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 2010: July
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31st July   

Everybody Burn-Quran Day...

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High Court petition asks for a permanent Facebook block in Pakistan
Link Here  full story: Koran Burning...Symbolic gesture and easy offence

Facebook logoA petition has been filed before the Lahore High Court seeking a permanent ban on Facebook, a social networking website, in Pakistan pointing out introduction of another anti-Islam competition by the website.

The website had already faced an interim ban in country for holding a blasphemous caricature competition.

The petition was filed by Chairman Judicial Activism Panel (JAP) Muhammad Azhar Siddique stating that the website Facebook has again announced a contest named Everybody Burn-Quran Day and also displayed blasphemous pictures of Khana-e-Kaaba. In view of the facts submitted above, it is respectfully prayed to block/ban Facebook permanently in Pakistan.

He also prayed that the authorities in Pakistan be directed to this effect that no material with respect to blasphemy of any religion be published, displayed, visualised or aired in country.

Doves....Not

Based on article from islamophobia-watch.com

On September 11, members of the Dove World Outreach Center – a Gainesville, Florida church – plan to burn copies of the Koran to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The protest is just the latest in a series of provocative actions from the self-described New Testament Church, which seems as interested in getting attention as it is in sharing the Word with the world.

 

31st July   

Shivaji...

CD Universe - Buy Music CDs, TV on DVD, DVDs, Video Games for XBox, PlayStation 2 and Much More

Book burning threatened in India
Link Here

Shivaji Hindu King Islamic India The Indian Supreme Court's verdict revoking the ban on James Laine's Shivaji book has made political waves.

Quick to sense an attractive opportunity, the Shiv Sena-BJP threatened to burn copies of Shivaji-Hindu King in Islamic India when the book is put back on shelves for sale. The Sena will in no circumstances tolerate any book which maligns Chhatrapati Shivaji, a national icon, declared Sena CEO Uddhav Thackeray immediately after the apex court removed the ban on the controversial tome.

The Maharashtra government banned Laine's book in January 2004 in the wake of widespread protest-and acts of wanton vandalism-by the Sena and the Sambhaji Brigade activists.

 

31st July   

Searching for a Censor...

MPAA break off talks with Bob Kerrey
Link Here  full story: Dangerous Anime in the US...Japanese anime open to prosecution

MPAA logoIt's back to square one for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

After months of negotiations with former Nebraska Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey to become head of the movie industry's chief lobbying arm in Washington, talks broke down between the two.

The MPAA declined to elaborate on why negotiations had ended.

 

30th July   

Contains Very Strong Customer Advice...

Tamara Drewe cut just to receive toned down consumer advice
Link Here

tara drewe Tamara Drewe is a 2010 UK comedy by Stephen Frears

A Pre-cut Version was passed 15 for the 2010 cinema release.

The BBFC noted that the distributor, Momentum, cut the film just to get toned down customer advice:

Tamara Drewe was originally classified 15 on 9 July 2010 with the consumer advice Contains very strong language, strong sex and sex references . Subsequent to this to company submitted a revised version with minor changes in two scenes. In one case, some explanatory captions had been removed and in the other case, a single use of very strong language had been removed. This amended version was classified 15 on 28 July with the revised consumer advice Contains strong language, sex and sex references .

 

30th July   

Harmed by TV Censors...

Ofcom imposes enormous fine on Bang Babes
Link Here

bang babesThe TV censor Ofcom has fined Bang Channels Limited and Bang Media (London) Limited for the broadcast of free to air 'babe channel' programmes between June 2009 and November 2009,

Bang Channels Limited was fined for programmes on Tease Me, Tease Me 2, Tease Me 3. Bang Media (London) Limited  was fined for programmes on Tease Me TV For breaches of Ofcom's 2005 Broadcasting Code in respect of:

  • Rule 1.3: Children must also be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them
  • Rule 1.24: Premium subscription services and pay per view/night services may broadcast adult-sex. material between 2200 and 0530 provided that in addition to other protections mentioned above: . there is a mandatory PIN protected encryption system, or other equivalent protection, that seeks satisfactorily to restrict access solely to those authorised to view; and there are measures in place that ensure that the subscriber is an adult.
  • Rule 2.1: Generally accepted standards must be applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material
  • Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context…Such material may include, but is not limited to, …sex… .

Having considered all facts and arguments put before it the Sanctions Committee deemed sanctions totalling £157,250 to be appropriate, the Committee wishes to emphasise that it views the broadcast of inappropriate explicit material – such as that forming the basis of this Decision – with the utmost seriousness. In this instance, the Committee concluded that the Licensees had been operating a wholly inadequate compliance system. The Committee considered this inadequate compliance to amount to manifest recklessness. This recklessness therefore informed the Committee's judgment of appropriate sanctions.

The Ofcom Executive investigated a number of programmes broadcast on the channels operated by the Licensees and found 13 programmes broadcast on channels operated by Bang Channels to have breached the Code and one programme broadcast on the channel operated by Bang Media to have breached the Code. The Ofcom Executive also found each of Bang Channels and Bang Media to have breached Licence Condition 11 of their respective licences by failing to provide forthwith full recordings of programmes upon request by Ofcom

In summary, the material found in breach related to unsuitable adult material, shown for the sole purpose of sexual stimulation. Some footage contained inappropriate explicit sexual imagery including intrusive images of, simulated masturbation and oral sex, genital and anal detail. In some cases, the material was considered to be of such strength that it was only suitable for transmission with mandatory restrictions (e.g. under PIN encryption). In one programme, in particular, the material was of such strength that it was considered to be equivalent of BBFC R18.7. 9.

There were further breaches relating to daytime chat. In these cases, the broadcaster transmitted material which was considered to be unsuitable for pre-watershed viewing in that the content was inappropriately and overtly sexual.

 

30th July   

Robbery with Intimidation...

Nasty attack on Italian bloggers with impossibly quick right of reply requirement
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Italy...Censorship affecting bloogers and the press in Italy

Italy flagOne of the provisions of the Media and Wiretapping Bill currently being discussed by the Italian Parliament is that all those responsible for information websites will be required to issue corrections within 48 hours to any complaint regarding website content, whether blogs, opinion, comment and/or information in general.

Corrections would need to be in the same form in which the contested content was originally put online, whether text, podcast or video. Failure to do so will risk a fine of up to 12,500 euros.

This law seeks to apply to online opinion/information/news – whether professional or amateur, commercial or individual – the same rules as those applied to the traditional media as established in the law of 1948, namely Article 8 relating to the so-called obbliga di rettifica or requirement to issue corrections. Media law will thus henceforth make no distinction between mainstream media and the multifarious world of information and/or opinion on the web.

Is it right for bloggers, content-sharing websites or any other online information-providers to have to publish a correction within 48 hours if any of their content, whether direct or indirect, is considered false or slanderous? The web is not the press. Rules should be different for mainstream media and online information. To manage any request for correction is time-consuming and complex - just to evaluate whether the complaint is justified might require professional expertise which the vast majority of online information websites don't have. At stake is the very existence of the website - a heavy fine would for many constitute closure.

What's the likely result of this proposed law? Many bloggers and amateur participants in web debate and information-gathering will simply decide it's not worth the risk and the hassle. They'll retreat to the position they may well have started from, namely passive consumers of news. Or continue in an active online role but only on issues of low media visibility so as to avoid drawing attention to themselves. All of this is inimical to a healthy democracy of well-informed and actively involved citizens.

Consider the practicalities of request for correction to a social networking website: first see the request (a day at the beach or illness might become very expensive indeed), then locate the author (ditto), then check the content (how can second-hand information be quickly and effectively verified?), then decide whether the request for correction is justified (natural tendency to issue corrections each time just to be on the safe side?), then (having carefully weighed all the relevant issues) perhaps issue the correction. All within 48 hours. Power cut? Tough luck! Server down? Your problem! A post on my website by someone I don't know on an issue I'm not interested in while I'm off scuba-diving and I'm on the hook for 12,500 euros? This isn't law-making worthy of a modern democracy, it's robbery with intimidation.

 

30th July   

Updated: Obscene Optimism...

Indonesian government promises to block all porn within the next 2 months
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Indonesia...Indonesia passes internet porn bill

Indonesia flagThe Indonesian government has pledged to have all porn websites blocked in the country within the next two months as it works to implement the country's strict anti-pornography laws.

We should not wait for too long to close down these sites because otherwise more will people copy and disseminate this material, said Tifatul Sembiring, the Minister for Communication and Information Technology.

Tifatul noted that pornography was already prohibited by law, pointing to the 2008 Anti-Pornography Law, which was upheld recently by the country's Constitutional Court. That law declares, in part, that the state should protect its citizens from the dangers of pornography.

So if God is willing, we will fulfill our obligations, otherwise the continued presence of this material will violate our law, he said.

Tifatul explained that the government's move comes in response to a request from Islamic groups and the Indonesian Commission to Protect Children.

He says the government will shut down objectionable domestic sites and ask the country's 180 internet service providers to block international porn sites. A spokesman for the ministry told Canada's Globe and Mail that the government has not decided yet whether they will impose sanctions on ISPs that do not comply.

Update: Easier said then done

30th July 2010. Based on article from thejakartaglobe.com

The Communications and Information Technology Ministry says it can block access to up to 3,000 pornographic Web sites a day, as part of Minister Tifatul Sembiring's plan for smut-free Internet.

Ashwin Sasongko, the ministry's director general for telematics applications, said that his office had already installed filtering software called the Massive Trust Positive in all Internet-enabled computers supplied to villages under the government-sponsored Desa Pintar (Smart Village) program.

He acknowledged, however, that with an estimated four million new pornography pages added to the Internet each day, it would be impossible to completely block access to such sites for Indonesian Web users, and called on the public to participate by reporting offending sites.

But Internet service providers say they need the government to formalize its policy before they can take steps toward blocking the content.

Valens Riyadi, from the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association (APJII), told the Jakarta Globe that a regulation on the issue was necessary, to ensure that what we do [in terms of filtering sites] doesn't violate public's right to access information.

Ashwin, however, argued that ISPs were better-placed to identify offending sites, saying it should not be too difficult to filter pornographic content on the Internet and that the ministry would provide them with the list if officially requested.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Telecommunications Users Group said it supported the ministry's antipornography campaign, but questioned how effective it would be, given that many Indonesians access the Internet through their cellphones.

It's technically quite difficult to filter sites for a BlackBerry user, so we wonder if the government plans to rope [manufacturer] Research in Motion into doing the filtering, said Muhammad Jumadi, the group's secretary general.

Meanwhile, ministry spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto told the Globe that the controversial bill on monitoring Internet content was currently being revised, after being widely panned by the public in February. The changes include a new title, Guidelines for Public Complaints on Unlawful Internet Content, signifying its change of focus to get increased public participation in the plan.

Reports from the public should be justifiable and will be reviewed by a monitoring team, whose proposed makeup we've also changed to include 60 percent public appointees and 40 percent government representatives, Gatot said, adding that the team's chairperson would be selected through a vote.

 

30th July   

Afghan TV station Shut Down...

Highly hazardous to the government's rule
Link Here

Afghanistan flagAfghanistan Council of Ministers shut down the private television network Emrooz charging it with fomenting religious differences and disrupting national unity.

An announcement issued by the office of the president states that the continued activity of this television network was highly hazardous to the government's rule and therefore the Ministry of Intelligence and Culture was charged to immediately shut them down.

Najibollah Kabuli, member of Afghanistan's parliament and head of Emrooz television condemned the move saying that this action is a result of pressure from Shiite religious leaders and his own opposition to Iranian policies.

In the past months, a number of demonstrations were staged in several cities of Afghanistan to protest the alleged execution of tens of Afghan nationals in Iran. The demonstrators expressed severe anti-Iran positions in the course of the demonstrations condemning Iranian leaders and burning images of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei. Reportedly, Najibollah Kabuli was the organizer of the Kabul demonstrations and he also participated in the event.

 

30th July   

Free Hamed Saber...

Iranian photographer jailed presumably over photos of political protest
Link Here

photo hamed saber More than 70 Iranian university graduates and academics are calling for the release of Hamed Saber, an Iranian photo-blogger and computer scientist who was arrested for unspecified reasons on 21 June 2010 in Tehra. A friend has informed us that it was the first time Hamed was arrested. The same source said several of Hamed's photos of the Iranian protest movement have been published in foreign magazines without his knowledge.

Hamed is also the developer of Access Flickr , a Firefox internet browser extension that bypasses filters on the photo-sharing website Flickr in Iran, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, China and other locations where it is banned.

There is an Iranian language campaign at Free Hamed Saber

 

30th July   

Update: Mancattan...

Independently made feature film gets its break
Link Here

mancattan Colin Warhurst (Producer, Co-Director of Mancattan ) has previously written to the Melon Farmers outlining the repressive effect of high BBFC fees on micro-budget film making.

Anyway his work has now come to fruition as described in the following press release:

Mancattan is an entirely 100% independently made British Feature film which is being released internationally online this Friday July 30th.

Credited as being a tremendous work piece of achievement and one of three independently made feature films that has kick-started what has become known as the North West New Wave.

Mancattan will be available for free streaming via www.mancattan.co.uk thanks to both www.dailymotion.com and www.renderyard.com What's more, once the film receives over 10,000 hits, we begin to raise money for charity.

The story itself involves two characters, Col and Phil, who are post-graduates from Manchester knee-deep in their mid-twenties life crises. Deciding modern Mancunian life is too much for them, they flee to New York in order to make a film about their idol, Woody Allen. However, as the film's events unfold, we realise that our dynamic duo have not only ran away from their problems, but have actually managed to bring their neuroses with them across the pond, thus threatening the very film they are trying to make.

Mancattan is a rom-com shot and edited between 2007-2009 with location filming taking place in both Manchester UK and Manhattan USA. Being made on now budget and entirely in the team's own spare time pulling in favors from friends, colleagues and acquaintances, the film originally had a Premiere at The Dancehouse in Manchester in April 2009 with over 350 people in attendance. After that, the team were tired, happy that people had seen the film, and so wanted to leave it there. However, word spread, people continued to hear about us and more and more people kept insisting on seeing the film. It was invited to be part of a Double-Bill alongside Pleased Sheep's Diary Of A Bad Lad at the Salford Film Festival in 2009. Following this massively successful screening the film went onto the Pennine Film Festival until finally being offered international representation via renderyard.com.

Now, wishing to have the film seen and raise money for charity, Mancattan finally has it's moment to shine and is available for FREE.

By visiting www.mancattan.co.uk on or after July 30th you will be helping raise money for two good causes, and hopefully enjoy our humble globe-trotting adventure made entirely because two guys with a camera thought the idea of their own self made movie could be done. It can.

Many thanks, Colin Warhurst -(Producer, Co-Director – Mancattan )

 

29th July   

Lurid Exposé of PCC Thinking...

PCC OKs lurid tone of local rag attack on adult website designer but draws the line at unsubstantiated claims about website numbers
Link Here

hull daily mail logoPaul Smith v Hull Daily Mail

Paul Smith complained to the Press Complaints Commission that articles headlined Town website publisher's porn business , The sickening porn behind this man's veil of respectability and Town website: the sordid truth , published in the Hull Daily Mail on 4 March 2010, were inaccurate and misleading.

The complaint was upheld in part.

The articles reported that the complainant - who was responsible for publishing a local community website which had been promoted by the local council - had designed thousands of hardcore pornography websites (at one point giving the specific figure of 3,991 for sites he had designed ) and owns the domain names to almost 4,000 sites . The complainant said that this was incorrect: he had only ever designed a hundred or so websites, including some adult sites, across a number of fields; and he had bought just over 100 domain names, nearly half of which were dormant.

The newspaper said that, at the time of its investigation, a web registration search showed that the complainant owned 3,991 domains under the name Smiths Media Solutions, the majority of which could be categorised as adult. Following publication of the articles, the relevant server was disconnected and it was unable to prove this figure conclusively. The precise claim was put to the complainant before publication: the complainant was unable to confirm the number of sites in which he was involved and did not deny the allegation.

PCC Decision: Upheld

The Commission accepted that there was a legitimate public interest in the newspaper examining the business activities of the complainant, given his role in publishing a local community website. However, such high-profile scrutiny carried with it the responsibility to be accurate.

While it was not in dispute that the complainant had designed some pornographic websites in the past - and owned a substantial number of domain names - the newspaper had not been able to corroborate the significant claims that the complainant had designed thousands of such sites (as many as 3,991) or owned the domain names to almost 4000 sites . These were crucial allegations and the newspaper should have been able to substantiate them fully (and been in a position to provide concrete evidence to the PCC).

Based on the available material, the Commission considered that readers would have been misled as to the scale of the complainant's involvement in adult websites. The result was a breach of Clause 1 of the Editors' Code.

Legal Adult Website Design

The complainant had raised a number of other points under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code. These aspects of the complaint were not upheld.

The complainant said that he built websites for a living and had, in the past, designed pages for the adult industry (in addition to the gaming, finance, retail and pharmaceutical industries). The front page headline wrongly suggested that that he owned a porn business ; this was not the case. In addition, the coverage misleadingly suggested that he was personally involved in the creation of pornographic content, rather than legitimately designing the layout for those sites. Finally, the coverage stated that that he had agreed to design a website for a newspaper journalist posing as an escort girl when, in fact, he had merely discussed her requirements.

The newspaper defended its coverage: its readers had a right to know about the activities of the complainant who was responsible for running a prominent local website which covered a range of community issues and had been supported by the local authorities. It had sought to obtain the complainant's comments on the allegations and his position had been published at length (together with positive comments from members of the community). The coverage made the nature of the complainant's involvement with pornographic websites clear, outlining that there was no suggestion that any of the websites contained illegal material. It was willing to publish a clarification on this point, which was rejected by the complainant.

The newspaper maintained that the complainant had agreed to build a website for the journalist posing as an escort girl and had quoted between £150 and £250 for doing so. It provided emails to support this position.

PCC Adjudication: Not Upheld

The Commission has consistently stated that headlines can only be fully understood in the context of an article when read as a whole. On this occasion, the article made plain to readers the level of the complainant's involvement with pornographic websites: he had designed websites that hosted legal adult content. It was clear that the complainant's role was as a designer, rather than a producer, of web content. He had also been quoted at length on the matter setting out his position. The nature of the complainant's discussions with the journalist posing as Sarah was also sufficiently clear, in the Commission's view. No breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) could be established on these points.

 

29th July   

Updated: Special Relationship...

US legislation to snub UK libel judgments passed by Senate
Link Here  full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad

US SenateThe US senate has passed legislation to protect US journalists, writers and publishers from libel tourists — litigants who sue Americans in foreign jurisdictions which place a lower emphasis on free speech

The legislation was specifically designed to negate the threat of English laws, amid claims that the UK has became an international libel tribunal. One case in particular incensed US politicians, that of New York based academic Rachel Ehrenfeld who was sued in London despite only 23 copies of her book, on the financing of terrorism, being sold in the UK.

The bill, co-sponsored by Democrat Patrick Leahy and Republican Jeff Sessions has broad cross-party support. If passed, the proposal will prevent US courts from recognising foreign libel rulings that are inconsistent with the First Amendment.

The Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Bill will now go before the House of Representatives.

Update: Passed by the House of Representatives

29th July 2010. Based on article from todayonline.com

The United States House of Representatives passed a Bill aimed at shielding US journalists, authors and publishers from libel tourists who file suit in countries where they expect to get the most favourable ruling.

Lawmakers approved the measure, which now goes to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The bill had such widespread support from Democrats and Republicans that it was passed on a voice vote in Congress.

Based on article from telegraph.co.uk

The legislation will prevent US federal courts from recognising or enforcing a foreign judgment for defamation that is inconsistent with the first amendment and will bar foreign parties from targeting the American assets of an American author, journalist, or publisher as part of any damages.

Campaigners for more liberal libel law in Britain said they hoped the new law would influence the Government as it prepares a draft reform bill for publication in January.

Padraig Reidy, a spokesman for the Index on Censorship, said: It's a vindication of our argument that English libel laws in their current state do not encourage or protect free expression. The fact that Britain's best ally feels the need to protect itself from the English libel courts demonstrates the need for reform.

Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Congressman who drafted the bill, said it was vital that Americans' rights are never undermined by foreign judgments.

 

29th July   

Big Knockers at the ASA...

ASA easily offended by poster with a trivial joke
Link Here

big knockers advertA poster for Tricketts, a door and window installation company, featured a topless woman whose breasts were covered by door knockers. Text stated WE SELL BIG KNOCKERS Window Hinges Door Handles Window Handles ... .

Issue

A member of the public, who believed the poster was demeaning to women and unsuitable for general display where children might see it, challenged whether the poster was offensive.

Tricketts said the poster had been on display for a little over two months and in that time they received positive feedback from customers, who believed the poster was humorous. They said they had received only one complaint and therefore did not believe the poster was demeaning to women or likely to cause offence to the general public.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted that the text WE SELL BIG KNOCKERS was clearly a crude comparison between the womans breasts and the door knockers Tricketts sold, and that the image had clearly been chosen for that reason. We also noted the image bore no relevance to the products sold by Tricketts, a door and window installation company.

We considered that the image and text were likely to be seen to objectify and degrade women by linking their physical attributes to the advertiser's door and window products, and concluded that the image, in an untargeted medium where it could be seen by a general audience, and which bore no relevance to the advertised products, had the potential to cause serious offence to some consumers.

The poster breached CAP Code clauses 5.1 and 5.2 (Taste and decency).

 

29th July   

Seeing Red...

Bullfighting banned in Catalonia from 2012
Link Here

Posters Pablo Picasso Matador femme Generations of matadors have strutted their way across Barcelona's Monumental bullring, drawing roars of approval from the crowds as they tormented the hulking bulls with their scarlet capes before killing them with a sword-thrust between the shoulder blades.

But now bullfighting is to be banned from Barcelona and the rest of the north-eastern region of Catalonia after the local parliament dealt a blow to Spain's most emblematic pastime and unleashed a political battle over what some see as a threatened cultural treasure.

Deputies voted by 68 to 55 in favour of a people's petition calling on the bullfight to be banished from a region that once played host to some of the world's greatest fights. The last matador in Catalan history will sink his sword into the last half-tonne fighting bull at the end of next year, with the ban starting in 2012.

It is the worst attack on culture since our transition to democracy, said the Catalan poet Pere Gimferrer.

While some mourned the loss of a cultural jewel, the vote was hailed by animal rights campaigners worldwide. Ricky Gervais and Pamela Anderson were among the 140,000 who signed an international petition to the Catalan parliament.

In general the bullfight has been in decline in Catalonia for decades. There is only one major ring functioning in Barcelona, with just 15 fights a year. The city's other emblematic bullring, Las Arenas, is being turned into a shopping arcade.

A petition calling for the ban to be extended to the capital of Madrid, home to the world's most famous bull-ring, Las Ventas, has 50,000 signatures. But there is little prospect of success. The regional government, like that of Valencia, has declared the bull-fight to be a part of its protected cultural patrimony .

 

29th July   

Update: List Mania...

Apple occupy 3 places in the top 10 of nutters and censors
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

Blonde Wet Complete Story ebook Apple has been accused of censoring its iBookstore chart after the top ten list became dominated by pornographic short stories.

One day the best-selling ebook was Blonde and Wet: The Complete Story , a pornographic novella by author Carl East, whose downloadable books filled three places in the top ten list.

But the next day the list had suddenly changed and was topped by The Perfect Murder , a whodunnit novella.

Apple's apparent coyness at the literary tastes of its readership may be a reflection of sensibilities in the US.

Carl East, a 54-year-old amateur author from Hull, has been shocked by the success of his pornographic fiction. He has written more than 70 titles, including the Confessions of a Nymphomaniac series, which sell for as little as 49p each.

Three of his short books were at first, second and seventh in the top ten before they were apparently pulled by Apple.

'Experts' have said that it is likely that East's books are so popular on the iPad because people can download them without the embarrassment of buying a book in a conventional shop.

An Apple spokesperson said the firm had no comment to make.

 

29th July   

Updated: Sexualisation Warps Nutter Minds...

Australian chrsitians call for more censorship over vague claims of sexualisation
Link Here  full story: Westboro Baptists...Reprehensible nutters hate gays and soliders

Australian Christian LobbyIn the face of supposed new evidence of the increasing levels of children sexually abusing other children the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has called for both major political parties to immediately commit to a comprehensive review of the classification system across all media.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said the classification system is broken and that the lack of effective regulation of what is being viewed and read in the community must be acknowledged as at least part of the reason behind the appalling growth in sexualised and sexually abusive behaviour in children.

Revelations by the Australian Crime Commission's National Indigenous Task Force that between 40 and 90% of sexual offending against children was committed by other children – and that the problem is not confined to indigenous communities – should deeply concern all Australians and demand an urgent response from our political leaders, Wallace said.

There has been widespread acknowledgement of the role of the media environment in sexualising children but despite inquiries and talkfests, nothing gets done.

Children don't learn sexualised behaviour in a vacuum and we know that viewing pornography is often associated with this problem. However it goes much further than this, with children continually being bombarded with overtly sexual messages by everything from billboards to films to music videos. When the problem is getting this bad it is time for real action to be taken.

Wallace said a comprehensive review is needed because Australia's classification system has not kept pace with technology and is effectively a toothless tiger even when standards are breached – with no real penalties for those involved.

Growth in technology has meant that Australia's classification system doesn't even apply to a range of new media content, such as mobile phone applications. And where the classification system does apply it is completely ineffective – with standards rarely being enforced and the penalties being laughable even when they are.

 

28th July   

Exposed Sensitivities...

Author ordered to pay damages over book revealing a family's life in Kabul
Link Here

gp Norwegian journalist Åsne Seierstad, author of international bestselling novel The Bookseller of Kabul , has been ordered to pay 125,000 kroner in damages for invasion of privacy.

The Bookseller of Kabul is descriptive of the lives of fundamental Islamic people and touches on aspects such as honor killings and prostitution, as well as the main character's and his family's thoughts.

