of [Broadcasting Code] Rule 2.3."

 

13th May   

Faceblock...

Facebook blocks links to adult sites
Link Here

Facebook logoCriminal Social networking website Facebook has instituted a number of enhanced privacy safeguards and obscenity blockers.

The move was part of an agreement with 49 state attorneys general to increase the level of protection for the site's younger users.

The company also agreed to join MySpace on the Internet Safety Task Force, which MySpace established in its agreement with state attorneys general. The task-force agreement calls for the social networking sites to establish "age locking" around the profiles of users younger than 18.

In September 2007, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo threatened to subpoena Facebook after investigators posing as underage users were sexually solicited by adults.

Facebook agreed to enhance its age and identity identification tools, issue automatic warning messages when children attempt to give personal information to unknown adults, restrict users' ability to change their listed ages and immediately sever links to pornographic websites.

The deal also calls for Facebook, which has about 47 million users, to allow someone independent, and approved by Cuomo's office, to report on its compliance with the new safeguards for two years.

 

13th May   

Nude Mother India...

India's leading artist cleared of offence in High Court
Link Here
Woman and Horse

Woman and Horse

Criminal charges against India'
s leading living artist for an allegedly obscene painting of a Hindu goddess have been quashed in a ruling that said religious extremism risked pushing the country into a “pre-Renaissance era”.

Maqbool Fida Husain, 92, a Muslim, who has been called “the Picasso of India”, was served with private criminal complaints by Hindu groups for Bharat Mata (Mother India), a work representing the nation as a nude woman.

The Delhi High Court judged that the picture could not be construed as offensive.

 

12th May   

MILF Filth...

Nutters wound up by Jonathan Ross banter
Link Here

Friday Night with Jonathan RossJonathan Ross has wound up nutters with some boisterous sexy banter with Gwynet Paltrow.

Ross said he wanted to 'fuck' married mother of two Gwyneth Paltrow if his wife would give him permission.

His liberal use of strong language on his recorded BBC1 chat show Friday Night With Jonathan Ross prompted gasps from the audience and the interview tone left Ms Paltrow speechless and looking shocked at times.

The astonishing language – thought to be the first time a major film star has been spoken to in such a direct sexual way on television– has been heavily criticised by the nutters of Mediawatch UK and an MP.

Tory MP Philip Davies said Ross'
s undignified remarks called into question the BBC'
s role as a public service broadcaster, particularly as he is reportedly paid £6million a year of licence fee-payers'
 money: Mr Ross likes to use inappropriate language in an attempt to be outrageous but the question is, should licence fee-payers have to pay for it on a public service broadcasting channel? My view is that they should not have to. I believe this issue should be raised with the BBC by the select committee when we have our next meeting with them.

The Sunday Express pointed out that, although the programme airs at 10.35pm, it is available during the day through the online iPlayer service.

The interview with Ms Paltrow was broadcast a week ago last Friday. Ross talked about her two young children, Moses and Apple, and inquired if she was thinking of having another child by asking her: Maybe having sex again soon?

A startled-looking Ms Paltrow responded: With you?

Ross then replied: Christ yes. I will phone my wife and if she gave permission, I would fuck you. Clearly you are gagging for it.

Broadcaster Michael Aspel, a guest on the same programme, spoke about his days presenting Miss World and Ross asked him if he had 'fucked' a contestant.

Mediawatch UK director John Beyer said: Clearly the BBC is not regulating this programme or monitoring the language being used, which is unacceptable and unnecessary and degrading. With the iPlayer system, the 9pm watershed is meaningless.

Ms Paltrow'
s Los Angeles publicist Steve Huvane said: Gwyneth very much enjoyed her appearance on the show and the joking was all in good fun. She was not offended.

 

12th May   

Update: Animation Theft...

Further details re Australian cuts to Grand Theft Auto IV
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV gamefrom a comparison of the Australian version and the UK version:

Firstly, when picking up a hooker in the Australian version you'
ll notice that you'
re unable to select your services (i.e. hand job, blowjob or standard intercourse) and the sex animations for these services have been completely removed. You'
ll merely see the car bounce from a locked rear-view. Although there are glitches one can perform to get a front view of the action, the animations are still non-existent. Therefore as in previous GTA games you'
re only able to see the hooker and Niko sitting side by side doing absolutely nothing. In the uncut version you'
re able to select your services after driving a hooker to a secluded location by cycling through the three different services. For which ever you choose the hooker will begin performing the act on Niko and you'
re be able to rotate the camera to see the action as you see fit.

Secondly, in the Australian version no blood pools appear beneath a dead person after shooting or stabbing them to death. Although there are blood splatters, there are no blood pools. In the uncut version blood will slowly ooze out from under a body and you'
re able to create bloody footprints by walking through it or bloody tire-tracks by driving through it.

Finally, when Niko or other NPCs are injured in the uncut version light blood patches appear on their bodies which basically represent bruises/bullet wounds. After having played through both versions of the game I can confirm that no other alterations have been made. Although the changes to the sex scenes come as no surprise one must wonder why Rockstar censored blood pools and body injuries. These elements are present in numerous other games which have been released totally uncut in Australia.

 

12th May   

Update: Peaceful Pill Boycott...

New Zealand nutters appeal for ban on suicide handbook
Link Here  full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

The nutters of the Society for Promotion of Community Standards has written to New Zealand's Film and Literature Board of Review, seeking a review of the approval of the book for R18 release.

The society's executive director David Lane says the material breeds a culture of death in New Zealand and is not just a matter for the chief censor to deal with legally.

Lane says the society is seeking an assurance that those who deal with depressive and suicidal people have been consulted over the release of the book.

He says there will be calls for bookshops to be publicly shunned, should they stock the title.

Update: Right to a Holier than Thou Life

23rd May 2008

Pro-life organisation, Right to Life, says it is incongruous that on one hand we have this dangerous book being allowed for sale in New Zealand and on the other hand we have the Government earlier this year unveiling its five-year plan that includes expensive TV advertising to reduce New Zealand's suicide rate.

Right to Life's Ken Orr questioned why the Government was not prepared to challenge the chief censor's controversial and dangerous classification . His society will seek a review of the misguided classification.

 

12th May   

Breaks Back...

TV showing restores cuts to In the Line of Fire
Link Here

In the Line of FireIn the Line of Fire is a 1993 US film by Wolfgang Petersen (Columbia/TriStar)

Thanks to Martin

I noticed during Friday's late night TV showing (00:50) of the Clint Eastwood film In the Line of Fire on ITV 2 that the previously cut scene of John Malkovich killing the bank teller and her room-mate at their home was uncut. This meant the fairly graphic depiction of 2 neck-breaks, sound effects included.

The film is showing again on ITV 2 on Tuesday 20th May @ 23:05 and Wednesday 21st May @ 21:00.

Hopefully ITV got the nod from the BBFc that these cuts would now be waived

Cuts of 8-10s apply to both 1993 cinema and 1994 video versions. The same cuts spec was implemented slightly differently for different versions.

From IMDb :

  • The UK VHS and DVD versions remove close-ups of the bag over Al's head during the opening sequence.
  • Frank's shooting of the second bad guy on the boat is also cut - but only on widescreen prints - to remove the blood cloud. On the VHS pan and scan version, the blood impact happens off-screen.
  • The assault on the banker's housemate has been cut from the DVD as well, but remains in the VHS video with a toned-down impact sound. Shortly after this, the two neck breaks have been removed completely, despite the BBFC only requesting sound cuts.

 

12th May   

Forbidden Art...

Russian museum director under duress for banned art exhibit
Link Here  full story: Art Censorship in Russia...Art exhibitions winds up the nutters

Andrey Sakharov MuseumYury Samodurov, the director of the Andrey Sakharov Museum and Public Center, has been summoned to a Russian Investigative Committee for questioning.

He is to be indicted and questioned on a case opened about a year ago into the organization of an exhibition entitled the Forbidden Art-2006 at the Andrey Sakharov Museum in March 2007.

The exhibition Forbidden Art-2006 in Moscow in March, 2007, 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.

According to the Sakharov Museum official website, the Forbidden Art-2006 showed the art pieces banned by directors or art councils of Moscow museums and galleries in 2006.

The exhibition has caused indignation in the Orthodox community and clerics.

 

12th May   

Update: Olympic Sport of Dissident Arresting...

China already world champions
Link Here  full story: Human Rights in China...Chinese round up the usual suspects

Olympic handcuffsA dissident Chinese writer in police custody faces trial for inciting subversion as part of an apparent government crackdown on dissents ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

Zhou Yuanzhi, a former tax official, and his wife were taken away by the National Security Bureau of Zhongxiang city.

Zhou is a freelance writer who has published two books in Hong Kong and more than 500 articles under several pen names in overseas Chinese-language magazines and Web sites. Many of his articles have been critiques on social issues and official corruption.

He lost his job in Zhongxiang city's taxation bureau in 1992 and was stripped of his Communist Party membership for contributing an article to Voice of America in defiance of a ban.

 

11th May   

Update: Less Peaceful...

New Zealand censor blacks out pages from suicide handbook
Link Here  full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

Blacked out paragraph from bookA euthanasia book containing graphic descriptions of ways people can kill themselves is set to go on sale in New Zealand within weeks after a ban was lifted on Friday.

Australian euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke had resubmitted The Peaceful Pill Handbook to the Office of Film and Literature Classification with sections blacked out after it was banned last July.

Chief censor Bill Hastings told the Sunday Star-Times that the revised book could be sold to people over 18, but it had still been classed as objectionable. It must be sealed and have an R18 label on its cover before it can be sold in bookshops.

Nitschke, head of Exit International and the 214-page book's co-author, lauded the decision and hoped it would prompt a rethink by Australian authorities which banned it last year.

The decision is sure to be controversial. Pro-life group Right To Life claimed in its submission to Hastings that the revised book's contents were an incitement to suicide. The group was worried the book would fall into the hands of young people and those who were depressed or suffering serious mental illnesses.

When Hastings first banned the book, his decision highlighted parts needing to be deleted because it told readers how to break the law. It included advice on how to avoid detection if assisting a person to commit suicide and on importing Nembutal, the common name for pentobarbital, a drug used by vets to euthanase pets. It is illegal to import and possess the class C drug in New Zealand without medical approval, but has become popular in euthanasia circles as a "peaceful pill" to end someone's life.

The revised edition contains about 15 partially or completely blacked out pages but still contains graphic details about how to commit suicide, including how to travel to Mexico to buy Nembutal, which some New Zealanders have done.

It canvasses suicide methods, including how to make lethal concoctions. It contains various diagrams and photographs, including a table comparing eight suicide methods, rating them from 1-10 depending on certain factors, such as reliability and peacefulness.

Hastings said it was a well-intentioned book that advocates law reform and gives advice to enable the seriously ill and elderly to make carefully considered and fully-informed decisions about their own life and death.

As repugnant as some members of the public may find the open discussion of voluntary euthanasia, suicide methods and the law, the New Zealand Bill of Rights preserves the author's right to freedom of expression and to impart the information and opinions contained in the book in its present revised form, his decision said.

However, it noted the book's clinical accounts of meticulously planned suicides by various methods could make self-inflicted death appear acceptable, even desirable, and its rating of suicide methods could encourage readers to believe death could be achieved without undue suffering to themselves, the prospect of which may previously have acted as a deterrent.

 

11th May   

Update: Hype Guru...

