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 2008: November
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14th January   

Update: Weird Faith...

Scientologists set their lawyers on the Daily Mail
Link Here  full story: Scientology Censors...Scientogists quick to litigate against critics

Scientology protestor Glosslip insiders have revealed that the Daily Mail’s story on Jett Travolta, titled Did John Travolta’s weird faith seal son Jett’s fate? was pulled from their website after threats from the Church of Scientology.

This is nothing new in the world of Scientology. Almost a year ago, gossip site Gawker was threatened with legal action from the highly litigious religion after posting a for Scientologist’s eyes only video featuring Tom Cruise discussing his strange religion. Gawker, citing fair use laws, refused to pull the video, and have been reaping a traffic bonanza since.

With the barrage of stories following the tragic death of 16-year old Jett Travolta, one has to wonder how much overtime the lawyers have been putting in trying to keep the media from looking too closely at their dangerous history of medical mishaps based on the groups anti-psychiatry beliefs.

 

14th January   

Axing Strong Language...

Ofcom have their regular whinge about strong language that sneaks in during the day
Link Here

Ax Men DVD Axe Men
Five, 19 September 2008, 20:00

Axe Men is a factual programme which looks at the high risk, day-to-day work of different logging companies in the north west of the USA. One viewer complained to Ofcom that the programme contained various forms of bad language, including “mother fucker”.

After viewing the broadcast, Ofcom noted that the programme did not include the word mother fucker . However, it did include one use of the expletive fuck . Ofcom considered Rule 1.14 (the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed) of the Code.

Rule 1.14 prohibits the broadcast of the most offensive language before the watershed. Ofcom research on offensive language1 identified that fuck and its derivatives were considered by viewers to be very offensive. Ofcom notes that broadcast of the word on this occasion resulted from human error and that Five has made changes to improve its compliance as a result. However, the broadcast of such language before the 21:00 watershed is a breach of Rule 1.14.

NERD CD N*E*R*D Special
MTV Hits, 5 October 2008, 17:30

MTV Hits is a music channel available on satellite and cable platforms. N*E*R*D Special was a recording of a thirty minute live performance by the urban band, N*E*R*D.

One viewer complained that the programme contained the repeated use of strong and racist language in the early evening on a Sunday afternoon. On reviewing a recording of the material provided by MTV Networks Europe (MTVNE), which complies the channel, Ofcom noted that the programme contained several examples of the following strong language: fuck , mother fucker and nigger .

Ofcom welcomes the fact that MTVNE admitted the compliance error on being notified by Ofcom of the complaint and tightened up compliance procedures still further as a result. The repeated use of the most offensive words language before the watershed in this instance was, however, a clear breach of Rule 1.14.

In general, offensive material can be broadcast, so long as it is justified by the context. Given factors such as the time of broadcast, the effect that the material might have had on viewers who may have come across the material unaware, and the lack of any warning to viewers, Ofcom considered that the broadcast of this offensive material in the early evening was not justified by the context. It was therefore a breach of generally accepted standards and Rule 2.3 was also breached.

Ofcom views these breaches of the Code very seriously, especially in light of the recent MTV Sanction. However, given the swift and comprehensive action MTVNE took in the wake of these breaches, coupled with the overall bolstering of compliance procedures already in train, Ofcom does not consider it appropriate, on this occasion, to take further regulatory action. However, Ofcom is putting MTVNE on notice of its concerns about its compliance abilities in the wake of this decision.

 

13th January   

Go On, Give us Another One...

Ofcom not offended by Jesus conjuring trick of turning water into wine
Link Here

Rowan Atkinson as vicar We Are Most Amused
ITV1, 15 November 2008, 20:35

We Are Most Amused was a special comedy gala performance held to mark the sixtieth birthday of the Prince of Wales. The show included many of the UK’s leading comedians.

Ofcom received 540 complaints concerning a sketch, included in the programme, featuring Rowan Atkinson. In the sketch, Rowan Atkinson played a Christian clergyman delivering a comedic version of a biblical miracle story – the Wedding Feast at Cana.

The complainants considered the sketch to be offensive and blasphemous, and some complainants questioned whether a similar sketch would be permissible if the subject had been one of the world’s other religions, such as Islam. There was evidence that the complaints were part of an orchestrated campaign. [Stephen Green's Christian Voice being previously noted as organising such a campaign]

Playing the clergyman, Rowan Atkinson delivered the sketch as if reciting from the bible to a congregation. He described Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, and said:

And when the steward of the feast did taste of the water from the pots, it had become wine. And he knew not whence it had come. But the servants did know, and they applauded loudly in the kitchen. And they said unto the Lord: ‘How the hell did you do that?’ And inquired of him: ‘Do you do children’s parties?’ And the Lord said: ‘No.’ But the servants did press him, saying: ‘Go on, give us another one’.

Further on in the sketch, Ofcom noted there were the following passages:

…and he did place a large red cloth over the carrot and then removed it. And lo, he held in his hand a white rabbit. And all were amazed, and said: ‘This guy is really good; he should turn professional’. And there came unto him a woman called Mary…and Jesus said unto her: ‘Put on a tutu and lie down in this box’. And took he forth a saw and cleft her in twain.

…And he did go unto Jerusalem, and he did his full act before the Scribes, and the Pharisees, and the Romans. But alas, it did not please them in their hearts. In fact they absolutely crucified him.

Ofcom considered these complaints under Rule 2.3 (material that may cause offence must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision

Many complainants accused ITV of blasphemy. Ofcom is not required to determine whether the ITV committed blasphemy, but whether, in this case, the provisions of its Code had been breached.

Comedy has a long tradition of tackling challenging and sensitive subjects, such as religion. It is important and necessary, in line with freedom of expression, that broadcasters can explore such matters. Therefore broadcasters are free to include treatments, comedic or otherwise, of any religion, as long as they comply with the Code.

In particular, this was a comedy sketch, by a performer well-known for his depictions of clergymen in comedic situations. The sketch was an absurd interpretation of a well-known biblical miracle story, and was not intended as a serious interpretation of Christian belief, nor would it be realistic to make such an inference.

It superimposed onto the original story, the concept of how some people might react today, if Jesus were to appear in modern society. In making an analogy between miracles and magic, the comedian used the well-known comic device of placing theological figures in a contemporary and everyday human situation. The overall tone of the sketch was affectionate and not abusive of the Christian religion.

Ofcom considered that the approach would have been well understood by the vast majority of the audience and would not have gone beyond what would normally be expected in a programme of this type. Therefore, the programme was not in breach of Rule 2.3.

 

30th November   

Update: Strong Views...

Five News commissions opinion poll on strong language on TV
Link Here

Five News logo A majority of people think there is too much swearing on television, a Five News survey has found.

Five News' survey, carried out by YouGov in the wake of the Sachsgate row, found that 57% of respondents agreed that there was too much swearing on TV, with 31% strongly agreeing.

Reactions differed according to gender, age and the regions people came from, with 63% of women agreeing there was too much swearing, compared with 51% of men.

However, only 24% of 18 to 24-year-olds agreed, compared with 83% of over-55s – with 56% of them strongly agreeing.

The survey questioned more than 2,000 adults across the UK between Monday and Wednesday this week.

 

30th November   

Hardly Stimulating the Economy...

Italy resurrects it's 25% porn tax idea
Link Here

Italy flag The Government of Italy, headed by President Silvio Berlusconi decided to apply a special tax on materials and artistic expressions related to pornography.

The measure, approved recently by the Council of Ministers to fight the ongoing global financial crisis, establishes a tax of 25% that will be applied to pornographic newspapers and magazines, including DVDs and associated products.

The Italian Government left no room for doubt as the tax covers all literary, theatrical, cinematographic, audiovisual and multimedia works, including those made and reproduced with computer or tele-matic support, in which there are sexually explicit images or scenes ... by adults, Section 31 of the Article says.

The porn tax was initially proposed in 2002 by Vittorio Emanuele Falsita, the then Parliamentary Representative of the Italian political party Forza Italia (Italian Force) - founded by Berlusconi in 1994 -, but was never applied.

The Government has established what it considers pornography but the Executive will still have to approve a decree within two months in which all the details will be given and the different categories established, including what is sexually explicit and what is not, Italian media said.

 

30th November   

Caught in the Censorship Web...

Spider-man not censored enough for the Australian TV censor
Link Here

Spiderman trilogy DVD The TV censors of the Australian Communications and Media Authority will require the Nine Network and affiliate licensees to ensure films are correctly classified after finding that the film Spider-man , broadcast by NWS Adelaide, was incorrectly classified PG (Parental Guidance Recommended), rather than M (Mature).

After investigating an unresolved complaint, ACMA found that Channel Nine South Australia, breached its programme code, due to violence contained in the film.

Films broadcast on commercial television are classified according to the Guidelines for Classification of Films and Computer Games (the guidelines). For PG-classified films these guidelines state that, violence should be mild and infrequent, and be justified by context.

While the code allows licensees to modify films for broadcast, licensees must ensure that films are modified in accordance with the guidelines to guarantee that they are suitable for broadcast at particular times, said Lyn Maddock, Acting ACMA Chair.

ACMA found that the Spider-man film contained frequent scenes of violence. It also found that the film contained a depiction of violence that was stronger than mild.

Originally classified M by the Classification Board for theatrical release, the film was modified by the licensee for broadcast as PG. However ACMA concluded that the film was not correctly modified from its original M classification and should have been broadcast in the later M time zone with the corresponding M classification.

Note that Spider-man was rated as 12 uncut in the UK.

 

30th November   

Tiger Beer Trafficked to the UK...

Advert censor finds offence in beer and lady boys image of the Far East
Link Here

Tiger Beer ad An ad, for Tiger Beer, appeared on poster and in the Metro and London Lite newspapers. A small image of a bottle of Tiger beer was shown in the top left-hand corner, which was labelled with a star that stated THE FAR EASTS MOST DESIRABLE EXPORT SINCE 1932 . In the foreground of the ad was a large image of a person wearing black stockings, knickers and a bra, with a sheer blouse that was not fastened. The person was putting something into their mouth and was labelled with a star that stated "3rd".

1. Eight complainants objected that the image of the person, who they believed to be a woman, was offensive because it linked exports with a person in a sexually provocative pose, which they felt was inappropriate given reports of human trafficking for the sex trade and

2. Three of the complainants also objected that the ad was offensive and disrespectful to Eastern culture because it implied beer and sex were some of the best things to come out of the region.

Tiger Beer UK Ltd said the campaign was not intended to condone lewd behaviour, human trafficking or the sex trade in, or as exports of, the Far East. They said the campaign was intended to reflect Tiger Beers Far Eastern heritage and build on its position as the Far Easts most desirable export since 1932 by presenting it in the context of other recognised Far Eastern exports including ladyboys, tuk tuks, chop sticks and acupuncture, all of which were treated with the respect they deserved.

ASA Assessment 1. & 2. Upheld

We understood that the ads image was intended to represent a ladyboy cabaret act. We considered, however, that by presenting the character in sexual clothing and a provocative pose alongside the implication that she was rated the Far Easts third most desirable export, the ad appeared to link exports with the sex trade and, potentially, human trafficking.

We also considered the ad suggested beer and sex were two of the best exports of the Far East, which was disrespectful to Eastern culture. We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

On both points, the ad breached CAP Code clause 5.1 (Decency).

The ad must not appear again in its current form. The ASA welcomed Tiger Beer UKs decision to remove the image from the campaign.

 

30th November   

Chilling Laws...

Counter terrorism laws counter media freedom
Link Here

Speaking of Terror Privacy International have a new report, Speaking of Terror: A survey of the effects of counter-terrorism legislation on freedom of the media in Europe.

It finds:

International bodies including the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Union (EU) have adopted many international agreements that either ignore or only pay scant attention to fundamental human rights and the importance of a free media. Their agendas are often driven by those countries that are most aggressive in adopting expansive counter-terrorism laws including the UK, US and Russia. The role of European institutions such as the EU and the CoE have resulted in greater adoption and harmonization of these laws than most other regions.

New laws on prohibiting speech that is considered extremist or supporting of terrorism have been a particular problem. These laws are used in many jurisdictions to suppress political and controversial speech. Newspapers have been closed and journalists arrested. Web sites are often taken down or blocked.