According to Celebrity Café magazine, Suraia Rais, wife of the real bookseller, accused Seierstad of using inaccurate information in her book regarding her family's personal lives and relationships.

Oslo District Court (Tingrett) decided that The information (in the book) about Rais's thoughts and feelings is sensitive, reports Dagbladet. The court also ruled against Seirstad's publisher, Cappelen Damm, who is also obliged to pay the plaintiff a further 125,000.

Seirstad's lawyer, Cato Schiøtz, says he was astonished by the ruling and was determined to advise his client to appeal the decision

Seierstad wrote the novel after living with the Rais family for three months in 2002 after the fall of the Taliban.

A few more clues about the contended sensitivities may be found in a review on UK Amazon : Penetrating, prejudicial and convincing - a unique read

Sultan Khan is the head of a prosperous Kabul family. A bookseller by trade, he has seen his books burnt by one regime, defaced by another, then burnt again. As the Taliban regime falls in 2001, he meets Norwegian war correspondent, Seierstad. They agree that Seierstad should live with his family for several months. This book is the stunning result.

It reads like fiction -- penetrating, prejudicial and convincing but, although names have been changed, it is an honest, warts and all, account of life in Kabul. Khan, seemingly urbane, educated and liberal, is the tyrannical head of large family – mother, siblings, two wives and five children. Khan's subjugation of the women in his family is shocking from a Western point of view: As Seierstad moves into his home, Khan takes a second wife, a sexy, uneducated sixteen-year-old, dishonouring and cutting to the quick his loyal and educated first wife: his youngest sister is treated as little more than a slave. And it is this that is the meat of the book; the personal power struggles that exist within the family – struggles which Khan will always win.

The shocking portrait of women's lives, even under the liberalising regime of Afghan leader Karzai, is frightening, repulsive even from a western perspective, but there is nothing here to suggest that Khan is anything other than a typical head of the family. His mother, sisters, wives and daughters, seem to lose identity under the burqa, which hides not only their femininity and personality, but also their imaginations. Not here will you find justification of the regime: these women resent, in different ways, their position.

 

28th July   

Corruption on the Moral High Ground...

Indian film censor arrested after taking bribe to pass film
Link Here

CBFC logoA Regional Officer in India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which certifies new films, was caught red-handed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), while he collected a bribe for issuing a film certification.

The CBI officials arrested Rajasekar while he was accepting bribe amount of Rs 10,000 from a film producer in his office at Shastri Bhavan, Chennai.

CBI officials have not disclosed anything about the documents, materials and cash recovered from Rajasekar so far. The CBI have also refused to identify the producer who gave the bribe nor the name of the film involved.

Update: Suspended

21st August 2010. See article from asiantribune.com

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has suspended the Regional Officer of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Rajasekaran from service, who was arrested by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on bribery charges.

Govindarajulu, executive producer of the film, lodged a complaint with the CBI's Anti-Corruption Branch that Rajasekar demanded Rs.10,000 to view the film and issue certificate.

The complainant had paid the mandatory fee of Rs.25,000 and approached the official for clearing the movie.

Claiming that there were many movies in the queue for certification, Rajasekaran allegedly insisted that he would not see the movie unless Rs.10,000 was paid as bribe. A special team formed to investigate the case apprehended him while accepting bribe.

Update: Piranhas

5th September 2010. See article from behindwoods.com

Mukesh, one of the producers of the film Piranha, reportedly handed over Rs 3.5 lakhs to the Censor officials to allow violent and intimate scenes go uncensored. This transaction has been filmed.

Further, the video tape of the other producer Sriraj, bargaining with the censor officials on the bribe amount with Distributor's Sangam President Kalaipuli G Sekaran and PRO Siva watching the proceedings were also filmed. This incident reportedly took place at the SVS Club premises on Mount Road in Chennai.

 

28th July   

Update: A Lone Voice...

Malaysia's censorship minister seeks support for censoring porn on the internet
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flagMalaysia's Information Communication and Culture Ministry welcomes former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad views on the need to filter pornography on the Internet, said its minister Datuk Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim.

I greatly welcome Tun's (Mahathir's) views because we appear to be alone in voicing out against this negative influence. If more leaders voice out against pornography, the easier it will be for us to tackle this issue.

There are certain quarters who have doubts about legal provisions to tackle the menace. Actually, we have Section 265 of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Comission Act to handle this, he told reporters.

The media recently reported Dr Mahathir as saying that he was becoming increasingly worried about the spread of pornography on the Internet and that he felt it should be filtered as it was supposedly contributing to the increase in sexual crimes in the country.

Rais said it was still too early to come up with a mechanism to block pornography on the Internet, but nevertheless, discussions in an objective manner would be carried to tackle the problem so that it was not misinterpreted as censoring the Internet.

He said if the source of pornography was from within the country, the authorities could act but at the moment could do very little to prevent its spread if the source was from overseas.

 

27th July   

Pattison's Piles...

Emmerdale shopping list gets the nutter treatment
Link Here

Best Emmerdale DVD Elizabeth Estensen Eagle eyed viewers may have sniggered - or gasped in 'outrage' - when a list flashed up on screen in Emmerdale's Marlon's cottage, featuring jam rags .

Under the innocuous terms such as rice and apples , was another surprising entry - pile cream .

Vivienne Pattison, director of campaigning group Mediawatch, has slammed the decision to screen the list.

She said: I think it's vulgar and inappropriate. 'Pile cream' I can deal with. It was the use of 'jam rag' that got me. I can't imagine a woman writing that. It's really vulgar and unnecessary.

Media watchdog Ofcom has so far registered no complaints about the list.

But ITV1 has apologised for any offence caused, saying in a statement: A shopping list featured in the background of a scene on Friday's episode of Emmerdale which included colloquial terms that some viewers considered inappropriate. We are looking into the matter and we apologise to any viewers if they were offended.

Update: A Red Rag to Middle England Whingers

28th July 2010. Based on article from theregister.co.uk , Thanks to Nick

Sadly, the ITV apology came a bit too late for Middle England, which was already shaken to the decent, upstanding foundations on which it rests. Traumatised Staffordshire mum-of-two Jean Walker recounted: I was stunned when my son, who is only seven, turned around and asked me what a jam rag was. It's not the kind of thing you want your kids seeing, so it was disappointing to see it on a programme like Emmerdale just after dinner.

You hear phrases like that used in the street or in the pub sometimes, but to use it in front of millions as part of a TV soap is a pretty silly thing to do.

An equally-rattled Sharon Kennedy, of Brum, reported: I couldn't believe my eyes when it appeared on screen - it's not the kind of language you expect to appear in one of our oldest soaps. I had to cover my young son's eyes because I didn't want to have to explain that kind of crass language to him at such a young age.

Maybe it was some kind of prank played on the cast by members of the production staff. If that was the case, I didn't find if particularly funny.

 

26th July   

Mad Dictators...

Australia Censors ban the hardcore version of Caligula
Link Here

Caligula The Australian Censor Board has banned the hardcore Version of Caligula submitted for DVD.

Via Vision Entertainment had their 930 minute extras-packed DVD Refused Classification. Presumably this was the Imperial Edition as released uncut in the UK and the US.

Caligula is a 1980 US/Italian film by Tinto Brass

In the UK, previous BBFC cuts were waived for the 2008 Freemantlemedia DVD

See full article from the sBBFC :

In 2008, the full uncut version of Caligula was resubmitted to the BBFC for DVD release. The passage of nearly 30 years had significantly diminished the film's impact and after careful consideration it was decided that it could now be classified '18' uncut.

This decision accords with the BBFC Guidelines, which state that At '18', the BBFC's guideline concerns will not normally override the wish that adults should be free to chose their own entertainment, within the law.

Although there are scenes in Caligula that some people will find shocking, offensive or disgusting, the film does not contain any material that is illegal in terms of current UK law and nor does it contain any material that is likely to give rise to harm for adults audiences, most of whom will be well aware of its controversial reputation.

The DVD version was classified '18' uncut with the consumer advice Contains strong violence, sexual violence and strong real sex.

Uncut region 2 DVD is available at UK Amazon
The uncut UK Blu-ray is available at UK Amazon

Uncut region 1 DVD is available at US Amazon
The uncut US Blu-ray is available at US Amazon

 

26th July   

Update: Policies Revealed Warts and All...

UK government to push for airbrush warnings on all adverts
Link Here  full story: Photoshopped Models...Campaigners to ban photoshopped adverts

Framed Christina Hendricks Photograph 25cm The UK government is to put the fashion industry under pressure to stop promoting unrealistic body images and clamp down on airbrushed photographs in magazines and adverts.

Lynne Featherstone, the inequalities minister, who has long campaigned against size-zero photoshoots, will convene a series of discussions this autumn with the fashion industry, including magazine editors and advertising executives, to discuss how to promote body confidence among young people.

The first will focus on airbrushing, which Featherstone argues is contributing to the dreadful pressure that young people, girls and women come under to conform to completely unachievable body stereotypes .

She will push for a Kitemark or health warning on airbrushed photographs, warning viewers that they are not real. I am very keen that children and young women should be informed about airbrushing, so they don't fall victim to looking at an image and thinking that anyone can have a 12in waist. It is so not possible, she told the Sunday Times.

The minister wants to see more women of different shapes and sizes used in magazine photoshoots, including curvaceous role models such as Christina Hendricks, who plays vivacious office manager Joan Holloway in Mad Men , the US TV series about the 1960s advertising industry.

Christina Hendricks is absolutely fabulous. We need more of those role models, she said. Instead, young girls and women were continually confronted with false images of incredibly thin women, which could create lifelong psychological damage. [Perhaps we'll then get a generation of girls feeling inferior over an impossible dream of boobs like Hendricks].

She is trying to convince magazine editors and advertisers to stop using digitally altered photographs and underweight models. Advertisers and magazine editors have a right to publish what they choose ...BUT... women and girls also have the right to be comfortable in their own bodies. At the moment, they are being denied that, she said.

Magazines that do retouch pictures run the risk of breaking their own code of conduct, which states they should not publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, she added. Magazines regularly mislead their readers by publishing distorted images that have been secretly airbrushed and altered.

She also called the actions of the advertising industry into question. Likewise, the advertising standards code says no advert should place children at risk of mental, physical or moral harm, but adverts do contain airbrushed images of unattainable beauty in magazines aimed at young teenagers.

 

26th July   

Updated: Comic Nutters...

Westboro Baptists will picket Comic-Con on grounds of idolatry
Link Here  full story: Westboro Baptists...Reprehensible nutters hate gays and soliders

preacher Comic fans beware: The man who believes that god hates...well...everyone but his family is headed to San Diego Comic-Con on July 22.

Fred Phelps on the official Westboro Baptist Church site, wrote:

If these people would spend even some of the energy that they spend on these comic books, reading the Bible, well no high hopes here. They have turned comic book characters into idols, and worship them they do! Isaiah 2:8 Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: 9 And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not. It is time to put away the silly vanities and turn to God like you mean it.

The destruction of this nation is imminent - so start calling on Batman and Superman now, see if they can pull you from the mess that you have created with all your silly idolatry.

Hopefully the creative guys at Comic-Con can come up with an amusing counter action.

Update: Bite my shiny metal ass

26th July 2010. Based on article from inewp.com

Futurama Specials DVD Billy West Fortunately, those at Comic-Con knew about Westboro's plans and prepared to meet them head on in a counter-demonstration. Obviously, Phelp's followers were massacred.

Led by an individual in a Bender costume from the cartoon Futurama, Comic-Con nerds dressed in various outfits held humorous signs that effectively counter-demonstrated.

Memorable moments include Bender megaphoning Bite my shiny metal ass to the Westboro congregation while holding a sign that read Kill All Humans and a person in a Buddy Jesus getup holding up a God Loves Everybody sign contradicting Westboro's signs that read God Hates Fags , God is Your Enemy , You're Going To Hell . Signs like God Hates Kittens and God Hates Jedi also accompanied the counter-protest.

 

26th July   

Premature Exculpulation...

Australia Censors document outlining proposed internet snooping
Link Here

Australia Government: Attorney-General's DepartmentThe government of Australia has said that it will censor almost 90% of the document showings its plan to monitor browsing habits of the ordinary citizens in the country.

The 18 page document was obtained through a freedom of information (FOI) request however most of the document is blanked out. The government says that it does not want a premature debate on the issue and thus is censoring the details.

The censorship is so detailed that the document has several pages with a single word. The proposal has been criticized as the government has asked the internet service providers in the country to store some aspects of the user's online behavior.

The government has been discussing the proposal with the industry members as it would require snooping on even those who have not committed any wrong doing. All parties involved in the discussion have been asked to remain secret about the matter.

An expert from the uncensored part of the document states, The UK experience has also shown the availability of information can be of great benefit providing exculpatory evidence, allowing police to rule out a person from an investigation, and to Coroners in determining circumstances leading up to death.

The Attorney-General's Department legal officer, FoI and Privacy Section, Claudia Hernandez said after releasing the document that the release of some sections of it may lead to premature unnecessary debate and could potentially prejudice and impede government decision making .

 

26th July   

Ultra-Cuts...

Old cuts to Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens
Link Here

Beneath Valley Ultra Vixens DVD Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens is a 1979 US sex comedy by Russ Meyer. See IMDb

The BBFC cuts were waived for:

  • 2005 Freemantlemedia/Arrow 2005 R2 DVD at UK Amazon
  • 2001 4 Front VHS
  • 1999 Polygram/Universal VHS
  • 1999 Troma VHS

Previously the BBFC cut about 10:00s for the 1979 cinema release

From cuts details on IMDb :

  • substantial edits to all of the sex scenes
  • cut shot of Lamar's exposed genitals following a groin kick.

Review from UK Amazon : Ultra-Fun

This is a Russ Meyers film, his final full length film as director and as usual his fascination for the female form is in abundance.

The movie is based in a small town USA and centers around the married couple of Lammar and Levonna and the sexual frustration of Levonna, here on in ensues a fantastic comedy soft porn romp in which the couple meet various colourful charactors along the journey to help cure Lammar's bedroom leanings, ending up in the fantastic Church of Rio Dio Radio where in lies Eufaula Roop, who has to be seen to be believed.

This movie was not the best received Meyers movie at the time of release however its safe to say that it has now gained cult status.

 

26th July   

Updated: Explosive Comedy...

Bin Laden comedy film banned in Pakistan
Link Here

tere bin ladenThe High Court of Pakistan has banned the release of the much awaited film Tere Bin Laden aka Tere Bin which deals with a bold edgy subject and problems post 9/11.

Previously on the order of Censor Board, the name Laden was dropped from Tere Bin Laden in Pakistan as a precautionary measure and now considering the kind of tensions surrounding Pakistan, the release of the film in Pakistan has been banned. The Board claimed that the film supports Osama Bin Laden and terrorism by making the comedy film.

According to newspapers across the border in India, the makers of the film have also received an anonymous letter threatening them with dire consequences if it is released. But according to the makers, the letter was not from Al-Qaeda, because it accuses the makers of supporting Osama Bin Laden and terrorism, making one smell the Shiv Sena rat.

The makers of Tere Bin Laden were also releasing the film globally, except U.S.A. because the American distributor of the film felt that Tere Bin Laden has the potential to go beyond the Indian diaspora. Due to its ban in Pakistan, the film will now open only in places like UK, India and Australia and other international territories. Other releases are to follow after the makers study the business in various markets in its first round.

Update: Appeal

26th July 2010. Based on article from thaindian.com

Film exhibitors as well as the distributors from Karachi have gone ahead and filed a petition with the Pakistani Censor Board so that the Indian film Tere Bin Laden can be released in Pakistan.

The movie is banned all over Pakistan for panic of terrorist attacks.

The film, was released in India on the July 16. This movie also debuts Pakistani pop star Ali Zafar. He enacts the role of as an over-ambitious TV reporter, who uses the lookalike of the Al Qaeda chief Osama so as to get into USA.

Nadeem Mandviwalla, official distributor of movies in Pakistan says that they have filed an appeal with the Appellant Board of the Censor Board; however the Appellant Board of the Censor Board has withheld its decision till the next week.

 

25th July   

Updated: Tabloid 'Journalism' at its Very Worst...

Daily Star gets carried away over fake GTA Rothbury story
Link Here  full story: GTA Rothbury...Daily Star make up it up about Roul Moat game

gta rothburyA tabloid journalist working for the UK's Daily Star 'newspaper' has been caught out by a spoof Photoshopped image claiming to be of a Grand Theft Auto game based on gunman Raoul Moat.

It wouldn't have taken hack Jerry Lawton long to work out the amateurishly edited image was a fake before reporting news that a book, Hollywood movie and computer game were all in development - but then, where's the fun in that?

The article started:

FURY erupted last night over plans for a Raoul Moat book, movie and game… before the man he killed has even been laid to rest.

A book on the crazed killer is due out in weeks and film companies are lining up bids for the rights.

And last night gaming websites showed the cover of Grand Theft Auto Rothbury – a version of the XBox hit Grand Theft Auto.

Lawton's article berated the gaming industry for supposedly immortalising a killer with the improbably titled GTA Rothbury , a game based on his week-long shooting spree.

In the piece, Lawton quotes the grandmother of Moat's ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, whose partner was killed by the gunman, saying of the non-existent game: It is sick - it's blood money. The game is beyond belief.

The article has since been pulled from the Daily Star website, but you can take a peek at a cached snapshot of the page .

Update: Daily Star Apologises

25th July 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

daily star logoThe Daily Star has been forced to apologise for its false story, carried about the creation of a video game entitled Grand Theft Auto Rothbury .

The paper has also had to admit that the publication of its article was due to its own journalistic failings.

It has now published a complete retraction of its claim in a lengthy apology. Here is the full statement:

On 21 July we published an article claiming that the video games company Rockstar Games were planning to release a version of their popular Grand Theft Auto video games series titled Grand Theft Auto Rothbury .

We also published what we claimed would be the cover of this game, solicited comments from a family member impacted by the recent tragedy and criticised Rockstar Games for their alleged plans.

We made no attempt to check the accuracy of the story before publication and did not contact Rockstar Games prior to publishing the story. We also did not question why a best-selling and critically acclaimed fictional games series would choose to base one of their most popular games on this horrifying real crime event.

It is now accepted that there were never any plans by Rockstar Games to publish such a game and that the story was false. We apologise for publishing the story using a mock-up of the game cover, our own comments on the matter and soliciting critical comments from a grieving family member.

We unreservedly apologise to Rockstar Games and we have undertaken not to repeat the claims again. We have also agreed to pay them a substantial amount in damages which they are donating to charity.

 

25th July   

Hatchet Job...

Supporting the hype for an uncut unrated cinema release for Hatchet II
Link Here

hatchet 2MoreHorror.com sources attending the San Diego Comic-Con have a report about the upcoming Adam Green release of Hatchet II .

Dark Sky Films are stating that they plan to have the film released in theaters entirely in its UNRATED format. Green told the audience at the convention that the MPAA has (yet again) asked that entire scenes be removed from the movie because they are too violent!

It seems however that won't be a factor anymore since an unnamed theater chain has been confirmed to allow the entire version to run in theaters this coming October.

Update: AMC

27th August 2010. Based on article from cinematical.com

AMC Theaters will be showing the unrated cut of the film as part of its AMC Independent program. This means the uncut version of Hatchet II will be shown theatrically in the top 20 markets in the United States.

 

25th July   

Update: Sex Bar Unbarred...

Chinese unblocking of porn sites is continuing
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Great Firewall of ChinaThe previously reported lightening up of the Chinese attitude to blocking of porn websites seems to be firming up.

After eight weeks, the porn sites are still accessible. Still unanswered are questions about whether it's an official change in policy, a technical glitch or some sort of test by the usually disapproving Chinese Internet police.

Whatever the reason, the change has thrown into sharper relief what many people see as the main mission of China's aggressive Internet censors: blocking sites and content that might challenge the political authority of the communist government. Websites about human rights and dissidents are also routinely banned.

Maybe they are thinking that if Internet users have some porn to look at, then they won't pay so much attention to political matters, Internet analyst Michael  Anti said.

Sites that suddenly became available around late May include the English-language YouPorn and PornHub, along with numerous Chinese sites offering downloads, though Anti and others say well-known Chinese-language sites remain blocked.

Wen Yunchao, a popular blogger who writes about social issues and the Internet under the name Beifeng, said even more porn sites have become available in recent days, including a well-known Chinese site called Xingba, or Sex Bar. In the past, the GFW would use pornography as an excuse for censorship. Now they're not even trying to cover it up.

Some speculate the proliferation of social networking sites and Twitter-like services was taxing the Great Firewall, requiring the government to unblock some porn sites to free up capacity for other snooping.

I think when the GFW realized they were not able to block all domain names, they reallocated resources to block more urgent or political sites, said Long, a tech blogger.

As part of the change, employees in the office that cracks down on pornography and unauthorized publications no longer have to report overseas-based porn sites to police because of the difficulties in tracking down Chinese involved, the state-run magazine Oriental Outlook reported in May. Censors only need to note the sites, the report said.

 

25th July   

Offsite: Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil...

Thailand's Massive Internet Censorship
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

Global Voices logoGlobal Voices Advocacy (GVD), a global anti-censorship network of bloggers and online activists, has launched a shocking report that Thailand has blocked at least 113,000 websites deemed to pose a threat to national security.

With its objective to defend free speech online, Global Voices revealed that Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) and the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations (CRES) admitted to blocking 48,000 websites in May this year, 50,000 in June and July and adding 500 more per day.

Almost all blocked websites were accused of breaching Thailand's infamous lèse-majesté law. Lèse-majesté, or the crime of injury to the royalty, is defined by Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, which states that defamatory, insulting or threatening comments about the king, queen and regent are punishable by three to 15 years in prison.

The punishment is also getting harsher since the state authorities have defined the threat to monarchy so closely with the concept of national security. In Thailand, the monarchy is not only a symbolic institution. It is the pillar of national security, said Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, a former judge. Whatever is deemed as affecting the monarchy must be treated as a threat to national security.

...Read the full article

 

24th July   

Update: Blocked Thinking...

India considers internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn

India flagIndia is considering drafting a new law to ban pornographic websites.

Minister of State for Home Ramesh Bagwe announced: We are thinking of introducing an act to ban pornographic websites. We will also request the Central government to amend the existing laws to make them more stringent .

He also police teams have begun patrolling cyber cafés to monitor downloading activities.

 

24th July   

Update: Waiting Game...

Election delays government consideration of an R18+ for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ bannedThe Australian government has delayed discussion once again on an R18+ rating. The Standing Committee of Attorneys-Generals were set to have a meeting this month to discuss implementing an R18+ ratings system, along with a host of other issues, but the meeting was cancelled due to the upcoming Federal Election.

The next meeting will take place in Canberra on November 4-5.

 

24th July   

Animal Cruelty Law Slimmed Down...

Crushing victory in House of Representatives vote
Link Here

US SenateThe House of Representatives has passed a bill that, if enacted, will prohibit the sale of crush videos and other filmed acts of animal cruelty including burning, suffocating, drowning and impaling live animals. The bill, sponsored by Representative Elton Gallegly, passed by a margin of 416 to 3. It now goes to the Senate, which is expected to pass it.

In April, the Supreme Court overturned a Virginia man's conviction for selling videos that depicted dogfighting on free-speech grounds. Chief Justice John Roberts said the existing law that criminalized the sale of such videos was too broad and could be used to prosecute sellers of hunting videos.

Gallegly responded by crafting a narrowly written law designed specifically to prohibit the sale or distribution of obscene visual depictions of animal cruelty. He became involved in the issue in 1999, when a local district attorney had difficulty prosecuting a Thousand Oaks man for selling a video depicting animal cruelty over the Internet.

 

24th July   

Diary: Frightfest 2010...

The UK's Leading fantasy and horror film festival
Link Here

frightfest logo Frightfest 2010
Empire Cinema, Leicester Square, London
26-30th August 2010

Main Empire screen
Thursday 26th August

6.30 - HATCHET II
9.15 - PRIMAL
11.15 - DEAD CERT

Friday 27th August

11.00 - EGGSHELLS
1.00 - TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE
3.00 - TOTAL ICON TOBE HOOPER
5.00 - ISLE OF DOGS
7.15 - F
9.25 - RED HILL
11.30 - ALIEN VS. NINJA

10.45 - BURNING BRIGHT
12.45 - THE CLINIC
3.00 - FINALE
5.00 - WOUND
7.15 - OUTCAST
9.45 - HIGANJIMA: ESCAPE FROM VAMPIRE ISLAND

Saturday 28th August

11.00 - CHERRY TREE LANE
1.15 - THE TORTURED
3.15 - 13 HRS
6.30 - I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
9.00 - MONSTERS
11.30 - DREAM HOME

11.00 - CHRISTOPHER ROTH
1.15 - FANBOYS
3.30 - AFTER.LIFE
6.35 - FINALE
9.00 - BURNING BRIGHT

Sunday 29th August

11.00 - THE PACK
1.00 - ANDY NYMAN'S QUIZ FROM HELL + FILM4 FRIGHTFEST INTERNATIONAL
SHORT FILM SHOWCASE
4.00 - WE ARE WHAT WE ARE
6.30 - KABOOM
9.00 - A SERBIAN FILM
11.30 - THE LOVED ONES

11.00 - HIGANJIMA: ESCAPE FROM VAMPIRE ISLAND
1.30 - OUTCAST
4.05 - WOUND
6.35 - AMER
9.05 - THE CLINIC

Monday 30th August

11.15 - VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP AND VIDEOTAPE
1.15 - THE DEAD
3.30 - BEDEVILLED
6.30 - RED WHITE & BLUE
9.00 - THE LAST EXORCISM

11.00 - AMER
1.30 - AFTER.LIFE
3.35 - FANBOYS
6.35 - CHRISTOPHER ROTH

 

23rd July   

Chinese Masters of the Art of Censorship...

China convinces UN to censor Gun Sculpture exhibit
Link Here

gun sculpture A UN exhibit has been censored in Vienna after Chinese pressure to ban it.

The Gun Sculpture forming the centre piece of the exhibit was created by Sandra Bromley and Wallis Kendal. The Exhibit is called the Art of Peacemaking .