Australian nutters kindly add to the hype for Love Guru
Link Here  full story: Love Guru Nonsense...Love Guru Mike Myers movie winds up hindus

The Love GuruHindu nutters have contacted various cinema organisations in Australia urging them not to distribute or screen the upcoming Hollywood movie The Love Guru until Paramount Pictures makes changes to it.

Vamsi Krishna, representing Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Society for Scientific Spirituality, sent a letter to several film groups saying the film would hurt the feelings of the worldwide spiritual and Hindu community unless certain scenes were altered.

The letter went to the Australia Classification Board, Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia, Australian Film Commission, Media Standards Australia, Becker Entertainment, Hopscotch Films, Hoyts Cinema Chain, Palace Cinemas, and Palace Films.

If the trailer is an indicator of the content of the movie…then we feel that this movie is most likely to hurt the sentiments of seekers from various spiritual paths and also the peaceful Hindu community at large in Australia, the letter said: Poking fun is one thing ...BUT... if it creates a sense of belittling others'
 faith, then it is wrong.

Update: Worldwide Calls

12th May 2008

Hindu groups have contacted Central Board of Film Certification (Censor Board) and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of India, urging them not to screen upcoming Hollywood movie The Love Guru till its presenter Paramount Pictures makes necessary changes in it.

It seems that the hindu groups are sending their calls for a ban worldwide and the same story is cropping up in multiple stories. Surely good hype for Love Guru.

 

11th May   

Update: Normalising Feminisation...

Hiding prohibition behind the rare crime of trafficking
Link Here

Protestors at HBOThe Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) has called on the television network HBO to stop airing shows like Cathouse , which promote sex trafficking and prostitution.

On April 24, 2008, CATW held a picket line protest in front of the corporate offices of HBO in New York City to protest its reality series Cathouse , set in a brothel.

CATW claimed that by airing shows like Cathouse, HBO normalizes prostitution and its legalization. The cultural and legal acceptance of prostitution, in turn, encourages the demand for prostituted and trafficked women and girls in the global sex trade. Legitimizing pimps as entrepreneurs and managers, as well as portraying patronizing prostituted women as acceptable, harmless entertainment commences a vicious cycle in which the sex industry expands, and increases the demand for sex trafficked women and girls.

 

11th May   

Update: A Novel Form of Censorship...

Challenging Indiana over ludicrously wide sex business registration
Link Here

Indiana state sealAn association of First Amendment supporters and retailers have filed suit against the state of Indiana over a new law that would require sellers of sexually explicit and even softcore material to pay a litany of fees in order to do business.

Among the plaintiffs in the suit are the ACLU of Indiana, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Media Coalition, the Association of American Publishers Inc. and the National Association of Recording Merchandisers.

At issue is Indiana House Bill 1042, which Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law at the end of March. The new law, which covers any business opening after July 1, 2008, or any existing business which changes location after that date, requires the affected business to register with the Secretary of State and pay a $250 registration fee, with several other fees possibly to follow, if the business sells sexually explicit materials.

The big question, of course, is, what constitutes sexually explicit materials ? Well, among other things, it's any product or service that is harmful to minors or that is designed for use in, marketed primarily for, or provides for the stimulation of the human genital organs or masochism or a masochistic experience, sadism or a sadistic experience, sexual bondage, or sexual domination.

As to what is harmful to minors :

  • It describes or represents, in any form, nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse.
  • Considered as a whole, it appeals to the prurient interest in sex of minors.
  • It is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable matter for or performance before minors.
  • Considered as a whole, it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value to minors.

Rep. Terry Goodin claims the law will target pornography vendors that pop up along interstate exits in unincorporated areas. What it will do, however, is to require any business that deals in any way with any product or service that's remotely sexual - for instance, museums or art stores that sell statues of Michelangelo's David, or bookstores that sell mildly erotic literature or information on erectile dysfunction - to pay the $250 fee.

We're talking about a law that has very broad and very vague and, we would contend, very unconstitutional restrictions and burdens, said Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana: To the best of my knowledge, there is no similar law in the United States.

 

11th May   

The Bad Guy...

Guyana TV station closed for 4 months over live interview comment
Link Here

CNS 6 logoThe decision by Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo to impose a four-month ban on a private television station has not gone down well with United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Ambeyi Ligabo.

Ligabo cited the move as an example of tactics used by governments to restrict the independence of the press whilst seemingly allowing States to maintain a façade of respect to democratic principles such as freedom of expression.

In Guyana CNS Channel 6 was suspended for four months for 'infringing the terms of its license' after an interviewee, speaking during a live broadcast, called for attacks against the President.

 

10th May   

Blasphemy Laws Repealed...

House of Commons supports Lords repeal
Link Here

The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to support the abolition of the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel. This was the final stage in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, and the amendment was carried by 378 votes to 57. The Bill has received Royal Assent, so the blasphemy law is now officially dead and buried.

In a tetchy and bad-tempered parliamentary debate, Conservatives put in their final bid to block the abolition, arguing that it represented a significant step in the secularising of Britain. Some raised the spectre of it being the beginning of a process that would eventually lead to disestablishment. Government Minister Maria Eagle MP assured MPs that there was no such "hidden agenda".

Other MPs were, though, less shy about hoping that one day the Church of England would be disestablished. David Howarth, Liberal Democrat shadow Solicitor General said: It is the policy of my party to work towards the disestablishment of the Church, and the separation of Church and state. I am fairly comfortable with that position.

Howarth continued: The principle of the separation of Church and state is not about the separation of religion and politics, which I think is impossible. We cannot separate people's moral, religious views from their political views. We are talking about the state, not about society, and about the religious commitments of the state, not about whether people in society are religious or not. In the course of debate we have heard three separate arguments against the idea of state neutrality in religion. One of them; it might be called the "this is a Christian country" argument.

NSS honorary associate Dr Evan Harris, Lib Dem MP for Abingdon and Oxford (the original architect of this amendment), challenged Tory MPs who were arguing for the preservation of blasphemy laws. In an earlier debate that evening on the same Bill they had argued that new proposals to outlaw hatred against homosexuals would unnecessarily restrict the right of religious people to make clear their disapproval of homosexuality. Now they were arguing that the blasphemy law was necessary to protect religious people against offence. It seemed that their defence of free speech was not entirely consistent.

Dr Harris said: When it came to the issue of incitement to homophobic hatred, we heard a number of speeches and interventions from Conservative Members claiming that freedom of speech was critical and that freedom of expression was under threat. Yet when it comes to an issue—blasphemy, as opposed to incitement to hatred—that ca causes individuals themselves no damage, making the case for proscribing it much weaker, those very same people argue that freedom of expression has to go in order to maintain their version of no change. They want to maintain some symbolic law or the safety of the UK constitution, which they fear may be shaken to its foundations by the abolition of these unnecessary and discriminatory laws.

 

10th May   

Catty Nutters...

Nutters harangue HBO over Cathouse reality TV programme
Link Here

Cathouse DVDThe Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) has called on the television network HBO to stop airing shows like Cathouse , which promote sex trafficking and prostitution.

On April 24, 2008, CATW held a picket line protest in front of the corporate offices of HBO in New York City to protest its reality series Cathouse , set in a brothel.

 

10th May   

Update: Super Information Highway to Repression...

Malaysia Jails blogger for sedition
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flagTake note of what'
s been happening in Malaysia these past few days since popular blogger and political commentator Raja Petra Kamarudin was imprisoned on Tuesday after a trial which saw him charged with sedition for having written a blog post.

If the Malaysian government was truly worried about bloggers effecting social unrest, now they have it. Remember, this is a country where any politician worth their mutton has a blog, and even the old goats now blog too.

Ex-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has a highly-read blog, as does PM hopeful Anwar Ibrahim.

They set up their blogs, and they try to close down our blogs, said Raja

Raja is one of the sharpest voices both online and off in Malaysia.

 

10th May   

Update: Nutters Bussed In...

Take-Two sue Chicago Transit who pulled Grand Theft Auto IV ads
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

GTA IV bus advertThe publisher of Grand Theft Auto 4 IV is suing the Chicago Transit Authority, accusing it of pulling ads promoting the video game without explanation.

The video game's publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. sued the transit authority in Manhattan federal court for violating its free speech and contractual rights, saying it pulled its posters within days of the ads first appearing on April 22.

Take Two accused the authority and its sales agent, Titan Outdoor LLC, of violating a $300,000 (150,000 pounds) ad campaign agreement that included running Grand Theft Auto 4 IV poster ads on the sides of buses and transit display spaces throughout the Chicago transit system scheduled for six weeks between April and June.

The suit seeks an order for the transit authority to run the ads as well as monetary damages of at least $300,000.

The advertisements were removed following a report by a Fox News affiliate that questioned why the ad was allowed to run after a wave of violent crimes in Chicago, the suit said.

 

10th May   

Pressing On...

Bahrain proposes a step towards press freedom
Link Here

Bahrain flagBahrain has announced a new draft press law, long demanded by journalists and rights groups, which scraps jail terms for most offences but leaves courts to rule on two key areas.

The draft law guarantees freedom of expression as long as religion is not insulted or national unity threatened. The information minister, asked whether offenders could be jailed, said judges would decide.

This is left to the judiciary and is not the affair of the information ministry, Minister Jehad Bukamal (pictured) said at a news conference.

No journalist has been imprisoned in Bahrain since 1999, the rights group Reporters Without Borders said in a March report on the country, which was placed 118 out of 169 in its 2007 press freedom index, behind Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Kuwait is the only other Gulf Arab state that has decriminalised press offences, the organisation said.

We're happy that Bahrain has decriminalised press offences, but journalists can still be prosecuted under the penal code, for insulting the king or religion for example, Reporters Without Borders' Middle East chief Hajar Smouni said.

It is not clear how the draft law will affect bloggers, and a Bahraini official said blogging would be dealt with in later legislation.

It was not clear when the new draft press law would be presented to parliament for approval. Bahraini journalists said Islamist lawmakers, who have dominated parliament since 2006 polls, might object to the law, particularly in relation to insulting Islam. But Bahraini officials said they were confident the law would be passed soon because King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has backed press law reform.

 

10th May   

Hot Pop...

Story about trial of Ethiopian pop star leads to magazine seizure
Link Here

Ethiopia flagPolice in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, have detained a journalist and three support staffers of a private entertainment magazine since May 2.

Local journalists say the detentions are related to a cover story about the high-profile trial of Ethiopia'
s most popular pop singer, Tewodros Kassahun.

Deputy Editor and owner Alemayehu Mahtemework and the three media workers from the monthly Enku remained in police custody today without charges. Local journalists also reported that Editor-in-Chief Fekadu Mahtemework went into hiding after being summoned for questioning.

Mahtemework and the others were picked up early Friday evening as they carried 10,000 copies of the current edition from the printer to their offices. The police impounded all the copies of the paper, allegedly after receiving a tip from an informant at the printer that the cover story could lead to “incitement,”. The story focused on the trial of jailed pop music icon and government critic Kassahun, better known as Teddy Afro, and included interviews with his lawyer and fans.

The seizure of Enku and the arrests of its staffers is a continuation of the Ethiopian government'
s ongoing efforts to stifle the private press from freely reporting on important public issues,
said CPJ'
s executive director Joel Simon: We call on the Ethiopian authorities to abandon these crude tactics of intimidation and release our colleagues immediately. We also condemn this flagrant act of censorship and ask that the authorities return the confiscated copies of the magazine.