State secret and national security laws are regularly being used against journalists and their sources even as access to information laws are widely accepted and adopted across the CoE. There are also growing restrictions imposed on photographers not based in law.

Protection of journalists' sources are often undermined by governments seeking to identify officials who provide information even though they are widely recognized both in national laws and in decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Newsrooms are often searched.

New anti-terrorism laws are giving authorities wide powers to conduct surveillance. Other new laws impose technical and administrative requirements on the ability to intercept communications and keeping information. Of particular concern are data retention laws which require the routine surveillance of all mobile and Internet users that can be used to easily identify sources and journalists' investigations.

 

30th November   

Dance Censors...

Pakistan to resolve its terrorism problem by banning vulgar dance
Link Here

Pakistan flag Commissioner Lahore Division Khusro Pervez Khan has banned vulgar dance, gestures and immoral dialogues in the stage dramas being played in the four districts.

The Commissioner Lahore Division issued directives to   four districts Kasur, Nankana, Sheikhupura and Lahore to impose a ban immediately on theaters which stage obscene dances and dialogues.

The directive added that time for theaters will be only from 8pm to 11pm and no theater will be allowed to continue show after this stipulated time.

In addition, the commissioner directed the producers not to cast the actors who use vulgar dialogues. The details of the members of the committee that has been constituted to censor dramas on stage be also submitted in three days, the commissioner said in the letter. The commissioner ordered producers to accommodate the senior actors who had been popular for family shows but they were ousted due to dirty stage dramas in the recent years.

 

29th November   

Import Bill...

New Zealand censor wants to rate game imports
Link Here

Bill Hastings The New Zealand Chief Censor wants the Government to change the law to make it mandatory for all imported computer games to have a New Zealand rating.

At the moment, only games known to have restricted content need to be assessed.

Chief Censor Bill Hastings says foreign labelling is too varied to be helpful to New Zealand audiences.

He wants the Government to repeal the law, which exempts unrestricted computer games from a local rating.

 

29th November   

Update: Plurality Under Threat...

Indonesia president advised to make gesture and not sign porn bill
Link Here  full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Indonesia flag Presidential Advisor Adnan Buyung Nasution recommended President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono not sign or ratify the recently passed pornography bill, as its enforcement could threaten the country's plurality.

I have recommended the President not sign or ratify the porn bill. He has the right to do so and it is not against the Constitution, he told The Jakarta Post.

Buyung said that by not signing the bill, the public would see that the President considers maintaining the unity of the nation a priority.

The House of Representatives passed the controversial porn bill last month despite opposition from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS). The bill has endured strong protest from human rights activists and pluralist organizations, as some articles in the bill were deemed contentious enough to spark disintegration.

The Constitution says a bill passed by the House is supposed to be signed by the president within 30 days. If not, the bill will still become a legitimate law. However, by not signing it, the president rejects the mainstream ideas and political interests of the House," Buyung said.

 

29th November   

Deleted or Not Deleted. That is the Question...

Computer files can be considered deleted when it is beyond your control to undelete them
Link Here

Undelete 5 software R v Christopher Rowe: CA (Crim Div): 3 November 2008

The appellant (R) appealed against his conviction for 12 counts of possessing indecent photographs of children on a reference by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The police seized R's computer and 8 disks which contained several deleted files and two non-deleted files of images of child pornography, and two movie images. There were also three deleted files of child pornography on the computer.

At trial, experts agreed that R would have needed specialist software to access the deleted files, which he did not appear to have. It was not possible for them to prove whether the deleted files had actually been viewed. The last time that the non-deleted files had been accessed was years before the date on the indictment.

Held: The convictions on the counts relating to the deleted files were unsafe as R no longer had custody or control of the images, R v Porter (Ross Warwick) [2006] EWCA Crim 560, [2006] 1 WLR 2633 applied. The original jury were not directed to consider the potential significance that the deleted files had on R's ability to have had knowledge of the images. The counts relating to the deleted images were quashed.

 

29th November   

Bloody Easily Offended...

The ASA don't appreciate the Sun's allusion to Aussie tourist ads
Link Here

Where the bloody hell were you poster An ad in paid for space on a lorry for The Sun newspaper, stated Where the bloody hell were you" against a background of the Union Jack flag. It showed Great Britain's (2008) Olympic gold medal tally of 19 compared to Australia's 14.

One complainant objected that the language used was offensive in a public place where it could be seen by children.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted The Sun's ad was a reference to an earlier Australian Tourist Board ad, but also noted complaints about that ad's use of the word "bloody" in outdoor advertising had previously been upheld by the ASA.

We acknowledged that The Sun's ad had been prepared in a light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek manner, following the UK's recent success at the Olympics, but nevertheless considered that the word "bloody" was a swear word, albeit a milder one than some others and concluded that it was socially irresponsible to reproduce it in advertising in an untargeted medium to which children could be exposed.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Social responsibility) and 47.1 (Children).

The ASA told The Sun not to use the word "bloody" on posters in future.

 

29th November   

Offsite: Call the Computer Crusher...

UK government says extreme porn isn't illegal if you delete it
Link Here

Computer Crusher The Ministry of Justice promised to provide public guidelines to the new extreme porn legislation this week and – behold! – here they are .

They have been greeted with some degree of criticism from those opposed to the legislation, on the grounds that they add little new to what was already known and fail to make matters as clear as they could. Much of this criticism, however, is as much to do with the substance of the law as the guidelines.

...Read full article

 

29th November   

Offsite: Censors and Sensibility...

Salo: one of the most nauseating bipartisan coups against Australian free-mindedness
Link Here

Salo DVD In one of the most nauseating bipartisan coups against free-mindedness in Australia's history, Queensland Labor Premier Wayne Goss agreed with Opposition leader Rob Borbidge with regards to the outrage that was an R18+ rated Salò , and he urge[d] Queenslanders to stay away [from the re-released film] in droves. A reclassification eventually came in 1998, after Judy Spence released a statement erroneously titled Borbidge Must Act on Sex Film that Glorifies Pedophilia. The OFLC caved; the film was banned.

The '98 ban was confirmed five years later. In July 2008, the applicant “Shock” re-submitted it for classification. For a fourth time, Australian authorities banned Salò . Soon after, the film enjoyed a highly publicised and best-selling re-release by arthouse distributors Criterion in the United States.

It was a sobering sequence of events to see unfold - a picture that was widely available to most of the free world was prohibited by Australian authorities and damned to the recesses of cinephiliac memory. Since 1998, distributing, purchasing or even possessing a copy of Salò is an offence punishable by a jail term. The Australian Classification Board cites dozens of non-pornographic works, some legal a few hundred kilometres across the Tasman in New Zealand, with similar status.

At what point did democracy go wrong?

...Read full article

 

28th November   

Update: BBC Swears by less Swearing...

Pandering to the easily offended
Link Here

BBC logo The BBC is to allow less swearing on its television channels next year, the corporation's head of television said yesterday.

Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, said that the corporation did not want to alienate its viewers and had taken the decision to push back the number of expletives.

Bennett, to whom the controller of each BBC television channel reports, told the Manchester Media Festival that the presenter had agreed to reduce swearing in his television show after that incident.

She said: There was a mutual thing to push back on the language. We didn't want to get into a situation where we were pushing away part of the audience of the show.

She said that she had to approve personally every use of 'cunt' on BBC television, adding: That was one of the surprising aspects of the job when I got it. 'fuck' and 'motherfucker', which are considered the next most offensive words, were referred to channel controllers to clear.

Bennett said that anybody who tried to count swearwords on the BBC would see that they had become less frequent even since the early autumn: We've actually been pushing back a bit on language. It is possible that some language alienates some audiences unnecessarily. There will be less F-ing but the blinding seems to be OK.

Bennett said that there would be greater discussion about the appropriateness of swearing on the BBC, and pointed to the example of a documentary following soldiers in Afghanistan. That was more likely to justify inclusion of profanities that might offend in different contexts, she said.

She added: There's higher sensitivity about making sure there's more discussion about slots, type of channel and genre. I think the idea that you can alienate audiences is – even if people don't ring up – we don't want people to be put off, even if they're silent.

 

28th November   

Update: Nutters vs Games...

German nutters and politicians discuss violent computer games
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Germany flag German nutters and politicians have just held a conference on violent computer games:

Douglas Gentile was, by far, the most moderate of the panel. He called to get rid of the simplistic idea that video games are either good or bad. And although he criticized ESRB, he opposed to a ban of the most violent games, asking for more media literacy instead.

Werner Hopf, who presented a longitudinal study claiming that violent video games is the most important risk factor in violent criminality rejected this idea, claiming that it was a trick of video game industry. Not only did he call for a ban of extremely violent computer games, but he also called for the suppression of USK (German rating systems) because according to him it's too close to the industry. He asked for its replacement by a more independent rating organization.

[Hopf's study found that (1) playing violent electronic games is the strongest risk factor of violent criminality and (2) both media-stimulated and real experiences of aggressive emotions associated with the motive of revenge are core risk factors of violence in school and violent criminality. The results of our study show that the more frequently children view horror and violence films during childhood and the more frequently they play violent electronic games at the beginning of adolescence the higher will these students' violence and delinquency be at the age of 14].

USK was also criticized by researchers from the KFN, the Criminology Institute lead by Christian Pfeiffer, one of the most vocal German opponents against killer games . Regine Pfeiffer, Christian's sister, even attacked Electronic Arts violently, calling it a pig company.
[According to the report, she was frustrated in her efforts to sue EA over a violent game (Dead Space?) because the publisher is not headquartered in Germany].
Finally, journalist Rainer Fromm reiterated his objections against sadistic and militaristic games. But he also said that he considered video games per se as a great hobby, even telling that he plays them regularly as well as his children. He also reiterated his very positive opinion of eSports.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Hermann was happy about the success of this conference, and it confirmed him in his view that some violent games such as GTA 4 or The Godfather : Don Edition must be banned...

 

28th November   

Peaceful at the Censors...

New Zealand censor publishes annual report
Link Here

New Zealand flag The 2008 Annual Report of the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification was released today.

Each year the Office deals with publications that generate public and media interest. 2007/08 was no exception. During the past year, the Office examined and classified 2,821 publications, a 9% increase on the previous year. The Office banned 16% of the publications it classified, restricted 72%, and classified 12% as unrestricted. The largest proportion of banned material, 49%, dealt with the sexual exploitation of children.

Chief Censor Bill Hastings said the year was notable for the large increase in
submissions from the police of computer moving and non-moving images. Twice as many publications of this nature were classified objectionable as last year
. As noted, the majority of these publications dealt with the sexual exploitation of children.

The publications of most interest to members of the public and the media during the year were the feature film Hostel II , the digital game Grand Theft Auto IV , and book The Peaceful Pill Handbook (New Revised International Edition).

The Office also carries out research. This year, in a joint project with the Broadcasting Standards Authority, the Office published a study of audience perceptions of violent content in films, DVDS, TV, and on the newer entertainment platforms offered by the internet and mobile phones.

The research findings underlined the importance of the present classification system in assisting the public to make informed viewing choices. The research demonstrates the desire of most adults to protect children and young people from exposure to material that could frighten, disturb or adversely influence their attitudes or behaviour, and that's encouraging, Hastings said.

The 2008 Annual Report can be downloaded from www.censorship.govt.nz.

 

28th November   

Update: Atlas of Repression...

MEP suggests that the EU consider Turkey's website blocking when considering EU membership
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

EU flag Letter to the European Parliament on Turkey's banning of RichardDawkins.net by Sophie in 't Veld MEP:

I am writing to express my concern at reports of a Turkish court compromising freedom of expression in the context of Turkey's application to join the EU.

I would like you to investigate the specific example given below and attempt to see if it forms (as we fear) part of a wider picture of concern, and take the matter up with the Turkish authorities.

The example we cite relates to the blocking of the website of Professor Richard Dawkins, the world-famous evolutionary biologist. A criminal court in Istanbul reportedly banned the site in September 2008 on the grounds that it violated Adnan Oktar's personality after Professor Dawkins criticised Oktar creationist book Atlas of Creation , which is being distributed in Europe in large numbers.

