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17th September   

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PCC censures Daily Star for glamourising suicide
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Daily Star cover The Press Complaints Commission has censured the Daily Sport for a gratuitous article that glamourised suicide after the tabloid published a Top yourself tourism list.

The Daily Sport published a list of the UK's top 10 suicide hotspots using information released by the British transport police that showed 25 people had died on one stretch of railway line over three years.

Choose Life, a government-backed education project working to reduce the numbers of suicides in Scotland, complained to the PCC that the piece had provided unnecessary detail which might encourage vulnerable people to visit the places shown and take their own lives and said the piece was highly irresponsible.

The PCC upheld the complaint and said it breached clause 5 its code of practice, introduced in 2006 following discussions with the Samaritans to try and reduce the risk of imitative suicide. It was the watchdog's second censure of a complaint under the new rules.

Clause 5 states that care should be taken to avoid excessive details about the method used when reporting suicides.

The PCC ruled that the article was simply a gratuitous guide to how and where individuals have killed themselves. It treated a serious subject in a light-hearted manner and may have glamorised suicide in the eyes of some readers.

 

17th September   

Playing Civics...

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

US games survey finds a broadly neutral effect on civic life
Link Here

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has just released the results of the first-ever US, publicly available look at youth and video games.

Teens, Video Games & Civics examines how and why games are played and details the relationship that gaming has to social and civic engagement among teens in the United States.

In gathering their data, Pew conducted phone interviews with 12-17-year olds along with a parent. The results of the 75-page report are a fascinating glimpse into how video games fit into the lives of teens. Major conclusions include:

  • Almost all teens play games
  • 90% of parents say they always or sometimes know what games their children play.
  • 72% say they always or sometimes check the ratings before their children are allowed to play a game.
  • Parents of teens who play games are generally neutral on the effect of games on their children, with nearly two-thirds believing that games have no impact one way or the other on their offspring.
  • 62% of parents of gamers say video games have no effect on their child one way or the other.
  • 19% of parents of gamers say video games have a positive influence on their child
  • 13% of parents of gamers say video games have a negative influence on their child.
  • 5% of parents of gamers say gaming has some negative influence/some positive influence, but it depends on the game.

Civic engagement was one of the main focal points of the study. Games, however, seemed to have a mostly neutral effect in this area, with much depending on the civic-mindedness of individual gamers:

 

31st August   

Classified as Censors...

South African law to force press to adhere to official information secrecy
Link Here

South Africa flag South Africa's ANC is determined to crack down on the disclosure of classified information before next year’s general election.

If the Protection of Information Bill is enacted, it would prevent the publication of stories that expose corruption in the government.

The bill stipulates sentences of up to five years in prison for anyone who receives, publishes or passes on classified information.

A reporter who found that a classified document had been pushed under his door by someone trying to expose corruption, would face prison if he did not immediately hand the document to the police.

Lawyers at a public hearing on the Protection of Information Bill told The Times that a law derived from the bill in its present form would probably have prevented the investigation of national police commissioner Jackie Selebi’s alleged links with crime bosses, the exposure of the discredited Browse Mole report on Jacob Zuma’s purported foreign funders and the Travelgate fraud by MPs who abused their travel privileges.

This is draconian stuff, said Dario Milo, a lawyer representing Avusa Media, owners of The Times and the Sunday Times: The bill allows for the massive invasion of political space.

Because it allows for over-classification, many of the public-interest stories we have seen recently would not have been possible under this legislation.

 

31st August   

Update: Graduated Censorship...

Newspaper censorship in Sudan
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan flag Sudan's security apparatus has seized copies of a local English-language newspaper, the latest episode in months of threats and seizures, its chief editor said.

William Ezekiel said copies of the Sudan Tribune were confiscated for the 17th time this month and that he had been summoned by national security forces: They want to punish us financially in order for the newspaper to die out, which is the worst punishmen .

He said the National Press Council sent a "final" written warning to the newspaper specifying that failure to comply with conditions would see the newspaper closed on September 1.

Ezekiel said the Press Council wants him, as chief editor, to be based in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, not Juba, in the semi-autonomous south. Ezekiel's newspaper opened an office in Juba earlier this year.

He also said the council wants the newspaper to replace its editorial board and submit a new list of names for approval, and that all those writing for the paper must have a graduate degree.

Update: Defying Censorship

8th September 2008

A south Sudanese newspaper editor said he would defy a suspension of his publishing licence by getting his daily printed outside the country.

Nhial Bol said he would import his paper, The Citizen, and distribute it himself in south Sudan, in a direct challenge to Khartoum's historic hold over the country's publishing industry.

Sudan's Khartoum-based media regulator, the National Press Council, suspended The Citizen's licence last week, effectively shutting it down until further notice.

 

30th August   

Update: Sick of Whingers...

Another episode of EastEnders winds up the complainers
Link Here  full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

Eastenders The BBC has defended violent scenes in EastEnders following complaints from viewers.

The episode saw the death of character Jase Dyer, played by Stephen Lord, with one viewer complaining that his wife was "physically sick" while his 13-year-old son was reduced to tears.

While we acknowledge that this was a particularly dramatic episode, we were very careful to make sure that any actual violence was implied rather than explicit, and it was made clear from the outset that Jase's life was in serious jeopardy,
said the BBC on its complaints website.

We do appreciate that some viewers found the images of Jase's dead body uncomfortable; however, in trying to fully convey Jay's loss and depth of emotion, we felt it was necessary for viewers to see what he was seeing.

EastEnders was also criticised by Ofcom for an episode in February featuring a gang attacking the Queen Vic pub, during which one of the characters went into labour.

The corporation published a response today following complaints from viewers that the episode "contained too much violence".

This was the climax of a long-running story involving Jase and his former 'firm', and we believe this was the outcome that many viewers would have been anticipating in the context of this storyline, the BBC said.

While issues of violence and knife crime may be in the news currently, they were not glamorised or glorified in any way within this episode. Rather, we saw the devastating consequences of such actions and the clear message was that crime does not pay.

Update: 130

31st August 2008

Around 130 people are reported to have complained.

 

30th August   

Update: Violent Kneejerk...

South Africa's Family Policy Institute petition for ban on all violent games
Link Here  full story: Slipknot Blame...Band blamed for South African school killing

Slipknot DVD South Africa's Independent Online reports on yet another attempt to link media violence to the real deal. It reports that Cape Town-based watchdog group the Family Policy Institute has petitioned South Africa's government to recall all music containing violent lyrics and all video games with violent content.

FPI spokesman Errol Naidoo made the request, expressing the group's concerns over potential negative influences on young people. The move comes in the wake of the samurai sword killing of a 16-year-old by a schoolmate who allegedly dressed himself like Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison.

Prefering not to wait for any type of inquiry, Naidoo requested the recall of the games and CDs pending the outcome of the investigation . From the Independent Online:

He said there was no guarantee that removing violent music and games would prevent violent behaviour, but that it would provide added peace of mind for families.

 

30th August   

Update: Malaysia Blocked Today...

Malaysian prosecutes bloggers and blocks news website
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flag This year has seen the government dealing with blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin (or RPK) for sedition, while there are ongoing investigations against blogger Sheih, also for sedition. Blogger Bakaq was taken in recently for questioning, also for alleged sedition. Aside from this, RPK faces a defamation action. As such, the stance of the government against blogger appears quite clear. Critics have called for less focus on alternative news, but rather greater accountability and transparency. They have also called for the abolition of the legal shackles on the mainstream media.

On a possibly related issue, bloggers have reported that RPK’s news portal, Malaysia Today, might have been blocked by authorities. Apparently, the news portal cannot be accessed through any TM connections. TM is run by Telekom Malaysia, Malaysia’s largest Internet service provider. Online news site Malaysiakini has confirmed in its report that RPK’s Malaysia Today has been blocked by the order of Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

Amidst uproar from Malaysian netizens, an announcement by the Energy, Water & Communications Minister, Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansur, has put a new kink in the plot. Datuk Shaziman was reported to have said that the government had not ordered the Malaysian Today website to be banned.

 

29th August   

Juicy Moosey...

Orangina's lap dancing animals wind up the nutters
Link Here

Oramgina advert Not since Joe Camel have animated characters so inflamed advocacy groups. A French television commercial (leave it to the French) touting Orangina leaves little to the imagination as anthropomorphized animals dance suggestively to the strains of a Latin beat.

Bikini-clad deer with heaving breasts, pole-dancing flamingos, lap-dancing octopi and a macho-looking bear in a golden thong are just some of the fanciful imagery used to promote the popular drink.

Orangina is a drink which is mainly aimed at children and young people, the director of children's charity Kidscape, Claude Knights, told the Independent. The almost sinister portrayal of animals in an animation style filled with sexual innuendo leads to very mixed and confused messages.

And it's not just children's groups that are outraged.
Equal-rights groups are also unhappy with misogynistic aspects of the ad where visually female critters are seen pandering to the carnal desires of their male counterparts.

The U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority received 147 complaints concerning the commercial. Orangina aired on British television during an episode of How to Look Good Naked.

 

29th August   

This Horrid Censorship Practice...

Subtle harassment of New Zealand book about Maori cannibalism
Link Here

This Horrid Practice book The physical burning of books now seems to belong to another, much less enlightened age, but not so the censorial urges that led to the practice. I have experienced this first-hand in the past few weeks since the release of my book This Horrid Practice, which explores traditional Maori cannibalism.

I recall a fellow academic approaching me when I started writing the book and warning me that I was putting my career in jeopardy by tackling this subject. At first, I dismissed the caution, but when others began making similar comments, I came around to the view that I would be risking my integrity as a historian by being bullied into silence.

Then the attacks came. First, there were the emails and often anonymous phone messages, accusing me of all sorts of sins for having researched and written about Maori cannibalism. This was followed by Rawiri Taonui, the lecturer from Canterbury University, suggesting I was demonising Maori and that my book was a return to Victorian values.

Margaret Mutu similarly condemned me and announced to the media that I did not understand the history of cannibalism, although she admitted to not having read even a single sentence of the book.

Then the Human Rights Commission dipped its toe into this acrid pool and considered the merits of a letter of complaint made about the book. The commission's response was to suggest I enter into mediation. Like Kafka's Josef K, I found myself being considered increasingly guilty, even though I do not know what I am meant to be guilty of. I politely refused the offer.

And here is where the book-burners come in. While the methods are far more subtle, their aim in this case to bar the sale and distribution of my book amounts to exactly the same thing: censorship based on ideology.

 

29th August   

Update: Googling for Dilemma...

Google required by Indian law to snitch on blogger and by US law not to
Link Here  full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Google logo A Bombay High Court orders Google's subsidiary to reveal identity of blogger after posting critical comments.

Reporters Without Borders secretary general Robert M้nard has written to Google about a defamation lawsuit that the Indian construction company Gremach brought against Google's Indian subsidiary, Google India Private Ltd.

As a result of the action, a Bombay high court ordered Google's subsidiary on 15 August to reveal the identity of a blogger who used the pseudonym "Toxic Writer" to post comment's criticising Gremach on Google's blogger platform

Indian law governing the use of personal data makes no provision for the parties concerned to oppose disclosure. As far as the Indian authorities are concerned, Google India Private Ltd is subject to local law and must name the person who posted the disputed content.

Under the Indian law concerning cyber-crime, IT Act 2000, a company is presumed responsible for the content posted on the websites it hosts unless it can demonstrate its innocence. Google has just two options - either prove that its local subsidiary was not aware of the offending content at the time it was posted, or that it was posted in violation of the warnings it had issued," Reporters Without Borders said: We urge Google's executives not to comply with the local law and to appeal against the court's decision.

M้nard's letter, dated 21 August, refers to the precedent of Chinese journalist Shi Tao and the US company Yahoo!, whose compliance with a Chinese government request in 2005 to identify one of its clients resulted in Shi being sentenced to 10 years in prison.

You must be aware of the ensuing public relations disaster for Yahoo! and the apology that your counterpart and rival, Jerry Yang, had to give to the US Congress after it held him responsible for his client's imprisonment, the letter says: Seize the opportunity you are being given to demonstrate transparency by defying the Indian court's request in the name of the international standards that protect free expression.

M้nard points out that the Global Online Freedom Act (GOFA) proposed by US representative Christopher Smith would protect US companies operating in foreign countries with authoritarian governments that could ask them to reveal their clients' personal data: The GOFA would require all such requests to be submitted to the US government, thereby extricating them from a delicate situation."

 

28th August   

Straw and Smith Should be Bound and Gagged...

Ben Westwood book expected to be banned as extreme pornography
Link Here

F**k Fashion book Ben Westwood, the photographer son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, is not happy with Jacqui Smith. Why?

He believes that a book he has compiled, provocatively titled Fuck Fashion , is going to fall foul of the Home Secretary's impending Criminal Justice and Immigration Act which outlaws anything which might be considered as "extreme pornography", of which there is plenty in young Ben's book.

The law comes into force in the New Year effectively making illegal any image that portrays a man or woman's life as being in danger in a sexual sense. According to the Independent, Westwood has been informed that, as a result of the ruling, his book, which deals with 'porno-chic' and bondage, will be banned from sale from January. Furthermore, anyone owning a copy of the tome could theoretically receive a three-year jail sentence.

Says Westwood: Jack Straw and the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith need to be bound up together and gagged. They are trying to dismantle our basic human rights. We cannot just sit here and take this. We cannot just lie back and watch this ludicrous Act slip in the back door.

Westwood is not going down without a fight. According to his agent, Lois Hillgrove, he has enlisted a number of the new great and the good, including the singer Gwen Stefani and the burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese, to help him do battle with the Home Office.

 

28th August   

Update: It's Only a Game...

Big Brother tiff winds up the complainers
Link Here

Big Brother 9 logo Channel 4 has received over 1,000 calls from viewers complaining about housemate Darnell Swallow's behaviour to fellow Big Brother female housemate Sara Folino.

Darnell called Sara "a slut" and "an ugly bastard "  and hurled other insults at her.

Chef Rex Newmark also joined in with the verbal insults towards Sara demanding to know how many men she had slept with.

Darnell has made no secret of his feelings for Sara, once admitting he was sexually frustrated and was getting a boner all the time. She appeared at times to be falling for him too and flirted with him, but never allowed it to develop into anything more serious. Darnell's behaviour towards her then started turning ugly after Sara admitted to fanciing Stuart.

Ofcom, the independent TV watchdog, confirmed they had separately received over 900 complaints about the scenes.

Channel Four confirmed both men had been officially warned about their conduct.

 

28th August   

Complicated Rules...

The German games censorship game
Link Here

Counter Strike game Germany's efforts to regulate the classification and sale of violent video games has brought a number of the country's authorities together to work on a set of legislation.

Legislation recently passed in Germany in July, for example, makes it easier to put such games on the banned list following the introduction of a rating index.

Games on Germany's banned list cannot be sold publicly. That includes any advertising and sales through mail order.

The decision to flag a game is made by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (BPjM). Since the July 1 revision of the Protection of Minors Act, the agency has been granted even more authority. That includes the authorization to list games that propagate vigilante justice as the only solution to a problem. The criteria have also been expanded for the automatic inclusion of specific games in the list.

A network of organizations decide on age classifications. Tthe age labeling system will be significantly broader in future. Some games are currently open to a general audience. The next levels are "6," "12," and "16." Any game assigned an "18" is banned for youths. There are also games that cannot be rated at all. Such titles require action by the BPjM frequently land on the index.

The labeling system is organized by the so-called Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) in Berlin, with support until now from the Association for the Promotion of Youths and Social Work. Two industrial associations assumed sponsorship from June 1: the German Association of Computer Game Developers (G.A.M.E.) and the German Association of Interactive Entertainment Software (BIU).

The USK functions as a service provider, commissioning a circle of independent experts. These observers first play the game, present their results to a five-person committee consisting of at least four of roughly 60 expert appraisers from the USK, including teachers and employees of the youth agencies. The committee is then completed by a permanent representative of the Supreme Youth Agencies of the states. The majority decides, but the permanent representative always has a veto right.

 

28th August   

No Fun in Kenya...

Arsey government threaten to eliminate porn
Link Here

Kenya flag In a public notice, the Kenya Film Censorship Board issued a two-week notice to all video and cinema operators who have not complied with the Films and Stage Act to do so.

The government warned that those involved in the sale, hire, exhibition and trafficking of pornographic materials in the country will be prosecuted. It is a criminal offense to display or to distribute sell, hire and exhibit pornographic materials or exhibit unclassified movies and posters.

The government will conduct regular spot-checks to restrict pornography and check on those premises that do no have valid licenses from the board.

It also discouraged members of the public from buying, hiring or viewing unclassified or pornographic videos and to  report any incidents of sale, hire, distribution or exhibition of pornographic materials to the Board or a police station.

 

28th August   

Offsite: Objectional Censorship Laws...

Australian censors explain their role
Link Here  full story: Fallout 3...World censors ban Fallout 3

Fallout 3 game Games website Kotaku posed a few questions to the Australian Classification Board and received a few useful replies of which this was one:

Kotaku AU: Regarding the use of drugs in computer games - could you elaborate on what specifically made its use in Fallout 3 too much for an MA15+ rating, and what was changed in the revised version to bring it in line?

Classification Board: The Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games (the Guidelines) provide that at the MA 15+ classification (the highest classification for computer games) drug use may be strong in impact and should be justified by context. The Guidelines also provide a general rule that material that contains drug use and sexual violence related to incentives or rewards is RC (Refused Classification).

Accordingly, computer games may include the depiction of drug use. However, if the use of drugs provides an incentive or reward the computer game must be RC. An incentive may be the ability to progress faster through the game. A reward may be a gain in points or access to a wider choice of weapons.

In regard to the computer game Fallout 3, the Board is of the opinion that the use of morphine in the game has the positive effect of enabling the character to ignore limb pain. This ability to progress through the game more easily is the incentive to take the drug while the reward is in the character's abilities.

The revised version of the game has been modified to remove the incentive and reward of progressing through the game more easily from the element of drug use. The revised version has fictional drugs depicted as stylised icons which will alter the physiological characteristics of the characters in the game.

In the decision of the Board, there is no incentive or reward to select drug use.

...Read full interview from kotaku.com.au

 

27th August   

Unrated Apple...

Apple Movie Store not yet subscribed to BBFC online ratings
Link Here

BBFC Online logo Apple's UK branch of its iTunes Movie Store has so far opted out of giving ratings to some of the movies for sale or rent on its website

cimota.com/blog lists 36 films, which have been given either a 15 or 18 rating by the BBFC, but no actual rating by Apple itself.

While this does not break any laws – online rating is not a legal requirement – it does bring up a moral and a social issue for the company.

The films found to have a lack of rating include: The Terminator, Child's Play, Robocop and Reservoir Dogs . All of these films are rated 18 by the BBFC.