The 4.5-tonne sculpture, welded together from deactivated guns, landmines and ammunition, has been shown in many countries, including at UN headquarters in New York in 2001, and has never run into problems before.

The problem is that along with the sculpture is a series of panels with photographs of violence from numerous countries. But the ones that stood out for the Chinese was the photographs of two Tibetan nuns.

After the Chinese objected to exhibit organizers and other UN departments all the photographs were removed.

We were absolutely shocked, said Bromley. This was done without any consultation or permission.

The Chinese wanted the whole exhibit removed but the UN just removed the panels with the photographs but this obviously completely ruins the integrity and whole purpose the exhibit.

 

23rd July   

Beaten Senseless by the PC Brigade...

Punch and Judy under duress
Link Here

punch judyPuppeteer Daniel Liversidge has been ordered to tone down his Punch and Judy act after organisers claimed the traditional show could be deemed offensive.

Liversidge has been told his upcoming Mr Marvels Punch and Judy performance at Portsmouth's Spinnaker Tower cannot include any scenes with Punch hitting Judy.

As a result, the puppet has ditched his whacking stick for a more benign fluffy mop.

Liversidge, who has been performing his act for 21 years, said: We have had to change the show a few times over the last six or seven years to reflect modern tastes. You always get people asking for the traditional stick to come back but you have to move with the times. At the end of the day I am a children's entertainer and my job is to keep children happy. Mr Punch is still a rascal and still has a variety of weapons in his arsenal but they are more socially appropriate like a feather duster or a tickling stick.

Liversidge added: Punch no longer throws the baby out of the bath instead he puts him to bed.

Paul Mahy, commercial manager at the Spinnaker Tower, said: We think some people could be offended by the traditional Punch and Judy story, especially at our family friendly attraction. We have agreed that many aspects of the traditional script had to be omitted. For example, Judy was originally put through a mangle and that is how sausages were made, obviously we cannot do this anymore.

 

23rd July   

Update: A New Inquisition...

Civitas reports on blasphemy laws making a come back under the Public Order Act
Link Here  full story: UK Religious Hatred Law...Law abuse by the authortites

New Inquisition Jon Gower Davies Hate legislation removes an increasing quantity of matters traditionally dealt with in civil society to the domain of the state and the courts. In a new report from the independent think tank Civitas, A New Inquisition: religious persecution in Britain today , Jon Gower Davies, formerly the Head of Religious Studies at Newcastle University, reveals the bizarre and oppressive nature of judicial attempts to prosecute individuals for religious hatred - this new legal concept has resulted in some singularly worrying court cases.

Blasphemy Law by the Backdoor

The Blasphemy Law was abolished in 2008, but has re-emerged in a new and radically augmented guise. Today, individuals are not charged with blasphemy, but with causing religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress under the Public Order Act. Jon Davies argues that the growth in accusations of hate crime threatens freedom of speech because they destroy the possibility and practice of open, sociable and critical discussion of religion.

Hatred in the legal sphere

Whilst the total number of racial and religious hate crimes fell from 13,201 in 2006-7 to 11,845 in 2008-9, the volume of hate legislation has rapidly expanded. Yet legal definitions of hatred are elusive. A government action plan states: A (religious) hate crime is a criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a persons religion or perceived religion.

In addition, hatred is not only presented as an offence on its own account, but can also be seen as something which aggravates ordinary public order offences. When an ordinary offence is aggravated by hatred based on race, religion, gender, or age, then the sentence too is aggravated (i.e. increased).

Judges become theologians!

Jon Davies argues that these definitions are without substance, and inevitably result in confusion and silliness in their application. The attempt to define a hate Incident in terms of hostility results in perilous imprecision: it is not possible to know when individuals have been hated - or, indeed, when they have themselves been hating! - and for how long and to what depth and to what effect. The essence of the criminal justice system should be justice and impartiality, but turning religious hatred into a criminal offence turns police, the Crown Prosecution Service and judges into surrogate theologians - a kind of theocracy (an uncomfortable theocracy at that) by the backdoor.

Are judges, even judges giving the "right" verdict, so qualified in theology that they feel able to offer doctrinal guidance? Is the Crown Prosecution Service so prudent in its understanding of "religious hatred" that it should be free, with no penalty for error, to mobilise the power and resources of the state against ordinary citizens who make comments about religion?

A danger to freedom of speech

One of the great triumphs of liberalism has been to separate the discovery of factual truth from the assertion of religious doctrine. And yet, when Judge Richard Clancy dismissed the case against the hoteliers, Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, in December 2009, he commented that it might be best for individuals not to engage in discussions about religion! As a result: It becomes "wise" to "be careful", to restrict the compass of what we say about what we believe, or do not believe, or about what others believe or do not or should not believe, and to turn what were once vigorous public conversations into a frightened, if safe, if amiable and fundamentally humourless chat about small and dwindling things. (p.49)

Because freedom of speech is the prevailing view in Britain, we are not as alert to the risk of its overthrow as we should be. The freedom to speak our minds without fear or favour is worth fighting for. In A New Inquisition , Jon Davies shows why the liberal majority needs to reassert the convention that the law should be used not as a weapon to suppress unpopular opinions, but rather as the protector of free speech.

 

23rd July   

Updated: Waved Off...

Thailand silences 26 community radio stations
Link Here

NTCThai authorities, using the emergency decree, have recently shut down 26 more community radio stations in nine provinces, media reports said.

The Nation said six more stations were pressured to discontinue their operations. The English-language newspaper also reported that at least 35 people working for these stations, like radio hosts, station managers and executives, are facing lawsuits for allegedly encouraging their listeners to join the Red Shirt protest rally in Bangkok a few months ago, and for distorting information.

Suthep Wilailert, secretary-general of the Campaign for Popular Media Reform (CPMR), which organized a seminar on 14 July 2010 under its Community Radio Watch project, however, said there are no clear details to substantiate these charges. Suthep said sometimes as many as 200 soldiers would come to a community radio station to threaten the media workers and confiscate transmission equipment.

The CPMR reported that in Ubon Ratchathani, some 200 officials showed up to shut down a community radio station, while in Chiang Mai, up to 500 officials were deployed to close down another community radio station. Suthep said some of these officials were even armed with automatic weapons.

Dr. Niran Pitakwatchara, a commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission, said that shutting down these radio stations could backfire on the government.

 

23rd July   

Update: Police Harassment...

Sydney suburban sex shop suffers police raid
Link Here

X18+ symbolPolice seized about 11,000 pornographic DVDs and videos from an adult book store in St Marys last week.

The suspect pornography is allegedly all unclassified, restricted content or rated X18+, which is perfectly legal to sell in most of the free world but not in New South Wales.

Police claim they were tipped off about the suspect content by the public.

Working with the Australian Censorship Board, officers from the St Marys command swarmed into the shop and seized the DVDs.

Detective Rohan Best said the business had previously been fined $25,000 for selling illegal content in 2008.

 

22nd July   

Whingers Get a Good Kicking...

ASA reject 1290 complaints about blind football advert
Link Here

paddy powers blind wanderers video A TV ad for a bookmaker Paddy Power showed a game of football being played by two teams of blindfolded men, using a ball which had a bell inside it. The ad opened with a shot of a kitbag marked Blind Wanderers FC , then showed the players mid-game. One player kicked the ball off the pitch and a cat, wearing a bell on its collar, ran on to the pitch and ran across it, with its bell ringing. The referee was about to blow his whistle, but one of the men was shown taking a kick and a thud and loud meow were then heard, although no contact between the player and the cat was shown on screen. The referee dropped his whistle in shock and the players stood around. A man in a suit appeared on the pitch, patted the shoulder of the player who had taken the kick and said Paddy Power can't get Tiddles back, there's nothing we can do about that, but we can get you your money back with our money-back specials and handed the player some bank notes. The man looked upwards with a quizzical expression and there was a shot of the cat walking along the branch of a tree, meowing. The final voice-over said Check 'em out before you bet at Paddy Power … and the player taking the kick was shown again, in slow motion, and a faint meow was again heard in the background.

Issue

1089 viewers objected to the ad.

  1. 220 viewers objected that the ad was offensive to blind people.
  2. 1070 viewers objected that the ad was offensive and harmful, because it might encourage or condone cruelty to animals.

ASA Assessment: Not upheld

1. Not upheld

The ASA acknowledged that it was not offensive or disrespectful in itself to create an ad referring to or involving people with a disability. We noted that the ad featured, and was supported by members of the England Blind Football Team, and showed blind people enjoying a game of football. We considered that the action in the ad would be interpreted by most viewers as a humorous depiction of a fictional situation, with the humour derived from the surreal and improbable circumstances, when an unforeseeable and accidental action occurred. We considered it was unlikely to be seen by most viewers as malicious or to imply that blind people were likely to cause harm to animals whilst playing football. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to be seen as humiliating, stigmatising or undermining to blind people and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. Not upheld

We noted the ad was not aimed at children and was not shown in and around children's programmes. We considered the situation in the ad was surreal and improbable. We noted that the action did not directly show any footballers making contact with the cat and furthermore it pointedly ensured that the cat was shown ultimately unharmed, walking on the branch of a tree. We acknowledged that some viewers had not found the ad to be in good taste, but because it was surreal, farcical and light-hearted in tone, we considered it was unlikely to be seen by most viewers as a gratuitous or realistic portrayal of cruel treatment of an animal, or that it would encourage or condone cruelty to animals. We therefore concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

 

22nd July   

Knife Play...

Old cuts to Kitami
Link Here

Muscle Tale of Hidden Obsessions Kitami is a 1989 Japan thriller by Hisayasu Sato. See IMDb

The BBFC cut 22s from the 1996 Dangerous To Know VHS.

  • At 5.5 mins - In sex scene between two men, after establishing long shot of man tracing scalpel around partner's face and chest, remove all close ups of scalpel penetrating chest and drawing blood, resuming on medium shot of man's head to camera.
     
  • At 15.5 mins - In sex scene when man spreads butter on lover's chest, remove sight of knife playing around and jabbing other's genitals.

 

22nd July   

They Should Have Seen It Coming...

Ofcom fines TV channel advertising money grabbing psychic
Link Here
ouija-board

  Ofcom Sanctions Committee:
Shall we fine them?

Ofcom has fined DM Digital Television Limited £17,500 for seriously and repeatedly breaching advertising rules.

In February 2009 the digital station – which broadcasts mainly in Urdu to the UK Asian community – broadcast an advertisement for a spiritual healer called Professor Mohammed Zain.

The Advertising Standards Authority subsequently received a complaint from Manchester Trading Standards, which been contacted by the social worker of a viewer who had approached Professor Zain after seeing the advert.

The viewer had paid money to Professor Zain on two occasions for help in finding a partner. According to the viewer, Professor Zain told her to credit his account with £110 and to pray for one week and then to call him back. When she did this, he told her to credit his bank account with a further £1,400 and in return he would find her a partner. The viewer proceeded to transfer the requested money.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found the advertisement was in breach of the CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code because it was misleading and likely to exploit the vulnerable and that it represented advice to individuals, based on psychic or faith based practices for personal problems.

In serious cases the ASA can refer matters to Ofcom as the backstop regulator, which has the power to fine broadcasters for breaching advertising rules.

Ofcom considered that the breach was serious because it resulted in actual financial harm to a viewer.

Ofcom also concluded that the breach demonstrated a repeated failure on behalf of DM Digital to ensure that the material it broadcast met the requirements of the TV Advertising Code.

 

22nd July   

Update: Qur'an Slammed on EastEnders...

With predictable whinges from the easily offended
Link Here  full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

Eastenders logoThe BBC have defended an episode of EastEnders following complaints from viewers who said they were upset by a scene in which a Muslim character slammed down a copy of the Qur'an.

The gay character of Syed Masood, played by Marc Elliott had been struggling with his love for Christian Clarke (John Partridge) in the face of disapproval from his devout family. He dropped the religious text in frustration during the episode, screened earlier this week,

The BBC said yesterday that it had not intended to cause offence, but merely to demonstrate Syed's utter confusion .

 

22nd July   

Update: Nutter at Core...

Apple ban video phone app lest people chat naked
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

chatrouletteiChatr is the iPhone Chatroulette clone. It has predictably been removed from the App Store due to the behavior of several naked users.

It was probably inevitable that Apple -- with its nutter mission to offer app store users freedom from porn -- would find something objectionable about an app known as a way for voyeurs to expose themselves.

SKJM, the developer of iChatr, is currently discussing a solution to the problem with Apple.

 

21st July   

Zombie Censors...

Australian censors ban LA Zombie from Melbourne Film Festival
Link Here

la zombieThe Australian film censor has banned a film from screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival, a work described as gay zombie porn .

Festival director Richard Moore received a letter yesterday from the Film Classification Board director Donald McDonald, stating that L.A. Zombie , the latest offering from Canadian provocateur Bruce LaBruce, could not be screened as it would in his opinion be refused classification.

The festival is not generally required to submit films for classification, but after reading a synopsis of the plot of L.A. Zombie , which features wound penetration and implied sex with corpses, the Classification Board requested a DVD to watch, and then refused to issue an exemption.

 

21st July   

More Bad Vibes for the Pope's Visit...

Government censor embarrassingly popular petition protesting at the pope's visit
Link Here

10 Downing Street logoThe British government has removed from its website a petition protesting Pope Benedict XVI's Sept. 16-19 visit to England and Scotland.

The petition had urged the British prime minister to dissociate the government from the pope's intolerant views and not to support the state visit financially. The secularist coalition Protest the Pope sponsored the petition, which had attracted more than 12,300 signatures.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who drafted the petition, said July 16 that the government had removed the petition three months before it was due to close, and that it had not allowed signatures since April.

This looks like an attempt to prevent the petition from embarrassing the government by gaining a large number of signatures in the run-up to Pope Benedict's visit, Tatchell said in a statement.

The Protest the Pope petition had criticized Pope Benedict for his alleged intolerant opposition to women's rights, gay equality, embryonic stem-cell research and condom use to prevent the spread of HIV.

It urged the prime minister to rebuke the pope for allegedly covering up the clerical sex abuse of children and, according to the petition, his rehabilitation of the Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson, and his plan to make a saint of Hitler's pope, Pius XII, who refused to publicly condemn the Holocaust.

In its response, posted on the prime minister's website, the government explained it would fund only the state aspects of the visit, with the Catholic Church meeting the costs of pastoral events.

There are issues on which we disagree with the Catholic Church, the statement said. However, we believe that Pope Benedict's visit will provide an opportunity to strengthen and build on our relationship with the Holy See in areas where we share interests and goals and to discuss those issues on which our positions differ.

The Protest the Pope coalition is planning a march and rally in London to coincide with the pope's Sept. 18 prayer vigil in London's Hyde Park.

 

21st July   

Advertising for a New Censor...

CAP Chairman steps down
Link Here

CAP logoThe self-regulatory bodies that write up the codes of advertising are on the hunt for a new chairman now that incumbent Andrew Brown is to step down.

Brown has chaired the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) since 1999.  He has chaired CAP and BCAP through the extensive review of the advertising codes that were announced in revised form earlier this year.

Andrew says It is time to hand over to a new generation; advertising self-regulation has changed dramatically over the last ten years in both content and remit. This process needs to continue as the business faces the challenges posed by new media.

Brown will stand down at the end of March 2011 and Sir Chris Powell, chairman of the Advertising Standards Board of Finance, will be responsible for appointing his successor.

 

21st July   

Updated: Sorry is the Hardest Word...

Thailand banned from saying sorry in TV commercial
Link Here

thailand sorry video Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has suggested the censorship board reconsider its ban on the TV commercial Thailand, We Apologise.

Abhisit said he has watched the advertisement on the internet and he thinks its producers only had good intentions in getting their message across to the Thai people.

The prime minister said the producers wanted to instil a sense of responsibility in all Thais and encourage them to take action to correct past mistakes.

The prime minister said he has no idea why the commercial has fallen foul of the censors. He said the censors should step forward to offer an explanation of why they have banned the advertisement.

The censorship board is made up of representatives from all free TV channels. No government agencies are involved in censorship of TV commercials.

The commercial was produced by a group calling itself Positive Network. It is made up of members of the advertising and public relations industries along with social networks.

The advert tells the story of the red shirt protests by using pictures and script to depict what happened to the country and questions society. The music Auld Lang Syne was used in the background.

Here is a translation of the script: Did we do anything wrong? Did we handle anything too harshly? Did we listen to only one side of the story? Did we perform our duties? Did we really think of people? Were we corrupt? Did we take too much? Did the media make people better informed? Did our society deteriorate? Did we love money more than the rightness? And did we only wait for help? If there was anyone to blame, it would be all of us. Apologise? Thailand. And if there was anyone who can fix the problems, it would be all Thais. Keep the loss in mind and turn it into our force.

The censors said the commercial has been banned because it could create conflict and there is a risk of lawsuits being filed by parties affected by the riots. The board has told the producer of the advertisement to correct it and resubmit it for approval.

Bhanu Inkawat, previously a well-known advertiser and founder of the Positive Network, said the producer will make changes to the commercial so it can gain approval to go on air.

Update: Not banned, just a lot of cuts

21st July 2010. Based on article from nationmultimedia.com

The Board of Censors has defended its decision to ban the Kor Thort ... Prathet Thai (Apologise ... Thailand) television commercial, claiming it might make social rifts even deeper.

The censors hadn't in fact banned the commercial ...BUT... To allow the commercial on air, the panel has ordered that six scenes of the 150-second commercial, involving images deemed legally and morally improper such as the burning of buildings, soldiers pointing guns, nudity, monks being arrested and violent protests, be taken out.

 

21st July   

Gambling on Censorship...

Israel starts on race to internet censorship
Link Here

Israel flagIsraeli police have ordered all ISPs to block access in a number of gambling sites, most of them abroad, which are suspected to be owned by Israelis:

  • victorchandler.com
  • keshcard.com
  • stanjames.com
  • thespinroom.com.

The police instructed Israeli ISPs to block the IP addresses of relevant sites and asked to respond within 48 hours. But the ISPs argued their lack of actual ability to block IP addresses and lack of authority for such blocking.

The police battle against gambling is ongoing Three weeks ago, 28 people were arrested in connection with two major sites: victorchandler.com and stanjames.com. This was in suspicion of distributing prepaid cards worth tens of millions of NIS for gambling on the websites. The need to use alternative paying cards came after the 2007 block on payments to gambling companies instigated by the credit card companies under police orders.

Behind this campaign of eradication of 'illegal gambling', is the protection of the official monopoly on 'legal' gambling  for Winner-Toto and the National Lottery.

 

21st July   

Update: Coming Unstitched...

After banning an 'obscene' play, Malta notices it being performed in Edinburgh with just a 14 rating
Link Here  full story: Stage Censorship in Malta...Maltese censors ban stage play Stitching, then get disbanded

Stitching Modern Plays Anthony Neilson Stitching , the play banned from being staged in Malta last year, is set to be performed at the popular Edinburgh Fringe Festival next month with a 14 rating.

A spokesman for the Fringe told The Sunday Times it was the performers themselves who gave an age rating to the works they staged, but these were just guidelines .

When it first was staged at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2002, The Guardian reported that some audience members had walked out of Anthony Nielson's play, which focuses on a couple dealing with the loss of a child.

Chris Gatt, director of the Maltese production, said he was not surprised at the self-imposed 14 rating: It proves what we've said all along. It was an entire fuss for nothing. Obscenity is in the eyes of the beholder, not in the script - and this is why plays like Stitching keep being performed.

He said he could not understand why Scottish audiences should be subjected to a different cultural and moral benchmark than the Maltese. Citing as examples local plays like Chat Room (which was given a 16 rating in Malta, when it is meant to be performed by, and for, 14-year-olds), he said local classification needed a radical overhaul. In several countries, not only had stage censorship long been abolished, but so had classification.

Writing in The Times, Culture Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco underlined the need to find a way of better protecting the freedom of artistic expression: Do our laws reflect 21st century realities? Are they too draconian in nature, giving perhaps too much power to the Classification Board?

 

20th July   

Rubbing Salt into the Cuts...

Salt cut for a 12A cinema release
Link Here

Salt DVD Angelina Jolie Salt is a 2010 US spy thriller by Phillip Noyce. See IMDb

The BBFC suggested the cuts for 12A for the 2010 cinema release.

This film was originally shown to the BBFC in an unfinished version. The BBFC advised the company that the film was likely to receive a 15 classification but that the requested 12A certificate could be achieved by making cuts in six sequences in order to reduce a scene of torture, four violent scenes and a scene of strangulation. When the finished version of the film was submitted, all six scenes had been reduced acceptably and the film was classified 12A .

 

20th July   

Doing an Impression of a Tub of Lard...

Eamonn Holmes whinges at the Impressions Show
Link Here

Impressions Show Culshaw Stephenson DVD Eamonn Holmes threatened the BBC with legal action after a comedy programme made jokes about his weight.

Holmes, who presents This Morning and Sky News , ordered his lawyers to send a letter to the BBC after a series of sketches were performed about him by Jon Culshaw on The Impressions Show.

Using the catchphrase, I was fierce hungry, so I was , three separate skits showed Holmes presenting his show after apparently eating a sofa, Frankie Dettori the jockey, and finally the gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show.

In the last sketch when asked where the flowers at the Chelsea Flower Show had gone Holmes said: Oh the big salad that was there, yes. But blow me down if I couldn't eat the whole thing again.

Following the legal letter the BBC has apologised to Holmes and assured him that he will not be appearing as an object of fun in any further series of the show.

Holmes's spokesman said: Eamonn has got the highest regard for Jon Culshaw but he felt that in this instance it was a joke that went too far. It was just playing to a stereotype.

The programme was aired in November 2009 and Holmes even interviewed Culshaw and his co-star Debra Stephenson on This Morning to promote the programme.

 

20th July   

Update: Refused Quality Classification...

Australia finally decides to recheck their crap block list
Link Here
Stephen Conroy

  Surely a reject if
politics had a
QA department

Australia's government will select an expert to manually check up to 10,000 blacklisted online web pages.

The proposal will come to fruition over the next year if Labor wins the August 21 election. Labor will take to the polls its controversial policy of mandatory ISP-level filtering of refused classification (RC) content.

An annual review of the RC content list would be conducted by an independent expert who would be appointed in consultation with industry, the government said.

A spokeswoman for Senator Conroy confirmed the expert would be a person and not an organisation. When asked if that person would enter into a browser each URL on the entire RC list to ensure its legitimacy, she said: Yes, the independent expert would be a person (such as a retired judge) and they would examine the list to ensure it includes only RC content.

Meanwhile the Coalition refused to say if it would scrap Labor's controversial mandatory ISP filter plan. It kept mum on whether a Tony Abbott-led government would resurrect NetAlert or introduce an opt-in filtering version instead. The Coalition will announce some practical and effective measures to enhance online safety and security in coming weeks, opposition communications spokesman Tony Smith said.

 

20th July   

Updated: Obligatory Blogetery Block...

73,000 blogs taken down by US authorities
Link Here

bgetery logoBlogetery.com, a little-known WordPress platform used by more than 70,000 blogs, was shut down by its Web hosting company more than a week ago and nobody seems willing to say why or who is responsible.

BurstNet, the Web-hosting company, informed Blogetery's operator that service was terminated at the request of some law enforcement agency but wouldn't say which one. As for the reason, BurstNet hasn't made that clear either. In an e-mail to Blogetery's operator, BurstNet managers did say that they had little choice but to terminate service.

Please note that this was not a typical case in which suspension and notification would be the norm, BurstNet wrote to Blogetery's operator. This was a critical matter brought to our attention by law enforcement officials. We had to immediately remove the server.

Initially commentators suspected that perhaps file sharing issues were behind the take down but this was denied.  In an interview, a BurstNet spokesman declined to identify the law enforcement agency that ordered Blogetery shut down or provide the reason but did say that it had nothing to do with copyright violations.

BurstNet hinted at something more serious in a forum article from webhostingtalk.com .

In repose to a refund request and a dump of Blogetery data, BurstNet wrote: [This] should be the least of his concerns. Simply put: We cannot give him his data nor can we provide any other details. By stating this, most would recognize that something serious is afoot.

Update: Inspire

20th July 2010. Based on article from news.cnet.com

inspire magazine More details are surfacing about why Blogetery.com, a blogging platform that claimed to service more than 70,000 blogs, was mysteriously booted from the Internet by its Web-hosting company.

The site was shut down after FBI agents informed executives of Burst.net, Blogetery's Web host, late on July 9 that links to al-Qaeda materials were found on Blogetery's servers, Joe Marr, chief technology officer for Burst.net, told CNET. Sources close to the investigation say that included in those materials were the names of American citizens targeted for assassination by al-Qaeda. Messages from Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the terrorist organization, as well as bomb-making tips, were also allegedly found on the server.

A source with knowledge of the investigation said that the material allegedly found on Blogetery's server is connected to an online magazine called Inspire , which debuted recently. Numerous news outlets reported over the past weekend that Inspire is designed to help recruit new members to al-Qaeda. According to Fox News, the title of one article was Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.

Citing intelligence sources, Fox reported that Khan is Web savvy and his magazine represents al-Qaeda's most ambitious terrorist recruitment tool to date.

 

19th July   

A New Look...

BBFC website upgrade
Link Here

bbfc screen shot The BBFC implemented a website re-vamp on Sunday that is now live.

BBFC David Cooke said in his 2009 Annual Report

It will not only have a new look, but will be easier to navigate. It will still provide the wide range of information about the Board for both companies submitting works to the Board for classification and members of the public looking for information about works we have classified.

And indeed the design is sleeker and the navigation is more intuitive.

There is still some work to be done on the useful films and video database though, with some advance search features missing. The data behind the scenes is very much as before and it is good to see that old links are preserved.

 

19th July   

Fuhrer Fury...

Art causes a stir in Italy
Link Here

virgin of the 3rd reichThe pastor of the Italian city of Pietrasanta, together with local Catholic associations, have lodged a complaint with city officials over a picture of the Virgin Mary holding a child-like Adolph Hitler in her arms.