Update: Released

Based on article from cpj.org , 5th August 2008

Ethiopian journalists tell us that police in Addis Ababa have finally released 10,000 copies of Enku magazine that were impounded on May 2 because of a cover story about the jailed pop music icon and government critic Teddy Afro. The May edition is expected to finally go on sale on Saturday. CPJ had protested the seizure with Ethiopian officials.

We also denounced the arrests of Enku 's deputy editor and owner, Alemayehu Mahtemework, and three staffers, who were accused of "inciting the public" against the government because of the magazine's interviews with the singer's supporters. Mahtemework and his colleagues were released without charge after five days in custody.

 

9th May   

Criminal Injustice and Immigration Act 2008...

Dangerous pictures and gay hate speech
Link Here

The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act has completed its 3rd reading in the House of Commons and has received Royal Assent so becomes law.

According to BBC Newsbeat, the Dangerous Pictures clauses will be enacted from January 2009.

John Beyer, Director of Mediawatch UK, and supporter of even stricter measures on pornography Said: It is important for there to be clear divide between what is legal and what is not. People need to know. Contrary to the views expressed by protesters, he feels the new law provides that clarity on extreme material. But there may be a need for an amnesty, during which the public are able to hand in any material that could be considered a crime to possess. The last thing anybody would want is for the police to be raiding people's homes.

The maximum penalty for obscene publications has also been raised from 3 years to 5 years in prison.

The Dangerous Pictures clauses went unamended but the Government backed down and allowed a free speech protection to be written into its proposed 'homophobic hatred' clauses.

The decision came after the Government was defeated for a second time in the House of Lords. Peers voted 178 to 164 in favour of the protection.

This marks the end of a lengthy battle to make clear that the new criminal offence should not interfere with free speech or religious liberty.

The amendment says, for the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.

Words or behaviour which are threatening and intended to stir up hatred will be caught by the offence, which carries a maximum seven year prison sentence.

Speaking in last night's debate, Lord Waddington said: My understanding is that the Government do not wish to see discussion stifled and people harassed, bullied, interrogated and sometimes arrested for expressing their views. However, if that is so, it really is time that they did something about it.

Senior judge and 'gay rights' sympathiser, Dame Butler-Sloss, agreed that free speech needed protecting. She said: ...there are religious groups, not only Christians, not only bishops, but many Jews and Muslims, which share strong views that they gain from the Bible, the Old Testament in particular, or the Koran. Those people are potentially at risk.

She continued: It is those people who will potentially be intimidated; they will certainly be bothered and may go through an extremely unfortunate experience before calmer heads point out that under the new clause, as under older clauses, they have not committed any offence.

The Government said the issue could be made clear by publishing guidance instead of inserting a free speech protection into the Bill. But Lord Clarke said: If we mean that we are to maintain the principle of free speech, we should make sure that it is in this Bill and not leave it to the interpretation of guidelines, which would become another lawyers' paradise.

Following the Lords vote, the Government backed down and the measure was passed by a substantial majority in the Commons. The offence will become law with the free speech protection included.

 

9th May   

Cult Movie Forums...

Replacement for the defunct Anchor Bay Forum
Link Here

Cult Movie ForumsThe Starz forum, previously the Anchor Bay forum, was one of they key places to go to keep up with cult/horror UK DVD releases (and censorship issues). It has now, somewhat suddenly, been closed.

Marc Morris has now relaunched the forum under the new title Cult Movie Forums .

All Anchor Bay/Starz posts have been archived and previous users of the ABUK forums will be able to access them using their existing username and password.

Unsurprisingly new discussion topics have been defined and they are somewhat wider in scope than before.

 

9th May   

Update: Olympic Sport of Repression...

China assured of gold, internet blocked and athletes gagged
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking in Olympic China...Chinese Olympics herald a lull in internet censorship

Olympic handcuffsOfficials from China's Technology Ministry took a somewhat odd opportunity to speak about its censorship plans during a press conference after the Olympic torch relay crossed Mount Everest. They said that while the government would be able to guarantee as much [access] as possible, there's no way that China would turn off the Great Firewall entirely during the Games.

China has always been very cautious when it comes to the Internet, Technology Minister Wan Gang said, according to Reuters. I've not got any clear information about which sites will be shut or screened. But to protect the youth there are controls on some unhealthy web sites.

Wan's statement comes just over a month after the International Olympic Committee reminded China of its obligations as an Olympic host city to allow the press to report as freely as they have in the past which usually includes full, unfettered access to the Internet. The IOC insisted to the government that the Internet be open at all times during Games time, and commission vice chairman Kevan Gosper appeared optimistic that China would comply.

The IOC may have little recourse on China's decision to maintain some degree of filtering. One option for the organization is to insist on a list of things that would be blocked, such as porn sites, to ensure that the international media has free access to all of the sites it needs. However, China's vague description of unhealthy web sites gives it plenty of wiggle room.

China defends its decision by pointing out that it's not the only country to filter the Internet. Every country limits access to some web sites. Even in developed countries not every site can be accessed, Wan said. It's true that some countries do restrict the free flow of information to a degree, but very few do it as strictly as China. And, China did agree to open up the Net as part of its agreement with the IOC.

See full article from Prachatai

Athletes who wave the Tibetan flag or wear traditional dress while at the Beijing Olympics, could find themselves sanctioned under Article 51 (3) of the Olympic Charter according to guidelines issued in April by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The penalties for such a "crime" however, remain unknown.

In keeping with the conduct of China, the current Olympic host country, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has taken it upon itself to quash even the slightest sign of political expression, said ARTICLE 19 and Reporters Without Borders: The free expression of athletes is being denounced and silenced before our very eyes.

Article 51 (3) of the Olympic Charter affirms that No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas." Perhaps due to growing international attention, National Olympic Committees (NOCs) recently asked the IOC to provide an interpretation of this Article. In a six-point letter sent to NOCs in April, the IOC outlined that The conduct of participants at all sites, areas and venues includes all actions, reactions, attitudes or manifestations of any kind by a person or group of persons, including but not limited to their look, external appearance, clothing, gestures, and written or oral statements.

ARTICLE 19 and RSF call on the International Olympic Committee to immediately amend or interpret Article 51 (3) of the Olympic Charter so that it is compatible with international human rights principles on freedom of expression stemming from ARTICLE 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The right of Olympic athletes to openly comment on the situation of human rights in China or other countries must be upheld.

 

9th May   

Update: A Comment on No Commentary...

Consequences of BBFC decision to charge to censor commentary soundtracks
Link Here

BBFC logoBack in October 2007 the BBFC issued the following press release:

The BBFC has recently received legal advice on the issue of audio commentaries. Our advice is that audio commentaries will almost always constitute new video works and consequently require classification.

The only exceptions are audio descriptive tracks which involve very simple and short descriptions of the action on screen (eg for the visually impaired).

Letter writingJames explains some of the commercial effects that this BBFC decision has on the availability of commentary soundtracks.

I conjured up the idea of producing cost effective audio commentaries for classic British feature films for DVD companies around the world with original cast and crew members. Technology has had a hand at least in making this possible. Getting my foot in the door in the DVD industry took some time but I eventually succeeded in persuading Network DVD to allow me to produce commentaries for some of their releases prior to them going in house. I offer to produce commentaries for feature films between a cost of £1,000 and £1,500. This covers everything including payments made to participants. I even offer to make to produce commentaries which I would then license out for as little as £500. I can offer to produce an audio commentary for a 114 minute video for £1,250 but if the company had to pay for a BBFC certificate to use it, it would cost them another £759 + VAT to use it. A 95 minute film would only cost £645 + VAT to certify and I used to promote my commentary proposals as costing less than the price of the certificate when a license payment is suggested. This ruling would, on occasion, double the cost of the use of an audio commentary and would clearly prohibit the use of them.

It is significant that Paul Sutton posted on the Criterion forum, in that thread you quoted from, that The audio commentary can make or break a release (to say nothing of its educational richness) with emphasis on 'its educational richness'. I do not debate the initial part of the statement that audio commentaries will almost always constitute new video works. It is the following part of the statement that I have issue with that, as new video works, they would consequently require classification . This part of the statement is entirely false. New video works being offered commercially in the United Kingdom do not automatically require classification. They only require classification under the Video Recordings Act if they do not fall into one of the exempted categories (providing they do not fall foul of the exceptions to the exceptions). One of the key exemptions, which was put in place to ensure that people could use the video format to distribute information freely, applies to work that if taken as a whole, ... is designed to inform, instruct or educate. The forum post made by Paul Sutton evidences my perception of the function of an audio commentary that, even when considered as a video work, it is purely 'designed to inform and educate' and often instructs.

I first heard about the statement in November 2007 when trying to persuade Odeon Entertainment to commission some audio commentaries for their forthcoming releases. They wrote back to me an informed me of this recent statement. I subsequently emailed the BBFC and pointed out that the claim that new video works will require classification as a consequence of being 'new video works' is false and even offered an alternative and accurate suggestion of stating that audio commentaries will almost always constitute new video works and consequently require consideration for classification but this step was not taken. I also explained that, in addition to this error, it is most likely that most audio commentary video works would not require classification. Not wanting to show a lack of understanding that there may be some issues related to unclassified audio commentaries, I pointed out that an audio commentary performed in character can not be taken as whole intended for informative purposes and therefore would require classification and that this point may be worth raising with the video industry and the public. Having not heard back after a couple of days, I contacted the BBFC by telephone and explained the predicament the statement had presented me and pointed out again that I was not disputing the notion that an audio commentary playing back over images of a filmed drama constituted a video work of its own but that I was disputing that it can be said that it consequently requires classification when it should be stated that it consequently may require classification. Informally (and verbally) it was agreed that the statement needed revision and that the BBFC would wait for further feedback from others in case further revision was needed. I was told that they were unable to reply to my email due to 'technical difficulties'. At the time I felt that they might have been unwilling to admit in writing a mistake. As the change never occurred (the statement reads exactly how it read back in October) my suspicion was only raised.

I did not waste time in contacting various DVD companies who I sought work from of the issues related to this statement and presented the arguments set out here as to why the statement does not hold water and strongly suggested it could be ignored. I suspect some of the companies have quietly ignored my advice and have declined to take up my suggestions largely due to concerns of having to certify the audio commentaries I suggest producing. This week I finally received confirmation that one company at least are holding back from production of audio commentaries as a result of the issue of this. After making several offers to produce audio commentaries for Optimum Releasing, I received a reply stating we couldn'
t afford to buy them from you, especially as despite your previous email on the subject, we would have to pay for them to be certificated by the BBFC.


The concerns the BBFC have in terms of audio commentaries comes from such as the adult nature of the discussion that takes place on the audio commentaries for archive children's programmes which have been released with U certificates. The prime example of this would be the DVD releases of The Tomorrow People which, ironically, Paul Sutton praises in the aforementioned post on the Criterion forum. Language may dictate which category a video work may be given but it does not dictate whether a video work requires classification. The issue the public may have is that they might not reasonably expect such content on a video which has been certified as a 'U'. The remedy, in my opinion, is not to illegally claim that the commentaries must also be classified but that the packaging of such materials should (or perhaps must) supply a warning that some (and perhaps which) content has been included that has not been classified and may contain material that would not meet the requirements of the certificate issued if classified. That would seem the common sense to approach.

 

9th May   

Update: Gordon Ramsay Stirs It...

Australian parliament inquires into strong language on TV
Link Here  full story: Gordon Ramsay...Gordon Ramsay stirs trouble for Australian TV censors

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVDAustralia's Catholic church has taken a swipe at foul-mouthed British chef Gordon Ramsay and demanded his reality television shows be either taken off air or shown at a later time.