Techradar contacted the BBFC about this, and a spokesperson said that Apple wasn't actually doing anything wrong: The BBFC Online is talking to Apple about using its classification system, but so far it has not signed up. The online rating system, however, is not a legal requirement.

The Apple Movie Store is an aggregator site, and these are a lot more complex to sort out classification for. What Apple seems to be doing is adding ratings to films that it knows the [BBFC] rating for, and not the rest.

An Apple spokesperson said: Apple uses its own rating system for all movies so if there are any missing, they will be rated as soon as possible. The understanding is that the BBFC doesn't yet have all the studios on board and we only want to use one ratings system.

 

27th August   

Rotten Apple...

Apple accused of arbitrary censorship as they ban comic from iTunes Store
Link Here

Murderdrome comic Apple has banned a digital comic called Murderdrome, from Infurious Comics, from its iTunes Store, to the consternation of the comic's creator and fans.

Comic creator Paul Jason Holden, in a blog post, explains that Apple's SDK for the iPhone and iPod Touch requires that content must not be offensive in Apple's reasonable opinion.

But as numerous comments on the Infurious Comics blog point out, there's no yardstick by which content creators can assess the offensiveness or acceptability of their work. Apple appears working with a definition of offensive that borrows from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's working definition of obscenity: I know it when I see it.

Compounding the issue is the apparent inconsistency of Apple's censorship. Many comments cite music and videos available through iTunes that are more offensive than Murderdrome.

The material - as pointed out by others - is clearly less contentious than television, movie and music content offered by Apple...so I can only assume the best-case scenario is a prejudice against the form itself, a post attributed to John Westgarth says.

Apple shouldn't turn its devices into gated Disney theme parks, where certain types just aren't welcome. Apple should stick to selling content creation and communication devices. Content creators don't need Apple to be the authoritative arbiter of artistic merit. Leave that job to the market.

 

27th August   

Tea Tree Gully Prudery...

Australians get all coy about nudes in art
Link Here

Naked torso An Adelaide council has banned nude works from its annual art competition adding fuel to the recent national controversy about art and censorship.

Adelaide's Tea Tree Gully Council said the works - a painting featuring a seated nude by Margaret Tuckey, and a sculpture of a female torso by Scot Eames - were too graphic.

The two artists said they were stunned by the council’s decision.

I unwrapped my work and they looked at it and told me it was inappropriate and they would not hang it in the exhibition, Ms Tuckeytold the community Messenger newspaper. They said that school children would be seeing the exhibition.

Eames said he was dumbfounded to be excluded and pointed out that school children could see nudes at the Art Gallery of South Australia. I said `you’ve got to be joking and the organiser said `if you’re both going to continue to protest, I’ll have to ask you to leave the premises,’ Eames told The Messenger.

Tea Tree Gully Mayor Miriam Smith said she supported the decision: Staff, rightly so, rejected the pieces based on their graphic nudity

She said she was not personally opposed to nude art ... when people go (to the exhibition) ...[BUT]... they don’t expect to be confronted with extremely graphic nude pieces of art work’.

 

26th August   

Update: MadCensorWorld...

SEGA is working with the BBFC to ensure certificate for MadWorld
Link Here  full story: MadWorld...Nutters rant against MadWorld video game

MadWorld screen SEGA has revealed that it is working closely with the BBFC and PEGI to make sure their up and coming Madworld game is actually acceptable for release.

Speaking about MadWorld and their relationship with the the UK’s BBFC and the EU PEGI, SEGA marketing guru David Corless said: Yes, it’s violent. We don’t try to hide that, but as publishers, we see it as a fantasy game - it’s fantasy violence. It’s over the top. It’s cartoony. We also take the violence very seriously. We are working with the age rating boards, with PEGI and with BBFC. We’re not at the end of the game’s development, but we’re working with them now to make sure that we don’t go over the top. The game has been banned in Germany; there’s no getting around that unfortunately. But we are taking it seriously and we’re going to make sure that this game is rated for the appropriate audience.

 

26th August   

People's Censors...

Thai political protesters shut down state TV channel
Link Here

Thai PBS TV logo Thailand's nationalist organisation, People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has entered the National Broadcasting Service of Thailand (NBT) television station, forcing it off the air.

The group reportedly entered the back entrance of the station in the early morning and forced all employees to leave as part of their plan to force the Samak Sundaravej government to resign.

The station briefly aired pictures of the protesters before broadcasting was cut.

Police later arrested a group of 80 protesters, who were reportedly armed with two pistols, knives, and golf clubs.

But PAD core leader Sondhi Limthongkul denied that the men were carrying weapons, saying the break in was done peacefully.

Other PAD protesters, meanwhile, invaded the Transport Ministry, Finance Ministry and Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives compounds. The road leading to Government House was also blocked, forcing the government to cancel its weekly meeting.

Local media reported Prime Minister Samak called an urgent meeting with Supreme Commander Boonsang Niampradit and chiefs of the armed forces.

Army chief Anupong Paochinda, meanwhile, insisted that the military will not overthrow the government to quell political unrest: The military will not stage a coup d'etat. The public must not panic and must carry on their daily lives. The army will not get involved in politics.

 

26th August   

Update: Closed-Minded Malaysians Relent...

Malaysia unbans Avril Lavigne concert
Link Here

Avril Lavigne Malaysian authorities have reversed their decision to cancel a concert by Canadian pop-rock star Avril Lavigne, days after they ruled that her show was unsuitable for local youths.

After discussions with organizers, we have agreed to allow the show to go on, a spokesman for the Arts, Culture and Heritage Ministry said.

Its minister Shafie Apdal had sparked criticisms of being "closed-minded" on Wednesday when he said Lavigne's show would be cancelled because it was unsuitable for Malaysian culture and could not be held on August 29, two days ahead of independence day and nearing the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

However, the ministry official said the decision has seen been reversed, but declined to give a specific reason.

The minister is showing our country to be a closed-minded, childish country that objects to anything different from our own culture, said Leow, a Lavigne fan who had purchased tickets for her concert weeks earlier: It's a relief that they've come to their senses now .

The youth wing of a hardline opposition Islamic group had earlier called for the show to be canceled, saying Lavigne's performances were too raunchy for youths. Malaysia requires all performers to wear clothes without obscene or drug-related images and to be covered from the chest to the knees. They must also refrain from jumping, shouting, hugging and kissing on stage.

 

26th August   

Update: Printer Power...

Printing delays mask newspaper censorship in Egypt
Link Here  full story: Press Freedom in Egypt...Press under duress in Egypt

Egypt flag The readers of Al Badeel newspaper were shocked by its absence in markets.

The Network was informed that Al Ahram printers had refused to complete printing the first edition that came out in evening, they also refused to print the second edition entirely.

The highlights of the censored Al Badeel on 19th of August, included:

  • Joyfulness in Pakistan following the President Resignation… Egyptian Politicians: Wishing the same for us.
  • Big Fire in al Shoura Council Building, reached the People’s Council”. This is what seems to have annoyed the security apparatus, particularly the suggestion of arson.
  • Report on the “Death Ferry” and Cancerous Pesticides.

The rejection to print Al Badeel also exposed the dishonesty of the government's denial of press censorship. The rejection of printing or delaying some of the publication has somehow become a common occurrence, particularly for government-criticizing newspapers – such as Addustour and Al Badeel

 

26th August   

Offsite: Moor Censorship...

Censoring provocative art is the worst advert for 2012 Olympics
Link Here

Myra Hindley in hand prints Unless you tell me it's withdrawn, I'm coming round to the academy and I'm going to stab the first person I see, was one of the threats received by the Royal Academy during the 1997 Sensation exhibition. The reason? Marcus Harvey's portrait of Myra Hindley, made from multiple copies of children's handprints.

Inevitably, the picture succumbed to vandalism and was removed from the show for repair, but the marks from the canvas remained on the wall, along with a plaque detailing the work. That void seemed to speak volumes about our relationship with contemporary art in this country.

Eleven years on, the picture has lost none of its power to shock - a fresh burst of outrage has followed a fleeting glimpse of the artwork in a Visit London video screened in Beijing to promote the 2012 Olympics. The picture appears in a montage of images highlighting London's thriving cultural scene.

...Read article from guardian.co.uk

 

25th August   

Update: YouTube Blocked...

YouTube still blocked in Turkey
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

YouTube logo Turkish ccess to YouTube banned in early May by a court decision for broadcasting videos deemed insulting to the nation's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatrk, was reinstated on Saturday night.

It may take up to 72 hours for all Internet users to be able to access the Web site as Turkey's Internet service providers reconfigure their systems to reflect the court's decision.

An estimated 1.5 million people from within Turkey had been visiting YouTube every day despite the ban by using several proxy server Web sites. China and Pakistan continue to impose similar bans. YouTube has been banned in Turkey five times since March 2007.

Bans on YouTube and other Web sites were criticized and strongly protested in Turkey. A campaign, launched by elmaaltshift.com to draw attention to and protest the bans, lasted for three days, ending on Aug. 20. Web sites participating in the campaign posted notices on their home pages reading Access to this Web site has been denied by the Web site's own decision, in imitation of what one sees upon trying to access a banned Web site.

Update: YouTube Blocked

30th August 2008

This is to confirm that YouTube is still blocked in Turkey as of 15:23 GMT on 27.08.2008. As I suspected local and worldwide news reports are wrong to report that a court order banning access to YouTube has been lifted. A dubious press release by the Telecommunications Authority (only in Turkish) confirmed this today as well as an interview with the head of the Telecommunications Communication Agency (only in Turkish).

 

25th August   

Nassau Nausea...

Florida county proposes blanket ban on selling porn
Link Here

Florida state seal Nassau County Commissioners are considering an ordinance banning the sale, but not the possession of, pornography within the northern Florida County.

At a meeting earlier this week, County Attorney David Hallman offered a draft ordinance for consideration by the board, despite reported concerns on his part, as well as that of Commissioners Mike Boyle and Barry Holloway, over potential legal challenges that could prove costly for the County.

Of all the loony ordinances we've seen lately, this one takes the cake, Lawrence Walters, an attorney representing the Adam & Eve store, told XBIZ. The County is attempting to create a new category of unprotected speech as a method of driving our client out of business.

According to Walters, if this ordinance is upheld, it would likely be passed by every local government that desires to eliminate adult bookstores from their jurisdiction.

Apparently, Nassau County believes that they are the first ones who thought about outlawing commercial pornography as a means of eliminating adult businesses, Walters said. Unfortunately for the County, the First Amendment poses a significant hurdle for their efforts.

The proposed ban defines pornography along the lines of the Miller Test, as described or depicted sexual conduct that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that, taken as a whole, appeals to a prurient interest, and that the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

 

24th August   

Nazi Censors...

Swedish Olympic TV joke attracts complaints
Link Here

Englamd footballers do Nazi salute A television show focusing on the Olympic Games has been reported to the Swedish Broadcasting Commission for allegedly making offensive comments regarding Germany's Nazi history on live television.

Presenter Rickard Olsson made a joke on live TV about Germans and Nazis when referring to the German women's football team's loss against the Brazilians in the Olympic semi-final. There is something about Hitler and Germany that somehow makes it difficult to feel sorry for them when they get slaughtered at football. You just think, Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Hitler", said Olsson on his live chat show Olssons studio .

The Swedish Broadcasting Commission (SBC) has received eight official complaints about the presenter's outburst.

The SBC is a national authority that oversees radio and television broadcasts and determines whether a broadcast complies with the provisions of the Radio and Television Act and the licenses granted by the government.

 

24th August   

Denigrating Indians...

India's TV censors have a go at MTV
Link Here

I&B logo India's moral guardians appear to have lost patience with three of the country's most popular television channels, accusing them of violating strict broadcasting guidelines and prompting a national debate over censorship and how far the country is prepared to let standards change.

The networks' crimes were diverse; MTV India was hit with what is known as a 'show cause' notice for allegedly denigrating women in its reality show Splitsvilla , while news channel IBN-7 was accused of encouraging superstition by reporting that the gods Lord Ram and Hanuman had appeared in a ball of fire in Malaysia. Meanwhile, Headlines Today , another news channel, raised hackles for celebrating the 62nd anniversary of the invention of the bikini in a report branded objectionable and indecent.

All three have been given 15 days by the government's Information and Broadcasting Ministry to justify their actions. If their explanations are not accepted, they could be taken off the air or forced to run grovelling apologies on screen.

Opponents of censorship are bewildered by the arbitrary nature of the bans. Praful Bidwai, a political commentator and human rights activist, said the Indian state was naturally prone to censorship: Their motto is, if in doubt, ban it. It is outrageous in some respects, but the bureaucracy is so bloody-minded. There is a lot of prudery and hypocrisy in this society. Until a few years ago even a kiss was banned in Indian films, and there was a commission of inquiry to decide whether kissing was part of Indian culture.


MTV's Splitsvilla show was certainly never going to win any prizes for good taste. The publicity shot for the show features two bare-chested hunks, bound in thick ropes and surrounded by a gaggle of nubile young women in various states of undress. One appears to be brandishing a riding crop. Every week the women do battle for the attentions of the men, strategically deploying whatever assets nature has bestowed on them as they seek to gain the upper hand, whether that means belly dancing or giving the men a rub down in the hot tub.

 

24th August   

No Quickie in the Philippines...

Film censors object to the title "quickie"
Link Here

Philippines film cesor logo The Philippines censor, The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), suggested to director Cris Pablo that he change the title of his new film Quickie to a less suggestive and more acceptable one.

Pablo then thought of Quicktrip , which the MTRCB immediately approved.

Young Critics Circle member Nonoy Lauzon, a programmer at the UP Film Institute Cine Adarna, pointed out that the change was to warrant an R-18 rating for the movie.

According to Lauzon, the MTRCB also suggested that the production team change the look of the poster.

 

24th August   

Radio Silence...

Venezuela sends in troops to close 2 radio stations
Link Here

Venezuela flag Military personnel and officials from the Venezuelan  National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) shut down two radio stations in the central Guแrico province.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned that the stations appear to have been singled out and subjected to disproportionate enforcement.

At least 20 members of the Venezuelan army raided and then sealed the offices of local radio stations Rumbera Network 101.5 FM and Llanera 91.3 FM in San Juan de los Morros. The soldiers were accompanying Conatel officials who ordered the closure of the two stations and the seizure of their equipmen.

In a statement Conatel said it took action against the two stations because they were operating illegally. Peter Taffin, president of Rumbera Network, and Alex Velแsquez, director of Llanera 91.3 FM, told local reporters that the radio stations had been operating without proper licensing but were in the process of obtaining the necessary permits.

Hundreds of radio stations are similarly operating illegally in Venezuela but are typically allowed to continue broadcasting as they seek licenses.

Guแrico Governor Eduardo Manuitt, who has recently been involved in a public political feud with President Hugo Chแvez, told the Venezuelan press that he believes the radio stations had been shut down in retaliation for their criticism of former Information Minister Willian Lara, who is running for governor.

 

23rd August   

Ofcom Traffic Wardens...

ITV boss has a a go at Ofcom
Link Here

ITV logo Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, has been accused of demanding programmes that are only of interest to niche, marginal and worthy audiences in a stinging rebuke delivered by the head of ITV television.

Peter Fincham, the former controller of BBC1 and one of the most respected figures in British television, mocked the regulator by comparing it to an interfering traffic warden who wanted to get behind the steering wheel. You wouldn't ask your traffic warden to give you advice on what sort of car to buy, still less how to drive it, he said.

In an attack delivered as part of the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Fincham said Ofcom's attempts to define the type of shows that constitute public service broadcasting had resulted only in the deathless language of the committee... rinsed of all life and passion.

Michael Grade, the ITV executive chairman, has claimed that the broadcaster is being hamstrung by a nanny state , and that Ofcom and the Government need to understand very, very quickly that we cannot afford to pay more than the licence fee is worth.

ITV currently pays ฃ220m a year for its broadcasting licence and is lobbying hard to reduce its obligations to make certain "public service" shows in genres that deliver small audiences.

 

23rd August   

Listings Ban...

T-shirt seller can continue to list US war casualties
Link Here

Bush Lied t-shirts A federal judge has permanently barred Arizona from using a state law to prosecute an online merchant who sells shirts that list names of thousands of troops killed in Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Neil Wake did not strike down the 2007 law against selling products that use of military casualties’ names without families’ permission. But he ruled that using the law to prosecute Dan Frazier would violate the man’s First Amendment rights because his Bush Lied - They Died shirts are core political speech.

It is impossible to separate the political from the commercial aspects of that display, Wake wrote: For example, the state argues that Frazier can sell his shirts without displaying the soldiers’ names. But Frazier’s product is his message, and his customers’ message.

A spokeswoman for Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said Goddard’s office was reviewing the ruling and did not immediately know whether it would appeal.

Arizona’s law was enacted with little debate by the Legislature, and Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas have enacted similar laws.

The ACLU is also defending Frazier in a pending lawsuit filed against him in federal court in Tennessee by a couple whose soldier son was killed in Iraq. Robin and Michael Read of Greeneville, Tennessee, have asked that their case be expanded to cover more than 4,000 casualties and seek more than $40 billion in damages.

 

23rd August   

A Longer Flute...

Cuts waived to the Silent Flute
Link Here

Silent Flute DVD Silent Flute is  1978 US martial arts film by Richard Moore (Orbit Media)

Cuts waived when passed uncut in 2008 complete with a 15 certificate

Previously the Missing in Action release of 1988 was cut by 51s with an 18 certificate

From IMDb :

UK cinema and 1988 video versions were cut by 51 secs by the BBFC to remove footage of fighting staff, a throwing star and a shot of a cow receiving a karate blow to its neck.

Review from IMDb : Engrossing

"Circle of Iron" is a movie that looks beyond the action of martial arts into the mystique and philosophy associated with it. It was originally intended to be made by Bruce Lee, but he died before it could be brought to the screen, so David Carradine steps in to fill the role.

How well the movie accomplishes it's goal depends on how seriously you take eastern philosophies. It's all too easy to watch a few minutes of it and dismiss it as some weird barbarian movie with lots of karate. It is decidedly low budget.

However, if you watch the movie and *listen* to what it's trying to tell, it's extremely engrossing, as it addresses questions and concepts that all of us wonder about at some time or another.

The man making the journey in this movie, "Cord," is acceptable, if a rather generic role. David Carradine plays several roles, but his most striking is that of an eerie blind man who fights off his opponents with a hollow staff that whistles as he twirls it.

 

23rd August   

Update: Tiger Economy Dogged by Repression...

Malaysia blogger done for photoshopping police emblem
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flag Malaysian bloggers were up in arms again when blogger Bakaq aka ‘Penarik Beca’ was detained for sedition recently. Bakaq, whose real name is Abdul Rashi Abu Bakar, was detained (and since released) for defacing the Royal Malaysian Police crest by allegedly substituting the tiger in the emblem with a dog.