The basis of our complaint is the web/press reports shown in Appendix 1 , which were drawn to my attention by the UK's National Secular Society of which I am a Honorary Associate. I am also writing as the Chair of the EU Working Group for the Separation of Religion and Politics.

Such blockings are in stark contrast to the progress you have been calling for as one of the conditions for Turkey's succession to the EU. What is happening is worse than Turkish authorities not standing up for freedom of expression; it appears that the state's mechanism itself is enforcing the restriction on freedom of expression.

Our concern about the banning does not rest in principle on Professor Dawkins' eminence; however the court's decision is all the more worrying, given it is difficult to think of anyone more qualified than him to speak on science matters, being the Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.

We believe it essential that the EU remains committed to insisting that countries are not permitted to accede until they conform to fundamental rights. We admire your work in this area and note in Appendix 2 below a number of references you have made to requiring Turkey to improve freedom of expression, for the benefit of others who read this letter, which we regard as an open one.

I look forward to receiving confirmation that you intend to investigate the matter, and subsequently what action you intend to take, including making references to renewed concerns in your reports about the progress being made by candidate states in the vital areas of fundamental rights.

 

27th November   

Ministry of Injustice...

Dangerous Pictures Act to come into force on 26th January 2009
Link Here

Ministry of Jutsice logo The Criminal Justice and immigration Act 2008 introduces a new offence, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland of the possession of extreme pornographic images.

This document provides general information for members of public on the new offence of possession of extreme pornographic images in Part 5, Sections 63 to 67 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. These sections are due to come into force on 26th January 2009 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As well as providing information about the offence, this document is intended to answer some of the more frequently asked questions about the offence. It should be read in conjunction with the Explanatory Notes on the Act published on the Office of the Public Sector Information (OPSI) website.

 

27th November   

Update: Swearing at the Bosses...

BBC outlines high level permission for strong language
Link Here

BBC logo BBC producers have been warned that swear words used across the corporation's output must be approved by the controller of each station or channel.

The sign-off policy has come in as the corporation is overhauling its compliance procedures in the wake of the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand phone prank row last month.

The BBC's top brass have informed its senior managers that the broadcaster cannot afford to invite further criticism over swearing.

A group headed by the BBC creative director Alan Yentob, director of archive content Roly Keating and the chief adviser for editorial policy Claire Powell is examining where the appropriate boundaries of taste and generally accepted standards should lie across all BBC output, ahead of a report to come out in the spring.

But until formal changes are made to its procedures next year, controllers of all BBC stations and channels are personally vetting each use of the most offensive swear words to ensure it is 'editorially justified'.

One senior TV producer at the BBC told the Standard: The three worst swear words are automatically going right up to the controller, and we have been told that if in doubt with anything else, check with the controller as they are ultimately responsible for what goes out.

On Monday the BBC's Leadership Group - made up of its 150 most senior managers - met and discussed the issue and were told that ensuring editorial standards were met was a high priority.

 

27th November   

Fear of Kids...

Australia censor bans F.E.A.R. 2 game
Link Here  full story: Fear 2...Another game banned by the Australian censors

Fear 2 It looks as if censors at Australia's Classification Board have banned yet another violent video game.

games.on.net reports that F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin was refused classification by the censor.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is the fifth game to have been refused classification in Australia this year.

As Australia lacks an adult R18+ rating, the view of the Board is that anything unsuitable for a 15 year old is unsuitable for everyone in Australia..

 

27th November   

Sleep in on Sunday Mornings...

Major Australian advertising company refuses atheist ads
Link Here

Atheist Foundation logo Australia is supposed to be a secular society, but the Atheist Foundation of Australia says the nation's biggest outdoor advertising company has refused to run its advertisements.

One of the humorous messages the foundation hoped to put on the back of buses was, Sleep in on Sunday mornings.

But the foundation says Australia's biggest outdoor advertising company, APN Outdoor, had a problem with it.

Atheist Foundation president David Nicholls told the Religion Report on ABC Radio National that the contentious slogan was one of a number which had been proposed for the $16,000 advertising campaign: We started off with 'Atheism - because there is no credible evidence', we put that to the bus companies, they didn't like that and they said the wording wasn't to their acceptance.

And then we changed that to 'Celebrate reason' and thought we'd make it a bit comical - 'Sleep in on Sunday mornings. But they refused that also.

 

26th November   

Update: Jock Shocked...

Sacked radio presenter Jon Gaunt gets support from Liberty
Link Here

Liberty logo Sacked “shock jock” Jon Gaunt today welcomed the support of human rights group Liberty in his legal battle against talkSport radio.

Gaunt is bringing the legal challenge after his contract as a freelance presenter with the station was terminated on 19 November, two weeks after he called a Redbridge Council representative a 'Nazi', a 'Health Nazi' and an 'ignorant pig' during an on-air discussion about the Council's ban on placing vulnerable children with foster parents who smoke. Gaunt admits his emotions ran high during the interview because as a child he spent two months in care following the sudden death of his mother.

In a letter sent to talkSport radio on behalf of Gaunt, Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti said:

…As someone who has been on the receiving end of Jon Gaunt's blunt polemic in print and on the radio, I believe that the airwaves of a great democracy would be the poorer for his absence. I urge you to reinstate Mr Gaunt's programme without delay and have offered him support in the unlikely and unfortunate event that recourse to the Human Rights Act proves necessary.

 

26th November   

Update: Poetic Justice...

Nutters don't get their way in stopping atheist poetry readings
Link Here  full story: Christian Voice vs Poetry...Stephen Green accuses poet of blapshemy

Darkness is where the stars are book Welsh Assembly officials said that they could not stop a reading by a writer whose poetry has angered Christian nutters.

Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black asked Jones to read from his book, Darkness Is Where The Stars Are , to make sure the poet was not “gagged”.

Independent AM Trish Law wrote to Presiding Officer Lord Elis-Thomas to ask him to stop the event on December 11, saying: I am disgusted that, two weeks before Christmas Day, it is proposed to proceed with the reading of blasphemous poems which are an insult to Jesus Christ and to all his followers. She was bitterly disappointed her plea had been turned down.

Assembly Commission chief executive Claire Clancy said: Neither officials nor the Assembly Commission make judgments on the nature or purpose of these events, except to ensure they would not give rise to any legal problems.

Assembly buildings are public buildings, and secular in character. It is our responsibility to ensure that events sponsored by any Assembly Members are always allowed to take place without fear of disruption or intimidation, while respecting the right to peaceful protest.

 

26th November   

Chinese Democracy...

China whinges about the new Guns n' Roses album
Link Here

Chinese Democracy CD China has dismissed the new Guns N' Roses album, Chinese Democracy , as a venomous attack on the nation.

An article in the Global Times, published by the ruling communist party, says the album, launched this week, turns its spear point on China.

The title track of the album, which has not been released in China because of the sensitive material, refers to the banned Falun Gong spiritual group.

On the title track, lead singer Axl Rose sings: If your great wall rocks, blame yourself.

Artwork for the album includes the oil painting Red Star by Beijing artist Shi Lifeng - which depicts Chinese people as powerless.

The album's official website has been blocked in China.

 

26th November   

Missing in Action...

Bloggers under duress in Egypt
Link Here  full story: Blogging in Egypt...Heavy handed Egyptian authorities jail bloggers

Egypt flag BBC Blogger Mohammad Adel who runs the blog Maeit (already dead!) disappeared since Friday, November 21, 2008.

On His blog, Adel's Friend published post reporting that Egyptian State Security Forces stormed into the house of blogger Mohamed Adel on Friday predawn, searched the house, and seized many of his books and CDs.

Ikhwanweb, the official English language web site of the Muslim Brotherhood, published statements from Adel Fahmi (Mohamed's father). Adel Fahmi reported the disappearance of his son expecting that he was arrested on fabricated charges. State security also broke into Mohamed's house a month ago due to his participating in the Anti-Gaza Siege Campaign.

A protest to the disappearance of Adel was held in front of the Genral Prosecutor Office, by some young political activist, with the attendance of the missing blogger's father. Adel Fahmi, said he is proud of his son, and called for his immediate release.

Meanwhile blogger Mohamed Khairi is still in custody despite he received a release warrant few days ago. The Egyptian blogger who writes on “Jarr Shakal” blog (teasing) has been arrested at the dawn of the 17th of this November from his house in Fayoum governate in Nile Delta.

Khairi is a student in the faculty of engineering in Cairo University, and he was previously arrested. Mohamed Khairi was first arrested last October 22 because of his participation in the people's campaign to lift the siege on Gaza Strip, but he was released after the decision of Fayoum Prosecution to imprison him for 15 days. He has been arrested twice in less than a month.

Update: Call For Release

9th December 2008. See article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

Egyptian cyberactivists are gathering for a conference being held in Cairo on December 4, to call for the release of young Egyptian blogger Mohamed Adel .

The event, at the Press Syndicate, is being organized by the syndicate's Freedoms Committee, and is expected to attract a number of bloggers, political activists and public figures.

In the meantime, and according to some of Adel's friend, the young blogger went on a hunger strike since his arrest more than 10 days ago.

A source in the Muslim Brotherhood told the blogger, Abdel-Monem Mahmoud , that Adel is being detained because of a photo of him with a leader in Hamas movement. The photo was taken in Gaza last January when Adel was participating in a humanitarian caravan to the Gaza Strip.

 

26th November   

Kiss and Wage War...

Incitement to war and a lesbian kiss windup Philippines TV censor
Link Here

MTRCB logo The Philippines Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) admonished the ABS-CBN flagship newscast TV Patrol and its cable channel Velvet.

A TV Patrol episode aired October 21 included a news report about utterances made by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Kumander Bravo which were deemed objectionable by the board.

According to the board's monitoring report, Bravo said: let's wage war and commit genocide.

Velvet also got in trouble with the board for airing an episode of the US series The L Word , which showed kissing between two women in its 9 p.m. time slot on October 30.

Velvet representatives led by head Ronald Arguelles agreed to air the show late (11 p.m.) and to delete and/or shorten delicate scenes before airing.

 

25th November   

Update: Nonsense Prevails...

UN votes in favour of blasphemy laws backed by islamic countries
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logo Islamic countries won United Nations backing for an anti-blasphemy measure Western critics say risks being used to limit freedom of speech.

Combating Defamation of Religions passed 85-50 with 42 abstentions in a key UN General Assembly committee, and will enter into the international record after an expected rubber stamp by the plenary later in the year.

It provides international cover for domestic anti-blasphemy laws, and there are a number of people who are in prison today because they have been accused of committing blasphemy, said Bennett Graham, international program director with the Becket Fund, a think tank aimed at promoting religious liberty: Those arrests are made legitimate by the UN body's (effective) stamp of approval.

While the current resolution is non-binding, Pakistan's Ambassador Masood Khan reminded the UN's Human Rights Council this year that the OIC ultimately seeks a new instrument or convention on the issue. Such a measure would impose its terms on signatory states.

Western democracies argue that a religion can't enjoy protection from criticism because that would require a judicial ruling that its teachings are the truth.

Defamation carries a particular legal meaning and application in domestic systems that makes the term wholly unsuitable in the context of religions, says the U.S. government in a response on the issue to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: A defamatory statement . . . is more than just an offensive one. It is also a statement that is false.

 

25th November   

Update: Whingers Stabbed in the Back...

Ofcom rejects complaints about EastEnders stabbing
Link Here  full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

Eastenders logo An EastEnders episode that featured a violent stabbing was acceptable for a pre-watershed audience, Ofcom has ruled.

The TV censor has rejected 45 complaints that an episode of the BBC1 soap broadcast on 28 August was too violent.

The episode featured the death of ex-football hooligan Jase Dyer, who was stabbed in the chest by his former gang leader Terry Bates.

The BBC itself received 134 complaints from viewers but defended the scenes on the grounds that the violence was implied rather than explicit.

 

25th November   

Baby Whingers...

Little minds whinge at Little Britain USA
Link Here

Little Britain USA Little Britain USA is at the latest target of the easily offended after 400 people lodged complaints about the series. The BBC comedy sketch show featured apparent full frontal male nudity and sexual innuendo from one of the comedians dressed as a child.