The picture titled, The Virgin of the Third Reich belongs to the collection of Italian artist Giuseppe Veneziano, known in the region for his works mocking various historical figures including Jesus Christ and Pope Benedict XVI.

The picture was used on a poster promoting the Zeitgeist Expo, which will feature various works by Veneziano at the Panichi Palace in Pietrasanta starting this weekend.

The mayor of Pietrasanta, Domenico Lombardi, has publicly apologized to Catholics for the picture and organizers of the expo have pulled the controversial piece from the Zeitegeist program: I assume all responsibility for the publication of this picture, but I had not seen it beforehand, and had I, I would have selected another one . I apologize if the painting offends anyone's religious sensibilities.

Veneziano also has complained to reporters about the decision to pull the piece and said he was a victim of censorship.

 

19th July   

In the Poo...

Coca Cola takedown Facebook campaign over scat reference
Link Here

Dr Pepper 12 x 355ml Coca-Cola has been forced to pull an internet campaign after parents accused the company of using hardcore pornographic references to target children on Facebook.

A Facebook promotion for Dr Pepper, part of the Coca-Cola drinks range, posted a reference to a notorious pornographic film on the wall of an underage girl.

As part of the promotion, users allowed the company to hijack their Facebook status box, posting apparently embarrassing messages under their names.

More than 160,000 people signed up for the hoax statuses, which included: Lost my special blankie. How will I go sleepies? and What's wrong with peeing in the shower?

But the marketing drive backfired when a parent complained that her 14-year-old daughter's hijacked status claimed that she had watched a hardcore pornographic film which is notorious for the obscene practices it depicts. The status referred to the film by name, and the mother said she was particularly distressed after finding that her daughter had subsequently searched for it on the internet.

[The reference is to 'Two Girls One Cup' which is an extreme scat thing. It seems quite well known in the social networking world, more as a foil for reaction than any hint of the real thing. Eg there are YouTube videos of people watching the unseen porn video and reacting nauseously. This information seems to have been omitted from the newspaper articles on the story].

Rickman wrote on the parents' networking site Mumsnet: I am absolutely fizzing with rage and disgust, and want a full apology and explanation. Other Mumsnet users reacted furiously to news of the disgusting promotion, and praised Rickman for bringing it to light.

Coca-Cola has since apologised and announced an investigation into its promotion procedures. Executives said they had approved the offending message without realising its true meaning.

 

19th July   

Update: Disapproving BUT...

Big names defend the right of Westboro Baptists to spew hateful nonsense
Link Here  full story: Westboro Baptists...Reprehensible nutters hate gays and soliders

Friends Voltaire Hall Evelyn Beatrice Odd bedfellows are standing side by side with Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in a demonstration of First Amendment fundamentalism. They've filed a friend of the court brief in favor of the right to infuriate families of the fallen with those vicious funeral protests.

The list includes the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the E.W. Scripps Company, the Hearst Corporation, NPR, The New York Times, and the Tribune Company (parent of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times).

Jeff Schogol of the military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported these companies joined other free-press advocates in supporting these hateful incitements:

The media organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church, which protests near service members' funerals because it believes that troops' deaths and other national tragedies are divine revenge for America's tolerance of gays and lesbians.

The father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who died in Iraq in 2006, sued the church for picketing near his son's funeral with signs that said God hates you, You're in hell and Semper Fi fags. They also distributed a flier with Snyder's picture on it that read Burial of an Ass.

Snyder's father, Al, won at trial, but he lost an appeal and was ordered to pay more than $16,000 in court costs. The latest case will be heard by the Supreme Court in the fall.

While not defending the Westboro Baptist Church's actions, the 22 media organizations argued that the church is protected by the First Amendment. They also contend that the case could have a chilling effect on news gathering if Al Snyder prevails.

In the brief, the media groups argue that speech cannot be deemed too offensive to be protected by the First Amendment.

 

19th July   

A Dangerous Topic...

British author arrested in Singapore over book on the death penalty there
Link Here  full story: Book Censorship in Singapore...Singapore takes offence and puts author on trial

Singapore flagA British author promoting his book on the death penalty in Singapore has been arrested there for alleged criminal defamation.

Alan Shadrake's arrest came two days after the government's Media Development Authority lodged a police report. The Foreign Office said it was seeking further information from Singaporean authorities.

The 75-year-old has also been served with an application by the attorney general for an order of committal for contempt of court , police said.

In an email to Reuters, Shadrake called himself a British freelance journalist and author who had planned to launch his latest book Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock in the city-state.

The Straits Times newspaper reported that the 219-page book was filled with accounts of high-profile cases in Singapore involving the use of the death penalty. It also included interviews with the city-state's former executioner.

 

19th July   

End of the World for Whingers...

ASA turn down their ludicrous complaints about Pepsi Max advert
Link Here

pepsi+max end of the world video A TV and Video on Demand (VOD) ad for Pepsi Max.

The ad showed a woman and a man sitting near each other at a bar. The man leant towards the woman and said Hey, if you need another? to which she replied I'm fine . A breaking news story then played on the bar's TV and a reporter said I can now officially confirm that a huge asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and will destroy all life . The barman began to panic and scrambled along the bar shouting We're gonna die, we're all gonna die! . The customers then fled leaving only the man and woman at the bar. The reporter then said Reach out to someone, anyone who's near, show them you love them. Don't be alone . The woman and the man then looked at each other for a moment before she ran towards him and they kissed as they fell to the floor. The ad then cut to the bar's kitchen where the barman and the reporter from the TV were shown in a fake news studio. They were revealed to be friends of the man from the bar as he walked in. The reporter asked him And? , the man replied Thank you guys, I love you . Music played and all three men were then shown dancing and drinking the product. On-screen text stated MAX IT! above a product shot.

Issues

1. 36 viewers challenged whether the ad was harmful, because they believed the ad condoned deception as a means of obtaining sex, condoned rape or sexual assault and promoted casual sex.

2. 38 viewers challenged whether the ad was offensive, because they believed the ad was sexist, demeaned women, portrayed men as sexual predators and portrayed women as sex objects.

3. 8 viewers challenged whether The ad was suitable to be broadcast at times when children might be watching.

ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted that the men used an elaborate ruse, including the staging of a fake news broadcast about the imminent destruction of the world, to entice the woman to kiss one of them. We considered this scenario was obviously fantastical and could clearly not be imitated by viewers. We also noted that the men did not use physical coercion and that the woman did not flee the bar with the other customers, but instead chose to stay behind before running towards the man, jumping on him and initiating the kiss. We therefore considered that she was shown to take the initiative in the encounter, rather than being depicted as being intimidated or acting against her will.

We noted that, although the two were seen kissing and falling to the floor, this was clearly a consensual act between two adults and that there was no nudity or an explicit sex scene. Nor did we consider that the ad suggested that such an encounter would be acceptable in more normal circumstances or that casual sex was acceptable. We therefore concluded the ad was not harmful in the manner suggested by the complainants.

2. Not upheld

We understood that the mans ability to elicit the kiss from the woman was a result solely of the elaborate ruse which he had concocted with his friends and that serious coercion or violence were not used, threatened or implied. We therefore considered that the men were depicted as comedic rather than predatory.

We also noted that all the customers in the bar were seen to fall for the hoax and react by panicking and fleeing. However, the woman was shown to remain calm before taking the initiative to kiss the man. We therefore did not consider that she was depicted as any more suggestible or less intelligent than the other patrons and we did not consider that the ad was sexist towards either her or women in general.

While we considered that some viewers would find the ad distasteful, we concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

3. Not upheld

We noted that the ad had been given an ex-kids timing restriction, which meant that it should not be broadcast in or around programmes targeted at young children.

We noted that the ad did not contain any nudity or sex scenes and considered that the ad was unlikely to be harmful to older children who would understand the faking of a news broadcast, and the ruse in general, to be fantastical.

However, we noted that the ad featured a passionate kiss and dealt with vaguely adult themes such as deception and seduction, albeit in a light-hearted, fantastical situation. We also considered that, while there was no explicit content, the men's back-slapping and dancing at the end of the ad could be seen as suggestive that something more than a kiss had occurred. We therefore agreed that a restriction to keep the ad away from times when younger children would be watching TV alone was appropriate. We did not consider a later restriction was necessary.

 

19th July   

Updated: Mickey Mouse Justice...

Russian gallery curators convicted of blasphemous art
Link Here  full story: Art Censorship in Russia...Art exhibitions winds up the nutters
mickeys last supper

  Another Mickey Mouse Christ

Two men who organised an art exhibition in Moscow in 2007 have been found guilty by a Russian court of inciting hatred.

Andrei Yerofeyev and Yuri Samodurov had set up the Forbidden Art exhibition at the Sakharov Museum in Moscow.

Both curators were convicted of inciting religious hatred and fined, but escaped prison sentences. The two were ordered only to pay fines of up to 200,000 rubles ($6,500).

The show provoked condemnation from the Russian Orthodox Church, among others, for artworks that included a depiction of Jesus Christ with the head of Mickey Mouse.

There was also a spoof ad for Coca Cola with the slogan This is my blood that visitors looked at through peep holes.

Yerofeyev, an art expert, and Samodurov, the former director of the Sakharov Museum, said they organised the exhibition to fight censorship of art in Russia.

Update: Book of the Banned

19th July 2010. Based on article from freethinker.co.uk
See also article from readrussia.com

vagrich bakhchanyan crucifix Art that a Russian court found blasphemous this week are about to get a much wider audience.

In the wake of the trial of art expert Andrei Yerofeyev and the Sakharov Museum's then-director Yuri Samodurov, a magazine called Russia! has announced its intention to publish a book, The Banned Art , containing the offensive exhibits in January, 2011.

The magazine has already posted pictures of some of the blasphemous pieces featured in Forbidden Art 2006?.

 

18th July   

Update: Unblocking Turkish Censorship...

Istanbul street protest against website blocking
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Turkey flagOver 2,000 protesters marched in Turkey's largest city Istanbul against strict internet censorship in the country.

The protesters were demanding that a law preventing access to over 5,000 internet sites banned in Turkey be repealed.

They chanted slogans for removing the ban on video-sharing website YouTube and against the transportation minister, whose ministry is responsible for website bans, Xinhua reported.

Don't touch the internet, pull away your hand, the protesters shouted.

The protest was organised by the Common Platform Against Internet Censorship, a platform of over 50 organisations.

There was always dissatisfaction with internet censorship, but this was the first time people poured out into the streets, Ozgur Uckan of Bilgi University, one of the organisers of the rally, said.

 

18th July   

Impaired Judgment...

Nutters whinge at Californian art exhibit
Link Here

moral values jeri wyrickA California public library has come under nutter fire for displaying anti-religious paintings as part of its current art show.

The most controversial of the paintings on display at the Sacramento County Public Law Library is called Moral Values by San Francisco attorney-artist Jeri Wyrick. The painting depicts a large Bible with a label reading: Warning: May Impair Judgment.

The painting is part of the library's art show called A Creative Merger II: Justice and Peace. Wyrick has three paintings on display in the art show.

On the library's website for the art show, Wyrick describes her paintings as anti-religious. She said Moral Values was inspired by the 2004 presidential election when George W. Bush won his second term. She said that exit polls of those who voted for Bush show their main concern for America's future was not terrorism or the war in Iraq, but moral values, such as gay marriage.

I came to the conclusion that there must be something about religious faith which renders people stupid, Wyrick explained in the painting's description.

Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute is calling on the law library to remove the painting and its description that says religion makes people stupid. The legal group – which specializes in defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties – has sent a letter to the Board of the Sacramento County Law Library to ask that Moral Values be immediately removed.

It is outrageous that our local public law library is actively promoting anti-religious paintings by an artist who calls people of faith stupid, said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, in a statement Thursday. We are demanding that the library remove this blatant violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which forbids government sponsored hostility towards religion.

 

18th July   

Fear and Distress...

ASA distressed by London Dungeon advert
Link Here

bloody mary ad video A digital escalator panel poster for the Bloody Mary: Killer Queen attraction at the London Dungeon, which appeared at London Underground stations, showed a portrait of Queen Mary sitting still and passively. Suddenly and quickly she turned to face the viewer and opened her mouth wide in a threatening manner, as if she was screaming. At the same time, her face morphed into that of a zombie-like character, with bloody gashes, white flesh, rotting teeth and red eyes. She then resumed her original passive position and her face returned to normal. On-screen text stated New for 2010 Bloody Mary: Killer Queen At the London Dungeon ... . Issue

Four complainants objected that the ad was likely to frighten and distress children, and was therefore inappropriate for display in an untargeted medium. One of the complainants said his eight-year-old child had been frightened by the ad. Another of the complainants said he had seen the ad many times on London Underground escalators and it had visibly shocked and upset several children.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted the ad was untargeted and could therefore be seen by anyone. We considered that the London Underground attracted families and the ad was likely to be seen by young children.

We considered that the morphing image, and the juxtaposition of a calm face with a very scary one, were likely to startle and frighten young children. We noted the switch between the passive and frightening face occurred suddenly and unexpectedly, which could increase the shock value. We also considered that when the face morphed into the scary character, the bloody gashes, white flesh, rotting teeth, red eyes and the threatening expression meant it was not suitable for young children to see.

We were of the view that the ad seemed to be setting out to scare and had overstepped the limit of acceptability in doing so because, although not frightening for adults, the image was likely to be shocking to young children and to cause them fear or distress without good reason. We concluded that the ad was inappropriate for display in an untargeted medium.

The ad breached CAP Code clause 9.1 (Fear and distress). The ad must not appear again in its current form.

 

18th July   

Updated: Dangerous Communication...

All Massachusetts electronic communication must be suitable for young children
Link Here  full story: Internet Minors...Criminalising internet comms harmful to minors

Massachusetts state sealA seemingly small but very significant adjustment to Massachusetts' longstanding law against providing matter harmful to minors to anyone under the age of 18 has been challenged in federal court by a group of plaintiffs that includes the state chapter of the ACLU, the Association of American Booksellers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, sex therapist Marty Klein and others.

The law, which went into effect Monday, changes the definition of matter, which used to include only handwritten or printed material, visual representation, live performance or sound recording including but not limited to, books, magazines, motion picture films, pamphlets, phonographic records, pictures, photographs, figures, statues, plays, dances.

The definition now includes any electronic communication including, but not limited to, electronic mail, instant messages, text messages, and any other communication created by means of use of the Internet or wireless network, whether by computer, telephone, or any other device or by any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-electronic or photo-optical system.

In other words, a law that once targeted the physical dissemination of harmful matter to minors has been extended to include virtually all of cyberspace, including communication done using email or instant messaging programs. According to the complaint, its breadth is nothing less than staggering.

Because Internet speakers have no means to restrict minors in Massachusetts from accessing their communications, says the complaint, the Act effectively requires almost all discourse on the Internet—whether among citizens of Massachusetts or among users anywhere in the world—to be at a level suitable for young children. The Act therefore bans an entire category of constitutionally protected speech between and among adults on the Internet.

Update: Challenged

18th July 2010. Based on article from firstamendmentcenter.org

doj logoA coalition of booksellers and Internet content providers on July 13 filed a federal lawsuit challenging an expansion of Massachusetts' obscenity law to include electronic communications that may be harmful to minors.

The Supreme Judicial Court, ruling in a case in February, found that the state's obscenity law didn't apply to instant messages. The new law, passed quickly by the state Legislature after the ruling, added instant messages, text messages, e-mail and other electronic communications to the old law.

The changes amount to a broad censorship law that imposes severe content-based restrictions on the dissemination of constitutionally protected speech, the lawsuit argues. The plaintiffs include the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and other groups. They argue that the expanded law effectively bans from the Internet anything that may be considered harmful to minors, including material adults have a First Amendment right to view, including information about contraception, pregnancy, sexual health, literature and art.

For most communications over the Internet, it is not possible for a person sending or posting the communication to ensure that the communication will not be read or seen by a minor, the lawsuit states.

 

18th July   

Arse Over Tit...

Malta increases penalties for obscenity before defining what obscenity means
Link Here  full story: Censorship Law in Malta...Lawnmakers hide obscenity law behind child protection

Malta flagThe Maltese parliamentary committee set up in January to define what constituted an obscenity is still at the initial stages , according to Labour MP Owen Bonnici, who had pushed for its establishment.

Dr Bonnici, who sits on the committee with MPs Evarist Bartolo, Beppe Fenech Adami and Francis Zammit Dimech, said there had been preliminary talks but he hoped work shifted up a gear soon and was optimistic there would be progress.

The definition of what constitutes an obscenity, last updated in 1975, became even more pertinent this week after an amendment to the Criminal Code came into force on Friday raising the maximum penalty for distributing or displaying pornographic or obscene material from imprisonment for six months and a fine of €465.87 to 12 months and a fine of €3,000. The amendment law was approved unanimously in Parliament on June 15.

The Front Against Censorship lambasted the changes, pointing out that, in the absence of a clear definition of obscenity, the law could be used to prosecute cases such as that of student editor Mark Camilleri and writer Alex Vella Gera, who landed in court over a satirical story detailing the sexual exploits of a man in explicit language on issue eight of campus magazine Ir-Realtà.

The Front said it was disappointed at the fact that instead of repealing the harsh prison terms, which would be the shame of any European nation, the law has actually been amended to increase them . Whoever voted in favour of this Act not only agreed with the draconian proceedings taken against the student newspaper but also wanted to punish such activities more harshly .

It suggested changing the definition of pornography from work featuring the exploitation of, or unnecessary emphasis on, sex, criminality, fear, cruelty and violence to any product which graphically depicts sexual acts with the intent of causing sexual arousal .

It also called for the removal of articles in the Criminal Code imposing a jail term for anyone vilifying Catholicism or any cult tolerated by law as well as the abolition of the centrally-appointed classification board for drama and film, calling instead for a list of publicly available established and transparent criteria , updated in the light of the international situation, to be used during the classification process.

Moreover, it called for the removal of article 7 of the Press Act which lays down a jail term of up to three months for directly or indirectly injuring public morals through the media.

Finally, it called for a removal of the wording of article 13 in the Broadcasting Act which says that 'nothing is included in the programmes which offends religious sentiment, good taste or decency or is likely to encourage or incite to crime or to lead to disorder or to be offensive to public feeling' and replace it with a paragraph which allows such mentioned content from 10 p.m. onwards.

 

18th July   

Update: Cooling Down...

Indian film censors unban Flames of the Snow
Link Here  full story: Flames of the Snow...India bans political film about struggles in Nepal

fles of the snowAfter refusing the certificate for public screening to a documentary film on Nepal, Flames of the Snow , on the ground that it justifies ideology of the Maoist movement, the Central Board of Film Certification Board (CBFC), has finally given a U/A certificate to the film, produced by a Delhi-based journalist, Anand Swaroop Verma.

Verma, who is an expert on Nepal affairs and was a member of team of international observers to monitor all elections in the country in recent past, told the news agency that the revising committee members of the Board along with chief censor Sharmila Tagore watched the film last week, talked to him on its content and asked to give a disclaimer to clear the film.

Quoting a letter from Delhi regional office of the CBFC, Verma said the disclaimer now said, The substance of the documentary has been compiled from various media publications and views expressed are of the individuals interviewed. It is not the intention of this documentary to offend the sensibilities/sentiments of any country or individual .

The SBFC had earlier refused to give certification to it by saying The 125 minute long , Flames of the Snow , tells about the Maoist movement in Nepal and justifies its ideology and keeping in view the recent Maoist violence in some parts of the country, the permission of its public screening can not be given'.

 

18th July   

Updated: Conflict Hardened...Not...

Locals of the most dangerous place in the world are sensitive to a few critical words
Link Here

lamhaa posterAs violence in Kashmir escalates, Bollywood offers a story of violence in the region. Lamhaa , which stars Sanjay Dutt and Bipasha Basu, will hit theaters on July 16.

The film has already fallen foul with the censors and people of the state. The Central Board of Film Certification who reportedly objected to Kashmir being described in the trailers as the most dangerous place in the world , forcing its director Rahul Dholakia to make some cuts.

During the shoots, locals forced the crew to re-do a scene, as they were upset at the depiction of their homeland.

Update: Banned in Gulf States

18th July 2010. Based on article from filmyfair.com

Lamhaa is not going to be screened in Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, in and Oman as the UAE Natioanl Media Council Censorship Board felt that the content of the movie is highly objectionable and controversial.

The Indian censor board has already passed the film with an A certificate after 'correcting' two dialogues in the film.

Director Rahul DholakiaDholakia felt the action from UAE on this as outrageous.

 

17th July   

Dogged by PC Nonsense...

Children's film cut for discriminatory language
Link Here

Marmaduke DVD Owen Wilson Marmaduke is a 2010 US children's comedy by Tom Dey. See IMDb

The BBFC cut the 2010 cinema release. Company chose to remove a use of discriminatory language ('spaz') in order to achieve a U classification. An uncut 12A classification was available.

 

17th July   

Update: Some Animals are More Equal than Others...

Pamela Anderson Peta advert banned from display in Montreal
Link Here  full story: Peta...Animal activists challenging the media

peta pamela anderson advertA vegetarian advert featuring Pamela Anderson in a bikini has been banned in Canada for being sexist .

Anderson features in a poster for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) covered in butcher's labels such as rump , ribs and breast .

The creators of the advert, which includes the slogan All Animals Have The Same Parts , had been seeking approval for it to be displayed in Montreal.

But Canadian officials rejected the banner, telling the animal rights group in an email it went against the battle of equality between men and women .

Anderson, who is a vegetarian and long-time Peta activist, hit out at the puritanical decision. She was due to unveil the poster at Montreal's Place Jaques-Cartier, but will now introduce it at a comedy festival media conference.

She said: In a city that is known for its exotic dancing and for being progressive and edgy, how sad that a woman would be banned from using her own body in a political protest over the suffering of cows and chickens.

In some parts of the world, women are forced to cover their whole bodies with burkas - is that next? I didn't think that Canada would be so puritanical.

 

17th July   

The Moral High Ground...

Ex Vice President of the BBFC charged with fiddling expenses
Link Here

John TaylorLord Taylor of Warwick is the sixth parliamentarian to face charges over the expenses scandal. He is facing charges in relation to claims of £11,000.

It follows disclosures in December that he had allegedly registered a house in Oxford belonging to the partner of his stepbrother's son, without his knowledge or consent.

The peer is accused of declaring the property owned as his primary residence in order to claim second home expenses. Taylor has lived in Ealing, West London, since 1995. Peers who live outside the capital can claim £174 a night tax-free to cover the cost of a hotel or a second home.

The 57-year-old peer resigned from the Conservative Party hours after the Crown Prosecution Service revealed that he was facing six charges of false accounting in relation to claims for overnight subsistence and car mileage between March 2006 and October 2007. He will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court next month.

John Taylor was Vice President of the BBFC for 10 years until retiring in November 2008.

 

17th July   

Update: Low Quality Filter...

Australian ISP refuses to voluntarily implement the current crap block list
Link Here

internode logoAccording to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia's largest ISPs are to voluntarily block child abuse content, with the prospect that others might follow

But one ISP, Internode, says it has significant concerns with administration of the blacklist of child porn URLs used for the voluntary filter, and will not apply it.

Internode's regulatory and corporate affairs manager, John Lindsay, said that the child porn list contains a fraction of what would need to be blocked for it to be effective and has already been shown to contain URLs of legal content.

The list of child porn websites is maintained by the government's Australian Communications and Media Authority. But it also contains links to online poker sites, YouTube links, regular porn sites, and websites of fringe religions.

Internode is the country's sixth-largest internet service provider, with about 190,000 customers, but its refusal to voluntarily censor what the government is dubbing child porn is a bit of a blow to the government. If it could get filtering in voluntarily it would not have to make a politically unpopular decision to back the censorship scheme. It would also classify all the sites it did not like as child porn and get away with it.

 

17th July   

Update: Publicity Seeking...

Keith Vaz submits another games related Early Day Motion
Link Here  full story: Keith Vaz...Keith Vaz in votes for knighthood claim

Keith VazEarly Day Motion EDM 340

Submitted by Keith Vaz

That this House

  • notes with grave concern that despite the 18 rating that the most violent video games carry, some children and teenagers are still able to acquire them;
     
  • congratulates the work of Mothers Against Violence with regard to their campaign to increase parental awareness of violent games;
     
  • urges the Government to support the promotion of parental awareness of the violent content of video games which are 18-rated; and
     
  • calls on the Government to urge Pan-European Game Information to take further steps to highlight the inappropriate content of these games for under 18s.

 

17th July   

Update: Loose Chat...

Some restrictions on chat rooms and internet forums lifted in China
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Great Firewall of ChinaChina has scrapped a system that required websites to apply for a special licence before launching forums and chat rooms.

Analysts however cautioned that the loosening of controls, announced on the State Council's website late last week, might be brief and could soon be replaced with more stringent regulations.

For the past 10 years, applicants wishing to provide web messaging services had to submit their business licence, Internet Content Provider licence and other documents for official examination before a fresh permit was issued. They also had to agree to use filtering software and hire staff to monitor the services around the clock.

Green Dam Damned

Based on article from china.org.cn

One of two companies linked to a nationwide Internet pornography-filtering project refuted reports that the controversial software has been halted.

The Green Dam - Youth Escort Internet content-filtering software, which aroused opposition due to privacy and security concerns at home and abroad last year when it was launched, is facing funding difficulties, the Beijing Times reported.

Authorities have stopped funding the distribution and maintenance of the software, a move that could halt the project, the paper reported citing a general manager of one of the two companies concerned.

But the same person rejected the report, saying the company just moved the office to a new location because of financial problems.

 

16th July   

Digitally Delayed...

Video games will continue with BBFC ratings until April 2010
Link Here

VSC logoThe Video Standards Council has confirmed the proposed changes to the age ratings system for games in the UK will not be applied until April 1, 2011.

Delay in PEGI rating being legally enforceable has been blamed on the Digital Economy Act, which while passed, has not been made effective as of yet.