According to newspaper reports, the 50-year old was taken from his home by four plainclothes policemen, who had also seized the blogger’s laptop and mobile phone.

It was reported that Bakaq was arrested under the Sedition Act 1948, which states: 4. (1) Any person who… (c) prints, publishes, sells, offers for sale, distributes or reproduces any seditious publication…shall be guilty of an offence.

Bakaq’s seditious publication also included alleged derogatory remarks by him on his blog about Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan. It was reported that Bakaq had claimed that Musa was controlled by Chinese crime syndicates.

A joint press statement by Malaysian’s National Alliance of Bloggers and the Centre for Policy Initiatives was released on the same day of Bakaq’s detention condemning the move. Bloggers were riled, and some began a Free Bakaq online movement.

Bakaq was reported to have been released the following day, and is required to report in person to the Federal Commercial Crimes Investigation Department on August 20th 2008. Although he had apologised for replacing the tiger in the police logo with a barking dog, Bakaq was reported to have said, I defended and still defend what I wrote.

 

23rd August   

Tunisia Disturbed by Enraged Bloggers...

Tunisia adds to their ever increasing list of banned bloggers
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Tunisia...Blogs and websites banned in Tunisia

Tunisia flag Three more blogs have been blocked in Tunisia this week. These blogs, Mochagheb (Disturber) and Ennaqed (The Critic) and Place Mohamed Ali have all been particularly active in providing news of the struggle of The Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), and especially about the latest social unrest in the southwestern phosphate mining region of Gafsa, where two people have been killed. One was shot dead by security forces and the other was electrocuted inside a local electric generator.

This is a non-comprehensive list of blocked blogs in Tunisia. Please keep in mind that the list does not include blocked websites:

1. Citizen Zouari, blog of Tunisian journalist and former political prisoner, Abdallah Zouari.
2. The Free Pen the blog of Tunisian journalist and former political prisoner, Slim Boukhdhir. In July 2007, this blog was also hacked and deleted.
3. ?Mokhtar Yahyaoui?, blog of a former Tunisian judge who was dismissed after publishing an open letter to President Ben Ali criticising the lack of independence of the judiciary.
4. Tunisia Watch, this blog is also run by Mokhtar Yahyaoui?.
5. Astrubal
6. [fikra] blog of Tunisian activist and political refugee Sami Ben Gharbia.
7. Nawaat, popular group blog about news, politics, cyber-activism and Islamic reform.
8. Radyoun, the podcasting Tunisian blog.
9. Moaz Jmai. (this blog has been blocked in Tunisia where I’m writing this post)
10. Place Mohamed Ali (this blog has been blocked in Tunisia where I’m writing this post)
11. Sofiane Chourabi.
12. Nader.
13. Free Race.
14. Samsoum .
15. Tunisian Citizen.
16. For Gafsa.
17. Mochagheb.
18. Annaqued.
19. Zabbaleh.
20. Adam.
21. Moumni.
22. Free Word.

Update: Arrested

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

Tunisian blogger and former political prisoner Abdallah Zouari has been arrested yesterday, 15 September 2009 by plainclothes agents in the southern city of Zarzis.

During the 8 hours of arrest, blogger Abdallah Zouari was asked to disclose the passwords of his email accounts and interrogated about his most recent report published the day before on the banned Tunisnews website.

 

22nd August   

Censorial Twats...

Prude objects to the word 'twat' in a children's book
Link Here  full story: Age Ratings for Books...Publishers propsose age ratings for books

My Sister Jodie A housewife has taken on one of Britain's best-selling children's authors and a leading publishing house to censor the word 'twat'.

Random House Children's Books has agreed to remove 'twat' from a popular book by Dame Jacqueline Wilson, after complaints from Anne Dixon, who insists she is standing up for values of common decency.

She claimed she was 'horrified' when she came across the expletive in the best-selling book My Sister Jodie - a gift for her nine-year-old great-niece.

She complained to Asda, in Stanley, County Durham, where she bought the book, and the store initially removed it from sale.

Now the publishers said they will – by altering one letter – substitute the word with “twit” when the book is reprinted.

On the publisher's website, My Sister Jodie is recommended for children aged from nine to 11.

Mrs Dixon said: I am not a prude. In fact, I am quite broad-minded, ...BUT... this is completely inappropriate for children. 

The book has an attractive cover and is clearly for children. They should not have to be subjected to trash and vulgarity. I did not expect this from a well-respected author and do not want my young niece to have to see this obscene slang.


I got to the page where reference was made to a 'toffeenosed twit'. On the next page the word changed. I thought I was mistaken, but then I saw to my shock it had been repeated twice again.

A spokesman for Random House Children's Books said: In the context of the character, we felt it was used in a way that accurately portrayed how children like Jodie would speak to each other. The term had been included "on purpose" because it was uttered by "a nasty character".

The book is aimed at children aged ten and over, and we felt it was acceptable for that age range. However, in light of this response we have decided to amend the word when we reprint the book.

A spokesman for Asda said: "Since the book was launched in March this year, we have sold over 28,000 copies and this is the first complaint we have had. The spokesman said that Asda had reviewed the matter and would continue stocking My Sister Jodie in all its UK outlets.

Comment: (Hate) Mail

From David

Driven, as usual, by one person's determination to dictate to everyone else for the sake of the children and supported, as usual, by the (Hate) Mail

Random House: The book is aimed at children aged ten and over, and we felt it was acceptable for that age range. However, in light of this response we have decided to amend the word when we reprint the book.

Asda: Since the book was launched in March this year, we have sold over 28,000 copies and this is the first complaint we have had.

So the publishers thought it was appropriate, Asda alone have sold over 23,000 copies since March so I would guess the total sales must be at least near the half-million mark, there has only been one complaint and so they're going to the expense of changing the book?

I'd have told the twat to fuck off and get a life if this had been about one of my books....

 

22nd August   

Lawyers More Easily Offended than the Easily Offended...

Censored: Imam of Dibley is banned from ITV
Link Here

Katy Brand DVD Have you heard the one about the Islamic comedy sketch that ITV ordered its latest star to remove? Katy Brand was the victim of humourless lawyers who instructed her to delete a harmless-sounding spoof called The Iman of Dibley.

It was not intended to be offensive, says the comedian, whose Katy Brand’s Big Ass Show returns on ITV2. A new iman arrives in a sleepy parish and the comedy arrives from the misunderstandings that causes. But the lawyers said it might be culturally insensitive.

It’s no laughing matter, argues Brand: The vast majority of Muslims are able to have a laugh at themselves just like everyone else. Why should they be excluded from comedy? It’s funny that ITV had no problem with a new sketch about a pregnant Jesus’s girlfriend who has to deal with dating the Son of God.

Rowan Atkinson has expressed similar concerns about comedy censorship. But Brand is particularly peeved to lose her Iman of Dibley : I really liked the outfit.

 

22nd August   

Update: Harry Potter and the Disputed Age Ratings...

Children's books to be age rated from the autumn
Link Here  full story: Age Ratings for Books...Publishers propsose age ratings for books

Harry Potter book, adult edition From this autumn, a number of publishing houses will "age band" their children's books.

Each book will carry a specific marking indicating they are suitable for readers aged 5+, 7+, 9+, 11+ and 13+/teen.

Books will also carry a recommendation for where they should be placed in book shops or libraries.

Research within the book industry suggests people buying books for children would welcome the guidance.

But it is a scheme which has already enraged a number of writers, among them former children's laureate Michael Morpurgo: There's no such thing as an average seven-year-old. They could be four or 10, or like me, 65 - it's just nonsense. If you say a book is for a seven-year-old, the nine-year-old is going to be trying to cover it up at the back of the class.

The scheme followed research by the Publishers' Association, which suggested standardising age recommendations might help boost reading.

The interesting thing about children's books is that it's not the readers who are buying them - it is parents and grandparents and libraries and schools, said Sarah Grady, the children and education programme director for the Edinburgh International Book Festival: I think that's what the publishers were trying to address. As a reader, you drop a book if you don't like it so children will self censor, but it's knowing what to buy them in the first place.

JK Rowling's publisher Bloomsbury and about eight other major publishers have said they would not take part in the scheme. The rest of the industry - including Puffin, Orion and MacMillan - are in favour of age banding unless individual authors object.

And writers have been vocal in their criticism - more than 750 authors have already signed an online petition set up by Philip Pullman, best selling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy. They include JK Rowling, Anthony Horowitz, Terry Pratchett, Alan Garner and the four writers who have held the Children's Laureate title - Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen.

 

22nd August   

Update: Self Blocked Bloggers...

Turkish bloggers block their own sites to protest against website censorship by the courts
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Self Blocked banner The Turkish blogosphere suffers from an ongoing ban on Wordpress….and periodic bans on YouTube, and on the social-networking widget site Slide, oh..and now on Dailymotion as well.

Turkish bloggers are protesting the constant banning of sites by voluntarily banning their own.

They are putting the following up on their website: Bu siteye erisim kendi karariyla engellenmistir which translates roughly into This site is blocked by [the author's] own choice .

Several Turkish media sites are covering the protests and providing links to forum groups and Facebook sites.

Techcrunch gives a history of the block as they have observed it: The problem has gotten so bad that Turkish blogs are now banning themselves in protest. The fake bans started with Firat Yildiz, who put this message up on his blog[...]Then another Turkish blogger, Selim Yoruk, created this page with a piece of code that lets any blogger easily add the same message to his homepage. Nearly 200 Turkish blogs have (temporarily) shut themselves down in this manner. The point is to show Turkish Web surfers what the Internet would look like if the censorship continues unabated.

It is too early to predict if the protest will have any effect.

 

21st August   

The Stalker...

Australian Jim Beam advert jokes about stalking
Link Here

The Stalker advert screen shot An Australian TV commercial which makes a joke of stalking could be pulled off our screens after complaints it would cause anguish for real victims of the crime.

In the Jim Beam ad The Stalker , which is shown on Fox Sports and free-to-air TV, an attractive woman talks about stalking a man she broke up with two years earlier.

A restraining order is just a piece of paper, she says before revealing she wears a disguise when she follows him.

Another Jim Beam commercial The Neighbours - in which two naked Swedish girls encourage people to undress as they are spied on by a neighbour - and its associated website have also been removed.

Victims of Crime Assistance League executive director Robyn Cotterell-Jones said the ad trivialised a form of violence: Stalking is a frightening tactic and has ended in murder. There is nothing amusing or enticing to those who are its victims, who suffer its tragic consequences for the rest of their lives.

Jim Beam Global Spirits and Wine marketing director James Sykes said the tongue-in-cheek ads were designed to appeal to the Aussie sense of humour.

The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code states that advertisements must be mature, responsible and not promote offensive behaviour. The Advertising Standards Bureau confirmed it had received complaints about both ads and its board would decide when it met next month whether they should be taken off air.

 

21st August   

Comment: Slipshod Slipknot Blame...

Unmasking the Slipknot blame
Link Here  full story: Slipknot Blame...Band blamed for South African school killing

Slipknot DVD So now Slipknot are responsible for knife crime.

Not the most obvious of choices, but The Dark Knights been shown for a few weeks now (and society for 12 year olds still hasn't crumbled) and we still don't have a Gotham related fatality, so better find another scapegoat, and here it is SLIPKNOT.

Gotta be honest, I've never seen the initial thrill of this band, but hey, that's just me. What really got me was the fact that the killer in question was wearing a mask like 'Knot drummer Joey jordison, ok, suppose that could be a similarity. Or if you dig just a smidgen deeper (in my case a little poke around some very bog standard Slipknot fansites), you will find out that Jordison's mask is in fact based on the mask used by the character Eric Draven from The Crow , WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICH!!!!!!!!!!!!! in turn is based on a very basic porcelain mask used by artists, and board treading Thespians of old. You can buy these masks in art supply stores the world over, and if bright sparkly things are your bag, you can buy an even cheaper plastic version of said mask that comes with felt pens, so you can be all pretty like.

KNIVES DON'T KILL PEOPLE, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOW MANY MORE TIMES.

 

21st August   

Psycho Censors...

TV version of Psycho more complete than film and DVDs
Link Here

Psycho DVD Psycho is the classic 1960 US thriller by Alfred Hitchcock (Universal)

Video releases of 1986, 1999 & 203 long with the 1998 cinema release were all untouched by the BBFC.

However from on article at movie-censorship.com it seems that TV versions shown on BBC and German RTL are more complete than worldwide cinema/DVD releases

In particular the extra footage:

  • Norman Bates monitors Marion through the hole a bit longer. She takes off her bra, followed by another shot of Normans face in a close up. After that, we see Marion again, taking the bra off completely. [still preserving her modesty though]
  • After Norman Bates has carried Marion's body out of the bathroom, the shot of him looking at his bloody hands is a bit longer. His bloodied hands make another re-appearance before he washes them in the bathroom

 

21st August   

Update: Sanctions and Enforcement...

Malaysia considers a new body to further censor blogs
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flag It has been a tumultuous time for blogging and online expression in Malaysia. With the ongoing court cases with blogger and online news portal editor, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, as well as the detention of Malay language blogger, Abdul Bakar aka ‘Penarik Beca’, it is with little surprise that it has been reported that Malaysian foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, called for the creation of a council or other form of mechanism to monitor bloggers.

News reports stated that Dr Rais Yatim believed that Malaysia has sufficient sanctions under the Sedition Act 1948, but he believed that there might be insufficient enforcement under the Act. Because of this, Dr Rais was said to opine that establishing a council would assist in both sanctions and enforcement.

 

21st August   

Offsite: Advertising Nutter Sensitivity...

Provocative Commercials Get Pulled...Unless They're About Catholics
Link Here

Deli Kissy label More and more, says a spokesman for the Catholic League, ads are designed to insult Catholics — a group she said comprises a safe target for bigotry.

Corporations often want to push social agendas in their advertising, but mostly they want to sell products, said Susan Fani, director of communication for the Catholic League.: If making social or political points is going to hurt product sales, it gets their attention pretty fast. Ultimately, the bottom line is what matters — and that’s why it’s important to speak out regarding offensive advertising.

Those who claim to be tolerant above all else seem to be intolerant of Catholicism. That may be because the Church takes strong moral stands regarding sexuality, and this society wants a more lenient approach to sexuality. The Church represents opposition to much of what commerce wants to promote.

...Read full article

 

20th August   

Slipshod Blame...

South African murdered blamed on mask wearing heavy metal band
Link Here  full story: Slipknot Blame...Band blamed for South African school killing

Slipknot DVD A heavy metal band due to perform in Britain has been blamed for an horrific school killing.

Slipknot, who play the Reading and Leeds festivals this weekend and are expected to announce a UK tour, are said to have inspired a teenager to stab a fellow pupil to death with a samurai sword.

The unnamed boy walked into his school in Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday morning and fatally knifed the 16-year-old in the neck.

The boy wore a mask similar to that sported by Slipknot’s drummer Joey Jordison while carrying out the attack He then stabbed another boy and two gardeners.

Pierre Eksteen, who is in charge of the school’s support network, said: We know the wrong kind of music and drugs have bad effects. Young people need to be informed of the effects of bad satanic music.

 

20th August   

The Best Goddamn Tour...

Malaysia bans Avril Lavigne concert
Link Here

Avril Lavigne Malaysia has cancelled a Kuala Lumpur concert by Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne with just one week's notice, saying her act would not instill good culture in the youth, a minister said.

The timing of the concert, two days before the country's independence day and just ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, was claimed to be a chief reason for the cancellation by Shafie Apdal, minister of unity, culture, arts and heritage.

Shafie said Lavigne's act would be unsuitable alongside local cultural performances during the National Day celebrations.

Concert organizers insisted over the weekend that the show would go on, in spite of calls by certain groups to cancel the performance.

Earlier this month, the youth wing of Malaysia's hardline opposition Islamic party demanded Lavigne's concert be banned.

 

20th August   

The Advent of New Media...

Singapore to lighten up on censorship...maybe
Link Here

Singapore flag Singaporeans are abuzz yet cautious about government pledges to ease restrictions on free speech and public assembly in the city state.

Writers, filmmakers, activists, and politicians are either expressing optimism or warning against too much of it, after the country's prime minister promised to allow more issues to be ventilated in the notoriously restrictive political environment of Singapore -- subject to certain "ideals" of factuality and nonpartisanship.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, acknowledging the advent of new media, announced during the National Day Rally on August 17 that the government will ease the ban on political videos and outdoor public demonstrations, media reports said.

An outright ban is no longer sensible, he said. At the same time, he noted that such relaxation of restrictions will still be guided by what he called safeguards. I think some things should still be off limits... (for instance) if you made a political commercial so that it's purely made-up material, partisan stuff, footage distorted to create a slanted impression .

The Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society, led by former "Singapore Press Holdings" editor-in-chief Cheong Yip Seng, will present its recommendations on these issues later this month.

The Straits Times reported the prime minister as saying that political films will be dealt with in ways similar to non-political films, with censorship and film classification standards, with a panel to decide whether or not a political film would pass.

Singaporean film makers expressed mixed feelings with this development. This is by far the most obvious relaxation of political space in Singapore in the past 20 years. It will lessen the climate of fear, according to film maker Martyn See who had two of his films banned in recent years.

 

20th August   

Don't Mess with Arab Censors...

Adam Sandler comedy banned in the Middle East
Link Here

You Don't Mess with Zohan DVD Arab audiences won't be seeing Adam Sandler's comedy about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as You Don't Mess With The Zohan is being blocked by regional film censors. The film has been banned in Egypt, Lebanon and the UAE.

Sandler plays a former Mossad agent who escapes to New York and ends up working in a Palestinian-American woman's hair salon,

It is 99% likely that the film will be banned in all Arab countries, says Bassam Eid of the film's distributor.

Zohan has already been released in Israel where it has been one of the year's biggest hits bringing in over 200,000 admissions. There wasn't any controversy over the subject matter, says distributor Amnon Matalon: Israelis like to laugh at themselves.

Morgan Spurlock's documentary Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? has also been banned in the UAE. It will surely have a very hard time in the rest of the Middle East too.

 

20th August   

Update: Kuwait Values Repression...

Kuwait set to finalise bill to censor the internet
Link Here

Kuwait flag After months of planning, Kuwait's Public Prosecutors Office (PPO) is set to finalize a bill that will punish "Internet offenders" in the country.

It seems that constitutional freedoms no longer extend to Kuwait's large (and still growing) population of bloggers. Prosecutor General Hamed Al-Othman said that the bill will criminalize the promotion of immoral conduct, encouraging anti-government sentiments, divulging state secrets, or insulting Islam online. Penalties for breaking the law could involve a 1-year prison sentence (7-years if the insulted party is a minor) and monetary fines.

Speaking of what this new law means for the future of free expression in Kuwait, one blogger told APN this law means two words: shut up. The blogger also noted that most of the Kuwait blogging community is opposing the looming law. This law is a way to control what bloggers publish online; the government wants to know 'who is this blogger?' They want us to shut up so they are free to do anything they want. They can't handle the truth.