The move comes as Australia's Parliament holds an inquiry into swearing on television, prompted by Ramsay's antics in his series Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen.

One episode broadcast recently featured Ramsay using a four-letter expletive more than 80 times, while he also shouts at a chef saying: You French pig.

There can be no excuse for vilification of this sort. We conclude that this episode should never have been aired on Australian television, the Catholic church in the southern city of Adelaide said in a submission to the parliamentary inquiry.

Ramsay's reality programmes are popular ratings drawcards in Australia, but they have also prompted complaints from schools and parent groups who are angry that the shows are broadcast at times when children may be watching television.

Two of the Ramsay programmes air at 8.30pm, while one of the shows, Hell's Kitchen, where contestants compete to win a restaurant, is aired at a later 9.30pm time slot.

Conservative Senator Cory Bernardi initiated a Senate inquiry into swearing after his office received several complaints about Ramsay's programmes.

The inquiry has received more than 50 public submissions, with the overwhelming majority in favour of tighter regulation and calling for the Nine television network, which broadcasts the programmes, to censor Ramsay.

But the Council for Civil Liberties in Australia's largest state of New South Wales said it has no problems with Ramsay's programmes, which regularly attract more than one million viewers: This inquiry is yet another attempt to restrict the freedom of expression of ordinary Australians. Not everyone is offended by coarse language .

 

8th May   

Update: Cultural Poison...

Catholics get into Grand Theft Auto
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV gameTeenage boys are going wild this week over a more dangerous cultural low: Grand Theft Auto IV . The new video game from Rockstar Games is flying off the shelves, and all the early reviews are glowing. GamePro magazine calls it the pinnacle of interactive entertainment and game design.

Yes, young lads, you can visit strip clubs and get lap dances, pick up prostitutes, go on assassination missions and conduct gangland-style executions. The New York Times applauded the game'
s winsome procession of grifters, hustlers, drug peddlers and other gloriously unrepentant lowlifes.

WhatTheyPlay.com is a resource site for parents, and interviews with children find they like the series for its wide-open play, particularly the vicarious experience of the thug life. I'
m never going to be a car-jacking, whore-murdering gang member,
said one, so I guess it'
s very interesting to see what your life could be like, if you chose that path. It'
s amazing to become so immersed in the game experience and really be able to feel like a criminal.


The violent content also attracts children as a way to vent anger or stress. One boy explained: “Last week, I missed homework and my teacher yelled at me. When I went home, I started playing [Grand Theft Auto] Vice City , and got a tank. I ran over everybody. And I smashed a lot of cars and blew them up.

There'
s something odd about our culture when we try to prevent children under 17 from seeing violent or sexually overt material in a two-hour R-rated movie, but we'
re cavalier about selling the same experience - actually, a more offensive experience since it'
s entirely non-judgmental - in an M-rated video game that will be played every night for months.

There'
s only one word to describe parents who would buy this game for their children: Disgraceful. But retailers, too, must be pressed to check ID before selling the game to children who most assuredly will seek to purchase it. Legally, stores cannot sell children pornographic magazines or handguns - but they can legally sell video games to children that contain pornographic content or that teach children how to gun down cops.

They can choose to line their pockets with the proceeds of the sale of this cultural poison to youngsters. They can join the chorus of consequential deniability, too. All they have to worry about is their conscience.

 

8th May   

Update: Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act...

US law proposed requiring age verification for buying video games
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV gameWith Grand Theft Auto IV in the headlines, a bipartisan pair of House members has introduced a bill that would require videogame retailers to check identification in order to prevent minors from buying games intended for adults.

Representatives Lee Terry and Jim Matheson have introduced the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act to ensure that children can only access age appropriate content without parental permission.

Terry said. Many young children are walking into stores and are able to buy or rent these games without their parents even knowing about it. Many retailers have tried to develop voluntary policies to make sure mature games do not end up in the hands of young kids, but we need to do more to protect our children.

Bill would require ID checks for purchases of games rated M (mature) or AO (adult only). It would also compel game retailers to post ratings system explanations in the store. Retailers found in violation of either requirement would face a $5,000 civil penalty.

Several state legislatures have enacted similar laws, but each has been struck down by courts on First Amendment challenges.

Terry said he remains optimistic because, unlike the state laws: This bill doesn'
t involve itself in content or defining the standards for ‘mature'
 or ‘adults only'
. It simply requires the retailer to post what the industry has defined as ‘mature'
 and ‘adults only'
 so that parents can know, and requires checking of identification
.

 

8th May   

Concerned about Wiki Fuffers...

Nutters whinge at adult pictures in Wikipedia
Link Here

Wikipedia logoMembers of the Concerned Women for America are criticizing Wikipedia for allowing content that includes sexually explicit images.

According to a report in World Net Daily, Matt Barber - the Concerned Women for America's policy director for cultural issues and a constitutional law attorney - said he was outraged by the decision: Children use Wikipedia all of the time for reports for school, and this stuff is not just pornography: This is hardcore pornography. Much of it may even be in violation of our nation's obscenity laws.

Wikpedia, an online encyclopedia that features user-submitted content, has some detailed photographs that accompany more adult articles on subjects such as "fluffer" and "striptease."

Barber said many of the filtering devices people have in their homes and schools are not geared toward protecting against Wikipedia's material.

Wikipedia's goal is to provide an encyclopedia that contains the sum of all human knowledge, Mark Pelligrini, a regional representative for Wikipedia, told World Net Daily: To that end, Wikipedia does not censor objectionable material.

[I]f someone goes to the articles on 'sex,' 'penis' or any graphic topic, we do provide frank descriptions and images. For images, we aim for clinical pictures of the sort you would find in an anatomy or medical textbook.

Barber said he planned to contact the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's office to determine whether Wikipedia may be engaging in the dissemination of illegal obscenity.

 

7th May   

Update: Finger Wagging Good...

ASA to investigate anti-KFC animal cruelty leaflet
Link Here  full story: Peta...Animal activists challenging the media

Kentucky Fried CrueltyThe advertising watchdog is investigating an ad by animal rights group Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) that shows KFC's Colonel Sanders spattered in blood and about to knife a chicken, after a complaint that it was offensive and could distress children.

The ad, on the front cover of a leaflet that Peta distributes across the UK, is part of a campaign the animal rights group is running against the fast food chain under the title "KFC Cruelty".

The text on the front of the leaflet states: KFC Cruelty. The Colonel's secret recipe includes: live scalding, painful de-beaking, crippled chickens.

The complainant to the Advertising Standards Authority said that the circular was offensive, irresponsible and unsuitable for targeted delivery and was particularly concerned that it could distress children who picked it up.

The ASA is investigating the leaflet and its contents to see of it breaches the advertising code's stipulations on responsible advertising, decency and causing fear and distress.

Peta says that this is the first time the leaflet has sparked a complaint made through official channels since the campaign began in 2003: The cartoon image of Colonel Sanders killing a chicken on our leaflet is obviously a caricature - a comic. We cannot imagine that our leaflet would provoke fear in anyone unless the reader was a chicken.

 

7th May   

Update: Blown Away by Californication...

New Zealand Broadcasting Standards whinges about bad taste
Link Here  full story: Californication...US TV show picks up whinges around the world

Californication adA complaint that an episode of Californication on New Zealand's TV3 involving a threesome sex scene breached standards of good taste and decency has been upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

A man complained after he said he had stumbled on the episode while trying to find something for his family to watch: What met our eyes were two men and one woman on a bed, and the most graphic act of oral sex that left nothing to the imagination.

Another man also complained saying this pornographic segment ... although not showing any explicit genitalia is totally unacceptable for free viewing regardless of the screening time.

The scene screened at 10.04pm a during school holidays.

The complaints were under three sections of the Broadcasting Act - good taste and decency, programme information and children's interests.

TVWorks (TV3) replied that the scene was simulated, did not shown any explicit nudity and was not intended to be titillating.

Three members of the authority found the scene as close to pornographic as possible without showing genitalia. But one member of the authority said he could not uphold the complaints that the scene breached good taste and decency, because it was an integral part of the overall plot of the series. Because the decision was not unanimous, the authority declined to make any order over the breach.

The authority declined the complaints over programme information and the broadcaster not considering the interests of children. It said the sex scene screened after 10pm and TV3 gave sufficient warning that the programme contained sexual material and language and was not suitable for children.

 

7th May   

Star Nutter...

Christian Voice whinge at reality TV featuring auditions for Jesus
Link Here

Jesus Christ Superstar DVDThe prospect of the BBC auditioning pop hopefuls in front of Andrew Lloyd Webber for the role of Jesus has led a Christian group to promise Jerry Springer the Opera -style protests if the project goes ahead.

Christian Voice said tonight that they might even try to get young Christians into the audition room itself to share the Gospel of the real Jesus Christ with Lord Lloyd-Webber himself.

The BBC are now said to be reconsidering their decision to air the reality TV show based on Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar just weeks after the composer said he wanted to cast Jesus as a follow-up to Maria in The Sound of Music and Nancy and Oliver in the musical Oliver.

The TV shows How do you solve a problem like Maria and I'd Do Anything were regarded by TV bosses as such a success that Lord Lloyd-Webber has been urged to come up with another one. He said in March: I have an idea to do Jesus Christ Superstar next year and then maybe another all-new show which I'm really excited about.

But the BBC are now said by the website UnrealityTV to be worried that they will face the same sort of complaints from Christian groups that they faced over Jerry Springer Opera a few years ago.

Auditions could take place this year, but as with previous shows, they will be held across the country and the judges, who will include Lloyd Webber, will be at each venue.

Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said tonight: If it were to go ahead, the show would then become for Christian Voice very much a Jerry Springer the Opera operation, with witness and evangelism at every venue. There are still plenty of veterans of the early protests over Jesus Christ Superstar around who would love to share the Gospel with the queuing wanabees. It might even be that we could encourage Christian singers to enrol in order to tell Andrew Lloyd-Webber just what they think of his project in the audition room itself.

 

7th May   

Taking the Tango Challenge...

The years most challenged books in US school libraries
Link Here

A children's story about a family of penguins with two fathers once again tops the list of library books some people object to the most.

And Tango Makes Three , released in 2005 and co-written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, was the most "challenged" book in public schools and libraries for the second straight year, according to the American Library Association.

The complaints are that young children will believe that homosexuality is a lifestyle that is acceptable. The people complaining, of course, don't agree with that, Judith Krug, director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, told The Associated Press.

Other books on the ALA's top 10 list include Maya Angelou's memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , in which the author writes of being raped as a young girl; Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, long attacked for alleged racism; and Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass , an anti-religious work in which a former nun says: The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake.

Overall, the number of reported library challenges dropped from 546 in 2006 to 420 last year, well below the mid-1990s, when complaints topped 750. For every challenge listed, about four to five go unreported, the library association estimates.

The atmosphere is a little better than it used to be, Krug says. I think some of the pressure has been taken off of books by the Internet, because so much is happening on the Internet.

 

7th May   

Update: Jihad Against a Dodgy Council...

First steps in lawsuit against council using building regs to censor
Link Here  full story: Virtul Jihadi...Troy uses building regs to censor art

Wafaa Bilal animationThe city of Troy in New York State is facing legal action for shutting down the Sanctuary for Independent Media for building code violations when a controversial exhibit opened in March.

The New York Civil Liberties Union and the arts group filed a notice of claim against the city and city Public Works Commissioner Robert Mirch seeking unspecified damages.