Here's the official statement from the VSC obtained by MCV:

The BBFC have approached the UK Government expressing concern that games rated PEGI 18 will be released in the UK without BBFC certification.

The Digital Economy Act has been passed in the UK but has not yet been made effective. This means there is no change in the procedure for releasing games in the UK. If a game is rated PEGI 18 it must be submitted to the BBFC for a legal classification. This is irrespective of whether it contains exempt content as it reflects the voluntary agreement made by the games industry to avoid confusion over 18 rated games. Games must also be submitted to the BBFC if the contain any extraneous video which is not part of the game. This includes trailers.

The Government has said the legislative change is likely to be implemented on April 1st 2011. The VSC is involved in the discussions regarding the implementation of the new legislation and will ensure that all coders are made aware of the changes to the procedure in good time to allow submissions to be adjusted. In the mean time please continue with your submissions in the same way that you have always done until the VCS advises differently.

It is important to stress that no games must appear for sale in UK shops with a PEGI 18 logo prior to April 1st 2011.

Enforcement of PEGI ratings was previously to be in effect by October 2010.

 

16th July   

ASA Stick the Knife In...

ASA censure Mafia Wars advert featuring knife
Link Here

mafia wars advertAn internet ad on Facebook, for an online game, featured a photo of a hooded man holding a large knife in front of him. Text stated From Street Thug to Capo. Earn your street cred and be respected. Advance from gangster to head boss in Mafia Wars. Play now .

An internet user challenged whether the ad was irresponsible, because it promoted knife use and condoned violent and anti-social behaviour.

Zynga Game Network said although the Mafia Wars game was focused on fictional crime organisations, it did not depict violent crimes in the game or any advertising, which was targeted at a male audience aged between the ages of 18 and 55 years. They said the man holding the knife in the ad reflected the content and theme of the game, as did the text, but did not show any actual violence.

Facebook said the ad had been removed because it breached their advertising guidelines, which prohibited images of weapons.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA considered that the picture of the hooded man looking straight at the reader, while holding a large knife and posed as if about to strike, was both aggressive and threatening. We noted the text From Street Thug to Capo. Earn your street cred and be respected. Advance from gangster to head boss in the Mafia Wars reflected the content of the game, but considered that, together with the picture, the text implied that carrying or using a knife was a way to earn respect from a peer group and a means to achieve success in life. We concluded that the ad glamorised and condoned violence and was irresponsible.

 

16th July   

Comment: Nazi Censors Win...

High Court finds that Ofcom were right to censure Jon Gaunt over 'nazi' jibe
Link Here

Old BaileyThe radio host, Jon Gaunt, who called a councillor a Nazi live on air has lost a legal bid to challenge Ofcom's decision to uphold complaints against him.

Ofcom received 53 complaints over Gaunt's interview with Redbridge councillor Michael Stark, which took place in November 2008. The pair had been debating the council's decision to ban smokers from fostering children when Gaunt called Stark a Nazi , a health Nazi and an ignorant pig .

Gaunt apologised on-air following the exchange, but Talksport sacked the presenter after its own investigation.

The TV censor Ofcom noted the apology, but in June 2009 upheld the complaint under the rules regarding offensive material.

Gaunt's lawyers argued that Ofcom infringed Gaunt's right to free speech under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and won the right to take the case to judicial review.

But at London's High Court, Sir Anthony May and Mr Justice Blair dismissed the proceedings. May said Ofcom was justified in its conclusion: The broadcast was undoubtedly highly offensive to Mr Stark and was well capable of offending the broadcast audience. The essential point is that the offensive and abusive nature of the broadcast was gratuitous, having no factual content or justification.

Gaunt was refused permission to appeal although he can renew his application directly to the Court of Appeal. \

Human rights group Liberty, which intervened in the case because of its wider importance to free speech , said Gaunt and his legal team intended to challenge the ruling.

Comment: Court should consider the underpinning law rather than Ofcom's code

16th July 2010. Based on contribution from IanG on the Melon Farmers Forum

Sir Anthony appears to be quoting Ofcom's Code when offering his opinion. He's not applying or reading the law and assessing if Ofcom's Code does what Ofcom are required to do by law.

Section 319(2)(f) of the Comms Act 2003 requires Ofcom as part of their Standards Objectives to ensure generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of TV and radio services to provide adequate protection to members of the public from the inclusion in those services of offensive and harmful material .

Clearly, the host/presenter/guest is not responsible for what is broadcast by the licensee. The generally accepted standard means of preventing offensive and harmful material leaving a broadcaster's aerial during live transmissions is to employ a short delay such that an operator can bleep or silence any offensive material so that it is not included in their transmission and the the public are thus adequately protected from exposure to it...that is as per the requirements of section 319(2)(f) of the Comms Act and Ofcom's Standards Objectives as dictated by THE LAW.

As Ofcom's Code doesn't state what generally accepted standards are to be applied to adequately protect the public from inclusion of offensive and harmful material in programmes; and the Code fails to specify what is to be considered offensive and harmful material; and fining people after the fact or giving them a ticking off doesn't prevent the inclusion of such material then, IT IS ENTIRELY OFCOM'S FAULT for NOT ENSURING Talksport prevented the inclusion of Gaunt's comments in their broadcast.

Just to illustrate: If the Comms Act required Ofcom to ensure adequate protection against people being shot and then someone got shot, who could and should be held accountable?

Surely, Sir Anthony cannot believe the intent of Parliament was to allow Ofcom to prevent people expressing their thoughts and feelings on air? Such a notion is an absolute violation of Freedom Of Expression. Clearly, no matter how offensive 53 people found Gaunt's comments, his right to state his opinion in any terms he so chooses is sacrosanct - as is everyone's right to do the same.

Jon Gaunt needs to appeal on the grounds that Ofcom's Code doesn't do what is required by law and request or force a Judicial Review of Ofcom's pathetic excuse for a Code according to the letter of the law. The High Court is not there to enforce Ofcom's unenacted Code. They're there to uphold and enforce the LAW. 319(2)(F) certainly doesn't say Ofcom are supposed to hang around waiting for someone to complain about feeling offended and then fine the channel - but that's exactly the line they've chosen to adopt.

 

16th July   

Joy...

A new US release for Sergio Bergonzelli's Joy
Link Here

Joy Claudia Udy Joy is a 1983 Canada/France erotic drama by Sergio Bergonzelli. See IMDb

Severin have located a longer version which is uncut for the US 2010 Severin R1 DVD available at US Amazon   for release on 27th July 2010.

In the UK, the BBFC cut 39s from the 1984 cinema release. The same cut version was released for the 1993-94 VHS versions.

From promotional material from severin-films.com :

Her name was Joy Laurey , the pseudonym of the French-American supermodel whose 1981 autobiography became the most scandalous erotic memoir of the decade.

Two years later, executive producer Benjamin Simon brought Joy's saga to the screen. Succulent Canadian starlet Claudia Udy leaves nothing to the imagination as the globetrotting celebrity whose passion for men, women and strangers – in any combination – shatters every sexual taboo.

Joy has been now completely restored from a print discovered in the screening room of a Paris brothel and is presented uncut and uncensored – including the complete Secret Orgy Dungeon sequence – for the first time ever in America.

 

16th July   

Foxy Censors...

Old Cuts to Jack Hill's Foxy Brown
Link Here

Foxy Brown DVD Pam Grier Foxy Brown is a 1974 US action film by Jack Hill. See IMDb

The BBFC waived their cuts for:

Previously the BBFC cut 2:48s from the 1987 Guild VHS. From cuts details on IMDb :

  • footage removed from the rape scene
  • cuts to shots of drug taking
  • cut shot of a woman's bloodied throat.

Review from UK Amazon : Blaxploitation classic

Foxy Brown just blew me away. Though the script is flawed, and has some unrealistic characters, this only adds to the fun, campy nature of the film. The opening sequence rivals those of the James Bond films.

Foxy Brown features a brilliant lead performance from the hypnotically attractive Pam Grier, whose federal agent boyfriend is gunned down, and who sets out to fight for revenge and justice where the System has failed her and at the same time is matched at every turn by Antonio Huggy Bear Fargas as her no-good younger brother. The rest of the performances are variable, and the budgets of these things did tend to preclude brilliant method actors! Jack Hill's direction keeps things ticking over nicely and the screenplay swings wildly between shock-horror tactics, tongue-in-cheek theatricality and even the occasional stab at gut-level farce.

Foxy Brown is a definite must-see. The camera is certainly in love with her. Definitely one of the best, and most enjoyable blaxploitation films I've seen thus far.

 

16th July   

Dr Lim Hock Siew...

Singapore censor bans film about political prisoner
Link Here

dr lim hock siew video Singapore censors have banned the film Dr Lim Hock Siew by filmmaker Martyn See Tong Ming, with effect from July 14 under the Films Act, claiming it is against public interest .

A statement from the Information, Communications and the Arts Ministry said the film gives a distorted and misleading portrayal of Dr Lim's arrests and detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1963.

It added that the government will not allow individuals who have posed a security threat to Singapore's interests in the past, to use media platforms such as films to make baseless accusations against the authorities.

Under the Films Act, possession and distribution of a prohibited film is an offence. An offender is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding S$10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.

Banned film goes viral

See article from singaporerebel.blogspot.com by Martyn See

Yesterday, I was ordered by the Media Development Authority (MDA) to to take down all digital copies of the film that you have uploaded onto youtube and your blogsite .

Therefore, as of now, the banned video Ex-political prisoner speaks out in Singapore , or Dr Lim Hock Siew as stated in my submission to the censors, has been deleted from youtube, and you will not be able to view it here.

Yesterday, at the time of the first press release announcing the ban, the viewership registered at 44,165. At 2359 hours 12 July 2010, it had increased to 49,903

I have received notices that the film has been downloaded by anonymous netizens who have already or are in the process of uploading it to various video sites. Although I remind all that it is criminal offence (to the tune of a maximum $10,000 fine or two years imprisonment) to possess or distribute the film, I have no wish, nor the means, to hinder the viral spread of the video.

As such, I hereby declare that the film is no longer in my possession, and its ownership will from now on be given to all citizens of the Republic of Singapore.

 

16th July   

Update: Government TV Censor...

India reframes its proposal to set up a national TV censor
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

I&B logoIn an attempt to control news channels, the Indian government has proposed setting up of a government appointed committee - the National Broadcast Authority of India - that will have the power to screen programmes or advertisements before broadcast, and formulate the content code.

The committee will have all the powers that were part of the controversial Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill, 2007, which had to be shelved because of fears that it would have led to censorship.

The I&B ministry's new draft envisages a three-tiered redressal structure with the initial two tiers of content monitoring being that of self-regulation. Grievances or complaints that are not settled by the channel itself or by the industry association (at the second level) will then go to the NBAI. The NBAI will be the final authority for all issues related to content and carriage.

While the oversight-of-last resort arrangement is clearly meant to ward off criticism that government wants to control content, this by itself may not assuage the concerns of censorship.

The ministry's task force report gives the NBAI the power to authorise officers to block news content if public tranquility is disturbed. It also suggests that the government retain powers to intervene in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of the country.

The NBAI will, according to the draft, comprise one representative of the media, while the other six members will include eminent persons with 15 years of experience from fields of law, public administration, finance, IT and social work.

News broadcasters expressed fears that the NBAI will be filled with retired bureaucrats or otherwise pliable civil society members as is the practice in nearly all regulatory authorities. The lone representative of media may find it difficult to put across his viewpoint.

 

16th July   

First Off...

Georgian TV station loses court battle over use of Eutelsat satellite
Link Here
 
 

Georgia flagA Georgian television channel said it had lost a court battle accusing a French satellite operator of bowing to Russian pressure and blocking its broadcasts.

The Russian-language Perviy Kavkazky (First Caucasian) channel's editor-in-chief, Ekaterine Kotrikadze, said the French court had ruled against the channel's request to force Paris-based Eutelsat to restore its broadcasts, which were cut in January after a few weeks of test broadcasts.

We disagree with the court's decision and we believe it's wrong. We have not yet decided whether we will appeal the decision, she told AFP: Currently our channel is under re-organisation. We will be back on air by the end of the year via satellite. We do not know yet which satellite will be used, we will soon start holding talks with different satellite operators.

The channel charged that Eutelsat was a tool of Russian censorship because it had stopped transmitting Perviy Kavkazky from its W7 satellite after signing a lucrative contract with Russian satellite company Intersputnik.

Eutelsat denied that it came under any pressure from Moscow and insisted that no contract was in force between it and the state-funded Georgia Public Broadcasting company, which runs Perviy Kavkazky.

The channel provides news bulletins and information programmes focusing on events in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as in Russia's North Caucasus region, challenging Moscow's influence in the strategic region.

 

14th July   

More Spit...

New UK Dual DVD/Blu-ray release for a less cut I Spit on Your Grave
Link Here

Spit Your Grave Ultimate Collectors I Spit on Your Grave is a 1981 US revenge film by Meir Zarchi. See IMDb

The BBFC required 2:54s of cuts for a new 2010 DVD/Blu-ray from 101 Films. This is set for release on 20th September 2010.

The BBFC commented on their latest cuts:

  • Company was required to make cuts to scenes of sexual violence in order to remove potentially harmful material.

Previous versions were all cut by 7:02s albeit achieved with a different mix of completely cut footage and reframing with the offending action being lost off screen.

All the cuts are to the rape scene. The ensuing revenge carnage is left unscathed

US releases are uncut for MPAA Unrated versions.

Review from US Amazon : Brutality

Over the years my memory had embellished the film; nonetheless, it still shocked me, today.

It is easy to forget that there are actors following a script. The film is evenly paced and unrelenting. One is forced to confront the brutality of rape and violence.

The actress is quite convincing and deserves recognition. The rape scenes are borderline snuff quality except for the fact the editing and directing have moments of brilliance. The men are sickening and easily hated; they are just vicious animals without any redeeming qualities, yet they are believable. Let us not forget, there are men who commit these atrocities. One can appreciate why she seeks revenge.

Without question, the rape scenes are some of the most disturbing moments in cinematic history. The castration scene is unparalleled. The special effects are just that, effective.

The DVD is an excellent package. I Spit on Your Grave isn't presented as a low budget film. It is art; it's not a slasher flick; it's not meant for entertainment.

 

14th July   

Update: TV Censors Damned...

Court finds TV rules banning fleeting expletives to have a chilling effect
Link Here

doj logoA New York court has struck down the TV censor's  rules banning fleeting expletives on TV.

According to the Associated Press, the court has overturned a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy, saying that the agency's guidelines for fleeting expletives and other indecencies in broadcast violate the First Amendment.

The policy went into effect in 2004, at a time when indecency in broadcast was a hot issue, right after Janet Jackson's notorious wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl.

Now, the three-judge panel in New York has decided to overturn the policy because they believe the FCC's policy is unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here.

The appeals court added that the chilling effect would lead to mass censorship of potentially valuable material, because broadcasters have no way of knowing what the FCC will find offensive.

 

14th July   

Update: Twisted Version of the Christian Faith...

Eastenders winds up the nutters with a crazed killer preacher storyline
Link Here  full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

lucas johnson Hundreds of angry Christians have blasted the BBC over the storyline in long-running soap, Eastenders , which sees Pentecostal preacher Lucas Johnson turn into a crazed killer.

Viewers have complained that the plot is offensive to their faith, with others questioning whether the channel would air a similar storyline with a Muslim cleric.

They story has seen devout Lucas fail to help dying ex-wife Trina, strangle love rival Owen to death and most recently, murder his wife, Denise after confessing all transgressions to her.

A BBC spokesman has called the plot challenging but said: There's no suggestion Lucas' behaviour is connected to those of the Christian faith. The BBC said on it's website: Lucas is a very damaged and dangerous individual who has created a twisted version of the Christian 'faith' in his mind.

 

14th July   

Funeral March in Mourning of Maltese Art...

Protest against ban on artist
Link Here

stankovskiPaintings by Aleksandar Stankovski have been banned from being exhibited during the Gozo Arts Festival after a report was filed to the Ministry of Gozo.

Yet these paintings had already been exhibited in Macedonia without problems.

Isn't it ironic that while Malta is supposed to be celebrating culture through The Malta Arts Festival, art is still being censored? the Front Against Censorship asked.

It is therefore holding a Funeral March of Art – symbolising the dying state of the arts in our country as a result of censorship.

State censorship creates a sense of fear, self-censorship, and takes away our civil liberties, FAC affirms. We will NOT tolerate the death of artistic freedom!

The march will start from City Gate, Valletta at 10.30am on Saturday 24 July. It is expected to proceed halfway down Republic Street, up Merchant's Street and stop in front of the Culture Ministry.

Participants are invited to wear black in mourning of Maltese art.

 

13th July   

Minister of Censorship...

Dutch injustice minister proposes ban on very violent video games
Link Here

ernst hirsch ballinDutch gamers have started a petition started against the Dutch Minister of Injustice, Ernst Hirsch Ballin who is seeking criminal prohibition of extremely violent imagery, including videogames.

Ballin seemed to specifically focus on games in his proposed banning, according to an article from Dutch gaming site Bashers. In a letter to the house, Ballin, who intimated that banning violent games would be easier and draw less resistance than banning violent movies, wrote that games allow players to identify with the aggressor and to be continuously involved in violent action.

Apparently many of Ballin's ideas in his letter were based on a 2007 book called Media Violence and Children from author Peter Nikken. Nikken said that he found it strange that the Minister would say that games would be worse than movies. He accused Ballin of using some of his book's quotes for impact, while ignoring other nuances.

Gamers appear to have a friend in MP Tofik Dibi, who posed some challenging written questions for Ballin.

The Stop Burning Books 2.0 petition now has 2,323 signatures.

 

13th July   

Yeah Yeah...

New Sri Lankan film censor spouts the usual piffle
Link Here

Sri LankaJournalist Gamini Sumanasekara who was recently appointed as the Chairman of the Censor Board claimed the censor board had a bigger role to play rather than simply censoring movies.

The Censor Board basically generally categorizes films under three levels - The U certificate open for all sections in society, the X label for adults only films and movies that are more suitable for adults. Even in the West there are censor boards to monitor and categorize films, said Sumanasekara who has been involved as a Censor Board member for at least eight years under different heads.

Besides films screened in the country, scripts of stage plays and indoor musical shows including the songs due to be sung, have to be sanctioned by the Censor Board.

Our main concern is upholding our ethics and cultural values. There is a difference between our culture and those in the west. It starts from the family. For example we do not address our elders by name but it's different in those countries. We don't endorse excessive doses of violence in our movies and the same applies to sex too. But it also depends on the theme. We will have to establish whether sex is being forced into the creation in a subtle manner. It's our responsibility to ensure that creations that are screened do not carry harmful parts that influence or create any discord among any ethnic groups in this country, or violates basic norms in society, or any matter that would distort the minds of children. But at the same time we should remember that young directors may come up with novel ideas or even radical creations. We can't decide whether they are completely undesirable. Deepa Mehta's Fire was a good example. Though India banned the film we okayed it, said Sumanasekara insisting that they were able to act independently.

The Mahinda Chinthana policies have been endorsed by the people. There are clear-cut guidelines in the Mahinda Chinthana policies about arts and culture and we work within such a frame. I am grateful to Cultural Affairs and National Heritage Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi for appointing a multi-faceted team comprising professionals from diverse fields under the guidance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

 

13th July   

Update: Inspired to Murder...

Cleric writing in Al Qaeda magazine calls for the deaths of Mohammed cartoonists
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

inspire magazine A muslim cleric has placed the Seattle cartoonist who launched Everybody Draw Mohammed Day on an execution hitlist.

The Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki  singled out artist Molly Norris as a prime target : A soul that is so debased, as to enjoy the ridicule of the Messenger of Allah, the mercy to mankind; a soul that is so ungrateful towards its lord that it defames the Prophet of the religion Allah has chosen for his creation does not deserve life, does not deserve to breathe the air created by Allah and enjoy a life provided for by Allah. Their proper abode is Hellfire.

In Inspire , an English language Al Qaeda terrorist mag, Awlaki damns Norris and eight others for blasphemous caricatures of Muhammed. The 67-page magazine is seen by terrorism experts as a new attempt to reach and recruit Muslim youth in the West. The other cartoonists, authors and journalists in Awlaki's crosshairs are Swedish, Dutch and British citizens.

Norris initially grabbed headlines in April when she published a satirical cartoon on her Web site that declared May 20th Everybody Draw Mohammed Day as a way to mock Viacom and Comedy Central's decision to censor an episode of South Park that showed Mohammed dressed in a bear suit.

David Gomez, the FBI's assistant special agent in charge of counter-terrorism in Seattle, said Norris and others were warned of the very serious threat. We understand the absolute seriousness of a threat from an Al Qaeda inspired magazine and are attempting to do everything in our power to assist the individuals on that list to effectively protect themselves and change their behavior to make themselves less of a target.

 

12th July   

Updated: Midwest American Puritanism...

Facebook easily offended by porcelain nipples
Link Here

jeweller advertSydney jeweller Victoria Buckley has lashed out at Midwest American puritanism on Facebook after the social networking site threatened action against her for having pictures of nude porcelain dolls on her fan page.

The dolls are pictured posing with the jeweller's products and feature in posters that form part of Buckley's visual merchandising displays in her George Street store windows.

Buckley was bombarded by warnings from Facebook, which said the pictures of the dolls constituted inappropriate content and breached the site's terms of service. The high-end porcelain figures show little more than nipples.

The frustrated Buckley told Jeweller: It just takes one click from one Midwest American puritan and the whole [online marketing campaign] gets taken down. Facebook has removed the offending images from her fan page, but Buckley has posted them on a new Facebook group called Save Ophelia - exquisite doll censored by Facebook .

Buckley told Jeweller: I don't care if they close this group down but I do care if they close my fan page down.

On the Save Ophelia page, she says: I feel I have a right to photograph my jewellery with Ophelia [the doll] as I see fit. Facebook disagrees with this, because, even if hundreds of people appreciate what you do, it only takes ONE complaint to have the whole thing taken down.

Update: Facebook Apologies

12th July 2010. Based on article from smh.com.au

Facebook logoA Sydney jeweller has castigated Facebook for its opaque and arbitrary moderation system after the site apologised for censoring her images of a nude porcelain doll posing with her works.

The social networking site admitted that it had made a mistake in removing Victoria Buckley's photos, after last week sending her several warning notices for publishing inappropriate content and erasing both censored and uncensored versions of the image from Facebook.

We've investigated this further and determined that we made a mistake in removing these photos, Facebook said in a statement: Our User Operations team reviews thousands of reported photos a day and may occasionally remove something that doesn't actually violate our policies. This is what happened here. And while we believe the doll would benefit from clothing to protect her fair skin, we apologise for the mistake and encourage Victoria Buckley Jewellery to upload these photos again if they so choose.

 

12th July   

Update: Unwholesome and Inconvenient...

Japanese manga featuring non-existent juvenile sex to be banned from convenience stores
Link Here  full story: Manga in Tokyo...Tokyo considers age restrictions on comic books

Manga Sixty Years Japanese Comics While Japan's mainstream manga industry continues to enthrall adult and children alike with innocent tales of spy adventures, sportsmen and even ambitious salarymen, authors and publishers are concerned at Tokyo authorities' latest attempt to curb explicit content in adult manga –- heavily restricting the sale of comics that show what are described in the plan as nonexistent juveniles in sexual acts.

Though deadly serious, the plans took on a farcical edge last month. The move to tighten rules on books with depictions of sexual acts was, at least temporarily, rejected in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in June.

What scuppered instead was the frank admission by controversial Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, known for not mincing his words on sensitive matters, that he hadn't thoroughly read his own proposal. That led to the matter being deferred pending further consultation. According to a DPJ representative, further discussions are expected to continue in the next session of the assembly starting September.

Outside the assembly, however, reaction to the proposal is anything but fuzzy, polarized between segments of the manga industry and children's rights groups.

The main concern that opponents to the plan raise is the vague definition of the term nonexistent juvenile . In Governor Ishihara's proposal, books that show characters apparently under-age –- as defined by the characters' clothing, belongings etc. — involved in sexual acts can be designated as an unwholesome book and as such subject to heavy sales restrictions.

Once a manga is labeled as an unwholesome book , it can no longer be carried in Japan's ubiquitous convenience stores. And non-bookstore purchases account about 60% of total sales of comic magazines, says Tamio Kawamata, an official at the JBPA.

A joint statement released by 1,421 manga authors and 10 major publishing companies -– including heavyweights Kodansha Ltd. and Shogakukan Inc. — argues that the vague nonexistent juvenile makes it possible for authorities to restrict the publication of books at their discretion, and has a damping effect on the industry. They argue that it will restrict the freedom of speech, protected under Japan's constitution, which allowed manga to develop greatly in Japan and led it to be highly valued around the world today .

 

12th July   

Not Keen...

Malaysia's censorship minister whinges about nudity in the media
Link Here

Malaysia flagDr Rais Yatim, Malaysia's minister for Information, communications and culture, says actors will not be allowed to violate the tenets of Islam and appear naked in films.

Something that is prohibited in Islam and is still done is a violation. So, we are not keen to discuss this matter, The Star Online quoted Rais as saying at a recent press conference.

The minister said stripping naked in films was not the culture in Malaysia, but Hollywood and Bollywood films probably influenced some producers.

We are not for naked scenes in films. It should not be highlighted because it is unsuitable with our way of life, the minister said.

Asked if Dalam Botol, a film starring actor Arja Lee, should be banned because of its portrayal of nudity, Rais said it was for the censor board to decide.

 

11th July   

Update: Selling Cyber Arms to China...

France and Netherlands question IT equipment sales to internet censors
Link Here  full story: France Netherlands Anti-cenorship...Initiative against worldwide internet censorship

france netherlandsFrance and the Netherlands have called for international guidelines to prevent private firms from exporting high-tech equipment that could be used for Internet censorship.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said there must be concrete measures taken to ensure that the Internet remains a universal forum and singled out Iran for blocking access to anti-government websites.

We must support cyber-dissidents in the same way that we supported political dissidents, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told a meeting in Paris attended by some 20 countries including the United States and Japan.