The blogger provided a list of tips on their website to help other bloggers stay out of trouble when the new Internet law takes effect. Among the tips is remove the times from comments and leave only dates. As the blogger explains to APN: if I put a comment at 2:03:09 a.m., the government can call all ISP's here in Kuwait and ask for all IP's running at that time. This is more of a safety tip for the commenter than for the blogger. A scheduled publishing system is a way to protect the blogger. For example, if at 8:00 p.m. I am at the cinema and I have a ticket and at 8:10 p.m. Blogger.com publishes my post, nobody can prove that I published the post.

Other tips for bloggers include using symbols or codes to refer to taboo public figures rather than their real names.

 

19th August   

Beyer Addicted to Bollox...

Noel Gallagher, a lively oasis in the land of nutter inspired sterility
Link Here

Gallaghers poster At 9am during the school holidays, Noel Gallagher had a guaranteed audience of youngsters.

They heard the Oasis star boast about his drug-taking habits, and add that he was still drunk from the night before.

Gallagher slurred his way through a 15-minute interview on Chris Moyles's Radio 1 breakfast show, confessing that he had managed only two hours' sleep. He went on to claim that he had taken drugs for more than 18 years.

The BBC was criticised by the usual nutters for failing to take Gallagher off the show.

MediaWatch's John Beyer said: It's not appropriate for that time in the morning for a man to be in that state of mind or behaviour. The BBC should have been aware of his state and asked him to come back when he was sober.

He is a role model that has a responsibility to youngsters and it doesn't set a good example - but I think the real fault lies with the BBC and the DJ who should have made the decision that he was not capable of being on air. He is belittling the effects of drugs and that is irresponsible.


A BBC spokesman said: Noel Gallagher was very clearly briefed in advance and monitored during the live interview this morning. We have not received any complaints. As ever Noel was a lively and opinionated guest. Of course Radio One does not condone drug abuse and if we felt our guest was drunk we would not put him on air.

 

19th August   

Comment: A Dangerous Game to Play...

Thai response to taxi driver murder rated K for knee jerk
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game Polwat Chinno killed taxi driver Kuan Pohkang with his bare fists and knives in a grisly 2am plan to steal the hard-earned money of his victim. The media descended on this story of bloody murder when the killer confessed, but pleaded that a video game made him do it. Authorities took him at his word, issued a hasty ban on exactly 10 games and vaguely promised new restrictions further down the line. Far from showing concern, this reaction emphasised the huge gap between the real technology revolution and what the country's leaders appear to know about it.

First of all, it is most troubling that authorities and the media latched on so quickly and conveniently to the alibi of a confessed, vicious killer.

They were far too quick to accept the word of Mr Polwat. He is an adult who told police he planned and carried out a reprehensible killing for a small amount of money. His claim that the video game Grand Theft Auto made him commit the crime sounds more like a novel legal defence than a credible motive. Tens of millions of people around the world play that game - tens of thousands in Bangkok.

Early evening on any given day, the top floors of the city's many shopping malls are filled with youths playing a myriad of computer games - many of them violent.

An earlier ban on this particular violent game would not have saved the murdered driver. More to the point, there is no evidence or reason to believe the ban will save any lives in the future.

The Public Health Ministry quickly assembled a list of Top 10 Violent Games - not by research or reason, but by a quick Googling in which bureaucrats accepted the first hit, an obscure list from a local US politician trying successfully to get his name in the newspapers and his face on the TV news in an election cycle.

Such a ban is also self-defeating, since new games come on the market regularly. In any case, a police ban is only another business hitch to the video pirates and shop owners involved in underground distribution.

 

19th August   

Update: China win Gold in the Propaganda Event...

Government edict to ensure positive Olympic coverage for the Chinese
Link Here

Olympic handcuffs Beijing's propaganda mandarins have issued a 21-point edict on Olympic coverage for Chinese media that goes some way to explaining the different perception of the games within and without China.

The directive includes a detailed list of dos and don'ts for journalists. According to a translation of the document in the Sydney Morning Herald, journalists are instructed to follow the official line on all matters relating to international affairs. They are warned not to conduct interviews about the US election, the Doha world trade negotiations or China's relations with Sudan, Iran and Zimbabwe.

Follow the official propaganda line on the North Korean nuclear issue; be objective when it comes to the Middle East issue and play it down as much as possible; no fuss about the Darfur question; no fuss about UN reform; be careful with Cuba. If any emergency occurs, please report to the foreign ministry, it says.

Several issues prominently covered in the overseas media during the past two weeks are ruled out of bounds. The day after the opening ceremony, the big news in Beijing was the murder of an American tourist related to a US volleyball coach. But domestic journalists were hamstrung by article 17, which states, In case of an emergency involving foreign tourists, please follow the official line. If there's no official line, stay away from it. Also taboo are protests by Free Tibet, mention of East Turkestan separatist groups and, alarmingly, all food safety issues, such as cancer-causing mineral water. The edict also says there must be no negative comments about the opening ceremony

Chinese officials have denied issuing the edict, but local journalists have confirmed its existence. Some say it was distributed by email, others by word of mouth.

 

18th August   

Shameful ad Disgusting...

Katy Perry kissed a girl and wound up nutter parents
Link Here

I Kissed a Girl CD With its irresistibly catchy, upbeat tune, Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl has become the undisputed song of the summer, rocketing to No1 last week.

The singer’s parents have launched a ferocious attack on their daughter, and branded the controversial lyric of her song – about two girls kissing – shameful and disgusting.

Katy’s parents, both evangelical Christian preachers, say they are deeply ashamed of the star for promoting a sin.

And her mother, Mary Hudson, declared: I hate the song. It clearly promotes homosexuality and its message is shameful and disgusting.

Katy knows how I feel. We are a very outspoken family and she knows how disappointed her father and I are. I can’t even listen to that song. The first time I heard it I was in total shock. When it comes on the radio I bow my head and pray.

Her father Keith Hudson calls himself a ‘prophet/evangelist’ and claims to be used by the Holy Spirit to heal people. He travels America and Europe trying to ‘save people’.

 

18th August   

Update: Klipped...

More websites blocked in Turkey
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Turkish gag After the internet sites youtube.com and dailymotion, the access to the site of kliptube.com is denied to the internet users in Turkey.

The latest victim is another video sharing site, kliptube.com. However, it is not possible to find out how, when and why the access to this site is banned by going to the site itself.

Those who visit the site are greeted by the sentence that The access to this site is barred by a court decision.

The internet site of gundemonline.com is also banned without any justification. Ankara’s 11th High Criminal Court banned gundemonline.com, a site about the Kurdish problem, on August 7 without any justification.

According to one of the site authorities, Ramazan Pekg๖z, their site has been closed by court orders four times so far. He says that nobody gives them any explanation about the situation. Since it is a very long process to remove this court order, they simply continue their existence by changing names.

 

18th August   

Update: Book Banners...

Malaysian book censors ban 2 more books about islam
Link Here

Women's Studies Interational Forum Malaysia's state censors have banned two books on Islam saying they gave a misleading view of the religion.

The Home Ministry banned the English-language Muslim Women and the Challenge of Islamic Extremism and the Malay-language Strange but True in Prayers.

An official with the ministry's publishing unit confirmed that the books had been banned but did not elaborate.

The activist group Sisters in Islam, which published the book on Muslim women, criticized the ban. Norhayati Kaprawi, an official with the group, said the book was an academic work in which female activists and scholars studied the impact of extremism on Muslim women's lives: For me, it's very ironic that the book itself is a victim of extremism. Does that mean women cannot even discuss extremism? What do they want us to do? Lie down and shut up?

 

17th August   

Contains Moderate Menace...

A few film posters omit BBFC advice giving Beyer something to whinge about
Link Here
John Beyer

Beyer calls for
state censorship

Some distributors including Universal, 20th Century Fox and Path้ are failing to include BBFC consumer advice for films or their age classification on posters and publicity material.

The BBFC has sent a warning to the studios reminding them of their agreements. Its guidelines require that all films which carry the U, PG, 12A, 15 and 18 certificates must display their classification and warnings about sexual or violent content on all promotional material, including trailers.

But inquiries by the BBFC and The Sunday Telegraph have found a few new releases being advertised on billboards and in magazines either without their certificate or the warnings, or both.

Posters promoting The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor do not carry the film’s 12A certificate or the BBFC’s warning that it contains moderate violence and horror.

John Beyer, the director of Mediawatch UK, said that the BBFC should do more to ensure film companies include the certificates and guidance on material: It is the board’s responsibility placed on it by the Government to provide information for people, mainly parents with young children. I think part of the problem is that the BBFC is an industry body rather than a public body.

Although the studios are not legally obliged to abide by the guidelines, the board “expects” them to do so. The BBFC, which is funded by the film industry, agreed to introduce the certificate in 2002 on condition that movies carried highly visible warnings about content.

Other examples that have not carried the guidelines are Shine a Light , Martin Scorcese’s documentary about the Rolling Stones, and Lars and the Real Girl .

A spokesman for the BBFC said: Often one of the reasons why the certificate doesn’t appear is that the art departments working on the publicity haven’t featured it into their designs. On other occasions the publicity material for films is released so far in advance that the movies haven’t even got a certification.

 

17th August   

Update: Animated to unban...

Australia unbans Bondage Mansion
Link Here

Bondage Mansion DVD There has been a rapid rethink by the Review Board and Bondage Mansion is no longer banned

Classification Review Board Convenor, Maureen Shelley said the anime genre and that the characters appear 18 or older means the film can be accommodated in this legally restricted category. However, the connection between sexual activity and the themes remains a concern.

 

17th August   

Offsite: Random Censorship...

There really are no excuses for Random House’s withdrawal of The Jewel of Medina
Link Here

Jewel of Medina book Why did Random House refuse to publish The Jewel of Medina?

Two reasons — or perhaps one: the first the nice, obvious line, is ‘sensitivity’. No one in their right minds is opposed to sensitivity, are they? No. Being mindful of other people’s feelings is A Good Thing. Not pushing your opinions, or indeed values, certainly helps in the smooth running of a society. Which is why, enthusiastic about pork products as many of us may be, it’s only neo-Nazis who lob pig’s blood at mosques or synagogues. But we should be wary of crossing the line between sensitivity and self-censorship.

The other reason, and, in truth, the single, underlying reason, is fear. Fear of the marauding Muslims looking for any excuse to burn a few effigies and bomb a few buildings. And this is the far more worrying aspect. In the minds of far too many in the western world, ‘the Muslim’ is driven by deep, irrational, unknowable passions. And by ‘the Muslim’, ‘all Muslims’ is meant. The Muslim takes his religion far, far more seriously than any other: ‘the Muslim’ is quick to take up arms, to denounce, to hate in the name of his faith. The Muslim is closed to critical thinking.

...Read full article from indexoncensorship.org

 

17th August   

Offsite: Turkish Delight in Blocking Websites...

Ongoing blocking of YouTube in Turkey
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Turkish gag On May 5, all access to the popular video-sharing web site YouTube was banned in Turkey. YouTube was banned in connection with a video that allegedly insulted Mustafa Kemal Atatrk, the founder of modern Turkey. The ban continues up until today and is the longest ban of a web site in the history of Turkey.

YouTube is not the only popular web site under attack. It is only the highest-profile case. Sites such as Wordpress, Geocities, and Alibaba are also regularly banned. Indeed, it is clear that there is a frenzy of banning web sites at the moment. There are about 900 courts able to ban web sites based on individual complaints, and it is possible to obtain a ban from multiple courts. This means the duration of the ban can be extended using another court. Also, the courts are under no obligation to inform the web sites concerned before or after their decision. The web sites learn that they were banned after their users start complaining of lack of access. This adds to the delay in removing a ban.

...Read full article from wsws.org

 

16th August   

Update: Rushdie Locked in a Cupboard...

Defending censorship of one book whilst taking legal action against another
Link Here

On Her Majesty's Service book by Ron Evans Sir Salman Rushdie has accused his publisher of censorship at the same time as trying to prevent the release of a book that criticises him.

The novelist, who spent nearly a decade under a fatwa from the Iranian government after the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988, attacked Random House for pulping a historical novel about the Prophet Mohamed for fear of offending Muslims.

Sherry Jones's debut novel, The Jewel Of Medina , about the Prophet Mohamed and his child bride, was due for release this month. But Random House said credible and unrelated sources had warned that the book could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.

Rushdie's very public intervention comes at a time when he is engaged in a legal battle to amend the content of a book that criticised him.

On Her Majesty's Service by Ron Evans, who was part of Rushdie's police protection team, makes claims – all of which are denied by the author – that he was imprisoned by guards who got so fed up with his attitude that they locked him in a cupboard under the stairs and all went to the local pub for a pint or two. When they were suitably refreshed, they came back and let him out. Evans, who contends that police nicknamed Sir Salman "Scruffy" because of his unkempt appearance, also makes several other allegations.

Rushdie denied there was any contradiction in his actions, saying: [Sherry Jones's book] is a work of fiction. Ron Evans's book is not, and it contains a very large number of provable lies and complete absurdities which were defamatory not just about me but my son's mother, Elizabeth West, the Metropolitan Police and people including John Major and Norman Tebbit.

Under pressure from Sir Salman's lawyer, Evans is believed to have amended his most contentious chapters.

 

16th August   

Dive In!...

Knickers promoting High School Musical 2 withdrawn
Link Here

High School Musical 2 DVD Knickers for young girls made to promote the film High School Musical 2 are being withdrawn after a complaint that they were sexually suggestive.

Sue Relf bought the underwear for her seven-year-old granddaughter at Asda in Broadstairs, Kent, and took them home to find the words Dive in! on them.

Disney issued a statement which said: We are very sorry to hear that a customer is unhappy with one of our High School Musical products and apologise for any offence caused.

The knickers in question were designed using our High School Musical 2 artwork, which uses the creative theme of a swimming pool, as this is a key part of the film's storyline. Unfortunately a genuine oversight was made and the text on this product was used outside the context of the swimming pool.

This product will not be part of any forthcoming collections.


An Asda spokesperson said: There is very limited stock available of this particular line still remaining in Asda stores. It was completely innocent and certainly not meant to cause any offence to customers. However, we will now withdraw the product from all stores.

 

16th August   

Update: The Rating Game...

Thailand to implement age ratings for video games
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) will ask the Culture Ministry to form a panel to rate computer games, following the Aug 8 murder of a taxi driver by a teenage schoolboy.

Yannapol Youngyuen, head of the DSI's bureau of technology and cyber crime, suggested distributors of computer games be asked to help screen game content, saying the planned rating panel would find it very hard to keep pace with new computer games.

'Rating by the ministry has proceeded at a very slow pace. The ministry should study overseas ratings as a guideline and adjust them to suit Thai culture and values,' he said.

Police Colonel Yannapol also said there are many computer games which are more violent than GTA, such as those which focus on cop killing or rape. He maintained, however, that on-line games are not the major cause of teen problems.

Yannapol also  pledged to make a serious effort to suppress illegal on-line games.

Lertchai Kanpai, managing director of Asiasoft, said currently there are 57 games active in the Thai cyberspace. Though all of them passed Microsoft's screening, some are quite violent: A bigger threat, however, is illegal game software which bypasses the violence rating.

 

16th August   

Update: Persecutors Win...

Staunton video store fined after being persecuted by anti-porn nutter
Link Here

After Hours Video sign Jurors in the case of After Hours Video convicted store owner Rick Krial and the After Hours Video store on misdemeanor charges of selling an obscene item. Krial was fined $1,000 and the store was fined $1,500.

In response to a defense motion the judge agreed that the guilty verdicts will not be entered for 60 days while post-trial motions are filed. An appeal is expected.

Krial and the store were found not guilty on a second charge of obscenity, and store employee Tinsley Embrey was found not guilty on two misdemeanor charges of obscenity.

The misdemeanor convictions may lead to prosecutions on felony obscenity charges that were handed down along with the misdemeanor counts.

Update: Bad Evidence

18th October 2008. Based on article from xbiz.com

Basing their argument on bad evidence and bad statements introduced during the trial of After Hours Video storeowner Rick Krial, defense attorneys have filed motions asking to have the two guilty verdicts set aside.

 

16th August   

Freedom of Speech Chilled in Britain...

UN criticises UK over glorification of terror, official secrets and libel tourism
Link Here

UN logo British libel laws are stifling free speech around the world as wealthy businessmen and celebrities increasingly turn to UK courts to silence their critics abroad, the United Nations has warned.

In a report published yesterday, the UN's Committee on Human Rights criticises the phenomenon of "libel tourism", where foreign businessmen and millionaires use the High Court in London to sue foreign publishers under claimant-friendly defamation laws.

It said that UK defamation law had discouraged critical media reporting on serious public interest matters, affecting the ability of scholars and journalists to publish their work.

The report cites the case of Dr Rachel Ehrenfeld, an American researcher who was sued in London by a Saudi businessman and his two sons over a book which was not published in the UK, although 23 copies were sold into the jurisdiction via the internet and one chapter was available online.

The committee also criticised the way the British Official Secrets Act 1989 had been used to stop former Crown employees from bringing issues of public interest into the public domain and said that provisions in the Terrorism Act 2006 regarding encouragement of terrorism were vague and could have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.

The committee said it was concerned that the Official Secrets Act had been used to frustrate former employees of the Crown from bringing into the public domain issues of genuine public interest, and can be exercised to prevent the media from publishing such matters . It noted that disclosures of information were penalised even when they did not harm national security.

The State party should ensure that its powers to protect information genuinely related to matters of national security are narrowly utilised and limited to instances where the release of such information would be harmful to national security, the report says.

The committee was concerned about the "broad and vague" definition of the offence of "encouragement of terrorism" in section 1 of the Terrorism Act.

In particular, a person can commit the offence even when he or she did not intend members of the public to be directly or indirectly encouraged by his or her statement to commit acts of terrorism, but where his or her statement was understood by some members of the public as encouragement to commit such acts, the report says.

The committee called on the Government to consider amending the part of section 1 which deals with encouragement of terrorism so that its application does not lead to a disproportionate interference with freedom of expression.

 

16th August   

Fringe Censorship...

Edinburgh festival stewards acting as press censors
Link Here

Edinburgh Fringe logo Edinburgh Fringe organisers were accused of censorship last night after it emerged that non-accredited journalists have been prevented from doing interviews on the Royal Mile, one of Edinburgh's main thoroughfares.

Colin Macnab, a freelance sound recordist, said he had been stopped from doing his job on several occasions by members of the Fringe Office staff who believed they could control any media activity on the Royal Mile.

He said he had been stopped from working, told to move and warned that only accredited journalists could work on the street. Macnab said he had been stopped from working with a German producer last week by one official who told him he was not on the High Street but on a Fringe venue.