Nutters of  mediawatch-uk described the programme as in poor taste and called for a consultation regarding taste and decency on the BBC. mediawatch-uk director, John Beyer, said: I am not surprised that they've had quite a number of complaints. It's not my favourite viewing and some of the sketches I've seen are in poor taste. I hope that the BBC will consider having a public consultation about taste and decency. They should be considering how these things get on air in the first place.

A BBC spokeswoman said: 'The BBC strives to make programmes that appeal to all sections of the viewing community and, of course, not all programmes appeal to everyone.'

 

25th November   

Update: Super Regulator...

Beyer looks to lead the BBC Trust and Ofcom
Link Here
John Beyer

John Beyer
Super Regulator

John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk, said Jonathan  Ross should do the honourable thing and resign over the Andrew Sachs affair. He said it would save the BBC any more embarrassment and sends a signal that standards at the corporation would be upheld.

Beyer also called on broadcasting regulator Ofcom to fast-track its own investigation into the infamous incident on Russell Brand's Radio 2 programme to ensure it was concluded before Ross's scheduled comeback in late January.

The Sunday Express understands that Ofcom has assigned fewer than 10 officials to its inquiry and such a small team is unlikely to file its report for several weeks, particularly with the Christmas and New Year break. With three months not an unusual duration for Ofcom probes, it is quite likely that Ofcom could go public, with a possible maximum £250,000 fine, at the same time as Ross's return to TV screens on January 24.

Beyer said that would be an embarrassment for the BBC and that Ofcom should consider allocating more resources. He said: Given the circumstances, they should look at fast-tracking their investigation so that this gets done sooner rather than later. That would be very helpful for all concerned.

Beyer also said that Ross, whose lewd calls with Brand to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs sparked national outrage, was continuing to drag down the BBC. He said he was satisfied with the thoroughness of Friday's report from the BBC Trust but said Ross was blocking further progress: I think his position is untenable. Senior managers at the BBC have gone, even Russell Brand has resigned so clearly there is a question about Jonathan Ross. He should carefully consider his position. It would be the honourable thing to do. What the BBC needs to do more than anything now is to show it has learned from all of this. There must be a review of standards of taste and decency and it has to be up to senior managers and presenters to adhere to them with sanctions in place for breaches.

 

25th November   

Update: No Green Light...

Australian Greens to oppose mandatory internet censorship
Link Here

Greens logo The Australian Greens won't be supporting plans to introduce compulsory internet filters.

The Federal Government wants to stop Australians accessing x-rated material, child pornography and inappropriate material.

The plan is being opposed by the internet industry which says it opens the door to censorship of other material, including political views.

We're very, very concerned that there's going to be a unnecessary clamp down on the internet and it has to be watched, Greens leader Bob Brown told ABC Television on Tuesday. Brown's colleague Scott Ludlam has been lobbying against the changes.

The Government needs the support of all seven crossbench senators - including the five Greens - to have draft laws pass parliament against coalition opposition.

 

25th November   

Update: Political Games...

Australian Sex Party supports the legalisation of adult computer games
Link Here

R18+ banned Somebody Think of the Children blog raised concerns last week about whether the Australian Sex Party (ASP) would fight for an R18+ game classification, given that adult trade association Eros had been opposed to adult games.

Party convenor Fiona Patten promptly responded said that ASP does support the introduction of an R18+ classification for games, as well as an X18+ rating for games. It's part of their national and consistent approach to classification policy.

When it comes to the availability of BDSM material and other content that could be perceived as violent, ASP would like to see the X18+ classification replaced with a NVE (Non Violent Erotica) classification and clearly consenting role playing and fantasies allowed. If that's the case, the NVE guidelines would need to be a lot more lenient than those proposed nearly 10 years ago.

The party is also opposed to the removal of the AMI's Want Longer Lasting Sex billboard. Patten explains that the removal was because of an organised campaign and there was even a website that Catholic Bishop Pell promoted. The word sex in it self should not be seen as inappropriate and that is what happened.'

 

25th November   

Inoffensive Jobsworths...

DVLA easily offended by number plates
Link Here

DVLA logo Car registration plates that spell out words related to terrorism, religion, sex or other potentially provocative themes have been banned, it has emerged.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) keeps a list of plates that it has not approved because of words formed by their sequence of numbers and letters, an MP has found.

Reportedly included on the list is 054MA, which could be seen to resemble the first name of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qa'eda chief. Other terrorism-related banned plates are H057AGE (hostage), MA56ACA (massacre), HE580LA (Hezbollah) and even BU580MB (bus bomb). The DVLA is also thought to prohibit combinations resembling jihad or Hamas.

Also said to be on the banned list are plates whose contents refer to religions or that could be seen to incite racial hatred. Included on these grounds are reportedly M056LEM (Muslim) and others resembling words like Jesus or Koran. GA550VN (gas oven) and G005TEP (goose step), both of which could be seen to have connections with activities by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, are also reported to have been prevented.

The list even spans themes including sexual activity and alcohol, it is claimed, with combinations such as B004ZZY (boozy) and anything containing SEX also prohibited.

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, who unearthed the list, told the newspaper: Some combinations would be deeply offensive. But it's over the top to ban words about booze and sex. It's a bit 'nanny state'.

 

25th November   

Update: Recurring News...

Another Chinese crackdown on porn
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

China flag China is launching a national campaign to crack down on pornographic books, videos and websites, the country's press censor said.

The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) and the National Office of Anti-Pornography and Anti-Illegal Publications (NOAAP) agreed to step up supervision over book sellers near schools and on websites.

Li Qimin, deputy secretary general of the China National Committee for the Wellbeing of the Youths, called on the government and the public to pay more attention to how children could be dissuaded from reading materials filled with sex and violence.

In a survey of juvenile delinquents in the southwestern Sichuan province, Li and his colleagues found that more than 93% had read about or seen books, videos and websites promoting sex or violence.

The reason children have more access to morally questionable materials is that pirated DVDs are being illegally sold and there is greater Internet access, he said.

 

24th November   

Imagine No Nutters...

Atheist posters taken down after nutter pressure
Link Here

Imagine no Religion poster The Freedom From Religion Foundation's Imagine No Religion billboard, which went up late last week in Rancho Cucamonga, California, for a two-month run, has been censored by General Outdoor Co., which took down the Foundation's vinyl message.

While the Foundation has encountered billboard companies unwilling to lease boards in several locations, this is the first time one of its billboards has been censored after going up.

The colorful billboard carries the Freedom From Religion Foundation's name and website, and boasts a John Lennon-esque statement, Imagine No Religion, against a stained-glass window background.

Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor called such censorship unprofessional and cavalier: Are religionists so thin-skinned they must squelch free debate? One small freethought billboard in the immense state of California is such a threat to insecure religious egos that it must be censored?

There is nothing insulting in our message. We simply invite the public to think, to imagine a world free from religion. Think of the history of believers warring over their imaginary gods, the fact that more people have been killed in the name of religion than for any other reason! The human race needs to grow up. We should concentrate on improving this world, and stop worrying about the next.

 

24th November   

Offisite: Unconstitutionally Vague...

John Stagliano argues in court against obscenity law
Link Here

Evil Angel logo Evil Angel Productions owner John Stagliano will have his first formal chance to get the charges against him dismissed on Tuesday, Nov. 25, when his attorney Allan B. Gelbard will mount a multi-faceted attack on the government's contention that two DVDs sent by Evil Angel to FBI agents in the District of Columbia, and one trailer downloaded there, are obscene.

Gelbard's introduction to his Motion sets out the major arguments he will use before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon

Initially, all charges based on the downloading of the Internet trailer from the Evil Angel website are constitutionally impermissible as any finding of obscenity requires the work(s) must be 'taken as a whole' and evaluated based on 'contemporary community standards', Gelbard summarizes: Both terms have been found unconstitutionally vague as applied to Internet speech. Additionally, their cumulative effect, in combination with the government's ability to 'forum shop' the prosecution, further exacerbates the due process violation.

...Read full article

 

23rd November   

Update: Party Invites...

A good take up for the early days of the Australian Sex Party
Link Here

Australian Sex Party The new Australian Sex Party has had more than 1,000 membership applications since its launch this week, it says.

Convenor Fiona Patten said although she knew there would be a significant amount of interest in the political party, the numbers so far had taken her by surprise: People are sick of not being treated like adults when it comes to issues involving censorship and personal choices, and they're certainly sick of living in a nanny state, where religious minorities are influencing the agenda .

 

23rd November   

Update: Not Funny...

Burma sentences comedian to 45 years for organising disaster relief
Link Here  full story: Repression in Burma...Long jail sentences for opposition to government

Burma flag Burmese comedian Zarganar has been sentenced to 45 years in jail following his most recent run-in with his country's military regime.

Secret police took him from his home in June and seized his computer after he organized a group of around 400 volunteers to provide disaster relief in the areas devastated by Cyclone Nargis.

He defied the junta by talking to international press and soliciting donations, and mocked an article in a state-run newspaper which said cyclone survivors could exist on what they could scavenge in the land rather than on chocolate bars from Western aid groups.

When Zarganar was arrested, police also seized several banned films, including the latest Rambo movie, in which Sylvester Stallone takes on Burma's rulers, footage of the devastation caused by the cyclone and film of the lavish wedding of leader Than Shwe's daughter, whose extravagance fuelled outrage among the nation's poor.

Update: Remote from Humanity

5th December 2008. See article from news.bbc.co.uk

A dissident comedian serving a 59-year jail sentence in Burma has been moved to a remote jail in the north of the country, his relatives say.

Zarganar is believed to be one of seven dissidents to have been moved from Insein in Rangoon to Kachin State.

His family have said the decision is a cruel act which will make it difficult for them to visit him.

 

23rd November   

Update: Unread and Unfree...

Australian author still held in Thai prison for lèse majesté
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Verisimilitude booik Harry Nicolaides is languishing in Bangkok Remand Centre, yet to face trial, over a few sentences in an unread novel.

On August 31 this year, Nicolaides was at Bangkok airport waiting to board a flight to Melbourne when he was detained by Thai police on charges of lese majeste, the crime of insulting the monarchy. The arrest warrant alleged Nicolaides had insulted the Thai royal family in his second book, Verisimilitude , a novel Nicolaides self-published in Thailand in 2005.

For the past 82 days, Nicolaides has been held at the Bangkok Remand Prison, where he shares one toilet with up to 60 other prisoners, including men accused of violent and sexual crimes. He was only formally charged yesterday.

He has retracted the book and publicly apologised to the royal family and the Thai people for any offence caused by his reckless choice of words, but bail has been denied three times.

Few novels as commercially unsuccessful as Verisimilitude — only seven copies were sold — can have caused so much strife for their authors. The alleged offence is believed to concern three sentences in the book in which the narrator refers to rumours concerning the romantic life of an unspecified crown prince.

It is simply one of the most bizarre cases I've ever come across, says Arnold Zable, author and president of the Melbourne branch of International PEN, an organisation that campaigns on behalf of writers in detention around the world.

Nicolaides' case is more unusual than the average unusual case, says Dr David Streckfuss, a historian from the University of Wisconsin who lives in Thailand and specialises in the country's lese majeste laws: It's not clear that any Thai ever read the book in the first place.

When he published Verisimilitude three years ago, Nicolaides took the precaution of sending his book to the National Library, the Thai Ministry of Culture, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Bureau of the Royal Household to check that its contents were acceptable. He received no response. When his book was released no one reviewed it and hardly anyone read it. Only 50 copies were printed. There was nothing to suggest that the novel, which was only published in English, hadn't sunk directly into deep obscurity.

But Thai authorities issued a warrant for Nicolaides' arrest on March 17 this year. He was not told he was under investigation. Between March and August, Nicolaides left and re-entered Thailand five times with no sign of trouble. When he was pulled aside by police at passport control on the night of August 31 he was, his brother, Forde Nicolaides, says, alarmed. When Australian embassy staff arrived and explained the allegations, he was absolutely astonished.

Update: Bail Refused Again

11th December 2008. See article from prachatai.com

Reporters Without Borders repeated its call for the release of Australian author Harry Nicolaides, facing a charge of the crime of lese-majesty, after he was yesterday refused bail by the Bangkok criminal court for the fourth time.