France and the Netherlands plan to hold a ministerial-level meeting in October to flesh out the guidelines for firms who sell technology that could be used to suppress democracy.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has accused German engineering giant Siemens and Finnish telecoms firm Nokia of supplying Iran with technology to help it suppress dissent. The firms have denied the charges.

Jean-Francois Julliard, from the media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF, accused French phone equipment provider Alcatel of selling bugging equipment to Myanmar. He also singled out networking giant Cisco for allegedly selling encoders to China.

 

11th July   

Update: Italy Gagged...

24 hour news strike over Berlusconi's press gag law
Link Here

fnsi logoFriday saw a day without newspapers in Italy as reporters and editors went on a 24-hour strike. They were joined by radio, TV and some internet journalists.

The action was over a parliamentary bill proposing a law that Silvio Berlusconi's government claims safeguards privacy. Most of Italy's editors, judges and prosecutors say it is intended to shield politicians, and particularly the prime minister, whose career has been ridden with financial and sexual scandals.

The so-called gagging law would curb the ability of police and prosecutors to record phone conversations and plant listening devices. It would also stop journalists publishing the resulting transcripts. Investigators seeking to listen in on a suspect would need permission from three judges. Regardless of circumstances, eavesdropping warrants would expire after 75 days, after which they must be renewed every three days.

The National Magistrates' Association said it had very serious consequences: The fight against crime will be much more difficult for police and investigating magistrates, while the administration of justice will be overwhelmed by bureaucratic demands that will make the operation of the system objectively impossible.

The bill excludes mafia and terrorism investigations. But the police unions say it would cripple inquiries into offences such as moneylending and drug-trafficking which frequently lead investigators to organised criminals and terrorists.

The media would only be able to publish a summary of the findings of an investigation after it had ended. While that may be no more onerous a restriction than applies in Britain, the editor of Italy's biggest-selling daily, Corriere della Sera, Ferruccio de Bortoli, argues it is a bill tailor-made to shield members of the government from unwelcome investigation .

The gagging law is to enter the last stage of its parliamentary journey on July 29.

 

10th July   

Update: Delighted on Balance...

Government promise libel reform legislation in 2011
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

House of Lords logoMinisters have said they are to reviews the laws of libel with the aim of bolstering freedom of expression and the integrity of academic research.

Justice Minister Lord McNally said the coalition would publish a draft bill for consultation early next year. The Conservatives and Lib Dems included a commitment to reform the laws on libel and defamation in their coalition agreement in May.

Debating a private member's bill on the issue in the Lords, Lib Dem peer Lord McNally said ministers intended to bring forward legislation of their own next year: Freedom of speech is the foundation of democracy

We need investigative journalism and scientific research to be able to flourish without the fear of unfounded, lengthy and costly defamation and libel cases being brought against them.

We are committed to reforming the law on defamation and want to focus on ensuring that a right and a fair balance is struck between freedom of expression and the protection of reputation.

The Index of Censorship said changes were needed to help foster academic debate and should not be seen as a licence for the media to publish what they liked. We are absolutely delighted about this but obviously there is a long way to go, said its editor Jo Glanville: There will be consultations and nobody knows what this will end up looking like. But it is a real triumph.

 

10th July   

Charity with Morality Strings Attached...

US government restrict worthy funds to only those recipients with porn filtering in place
Link Here

US SenateThe US House of Representative passed a supplemental appropriations bill (HR 4899). It contains an easy-to-miss provision that some legislators have been trying to get passed into law for several months that would prohibit funds to any recipient that doesn't block porn on its computer network.

According to an OpenCongress summary of the legislation, which passed by a vote of 239-182, This bill would provide billions to support US troops in Iraq, help teachers and police get through the recession, help Vietnam war veterans etc.

But tucked into the second-to-last page of the bill is the short provision—Sec. 4601(a)—that outlines the pornography restriction, which reads, None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to maintain or establish a computer network unless such network blocks the viewing, downloading, and exchanging of pornography.

Seemingly straightforward, the wording of the anti-porn provision has some people concerned that its reach may extend far beyond actual government-owned computer networks to include those belonging to any contractor or subcontractor who receives even a dollar from the government for any work required under this bill.

Pat Trueman, a former Justice Department saying he had yet to examine the exact language, but that if it could be legally problematic if it says that in order to get a government contract, a business must filter out all porn for all employees—even those not on a government contract.

 

10th July   

Update: Searching for a Licence...

Google opts in for uncensored searched but users are still opted out
Link Here  full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Google China logoThe Chinese government has renewed Google's licence to operate in China, the internet giant has said, ending a long-running stand-off between the two.

There had been speculation China would revoke the licence after Google began redirecting Chinese users to its unfiltered search site in Hong Kong. Instead, Chinese users would be sent to a landing page , which would send them to the Hong Kong site.

But the Chinese government has made sure that its citizens cannot receive unfiltered search results because searches have to pass back from Hong Kong through the firewall where sensitive material can be removed.

We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP (internet content provider) licence and we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China, Google's lawyer David Drummond said in an e-mailed statement.

 

10th July   

Update: Garage Sale...

Garage raid claimed as the biggest seizure of X rated DVDs in Tasmania
Link Here

X18+ symbolPolice have seized what is believed to be the biggest haul of hardcore pornography in Tasmanian history.

Acting on information provided by a police informant, Launceston detectives raided a property believed to have been a centre for the distribution of X-rated pornography.

Police said that search uncovered 15,000 to 20,000 X-rated DVDs.

Detective Constable Sarah Campbell said police would allege a man was in the process of setting up a 'shop" in the garage of his home, aiming to sell the X-rated DVDs to the public.

 

10th July   

Update: Caught in the Crossfire...Not...

Court case in Indonesia examines the ban on the film Balibo
Link Here  full story: Balibo...Indonesia bans movie about jounalist deaths

Balibo Conspiracy NON USA FORMAT Reg 4 The wife of an Australian reporter allegedly killed by Indonesian forces in East Timor in 1975 said she trusted the Indonesian people to make up their own minds about what happened.

Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Greg Shackleton, is in Jakarta to testify before a court that is hearing a petition against the government's banning of the movie Balibo last year.

Asked what she thought of Indonesia's claims that her husband and four other Australia-based reporters were accidentally killed in crossfire rather than executed in cold blood, she said: That's been rubbish for 35 years . They were just doing their job like you are.

Balibo , starring Anthony LaPaglia, tells the story of the five journalists killed when Indonesian troops overran the East Timorese town of Balibo in October, 1975, and a sixth who died later in the full-scale assault on Dili. Jakarta has always maintained that the so-called Balibo Five died in crossfire as Indonesian troops fought East Timorese Fretilin rebels.

Indonesia banned the film but groups including the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) have launched a legal challenge against the censors' decision.

Shackleton said: A film should never be banned in a country which is a democracy. Any organisation that tried to ban what the people want to see is making a mockery of democracy. This is about the film and the rights of the people here to watch, think, believe and say what they want, not what the government wants them to do. This film lets the cat out of the bag, you can't keep it quiet any longer, the cat escapes. They have made a problem if they want to censor the film. I trust the Indonesian people to make up their own mind.

 

10th July   

Update: A New Leaf?...Not...

Burma relaxes on requirement for all journals to publish a page of government propaganda
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Burma...World leaders in oppressive censorship

Burma flagNews publications in Burma have welcomed a minor relaxing of regulations by the country's censor board which will see them no longer having to allocate a page for government propaganda articles.

Magazines, journals and newspapers have long been required to republish text from state-run outlets such as the New Light of Myanmar newspaper. Revised rules now state however that only on occasion will reprints be necessary.

This is good, we welcome it, said one Rangoon-based journal editor, who spoke to DVB on condition of anonymity. Before we had to republish the articles given by the censor board on one page; now we have one more page to publish our own choice of content.

But the move comes less than a fortnight after a wave of new rules were enacted by the censor board that journalists said were unprecedented in their severity. The regulations will implement uniform restrictions across media outlets, meaning that some newspapers and journals which had been able to operate comparatively freely will now be tightly controlled.

The Burmese junta resides over one of the world's strictest media environments, and consistently ranks at the tail-end press freedom indexes. All material is required to pass through the censor board, known as the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD), prior to being published.

The PSRD is overseen by the government's information ministry and is considered very much a wing of the military regime, which has ruled Burma in various guises since a coup in 1962.

 

10th July   

Offsite: Your Freedom...

Stop policing our thoughts, including the hateful ones
Link Here  full story: Great Repeal Bill...UK government consults on bad laws to repeal

Spiked logo Kicking off spiked's proposals for which laws should be thrown in the shredding machine of history: rip up the religious hatred act.

Introduced by the New Labour government in 2006, the Racial and Religious Hatred Act is an attack on what is for spiked the most important freedom of all, the freedom upon which all other freedoms are built, the freedom without which we cannot be free-thinking, free-associating, independent citizens: freedom of speech. The act captures the dual fear that has motivated the authorities' many, myriad attacks on free speech over the past decade and more: their fear of ideas, which they consider to be toxic and virus-like, and their fear of the masses, whom they look upon as an easily stirred-up mob, a pogrom waiting to go forth and decimate.

...Read full article

 

10th July   

Offsite: Onscenity...

Academics consider the moral panic of child sexualisation
Link Here  full story: Sexualisation...Sexualisation as reported by Linda Papadopoulos

onscenity logo A moral panic around childhood sexualisation and the dangers of the internet is closing down important channels of debate and making the internet a more dangerous place for adults and young people alike.

That was the consensus view taken by Onscenity, an international network launched this week, which draws together experts to respond to the new visibility or onscenity of sex in commerce, culture and everyday life.

David Buckingham, Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, London University, and Director of the Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media, complained about the current media panic over the sexualisation of childhood. While some issues went away with the last government, David Cameron also appears to believe this is a problem.

The real problem, though, is that no one knows what sexualisation is: it is a convenient label used to position the child as always the victim, and then to pile every problem imaginable on top, including paedophilia, body image, sex trafficking and self-esteem. Once that particular juggernaut gets rolling, it is almost impossible to have a sensible debate about what's really going on.

Too many so-called experts – most famously, Dr Linda Papadopoulos - were speaking well outside their field of expertise. Eating disorders get ascribed to sexualisation , despite the fact that most dietary experts would question that conclusion. Worse is the way in which this debate is almost always framed in moralising terms, and a key question must be what political motive lies behind such framing.

Equally of concern was the way in which healthy sexuality is so often equated to non-commercial – as though sex alone can be an activity free from all commercial influence.

...Read full article

 

9th July   

Update: Classified as Non-Urgent...

Australian internet filtering postponed pending a review of what should be banned
Link Here

Stephen ConroyAustralia's Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has announced that implementation of his policy would be delayed until a review of RC classification guidelines can be conducted by state and territory censorship ministers.

This is not expected to begin until at least the middle of next year.

Some sections of the community have expressed concern about whether the range of material included in the RC category ... correctly reflects current community standards, Senator Conroy said.

As the Government's mandatory ISP filtering policy is underpinned by the strength of our classification system, the legal obligation to commence mandatory ISP filtering will not be imposed until the review is completed.

In the meantime, major ISPs including Optus, Telstra and iPrimus have pledged to voluntarily block child abuse websites. This narrower, voluntary approach has long been advocated by internet experts and brings Australia into line with other countries such as Britain.

But the Government does not seem to be backing out of the deeply unpopular mandatory filtering policy altogether, as it has today announced a suite of transparency and accountability measures to address concerns about the scheme.

  • an annual review of content on the blacklist by an independent expert .
  • clear avenues of appeal for people whose sites are blocked.
  • content will be added to the blacklist by the Classification Board, instead of the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
  • affected parties will have the ability to have decisions reviewed by the Classification Review Board.
  • people will know when they surf to a blocked page as a notification will appear.

The public needs to have confidence that the URLs on the list, and the process by which they get there, is independent, rigorous, free from interference or influence and enables content and site owners access to appropriate review mechanisms, Senator Conroy said.

 

9th July   

Update: Lord Lester vs UK Libel Law...

Second Reading of the Libel Reform Bill in the House of Lords
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

House of Lords logoAnthony Lester QC writes:

[Today] I will introduce the second reading debate on my Private Members Defamation Bill. This is a unique opportunity for Parliament to reform our antiquated and unjust libel laws.

I am grateful for your support - 100s of you have spoken out and written about this; you have told the Libel Reform Campaign about threats of libel action which lead you to remove articles, blogs, reviews, academic papers, reports and books; your organisations have joined the campaign and 100s of MPs signed up for reform after you wrote to them.

Senior judges recognise the pressing need for reform - the Court of Appeal in Simon Singh's libel case highlighted how ludicrous it is that finding out if he even had a defence cost Simon £200,000 and 2 years before he got to court. All of this has drawn attention to the profound problems with the law as it stands that need to be addressed by legislation from Parliament.

 

9th July   

Slaying Politically Correct Dragons...

BBFC cuts to Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer
Link Here

Adventures Teenage Dragon Slayer DVD Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer is a 2010 children's adventure by Andrew Lauer. See IMDb

The BBFC cut 23s from the 2010 High Fliers R2 DVD.

The BBFC explained

  • A compulsory cut was required to remove sight of children playing with fireworks in a work aimed at children.
  • Additionally, company chose to make a further cut to remove a use of discriminatory language ( moron ) in order to achieve a PG classification. A 12 was available without this cut.

 

9th July   

Update: Browser Dictatorship...

Belarus publishes repressive internet law
Link Here

Belarus flagA new Belarus Internet censorship law will be applied from September 1.

Access restrictions are as follows:

  • The Belarusian State Telecommunication Inspection makes a list of forbidden websites on the ground of proposals of appropriate governmental bodies. Legal persons, individual entrepreneurs and concerned citizens have the right to help the governmental bodies to prepare the lists. An IP address, domain name, or an URL may serve as an identifier of a banned Internet resource. If a Belarusian site is included in the black list, the owner will receive a notice about putting the website on the blocklist.
     
  • 4. Websites can also be removed from the blacklist. A decision on removal of the Internet resource identifiers from the restriction list must be taken by the governmental body that earlier put the website on the list.
     
  • Information aimed at extremist activity, illicit circulation of weapons, ammunition, detonators, explosives, radioactive, contaminating, aggressive, poisonous, and toxic substances, drugs, psychotropic substances, and their precursors; assisting illegal migration and human trafficking; spreading pornography; promulgating violence, brutality, and other acts prohibited by law is banned

 

9th July   

Update: Stacking the Odds for a Referendum...

Sudan censors all newspapers disagreeing with government stance on South Sudan
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan flagSudan intelligence services have imposed press censorship, which was lifted in September, six months ahead of a key referendum on independence for south Sudan, the country's association of journalists said.

We have been notified by the intelligence services that the newspaper Al-Intibaha has been closed and that from today press censorship has once again been imposed, Mohiedinne Titawi, president of the Sudanese Union of Journalists, told AFP.

The censorship will focus on the issue of the country's unity or separation and the security of south Sudan, he added.

Titawi's comments follow earlier reports by Sudanese journalists that the government halted the distribution of three newspapers considered critical of the authorities in south Sudan.

The three dailies, Al-Intibaha, Al-Tayyar and Al-Ahdath, which are all deemed critical in one way or another of the south Sudan authorities, were not available on the streets of the capital on Tuesday, according to journalists working for the publications.

Al-Intibaha, which will be closed for an undetermined period, according to its editor Al-Siddig al-Rizeigui, was one of the only newspapers openly advocating secession.

Update: Ban lifted

6th October 2010. See article from google.com

President Omar al-Bashir has lifted a ban on an influential newspaper critical the authorities in south Sudan that was closed three months ago.

 

8th July   

The Sin of Easy Offence...

ASA dismiss whinge about lap dancing club advert
Link Here

sins logoA poster for a lap dancing club outside a London underground station showed two women in black underwear lying down with water raining down on them. Text stated Indulge yourself in Sins & explore your Wicked Side. Issue

The complainant believed the ad was offensive and inappropriate for display where it could be seen by children.

Sins said they were sorry that the ad had caused offence. They said they had sought advice from the local Council on what they could display and would ask for the ASAs approval on future advertising. They said the ad was no longer appearing and a new ad was in its place. They sent a copy of the new ad.

ASA Assessment : Not upheld

The ASA welcomed Sins decision to seek approval on future ads. Although distasteful to some, we did not consider the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence or harm to children.

 

8th July   

Cruelty to Celebrities...

But Ofcom find that animals were treated well
Link Here

the door logoThe Door
ITV1, 2 April 2010 at 20:25 and 3 April 2010, 21:00

This Morning ITV1
31 March 2010, 10:30

Introduction The Door was a two-part special , broadcast on ITV1 and hosted by Chris Tarrant and Amanda Holden. During the programme six celebrities competed against one another in order to win money for their chosen charity. The celebrities competed in a set of challenges - found behind The Door - which were designed to test their bravery.

One of the challenges required the celebrities, covered in raw meat, to crawl past what the programme described as a pack of hungry dogs in cages, which were barking aggressively. Other challenges involved the celebrities putting their hands in glass jars that contained scorpions, spiders and other insects in order to retrieve a key, crawling through dark and claustrophobic tunnels filled with rats, and picking up snakes.

On 31 March 2010 (prior to the broadcast of The Door a couple of nights later) This Morning included an interview with Chris Tarrant, who discussed the upcoming programme. During the interview some short clips of the programme were broadcast, including the challenges involving the dogs in cages and various insects and animals in jars.

Ofcom received seven complaints about This Morning and 199 complaints about The Door, as broadcast on 2 and 3 April 2010. In summary, the complainants said they had been offended by the content of the programme, particularly in relation to the welfare of the dogs in cages. Complainants stated for example that the dogs appeared distressed and anxious and that the treatment of the dogs in the programme was completely inappropriate, unnecessary, and cruel .

Some complainants were also concerned about the way the other animals were handled by the celebrities in the programme, in particular the rats and snakes.

Ofcom considered

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

Response The Licensee said that it takes seriously its responsibility for animal welfare. It said that the content and tone of the programme was made clear to the audience at the start and that the various games were designed to challenge and sometimes terrify the celebrities, but they were for the most part clearly artificial .

With regard to the challenge involving the dogs, the Licensee said that the welfare of all the animals was an overriding priority in the planning of this challenge . It explained that only specially-trained animals were used in the dog challenge , as provided by Animal Actors, a reputable company that the producers had worked with before, and which has been supplying animals to television programmes for 30 years . ITV said that the dogs were all specially trained to bark following hand signals and verbal commands and were not in their cages for more than half an hour at a time . The Licensee explained that at all times each dog was supervised by its handler to ensure that they were correctly and responsibly treated during the recording… and after filming the handlers were fully satisfied with the way the filming was conducted .

In relation to the other animals included in the programme, ITV said that similarly, professional animal handlers were employed to look after the other animals… and were on set throughout the filming of the challenges .

Ofcom Decision : Not in Breach

The Door

Ofcom has no legal powers or duties to consider complaints purely about the treatment of animals, complaints about animal welfare are considered in relation to the obligation to ensure that generally accepted standards are applied to content to provide adequate protection for members of the public from harmful and/or offensive material.

In Ofcom's view, while viewers were shown images of dogs in cages and animals being handled by celebrities, none of the animals appeared distressed during the programme and the images were appropriately limited.

Ofcom also took into account that the dogs were specially trained, all the animals were supervised by trained handlers at all times, and both programmes were shown after 20:25. In light of these points and the programme's editorial purpose, Ofcom considered that showing such activities was not likely to cause disproportionate offence to viewers and was editorially justified.

Ofcom considered this type of programme to be in keeping with ITV1's familiar style and format of programming and would not have exceeded the likely expectations of the majority of the audience. Given these factors, Ofcom concluded that the images broadcast were justified by context and were not in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.

This Morning

Ofcom took into account that the images were broadcast as part of an interview with the host of The Door , Chris Tarrant, and that during the interview he clearly explained the nature of the programme and its similarities with I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here .

In Ofcom's view, the clips shown did not show the animals in distress and they were appropriately limited. In light of these factors, Ofcom considered that the images broadcast in this programme were editorially justified and would not have exceeded the likely expectation of the majority of the audience for this particular programme.

Ofcom therefore concluded that the images were justified by context and were not in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.

 

8th July   

Update: Legal Games...

Game producers worry about Supreme Court review of age restrictions for video games
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

us supreme court seal logoA law that threatens to classify adult video games as X-rated entertainment in the US has been slammed by bosses of major games publishers.

The US Supreme Court agreed in April to review a motion prohibiting the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

The law would allow individual states to impose sales restrictions on violent games - effectively putting them into the same category as pornography, and restricting their sale to adult citizens.

The Supreme Court is reviewing a federal court's decision to throw out California's ban - which was originally signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It's very, very surprising that the Supreme Court is hearing the case, Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Rockstar parent Take Two told CNBC: I'm worried about it, and I think everybody in our business should be really worried about it.

Graham Hopper, EVP and general manager of Disney Interactive added: It's not about having a dramatic impact on our bottom line. It's going to make our retailing abilities a nightmare.

Other games industry figures spoke of their fear that other states would push through their own version of the bill - meaning developers would have to create multiple version of games to suit each territory's individual criteria: One of America's great exports is entertainment, commented John Riccitiello, CEO of EA. The implication of Schwarzenegger v. ESA (the case before the Court) is we could end up with state level bureaucracies that define what's marketable in 50 different jurisdictions across the U.S.

Sony's Jack Tretton was more positive about the Supreme Court's decision to hear the case. We believe as an industry that the primary reason the Supreme Court is hearing it is despite the fact that this law has been struck down, [the issue] has come up 12 times [previously] . I think the Supreme Court is looking at it to potentially see if there's something to it or to put an end to it once and for all.

The court will hear arguments in this case in the autumn.

 

8th July   

Update: Steady On...

South Africa bides its time in considering the bill banning all internet porn
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in South Africa...Proppsal to block all porn from South Africans

South Africa flagThe South Africa Law Reform Commission (LRC) is conducting research to determine how the South African Pornographic Bill should be implemented, a process that could take up to 18 months.

Bayanda Mzoneli, media and parliamentary liaison officer for the Department of Home Affairs, says the deputy minister Malusi Gigaba requested guidance from the LRC in September 2009 on how best to ensure that TV, mobile phones, and the Internet can be included in the classification dispensation to protect children.

Mzoneli explains that the Justice Alliance of South Africa (Jasa) went so far as to draft the South African Pornographic Bill out of its own initiative, to contribute to the process. He notes the current draft Bill is not an official draft Bill of government, and the deputy minister is officially waiting for advice from the LRC .

Mzoneli says the advice of the LRC would be to determine whether the inclusion should take the format of legislation, regulation, self-regulation or otherwise.

He adds that the Bill is currently open for public debate, and that IT professionals have not been forthcoming in providing insight into the technological barriers surrounding the implementation of the Bill.

Hopefully the public discussion will help guide the Bill, but ultimately it is up to the LRC to decide how the Bill will be implemented, he says.

 

8th July   

Miserable Ghana...

Ghana bans nudity in the movies
Link Here

Ghana flagSupposedly worried by the rate at which obscene movies are gaining acceptance in Ghana, the country's Ministry of Information working in collaboration with the censor board and the Movie Union has wielded the sledge hammer on the film producers by banning the sell of x-rated movies in Ghana.

The ban, according to a reliable source became effectively last month.

As it stands now, any films with scenes of nudity will be banned and prevented from entering the market.

 

8th July   

Spin Wind Up...

SpinProfiles website taken down unduly quickly by hosting company
Link Here

spinwatch logo Anyone looking for the website SpinProfiles – uncovering the dark corners of PR and raising questions about lobbying – will have had a harder time finding it recently. And why? Because it was virtually shut down by its web firm, 1&1 Internet.

And why did that happen? Because it posted what has become a controversial profile of Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, rightwing thinktanker and son of the famed journalist Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens didn't like it. More than that, he didn't like the location. SpinProfiles and sister site Spinwatch are run by Professor David Miller, who also has a site called Neocon Europe. Hitchens says that his profile appeared on that site in pretty unsavoury company, and thus he didn't want to be featured on any website owned by Prof Miller.

He asked for the profile to be taken down – but here's the thing: he doesn't say anything in it was defamatory, and furthermore he says he never sought to have the site shut down. 1&1 took it upon themselves to remove the site after Spinwatch refused to remove my profile, Hitchens told us.

1&1 says it acted within the agreed rules following complaints to protect its legal position. But the upshot is that a site came down because someone featured there raised an objection. Even the complainant didn't ask for that.

So much for the brave new world.

Reply: Spinwatch must offer right of reply

15th July 2010. See article from guardian.co.uk by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens

David Miller's Spinwatch websites exploit free speech and those profiled, as I was, should be able to disassociate themselves

On Cif last week, David Miller wrote a piece complaining that I had his website, SpinProfiles, shut down. As his article argues, he does indeed have the right to free speech, but this is not a one-way street, and the people who his projects target have a right to object to witch-hunts and harassment.

...Read the full article

 

7th July   

An Expendable 2s...

BBFC cuts Stallone's The Expendables for a 15 rating
Link Here

Expendables Deaths Sylvester Stallone Poster The Expendables is a 2010 US action film by Sylvester Stallone

The BBFC cut 2s for a 15 rating for the 2010 cinema release. The company chose to remove one shot, showing a hero sadistically twisting a knife into a guard's neck, in order to obtain a 15 classification. An uncut 18 classification was available.

 

7th July   

Updated: Dam Funny...

Beaver art whisked off from public display
Link Here

gaea Art or porn?

That question came up last week for strollers along downtown Bemidji's Sculpture Walk, which this year features nine painted fiberglass beavers, including one with -- to some eyes -- a suggestive painting on its belly.

After about 20 callers complained to City Hall that artist Deborah Davis' painting appeared to be of female genitalia, City Manager John Chattin ordered Davis' sculpture removed from the Sculpture Walk, officials in the northern Minnesota city said.

Al Belleveau, president of the Bemidji Sculpture Walk, said that at Chattin's request, he moved the sculpture to his yard until the City Council decides what to do with it.