He said he was appalled that he was being treated that way on a public street. He added: This is hindering my work. My concern at the end of the day is that this is censorship. It's not on for someone other than an editor to decide what goes on TV.

Duncan Fraser, a spokesman for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, admitted that stewards did patrol the area and members of the media were asked to make sure they were accredited. He justified this with some worthless bollox about it being only done to make sure that events ran smoothly.

 

16th August   

Resigned to Dissent...

Burmese press censor resigns as journals refuse to follow his censorship dictates
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Burma...World leaders in oppressive censorship

Burma flag The Burmese Information Minister has refused to accept the resignation letter of the head of the junta's press scrutiny office.

Major Tint Swe, the Director with the Government's Office of Press Scrutiny, which censors the contents of all print publications in Burma, submitted his resignation to the ministry on July 31, 2008.

Brigadier General Kyaw Hsan, the Minister for of Information, refused to accept his resignation letter.

One of the major reasons why the director has done so is, that most leading weeklies have been found, since the devastation following last May's Nargis Cyclone failing intentionally to observe the instructions of the censor board.

The official said more than half a dozen journals, including the prominent weeklies 7 Day News, News Watch, the First Music and among others, were recently ordered to sign assertion letters that they would comply with the instructions.

Maj Tint Swe said: When you write about government departments, it needs to be correct. If you exaggerate or have misconceptions while writing, there will be a problem. We only allow news that will not have a negative effect on the state or national welfare.

 

13th August   

MadNutterWorld...

John Beyer rants about up 'n' coming MadWorld game
Link Here  full story: MadWorld...Nutters rant against MadWorld video game

MadWorld screen Nintendo will dramatically transform Wii's image with the release of ultra violent video game MadWorld which, revolves around the themes of brutality and exhilaration, according to its creators.

Players in the hack and slash game, which is due for a UK release in early 2009, can impale enemies on road signs, rip out hearts and execute them with weapons including chainsaws and daggers.
game

The decision to release a violent game on a console which has supposedly based its reputation on family fun has shocked anti-violence pressure groups.

The game has not yet been given an age rating.

Mediawatch-UK said MadWorld will 'spoil' the Wii. John Beyer: This game sounds very unsavoury. I hope the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will view this with concern and decide it should not be granted a classification. Without that it cannot be marketed in Britain. What the rest of world does is up to them. We need to ensure that modern and civilized values take priority rather than killing and maiming people.

It seems a shame that the game's manufacturer have decided to exclusively release this game on the Wii. I believe it will spoil the family fun image of the Wii.

 

13th August   

Update: Empowering the Vulnerable...

Thailand rants about copycat game violence
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game Creators of violent video games should be prosecuted if copycats take their content into real life.

It's high time game makers face the legal consequences of their creations, a top Thai government official says.

This reaction comes in the wake of a brutal slaying of a city taxi driver by a teenager obsessed with blood-and-guts shoot-'em-up game Grand Theft Auto .

When a player copycats a crime he or she sees in the game, the game maker should be prosecuted, says Somchai Jaroen-amnuaysuk, the deputy director of the Welfare Promotion, Protection and Empowerment of Vulnerable Groups Office.

Prosecutions will automatically force game makers to act more responsibly, Somchai says.

Dr Somprot Sarakosas, a former spokesman of the Human Security and Social Development Ministry, agrees the government should explore legal avenues against all parties responsible for such violence: At the same time, everyone, especially the Education Ministry, should make children aware that games and real life are two different things.

National Culture Commission chief Preecha Gunteeya says the government has to do something to control violence-packed games, including imposing a rating system. We must regulate gaming cafes, too he says.

 

13th August   

Mobile Kids...

Ofcom review regulation of mobile phone content
Link Here

Ofcom logo Ofcom have published a report: UK code of practice for the self-regulation of new forms of content on mobiles:

Mobile phone use is widespread among children and 7% of 8-17 year olds access the internet via a mobile.

The UK code of practice for the self-regulation of new forms of content on mobiles provides a series of undertakings regarding young people’s access to, and the classification of, mobile commercial content. The Code was formally published in January 2004 and the resulting Classification Framework (“the Framework”) was published in February 2005. All major UK mobile phone operators subscribe to and support the Code and the Framework which act as self-regulatory instruments.

Audio-visual content available on mobiles arises from two sources. Some content is provided directly by the operator or a contracted third party (and referred to in the Code as ‘commercial content’). This content is under the mobile operator’s control, enforced by contractual arrangements with the content creator/supplier. The other source of content available on mobile phones is from the internet. Internet-based content is outside the control of the mobile operator.

This Review of the Code was achieved with the support of the Home Office and the Children's Charities' Coalition for Internet Safety (CHIS).

Overall, we find the Code to be effective in restricting young people’s access to inappropriate content and a good example of industry self-regulation. Based on interviews with operators and stakeholders, we believe that the Code and Framework are understood and readily adopted by all concerned.

We also note that the mobile industry has made significant investment in the development and implementation of content controls and has taken significant steps to enforce compliance, over and above the requirements set out in the Code. The mobile operators have established a process whereby an initial breach of the Code by a commercial content provider results in a warning (yellow card), and any subsequent breach of the Code can result in a sanction (red card). Repeated failure to comply with the Code may lead to termination of future business. The yellow/red card scheme is viewed both by the mobile operators and the content suppliers as a highly effective compliance mechanism.

We find that the availability of consumer information about how to restrict access to 18-rated material is generally poor – only 15% of adults who use a mobile and who have a child in their household are aware of age verification systems. We therefore recommend that mobile operators redouble their efforts to ensure that the information supplied by retailers, customer services and websites is easy to understand and accessible.

The Content Classification Framework is provided on behalf of the mobile phone industry by the Independent Mobile Classification Body (IMCB), a subsidiary limited company of the premium rate phone regulator PhonepayPlus. The IMCB has to date received no in-remit complaints from members of the public about any content of a nature encompassed by the Code, which has been accessed via a mobile phone. However, the basis for complaining is that consumers, in the first instance, must report their concern to their contracted mobile operator. Only where there is no satisfactory resolution to the complaint is the customer then referred to the IMCB by the mobile operator’s customer services. The IMCB sees itself as primarily an industry-facing body and does not promote awareness of its existence or its functions to the public (other than through its website), nor does it advertise its complaints function to members of the public.

The current arrangements block access to 18-rated material to non-age-verified customers. With increasing numbers of younger children having access to mobiles capable of accessing AV content, mobile operators may need to consider if a binary system at 18 provides sufficient protection from inappropriate content for younger users, or whether a more granular system should be considered.

 

13th August   

Googling for Over Reaction...

Knee jerk blog host blocks blog over tasteless quip
Link Here

Blogger logo Google has unblocked Scamp, the UK's most popular advertising industry blog, following the removal of comments containing "hate speech".

Scamp, which is run by advertising executive Simon Veksner, had been blocked since Friday by Google-owned blogging platform Blogger. Visitors to Scamp had been blocked, until today, from accessing posts and were instead shown the message that it was in violation of Blogger's terms of service.

It has emerged that Google moved to cut access after the blog was flagged for use of hate speech" , according to an official message posted by administrators of the blogging platform.

Veksner speculated that the post that triggered the complaints was called Sauce Poll on the subject of who in an ad agency you would prefer to date?. He said he assumed that it was an offensive comment, which has now been deleted, along the lines of how they would rather have sex with someone with Down's syndrome than an advertising professional.

Veksner said that while the post, made on Friday, did draw a backlash from the online community he at first left it on the blog. A lot of people were offended, but I decided not to delete the comment, he told MediaGuardian.co.uk: My policy is I do delete comments where the commenter is intending to be offensive, but I don't delete comments where the commenter's primary intention is to be witty, even if what they say ends up offending people.

 

12th August   

Update: Crikey Pikey...

Ofcom go easy on ITV's Formula 1 commentator over pikey quip
Link Here  full story: Pikey on TV...Formula 1 commentator under duress for pikey quip

F1 2008 logo on ITV.com ITV has escaped punishment after the word "pikey" - a slang term for gypsy - was used in a sports broadcast in June.

Host Martin Brundle was interviewing Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone before the Canadian Grand Prix, where part of the track had crumbled.

There are some pikeys there at turn 10 putting tarmac down - what do you think of that, he asked.

Media regulator Ofcom said it would take no action after ITV apologised and addressed the issue with its presenter.

The broadcaster argued that "pikey" was now used more widely but conceded that it still remains a derogatory term. It added that Brundle was unaware of the potential racial or ethnic connotations and so had not meant to cause any offence towards the travelling communities.

After the show ITV received 22 complaints from viewers over the remark while Ofcom received 14.

 

12th August   

Update: A Talent for Censorship...

Ofcom have a rant about extreme stunts
Link Here

ITV logo Ofcom has rapped ITV for showing dangerous stunts at a time when children would be watching.

The World's Got Talent , screened at 7pm, saw contestants enter spinning washing machines, eat glass and become a dartboard.

There were warnings on screen not to try the stunts at home but Ofcom decided these were not enough to deter kids from trying out the routines.

It said the extreme stunts would more typically be expected to feature in shows after the watershed.

 

12th August   

Update: Children's Version of Fallout 3...

Australian censors passes cut version of Fallout 3
Link Here  full story: Fallout 3...World censors ban Fallout 3

Fallout 3 game The Australia Censorship Board has pass and edited version of Fallout 3 with an MA 15+ title.

The reward and incentive for in-game drug abuse had been toned down, according to GameSpot.

However, there is no confirmation of exactly what changes were made.

Using naughty substances plays a large part in Fallout 3 , which proved a major sticking point in the original ruling.

Update: Passed in the UK

8th September 2008

Passed 18 uncut by the BBFC

 

12th August   

Intellectually Challenged...

Disability groups rail against Simple Jack character in the movie Tropic Thunder
Link Here

Tropic Thunder poster Starting this week, dozens of disabilities groups led by Timothy P. Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, are expected to boycott Tropic Thunder at its world premiere as well as its nationwide release.

There was buzz about this last week when the groups complained about the online marketing campaign for the film, which resulted in Paramount pulling a few of the websites. However, their demands, which include pulling all scenes and clips that include Ben Stiller's portrayal of Simple Jack from the movie, DVD, trailers, promotional material and merchandising have not been met.

This is ridiculous! This coalition of a dozen or so disabilities groups have only recently begun to be offended by some of the material in the film. A particular sore point has been the film's repeated use of the term 'retard' in referring to a character, Simple Jack, who is played by Mr. Stiller in a subplot about an actor who chases an Oscar by portraying a mindless dolt.

As Paramount describes it: the movie's humor was aimed not at the disabled but at the foolishness of actors who will go to any length in advancing their careers.

Thankfully, Paramount is not changing the film at all and I commend them for standing up to this. They did change some of their advertising already, but it's an R rated film and none of it needs to be altered.

David C. Tolleson, executive director of the National Down Syndrome Congress, saw the film at a screening and responded openly: I came out feeling like I had been assaulted.

Other groups, including the American Association of People With Disabilities, are planning to meet in Los Angeles to picket the premiere, but that's not all.

Shriver said that he had also begun to ask members of Congress for a resolution condemning what he called the movie's 'hate speech' and calling for stronger federal support of the intellectually disabled.

 

12th August   

Update: Staunton Persecution...

Anti porn attorney gets his day in court to harrangue local video store owner
Link Here

After Hours Video sign The much ballyhooed trial of Rick Krial, owner of After Hours Video on Springhill Road, begins this morning in Staunton Circuit Court, almost a year to the day Staunton Prosecutor Raymond C. Robertson vowed at a press conference to keep pornography out of Staunton's stores.

In October, the same month After Hours Video opened for business, undercover agents from the Staunton and Waynesboro police departments, along with plainclothes officers from the Virginia State Police, acted as customers and purchased a dozen DVDs from the Springhill Road store. Weeks later, a special Staunton grand jury convened and charged Krial and his company, LSP of Virginia, with 16 felonies and eight misdemeanor charges of obscenity.

In January, an employee at After Hours Video, Tinsley W. Embrey, also was charged with 10 counts of obscenity, four of them misdemeanor charges.

This week's scheduled four-day trial concerns only the misdemeanor charges against Krial, his company and Embrey. The Commonwealth can proceed with the felony charges only if it garners convictions on the misdemeanors.

The landmark United States Supreme Court case of Miller v. California in 1973 established a standard three-part legal definition of obscenity that must be met: Do applied community standards find that the material appeals to the prurient interest; is it patently offensive, sexual conduct defined by state law; and does the work, taken as a whole, lack serious literal, artistic, political or scientific value? Those are questions that must be answered by the jury.

The court case will feature a number of legal heavy hitters, Paul Cambria Jr and Louis Sirkin.

Robertson will be assisted by Matthew Buzzelli, an obscenity attorney with the United States Department of Justice.

Jury selection for the case could take up to two days. A misdemeanor trial only requires seven jurors.

 

12th August   

Police Playing Games...

Police seize War On Terror boardgame
Link Here

War on Terror: The Boardgame It is rare for a board game to be seized by the police. This week that distinction befell War on Terror: The Boardgame ; a set was confiscated from climate protesters in Kent.

Following a series of raids on the climate change camp near Kingsnorth power station, officers displayed an array of supposed weapons snatched from demonstrators: knives, chisels, bolt cutters, a throwing star – and a copy of the satirical game, which lampoons Washington's "war on terror".

For the game's creators, Andrew Sheerin and Andy Tompkins, web designers from Cambridge, the inclusion of their toy was a shock: When I saw the pictures in the papers I was absolutely baffled. I thought: surely no member of the public is going to believe that a board game could be used as a weapon?

You won't find the game in high street stores; retailers have all declined to stock it. The high street chain Zavvi bought 5,000 sets but strangely withdrew them for sale after one day, citing "poor sales". But since its low-key launch two years ago, War on Terror: The Boardgame has sold 12,000 copies online and through independent stockists, prominently featuring in student bedsits.

Much like games such as Risk or Diplomacy, War on Terror revolves around players creating empires that compete and wage war against each other for resources and land. The controversial twist allows them to "train" terrorist cells that either attack your enemies or, if you're unlucky, turn against you – like some anti-Western terror groups have done.

There is an Axis of Evil spinner intended to parody international diplomacy by randomly deciding which player is designated a terrorist state. That person then has to wear a balaclava (included in the box set) with the word "Evil" stitched on to it.

Kent police said they had confiscated the game because the balaclava could be used to conceal someone's identity or could be used in the course of a criminal act.

 

11th August   

iPhone Applications Slashed...

Apple withdraws application featuring a knife
Link Here

iPhone Apple has come under fire for allowing the sale of a supposedly tasteless knife game for its iPhone.

The Slasher application brought up the picture of a deadly looking blade on the user's handset and played the music from cult thriller Psycho when the owner mimicked a stabbing motion.

It was selling for 59p in the entertainment section of Apple's iPhone application store.

The programme, which was made by an outside firm, has now been withdrawn, but Apple has not explained how it came to be there in the first place.

Slasher was launched at a time when concern about knife-crime has hit an all time high following dozens of high-profile deaths on the streets of the UK.

 

11th August   

Nutter Gossip...

Parents Television Council whinges at Gossip Girl
Link Here

Gossip Girl ad Four new promo ads for the second season of Gossip Girl have caused quite stir.

Nuters of the Parents Television Council has slammed the shots, which show a topless Leighton Meester making out and Chace Crawford in bed with an older woman.

I think it reeks of desperation, if they have to position themselves as so edgy and so controversial that they've been called out by us, Melissa Henson, PTC director of communications, told the Associated Press.

CW marketing boss Rick Haskins defends the campaign, saying it caters to their 18-34 female demographic: What we're trying to do is communicate with the audience in a way that they like and can appreciate. This sort of campaign resonates with someone who likes Gossip Girl .

The second season of Gossip Girl starts in the US on September 1.

 

11th August   

Salter Gets On Our Wik...

And so does the Martin Salter Wikipedia entry
Link Here

Martin Salter I’ve just come across this nonsense on Martin Salter’s entry in Wikipedia:

Salter has promoted legislation proposing to criminalise possession of so-called "extreme pornography" [2]. His campaign came about after the conviction at Lewes Crown Court of Graham Coutts, a self confessed addict of violent internet pornography, for the murder of Brighton schoolteacher Jane Longhurst. A petition, objecting to "the presence of extreme internet sites promoting violence against women in the name of sexual gratification", gained 50,000 signatures. This prohibition was incorporated into the Immigration and Criminal Justice Act 2008.

The last sentence is manifestly untrue. How it should read is: thanks to a remorseless campaign against internet pornography in general, fuelled by a great deal of disinformation and greatly facilitated by a government terrified of being painted as ‘soft’ on porn by the Tories and the press, Salter managed to bounce onto the statute book a thoroughly ill-conceived and draconian measure which will criminalise the possession of a wide range of material, and not simply that cited in the original petition.

 

10th August   

Update: Registered as Nutters...

Turkish draft law to register porn buyers withdrawn
Link Here  full story: Adult Material in Turkey...Turkey proposed law to register porn purchasers

Turkey flag A deputy chairman from Turkey's ruling AKP withdrew a draft law that she prepared after her work drew fierce criticism from the opposition in the country.

According to the draft law, prepared by AKP Deputy Chairman Edibe Sozen, those purchasing pornographic publications were obliged to provide the retailer with their citizenship number and signature, in order to be later handed to the Youth and Sport General Administration.

The draft law also foresaw the construction of places of worships for students from all religions at schools.

I decided not to bring the draft law to the agenda of parliament, in order to put an end to the misunderstandings regarding my proposal, Sozen said.

Sozen's work drew fierce criticism from the opposition in Turkey, as AKP's attempts were claimed to aim to divide young people and prepare the bases of a theocratic state.

Update: Distanced

18th August 2008

Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has proffered an olive branch to secular critics by publicly disowning his party's proposals to curb pornography and encourage school prayer.

In an unusually harsh rebuke in which he described Sozen's proposals as ill- timed and fatal. He urged party discipline at a time when the AKP is under fierce scrutiny for perceived anti-secular tendencies: It [the bill] is not the party's work, but it was perceived as if it belonged to the party. Such works should be discussed within the party first. It is an ill-timed and fatal statement. The content is bad. She [Sozen] put the party in a difficult situation. We are going through sensitive times that need caution and ultimate care. This is valid for each one of us. We all need to refrain from any actions or statements that could create new tensions.

 

10th August   

Update: GTA Brainstorm...

Thailand to investigate violent video games
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game The Thailand Department of Special Investigation will host a conference on violent computer games and youths on Thursday, in a bid to find measures to address the issue.

The move follows a brutal murder of a city cabbie by a schoolboy copying Grand Theft Auto. Experts will brainstorm ways to end this kind of behaviour.

No doubt some kneejerk policies will result

 

9th August   

Update: Sack the FCC...