The city shut the facility to public gatherings after digital artist Wafaa Bilal's video game and exhibit Virtual Jihadi moved there from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

City officials cannot selectively enforce building codes to shut down an art exhibition they find distasteful, said Melanie Trimble, executive director of NYCLU's Capital Region chapter.

The notice is a first step toward filing a lawsuit. Trimble said the arts group and NYCLU have not assessed what damages they seek.

There is a climate of fear in the city, Sanctuary for Independent Media co-founder Steve Pierce said. Pierce, who is also an adjunct professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said city officials use their government authority to go after people who do not agree with their political views.

Mirch led a demonstration protesting Bilal's video game exhibit, which features himself as a suicide bomber on a mission to assassinate President Bush. Mirch supervises code enforcement and also is majority leader of the Rensselaer County Legislature.

Update: Night of Bush Capturing

24th July 2008, See article from gamepolitics.com

Bilal, an American citizen as well as a faculty member at the Art Institute of Chicago, is currently exhibiting Virtual Jihadi at the Windy City's FLATFILE galleries, accompanied by a renewed round of controversy.

During a speech, Bilal said that the idea for the game started with Quest for Saddam... in which the object is to find and kill Saddam Hussein. Apparently someone in Al Qaeda obtained a copy of the game, changed the skins of the soldiers and Saddam so that now the player is an Iraqi killing Americans and hunting George Bush [the so-called Night of Bush Capturing game].

 

7th May   

Offsite: Low Morale Amongst Morality Police...

Infighting on the Philippines film censor board
Link Here

MCRTB logoThe Movie and Television Review and Classification Board is a small but sensitive state agency that in recent years was caught in the maelstrom of controversy for banning a seemingly harmless documentary of a fallen president and for the highly irregular tampering of the classification of a science fiction film.

For several months now, the board has been under a state of unrest for another reason—an irreconcilable feud between its chairman, Ma. Consoliza Laguardia, and the agency'
s rank-and-file employees. The conflict stemmed from the employees'
 disenchantment with, and loss of confidence in Laguardia due to alleged incompetence and abuse of power, resulting in a string of purported anomalies.

The rift broke into the open when the employees union wrote a letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on July 9, asking her to replace Laguardia to put an end to the alleged misgovernance and to the restiveness and demoralization among their ranks.

...Read article

 

6th May   

Update: Grand Theft Auto: Children's Version...

Australian cuts detailed
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV gameThe Australian censored version of Grand Theft Auto IV doesn't show player sex, though the act remains implied with "car rocking" visuals and potty mouth dialogue.

According to GameSpot, in Australian versions of GTA IV, Niko can indeed pick up prostitutes, but once he takes said sex worker to a secluded area, the game camera shifts to a tight shot of the rear of the vehicle the pair are in and cannot be moved.

Prostitution upgrades resulting in superior player health have also been removed from the Australian version.

The US and international versions of GTA IV take the implied sexual act a step further, however, by showing fully clothed dry humping (also called frottage) scenes that simulate the motions of intercourse. There is no nudity in the Mature rated game, however, only scantily clad women.

As an alternative to traditional food power ups found in video games, Grand Theft Auto III introduced the concept of prostitution power-ups back in 2001.

 

6th May   

Update: Praise be to Allah...

Malaysian catholics pass first hurdle to use the word 'Allah'
Link Here

Herald newspaperA Roman Catholic newspaper cleared its first legal hurdle in its fight against a Malaysian government ban on Christians using the word "Allah" as a synonym for "God."

High Court Judge Lau Bee Lan ruled that prosecutors' objection to a lawsuit by The Herald weekly was without merit. The judge said she will allow the paper to contest the government ban in court.

The government says the word "Allah" refers only to the Muslim God and its use by Christians might confuse Muslims. It has threatened to revoke the paper's publishing license if it defies the order.

The Herald also wants a court declaration that "Allah" is not for exclusive use by Muslims. The court agreed that the church's application is not frivolous nor vexatious nor an abuse of process. It deserves to be heard, said Derek Fernandez, a lawyer for the newspaper.

The court will set a trial date later, Fernandez told reporters.

The Herald  insists that "Allah" is an Arabic word that predates Islam and has been used for centuries to mean "God" in Malay.

In a separate case in Malaysia, the Sabah Evangelical Church of Borneo has also filed a lawsuit in an effort to be allowed to use "Allah" after officials last year banned the import of books containing the word. Hearings in that case were still in the preliminary stages.

 

6th May   

Update: Hard Going...

Ongoing court case re legality of hardcore DVDs in Ireland
Link Here  full story: Hardcore in Ireland...Censor ban on hardcore porn in Irish Courts

Pen in handDear Mr. Kelleher,

You may recall I e-mailed you last year asking you to tell me what was the current legal status of R18 UK classified DVDs in the Republic of Ireland.

You replied that you could not so do, because, inter alia, your office was a party to High Court proceedings concerning that very issue.

I assume that those court proceedings have been resolved, one way or the other, by now, given that over a year has passed since then.

So, would you tell me what the "official position" is on this issue, please ?

Indeed I might remind you of your own statements in an interview with Gerry McCarthy of The Sunday Times newspaper (2nd July 2006) stating support for "good wholesome shagging" in the context of DVDs etc.


You go on to say: The biggest change is a recognition that people who are 18 are adults,
they should be able to make up their own minds.
Our role would be to advise, a consumer guide."

Well I, an adult, am directly asking you for the above said "advice" on this material's legal status in this jurisdiction.

Irish Film Censors Office logoJohn Kelleher replied:

I have no difficulty in responding to your question regarding the current legal status in Ireland of DVDs classified R18 in the UK. The position is that irrespective of whether a DVD may be classified R18 or otherwise in the UK, it cannot not be distributed in Ireland without a certificate from this Office.

My reluctance to comment did not relate to that question but to others which touch on the legal case referred to, which is, in fact, still before the courts. The High Court judgment of Mr. Kevin O'Higgins in December 2007, which found in favour of this Office and the Censorship of Films Appeal Board, has since been appealed to the Supreme Court.

Yours sincerely,
John Kelleher

Update: Sex Shop Legislation Being Considered in Ireland

May 6th 2008

Anthony emailed again and John Kelleher replied with answers interleaved and shown coloured in maroon:

Pen in handAnthony: Dear Mr. Kelleher,

I'm afraid, however, that your answer leaves me more confused than I was before.

Perhaps you misunderstood my question, I wasn't asking if a British BBFC R18 certificate was legally valid in the Irish Republic - I am aware that all videos rented or sold here and issued after Sept 1993 need a certificate from your office.

My question was whether video content that was consistent with the R18 category was likely to receive a certificate from your office or not.

Irish Film Censors Office logoJohn Kelleher: I cannot at present envisage a situation where video content consistent with the UK's R18 category would receive a certificate from IFCO. As you know, unlike the UK, where adult shops are licenced by local authorities and access to R18 material is strictly monitored, Ireland does not have licenced adult or sex shops. It will be a matter for the Oireachtas to determine whether this may change.

Anthony: In other words is consensual non-violent, "couple friendly" explicit sexual material going to be granted a, (presumably 18) certificate, or not ?

John Kelleher: That is not 'in other words'. The circumstances which determine a certificate may vary.

Anthony: I believe a cert was granted to 9 Songs , so the degree of explicit sexual detail would not seem to be the sole criterion in deciding whether a cert can be granted. In effect, the cert granted to 9 Songs shows that hardcore images are not legally "obscene" in the Republic.

John Kelleher: As with 9 Songs , the degree of explicit sexual detail was not the sole criterion. The key is context. In fact, the cert granted to ' 9 Songs does not, as you say, show that 'hardcore images are not legally 'obscene' in the Republic'.

Anthony: There's a second question which is related - What is the legal position of personal imports from the UK or indeed elsewhere in the world ?

John Kelleher: The Video Recordings Act 1989 makes it an offence to import into the state a video work for which a prohibition order is in force.

Anthony: If one should order by mail order a dvd featuring this content from abroad, is the importation of this dvd "distribution" in the meaning of the Act of the Oireachtas that you're working under? I refer you to the Video Recordings Act 1989, which governs the control and regulation of the supply and importation of video recordings. If it is, would the shop or the recipient, or both, be considered to have breached the Act?

John Kelleher: See preceding paragraph.

Anthony: If as seems likely (judging by your office and the Appeals Board's actions in the High Court case you refer to), the Irish Film Censor's Office has decided to keep what the man in the street would call "hardcore movies" effectively illegal -by denying such videos a certificate - that would seem at odds with your professed statement to let adults decide for themselves.

John Kelleher: I don't believe it is at odds but for reasons stated above, I do not wish to comment at this time.

John Kelleher: I have given answers, in so far as I can, to some of the questions you raise.

Because, as previously mentioned, there is a relevant case before the Supreme Court, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on some aspects of these matters. Likewise, there is amending legislation going through the Oireachtas currently, and perhaps further changes to censorship legislation in prospect, so I wish to reserve my opinion until such time as it may be sought in that regard.

Yours sincerely
John Kelleher.

Comment: intriguing

Anthony: His reference to amending legislation going through the Oireachtas (S. Irish Houses of Parliament) is intriguing.

My guess would be that they intend requiring sex shops here to have a licence, but not that they intend to allow them to sell hardcore dvds, in effect the pre-"loosening up" R18 situation in the UK. I may be wrong, perhaps they intend to copy the UK regulations, but my experience says otherwise. I'll enquire further about this legislation.

The line that doesn't mean that hardcore images are not legally obscene is an amazing statement. I mean presumably the ones contained in that particular film, 9 Songs , aren't obscene, or is the Film Censor breaking the law?

 

6th May   

Immoral Desires...

US nutters want state persecutors to go after mainstream porn
Link Here

MIM logoThe enemies of free expression are at it again, with Morality in Media President Robert Peters criticizing FBI Director Robert Mueller for refusing to investigate obscenity crimes that do not depict the most extreme hardcore pornography.

Peters' letter to Mueller cites a number of ways in which he feels that constitutionally-protected materials lead to child abuse, including allowing "child molesters [to] use 'adult' obscenity (i.e., no minors depicted) to entice, arouse, desensitize and instruct their child victims," and how a consenting adult's viewing of legal erotica inevitably leads to the consumer's depravation and a "downward spiral" of viewing child pornography rather than "adult obscenity."

Peters' rant praised the efforts of former Attorney General Ashcroft and condemned the Supreme Court for upholding the Constitution in its overturning of the CDA and COPA.

MIM is also calling for increased efforts focusing on online adult entertainment as well as erotica delivered via in-room hotel PPV systems, citing titles from Hustler as an example of his belief that much obscenity features teens who may be at least 18 but who are promoted for their youth.

It wouldn't require a tremendous allocation of investigative and prosecutorial resources to substantially reduce traffic in obscene materials, Peters said. Because much if not most hardcore pornography is controlled by a relatively small number of companies based in the U.S. But it would require a commitment.

Finally, Peters expressed his support for Big Brother's monitoring of consumer's surfing habits via ISP record retention and called on the Justice Department and FBI to change its counter productive obscenity enforcement policies that make it more difficult if not impossible to win [this] war.

 

6th May   

Cuts and Bans...