Nicolaides, aged 41, who was formally charged on 21 November 2008, has been held at the capital's remand prison since 31 August. The charge relates to his book, Verisimilitude, which came out in 2005 in which he referred to the way an unamed Crown Prince treated one of his mistresses. Only 50 copies were ever printed.

 

23rd November   

Update: Censor On...

Sudan security chief won't budge on censorship
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan flag Sudan's intelligence chief says state censorship will not be lifted under pressure.

Sudanese journalists recently held demonstrations protesting state censorship of media.

But the head of Sudan's intelligence, Salah Gosh,  was quoted in most Khartoum-based newspapers as blaming irresponsible journalists for the censorship. He says they have failed to protect national interests.

 

23rd November   

Anti-Islamic Entertainment...

Iran blocks 5 million websites
Link Here  full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

Iran flag Five million internet websites are currently being blocked by the Iranian government, a website called 'Rooz' reported, quoting the Iran's prosecutor general as its source.

The report is the first ever in which a legislative source from Iran has divulged information about the regime's censorship policies.

During a conference in the country Prosecutor General Abdolsamad Khoram Abadi explained that most of the sites were blocked because they contained unethical content, a reference to pornography and other anti-Islamic entertainment.

Ismail Radkani, a spokesman for the company responsible for the blocking of websites in Iran, also spoke during the conference. He said over a thousand such sites were being automatically withdrawn from the public eye every month, according to legislature passed down from the government.

Abadi estimated the internet as a more imminent danger than satellite dishes, because of the fact that the internet is more accessible. Thus, he called for the establishment of an internet police in his country.

Update: Bloggers Under Duress

24th November 2008. See article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

Iranian authorities recently jailed two cyber writers. Paris based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reports online journalist Shahnaz Gholami's arrest at her Tehran home on 9 November. She was the editor of Azarzan blog. RSF reports also that theologian and online journalist Mojtaba Lotfi was arrested on 8 October for posting a sermon by a well-known opponent of Supreme Guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei online.

At the end of October Mojtaba Saminejad, a former jailed blogger, writes that security forces threatened his wife and him because of his blog and political ideas. The blogger adds that his wife has been under pressure by security agents to complain against him. he has not updated his blog since 29th of October.

 

23rd November   

Gagged in Brazil...

Brazil politicians get critical documentary temporarily banned
Link Here

Gagged in Brazil London based Brazilian filmmaker Daniel Florêncio had a surprise on September 22, when his film Gagged in Brazil was taken off the Current TV internet video sites.

The documentary, an investigation into the seemingly increasingly curtailed press in Brazil , depicts freedom of press and the relationship between media and politics, looking closely at the involvement of Aécio Neves, the powerful governor of the second most populous area in the federation, Minas Gerais.

It explores the way that the local media offers only favorable news about the Brazilian Social Democracy Party run government, and the lack of journalistic investigation or debate about the errors of the same administration.

A day after, his former commissioning editor on Current TV contacted him to explain the reasons:

According to her, in the previous week, the channel's seniors executives in the U.S. received letters containing severe criticism and serious considerations regarding the film. These letters were sent by the Minas Gerais' PSDB (Brazilian Social Democracy Party).

PSDB stated that my film had a political-party character and it did not represent the reality of the situation in the state, and they challenged my ethical conduct in the production of the film. Alongside the letters, they also sent copies of the English version of the video produced by PSDB and posted on YouTube.

Current TV launched a month long investigation into the allegations and into Florêncio's journalism procedures, resulting in Gagged in Brazil being put back online.

Released on the Current TV in UK on May 27, 2008, and in the US a week before, Gagged in Brazil had a Portuguese subtitled version uploaded on YouTube, triggering a huge reaction: its link made the rounds on e-mails, networking websites and the video achieved over 2,000 hits on Google, over 100,000 views on YouTube, not to mention the 6,000 hits on the Current TV version, in English.

 

22nd November   

Update: PEGI Overrated...

ELSPA arrogance belittles their case against the BBFC
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

ELSPA ELSPA has released details of their key findings submitted to the government following the Byron Review consultancy period.

It claims that ratings rival, the BBFC, downgraded 22 adult titles already given an 18 rating by PEGI.

The BBFCs downgrading of games opens up the potential of unnecessary risk for UK children and teenagers when playing games against other non-UK players online, said ELSPA.

Last year, of the 50 games that PEGI rated 18+ and passed to the BBFC for classification, the film rating board downgraded 22 of them – almost 50%.

However, the BBFC claims that it takes into account cultural factors when rating games, something that PEGI's Europe-wide system is incapable of doing.

 

22nd November   

Update: A Deplorable Intrusion...

BBC Trust have their say about the Russell Brand Show
Link Here

BBC Trust Calls made by the BBC presenters Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to the actor Andrew Sachs were a deplorable intrusion with no editorial justification , the BBC Trust ruled yesterday.

Ross will keep his job and escape further punishment over the affair after the trust chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, said he supported the presenter's 12-week suspension. Ross will therefore return to the BBC in January, when his suspension is complete.

Details also emerged yesterday of the approval granted to the contentious recording by the Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas, who resigned from her £280,000 position over the affair.

Ms Douglas who sent a one-word email from her BlackBerry, Yes, in answer to a question about whether the show should be broadcast, did so despite not having heard it. She did so on the recommendation by email of Dave Barber, Radio 2's head of compliance, who described it as very funny.

In its report, the trust criticised a further incident, when Ross, on his Friday night BBC1 show, told the actress Gwyneth Paltrow he would fuck her. The trust called the remark gratuitous and unnecessarily offensive .

Radio 2 broadcast an apology for the 18 October broadcast on 9 November. But a previous apology on Radio 2 by Brand, on 25 October, was condemned by the BBC trustee Richard Tait as unacceptable and exacerbated the intrusion into privacy and the offence . Tait noted three failures – failure to exercise editorial control, to follow established compliance systems, and failure of judgement in editorial decisions. He added that the trust was nevertheless satisfied with the BBC's response to the controversy.

This is the transcript of the pivotal email exchange between Dave Barber, the head of compliance at Radio 2, and Lesley Douglas, the Radio 2 controller, about Brand's programme on 18 October.

On 16 October, Barber wrote to Douglas:

Russell is pre-recorded this week with Jonathan Ross as his co-host. Jonathan uses the F-word 52mins into the first hour in a sequence about Russell 'fucking' Andrew Sachs's granddaughter. They are speaking into Andrew Sachs's answer machine at the time, and it's very funny – there then follow more calls to the answer phone in the second hour, again v funny. Having discussed it with the producer and listened to the sequence, I think we should keep in and put a 'strong language' warning at the top of the hour. I think it is editorially justified in this context and certainly within audience expectations for Russell's show and the slot. Certainly preferable to bleeping, which would make it obvious anyway (and we don't bleep now for this reason). Jonathan also apologises and Russell's shocked reaction is hilarious. Andrew Sachs is aware and is happy with the results, which were recorded his end for him to hear. Are you happy with this as a plan of action?

On 17 October Douglas responded to Barber: Yes.

 

22nd November   

Nutter Complaints...

Ofcom consider complaints about How Mad Are You?
Link Here

How Mad are You? Viewer complaints have led the TV censor Ofcom to launch a probe into a reality television programme about mental health.

But a leading charity has offered strong support to the two-part BBC2 Horizon show, entitled How Mad Are You? , which concluded on Tuesday.

The programme featured 10 volunteers, half of whom had histories of psychiatric conditions such as anorexia and bipolar disorder, taking part in a series of challenges set in and around Hever castle including performing a stand-up comedy routine and mucking out cows.

A panel of mental health experts were then given the task of identifying which of the volunteers had been diagnosed with the conditions.

Spokesman for Ofcom Ed Taylor confirmed the watchdog was following up complaints from viewers following the first showing.

The programme has drawn some criticism for its title and the reality show format it uses to explore the subject of psychiatric illness.

However a representative from mental health charity Mind was quick to point out that the programme exposed some of the stereotypes and preconceived ideas surrounding the issue of mental health. Spokesman for the charity Alison Kerry said: Once you got beyond the arguably inflammatory title to the programme and its reality TV style we found it to be an excellent show which encourages viewers to re-examine their preconceptions about mental health. It was also very interesting as it showed how difficult it can be to diagnose mental health problems as well as examining the consequences of giving people a label.

BBC spokesman Lauren Gildersleve said the show, which was watched by 1.8 million viewers in the first week, attempted to appeal to a wide audience which would not usually watch a science documentary about mental health. She added that the programme had been well received by those involved: We have had a positive response from the volunteers, expert panel and charities who have seen the film.

 

22nd November   

Silly F*ckers...

Sky EPG censors the title of Channel 4's The Devil's Whore
Link Here

The Devil's Whore banner Channel 4 series The Devil's Whore has been censored on Sky's Electronic Programme Guide.

Those that tuned in to the programme found the EPG listing it as Devil's Wh**e but Sky has explained to What Satellite and Digital TV that Channel 4 were aware that the word would be starred out.

A Sky spokesman said: Prior to broadcast last night, Channel 4 had agreed to edit their listing based on feedback from Sky. Since broadcast Channel 4 has made the request to revert back to the show's unedited title, which Sky has accepted.

 

22nd November   

Update: Rock and Hard Place...

State filter may allow X18+ hardcore currently considered illegal on the internet
Link Here

X18+  certificate The New South Wales Parliamentary Library Research Service has put together a briefing on the government's filtering proposal. It reads:

At this stage, the Rudd Government proposal would restrict blanket mandatory ISP filtering to the illegal RC content, based on the ACMA's ‘black list' of prohibited websites.

No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in Australia
Keep Your Filter Off Our Internet badge

 

22nd November   

Update: Last Ads in Chicago...

Chicago buses forced to restore GTA IV adverts but ban future M rated game ads.
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Bus advert for GTA IV About six months after the Chicago Transit Authority pulled ads for the violent but popular gangland video game Grand Theft Auto IV, triggering a lawsuit from the gamemaker, billboards for the game and its brooding, East European anti-hero have begun reappearing on the sides of CTA buses.

Take Two, whose subsidiary, Rockstar Games, publishes the title alleged that the CTA violated its contractual and constitutional rights by removing the ads, which were timed to appear around the game's release on April 29.

The lawsuit was settled in September, according to court records, and as part of the settlement agreement, the ads will reappear on buses for the next six weeks, CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said.

In an e-mail, Take Two said that the terms of the settlement are confidential but that a replacement advertising campaign is running in Chicago.

Last week, the CTA board voted to ban advertising for video games rated "M" (suitable for those aged 17+) and above. The ordinance, which takes effect Jan. 1, cites a demonstrable correlation between intensely violent video games and violent or aggressive behavior.

 

21st November   

Update: Pegging On...

PEGI to roll out new rating symbols in Europe next spring
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Elspa ratings The new traffic light rating system from PEGI is to be introduced into mainland Europe this spring.

Age rating symbols are yet to be finalised, but the current imagery that includes a spider, fist and syringe, is to be expanded on to include descriptive text. This follows suggestions from the Byron report that the symbols were previously too confusing for consumers.

When settled upon, age ratings will be coloured red, orange and green, rather than the current black and white. However, they are currently being reworked from the first design to avoid copyright issues with the UK's BBFC colour-coded ratings.

PEGI has agreed those changes and they will be implemented as part of the PEGI system in the new year, probably in the spring by the time the information has been transmitted to all publishers and incorporated as part of the approvals process for the format holders, said Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA.

It's still unclear if the traffic light system will be used in the UK as the government is currently looking through information submitted following the Byron review before it decides on the way games should be rated.

The introduction of traffic light colours and changes to the descriptors have been approved, they are now being worked through with lawyers to ensure they do not infringe any existing trademarks and can be adopted smoothly.

 

21st November   

Update: Show Over...

BBC to draw a line under the Russell Brand Show fallout
Link Here

Ross effigy Jonathan Ross is expected to escape further sanction over the obscene calls scandal.

The BBC is thought to have concluded his three-month suspension was sufficient punishment for a broadcast that sparked 42,000 complaints.

It means that in January Ross will be able to return to fronting all his shows for the corporation.

David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouthshire, said: The BBC is pathetic for not sacking Jonathan Ross. It is a slap in the face to the licence payers to let him stay on.