That prompted a protest during Sunday's July 4th parade. A crowd of people gathered near where Davis' beaver sculpture had stood, some carrying signs that read Censored, Davis said. In addition, some of the other beaver artists veiled their own works in solidarity with Davis.

Davis, of Blackduck, Minn., called her work Gaea, which she said can mean Mother Earth or God is gracious. The beaver has female figures painted on its sides and a tree on its back. Its belly features a painting in which some see praying hands and some see woman's genitalia.

My intent was to paint Mother Nature, Mother Earth, Davis said. I didn't understand that some people saw genitalia. ... I understand people see different things in art, and they need to be free to do that. ... My intent was to paint a praying woman.

Update: The Beaver's Back

7th July 2010. Based on article from blogs.citypages.com

Bemidji City Council just voted unanimously to return a controversial beaver to its rightful place on the Bemidji Sculpture Walk.

Painted by artist Deborah Davis, Gaea is a celebration of womanhood and one of nine four-foot-tall ceramic beaver sculptures painted by local artists.

But when 20 people called to complain about what they viewed as a vagina on the beaver's belly, City Manager John Chattin took action and censored her beaver from public view.

Davis wasn't going to take that lying down. She organized a Facebook campaign that attracted local and national press attention.

As the beaver went viral, City Council was forced to call a special session to address the controversy.

Gaea supporters came out in droves, speaking eloquently about the artistic merits of the beaver. And as of tonight, the beaver is heading back to the streets.

 

7th July   

Offsite: Eclipsed by Nutters...

Adults fret that Eclipse lacks good role models for teens
Link Here

Twilight Saga Eclipse DVD The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is at the top of the box office, but as teenage heroine Bella Swan moves inevitably toward marriage with a vampire, some wonder if she's such an exemplary role model for the girls who follow her adventures in the hugely popular books and movies.

It's a rerun of an old debate: Can pop culture — books, movies, music — influence the behavior of impressionable teenagers, and in the case of Bella, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

And, for that matter, are teens really all that impressionable? After all, they've been reading Romeo and Juliet for 400 years.

Bella, for the few who have avoided the Twilight tidal wave, is a teenager who's so in love with an undead guy that she's ready to give up everything to be turned into a vampire so they can spend eternity together. Adding some urgency to the situation is the fact that Edward Cullen, her vampire love, is reluctant to have sex outside the bonds of matrimony.

Christine Seifert, a communications professor at Westminster College in Salt Lake City who has studied Twilight online message boards and fan fiction sites, says that the saga is strongly Mormon in tone and that a subset of Mormon culture prefers that girls marry young and start families. She says the abstinence message is so strong it could be labeled abstinence porn, designed to convince teens that sexual self-denial is actually sexy. Will it work?

...Read the full article

 

7th July   

Gold Digging...

Dating show one liner winds up the Chinese TV censors
Link Here

China flagIf You Are the One is a Chinese television phenomenon, one of many popular matchmaking shows on which young people seek mates amid ribald jokes from the host and occasional racy comments from guests.

The censorship is the latest and most public example of the government's new crackdown on vice and perceived immorality.

The campaign against TV matchmaking shows began in May and was aimed largely at If You Are the One , on Jiangsu Television, where a bachelor confronts 24 single women who pepper him with questions. The young women have lights placed in front of them, and they switch the lights on or off to indicate whether the contestant should remain on the show.

In the most controversial segment, a 24-year-old fashion model told a poor and unemployed bachelor who offered her a bicycle ride that she would rather cry in a BMW than ride a bicycle while laughing.

The comment incurred the wrath of the censors, who said it indicated a materialistic, gold-digging attitude that was the equivalent of prostitution. Government authorities also told TV stations to bar the woman from future shows.

Her comment ignited a fierce debate in China, with the model's defenders saying she was merely stating openly what many others feel privately.

 

6th July   

D'You Wanna Make Something of It?...

Aggressive Sky News presenters cleared by Ofcom
Link Here

Sky TVSky News has been cleared by Ofcom over its coverage of the general election after nearly 2,800 complaints about the conduct of two of the presenters.

The TV censor received 671 complaints from viewers about Boulton's behaviour towards Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg during the Sky News prime ministerial debate on April 22.

Nearly 700 viewers also objected to Boulton's interview with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell on May 10, during which Sky's political editor appeared to lose his temper.

Another 1,800 people complained to Ofcom about Burley's interview with electoral reformist David Babbs on May 8, an exchange which led to a campaign on Twitter calling for her to resign.

But Ofcom has dismissed all the complaints and described the spat between Boulton and Campbell as a confrontation between two well-known figures, who would have been used to the cut and thrust of political debate . In its Broadcast Bulletin, the regulator said it was not unreasonable for Sky's political editor to defend his position as Campbell effectively accused Boulton of wanting David Cameron to be Prime Minister.

Ofcom said although Boulton became visibly angry, it does not in itself, impact on the due impartiality of the content . We considered that although the tone and content of this exchange was unusual, it would not have been beyond the likely expectations of the audience for this channel, said the regulator.

It should be noted that the discussion at no time resulted in any abusive language or gratuitous insults. Therefore to find that these heated exchanges could not be transmitted would be an unnecessary interference with the broadcaster's and the viewer's right of freedom of expression.

The viewers who complained about Burley's interview found she was rude, aggressive and repeatedly interrupted Babbs from campaign group 38 Degrees.

Ofcom acknowledged concerns about the presenter's interview style, but said Burley gave Babbs sufficient space to get his point across and did not show any bias against electoral reform.

We noted that even during the parts of the interview where Kay Burley was repeatedly interrupting David Babbs, the interviewee was still able to get some points across to a limited degree, whimpered Ofcom. As such, we considered that the subject matter at hand was treated with due impartiality in line with the requirements of the Code for major matters of political controversy.

Regarding the complaints about Boulton's comment about an article in The Daily Telegraph to Clegg during the election debate, Ofcom found the remark did not breach the Broadcasting Code for guaranteeing due impartiality. The regulator said his actions were understandable in the context of the programme.

 

6th July   

Playing Chicken with Ofcom...

ARY lose over a dare to slit a chicken's throat and drink the blood
Link Here

Another ARY Ofcom whingeDum Hai Tou Entertain Kar
ARY Digital, 31 March 2010, 19:30

ARY Digital is a general entertainment channel serving a UK Pakistani audience, and is broadcast on cable and satellite platforms.

Dum Hai Tou Entertain Kar ( Entertain, If You Dare ) is a Pakistani talent show.

Ofcom received two complaints that in this particular episode a contestant slit a chicken's throat on air and drank its blood while the chicken was still struggling. The complainants considered this content was inappropriate for broadcast at this time. They said that the programme was offensive, particularly given it was broadcast during school holidays when families might be watching together, and that there was no warning of the impending act of cruelty.

Ofcom considered Rules

  • 1.3 (children must be protected from unsuitable material by appropriate scheduling)
  • 2.3 (offensive material must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 2.3 and 1.3

In this case, the contestant cut a chicken's throat live on air, held the dying bird above his head, and then drank the blood that dripped from its neck. The contestant took several tries to cut through the chicken's throat and appeared to be almost sawing using a blunt knife as the chicken was still moving and flapping. The whole sequence lasted several minutes and no measures appeared to have been taken to limit the suffering to the bird whilst it was inappropriately killed.

It was clear to Ofcom that this material was capable of causing a considerable degree of offence through its graphic nature and also by it being carried out live on air as an act in a game show format. The killing of the chicken was done for the purposes of entertainment rather than for any more serious editorial purpose. To this extent, in Ofcom's opinion, the killing of the chicken with the associated cruelty was gratuitous and increased the level of offence likely to be caused.

Ofcom employed the services of an independent translator who confirmed that no verbal warning was given, either in Urdu or English, at the start of the programme or during the programme so as to give a warning to viewers about the potentially offensive material included in this programme. In summary, this broadcast of the killing of the chicken in a gratuitously cruel way purely for the purposes of entertainment exceeded generally accepted standards and breached Rule 2.3.

In Ofcom's view this material was not appropriately scheduled so as to provide the necessary protection to child viewers, as has been acknowledged by ARY. This content was shown on a weekday early evening at a time when children may have been watching, some unaccompanied, and was broadcast during school holiday time when younger viewers may have been in the audience. ARY is a general entertainment channel and talent shows often attract young viewers. Ofcom therefore concluded that there was also a breach of Rule 1.3 in broadcasting this programme.

 

6th July   

The Last Dictatorship in Europe...

London protest in support of the Belarus Free Theatre
Link Here

Tom Stoppard Rosencrantz Guildenstern Travesties Britain's theatre community comes out against oppression and censorship in Belarus, the last dictatorship of Europe .

Sir Tom Stoppard and actor/director Sam West Has led a protest of high-profile theatre practitioners outside the Belarussian Embassy in London.

They presented an open letter to President Alyaksander Lukashenko of Belarus calling for greater democratic freedom and for an end to censorship of the Internet.

Other signatories include Mark Ravenhill, Howard Brenton, Alan Rickman, Laura Wade, Caryl Churchill, Henry Goodman, Henry Porter, Simon McBurney, Simon Stephens and Lyndsey Turner.

We urge you to allow the people of Belarus the right to express and share their opinions freely, whether this is on the internet or not. We urge you to use your powers to prevent any further repression of citizens who hold alternative, and oppositional, beliefs to you. We urge that the practice of physical abuse and intimidation against any citizen, including those who dare to hold alternative and oppositional points of view, be stopped. Finally, we urge you to protect the right to freedom of assembly in accordance with Article 21 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights to which Belarus is a state party, – the letter says.

Sam West performed an extract of Generation Jeans , a play from the multi-award winning Belarus Free Theatre.

Generation Jeans charts one man's journey as an activist. It captures all of the courage, the humour and the foolhardy determination that you need to resist a totalitarian regime, which makes it perfect for our protest today, says director Clare Lizzimore, co-organiser of the protest.

On Thursday 1st July a new Presidential decree on the Internet comes into force. It gives the authorities greater powers to monitor usage and will enable the Government to restrict or block access to websites that offer independent and alternative sources of information. It has been described as a step in the wrong direction by the European Union. The decree is a clear attempt to curb the freedom of speech and the right to self-expression.

Playwright and co-organiser of the protest, Alexandra Wood says: The internet is a vital tool in communication and should be available to all. Lukashenko's law, imposing censorship on the Internet, particularly affects those in Belarus who oppose his regime, who want to offer the Belarusian people an alternative, which is of course, his intention.

Actor Sam West says: The purpose of theatre and the purpose of the internet is the same: to connect people, to bring them together as a collective entity, an audience, a world. Repressive regimes are rightly frightened of the internet for its ability to put free thinkers in touch with one another and give them inspiration and strength; it's not us and them out there, it's all us. We must oppose any withdrawal of these freedoms as anti-thought, anti-freedom, anti-human.

The protest was in support of the Belarus Free Theatre and is in conjunction with the Global Artistic Campaign in Solidarity with Belarus, founded by playwright, Sir Tom Stoppard.

 

6th July   

Update: Morally Bankrupt...

Malaysia bans opposition newspaper
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Malaysia...Newspapers forced to toe the government line

suara keadilanThe Malaysian government has suspended the publication of a main opposition newspaper in a move political rivals criticised as a crackdown on dissent.

Suara Keadilan, run by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan party, ran into trouble after the authorities said it violated publishing laws with a report this month which claimed a government agency is bankrupt.

The Home Ministry, which oversees Malaysia's newspapers, said it will not renew Suara Keadilan's permit as it was not satisfied with the paper's explanation for the allegedly inaccurate report.

A letter will be issued to inform the printer that it is not allowed to print until a decision is made on the renewal of its permit, the ministry said in a statement.

The opposition vowed to defy the ban.

Update: 4th Ban

20th July 2010. Based on article from indexoncensorship.org

A fourth newspaper has been forced to close in Kuala Lumpur following the government's crackdown on publishing licenses. The suspension of Hakhah's printing office follows the closure of the newspapers Suara Keadilan, Kabar Era Pakatan and Rocket on 30 June.

Suara Keadilan, a leading critical voice in Malaysia, is reported to have been shut down for publishing false news that could incite public unrest. Local activists claim that Prime Minister Najib Razak's government is attempting to silence critical publications ahead of national elections.

 

6th July   

Not Worth a Foot...

Lebanon Facebook users arrested over trivial insult of president
Link Here

Lebanon flagLebanon's president, Michel Sleiman, may have more than 60,000 Facebook fans, but it took the opinions of just three people for things to get unfriendly. The three  were arrested for allegedly defaming the president on the social networking website.

There is currently no specific law governing the publication of online content in Lebanon. People can – and do – say what they want across a variety of networking sites. However, it is a crime to criticise the president of the republic, as his position supposedly represents the entire country. Knock Sleiman and you knock Lebanon.

The barbs, some of which were reposted on Sleiman's official page, were not particularly caustic. You're worth my foot, as one commenter wrote, is hardly a fierce indictment of Sleiman's presidency. Similarly, you're like a snake; all you do is from under the table, should not ruffle a man hardened by a career spent in the Lebanese army. If these are the worst jibes he has to endure, Sleiman can consider his political life charmed. The accusation that Sleiman was the king of racism and sectarianism probably grated harder.

The three young men have now been charged but released on bail.

The arrests are the first to be linked to online comments and while it was a state prosecutor who initiated the judicial proceedings, the president has been kept abreast of all developments. Sleiman, who after all has the power of pardon, said he could not allow such comments to go unpunished, labelling them an abuse of freedom .

 

5th July   

Best Online Resource...

Melon Farmers win an ETO Award
Link Here
Melon Farmers ETO Award

  Melon Farmers Frank and Alan
showing off the goodies

The Melon Farmers are well chuffed to have won the ETO Award for Best Online Resource.

The awards are voted on by trade association members including many of UK's retailers, film producers and film distributors, both online and on the high street.

The Melon Farmers would like to thank everyone for all the support, and all those who participated in the evening's fun.

 

5th July   

Cult Classic...

New US Blu-ray release for Paul Bartel's Death Race 2000
Link Here

Death Race 2000 Ws Blu ray Death Race 2000 is a 1975 US action/Sci-Fi by Paul Bartel. See IMDb

The BBFC passed it 15 uncut in 2008.

Before that it was passed 18 uncut for all UK previous videos and DVDs.

The BBFC cut the 1975 cinema release

From cuts details on IMDb

  • cut to remove a head crushing scene
  • edited shots of blood spurts from the car killings
  • cuts to a man's groin being stabbed with Joe's bayonet.

Review from UK Amazon : Cult Classic

I've ridiculed many a Roger Corman film in my time, but I have nothing but love for his 1975 B-movie triumph Death Race 2000 (although, to be fair, most of the credit should go to director Paul Bartel). In this brilliant black comedy satire, Corman gives us what we want - fast cars, hot naked gals, and lots of glorified violence, not to mention brilliant performances by David Carradine and a pre-Rambo Sylvester Stallone - and all with a budget of only 300 grand.

In this futuristic vision of the year 2000, America has devolved into something of a fascist police state called the United Provinces, ruled from overseas by Mr. President (Sandy McCallum) who, like all good dictators, has established an external outlet for whatever bloodlust, anger, and general discontent that may exist among the populace. Enter the Transcontinental Road Race, better known as the Death Race. Now in its 20th iteration, this fierce competition pits the greatest, most fearless drivers in the land racing from New York to New Los Angeles. Lest any visions of Cannonball Run threaten to run your head, know this: the beauty of the Death Race is the fact that extra points are awarded for any and all innocent spectators you kill along the way, with children and seniors bringing in the most points.

From euthanasia day at the hospital to the wickedly tripped-out cars designed for human carnage as well as speed, Death Race 2000 is a tour de force of B-movie entertainment. Carradine's amazing, Stallone's a brilliant bonus, the supporting cast make hay with even the smallest of parts, and Simone Griffeth is fun to watch both in and out of her clothes. Death Race 2000 is the epitome of cult classic.

 

5th July   

Off Their Trolley...

Russian bikini stewardess adverts wind up Australian air crews
Link Here

avia nova advert A new ad by a Russian airline featuring bikini-clad flight attendants washing planes has taken raunchiness to another level.

The saucy clip promoting Moscow-based start-up airline Avianova shows women stripping out of their stewardess uniforms and washing the company's planes.

It is the latest airline to use sex as a selling point. Last week another new airline, Spirit Airlines, came under fire for its raunchy ad. The commercial, featuring scantily clad women with the slogan Check Out The Oil On Our Beaches , was slammed for poking fun at the BP oil disaster. The airline has since pulled the ad following widespread condemnation.

Based on article from jaunted.com

The Australian Flight Attendants Association is petitioning the International Transport Federation to put a stop to Avianova-style travel advertising, which they consider to be over-the-top demeaning to women.

The basic claim isn't so much an abstract argument about sexism in advertising, although that's definitely included. The real issue is one of potential sexual harassment. If male passengers are told and shown that female flight attendants are sex objects, as the reasoning goes they're more liable to treat female flight attendants as sex objects. The result is that you have more drunks grabbing the thighs of more stewardesses in the middle of more flights.

 

5th July   

Free to Choose Hell...

Pennsylvania law censoring religious words in business names struck down
Link Here

i choose hell productions logoA US federal court has struck down a Pennsylvania statute that forbids business names containing:

  • Words that constitute blasphemy
  • profane cursing or swearing
  • words that profane the Lord's name.

The case arose after George Kalman was refused permission by state regulators to register his film company under the name I Choose Hell Productions LLC.

Kalman says he chose the name because he believes it expresses his personal philosophy that it is better to struggle through difficult times in life than to commit suicide, even if life is hell.

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found that the statute violated the First Amendment prohibition on establishment of religion, and promoted only Christian religious views. Words used by the Pennsylvania Corporations Bureau to flag proposed names for closer scrutiny included terms such as Christ and Jesus but not those related to other religions, such as Allah or Mohammed.

Additionally the court held that the statute violated Kalman's right to free speech by treating speech differently on the basis on the viewpoint expressed, as business names perceived as pro-religion were permitted.

The court also ruled that the statute used to turn down his company's name violated Kalman's free speech rights by allowing anonymous government officials to refuse business names that offend them.

The court struck down the statute as unconstitutional.

 

5th July   

Don't Mention the War...

Turkey's TV censors wound up by Armenian Genocide comments
Link Here

Shameful Act Armenian Genocide Responsibility Reporters Without Borders strongly condemned a decision by Turkey's Radio and TV Supreme Council (RTK) to ban the privately-owned TV station Habertrk from broadcasting one of its regular One on One discussion programs next month as a punishment for comments about the 1915 Armenian Genocide made by a guest on one of the previous programs.

The offending program, a debate between Yusuf Halaçoglu, the former president of the Turkish Institute of History (TTK) and Sevan Nisanyan, a journalist of Armenian origin, was broadcast on March 9, just a few days after the US House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide.It was Nisanyan's comments that upset the RTK.

The RTK told Habertrk it cannot broadcast the One on One program scheduled for 13 July and will instead have to broadcast messages chosen by the RTK.

Reporters Without Borders said it regarded this disproportionate punishment as censorship pure and simple and called on the RTK to rescind the decision. Free expression must prevail even when there are opposing opinions on sensitive issues, the press freedom organization said. It is part of the duties of journalists to organize debates in which different views are aired.

 

5th July   

Controlling Internet News...

Syria anticipates new laws on internet publishing
Link Here

Syria flagWith the Syrian government poised to issue a new law on internet publishing, civil society groups, website administrators and journalists are hoping for increased legal rights but fear they will be straitjacketed by tight restrictions.

For the past two years, the Syrian authorities have been designing regulations to cover domestic internet news, which has long been operating in a legislative limbo. The absence of rules allowed dozens of independent websites to spring up between 2003 and 2005, and they quickly became a highly popular alternative to traditional state-run media.

Characterised by a to-the-point modern writing style and a willingness to publish what had previously been considered unpublishable, including criticism of government policies, personalities and gossip, the sites grew in number and influence.

That brought with it greater official scrutiny, however, and, as the authorities struggled to keep up with internet development, new forms of ad-hoc control were introduced. The telecommunications ministry increasingly blocked sites and web administrators complained of being told to take down stories that touched on sensitive issues.

In the absence of a legal framework, the websites had no way of contesting increasing censorship or knowing what was and was not permitted. Faced with such difficulties, some news sites voluntarily closed, some moved abroad – to publish without restrictions – and others considerably watered down their coverage.

No details of the e-publishing law have been formally released yet though.

 

4th July   

Offsite: Is it Safe?...

Convictions stand under non-enforceable VRA
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

Old BaileyInterfact, associated with the UK Private Shop chain, asked the High Court for leave to make a late appeal for a conviction under the VRA.

The case was Interfact Ltd v Liverpool City Council where R18s were sold by mail order from licensed premises.

The High Court held that where defendants had been convicted of criminal offences under national legislation which was unenforceable owing to a failure by the UK to comply with a pre-enactment procedural requirement imposed by EU law, it was not incumbent upon the Court of Appeal to re-open their cases out of time unless their convictions had given rise to any substantial injustice.

The applicants sought to quash their convictions, arguing that the court was required to exercise its discretion to reopen the decision of the Divisional Court and to grant leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal out of time because the earlier decisions were contrary to EU law. They argued that failure to grant the relief sought would infringe the principle of effectiveness in EU law. They contended that because of the government's failure to notify the regulations under which they were convicted to the Commission, their convictions and punishment infringed the prohibition on retrospective punishment under Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Court dismissed the applications.

...Read the full article

 

4th July   

Bye Bye Bill...

Outgoing New Zealand censor talks about his experiences
Link Here

Bill HastingsNew Zealand's Chief Censor says he never got used to the disturbing material he had to view in his role.

Bill Hastings is leaving the position he has held since 1999. He told TV's Q+A programme that he'll never be able to get child abuse images out of his mind and it is the worst part of the job. He says the worst stuff comes from the courts and police and about 25-30% of the business is court work involving crime mostly sourced from the internet. He says it is often picked up from people's computers being investigated for other crimes.

He says there have been many times he has left the office to walk around the harbour. You never ever get used to it - it is disturbing.

He continues that most bans involve images of child abuse and 8-14% of anything that comes into the office falls into that category. He says this generally includes anything that promotes or supports things like exploitation of children for sexual purposes, extreme violence, torture and cruelty.

And offensiveness, ugliness and shock value has little to do with the job where he says the legal test is availability and whether the item is likely to be injurious to the public good.

Hastings says what's offensive or ugly doesn't necessarily stop it being legal and the Bill of Rights and freedom of expression laws actually exists to protect the public's ability to say something offensive.

Hastings says the internet has thrown up challenges for censors but their role is not enforcement or investigation and they sit as a quasi judicial body determining classification. He says the education and information function of the organisation has been beefed up to help people understand how and why something harms them: We are trying to arm people and inform people to become their own classification office.

 

4th July   

Update: Distorted, Silenced or Beeped?...

Glastonbury on iPlayer
Link Here

Glastonbury Disc DVD Julien Temple I have been listening to some of the BBC Glastonbury recordings on iPlayer.

Last year, the BBC's swear word lyric solution was to apply some weird kind of filter, presumably in an attempt to remove the swear word without you noticing, but in practice it resulted in some horrid distortion, that left you thinking it was a flaw in the performance or production, and only after a while did I realise it was intentionally added by the BBC due to swear words.

This year they've gone for the classic of turning the sound down altogether. It's as if John Beyer himself is controlling your volume knob for you, so you don't hear anything he doesn't want you to hear.

Bring back the bleep I say - at least it's honest. Everyone knows it's being bleeped because someone else might be offended.

 

4th July   

Darkman Gets the Blues...

New US Blu-ray release for Sam Raimi's Darkman
Link Here

Darkman Sub Ac3 Dol Blu ray Darkman is a 1990 US film by Sam Raimi. See IMDb

The film has just been released in the US for the first time on Blu-ray.

Meanwhile the UK DVD is still suffering BBFC cuts inflicted several years ago. Unfortunately the cut UK DVD was also used for European releases too.

The BBFC cut 2s for an 18 rating for:

  • The deleted seconds are missing from the start when Durant turns up at the warehouse. Eddie Black's henchmen start walking toward the camera (to frisk Durant's men) and there is a shot of one of them swinging some nunchukas. The BBFC were sensitive to nunchukas so we are denied this shot.

Review from US Amazon : Entertaining

Sam Raimi, brilliant director of the cult classic Evil Dead trilogy and the current blockbuster Spider-Man, directed this entertaining action yarn hot on the heels of 1989's hit Batman. While many saw Darkman as a Batman rip off (sort of), Raimi's talented directorial skills gave Darkman a personality of its own.

Liam Neeson (before he hit it big) stars as scientist Peyton Westlake, who has developed a synthetic skin, only problem is, it can only hold for 99 minutes before it deteriorates. When his lab is destroyed by Robert Durant (Larry Drake), Peyton is blasted into a nearby harbor. He is left horribly scarred, but when he recovers he uses the synthetic skin to get his revenge on his would be murderers while trying to get back with his girlfriend (Frances McDormand).

Darkman is really entertaining and is a great twist on superhero movies, Neeson shines as the tortured soul hero, while McDormand is great as his girlfriend. Recommended to those looking for a comic style movie with a twist.

 

4th July   

A Merger of Nutters...

US nutters target cable company over revenue from adult entertainment
Link Here

PTC logoNutters of the Parents Television Council (PTC) are calling on US cable company, Comcast, to reveal exactly how much revenue it makes from adult content.

The PTC's tactic is supported by other nutter organisations: American Family Association, Focus on the Family, Citizens for Community Values, Reclaim our Culture Kentuckiana and the Coalition for Marriage and Family.

They believe that by calling attention to the fact that Comcast provides adult content on a pay-per-basis to adults in their own homes, the ensuing controversy could derail the company's planned merger with NBC-Universal. Comcast, of course, is hardly alone in providing those services—TimeWarner, Dish Network and DIRECTV do, as well.

Comcast is one of the most far-reaching distributors of pornography in the communities it serves, raising serious questions about whether the company meets the character and public interest obligations required of each company that holds a broadcast license, said PTC President Tim Winter.