Indian film censors, their guidelines and statistics
Link Here

Indian film censors CBFC logoThe Indian film censors have been reporting about activity in 2007

The Central Board of Film Certification certifies films as per the provisions of Cinematograph Act, 1952. There is an 'A' certificate for adults only, a 'U' certificate suitable for all and a 'UA' certificate in between

The guidelines stipulate the following:

  • Anti-social activities such as violence are not glorified and justified.
  • Pointless or avoidable scenes of violence, cruelty and horror, scenes of violence primarily intended to provide entertainment and such scenes as may have the effect of desensitizing or dehumanizing people are not shown.
  • Human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity, or depravity
  • Words with dual meaning as obviously cater to baser instincts are not allowed
  • Scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are not presented
  • Scenes showing sexual perversions shall be avoided and if such matters are germane to the theme, they shall be reduced to the minimum and no details are shown.
  2005 2006 2007
Submitted 7417 10551  
Banned 18 59 11
Cut 473 453 395

 

5th May   

Australia's Morality Police...

Police take time out from crime fighting to raid adult shops
Link Here

New South Wales flagNew South Wales police have raided a number of adult shops in Sydney's Blacktown and St Marys over the last week, ostensibly looking for X18+ videos and DVDs.

It is illegal to sell films that have been classified X18+ by the Federal government, in NSW. Most people do not know that non-violent, sexually explicit films showing consenting adults, are illegal to sell in NSW or any of the Australian states for that matter.

It is estimated that up to 50 police officers spent at least 10 hours each performing these raids and that at least another 200 police hours will be spent on classifying and processing the thousands of DVDs that were seized. Approximately 30 robberies and a dozen assaults would have taken place in the Blacktown and St Mary'
s precincts during the time that these raids were enacted.

Mostly this is not the fault of the police. It'
s the fault of the state government who would rather that they spend unnecessary amounts of time policing morality - like censorship breaches. What makes this situation worse is that many of the police raids are carried out at the request of the federal government'
s Censorship Board. The very same organisation that classifies X18+ films as OK for adults at a federal level.

The Board'
s Community Liaison Officer, Ron Robertson, is supposed to go around and visit retailers and inform them if they are selling material outside of the law. Instead, he now takes it upon himself to encourage state police to waste their time busting adult retailers for selling x18+ films that his own Board has classified! If this sounds like bureaucracy gone mad, you'
re right. The NSW Attorney General should get out and about and talk to a few of the 30% of the state'
s adults who regularly buy and watch X18+ films. And the Federal censorship Minister, ( former NSW Attorney General) Bob Debus, needs to have a serious talk to all state Attorneys about the massive waste of police resources in each state on policing the sale of adult films.

 

5th May   

Update: Carry On Censor...

Court case to abolish Indonesian film censors fails
Link Here  full story: Film Censors Taken to Court...Indonesian film censors taken to court

Indonesia flagThe Indonesian constitutional court turned down a request to abolish the country's censorship body, sparking wild celebrations from hardline Muslims in the public gallery.

But filmmakers who were seeking the abolition of the censorship panel also claimed victory after the court ruled that a new assessment system is "needed urgently" to unlock the country's cinematic creativity.

Constitutional judge Jimly Asshidiqqie ruled that the current film law is not in line with modern times and there is an urgent need to form a new film law and new film assessment system that is more democratic.

The court decided that the Film Censorship Board, which often cuts violence and sexuality from movies and public television shows, could not be abolished until the new assessment system is in place.

A group of around 40 hardline Muslims who packed the public gallery cried "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) and cheered the ruling as a victory for what they see as Islamic values.

Then they carried Anwar Fuady, the head of the television cinema association who stands firmly against abolishing the review panel, around the courthouse in triumph. Fuady praised the ruling and said the censorship board was needed as a filter otherwise the country will be a nation of free sex.

However one of the plaintiffs, filmmaker Rivai Riza, told AFP the ruling gave Indonesia's film industry hope: The decision was clear that our request was rejected but we are happy that there is at least a rational dissenting opinion. This means that the democratic process worked and there is hope .

A dissenting opinion by Judge Laica Marzuki said that censorship can be seen as violating the constitution... that guarantees the right to communicate and acquire information.

 

5th May   

Complaints up at the ASA...

ASA eye the regulation of commercial claims on websites
Link Here

ASA logoIn 2007, the ASA received 24,192 complaints about a record 14,080 advertisements. The total number of complaints received increased by 8% in comparison with 2006. The number of ads complained about continued to rise: 2007'
s total represented an increase of 10% from the year before.

The number of broadcast complaints received increased by nearly 20% to 10,685 compared with 2006, reflecting the fact that seven out of the 10 most complained about campaigns of the year included TV ads. The total number of broadcast ads complained about was 2,639.

The most complained about advert was the Governments anti smoking campaign featuring people 'fish hooked' by nicotine. 774 complaints were upheld. The ASA felt that two of the TV ads and the poster ads could frighten and distress children and upheld complaints on this basis.

Overall, non-broadcast media attracted more objections, with a total of 13,507 complaints about 11,441 non-broadcast advertisements. However, this represents a mere 0.4% growth in the number of complaints year on year, while the number of non-broadcast ads complained about has increased by 9%.

The number of complaints the ASA receive about advertising on the internet continues to grow strongly. Some of these – where banner or pop-up ads, e-mails or virals are concerned – are within the remit, but the overwhelming proportion of complaints relate to advertising claims on companies'
 own websites, and as such fall outside of remit.

Chris Smith, the ASA chairman said: We hope for an early outcome to the detailed discussions under way within the industry, led by the Advertising Association, on the development of ways to ensure continued responsibility in advertising in new media settings.

 

5th May   

Freedom House Reports...

Press freedom has declined in the world overall
Link Here

Freedom House logoAn annual survey of media freedom has reported a mixed picture in East Asia - with some losses and some gains.

The US-based Freedom House organisation says China tightened some restrictions in 2007, but also tolerated more investigative journalism into cases of official corruption and enforced child labour. Gains were offset by an elaborate web of regulations and laws, which allowed the tightening of media control and internet restrictions in China.

The report noted gains last year in Thailand and Malaysia, but said Vietnam and Laos continue to fare poorly.

It ranked North Korea as the world's most restricted media environment. Freedom House said the Burmese media environment remained among the most tightly restricted in the world during 2007, with conditions worsening in August and September due to the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations. As many as 15 journalists were detained during the unrest.

The report said Vietnam had reversed some of the gains in press freedom that had been made in 2006, with a crackdown on dissident writers. For every step forward in press freedom last year, there were two steps back. It said the country's fledgling community of online pro-democracy writers was targeted by the government - with six cyber-dissidents imprisoned within one week in May.

Freedom House says press freedom has declined in the world overall. Finland and Iceland are described as the world's freest media environments.

 

4th May   

Update: Grand Theft Freedom...

UAE ban GTA IV whilst New Zealand bans parents giving it to their kids
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV gameThe United Arab Emirates has banned Grand Theft Auto IV.

Some gamers, however, have found a way around the loophole by purchasing the game from the duty-free shop at Dubai Airport. The Abu Dhabi airport, however was not stocking the game.

The ban is not surprising, given that past GTA games have been banned in the UAE.

See New Zealand Herald

New Zealand shop assistants are reporting a dilemma of how to say no to parents demanding to buy Grand Theft Auto IV with their 14-year-old beside them.

The Censor office's advice was to stand firm. If it's perfectly obvious the parent is buying the game for the child, don't sell it to the parent, says chief censor Bill Hastings. If a game is R18 it's R18 for a reason and it's illegal to make it available to anyone under that age.

It's possible the adults buying the game for minors are unaware that they could face three months in prison or a $10,000 fine for their actions. Or perhaps they're thumbing their nose at a law that, although it's been in place since 1994, has yet to be enforced against parents.

But Hastings argues fear of being caught shouldn't be the driving force here, it should be doing the right thing - especially for your kids. The game gets its R18 rating largely because of its violence and, thanks to advances in game software and hardware, because it is very realistic.

 

4th May   

Update: Puttin' the Boot into Cartoons...

Russian press censorship forces cartoonists to bow out
Link Here

Naked Putin and Bush playing gameMikhail Zlatkovsky has been lampooning Russian leaders since the days of perestroika. But he has discovered that satire permitted by Gorbachev and Yeltsin is dangerous under Putin.

When Yeltsin named Vladimir Putin as acting president on New Year's Eve 1999, Zlatkovsky drew the ailing Yeltsin dredging a mermaid-tailed Putin out of the sea and putting a crown on his head. Putin became a regular feature of Zlatkovsky's cartoons. But the new President was officially inaugurated on 7 May 2000, and the next day, Zlatkovsky's editor at Literaturnaya Gazeta, where he then worked, came into the newsroom, fresh from a Kremlin reception.

He said to me, 'Misha, we're not going to draw Putin any more,' recalls Zlatkovsky: The young lad is very sensitive. From that day onwards, Zlatkovsky has not had another cartoon of Putin published. Nowadays, the only cartoons of the Russian leader to appear in the Russian press are those that depict him in a positive, or even heroic light.

As Putin's rule went on, says Zlatkovsky, the number of taboo subjects increased – ministers, Kremlin aides, Chechnya and top military brass all became off limits. Recently a cartoon depicting Alexy II, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, propmpted a phone call from the patriarchate and a strong request never to draw him again.

There's no central censor these days, says Zlatkovsky: Instead, we have the censorship of the fire safety inspectorate; or the censorship of the tax police. Satirise the ruling class today, and tomorrow the newspaper offices will be paid a surprise visit by fire inspectors who will find a bureaucratic regulation that the office does not meet, and close it. Or there will be a call from the printworks stating that the price of paper has inexplicably risen tenfold. Many cartoonists have given up, finding other work, and newspaper editors prefer to err on the side of caution and not publish cartoons at all.

 

4th May   

Censored 11...

Old racially stereotyped Merrie Melody cartoons on YouTube
Link Here

Coal Black and de sebben drawfs posterAmong the millions of clips on the video-sharing Web site YouTube are 11 racially stereotyped Warner Brothers cartoons that have not been shown in an authorized release since 1968.

Despite efforts to suppress them, racist cartoons from the 1940s have been circulating on the Web.

Some of the cartoons were removed on April 16. A message saying the cartoons were no longer available because of a copyright claim by Warner appeared in their place. By evening the messages disappeared, and some of the cartoons were back. Representatives for YouTube and Warner would not confirm whether the companies had tried to remove the cartoons.

A representative for Warner wrote in an e-mail message that Warner Brothers has rights to the titles in question and that we vigorously protect all our copyrights. We do not make distinctions based on content.

The cartoons, known as the Censored 11 , have been unavailable to the public for 40 years. Postings no longer appear if YouTube is searched for Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs, a parody of Snow White and the most famous of the cartoons. But a search for Coal Black does find the cartoon.

These cartoons were controversial when first released; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) unsuccessfully protested Coal Black before it was shown in 1943. Richard McIntire, the director of communications for the NAACP, wrote in an e-mail message that the cartoons are despicable. We encourage the films'
 owners to maintain them as they are — that is, locked away in their vaults.

WMAV01, a YouTube user who posted some of the cartoons wrote in an e-mail message that these cartoons were never officially ‘banned'
 by any law
and added that the cartoons had historical value. WMAV01 said the cartoons were available on other websites like foundrymusic.com.

The cartoons are also available on bootleg DVDs from Web sites like banned-cartoons.com, which sells a collection of 165 such cartoons.

Michael Barrier, author of four books on the history of animation and comics, said the cartoons should be presented in an informed way for an intelligent, adult audience.

 

4th May   

Update: Arbitary Book Censorship...