Former FFC chairmen suggest that it should be stripped of its misused censorship powers
Link Here  full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

Janet Jackson boob A trio of former Federal Communications Commission chairmen, including the most iconic critic of TV content and a symbol of deregulation, joined to ask the Supreme Court to strip the FCC of its power to regulate indecency entirely, saying that it is on a "Victorian crusade" that hurts broadcasters, viewers and the Constitution.

Former Democratic chairman Newton Minow may have famously dubbed TV a "vast wasteland" back in the 1960s, but he is ready to let TV programmers in this century have more say over content if the alternative is the current FCC.

Seconding that opinion was former Republican chairman Mark Fowler, who once likened TV to a toaster with pictures and became a symbol of the deregulatory 1980s.

Also weighing in on a brief to the court Friday was James Quello, former acting chairman and longest-serving Democratic commissioner.

They argued that the commission has radically expanded the definition of indecency beyond its original conception; magnified the penalties for even minor, ephemeral images or objectionable language; and targeted respected television programs, movies and even noncommercial documentaries.

I thnk it is an incredible statement from FCC chairmen who have been some of the architects of the indecency policy and who are now saying that this is out of control," said First Amendment attorney John Crigler: The enhanced indecency standard was created under Mark Fowler, and here he is saying 'boy, this train is way off the tracks.'

The trio were joined by other former FCC commissioners and staffers to file an amicus brief Friday in the FCC's challenge to a lower-court ruling that the commission's indecency finding against swearing on Fox awards shows was arbitrary and capricious and a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. That act requires regulators to sufficiently justify their decisions and forewarn regulated industries.

It is time for the Court to bring its views of the electronic media into alignment with contemporary technological and social reality, they said. And that means getting the FCC entirely out of the business of regulating indecent content, they added.

 

9th August   

Update: Follow That Cabbie...

Spain cabbies call for games ban based on Thai killing
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reports that an association of Spanish taxi drivers has called for a ban on Grand Theft Auto .

Josep Maria Go๑i, secretary general of the Catalan Taxi Federation, has requested that the Spanish government pull GTA titles off the market.

Go๑i makes it clear that the Taxi Federation's request is based on the Thailand murder case.

The cabbie spokesman didn't stop at GTA , however, calling for a ban on all games with a high level of violence or which "celebrate" drug trafficking or prostitution.

GameSpot points out: There are no actual missions in GTA IV which require players to rob, stab, or kill a taxi driver...

Malaysian Ban It

Based on article from gamepolitics.com

The head of a Malaysian consumer rights organization has called for a ban on Grand Theft Auto and similarly violent video games.

The move comes following the murder of a Bangkok cabbie last Saturday. Thai government officials were quick to link that killing to what they said was the 19-year-old suspect's Grand Theft Auto play.

In an op-ed for the Star Online, Mohamed Idris, president of the Consumers Association of Penang, writes: It was recently reported that the Thai authorities have banned a computer video game known as Grand Theft Auto... Violent video games and television programmes have previously been linked to expressions of violence and aggression in young viewers. It is time for the authorities to act.

If this particular video game is available in Malaysia, CAP calls on the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to immediately halt its sales and ban this game. The Ministry should also warn the public and any stocks that have already been sold should be recalled.

 

9th August   

Offsite: The BBFC is scarier than The Dark Knight...

Killjoy politicians call on the BBFC to give Batman film a 15 certificate
Link Here

Dark Knight Having taken his seat alongside his 15-year-old daughter expecting see a movie packed with surreal and comical figures, what he actually saw was the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight . It was a relentlessly violent film, filled with dark themes, he trembled.

Equally frightening for Smith was the fact that the BBFC had only given The Dark Knight a 12A certificate, meaning that a child younger than 12 can see the film providing they are accompanied by an adult. [As] I left I wondered what the board could possibly have been thinking, Smith reports.

He was one of the lucky ones. Although terrified by the Joker, at least his daughter was on hand to reassure him that the nasty man with the knives and lint was made up.

...Read full article

 

8th August   

Update: The World of Batman Certificates...

Are the BBFC out of step with the rest of the world?
Link Here

Dark Knight The Daily Mail have continued their campaign against the 12A cinema certificate for The Dark Knight.

A recent article claimed that the BBFC was out of step with the rest of the world who restricted the Batman film to 15+ year olds.

Predictably they published examples that supported their case.

Just to even it up a bit, here are the world ratings as listed by IMDb :

Ireland:15A, USA:PG-13, Denmark:15, Canada:13+ (Quebec), Norway:15, Philippines:PG-13, South Korea:15, Malaysia:U, Portugal:M/12, Mexico:B, Sweden:15, Canada:14A (British Columbia/Ontario), Hong Kong:IIB, Argentina:13, Finland:K-13, UK:12A, Brazil:12, Canada:PG (Alberta/Manitoba), Netherlands:16, Iceland:12, India:UA, France:U, Singapore:PG, New Zealand:M, South Africa:13V, Peru:14, Australia:M

Peterborough Spoilsport

Based on article from peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Peterborough's MP has called on the city council to reclassify the rating given to the most sensational movie to hit cinema screens this year, Batman, The Dark Knight .

Stewart Jackson has written to the council's chief executive Gillian Beasley, expressing concerns over the 12A rating given to the film, which has attracted nutter controversy because of its violent content and dark themes.

In his letter, Jackson reminded her that the council can use its discretion under current legislation to reclassify the rating given by the BBFC. He said: I am not a spoilsport and I have seen this film ...BUT... I sincerely believe that it is not suitable for children. The violence is gratuitous and the dark themes inappropriate for children's viewing.

I believe that the BBFC have made an error of judgement and I have written to the city council to amend the recommended classification.


A spokesman for the city council said that while the council is responsible for licensing cinemas, ensuring that the films being shown there have been certified and they are adhering to age restrictions, they would not attempt to reclassify a film, which had been classified by the BBFC, the experts in this field.

 

8th August   

A Textbook Case of Repression...

US woman found guilty of obscenity in textual stories
Link Here

US Dept of Justice Red Rose website owner Karen Fletcher was sentenced today after pleading guilty to six counts of distributing textual obscenity online.

Fletcher's plea concludes her three year fight against federal charges stemming from fictional stories which appeared on her website, and was entered before U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti, who sentenced Fletcher to six months of house arrest; 5 years of probation; and a $1,000 fine.

XBIZ has reported on the Red Rose case since the the closure of Fletcher's website in October of 2005. It shuttered over stories that, among other topics, allegedly depicted the rape and torture of children and infants.

I never thought I'd be in trouble for the written word, Fletcher told XBIZ at the time of her site's closure. I had no pictures of a sexual nature on my site, adult or otherwise. [It seems] the only legal sex stories are those that involve a man and a woman consenting to missionary position sex in a dark room.

Although many observers doubted that an obscenity conviction based solely on text-only content could be made in today's society, Fletcher's emotional state, including suffering from agoraphobia — a fear of public places — reportedly prevented her from carrying on the fight for her free speech rights.

Fletcher helped prevent minors from accessing the Red Rose site by charging a $10 monthly membership fee, and while allowing the posting of stories by members, prevented any images from being posted.

 

8th August   

Comment: A Tale of Two Moralities...

The Daily Mail and morality
Link Here

Daily Mail logo If any Melon Farmer thinks it worthwhile to respond to this rag's potherings about "morality", perhaps by responding to items on its website, could I suggest that the message includes a reference to a rather gross piece of sexual infidelity to which Dacre's minions have never referred - the example set by their late proprietor, the previous Lord Rothermere, who for many years maintained a wife in London and a mistress in Paris.

 

8th August   

Update: No Regrets...

BBC pursue Stephen Green for full legal fees owing
Link Here

Christian Voice banner Stephen Green, the founder of the fundamentalist Christian Voice group, has offered the BBC about a third of its costs after he failed in an attempt to prosecute the Director-General Mark Thompson for blasphemy after he broadcast Jerry Springer – the Opera on BBC2. The BBC wants the full costs of ฃ55,000.

Green says that Thompson and Mark Thoday, the producer of Jerry Springer – the Opera who was also named in the attempted prosecution, should be “magnanimous” and waive the fees. Green did not make clear how magnanimous he would have been had Messrs Thompson and Thoday been sent to jail, as he wanted them to be.

Now the BBC says that unless it gets the full costs from Green, the licence-payer will end up footing the bill. In a statement, the BBC said: Mr Green tried to launch a criminal prosecution… he knew when he embarked on the litigation that he would be required to pay the costs if he were to be unsuccessful. The BBC believes it has a duty to recover legal costs from Mr Green. If it does not do so, the licence-fee payer will effectively be funding Mr Green’s activities.

Green said that he has been served with a statutory demand that was the first step in bankruptcy, with a charge on his house. He said that he did not have the full amount that was being demanded and that if his house in Carmarthen were to be sold then he would be homeless.

Green said that he did not regret his action, even though the blasphemy law has now been abolished, and that maybe his action helped speed that process. He says that he will now concentrate on “street-witness” (i.e. bellowing through a megaphone at hapless shoppers).

 

8th August   

More Blue...

Previously cut violence restored to Soldier Blue
Link Here

Soldier Blue DVD S oldier Blue is a 1970 US film by Ralph Nelson (Optimum Releasing)

The 2008 Optimum DVD was cut with the following BBFC statement: Four cuts were required to remove the presence of cruel, dangerous and illegal horse falls

Previous cuts to the violence have been restored:

  • Cuts are to a scene showing the rape of an Indian woman, during the massacre of the village
  • Cuts to a shot of a naked Indian woman strung up by her wrists with blood on her breasts

 

8th August   

Googling for Code of Conduct...

Internet companies agree on code of conduct for censored countries
Link Here  full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Google China logo Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft say they are close to an agreement on a code of conduct for doing business in China and other countries that censor the Internet.

Senator Dick Durbin on released separate letters from the companies, stating they have reached agreement on the core components of the principles of the code, as Google put it.

Those components, the letters say, include principles for promoting freedom of expression and privacy, implementation guidelines, and an accountability framework. The specifics of the code are now being reviewed by the individual organizations involved. Google said the companies are working toward a set of clear and rigorous principles, such that restrictive governments would be unable to ignore or reject these best practices on freedom of expression and the protection of individual privacy.

This code of conduct would be one important step toward our shared goals of promoting freedom of expression and protecting the privacy of Internet users around the world, Durbin said in a press release.

 

8th August   

Update: In a Rush to Repress...

Belarus president signs repressive media restrictions law
Link Here

Belarus flag The Committee to Protect Journalists is troubled to learn that President Alexander Lukashenko has signed a restrictive new media law, which will allow authorities to further restrict press freedom in Belarus.

The Belarusian parliament rushed the bill through in three consecutive readings and passed it to the Constitutional Court for review. According to the local press, the court rubberstamped the bill in July and Lukashenko signed it into law on Monday.

Among other provisions, the law equates the Internet with regular media, making sites subject to the same restrictions; bans local media from accepting foreign donations; allows local and state authorities to shutter independent publications for minor violations; and requires accreditation for all foreign journalists working in the country.

Not content with controlling traditional media, with this legislation, Belarus is now seeking to restrict online publications, said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney: We urge President Lukashenko to reconsider this repressive new law and, in the meantime, use his influence to ensure that its most restrictive provisions not be used to stifle critical journalists.

Aside from Internet control, the new media law also requires Belarusian and international journalists to seek individual accreditation from multiple state agencies, creating further hurdles. It also obliges Belarusian media to seek re-registration from state authorities—a process that could be fatal for outlets critical of state officials.

Additionally, under the new law, the Ministry of Information receives broad authority to suspend media outlets; the ministry and state prosecutors are given the authority to shut down outlets permanently. These state agencies can suspend or close the outlets if they find their content to be inaccurate, defamatory, not corresponding to reality, or threatening the interests of the state or the public. The bill leaves the interpretation of these terms in the hands of state authorities.

 

8th August   

Update: Shared Censorship...

Sudan blocks YouTube, Turkey blocks Dailymotion
Link Here

YouTube logo YouTube has been blocked for most internet users in Sudan for reasons that are still unknown. It seems that ths ite is blocked on all ISPs except Canar

In line with what’s looking increasingly like a trend, Sudanese flocked to Facebook to voice their concerns in a group dedicated to the matter. The group is called Unblock Youtube In Sudan Now and at the time of writing it has 476 members.

The reasons behind this block are still vague but the best guess may be blogger ZoulcolmX who shares his opinion :

They don’t want someone with the opposition to [interfere with] the official story about how every Sudanese citizen supports Omar.

They don’t want us to see the documentaries that have been posted lately about the “ghost houses” created to torture individuals who didn’t support the “salvation revolution”, and with the elections coming, they don’t want any anti-kizan* campaign, which is something not allowed on local newspapers, and the national TV is on their side 24/7, but YouTube, Facebook, and blogs give a free space for the truth, and this is what THEY fear the most.

… * Kizan is a nickname for the National Islamic Front and the ruling party the National Congress members.

See full article from Reporters without Borders

Turkey flag Reporters Without Borders condemns the stubborn insistence of the Turkish authorities in censoring video-sharing websites. After blocking access to YouTube for the past three months, the authorities began blocking the Paris-based Dailymotion two days ago as well.

The two most popular video-sharing sites in Turkey are now inaccessible, the press freedom organisation said: This is a serious violation of free speech and freedom of information. We call on the authorities to restore access to these websites and remove only the videos that are the subject of judicial orders.

Transport minister Binali Yildirim said YouTube was still blocked because those responsible for the site refused to cooperate with the Internet regulatory authority, Internet Iletisim Baskanligi, an offshoot of the Telecommunications Council that was founded in November 2007.

 

7th August   

Burdensome Marital Sex...

US nutters whinge about lack of marital sex references
Link Here

Happily Never After report The US nutters of the Parents Television Council have published a report titled Happily Never After .

Sex in the context of marriage is either nonexistent on prime-time broadcast television, or is depicted as a burdensome rather than as an expression of love and commitment, the report concludes. By contrast, extramarital or adulterous sexual relationships are depicted with greater frequency and overwhelmingly, as a positive experience.

Today more than ever teens are exposed to a host of once-taboo sexual behaviors including threesomes, partner swapping, pedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality, and sex with prostitutes, to say nothing of the now-common depictions of strippers, references to masturbation, pornography, sex toys, and kinky or fetishistic behaviors.

Here's some more socially destabilizing stuff that the PTC found:

  • References to cheating on a spouse outnumbered references to married sex by 2:1 across all the broadcast networks
  • It's really bad during The Family Hour. The study doesn't say when exactly that hour is time-wise, but it's the sixty minutes when kids watch the most. During that time slot, nonmarried nookie apparently stomps the married kind by 3.9:1
  • Visual depictions of some third-party taping or watching while sex happens outnumbered visual references to married sex by 2.7:1

 

7th August   

Registered as Oppressive...

Turkey draft law to register porn buyers
Link Here  full story: Adult Material in Turkey...Turkey proposed law to register porn purchasers

Turkey flag Turkey's ruling AKP plans to register all purchases of pornographic material with a new draft law.

According to the draft law, those purchasing pornographic publications would be obliged to provide the retailer with their citizenship number and signature, the report added.

Those names would be later handed to the Youth Sports General Management, according to the regulation, Milliyet said.

AKP Deputy Edibe Sozen, who prepared the draft law in one year based on laws in Germany, has sent her work to State Minister Murat Basesgioglu, it added.

The draft law also foresees the construction of places of worships for students from all religions at schools,

The new draft law is expected to raise eyebrows in Turkey as the country awaits the ruling party to take steps to soothe concerns over secularism after the court ruled that it undertakes activities that harm secularism but stayed short of closing the party.

 

7th August   

The Sweet Smell of Hype...

Calvin Klein perfume advert banned from US TV
Link Here

Obsession advert A Calvin Klein perfume ad featuring actress Eva Mendes has been banned by US networks for its racy content.

The star caresses herself, rolls around in a rumpled bed and - oops! - flashes a nipple in the 30-second TV spot for Secret Obsession.

The ban is not entirely a surprise for the U.S. market, Tom Murry, president and chief operating officer of Calvin Klein, Inc., said in a statement to the Daily News.

The attention surrounding the ad just reinforces our belief in the campaign, which has really struck a chord with consumers and in true Calvin Klein fashion, sparks controversy, said Catherine Walsh, vice president of American Fragrances, Coty Prestige, which produces the perfume.

An edited version of the ad will run stateside on cable TV. The original will run abroad.

 

7th August   

Update: Stereotypically Easily Offended...

Ezra Levant cleared over publication of Mohammed cartoons
Link Here  full story: Human Rights in Canada...Canada's Human Rights works against free speech

Canadian Human Rights Commission After a yearlong investigation, the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission has rejected a complaint by the Edmonton Council of Muslim Canadians against former Western Standard publisher Ezra Levant over his re-publication of the Danish Muhammad cartoons.

The allegation the Feb. 14, 2006, issue of the now-defunct magazine was likely to expose Muslims to hatred helped to spark a national debate about human-rights law and free speech, and its rejection comes after similar complaints of Islamophobia against Maclean's magazine also failed.

In a report on his investigation, which recommended the complaint not be referred to a panel hearing, the human rights and citizenship commission's Pardeep S. Gundara wrote the cartoons are stereotypical, negative and offensive, and they do reinforce stereotypes, but they were related to relevant and timely news and were not simply gratuitously included.

Yasmeen Nizam, a civil litigation lawyer in Edmonton and a director of the council of Muslim Canadians, said the Council is certainly disappointed with the decision. We thought the cartoons did (expose Muslims to hatred), regardless of the context, because if you look at the broader context in a post-9-11 world, Muslims are at a higher risk of being discriminated against.

I basically told them to f-off without using the swear word, Levant said of his response to the complaint, given during an interview with a human-rights commission officer that he taped and broadcast on YouTube.

He does not consider this a victory, though.

This censor approved what I wrote. His decision is not that I have freedom of speech. His decision is that I have his approval. I'm not interested in his approval. The only test of free speech is if I can write what he disapproves of with impunity.

That's what freedom of speech is, to piss off some second-rate bureaucrat like Pardeep Gundara and know that you have the right to do so, because you're in Canada, not Saudi Arabia.

 

7th August   

Update: High Scoring Video Games...

Thailand recommends a list of violent games
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game As if pulling Grand Theft Auto IV from Thai shelves wasn’t overreacting, the Thai Ministry of Health has drawn up a shortlist of the ten most dangerous games.

1. GTA
2. Man Hunt
3. Scarface
4. 50 Cent - Bullet Proof
5. 300
6. The Godfather
7. Killer 7
8. Resident Evil 4
9. God of War
10. Hitman

Game Politics has cheekily pointed out that this is is exactly the same as that produced by Detroit Prosecutor Kym Worthy also used to blame all the world's ills on video games.

 

7th August   

Comment: Nipple Obsessed Berlusconi...

Italian prime minister censors classical art backdrop
Link Here

A nipple too far Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has had an Italian masterpiece altered - because of an exposed breast.