John Beyer, of the pressure group Mediawatch UK, said: It is difficult to see how this decision can be justified when there seems to be so much public disquiet about employing him at all. He has already had one chance too many. If this is the case they [the BBC] will end up looking like they have not been tough enough.

It is expected that the BBC Trust and managers will issue a rebuke to Ross and Brand today while ruling out further punishment.

A senior BBC source said yesterday: It would be a huge surprise if there was any further sanctions for Jonathan Ross. Much of the drama has already been played out, he is suspended, two senior figures in BBC radio have resigned and acknowledgements have been made about tightening up compliance procedure.

It is believed that an internal inquiry will condemn poor editorial practices on BBC music radio stations. Insiders say the report will claim some controllers have been too weak in policing presenters. Sources are suggesting that the new rules will mean every radio programme, even concerts, will have to be vetted by a senior executive.

 

21st November   

MediaBitch-UK...

Mediawatch-UK petition against swearing on TV
Link Here

Mediawatch-UK logo John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK has initiated a petition against swearing on TV:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make urgent representation to the Broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, the broadcasting institutions operating in the UK and film regulators, asking them to stop the use of unnecessary swearing and bad language in their productions (including those available for downloading from websites) and to urge providers of user-generated content to take similar action.

Concern about the volume and nature of swearing on television made headlines when in November 2008 Michael Grade, the Executive Chairman of ITV, observed that swearing had become “unrestrained” and “indiscriminate”. He also stated that people do not want to hear those words.

In May 2008 the Radio Times conducted an opinion poll, which found that 69% of people believed there is too much swearing on TV. In November 2008 the Sunday Express launched a Clean Up TV Crusade focusing on the excessive use of swearing and the Sunday Telegraph conducted a poll which found that 56% of people thought the f*** word should never be used on TV.

The Office of Communications (Ofcom) in its Communications Market reports for 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 found that the majority of people believe there is too much swearing on TV.

mediawatch-uk believes that swearing on TV has reached such proportions that it is threatening the English language, that it is undermining the Government's policies on Education to improve communication skills and hindering initiatives to restore respect and civility to our society.

 

21st November   

Update: British Prude...

BP ban softcore magazines from their petrol station stores
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

British Prude sign Petrol giant BP has removed porn magazines with an R-rating from 250 stores nationwide.

The move, which was welcomed by women's groups, will ensure that publications given a Category 1-restricted classification will no longer be available at the outlets.

Although the titles have been deemed inappropriate by the organisation, it can only lobby for their removal from a further 1150 nationwide stores that it has a co-branding arrangement with.

Update: Shell Follow Suit

4th December 2008. See article from somebodythinkofthechildren.com

Shell/Coles Express follow suit removing Category 1 magazines nationwide. Julie Gale says ‘The Federal classification system and its State and Territory enforcement arms need an overhaul. They are not working.'

 

21st November   

Fear of News...

Channel 4 blocks online news reports to China and Zimbabwe
Link Here

Channel 4 logo Channel 4 News has blocked internet users in China and Zimbabwe from accessing its news reports online for fear of reprisals against those involved in their investigations.

Tim Lambon, the assistant foreign editor of Channel 4 News, told delegates at News Xchange 2008 in Valencia that the broadcaster had adopted self-censorship online to safeguard those involved in its films from persecution and also, in other investigations, to protect itself legally.

During a Q&A session looking into investigative journalism across the globe, Lambon said the broadcaster had blocked servers in countries where there was deemed to be a significant risk of reprisals against local people involved in making Channel 4 News reports.

That is not a foolproof way of doing it, because there are embassies that can record these things and them pass them on. I know that a number of our clients, including CNN and NBC, have been quite annoyed with us when we have put restrictions on whether they can run [online] broadcasts of those pieces, those very strong pieces .

He said his employer, ITN, which supplies Channel 4 News, took active steps to assess the danger faced by those involved in its productions and that the measures it took could even be detrimental to the stories it pursued as it looked to first safeguard those involved: There is self-censorship because you could endanger people if you put it up on the net, if you broadcast it internationally. In terms of taking care of the people that are involved certainly British broadcasting, I think, has a very responsible attitude .

 

21st November   

Comment: Bollox Whinging...

Kangaroo testicles are the dog's bollocks of bushtucker
Link Here

I'm a Celebrity titles Easily offended viewers have whinged about an exchange between Ant and Dec on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! .

The duo offended nutters by repeatedly using the word 'bollocks', triggered by the Bushtucker Trial in which Nicola McLean was shown eating a kangaroo testicle.

TV censor Ofcom confirmed: We have received complaints about the programme broadcast on Monday. These are being assessed against out Broadcasting Code.

The offensive sequence came when Ant described the Bushtucker Trial as the dog's bollocks. Dec chipped in to joke: No, it's the kangaroo's bollocks! Ant then repeated the word by adding: and the crocodile's bollocks and his penis as well.

With the pair's exchange coming just 28 minutes after the 9pm watershed, it's likely to anger ITV's executive chairman Michael Grade, who recently called for swearing on TV to editorially justified and in context.

But Ant and Dec's immediate boss, ITV director of channels Peter Fincham, defended them saying: I was watching it and I was not offended. With these things, it is about context and context is everything. I that that was in context.

Comment: For Connoisseurs of Hypocrisy

From Alan

Connoisseurs of hypocrisy might like to have a look at the Daily Mirror. Yesterday, it ran a why-oh-why in its campaign against swearing about the use of the word 'bollocks' (or, as it preferred 'b******s'). Twenty-four hours earlier, it had run a story in which it had referred to the same body parts of the same wild animals as 'balls', and that in a headline!

In any case, what's this nonsense about swearing ? If I shout Bollocks! in reaction to nonsense, I am swearing. If I refer to a kangaroo's bollocks, I'm not swearing, but using a noun in its literal sense. Likewise, if I refer to David Blunkett as an authoritarian bastard, I am swearing, but if I use the same word to refer to the child he sired on Kimberly Fortier, I am using the word in its literal sense. If Russell Brand says he has fucked Andrew Sachs's granddaughter, he is being rude and ungallant - and possibly defamatory if he is not telling the truth - but he is not swearing.

 

21st November   

Seeing Red...

Russian language edition of Newsweek under duress
Link Here

Newsweek Russian version The Russian-language edition of Newsweek magazine has been warned for allegedly insulting Muslims, Moscow prosecutors said.

The magazine published two stories that could be insulting or humiliating to Muslims, the Moscow Prosecutor's Office said, adding that an article also included one of the 2005 Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

The magazine published the stories on Muslims in the European Union in late October.

 

21st November   

The Israeli Connection...

Iranian blogger arrested
Link Here

Iran flag Iranian blogger, Hossein Derakhshan (aka Hoder), a prolific blogger often described as the godfather of the Iranian blogosphere, has been arrested In Tehran.

Hossein returned to Iran about three weeks ago and is being investigated on suspicion of espionage for the state of Israel. According to the same source, Hossein seems to have admitted participating in spying activities for Israel.

In January 2006, Hossein visited Israel as a Canadian citizen and blogged openly about his trip as breaking a major taboo:

This might mean that I won't be able to go back to Iran for a long time, since Iran doesn't recognize Israel, has no diplomatic relations with it, and apparently considers traveling there illegal. Too bad, but I don't care. Fortunately, I'm a citizen of Canada and I have the right to visit any country I want. I'm going to Israel as a citizen journalist and a peace activist.

 

21st November   

Putting the Mockers On...

Vietnam arrests a dozen people involved in adult website
Link Here

Vietnam flag The largest pornographic website in Vietnam is on the verge of being shut down with the arrest of a dozen people, mostly students aged between 20 and 30, reports the Earth Times.

Senior lieutenant colonel Tran Van Hoa, head of the country's Anti High Technology Crimes division, said: This is the first time we have arrested so many people involved in spreading pornography in Vietnam.

The website www.mocxxx.com - started in 2006 as a forum to educate young people on how to have a healthy sex life - is still operational. Hoa said that the website will be closed after the retrieval of enough proof.

The website has apparently evolved into a pornographic site taking a feed from RedTube and adding a local forum exchanging information about prostitutes etc.

Alexa Internet, in its web traffic data by country, ranks www.mocxxx.com 84th among the top 100 most-visited websites in Vietnam.

According to Vietnamese laws, those who make, circulate or sell books, photographs or material deemed to be pornographic are liable to fine of up to $3,000 and a sentence of three years in prison.

Update: Jailed

29th December 2009. Based on article from saigon-gpdaily.com.vn

The Ho Chi Minh City People's Court on December 25 handed down sentences from one year three months to two years imprisonment to four defendants for helping create the country's largest pornographic website.

The website www.mocxi.com launched in 2006, billing itself as a forum to educate young people on how to have a healthy sex life. It evolved into a pornographic site with movies and photos, and was also used to exchange information about prostitutes.

The four were reportedly members of the website's management board and allegedly posted sex movies and photos to sell advertising space on it.

 

21st November   

Secular Censorship...

Arabic Network for Human Rights most blocked website
Link Here

3almani.org logo The Arabic Network for Human Rights reports that the website of Arab Secularists 3almani.org is facing a campaign to block it in Arab states.

Five states have already blocked the site, making it the most-blocked website.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia and Bahrain have blocked both sites and they have now been joined by Syria in blocking the Arab Secularists website.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said: It is not surprising that these websites have been blocked by these states, but it is strange that the most-blocked websites have a secularist trend, which reveals the stance of these states against the secularist and democratic values called for by these websites. Strangest of all is the fact that the United Arab Emirates have joined the list of countries that have this animosity to the Internet.

 

21st November   

Local Repression...

Belarus censor bans TV play, The Locals
Link Here

Belarus flag The Belarus Ministry of Culture's Cinema and video production registration and classification directorate has banned the television drama shot to the order of Belsat TV channel.

Besides, the sense and the artistic purpose of the work of art by the Belarusian people's poet Yanka Kupala is distorted in this film, which creates a wrong impression of the creative works of the Belarusian literature classic writer, injures his dignity. In the final part of the film chauvinism and national exceptionality are found, which is intolerable, writes V, Kurlovich, the director of the Cinema and video production registration and classification directorate.

According to Belasat TV channel, the reasons for the ban are deeper and the play itself was prohibited over the whole Soviet period. The television drama The Locals made by Mazynski and Bazaszkowski has almost exact text of Kupala's tragicomedy.

Belarus remains the last country in Europe where political censorship in the sphere of culture persists.

 

20th November   

Update: Christian Voice vs Atheist Poet...

Nutters get aggressive against poetry readings
Link Here  full story: Christian Voice vs Poetry...Stephen Green accuses poet of blapshemy

Darkness is where the stars are book Patrick Jones, the poet who has wound up the nutters of Christian Voice with his atheist poetry has updated the current situation:

Three Welsh AM.s are now trying to get the reading cancelled at the Welsh Assembly due to blasphemy and profanity in the poems and that the UK is a Christian country and believe in freedom of speech ...but - and I promise I have not sent an email or invited them or anything!!! I think it goes to show the knee jerk reactions that abound.

Also Borders have stepped in and we will be launching the book on Dec 11th at the Cardiff store with a further reading in London's Borders - which I hope will show the way that it should have been handled and that the issue was not how Christian Voice heard of the book but their reaction and their destruction of free speech. The venues I am reading at (and I could be reading any poem - even Rowan Williams!) are being bombarded and threatened with calls and emails from CV members and some are quite upset and anxious about this.

Update: Naming the Guilty

21st November. Based on article from freethinker.co.uk

Trish Law, the independent AM for Blaenau Gwent has written to the Assembly's Presiding Officer, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas to complain about the planned reading of Jones' poems in the Assembly :

I uphold freedom of speech [...BUT...] I cannot condone the reading of blasphemous, obscene and perverted poems in the National Assembly. We are still a Christian country, yet one that acknowledges and readily accepts other religious beliefs and values. So while we would not tolerate other religions and religious leaders being insulted through verse or deed neither should we expect Christ and Christianity to be subjected to a tirade of anti-Christian rhetoric and profanity.

I implore you to put a stop to this reading on December 11 in the name of decency and humanity.