Iran tells authors and publishers to self censor more
Link Here  full story: Book Censors in Iran...Iranian literary censors

Iran flagIran'
s culture minister has reacted to publishers'
 criticisms of the country'
s evaluation process by urging writers to censor their own books if they hoped for publication in the Islamic republic.

At a news conference the minister, Mohammad Hossein Safar, said: This is what we ask publishers and writers, ‘You are aware of the vetting code, so censor pages which are likely to create a dispute.'
 
 

Declaring that publications should conform to the system'
s religious, moral and national sensitivities, he warned against graphic descriptions of relationships or sex, saying, It is a clear violation of the law to give an excessive portrayal of a man and woman'
s private relationships
and to subject our youth and adults to descriptions of intercourse, adding that if anyone makes fun of religion, be it Islam or Christianity, the country should not allow opposition to God to be reflected in the media.

All publications in Iran must be approved by the Culture Ministry. Publishers have complained of tighter censorship of new books since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president in 2005. The culture minister made his remarks in reply to a recent letter from the Tehran Publishers Association complaining that the ministry employed a prolonged and arbitrary vetting process.

 

4th May   

Update: Bulls Balls Bullshit...

Florida looking to ban bulls balls
Link Here  full story: Bulls Balls...US states move to ban ornamental bulls balls

Bulls balls hanging off motor bikeThey're proudly displayed by any self-respecting bull, but dangling big metal ones on the back end of a truck could be banned in Florida.

Metal replicas of bull testicles have become trendy bumper ornaments in some parts of the Sunshine State, but state Sen. Carey Baker is campaigning to ban the orbs.

Baker acknowledged that Florida lawmakers have more pressing issues, including huge revenue shortfalls, but said the state needs to draw a line on what's obscene before more objectionable adornments appear.

State Sen. Steve Geller argued against Baker's bill: I find it shocking that we should be telling people that have the metallic bull testicles ... you're now going to have points on your license for this.

Geller was in the minority. Baker's bill to fine drivers $60 for displaying the ornaments passed the Senate. It's now up to the House, but there's only a slim chance that members of that chamber would pass the measure before the session ends this coming Friday.

If it were to be passed, Gov. Charlie Crist has not indicated whether he would sign it, although he has not been too critical of this and other not-so-pressing issues.

It's good to have some things that maybe aren't quite as serious. Got to have a little levity, the governor said.

 

4th May   

Offsite: Repression 2.0...

Totalitarian states creating the impression of ubiquitous surveillance
Link Here

Newsweek logoIn the latest twist on Internet repression, governments don't just censor, they scare. Last week, for example, the Chinese government broadcast a text message to cell-phone users in Lhasa, Tibet, where Beijing has cracked down on protests in recent weeks. The message demanded that users "obey the law" and "follow the rules," and no protester could have mistaken the meaning, or the messenger. If the government also managed to terrify even quiet, apolitical citizens, Chinese and Tibetan—well, so be it. Repression 2.0 is not a precise technology.

The essence of the new repression is a form of surveillance in which the spies make their presence known in order to seem like they are everywhere. This strategy has emerged in recent years as authoritarian governments, led by China, have realized there are too many people online to control. State censors can't keep eyes on the 210 million Internet users in China, the 18 million in Iran, nor the 6 million in Egypt. The idea is not just to stop people from finding "dangerous" material online. It's to create an atmosphere in which none will seek it.

...Read full article

 

3rd May   

iPlayer Nutters...

Beyer supports call for internet watershed
Link Here

iPlayer logoThe BBC is under nutter attack for allowing access to mature material 24 hours a day on its new iPlayer internet service.

The programmes are subject to the post 9pm watershed ruling when they are shown on terrestrial television. But children are able to bypass age restrictions on iPlayer by simply ticking a box to say they are over 16.

They can then watch programmes with sex scenes, strong language and other material deemed unsuitable.

While the readily available mature content on the internet is nothing new, many nutters are predictably horrified the BBC is not taking a tougher stand.

Nutters fear that it is in danger of rendering the watershed extinct with the iPlayer service. Others have called for media regulator Ofcom to be given more powers in overseeing the way online programming is aired.

Conservative MP Philip Davies, who sits on the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, said: "I think parents would be massively concerned if they realised how easy it was for their children to access such inappropriate material. Having that kind of tick-box self- certification is clearly inadequate. They may as well have no control on at all.

John Beyer, director of Mediawatch UK, said: The BBC is promoting its iPlayer at every possible opportunity and they know that children and young people are accessing this kind of material.

A corporation spokesman said, however: "The BBC takes its responsibility to enable parents or guardians to protect younger viewers from unsuitable BBC content on its websites very seriously and provides a number of tools to do this. For example, BBC iPlayer clearly labels programmes which may be unsuitable for young audiences. A lock system allows parents or guardians to prevent younger viewers from watching guidance-rated programmes unless they have a password. Setting up these systems is optional but they can be easily activated at any time.

 

3rd May   

Update: Dangerous Religious Element...

China holds bible seller in prison
Link Here

Bible banAn advocacy organization reported this week that Chinese authorities now accuse a Beijing businessman of being a dangerous religious element – which a long-time friend dismissed as contrary to Christian bookstore owner Shi Weihan'
s gentle, patriotic nature.

Authorities have been slow to reveal charges against Shi, who after his original arrest for illegal business practices on November 28, 2007 was released on January 4 due to insufficient evidence. He was re-arrested on March 19, according to his wife Zhang Jing, for printing Bibles and Christian literature.

Until last week he had been denied a visit by his attorney. Following that visit, China Aid Association reported that authorities were holding Shi at the Beijing Municipal Detention Center as a dangerous religious element.

During the meeting with his attorney, Shi'
s talk was interrupted by the guards on several occasions and he received a warning,
according to a statement by CAA. Interrogation of Shi, the lawyer told CAA, has centered on his relationship with foreigners, especially those from the United States.

Long-time friend Ray Sharpe said that Shi'
s many foreign relationships as a travel agent may have raised undue suspicions by Chinese authorities.

Update: Still Being Held

23rd June 2008

Despite having held Shi beyond the time legally allowed, absent formal charges or a court hearing, the Public Security Bureau still refuses to allow his family or attorney to see him,” said a source close to Shi'
s lawyer. Claiming an ongoing investigation in what they are calling ‘a complex case,'
 they have managed to hold the owner of a legally registered Christian bookstore in an undisclosed location without giving any assurances that he is receiving his needed diabetic medicine.

The Public Security Bureau has stated that it will delay action on the case indefinitely, raising questions about Shi'
s health and safety.

Update: Denied Medication

9th September 2008

Shi Weihan is awaiting the outcome of an August 19 court appearance and may be back in court within 10 days, according to Compass sources.

Denied proper medication and diet for his diabetes, Shi is almost “unrecognizable” due to severe weight loss, according to family members.

 

2nd May   

Pegging Away at PEGI...

BBFC to unveil online game censorship scheme
Link Here

BBFC logoBBFC Online is due to be launched at the end of the month or in June, and will apply to both downloadable games and movies.

The online portion of the scheme has interested the gaming industry particularly in comparing the BBFC scheme with the PEGI Online equivalent.

BBFC director David Cooke claimed that, although the body wants to gain the full support of the industry, it would rather work with PEGI than against it. He told MCV: Tanya Byron has said that we need to look at and improve the PEGI Online Safety code and we'
re happy to help be part of that process. We have two options, to work with PEGI, or to compete with them. We'
d much prefer the first option, but if PEGI Online collapsed, we'
d have to step up.


I believe in practice it goes a bit further than PEGI Online. We'
d like to see it beefed up. Material on PEGI Online at the moment is largely self-monitored and there is no dedicated resource for doing any more than that.

Part of this is a question of resource – have you got the bodies that can run independent spot checking – and we could certainly produce them. We'
re large enough that we can adjust or even recruit if we need to.

See full article from the Escapist

Culture Media Sport committeeThe BBFC said it was "bemused" by industry arguments that the agency can't effectively rate game due to volume.

I am completely bemused by the fact that these people claim to know how the BBFC works, said spokesman Sue Clark.

The statement came in response to gaming industry figures' assertions at a recent select committee on "harmful" content on the internet and in video games that the BBFC is overwhelmed. The witnesses claimed self-regulation was the right answer.

The BBFC is entirely funded by the fees that we charge by classifying work, therefore if we get more work in we get more money, so if we need more staff we take on more staff, she explained.

 

2nd May   

Explicitly Chilling Effect...

Challenging Oregon's book censorship law
Link Here

Oregon state sealPortland bookseller Michael Powell and owners of a dozen independent bookstores and community organizations are suing the state attorney general and all 36 county district attorneys to block enforcement of a law forbidding the sale of sexually explicit material to people younger than 18.

Attorneys for the booksellers claim the four-month-old law violates their constitutional right to free speech and criminalizes material that would otherwise not be considered sexually explicit, like textbooks, comics or magazines.

The lawsuit was filed Friday, April 25, in U.S. District Court. No date has been set for a hearing on the issue. The booksellers and organizations are seeking an injunction to block the law. State Attorney General Hardy Myers and the district attorneys have not yet filed a response to the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit filed by attorneys P.K. Runkles-Pearson and Michael A. Bamberger, the plaintiffs focus on House Bill 2843 that was signed into law July 31, 2007, by Gov. Ted Kulongoski. The law went into effect Jan. 1 and makes it a crime to provide sexually explicit material to a child through sales or viewing, if the material was meant to satisfy a sexual desire.

Bookstores are liable if they sell books about sex to minors, even if the material is in a textbook, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the new law violates the booksellers'
 U.S. Constitution First, Fifth and 14th amendment rights to free speech and equal protection. It claims the law is overly broad and promotes self-censorship by creating a chilling effect on the sale, display, exhibition and dissemination of constitutionally protected speech and expression.

In an affidavit, Michael Powell said his six stores sold books of all types that could be considered sexually explicit under the new law. Those include the sale of books in stores and online on photography, graphic novels and health and wellness titles.

Powell'
s has in stock over 2 million volumes constituting over 1 million titles,
Powell said in his affidavit. We receive on an average over 5,000 new titles per week. Obviously we cannot read each new title to determine whether there are any sexual explicit portions and if so whether such portions ‘serve some purpose other than titillation'
 (even if I knew what that meant).

 

2nd May   

Update: Olympic Filtering...

US senator suggests that Chinese will spy on Olympic internet usage
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking in Olympic China...Chinese Olympics herald a lull in internet censorship

Olympic handcuffsA US senator accused the Chinese government on Thursday of ordering US-owned hotels in China to install Internet filters that can spy on international visitors coming to see the summer Olympic games.

Senator Sam Brownback made the charge at a Capitol Hill news conference where he and other lawmakers denounced China's record of human rights abuses and urged President Bush not to attend the Olympic's opening ceremonies in Beijing.

This is wrong, it's against international conventions, it's certainly against the Olympic spirit, Brownback said. The Chinese government should remove that request and that order.

Brownback said he has seen the language of memos received by at least two US-owned hotels. He declined to name them, and said he obtained the information from two reliable but confidential sources in the hope that public pressure would persuade the Chinese government to back off the demand.

The filters could enable the government to monitor Web sites viewed by hotel guests and restrict Internet information coming in and out of China, Brownback said.

The senator called China the foremost enabler of human rights abuses around the world" and said the Chinese government is turning the summer games into an Olympics of oppression.

 

2nd May   

Political Junk...