The 71-year-old worried that cameras would focus on the naked woman's chest in the painting hanging behind him during his press briefings.

The copy of Time Unveiling Truth by Giambattisto Tiepolo now has a white veil painted over the offending bosom.

Insiders also said that the feelings of female members of his cabinet - including equal opportunities minister Mara Carfagna, a former topless model - had been considered.

An artistic Berlusconi aide painted a veil over the naked woman's breast on a copy of Time Unveiling Truth which forms a backdrop to his press conferences in the Italian capital

A copy of the 254-year-old masterpiece Tiepolo was chosen as the backdrop of the PM's media briefing room in Rome shortly after Berlusconi swept back to power in April.

Yesterday leading Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi told Corriere Della Sera: What have they done? This is madness, absolute madness.

I hope that whoever came up with this absurd, mad, pathetic, comic and futile idea did so without the knowledge of the Prime Minister.

Yesterday a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: The decision was taken to cover up the exposed breast for fear of offending the sensibilities of people watching press conferences.

Comment: Italian Beauties

From Alan, 7th August 2008

Mara Carfagna Strange that Berlusconi should suddenly lose enthusiasm for tits, considering at least one of his ministerial appointments.

Signora Carfagna follows in an interesting Italian political tradition, with Michela Vittoria Brambilla always willing to flash a bit of thigh, Alessandra Mussolini gettin 'em out in Playboy (fortunately resembles her auntie Sophia Loren more than her grandad!), and Ilona "La Cicciolina" Staller combining the jobs of politician and porn star.

I find that the amazing Sabina Guzzanti has given some real stick to his appointment of Mara Carfagna as minister for equal opps. She's reported (accurately - I've watched the video!) as having said this:

A me non me ne frega niente della vita sessuale di Berlusconi. Ma tu non puoi mettere alle Pari opportunitเ una che sta l์ perch้ t'ha succhiato l'uccello, non la puoi mettere da nessuna parte ma in particolare non la puoi mettere alle Pari opportunitเ perch้ ่ uno sfregio.

Source - La Repubblca

A libel writ is likely to follow, since the quote means, As for me, I don't give a toss about Berlusconi's sex life. But you can't send someone to the (ministry of) equal opportunities because she's sucked your dick. You can't give her any job, but particularly not equal opportunities because it's an insult.

She always has a few sharp words to say about the Pope, among others, charitably hoping that when he gets to hell he'll be buggered by gay devils.

 

7th August   

Counter Strike Against Video Games...

Video game censorship in Germany
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Counter Strike game Despite their popularity, violent video games are widely criticized in Germany and the country has some of the strictest video-game censorship laws in the Western world. For example, German laws prohibit the sale of Counter-Strike and titles with bloody graphics.

The Protection of Young Persons Act (PYPA)

The Act was enacted in 2002 and was Amended in 2003, 2004, and 2008.

The Act defines children as individuals under 14 years old and adolescents as those between 14 and 18 years old.

The Act requires business operations to publish legal notices with movie codes and ratings; they are also required to request identification from those with parental power accompanying minors. Children and adolescents are not permitted in public movie performances unless those performances are cleared for them by the Supreme state authority.

PYPA, section 12 establishes that video games or any other games cannot be publicly accessible to children or adolescents unless they are cleared and labeled for their appropriate age group by the supreme state authority.

PYPA 2008- Amendments Relevant to the Video Game Industry?

In 2008, an amendment to PYPA entered into force. Under the amended Section 15 of the Protection of Young Persons Act, a video game that contains exceptionally realistic, cruel, and lurid images of violence as an end in itself is automatically indexed and subject to severe restrictions on distribution and advertising. Further, these games may not be sold to underage persons. This kind of violent media is automatically indexed -- that is, it does not have to be assessed and rated by the supreme state authority that is generally responsible for indexing, known in German as the Bundesprfstelle.

PYPA Section 18 –List of Media Harmful to Young People- states: Data media and telemedia which might have a severely damaging impact on the development and education of Children and Adolescents to responsible personalities in society shall be registered by the Review Board and included in a List of Publications Harmful to Young Persons. Included are media and other publications with immoral and brutalizing content or those instigating violence, crime and racism. The 2008 Amendment added some requirements to this section regarding violent video games. German authorities are to index media that contain acts of violence like murder and mass killings as ends in themselves as well as media in which self-administered justice is presented as a successful and proven means for serving justice. This kind of media, according to the amendments, has to be assessed, rated, and placed on a list of media that is generally considered to be dangerous for young people.

Other Measures

The County Court in Munich decided to confiscate all versions of Manhunt in July 2004 because it violated a penal provision prohibiting the depiction and glorification of violence. Other games, including the violent video game Dead Rising , were placed in the Index and confiscated by a Hamburg County Court decision of June 2007.

 

6th August   

Update: Grand Theft Auto Ban...

Thai government react to blame game
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game I have been seeing a lot of coverage on the killing of a taxi driver by a Thai teen who says he was inspired by the new release of the violent video game called Grand Theft Auto . The English language news stories left out much of the detail about the victim and the accused murderer. The Thai news had interviews of the families and other people involved.

The story is very sad for many reasons. On the victim's side, they are a poor family and the man was the only person making any income, and not much because driving a taxi does not pay very well. He became the chosen victim because he was older and smaller than the first taxi driver the killer approached.

The killer's family is also poor but the teen had always been known as polite and very nice, even getting the dek dee (good child) award at school. The mother was a house maid and the father a security guard. The kid was alone a lot and the parents never really knew what he was doing all that time he was playing violent video games.

The 18 year old confessed to the killing, which means he won't face the death penalty as some western media incorrectly reported. He gave a detailed account of how he planned for the robbery and chose the victim, although he said the killing was not originally part of the plan but he did it when the victim fought back.

The distributor of the game in Thailand has stopped all sales and is requesting that internet shops return the game for replacement with a different game.

I saw on TV this morning that GTA has been declared illegal. Police will search internet cafes and if any are found to be making the game available they will be fined 20,000 to 100,000 Baht.

 

6th August   

Update: Hard X Droops to Limp R...

Supporting the R Rated hype for Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Link Here

Zavk and Miri Make a Porno trailer Filmmaker Kevin Smith has won an appeal to gain an R rating for his comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno , which previously had received an NC-17 adults-only designation.

Elizabeth Kaltman, spokeswoman for the MPAA, said the rating was revised after the group's appeals board viewed the movie.

The NC-17 rating would have prohibited anyone younger than 17 from seeing the movie. With an R rating, those under 17 can see it in the company of an adult.

Zack and Miri , due out Oct. 31 stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks as best friends and roommates who try to make a homemade porn flick to dig themselves out of debt.

 

6th August   

Must See Reviews...

Chris Tookey reviews for the Daily Mail
Link Here

Must See Movies Plans We’ve just stumbled upon this but it appears the Daily Mail’s permanently morally outraged film critic Christopher it’s disgusting that the BBFC could allow such society destroying filth Tookey has his own website.

It’s called Tookey’s Film Guide . There you can search through his film reviews. But best of all you can find his gems of moral indignation at films which he reckons will corrupt as all and which the wet Guardian reading librels of the BBFC should be put up against a wall and shot for allowing us to see.

Some priceless gems on morally corrupting society destroying filth from Tookey include…

On David Cronenberg’s Crash :

Though I am not normally in favour of banning movies, I couldn’t see how the British Board of Film Classification could - with even an appearance of consistency - award Crash an 18 certificate.

On Irreversible :

In more civilized times, this kind of sad, sickening exhibitionism would never have been granted a certificate.

On Baise-Moi :

The BBFC interprets the absence of a public outcry against their previous decisions to open the pornographic floodgates, as evidence that the public goes along with its views. Really, it reflects the fact that most people wisely chose to stay away from films like Intimacy, Romance and The Idiots, and the few that suffered through them had better things to do with their time than try to lodge futile complaints.

Even the majority of critics who hated these movies kept quiet, either preferring to starve them of the oxygen of publicity, or unwilling to risk incurring the wrath of the liberal establishment.

Misreading this lack of reaction, the BBFC has taken it into its collective head that the British public wants the guidelines governing 18 certificate movies to be relaxed still further. Yet even the Board’s own literature reveals that a majority of the British population (54%) disagrees with the statement that “people over 18 have a right to see graphic portrayals of real sex in films and video”.

The BBFC gets away with its policy of permissiveness by stealth only because most of us don’t kick up a fuss. Too many of us associate film classification with authoritarianism, philistinism and repression, rather than with the preservation of a few minimum standards of moral and social responsibility. And the government, of course, couldn’t care less.


On Quentin Tarintino’s Hostel :

Many people seem baffled as to why we are raising a generation of desensitized yobs, who see nothing wrong with torture and mutilation, and indeed use these things to foster a bizarre, and evil, sense of community. Barely a week goes by without some new, real-life horror – most recently, the revolting, mindless attack by six youths who abducted, raped and stabbed to death Maryann Leneghan.

Allison Pearson posed one question in the Mail on Wednesday Who are these people? But it seems to me that an even more important question is Why do these people think they can act this way?”

This film is not worthy of an 18 certificate, for it is not suitable for audiences of 48 and over, let alone those aged 18, but it will be seen by millions of people – including children on whom it will make an indelible impression.

I asked at the start why violent yobs think they can act this way. It is also relevant to inquire who is encouraging their culture of sadism.

Well, let me name names. One is this film’s writer-director, Eli Roth. Another is Takeshi Miike, who contributes a cameo performance to Hostel. A third is Roth’s mentor, Quentin Tarantino, who also appears briefly in the film, and enabled it to be made and released by being its Executive Producer.

Serious questions should be asked of Mr Roth, but I would like to know what Sony Pictures are doing releasing such a picture. Is making money their only motivation? Have they no shame? No sense of social responsibility? No values?

I would also like to know who, apart from our pusillanimous and negligent censors, thinks this kind of evil, pernicious trash truly warrants an 18 certificate.


All a good laugh!

 

6th August   

Offsite: Hate Mail...

The Daily Mail has a rant at the BBFC
Link Here

Dark Knight It has been described as a 'symphony of sadism'.

Brilliantly acted it may be, but in its relentless violence the latest Batman production, The Dark Knight, goes to the very limit of mainstream movie-making.

...

This is dark, dark material indeed. Yet this is the film the BBFC has given a 12A rating, which means it is considered quite suitable even for young children, if they are accompanied by an adult. Children over 12, of course, can see it on their own.

And just who are the 'regulators' who came to this outrageously perverse decision?

There's the scandal. The 33 members of the BBFC are anonymous. They wield huge influence, but they are unelected, unaccountable and, this paper suspects, wholly unrepresentative.

They claim to be independent, but whether or not that is true is anybody's guess.

We can be sure only of one thing. This secretive oligarchy is presiding over a relentless decline of standards in the cinema.

Even the liberal Andreas Whittam Smith is reported as saying this week that the Board is taking a more relaxed view of violence since he left six years ago.

Obscenity, brutality, vile language, the trashing of civilised values... all these are becoming normalised, even glamorised.

Truly, the 'independent' BBFC should be very proud of itself!

...The rant continues in Analysis: Unaccountable, unashamed, the scandal of the faceless film censors who do anything but from dailymail.co.uk

 

6th August   

Offsite: Soggy-Biscuit-Eating Tories...

Lad mags irresponsible? Come off it
Link Here  full story: Lads Mags...Blaming lads mags for all the world's ills

Nuts magazine I laughed when I read Michael Gove's comments, blaming lad mags for all society's ills. I've written for a few lad mags in the past – Zoo, Maxim, Arena, GQ (though I would call the last two style magazines). That doesn't mean I am now going to try and make a case for their moral fibre, because frankly they've got about as much moral fibre as asbestos. But that's precisely their point. So telling lad mags that they're doing something wrong actually means they are doing something right. The day the editor of a lad mag gets a letter of congratulation from a Conservative MP will be the same day he gets another letter. From his boss. With a P45 in it.

This rebuke from Gove will be worn as a badge of honour – the equivalent of the cool kid in class getting a ticking off from teacher. And the mags to which he has given free publicity will respond with a contemptuous snigger. You can bet those editors will today be standing behind their respective art directors' chairs, clapping with delight at the digital manipulation in Photoshop of Mr Gove's visage, which will doubtless appear as a vulgar retort in next week's issue. A joke which approximately 1% of the readership will get, because they've probably never even heard of this Gove bloke. But whatever, right, it's a picture, yeah, of a geezer with his head up his own arse, right, and that's like well funny, innit.

Gove is crediting these magazines with too much power and influence. Zoo and Nuts do not dictate culture; they reflect it. That's why they sell so well and that's why they exist. Blaming two magazines for everything from "teenage pregnancy" to "selfish irresponsibility" is exactly the kind of lazy generalisation I would expect from absolutely all soggy-biscuit-eating Tories. The same lazy generalisation they rouse from its slumber every time a kid stabs someone, having apparently learned precisely how to do it while playing Grand Theft Auto: Chav City or watching So You Think You Can Dance.

...Read full article

 

6th August   

Offsite: The Music the BBC Banned...

Radio DJ Spencer Leigh has made a CD of banned tracks
Link Here

The Record is Not to be Broadcast CD It's difficult to remember the last time the BBC banned a record. What was once an event to mark the official changing of a generation seems to have vanished along with Top of the Pops. No wonder that the youth of Britain has become depoliticised.

Not so long ago, mysterious men would dictate whether certain records were suitable for Britain's pop diet.

At the BBC's Written Archives Centre in Caversham the files of the Dance Music Policy Committee have been preserved for public inspection. This was pop's equivalent of the Bilderberg Group. It was a shadowy unit set up in the Thirties that took the role of Britain's cultural guardian very seriously. When one member said that he felt like “a crazy weather vane in a storm” the controller of sound broadcasting replied: No one is more alive than I to the need to buttress the forces of virtue against the unprincipled elements of the jungle.

...Read full article

Update: The Committee

12th October 2008. See article from liverpooldailypost.co.uk

Although names of the watchdogs have not yet been disclosed, they were first known in the British Broadcasting Corporation as the Dance Music Policy Committee – or simply the “Committee”, surely one of the most chilling words in our language.

The Committee finally buckled in 1964 before the permissive mood sweeping the country, though, from time to time, records are still banned – either by the Corporation itself or individual DJs.

After meticulous research, Spencer has produced an informative booklet on some of his findings. This accompanies a box-set of three CDs, containing full versions of 75 records banned between 1931 and 1957. Spencer writes about why each record was banned.

 

5th August   

Update: Deflecting Blame...

Thai distributor pulls Grand Theft Auto game
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game Distributors of Grand Theft Auto yesterday suspended sales in Thailand after a teenager allegedly killed a taxi driver in a bloody frenzy, re-enacting scenes from the blockbuster video game.

Police who caught the 18-year-old at the scene said he confessed to having planned the attack to find out if robbery was as easy as depicted in the violent game.

Phalawat Chinno, who played the game obsessively for hours every day, bought two knives and chose his 54-year-old victim carefully as he believed he would be too old to fight back, police said.

The secondary school student said the killing was a robbery that went wrong. New Era Interactive Media, the Thai distributors of Grand Theft Auto, which recently launched its fourth edition, has asked shops to withdraw copies from sale and video arcades to suspend the game.

We are sending out requests ... to outlets and shops to pull the games off their shelves and we will replace them with other games,
said Sakchai Chotikachinda, the marketing director of New Era.

 

5th August   

Gagging for Repression...

Parliamentary committee finds diplomatic gags to be wrong and unworkable
Link Here

House of Commons logo A Government-imposed gag on retired diplomats giving media interviews without prior approval is "oppressive" and must be scrapped, a Commons committee says today.

Tougher restrictions were written into diplomatic service contracts in 2006, sparking complaints from former mandarins that their free speech was being eroded.

The Public Administration Select Committee said rules were excessively wide-ranging and oppressive and would substantially diminish informed discussion of major world events.

Their only saving grace is that they seem to be unworkable, they concluded, accusing ministers of failing to act on promises to revise them.

Were the rules to be applied literally, they would prevent live TV or radio commentary from former diplomats for the rest of their lives.

In practice, the Foreign Office continues to rely on the good sense of its former staff. It should say so. There is no sense in maintaining a rule that is both wrong in principle and manifestly unworkable in practice.


The government was also accused of restricting free speech by refusing to allow former civil servants to appeal against any decision to block publication of their memoirs.

The committee said that welcome moves to toughen the vetting process, in the wake of several highly- controversial books, had been undermined by the lack of an independent arbiter.

 

5th August   

Obscenity in the USA...

XBIZ videos of its Legal Obscenities seminar
Link Here

XBiz Summer forum 08 The Legal Obscenities seminar that took place at XBIZ Summer Forum ’08 is now available for viewing on the event website.

The hour and a half seminar features an outstanding lineup of industry attorneys and Evil Angel’s John Stagliano, who was recently charged in federal court with obscenity.

The video of the seminar will provide the opportunity to stay educated on a subject of huge importance not only for those charged with obscenity crimes but also for the industry as a whole. The attorneys who participated represent a peerless brain trust of legal experience and insight into the specifics of obscenity law and legal strategy, and remarks by John Stagliano of Evil Angel provided a poignant human dimension to the occasion.

 

5th August   

Offsite: In Contempt of Religious Defamation Law...

Islamic states are using the UN to enact international 'anti-defamation' rules
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

Asma Fatima, a petite, bespectacled Pakistani diplomat in Washington, sat at the front of a crowded Capitol Hill hearing room on July 18, carefully considering whether a man seated a few places to her left on the panel should be jailed.

The occasion was a panel discussion convened by a group of congressmen to educate their colleagues on the issue of religious freedom, and the man was Canadian Ezra Levant, who in February 2006 republished Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in his now-defunct magazine the Western Standard, which resulted in, among other things, two complaints of “discrimination” before the Alberta human rights commission.

One complaint was withdrawn, but the other continues. If it is upheld, Levant could face a large fine, a lifetime order not to talk about “radical Islam” disparagingly, and be forced to issue an apology. If Levant does not comply with these orders, he could be imprisoned for contempt of court.

...Read full article

 

4th August   

A Shallow Approach...

Tory plonker rants about lad's mags
Link Here  full story: Lads Mags...Blaming lads mags for all the world's ills

Nuts magazine In a keynote speech Michael Gove, the shadow schools secretary, condemns the so-called "lads magazines" for encouraging men to view women as mere sex objects.

Our strategies for dealing with teenage pregnancy need to be focused more on young men and their responsibilities, he will say.

That's why I believe we need to ask tough questions about the instant-hit hedonism celebrated by the modern men's magazines targeted at younger males.

Titles such as Nuts and Zoo paint a picture of women as permanently, lasciviously, uncomplicatedly available.


We should ask those who make profits out of revelling in, or encouraging, selfish irresponsibility among young men what they think they're doing.