 

4th July   

Update: Premier Privacy...

Berlusconi's press gag law under widespread fire
Link Here

fnsi logoMore than 1,000 Italian journalists gathered in Rome to protest against a law that curbs police wiretaps and imposes fines on news organisations that publish transcripts.

The prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, claims the new rules are needed to protect privacy.

The Italian National Press Federation has called a strike for 9 July in protest.

Opposition parties accuse Berlusconi of trying to cover up corruption with a tailor-made law to shield him from prosecution while in office.

The US justice department has expressed concern over the law's effect on investigations of organised crime.

 

4th July   

Update: Banned Victims of Government Attacks...

Pakistan proposes catch-all law to jail those criticising the state
Link Here

Pakistan flagPakistan is considering a controversial new law that would restrict media coverage of suicide bombings and could be used to quell criticism of the government and army on the country's private television networks.

Under the proposed changes, TV journalists could be jailed for up to three years for broadcasting anything defamatory against the organs of the state .

The latest twist to the proposed law, known as the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority bill, drew an angry response from media groups.

Anyone with something to hide will be happy to root for this bill, said Talat Hussain, one of the country's most prominent television anchors. Those in power have a lot to gain from it.

The proposed restrictions would prevent the media from airing video footage of suicide bombers, the bodies of victims of militant attacks, statements from extremist leaders and any acts that promote, aid or abet terrorists or terrorism .

Live coverage of militant assaults would be banned as would anything defamatory against the organs of the state – a sweeping provision that could be interpreted to include most government activities.

Offenders would be liable to sentences of up to three years in jail and fines of up to 10m rupees (£80,000).

Separately, Dawn newspaper reported that military officials have come up with their own proposed restrictions, including a requirement that all security-related stories should be cleared with the military press office.

 

4th July   

Good Moral Use...

Thailand to recruit 200 lay people to monitor websites
Link Here

MICT logoThailand's Information and Communications Technology Ministry is working with the Justice and Education ministries to launch Cyber Scout, a project to build a network of volunteers to monitor for inappropriate content on the Internet.

The project will train volunteers to engage with the cyber society and monitor websites that may compromise national security as well as those that criticise the monarchy

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said it would also educate people on the appropriate use of technology: The Internet now is a powerful communications channel and a two-edged sword. It is so important to encourage good moral use of technology for people

ICT Minister Chuti Krairiksh said that in the beginning, this project would recruit 200 people from around the country, including students, teachers, government officials and the private sector, who have computers and Internet literacy.

These people will be trained in the proper use of the Internet and then they will become online volunteer scouts to help the government screen websites.

 

4th July   

Propaganda News...

China set to dominate satellite propaganda with an international news channel in English
Link Here

xin hua logoChina's state news agency Xinhua has launched a 24-hour global news channel in English.

Officials said CNC World would present an international vision with a China perspective .

The launch is being seen as an attempt by China to develop its influence abroad and counter foreign media views.

Beijing keeps close control over media in the country - it often accuses Western media of bias and of reporting only negative news stories from China.

China Xinhua News Network Corporation said it would offer a better view of China to its international audiences and enable more voices to be heard by the rest of the world .

It will broadcast news reports in a timely way and objectively, and be a new source of information for global audiences, said Xinhua's President Li Congjun at a launch ceremony in Beijing.

He said the channel was initially broadcasting in Hong Kong but aims to reach 50 million viewers in Europe, North America and Africa within its first year.

Wu insisted that the coverage would remain objective, saying: We are a news channel, not a propaganda station.

 

3rd July   

Updated: Your Freedom...

UK government consults on which bad laws to repeal
Link Here  full story: Great Repeal Bill...UK government consults on bad laws to repeal

your freedom logo The state has crept further and further into people's homes and their private lives under the cover of pretending to act in our best interest. That needs to change, says Nick Clegg:

During their 13 years in power, the Labour Government developed a dangerous reflex. Faced with whatever problem, legislation increasingly became the standard response. Something needs fixing? Let's pass a new law.

And so, over the last decade, thousands of new rules and regulations have amassed on the statute book. And it is our liberty that has paid the price. Under the cover of pretending to act in our best interest, the state has crept further and further into people's homes and their private lives. That intrusion is disempowering. It needs to change.

The Coalition Government is determined to restore great British freedoms. Major steps have been taken already. ID cards have been halted. Plans are underway to restrict the storage of innocent people's DNA. Schools will no longer be able to take children's fingerprints without their parents consent.

But we need to do more. The culture of state snooping has become so ingrained that we must tackle it with renewed vigour. And, especially in these difficult times, entrepreneurs and businesses need our help. We must ensure we are not tying them up in restrictive red tape.

So today we are taking an unprecedented step. Based on the belief that it is people, not policymakers, who know best, we are asking the people of Britain to tell us how you want to see your freedom restored.

We are calling for your ideas on how to protect our hard won liberties and repeal unnecessary laws. And we want to know how best to scale back excessive regulation that denies businesses the space to innovate. We're hoping for virtual mailbags full of suggestions. Every single one will be read, with the best put to Parliament.

It is a radically different approach. One based on trust. Because it isn't up to government to tell people how to live their lives. Our job is to empower people, giving you the freedom and support to thrive. That belief is right at the heart of this Coalition. And both coalition parties recognise that Whitehall doesn't have a monopoly on the best ideas.

So, finally, after years in the wilderness, freedom is back in fashion. This is our chance to redraw the boundaries between citizen and state. It's your chance to have your say.

...See yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk

Some Early Suggestions

Thanks to emark

Repeal of the Dangerous Pictures Act banning 'Extreme Porn'

repeal-section-63-of-the-cjia-2008-extreme-porn

section-63-of-the-criminal-justice-and-immigration-act-2008

Repeal of the Dangerous Cartoons Act

repeal-laws-on-drawn-pornography

You can vote, and leave comments.

Update: Suggestions

3rd July 2010. Thanks to emark and simcha

TV Censorship

ofcom-and-tv-censorship

Video Censorship

repeal-most-of-the-video-recordings-act

 

3rd July   

Offsite: More Extreme...

Extreme porn now illegal north of the border
Link Here

The Scottish ParliamentIf you thought you could hide your extreme porn stash in a secluded location north of the border – think again. For this week, the Scottish Parliament finally fell into line with its English counterpart south of the border, passing laws - included within the Criminal Justice Bill - making it a criminal offence to possess images that were extreme and pornographic in nature.

Like the English law on this topic, passed in May 2008, the Scottish law will focus on images that are realistic, pornographic and of an extreme nature.

In addition, however, the Scottish law adds an extra clause, bringing within this Bill images which are believed to depict rape or other non-consensual penetrative sexual activity .

...Read the full article

 

3rd July   

Showgirls Get the Blues...

New US Blu-ray release for Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls
Link Here

Showgirls 2pc Aniv Spec Blu ray Showgirls is a 1995 US drama by Paul Verhoeven. See IMDb

In the US, MGM have just released Showgirls on Blu-ray with an uncut NC-17 rating.

All UK video/DVD releases still suffer 17s of BBFC cuts. The BBFC justified the cuts back in 1999:

More problematic was Showgirls, an expose of the seamy side of Las Vegas, with a prurient emphasis on exploitative nudity, which was not only the subject of the film but its main selling point. In such a context, the sadistic gang rape of the only wholly sympathetic character in the film seemed unnecessarily extended and sensationalised. The rape was trimmed for cinema, and trimmed further for video, since the price of the rape could be adequately conveyed by the sight of the battered and bleeding victim .

The cuts are all in the scene where Carver rapes Molly as mentioned above:

  1. Carver slapping and punching Molly just before we see Molly being pushed back on the bed.
  2. Carver slapping Molly's rear, then starting to rape her
  3. Interlaced shot of Nomi dancing with Zack is cut just before they kiss.
  4. The following 7s shot of the rape is totally eliminated.

Review from UK Amazon : A Cult Classic

Showgirls is an excellent cult film. Its filled with terrible dialogue delivered by actors in performances that they'd surely rather forget. Paul Verhoeven - usually a top notch director - fails spectacularly with his fourteenth film and the script by Joe Eszterhas is laughable.

It stars Elizabeth Berkley as Nomi Malone (She's alone in the world, get the joke?), an ambitious young woman who has dreams of becoming a famous dancer in Las Vegas. Berkley's performance is something else. She smiles, she pouts, she shouts, she screams, she gyrates, she vomits, and often all of the above in the same scene. She is joined by Gina Gershon and Kyle MacLachlan, both similarly hamming it up to the extreme as Berkley's fellow dancer and the Entertainment Director respectively. Glenn Plummer also waves goodbye to any credibility in his performance as Berkley's quasi-love interest.

From reading this review you may wonder why I have given it five stars. The reason is this: You will never be more entertained in your life. It is hilarious, outrageous, ridiculous, completely unrealistic, shallow, stupid and ultimately a misunderstood masterpiece of everyone involved in the production doing everything wrong in perfect synchronicity.

A great piece of trash, go on, come over to the dark side!

 

3rd July   

Offsite: President of the UN Human Rights Council...

But Thailand is no human rights champion
Link Here

UN logoThe recently concluded session of the UN human rights council ended with the election of Thailand as the new president to the 47-member council.

The result of the election is quite a surprise, given that Thailand has recently gone through the worst political violence the country in decades.

Thailand's ministry of foreign affairs issued a public statement highlighting that the election result clearly reflects the confidence that countries around the world have in Thailand and its human rights policies and standards .

Can this election of the council's presidency be viewed as a realistic reflection of Thailand's human rights standards?

The council was set up in 2006 to replace the contentiously debated UN commission on human rights. The election of the presidency is done on a rotating basis from five regional groups: Latin America and Caribbean, eastern Europe, Africa, western Europe and other states, and Asia. Since 2006, representatives of all four regional groups have served as presidents to the council, with the exception of Asia.

Based on this, Thailand was not competing against countries with better recognised human rights records such as those governments of Switzerland or Norway. Instead, Thailand was competing against countries in Asia, namely Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan and Maldives – all of which are criticised by rights watchdogs as human rights violators.

Both Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan, prior to the election, resigned from the contest after fierce campaigns by human rights groups claiming they were unsuitable contestants to head the council.

The election, therefore, only left Maldives and Thailand to compete.

Maldives, a relatively young democracy, has only just emerged from a history of military coups and held its first democratic election in 2008. The country was ruled by Maumoon Gayoom, who denied free and fair elections, for 20 years. Being a small country, the Maldives lacked the political leverage required to convince member states of their leadership.

This is how the council was left with Thailand.

...Read the full article

 

2nd July   

Hardcore Unemployment...

Ofcom preparing for job losses
Link Here

ofcom isnt workingOfcom has begun a review that will result in significant cuts to its £142m annual budget and staff, and its chief executive, Ed Richards, has decided to take a 10% pay cut.

Richards said today that the review would lead to a significant reduction in expenditure, with job losses likely .

The TV censor and telecoms regulator, which employs 873 staff and has a budget of £142m for the year to the end of March 2011, intends to complete the first phase of its review in late summer.

Speaking to staff, Richards said that the organisation would have to make some very tough decisions . This would ultimately see Ofcom do more for less , he added. We will redefine how we do things to deliver the same capability but spend less money doing so.

It is not known how deep the cuts to Ofcom's budget will be, or the number of jobs that will go. However, in the emergency budget on 22 June the government indicated that it was looking for cuts of around 25% from all departments.

Annual Report Published

Ofcom has now published its annual report for 2009/10 [pdf] .

The report has little of interest to Melon Farmers, the usual bollox about child protection justifying the censorship and more emphasis on demanding compliancy to their code rather than considering whether it is lawful, warranted or even wanted.

Ofcom present the usual meaningless statistics about numbers of complaints. They write:

Programme standards

Of the 10,679 closed cases (28,072 complaints) relating to programme standards:

  • 152 cases were found to be in breach either of the Broadcasting Code, other Ofcom codes or of licence conditions. Of these, six cases were subject to statutory sanctions (involving six separate broadcasters)
  • 13 cases were resolved
  • 10,514 cases were not in breach or out of remit.

 

2nd July   

Trailer Trash...

Supporting the hype for Paranormal Activity 2
Link Here

paranormal activity 2 trailer video This is either a big surprise or a brilliant marketing tactic. Variety says that movie theater chain Cinemark has pulled the Paranormal Activity 2 trailer from several theaters in Texas after receiving numerous complaints from moviegoers that the trailer was too frightening.

Paranormal Activity is obviously marketed entirely on scares and hearing that a trailer was so frightening that it had to be pulled is a great accidental way of building some extra word-of-mouth buzz for this sequel to Oren Peli's low budget horror flick.

Cinemark is already prepared to pull the trailer from more theaters if they keep receiving more complaints!

 

2nd July   

Mind Minds in Massachusetts...

Nutter councilor wants to shame people just for viewing porn
Link Here

quincy logoA Massachusetts city councilor's request to publicize the names of people caught looking at pornography on library computers has been nixxed by the city's lawyer.

James Timmins, the lawyer in charge of reviewing the request for the Quincy City Council, intends to advise Ann McLaughlin, Qunicy's librarian director, not to release the information. He believes that it would break privacy laws.

There is not a written advisory on it yet, but I will advise her not to release the list, he told The Washington Times.

The request was made by Councilor Daniel Raymondi, who wants to get ahead of the growing problem of people who do not adhere to the appropriate-use policy established by the city library. The city council sent a resolution last week to Mayor Thomas Koch, which calls for the mayor to send the council a list of people who viewed pornography on library computers in the last year. The resolution was approved by the council June 21.on.

 

2nd July   

Arse Licking to Complainants...

Arbitrary censorship on Facebook
Link Here

bride of prideElaine Miller says she can't understand how the image of a woman's panty-clad ass can be considered offensive, but Facebook pulled the photo and sent her a warning.

I don't think much of censorship, says Miller, a leatherdyke who hosts a variety of BDSM events for queen women in Vancouver.

Miller says Facebook pulled the photo announcing a Bride of Pride play party, then sent her an online warning explaining how she had violated the site's terms of use.

Facebook does not allow photos that attack an individual or group or that contain nudity, drug use, violence or other violations of terms of use, the message informed her.

This policy is enforced in order to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site, the message added.

When asked to explain why this particular photo was removed, a Facebook spokesperson told Xtra: We literally have dozens of content standards, and respond to user reports of inappropriate content. We have a policy against nudity and in such cases, have removed photos that have been flagged to us by Facebook users. The particular photo in question exposes the naked buttocks of a female and violates our terms for appropriate content. When flagged, all reports are closely reviewed and action is taken if photos are deemed offensive.

 

1st July   

Some Good, Some Bad...

Scottish extreme porn ban approved, prostitution restrictions rejected
Link Here

The Scottish ParliamentMSPs have been discussing law reforms defined in the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill.

The Scottish Parliament has passed its extreme porn laws. No surprise there.

But on the other hand, the Parliament actually did a decent job of rejecting a bunch of other stupid laws. Sandra White's lap dancing regime got rejected (only the SNP supported it), and attempts to ban all prostitution, and also to introduce the English strict liability offence for using 'controlled' prostitutes were both rejected (only Labour supported them). So some bad, but some good also.

Interestingly, the Police (particularly in the form of ACPOS) were fairly pivotal in providing cover for rejecting the prostitution laws. They basically said they didn't want or need them, and that they might well make things worse, which made it a lot easier for the parties to reject them.

Update: Extreme Lack of Debate

6th July 2010. See also parliament debate from scottish.parliament.uk

There was little debate about extreme pornography in this session but one substantive comment was made.

Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green): I am sorry to ask to lower the temperature just a little, but I wonder whether the cabinet secretary will say a little more about one of the measures that has had less debate and attention but which involves some contention—the measure that he mentioned on extreme pornography. He will be aware that themeasure that exists in England and Wales is having no effect in reducing the production of genuinely violent or abusive images, but is being used just as a top-up charge in a small number of cases in which the most serious offence is rape or sexual assault, which attract a higher sentence. If we end up in a similar situation—with the charge being used in a similar way in Scotland, as a mere top-up—will we not have to look again at whether it serves any purpose?

 

1st July   

Exposed Tits at the ASA...

Advert censor makes ludicrous claims about widespread and serious offence
Link Here

diesel exposure advertTwo posters, a Dazed and Confused magazine ad and a Grazia magazine ad for the Diesel clothing company:

a. One poster featured an image of a woman standing outdoors in a bikini. The woman was shown holding open her bikini bottoms with one hand and taking a photograph of her genitals with the other. A lion was shown prowling behind her and text stated SMART MAY HAVE THE BRAINS, BUT STUPID HAS THE BALLS. BE STUPID. DIESEL .

b. Another poster featured an image of a woman on a stepladder who was lifting her top and exposing her breasts to a security camera. Text stated SMART MAY HAVE THE BRAINS, BUT STUPID HAS THE BALLS. BE STUPID. DIESEL .

c. A Dazed and Confused magazine ad featured an image of a woman on a stepladder who was lifting her top and exposing her breasts to a security camera. Text stated SMART MAY HAVE THE BRAINS, BUT STUPID HAS THE BALLS. BE STUPID. DIESEL .

d. An ad in Grazia magazine featured an image of a giant inflatable shape with a smiley face on it. Two denim clad bottoms were shown poking through holes in the face as if to form its eyes. Text stated ONLY THE STUPID CAN BE TRULY BRILLIANT. BE STUPID. DIESEL .

33 complainants objected that the ads:

  1. were unsuitable to be seen by children;
  2. were offensive; and
  3. condoned or encouraged behaviour that was anti-social.

ASA Assessment: Complaints 1. & 2. Upheld

The ASA acknowledged that none of the ads showed full frontal nudity but considered that posters (a) and (b) contained sexual undertones. We noted ads (a) and (b) were posters and therefore appeared in an untargeted medium that were difficult to avoid and were likely to be seen by children. We considered the image of the woman in poster (a) was likely to cause serious offence to many adults because it was clear that she was taking a photograph of her genitalia and that the image of the woman exposing herself on the ladder in poster ad (b) was likely to cause serious or widespread offence because, although her breasts were only partially visible, the image showed her exposing herself to a surveillance camera. We were further concerned that the images of young women photographing their genitalia and exposing their breasts to a camera in a public place were unsuitable to be displayed on posters, an untargeted medium that was likely to be seen by children, because of the overt sexualisation involved in the depicted acts.

We concluded that the content of the posters was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to adults in an untargeted medium and was unsuitable to be seen by children.

We noted magazine ads (c) and (d) were unlikely to be seen by children because the publications were aimed specifically at adults. We also noted the editorial content of those magazines included material that covered sexual themes and considered that, in the context of the rest of the magazines contents, the ads were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to readers of Dazed and Confused and Grazia.

Posters (a) and (b) breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Responsible advertising) and 5.1 and 5.2 (Decency).

ASA Assessment: Complaint 3. Upheld

We noted the image of the woman alone in a field with the lion in poster ad (a) was surreal and stylized and considered that, because of the surreal setting, the image was unlikely to be seen to condone or encourage people to expose themselves in public. We therefore considered that the ad was unlikely to encourage or condone anti-social behaviour.

However, we noted the image in poster ad (b) appeared realistic and considered that the image portrayed socially challenging actions that might be attractive to younger consumers who would be interested in the youthful and edgy fashion range and might encourage behaviour that was anti-social or irresponsible. Although magazine ad (c) portrayed the same image as poster ad (b), we considered that readers of Dazed and Confused magazine would interpret the ad within the context of the whole magazine and would see it as a tongue-in-cheek comment on society rather than an encouragement of anti-social behaviour.

Although we understood some readers might have found the image in magazine ad (d) distasteful, we considered that most readers of Grazia magazine would see the action as playful and, even if emulated, would be unlikely to view it as anti-social. We concluded that magazine ad (d) did not condone or encourage anti-social behaviour

Poster ad (b) breached CAP Code clause 11.1 (Violence and anti-social behaviour).

 

1st July   

Update: An End to Political Games...

Gamers4Croydon disband
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Gamers4Croydon logoGamers4Croydon, the fledgling Australian political party that was created to challenge former South Australia Attorney General and notorious gaming critic Michael Atkinson, has disbanded.

Gamers4Croydon was formed last year with the intent of running game-friendly candidates in the Australian election held in March. It didn't win any seats but it did help to highlight the messy videogame situation in Australia, which doesn't have an R18 rating for games and therefore either crams games into the MA15+ category that really shouldn't be there, or simply bans them outright.

Now, in a post on the Gamers4Croydon website, founder David Doe has announced that the party is shutting down less than a year after it was formed. Doe suggested that gamers and other supporters check out political alternatives like the Greens and the Australian Sex Party, which is opposed to Australia's planned internet filter. They're the closet aligned to use ideologically and we all share many common policies, he explained.

Atkinson stepped down from his post as Attorney General soon after the March election, but Australia still has no R18 rating for videogames, and there's no sign it'll be getting on anytime soon either.

 

1st July   

Update: Stitched Up...

Judges offended by the play Stitching banned in Malta
Link Here  full story: Stage Censorship in Malta...Maltese censors ban stage play Stitching, then get disbanded

Stitching Modern Plays Anthony Neilson Malta's Civil Court has found that the Film and Stage Classification Board did not violate freedom of expression when it banned the play Stitching last year.

The play, penned by Scottish writer Anthony Neilson, addresses such themes as death and abortion.

The case was instituted by Adrian Buckle, Christopher Gatt, Maria Pia Zammit, Mikhail Basmadjian and Unifaun Theatre Productions Ltd against Teresa Friggieri, the prime minister, the Police commissioner and the Attorney General.

The producers had pleaded that the banning of the play, in January last year, violated their fundamental right of freedom of expression.

They also pointed out that the script of the play was freely available in Malta and the play had been staged in many other European countries.

They called for the classification of banned to be replaced by another classification which would enable the play to be staged.

But the court said it had no hesitation in saying that the decision of the board was correct and according to law:

There was nothing unreasonable in the board having viewed the play as being offensive to the culture of this country in its broadest sense.

It was not proper, even in a democratic and pluralistic society as is Malta's, for the lows of human dignity to be exalted even on the pretext of showing how a couple could survive a storm.

One could not make extensive use of language which was vulgar, obscene and blasphemous and which exalted perversion and undermined the right to life. Neither could one undermine the dignity of women including the victims of the holocaust, reduce women to a simple object of sexual gratification, and ridicule the family.

A civil, democratic, and tolerant society could not allow its values to be turned upside down simply because there was freedom of expression.

The court said the board was right to view the play as exalting perversion as if it was acceptable behaviour. Bestiality, the stitching up of a vagina as an act of sexual pleasure and having a woman eat somebody else's excrement, rape and infanticide were unacceptable, even in a democratic society.

Furthermore, the fact that a person was allowed to blaspheme in public, even on stage, went against the law.

The court therefore found that there had been no violation of fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Constiuttion and the European Convention of Human Rights when the play was banned.

Appeal

Based on article from timesofmalta.com

The producers of the play Stitching have declared that they will appeal from a Court judgment which upheld a decision by the Stage and Film Classification Board to ban the production.

The ban had caused an uproar, sparking months of discussion. The play's producers, Unifaun, had claimed their freedom of expression was being denied but the court yesterday disagreed. They have said they would, if necessary, even take the case before the European Court.

An Affront to Freedom

Based on article from independent.com.mt

Malta's Front Against Censorship has lashed out at the court's decision to ban the play Stitching , saying that the play does not offend public morals because blasphemy and vulgar language are now part and parcel of adult plays.

The group argued that banning the play verges on the ludicrous, because people know beforehand what they are letting themselves in for before attending the play. In a statement, the group further criticised one of the court's decisions to ban the play because its plotline does not fit with attitudes and values typical of Maltese society. Since the play was classified as containing adult material, banning the play outright, when it has been performed in a host of other countries, is discriminatory and unacceptable, the group argued.

Front Against Censorship concluded by calling on a new legislation which would clear the air on what theatrical performances and works of art in Malta can and should be censored, and what should not.

 

1st July   

Update: Searching for Compromise...

Google close to clicking on a link out of China
Link Here  full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Google China logoGoogle has announced a new approach in its ongoing battle with China over censorship.

Until recently, the firm automatically redirected Chinese users to its unfiltered search site in Hong Kong to get round censorship issues.

Google has said it will now stop this after Beijing warned it could lose its licence to operate in the country. Instead, Chinese users will be sent to a landing page . Clicking anywhere on it sends them to the Hong Kong site.

Google said it was hopeful that this subtle change - where users have to actively click on a link to access unfiltered search results rather than being automatically redirected - would allow it to continue operating in China.

Chinese law demands that companies use web servers based in China.

However, BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones said there was no guarantee the Chinese authorities would accept the new arrangement.

Google announced the changes one day before its Internet Content Provider (ICP) licence - necessary to operate in the country - was due to expire.

 

1st July   

Censorship as Yet Undefined...

Peru considers increased media censorship in the name of pornography
Link Here

Peru flagA few days ago in Peru, the news broke of a bill that had been approved by the Justice Commission in Congress, proposing an amendment to section 183-B of the Penal Code, which sanctions the media publication of obscene and pornographic displays. As a result, the banners of Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech were raised by opponents.

The bill's main section says the following: shall be punished with deprivation of liberty of not less than two years nor more than six years, the Director, Editor or person responsible for publications or editions, transmitted through media such as newspapers, magazines, posters, panels, leaflets, radio, television or any other means of communication that produces a similar communication effect, who publicize images, messages or audio that is obscene or pornographic.

Those who are leading the opposition to this bill are the media and journalists, who were the most affected. Some bloggers, especially those who are journalists and are also linked to the media, have also argued against this bill. For example, in the blog Blawyer.org Miguel Morachimo who is against the project, publishes [es] a series of points he has identified as problems in the bill:

  1. The article does not define what is meant by obscene or pornographic.
  2. There is an identical item in the Law on Radio and Television.
  3. The rule is not aimed at protecting minors.
  4. The rule aims to be applied to any means of communication.
  5. The rule may be used as a tool of censorship.