The line of attack from Conservative Jonathan Morgan is not the same but the upshot of his argument is: the reading - hosted by two AMs, Lorraine Barrett and Peter Black - should not happen:

Patrick Jones seems to think that the freedom of speech is a convenient shield to be used when under attack for being offensive. In exercising that freedom, and in respecting it, we should do so responsibly. [...BUT...] I do not believe that AMs should be wading into the debate by hosting a reading. It is a mistake and opens up the institution to the accusation that it is siding with one opinion without giving the other the same chance of expression.

 

20th November   

Bollox Whinging...

Kangaroo testicles are the dog's bollocks of bushtucker
Link Here

I'm a Celebrity titles Easily offended viewers have whinged about an exchange between Ant and Dec on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! .

The duo offended nutters by repeatedly using the word 'bollocks', triggered by the Bushtucker Trial in which Nicola McLean was shown eating a kangaroo testicle.

TV censor Ofcom confirmed: We have received complaints about the programme broadcast on Monday. These are being assessed against out Broadcasting Code.

The offensive sequence came when Ant described the Bushtucker Trial as the dog's bollocks. Dec chipped in to joke: No, it's the kangaroo's bollocks! Ant then repeated the word by adding: and the crocodile's bollocks and his penis as well.

With the pair's exchange coming just 28 minutes after the 9pm watershed, it's likely to anger ITV's executive chairman Michael Grade, who recently called for swearing on TV to editorially justified and in context.

But Ant and Dec's immediate boss, ITV director of channels Peter Fincham, defended them saying: I was watching it and I was not offended. With these things, it is about context and context is everything. I that that was in context.

 

20th November   

Update: Pressed to Censor...

Mohammed cartoon blog in Indonesia closed by WordPress
Link Here

Wordpress suspended message The Indonesian government says it has called on a blogging website to take down two cartoons which depict Muslim Prophet Muhammad in sexual situations.

The communications minister said the drawings were very inappropriate , and said if necessary he would ask internet service providers to block the entire WordPress site.

The cartoons, which appeared on the website last month, have provoked fierce debate among viewers. The two cartoons, which are several pages long, each tell a sexually explicit story involving the Prophet, interspersed with verses apparently lifted from the Koran.

A ministry spokesman said the cartoons were offensive, not just to Muslims, but to all religions.

There were protests in Indonesia two years ago when cartoons depicting Muhammad appeared in a Danish newspaper.

Based on article from fatihsyuhud.com

To show how easy it is to get bloggers to support censorship:

I am grateful to wordpress.com which acted quick enough to close down the controversial blog on the Prophet cartoon comic strip written by –who else?–an anonymous irresponsible blogger. Otherwise, the Indonesia government would have closed down the entire Indonesia's wordpress.com community as stated by Indonesia's Communication Minister Muhammad Nuh.

The blog which has been closed by wordpress.com is lapotuak.wordpress.com,

 

20th November   

Update: Censorship Crisis...

Russia hides news of financial crisis
Link Here

Russia flag Russian prosecutors will aggressively monitor how media outlets report the financial crisis, authorities said.

The Prosecutor General's office ordered news organizations to be responsible when reporting on financial institutions and not to spread panic, saying inspections may be carried out. No further details were given.

Reports on the Russian stock market's fall or the decline of the ruble have been all but absent on state-run television. Most TV stations are run by the government or private companies loyal to the Kremlin.

Vladimir Varfolomeyev, a top editor at Ekho Moskvy radio, wrote recently that the Kremlin sent an order to all broadcasters banning the words collapse and crisis .

 

20th November   

Update: Paper Protest...

Sudan newspapers go on strike against censorship
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan flag As part of a growing protest against state censorship ten Sudanese newspapers suspended publication on Tuesday, journalists said.

Sudanese reporters said it was the biggest voluntary shut down of the media since the days of British rule in the 1950s.

The protest came a day after 63 journalists and newspaper staff were detained for more than three hours by police after staging a rally outside Sudan's parliament.

This is a real step forward, said Faisal Mohamed Saleh, a columnist for Al-Akhbar newspaper: In the past a few partisan newspapers have staged protests. But most of the people who are taking part today are journalists from independent newspapers.

The 10 papers were planning to shut-down again on Wednesday if other publications agreed to join in, said Saleh.

Journalists complain of nightly visits from security officers who instruct editors to remove sensitive articles from the next day's edition.

 

20th November   

Stop Press...

China look to faster news reporting to reduce internet rumours
Link Here

China flag China's propaganda officials are experimenting with a revolutionary new policy to manage their message in the age of the internet: reporting the news as it happens.

The move marks an important shift for the ruling Communist Party, which is accustomed to deciding what will be reported and when.

However, far from being a move towards freedom of the press, the aim is to maintain control of the information available to China's 1.3 billion people.

The order came straight from the desk of China's propaganda chief, Li Changchun, one of the nine members of the all-powerful Politburo standing committee.

Let us use the method of providing news as the way to control news, a well-placed source quoted Li as saying in his recently issued directive.

The source said that the propaganda chief had indicated that the new approach to news would reduce wild gossip, particularly on the internet, where rumours and speculation are rife and wildly inaccurate reports gain credence in the absence of an official version, given the low credibility of state-run media.

Li's directive is intended to keep the news in party hands by ensuring the news agenda is set by propaganda organisations rather than investigative reporters.

 

20th November   

Update: Suicidal Sensitivity...

Shopping centre cancels Exit International public meeting
Link Here  full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

A last minute pull-out by Grand Central shopping centre management has caused a public meeting organised by euthanasia proponent Dr Philip Nitschke to relocate and given Toowoomba the distinction of being the only town in Australia to withdraw a booking made by his Exit International organisation.

An angry and disappointed Dr Nitschke said he was astonished by the decision.

Dr Nitschke said the only reason given was that he was a controversial figure and therefore inappropriate to be speaking at the community room at the shopping centre.

Hitting out at the decision, Dr Nitschke said censorship of what could and couldn't be discussed in a public forum shamed Australia.

It is a coincidence indeed that the venue should pull out on the day after we ran an advertisement in the Toowoomba Chronicle advertising the public meeting, Dr Nitschke said: Centre management knew what it was about and the booking was made weeks ago.

 

19th November   

Update: Hardly Democratic...

Opposition party propose an extension of lese majeste laws
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Thai Democrat party logo A group of MPs from the opposition Democrat Party have proposed a draft legislation that would penalise people making defamatory remarks or contemptuous tones against the monarchy on the Internet or via computers.

The proposed law would also punish those who wrongly accuse or attempt to frame up others of such a wrongdoing.

Under the proposed law, anyone putting inaccurate content about the monarchy on the Internet or a computer system faces a jail term of between three to 20 years or a fine ranging from Bt200,000 (£3800) to Bt800,000 (£15,400).

Those uploading defamatory or contemptuous content about the monarchy face an imprisonment of five to 20 years or a fine of between Bt300,000 to Bt800,000.

The law will also punish anyone falsely accusing others of such wrongdoings, with imprisonment of three to 20 years and a fine ranging from Bt200,000 to Bt800,000.

The law also seeks to punish people hiring others to do the job for them, the Internet service provider or computer system administrator who fails to cooperate, as well as repeat offenders.

Based on article from bangkokpost.com

Critics have blasted the Democrat proposal.

Boonsong Chaisinghananon, a Silapakorn University philosophy lecturer, said the amendments were more likely to serve or be exploited by the Democrats and the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which has often accused others of insulting the monarchy.

The proposers rejected a political movitation behind the amendments and said the ICT minister appoint military personnel to help track internet violators.

 

19th November   

Update: Staying Alive...

Billy Suicide creator justifies his game
Link Here  full story: Suicide Censorship...UK government proposes to ban suicide information

Billy Suicide game Dave Lasala, creator of controversial Flash game Billy Suicide , has hit back at organisations campaigning for its removal from the internet.

His comments come after The Telegraph contacted the Samaritans and PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide), and printed responses claiming the game was both irresponsible and a catalyst to influence the behaviour of people who are already vulnerable to suicide.

I wanted the game Billy Suicide to be an exaggerated self-portrait, Dave Lasala explained to Eurogamer. I also wanted to use it to look at a difficult subject with a sense of humour. I feel I have some authority on the subject, having rescued two brothers from suicide attempts.

Anyway, it seems to me that people blame violent art, angry music and horror movies for negative behaviour because it's easier to reduce complex issues down to a neat one-sentence solution, like, 'If there were no violent movies there would be no violence.

I would encourage everyone to check out the Oscar-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine for an in-depth examination of this behaviour. That being said, the object of the game Billy Suicide is to keep him alive.

 

19th November   

Flynn Flack...

Parliament censors members blogs
Link Here

Paul Flynn MP logo A Labour MP says he has been stripped of a Parliamentary allowance for making fun of other MPs on his blog.

Paul Flynn was told to remove posts including ones calling ex-Labour minister Peter Hain a shapeshifter and Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik a clown.

When Mr Flynn refused he had part of his communications allowance removed.

Other MPs have complained of the Commons trying to censor their blogs but the authorities say there are rules on using public money for propaganda.

MPs voted last year to give themselves a £10,000 allowance to spend on boosting the public understanding of Parliament through websites and other publicity material. They were warned that they would not be allowed to use the money to publish political propaganda on their websites.

But Mr Flynn said the authorities were not concerned about bias on his site. They were instead trying to impose the same rules of etiquette that apply in the Commons chamber on the internet, which he said amounted to censorship.

They didn't have any complaints about the party political content, it was the courtesies of the House, he told the BBC News website: But I have never seen the rules written down. They just rang me up after reading my blog and said 'you can't say that'.

In one post, Mr Flynn compares Labour colleague Peter Hain to a Star Trek character who liquefies at the end of each day and sleeps in a bucket to emerge in another chosen shape the following morning. He also turns his satirical fire on Lembit Opik, who recently failed in his bid to be elected Lib Dem president, whom he describes as a clown and a turkey whose speciality is mindless political populism over intelligence.

Another Labour MP, Derek Wyatt, has clashed with the Commons authorities over the content of his website. There is nothing to stop MPs having a blog but there has to be appropriate use of the communications allowance. He said he had been forced to remove 13 video clips which allegedly included party political points.

He said: They don't get in the way of my letters or phone calls, so why do they want to interfere in what I put on the web? They only want me to publish anodyne videos that no one will watch. They have got it completely wrong. They don't understand the net. They simply don't get it. It is like 1984.

 

19th November   

Update: Talksport Nazis...

Radio presenter Jon Gaunt sacked over Nazi jibe
Link Here

Jon Gaunt Sacked radio presenter Jon Gaunt could sue TalkSport after getting the boot for calling Redbridge councillor Michael Stark a Nazi.

Gaunt was suspended after an on-air row with the cabinet member for children's services over the council's policy to ban smokers becoming foster parents.

He told the Recorder today: If I have to lose my job and go through a legal battle to be able to stand up for children in care, so be it. I have been there. I know the emotional trauma they are going through. It happened to me when I was in care.

The host apologised on air for calling Cllr Stark a Nazi and later a health Nazi and an ignorant pig.

He was dismissed and admits he is bemused by the decision. He said: I am particularly disappointed by their decision when I apologised for the incident to both the audience and the councillor.

Hundreds of fans have contacted Mr Gaunt in support of his reinstatement and his stance over the policy.

 

19th November   

Turning Wit into Whine...

Christian Voice pull outrage out of the hat
Link Here

Rowan Atkinson as vicar The Prince of Wales' 60th birthday show on ITV provided yet another opportunity for Stephen Green of Christian Voice, to indulge in a display of offended piety.

This time it was Rowan Atkinson's skit on Jesus' miracles in the Gospel of St John. This is from a circular sent out by Green:

Rowan Atkinson mocks Christ at Prince's Birthday Show

Rowan Atkinson mocked the Bible, Jesus Christ, His miracle at Cana and His crucifixion on the Prince of Wales' 60th birthday show at 8.35pm on Saturday 15th November 2008 which was broadcast on ITV as ‘We are most amused'.

Atkinson came on dressed as a vicar and began to read from John Chapter 2. After half a verse he began to blaspheme the word of God and mock the Lord and His miracles as conjuring tricks.

Since the presentation did not change, it would not have been clear to someone unfamiliar with the scriptures what was from the Bible and what was not. Atkinson finished up by saying: He did go unto Jerusalem and he did his full act … they absolutely crucified him.