The relationship between these titles and their readers is a relationship in which the rest of us have an interest.


The images they use and project reinforce a very narrow conception of beauty and a shallow approach towards women. They celebrate thrill-seeking and instant gratification without ever allowing any thought of responsibility towards others, or commitment, to intrude.

The contrast with the work done by women's magazines, and their publishers, to address their readers in a mature and responsible fashion, is striking.

Comment from Dan

Yeah fatherlessness and relationship breakdown is caused by young men reading lads mags. What a brainwave!

 

4th August   

Update: Robbery and Blame...

Thai student kills cabbie in robbery and blames Grand Theft Auto
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game A Thai student has stabbed a taxi driver to death supposedly acting out a robbery he copied from the online game Grand Theft Auto .

Neighbours called police in Bankok about 2.30am after being woken by a constantly blowing car horn and saw people struggling inside a pink taxi.

Police arrived and saw Polwat Chinno, 19, trying to steer the taxi backwards, but the street was a dead end. The teen locked himself in the car but they finally persuaded him to get out.

There was blood all over the vehicle. The body of the taxi driver, Kuan Pohkang was on the back seat. He had been stabbed about 10 times. Two sharp knives were found nearby.

Police said Polwat confessed to being addicted to the online game GTA and said killing seemed easy in the game. He imitated a scene where a criminal kills a driver for his car to escape police.

I needed money to play the game every day. My parents give me only 100 baht a day, which is not enough. I am also fed up with them fighting. They are civil servants and do not make good money, he said.

Today [Saturday] my mother gave me 500 baht, so in the evening I went to the Lotus superstore and bought knives. He flagged down a taxi and when it arrived at the destination, he pulled out a knife and held it against the driver's neck. He said he did not mean to kill him but the driver reached for a metal bar under a console and tried to hit him. He stabbed the driver several times, killing him, then dragged the body onto the back seat and sat behind the wheel.

He could not drive, but thought it would not be hard. He was still struggling with the car when police arrived.

 

4th August   

Fallout from a Lack of R18+...

Rumours of another Australian games ban
Link Here  full story: Fallout 3...World censors ban Fallout 3

Fallout 3 game The Australian Censorship Board has acknowledged that it is has a new edited version of Fallout 3 from Bethesda, and is in the process of judging its appropriateness for Australian children.

Last month, Fallout 3 was refused classification by the OFLC for its depiction of real-world drugs.

An edited version will assure the game gets into the hands of the average consumer, however, those seeking sane pricing and a "pure" experience will still look to the miracles of importing.

Meanwhile it looks like the uncut version of Fallout 3 will be submitted to the New Zealand censor

 

4th August   

Mad Hatter's Tea Party...

Sri Lanka bans adult internet content
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Sri Lanka...Installing ISP website blocking

Sri Lanka Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajakapse has ordered an immediate ban on pornographic websites, to stop children being exposed to adult content.

Service providers have been told to filter sites showing pornographic material.

The head of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission says anyone who wants unrestricted internet access will have to pay extra and get a special password.

 

4th August   

Offsite: Celebrating 50 Years of TV Censorship...

CCTV's gatekeepers discuss Chinese TV drama censorship
Link Here

CCTV logo Chinese television drama turns 50 this year. To mark the occasion, a feature in the current issue of Oriental Outlook magazine takes a look at the history of TV drama and how programs make it to air. This includes an interesting article on the workings of CCTV's censors.

Much of the time, it seems like SARFT is to blame whenever people are upset with film and TV censorship. But television stations are ultimately responsible for what they broadcast, so they too employ censors to eliminate objectionable content.

The definition of objectionable content varies: CCTV has strict standards, but local TV stations often get away with airing envelope-pushing content and borderline-scam infomercials until there are enough complaints to draw a smackdown from the central authorities.

The two censors interviewed for the Oriental Outlook article provide a number of entertaining examples of things that displeased CCTV, including:

  • A ribald folk tune had to be removed from a period piece
  • The mother of a Japanese soldier in a war drama expected him to fight to his death in China, implying that the Japanese people fully supported the war
  • None of the four main characters in a drama about car racing was motivated by the love of the race
  • A series in which a party secretary was accused of rape only to be cleared in the final episode could mislead viewers who didn't watch the show all the way through to the end.

...Read full article

 

3rd August   

Update: Batman vs Nutter Vaz...

Keith Vaz wades in to harangue the BBFC
Link Here

Dark Knight Cartoon violent scenes in the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight , have prompted objections about its classification with a 12A certificate.

The BBFC has received 70 complaints about the certification.

Parents have complained of having to shield their children’s eyes from scenes such as a man’s eye being jabbed with a pencil and the Joker describing how he enjoys killing people with a knife because they take longer to die.

Nutter Labour MP Keith Vaz, who is chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, said he would be summoning the BBFC to its hearings on knife crime in October: The BBFC should realise there are scenes of gratuitous violence in The Dark Knight to which I would certainly not take my 11-year-old daughter. It should be a 15 classification.

Nutters have warned that the BBFC is becoming both too liberal and too willing to cave in to commercial pressure from Hollywood studios to maximise audience numbers. The board has admitted that its decision on The Dark Knight was “borderline 15” – meaning that its examiners nearly gave it a 15. The 12A means children of 12 can go unaccompanied.

Parents are allowed to take children younger than 12 with them to the Batman film, although they are advised not to.

The BBFC has confirmed that Warner Bros asked for The Dark Knight to be classified as 12A and admitted that the board comes under pressure to keep classifications low so that as many people as possible can see films.

The real problem is that in previous Batman films, Jack Nicholson’s Joker was jokier, said John Whittingdale, Tory chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee: This ‘Joker’ is truly evil. Yet most parents and children would not know this beforehand. Also, nobody goes to the BBFC’s website for parental advice.”

The board says its director, David Cooke, did not see the film before it was classified, although he has watched it recently. It is understood he supported the 12A classification.

In Scandinavia & Ireland the film is a 15 and in America it is PG-13.

Update: Nutter MPs

5th August 2008

Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative party, has joined the nutter onslaught after seeing it with his 15-year-old daughter.

Describing it as "relentlessly violent" in a letter to a newspaper, he wrote: I was astonished that the board could have seen fit to allow anyone under the age of 15 to watch the film.

Unlike past Batman films, where the villains were somewhat surreal and comical figures, Heath Ledger's Joker is a brilliantly acted but very credible psychopathic killer, who extols the use of knives to kill and disfigure his victims during a reign of urban terrorism laced with torture.

 

3rd August   

Government Propaganda...

Yet another step towards Orwellian Britain
Link Here  full story: Propaganda TV...Home Office sponsor TV without making this clear

UK Government arms Beat: Life on the Street is a documentary funded by the Government following the lives of PCSO's. The Government-funded propaganda portrayed PCSOs as dedicated, helpful and an effective adjunct to the police

The Government has spent almost ฃ2 million to fund programmes that are all but indistinguishable from regular shows, The Sunday Telegraph has established.

But unlike normal documentaries, the programmes are commissioned by ministers with the purpose of showing their policies or activities in a sympathetic light.

The media watchdog Ofcom has disclosed that it had opened an investigation into one of the programmes, Beat: Life on the Street to see whether it breached its broadcasting code.

Media freedom campaigners, broadcasters and opposition politicians expressed alarm over the Government-funded documentaries.

The Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow said: I find it extraordinary. So the Government is funding commercial television productions highlighting government policy? Presumably they don’t criticise government policy.

The Government has funded at least eight television series or individual programmes in the past five years. Subjects range from an Army expedition to climb Everest to advice for small businessmen on how to improve their company’s fortunes.

However, the show about PCSOs and a newly commissioned programme about Customs and Immigration officers are particularly controversial because they deal with sensitive political issues and policies.

Beat: Life on the Street , which was supported with ฃ800,000 of funding from the Ministry of Propaganda. One Whitehall source admitted of the documentary: It allows the Government to have more air time and get its message across to people. Ministers are so pleased with the way the series, which drew in audiences of three million people on ITV and changed the public’s perception of the officers, that they commissioned a third series, to be broadcast next year.

But The Sunday Telegraph established that the programmes appeared to break Ofcom’s broadcasting code by not making it clear that they were funded by the Ministry of Propaganda.

In a further apparent breach of Ofcom rules, this time on independence, Ministry of Propaganda officials were directly involved in the making of the series. They were allowed to view a second edit of individual programmes and were able to suggest changes to some of the “terminology” and “language” used in the narration.

David Ruffley, the shadow police minister, said: People want the Government to put police on our streets, not propaganda on our television sets.

 

3rd August   

Update: Huffin' and Puffin...

Gordon Ramsay goes puffin hunting to wind up the nutters
Link Here

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVD Gordon Ramsay has wound up the nutters with his puffin-hunting scene in a recent  F-Word TV programme.

He travelled to Iceland to engage in some 'sky fishing', involving catching the cute little birds with an oversized butterfly net.

When Ramsay eventually managed to catch a puffin, after three hours, a hunter snapped the bird's neck.

Other scenes included the Michelin chef eating the dead bird's heart -- raw. He also rustled up a barbecued puffin with cucumber salad, describing the taste as a bit like liver.

The UK media watchdog Ofcom is investigating the episode, after several complaints from viewers.

Puffins are protected in the UK and Ireland but in Iceland licences are granted to cull them. Ramsay claimed he had a licence to kill up to 1,000 puffins.

 

3rd August   

Update: Animated to Ban...

Australia bans Hentai videos Bondage Mansion and Holy Virgins
Link Here

Bondage Mansion DVD The Australian censorship Review Board met to consider the ratings of four DVD's from Siren's Hentai collection. The result is two titles are banned, and two retained their R18+ ratings

What the Review Board decisions confirm is that as long as none of the characters are portrayed as being below eighteen then it is okay to show hardcore sex in these animated features.

The two banned titles are Bondage Mansion and Holy Virgins . Both were rated R18+ earlier in the year, and were released on June 19th.

T&A Teacher retained its R18+ along with Classes in Seduction .

So what happens to all the copies of Bondage Mansion and Holy Virgins that are already out there? Technically they should be pulled from stores, though in practice this is often not the case. In this case we suspect collectors will quickly snap up any stray copies of these two DVD nasties.

Update: Hentai Removed on the back of the 2008 Papal visit to Sydney

10th May 2009. See article from refused-classification.com

The Pope flies to Sydney, and a million pilgrims duly follow. Killing time between wholesome Catholic activities, said pilgrims stop off in a VERY popular music/DVD shop to peruse the latest in family entertainment.

While shopping, they find copies of HOLY VIRGINS on the shelf in the Anime section. Complaints (x100) to the store manager - and eventually the Government - ensue. The result? Surprise, surprise - the Pope and the pilgrims may be long gone, but you can't find the Hentai Collection in most stores anymore, even though these titles have been given an R rating by the Government-run Classification Board.

 

2nd August   

Update: Naked Chill...

Australian book publisher feels somewhat chilled over Henson affair
Link Here

Bill Henson photo Fallout from the Bill Henson controversy has prompted book publisher Thames & Hudson to seek a classification from the federal Government for a proposed monograph on the artist.

It is understood that on July 23 the Classification Board received a submission from the publisher in relation to a reprint of the 2003 book Lux et Nox , produced by Swiss publisher Scala.

The 5000 copies of the original 192-page edition sold within 12 months. For the past 18 months, Thames & Hudson has been planning a reprint.

It is believed the publisher and the artist were close to finalising the project when police raided a Sydney gallery in May and confiscated several Henson works.

Two weeks ago, the board ruled the July issue of Art Monthly Australia warranted unrestricted classification, but advised that readers would need a mature perspective.

Despite that outcome, Thames & Hudson remained uneasy about its forthcoming publication. A spokesman for the publisher declined to comment yesterday. Industry sources say the intense debate prompted the publisher to tread carefully.

Henson's spokesman declined to comment, but it is understood that the artist and publisher agreed to submit the book to the Classification Board.

The submission of a book that has already been published has prompted concern in some quarters of a new era of censorship.

 

1st August   

Update: Promoting Censorship...

Even more censorship from a government committing electoral censorship
Link Here  full story: Suicide Censorship...UK government proposes to ban suicide information

Ministry of Justice logo Websites which encourage teenagers to commit suicide will be blocked under Government plans.

The measures are supposedly aimed at preventing a repeat of the dozens of copycat suicides linked to internet usage and social networking sites.

Internet service providers (ISP) are being urged to veto websites which promote suicide among young people, some of which even give advice on suicide methods.

The ISPs are being told to provide automatic links to support organisations like ChildLine and The Samaritans, which would be triggered by users searching for information on suicide.

The Ministry of Justice is examining whether more legislation is needed to control assisted suicide websites.

Under laws introduced in 1961 aiding or encouraging suicide is illegal - but only if the offender meets the victim face to face.

 

1st August   

Update: Olympic Gamesmanship...

Some websites restored in China
Link Here

Olympic handcuffs Olympic organizers unblocked some Internet sites at the main press center and media venues Friday while others remained off limits for journalists covering the Beijing games.

The move falls short of the free and unfettered access the organizers and Chinese officials had promised for months. However, it was an improvement from earlier in the week when sites for the likes of Amnesty International or Tiananmen Square could not be opened.

Senior International Olympic Committee officials met late into the night Thursday with their Chinese counterparts and said they reached an agreement to unblock sites, although the IOC statement said the details were still being formulated.

We trust them to keep their promise, the International Olympic Committee said.

Kevan Gosper, the press commission head of the IOC, said the IOC and Chinese officials were working toward unblocking sites that we believe were unreasonably blocked. Gosper acknowledged full Web access was not possible due to China's authoritarian government and the tight social controls exerted by the Communist Party.

Amnesty International's site was open on Friday, but links to the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong remained closed. Some Web sites dealing with Tibet were open, but others tied to the restive region in the west of China were blocked. The BBC's Chinese-language site was open at times, but frequently unavailable.

The censored Internet is among the issues tarnishing China's attempt to us the Olympics to promote an image of a modern, open state. The run-up to the games, which begin in a week, had also been dominated by concerns about Beijing's choking air pollution, attempts to censor foreign TV broadcasters, and a security crackdown that had discouraged foreign tourists.

Update: CPJ blocked

17th August, based on article from cpj.org

The Committee to Protect Journalists' Web site, www.cpj.org, is blocked in the Main Press Center and at least one other Olympic press venue, according to a number of foreign journalists there. CPJ calls on the Chinese authorities to provide the free Internet access they promised foreign reporters when they were awarded the Games.

We call on China and the International Olympic Committee to immediately remedy this situation and ensure unfettered access to the Internet, including CPJ’s Web site, said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director: China’s press freedom record is an integral part of the Olympic story, and yet journalists working in the official press centers are being denied information essential to their reporting.

At least four journalists told CPJ this week that its site was blocked within the Main Press Center, using direct, official connections; one source was able to access it. My colleague inside the Main Press Center says the only [Web site] they can get is Amnesty. Can’t get cpj.org, one journalist told CPJ.

Update: Songs for Tibet

25th August, based on article from idolator.com

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Chinese officials have closed access to Apple's iTunes Store after getting wind of Olympic athletes downloading Songs For Tibet , which features songs by the likes of Rush, Underworld, and Moby.

The ban came shortly after the Art Of Peace Foundation, which backed the project, sent out a press release saying that "over 40" athletes participating in the 2008 Olympic Games had used download cards they were given to download the album, thus "speaking" their mind about the geopolitical situation when the Games' rules forced them to remain silent on the issue.

Update: No Songs for Tibet

26th August, based on article from idolator.com

Apple's iTunes online music store is back up and running again in China after it was apparently blocked last week by local authorities.

However, the Web page for downloading a pro-Tibet album, which is suspected of prompting the crackdown, remains unavailable on the service.

 

1st August   

Update: The Never Ending Consultation Game...

Margaret Hodge announces another consultation on BBFC vs PEGI
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

DCMS logo Culture Minister Margaret Hodge has announced a consultation on whether the ratings for games should replicate the system for movies.

Dr Tanya Byron recommended that the rating system for games be reformed to make it easier for parents to work out if a video game was appropriate for their children. Dr Byron suggested a hybrid scheme putting BBFC ratings on the front of boxes and PEGI ratings on the rear.

Announcing its response to the Byron Review recommendations, culture minister Margaret Hodge, said: The current system of classification comes from a time when video games were in their infancy.

She added: The games market has simply outgrown the classification system, so today we are consulting on options that will make games classification useful and relevant again.

Over the next few months the government is seeking responses to find out the favoured method of changing ratings and giving them legal backing.

The four options are:

  • A hybrid BBFC/Pegi system
  • Pegi ratings only
  • BBFC ratings only
  • No change except for the introduction of a scheme to ensure shops and suppliers comply.

But a report published by MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has backed the BBFC to be the body to oversee games ratings.

For its part the Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association (Elspa) said it would prefer that the industry-backed Pegi scheme became the only rating system.

What we are asking for is the government to empower Pegi with legal backing, said Michael Rawlinson, managing director of Elspa.

 

1st August   

Offsite: The Dark Knight vs Halo 3...

Videogames: Why the Government should be educating, not 'protecting'
Link Here

Dark Knight The Dark Knight is rated 12a. Which, by the BBFC's reckoning, makes it more suitable for youngsters than videogames given the '15' sticker. Which is fair enough for a psychological horror such as Siren: Blood Curse , but not so much for the colourful, nigh-on cartoonish alien warfare of Halo 3 . So, here's the crux: how can these forms of media, with varying degrees of violence and gore fall under the same bracket of classification? As was proposed this week by government ministers.

...Read full article

 

1st August   

Update: Death Threats...

Lawyer of Afghan student accused of blasphemy threatened
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Afghanistan...Afghan sentenced to death for blasphemy

Free Pervez! The Afghan lawyer defending a journalist on death row in Kabul has been bombarded with death threats urging him to drop the case.

Islamic extremists repeatedly threatened to murder Afzal Nooristani after he agreed to defend Sayed Pervez Kambaksh in his high-profile appeal.

The 23-year-old student writer was sentenced to death for circulating an article about women's rights. He was tried in a closed court, and denied a defence lawyer. His case has sparked worldwide protests.

In Afghanistan, conservative clerics have led rallies endorsing his conviction, while others have marched for his release. Most lawyers were too afraid to take his case.

I received phone calls threatening to kill me, said Mr Nooristani: I answered two of them and got lots of missed calls. But I told them they could do what they like. It didn't stop me taking the case.

More than 100,000 people have signed an online Independent petition demanding justice for Kambaksh. The United Nations' high commissioner for human rights, Louise Arbour, the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, have all called for justice to be done.

But speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Afghan Bar Association yesterday, Nooristani warned that the appeal was already deeply flawed, and he said it is almost impossible for Kambaksh to get a fair trial: There's no concrete evidence against him, but still the court insists on keeping him in jail and postponing the trial .