Indian film industry tires of health minister's dictates
Link Here

Om Shanti OmTaking a dig at health minister Anbumani Ramadoss who favours a ban on smoking and drinking in films and who has criticised filmstars for endorsing junk food, censor board chief Sharmila Tagore retorted: First it was about smoking, then the minister spoke about chips and now alcohol. I think what is primarily important is that he should focus on real issues like fake medicines.

The minister had criticised superstar Shahrukh Khan for ‘promoting smoking and drinking'
 on screen by playing characters like Devdas and, more recently, his performance as a drunken junior artist in the box-office hit Om Shanti Om .

The minister had regretted that the actors, by smoking or drinking on screen, were conveying a wrong message to the country'
s young and old who watched their films.

However, what may have really put off Ms Tagore was his jab at her son, film actor Saif Ali Khan, for endorsing Lays chips, during the course of which he even cited Khan'
s recent heart problem.

 

2nd May   

Update: Grand Theft in Singapore...

Singapore pass Grand Theft Auto IV for adult only
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV gameIn Singapore, Grand Theft Auto IV has been rated Mature 18 (M18).

This is the first game to be classified under the new rating system here.

 

1st May   

Be Afraid...Be Very Afraid...

House of Lords clears dawn raids for the Dangerous Pictures police
Link Here

Police raid houseThe House of Lords passed the Dangerous Pictures Act, within the Criminal Justice & Immigration Bill, last night with no meaningful amendments whatsoever.

As usual, a surreal debate with most Lords who spoke pointing out the nastiness of law. But the votes cast against a helpful amendment was telling at 134 to 91.

The bill is now likely to be rubber stamped at a guillotined 3rd reading in the Commons.

 

1st May   

Update: Too Late...

Alan Craig loses censorship case against BBC and ITV
Link Here  full story: Party Political Mosque...BBC and ITC censor party political about mosque

BBC logoA Christian party has lost a High Court bid to have its party election broadcast (PEB) repeated, after claims it was censored by the BBC and ITV.

Christian Choice said the BBC forced changes to its description of a Muslim group in a PEB aired in London.

The BBC said it expressed concern and Christian Choice responded by agreeing to change the form of words.

The judge said the request had been left "far too late" - although he did not think the PEB had been libellous.

Alan Craig, the party's candidate for London mayor, had argued the action breached his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights - which guarantees the right to freedom of expression.

Rejecting Craig's request for a judicial review, the judge, Mr Justice Collins, said he should have launched the legal challenge before the broadcast took place on 23 April. He said it was "perfectly permissible" for the BBC to take into account legal advice that the original broadcast might have been libellous - although he did not think it would have been.

But the judge said the BBC had indicated that if a legal challenge had been issued before the broadcast it would have backed down and let them publish as they wished.

Unfortunately that was not done, Mr Justice Collins added. He ordered Mr Craig to pay the BBC's £11,875 in legal costs.

Original version:

You may know about plans by a separatist Islamic group to build Europe'
s biggest mosque next to the Olympics site in West Ham. I think it'
s a bad idea that will bring division and I'
m glad moderate Muslims support my stance in opposing it.

Censored version:

You may know about controversial plans by an Islamic group to build Europe'
s biggest mosque next to the Olympics site in West Ham. I think it'
s a bad idea that will bring division and I'
m glad some Muslims leaders support my stance in opposing it.

 

1st May   

Update: Drunk in Charge of a Blame Campaign...

Supporting international hype for Grand Theft Auto IV
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV gameAmerican Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has issued a statement critical of the opportunities for virtual drunk driving in GTA IV :

Each year nearly 13,500 people die in drunk driving crashes and another half a million are injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes. This is why MADD is extremely disappointed by the decision of the manufacturers of the game Grand Theft Auto IV to include a game module where players have to drive drunk.

Drunk driving is not a game and it is not a joke. Drunk driving is a choice, a violent crime and it is also 100% preventable. MADD is calling on the Entertainment Software Ratings Board to reclassify Grand Theft Auto IV as an Adults Only game, a step up from the current rating of Mature and for the manufacturer to consider a stop in distribution – if not out of responsibility to society then out of respect for the millions of victims/survivors of drunk driving.

See full article from Game Politics

A member of New Zealand'
s Parliament has called for a ban on Grand Theft Auto IV . Independent MP Gordon Copeland told Scoop:

Sadly New Zealand has become a violent society. Our criminal courts are almost log jammed with cases involving murder, manslaughter, rape, and other heinous crimes. Our jails are overflowing. A recent study has indicated that, on a per capita basis, New Zealand is now twice as violent as the USA.

As David Rossman, one of the world's foremost experts in the field of violent crime, has said These (video games) are actually killing simulators and they teach... to kill in much the same way the astronauts on Apollo 11 learned how to fly to the moon.

Simply stated, it is time to reverse the tide of violence in New Zealand. We have to have the courage somewhere, sometime, to say “no” and I agree with kiwi parents and the police, that this is not a bad place to start.

See full article from Spong

Kevin Brookwell, quoted in Canada's The Calgary Sun newspaper said:

From the Calgary Police Service perspective, we see these types of video games as a grave concern.

Because of the lack of consequences and even reward, (youth) don't understand the impact violence can have . In some cases, those very games may be training grounds for people to commit criminal activity.

 

1st May   

Upping the Ante...

Ninja Gaiden series of games goes 18 rated
Link Here

Ninja Gaiden 2 gameNinja Gaiden II has been passed uncut by BBFC rated 18 for strong, bloody violence

Having played several chapters of the gory slice 'n' dice, I can confirm that the violence therein is strong, and it is also bloody. Stick the word "excellent" on the end of that sentence and you've got a fairly accurate description of the game, too.

The 18 certificate marks a first for the series - previous BBFC-rated entries Black was awarded a 15 certificate, while the original fell under PEGI, who rated it 16+.

The BBFC explain their rating as follows:

NINJA GAIDEN II is an action-adventure game for the Xbox 360 console. The player assumes the role of Ryu, a ninja who must try to save his girlfriend from his mortal enemy.

The game was classified '18' for strong, bloody violence. This includes sight of Ryu's weapons sending body parts flying through the air and onto the walls and the ground, with blood splattering beside them. Ryu gathers various weapons as the game progresses, including a sword, nunchucks, bow & arrow, twin swords, a scythe, metal claws and so on. Each of these produces slightly different gore effects against the enemies - for example a staff weapon reduces bodies to sticky lumps of flesh. The player can also use special powers, including the ability to set enemies on fire - this results in sight of the immolated victims screaming and twitching after falling to the ground.

While many of the enemies at the start of the game are human, as you progress they become more fantastical (some with green blood), and the boss opponents consist of magical witches, giant monsters etc.

At '15', the BBFC's Guidelines state that 'violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury', and that 'the strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable'. Despite a fantastical theme, NINJA GAIDEN II contains very graphic violence and bloody gore, thus necessitating the '18' category.

The game also contains a 'cutscene' in which a female character bathes in blood and talks to Ryu with her breasts and buttocks visible.

 

1st May   

No Go Fashion Zones...

Swimwear Provokes Intolerance in Birmingham
Link Here

Matalan swimwearTA councillor has called for more control over advertising posters in "culturally sensitive" areas of Birmingham.

Coun Talib Hussain made his plea after a billboard on the corner of Sydenham Road and Golden Hillock Road, in predominantly Muslim Sparkbrook, was defaced.

The hoarding, close to mosques in Anderton Road and Golden Hillock Road and visible to parents and children walking to Montgomery Primary School, promotes Matalan's new swimwear range and features three scantily-clad models.

The models have been covered in thick white paint to conceal bare flesh.

Coun Talib Hussain (Ind, Sparkbrook) criticised the vandalism but said it was a result of the lack of action from city council bosses. He said: I condemn the people that did this but at the same time it's wrong for companies to put that kind of advert in sensitive wards.

I have received complaints on a number of occasions not to put adverts like that in Sparkbrook. The city council should not give permission to advertising like that in these wards. Having families seeing naked pictures does not bring the community together, it provokes things.

The vandalism is similar to a spate of attacks in 2005 and 2006 by a group called Muslims Against Advertising.

A Birmingham City Council spokesman, said: Our only power is to approve where advertising can take place, but not what is put on it. That is between the Advertising Standards Agency and the firm itself.

The ASA said the content of billboard adverts was controlled by billboard owner and the advertiser, and that the agency only had "responsive" powers: If we receive complaints we will consider if an advert should be removed.

 

1st May   

Update: Turkey Continues to Insult Free Speech...

Long awaited changes to insulting Turkishness are a damp squib
Link Here  full story: Insulting Turkishness...Insulting Turkishness law used to repress

Gagged in TurkeyTurkey's parliament has voted to amend Article 301, a controversial law that limited free speech by permitting the prosecution of people for "insulting Turkishness."

Under the changes, which must still be approved by the country'
s president, insulting Turkishness would no longer be a crime, but insulting the Turkish nation could still land you in prison.

According to Amberin Zaman, the Turkey correspondent for The Economist magazine, the distinction between insulting Turkishness and insulting the Turkish nation isn'
t any clearer in Turkish than it is in translation. That leaves many people wondering how to interpret the revision to Article 301.

The European Union demanded that Turkey drop restrictions on free speech as a precondition to eventually joining the bloc. The government-sponsored amendment to Article 301 appears to be an attempt to satisfy the EU, as well as Turkish nationalists. And in Zaman'
s assessment, it will probably do neither.

I think that this was a sort of balancing act, Zaman says, and I think in the process they fell off the tightrope, because neither the nationalists -- who they were trying to appease -- sound terribly happy, nor does the EU. In fact, we've heard many EU officials, at least in private, complain that this was just a cosmetic change and didn't go anywhere near addressing their concerns about free expression in Turkey.

The one concrete change from the amendment is that the maximum jail time for the offense will now be two years, rather than the previous three-year term.

 

1st May   

Still Discontent about YouTube Content...

Thailand admits it cannot take legal action against YouTube
Link Here

You Tube logoThailand's Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has conceded it can do nothing about some of the content of the YouTube website considered as lese majeste and against the Thai monarchy, apart from seeking cooperation from the webmaster.

Pol Col Yarnpol Yangyuen, the chief of the DSI's office of technology cases and examination centre, said YouTube is an international website based in another country, so the DSI cannot take legal action against it for lese majeste.

But the DSI has asked YouTube's webmasters to block such content on their website and expects to soon reach agreement about the lese majeste content on the site, said Pol Col Yarnpol.

The Surayud Chulanont government last year slapped a ban on YouTube after clips about the royal family were posted on the site. The ban was later lifted after YouTube operator Google agreed to install filters to bar people in Thailand from gaining access to those clips. However, some controversial content remains on the website.

Pol Col Yarnpol also said that the DSI would not meddle with politically motivated websites and would maintain its neutrality. He added that the DSI would not take action against the publication of internet content aimed at discrediting politicians or websites considered as politically motivated. The department does not want to become a political tool for any political group [by interfering in politically-motivated websites],' said Pol Col Yarnpol.

 

1st May   

Offsite: Obscenity in the USA...

A summary of US obscenity cases brought in 2007
Link Here

Defend our porn logoFrom Northern Virginia to Southern California, federal and state prosecutors and grand juries across America continued to bring criminal obscenity charges against adult operators during 2007. Some of the cases were widely reported in the adult trade publications, while others were barely reported at all.

Here are some of the cases brought, pending or resolved in 2007 that are most useful in taking the temperature of the waters in which the adult producers and distributors swim.

...Read the full article