Atkinson has rightly defended political satire and his biography quotes him as saying: The freedom to criticize ideas, any ideas - even if they are sincerely held beliefs - is one of the fundamental freedoms of society.

But his sketch was not political satire, nor did it criticise any idea or belief of Christianity. It was just insulting, mocking, crass and disrespectful. Civilised, decent people do not behave like that. Plainly Atkinson thinks there is not enough disrespect in our society already today.

 

19th November   

Update: Branded as Slow...

Parliamentary committee questions BBC over Russell Brand Show
Link Here

Culture, Media and Sport select committee BBC bosses have been questioned by MPs over the crude phone calls made by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross to actor Andrew Sachs.

BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons denied the corporation had been slow in its response to the incident, but admitted lessons could be learned.

The BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, admitted a very serious editorial lapse had occurred.

The pair were speaking at a Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing.

Conservative MP Nigel Evans criticised the BBC's lamentable slowness in handling the crisis, but Sir Michael replied: There was no lack of speed. I don't think we could've got an apology out any earlier . He added there was a case that the BBC's head of audio, Tim Davie, should have been on the airwaves to make a public statement a little earlier.

MPs also criticised Lyons and Thompson for failing to fire Ross and Brand for gross misconduct.

The primary failing is not the antics of performers, it's the fact it was allowed to go out, Lyons replied: Until we have finished our investigations, I would be careful about terms like gross misconduct which have contractual implication .

He added one of the things the trust was exploring was whether it is right to leave a young producer implanted in a company that is owned by one of the performers, a reference to the BBC producer who was drafted in to work for Brand's production company while the star's regular producer was away.

Thompson added that the corporation would be looking at whether additional safeguards were needed to ensure compliance procedures were being fulfilled in programmes made by independent production companies where the artist has an economic involvement.

Lyons told MPs the trust had not finished its inquiry and that all decisions would follow from that, with nothing being ruled in or out.

Thompson is due to report back to the trust later this week on BBC management's findings over the furore. The trust will announce the results of their investigation on Friday, 21 November.

 

19th November   

Glorifying Censorship...

UK Government make terrorism internet filter available
Link Here

Home Office Filtering technology will allow parents, schools, businesses and web users to further restrict access to websites said to be advocating or promoting terrorism.

Following joint work between the internet industry and government, web users now have the opportunity to download software allowing them to restrict access to websites that may encourage the endorsement or participation in acts of terrorism.

The software can be downloaded voluntarily and is available to parents, schools, colleges and businesses.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said, Stopping people becoming or supporting terrorists is the major long-term challenge we face. I want to give parents and guardians the power to decide what content is downloaded on their computers at home, which is why we have worked hard to develop these tools with various software companies.

 

19th November   

Old Censor...

Senator Ted Stevens sacked by his electorate
Link Here

Ted Stevens The nutter Senator Ted Stevens, has been sacked by his electorate. He has regularly featured on Melon Farmers calling for FCC censorship of cable television and generally bad mouthing anything to do with sex, violence and TV

Senator Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in Senate history, narrowly lost his re-election bid Tuesday, marking the downfall of a Washington political power and Alaska icon who couldn't survive a conviction on federal corruption charges….

Stevens' ouster on his 85th birthday marks an abrupt realignment in Alaska politics and will alter the power structure in the Senate, where he has served since the days of the Johnson administration while holding seats on some of the most influential committees in Congress.

 

19th November   

No Easy Solutions Verified...

European Commission publishes reports on classification and age verified
Link Here

EU flag The European Commission have reported on the results of a public consultation on Age verification, Cross media rating and classification and Online social networking:

Conclusion

The detailed responses received to these questions are indicative of the seriousness with which respondents view the issue of the safety of minors using social networking services. The areas of consensus, as set out in the points 1-5 of the introduction to this summary document, cover many of the most important policy aspects of social networking:

  • Bullying and other threats which young users inflict upon each other may be more likely to arise than threats from adults.
  • Much is known about potential risks, but more research on the nature and extent of harm actually experienced by minors online is needed.
  • Parental involvement in their children's online activity is important, but principles of privacy and trust should dictate how parents help children to stay safe.
  • Education and awareness are the most important factors in enabling minors to keep themselves safe.
  • Industry self-regulation is the preferred approach for service providers to meet public expectations with regard to the safety of minors. Legislation should not place burdens on service providers which prevent them from providing minors with all the benefits of social networking. However, available safety measures vary greatly from one provider to another and mandatory minimum levels of provision may need to be established.

They have also published an expert report on age verification solutions and cross media rating and classification, including the results of the public consultation on these topics.

Conclusions

A significant number of stakeholders gave their input to the online consultation and provided valuable input at the Safer Internet Forum on the issues of pan-European Cross Media Rating and Classification and Age Verification Solutions.

Industry and consumer organisations do not believe that a pan-European Cross Media Rating and Classification policy is either feasible, or instrumental for the protection of minors from harmful content for traditional offline media distribution platforms. Users are accustomed to existing national solutions and efforts to introduce a new system will only create confusion and not the clarity sought after by the approach.

PEGI, the cross border solution for games has been a success, even if improvements may still be achievable. There are also national and industry driven initiatives for rating and labelling of web pages and video on demand that are promising, including machine readable techniques. Some Member States are also considering implementing Cross Media Solutions based on the model of Kijkwijzer.

The Commission is, however, not pursuing a top down approach, but will continue to act as a facilitator and encourage the uptake of solutions for the protection of minors within the EU.

A number of Age Verification Solutions are available for the protection of minors within the EU, some of which were presented at the Safer Internet Forum. In some Member States there are legal requirements for their use. There is an overall consensus, however, that existing technologies are not sufficiently effective and should not be used to replace educational efforts, parental control and other means of protecting minors online. Despite the shortcomings, there is a certain market acceptance for their use. Concerns were also raised about the false sense of security that might be provided and the adverse effects on safety this might have. Privacy and data protection were also raised as important issues. Additional research is needed, and a standard for Age Verification can be pursued.

 

19th November   

Artless Censors...

Vietnam cuts 28 minutes from Sex and the City
Link Here

Sex and the City DVD Vietnam audiences are becoming increasingly proficient in detecting which movies are cut artlessly by censors, and increasingly irritated as a result.

The list of movies which audiences recently have complained were cut unconvincingly include Sex and the City, Wanted and previously Shoot' Em up, Knocked Up, L'amant, and The Piano.

Most recently, audiences jumped on the case of Painted Skin , a Chinese movie. This film has some scenes that depict sexual relations between the lead actor and actress. These scenes are said to be “hot” but nice, not vulgar at all. In Vietnam, these scenes are heavily edited – perhaps more than in China.

However, Chau Quang Phuoc, in charge of public relations of BHD, a film reporting company, said Painted Skin was bought from a Chinese partner and that the version had been censored already by Chinese agencies. Phuoc said the Vietnam Cinema Agency didn't cut any more scenes.

He refused to say whether the removal of a lot of scenes had affected the movie or not.

Phuong Ha, from HCM City, said censors should respect movie works because each detail has its own value. If the movie is allowed in Vietnam, censors should let the audiences enjoy the entire, completed work: It is necessary to have a system to classify films based on audience members' ages and give warnings to audiences; it is not necessary to cut films.

This summer, Sex and the City was introduced in Vietnam, for adults only, but some scenes were still cut. Many viewers complained that it is absurd to cut a movie for adults. The original film is 148 minutes long but in Vietnam it is only 120 minutes. All scenes and words involving sexuality by female characters around the age of 40 were cut.

 

19th November   

Digital Crime...

Brazilian internet users protest against Digital Crimes Bill
Link Here

Contra logo Brazilian bloggers and netizens took to the streets of São Paulo to protest against the Digital Crimes Bill, which typifies the cyber-crimes punishable by law and stipulates penalties accordingly.

They claim the law has so many flaws that, instead of punishing real criminals, it might end up deeming as crime trivial conduct when surfing the Internet.

Proposed by senator Eduardo Azeredo, the bill has passed through the Senate, has proceeded to the House of Representatives and has been labelled as urgent, which means that voting might happen at any time.

 

18th November   

The Wikipedia Stasi...

German politician censors local wikipedia
Link Here

Wikipedia logo A far-left German politician has been forced to withdraw an injunction against online encyclopedia Wikipedia after it revealed details of his Stasi past.

Former secret service bodyguard Lutz Heilmann faced a storm of criticism and ridicule after taking legal action forcing the website to remove the information

Donations to the German Wikipedia soared five fold to around 16,000 euros a day, fuelled by angry users. The response has been overwhelming, said Mathias Schindler, a spokesman for Wikimedia, a non-profit group that supports Wikipedia's German-language version. It's reassuring that an attempt at censorship triggers such a huge reaction from the public.

Heilmann was reportedly upset that Wikipedia stated he had not finished his university degree, had worked for an pornography company and had been a bodyguard for the Stasi secret police until it was disbanded after the communist regime's collapse in 1989.

While the first two claims were untrue, the third was a case of hairsplitting, Schindler said.  Heilmann quit the Stasi several days before it was disbanded, he said.

These details have been changed but it was the heavy handedness of Heilmann's response that sparked anger.

The www.wikipedia.de portal – the doorway to German-language Wikipedia entries – resumed service at lunchtime yesterday after Heilmann dropped his injunction and offered his sincere regret. In no way did I intend censorship, he said.

He is reportedly pursuing legal action against three individuals who he claims contributed to the entry.

 

18th November   

Update: Taking Offence at Insulting Football Songs...

Sectarian football song condemned in the European Parliament
Link Here

Rangers vs Celtic THE notorious Famine Song sung by Rangers fans was condemned on the floor of the European Parliament last night.

Irish MEP Eoin Ryan described the chant aimed at Celtic supporters as despicable, and has written to all Scotland's MEP's, seeking their support to end the sectarian behaviour.

The Famine Song

I often wonder where they would have been
If we hadn't have taken them in
Fed them and washed them
Thousands in Glasgow alone
From Ireland they came
Brought us nothing but trouble and shame
Well the famine is over
Why don't they go home?
Now Athenry Mike was a thief
And Large John he was fully briefed
And that wee traitor from Castlemilk
Turned his back on his own
They've all their Papists in Rome
They have U2 and Bono
Well the famine is over
Why don't they go home?
Now they raped and fondled their kids
That's what those perverts from the dark side did
And they swept it under the carpet
And Large John he hid
Their evils seeds have been sown
Cause they're not of our own
Well the famine is over
Why don't you go home?
Now Timmy don't take it from me
Cause if you know your history
You've persecuted thousands of people
In Ireland alone
You turned on the lights
Fuelled U boats by night
That's how you repay us
It's time to go home.

 

18th November   

Update: Stop Press...

Sudan newspaper editors arrested at protest against censorship
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan flag Police in Sudan have arrested more than 60 journalists during a protest against media censorship, witnesses say.

Riot police armed with canes and shields rounded up the journalists outside parliament and took them to a police station, witnesses say.

Those detained have subsequently been released, officials say.

Demonstrators said they had been protesting against a press crackdown under way despite guarantees of media freedom in a 2005 peace deal.

Those arrested included senior editorial staff and a number of women, witnesses said.

Murtada el-Ghali, editor in chief of the Ajras al-Hurriya newspaper, told AFP news agency that police had taken mobile phones and money from some of those arrested.

There have been weeks of protests against media censorship in Sudan led by Ajras al-Hurriya and two other papers. Editors say that newspapers are now subject to nightly checks by the security forces who routinely remove articles they do not approve of.

 

18th November   

Updated: Censorship of an Unsound Nature...

Dostana banned in Pakistan for objectional gay content
Link Here

Dostana DVD The Lahore high court has banned the screening of Bollywood flick Dostana across Pakistan, saying it has some highly objectionable gay content.

The court held that the movie propagates homosexuality, which is not only illegal in Islamic Republic of Pakistan but also considered a crime punishable by whipping, imprisonment, or even death.

The petitioner maintained that Dostana promotes gay marriage which is prohibited in Islam and all other religions. Gay marriage is an atrocious and obscene act, more likely to be performed by someone of unsound nature, the petitioner said.

The Lahore high court subsequently directed the chairman of Pakistan Film Censor Board not to allow screening of the film and furnish the transcript of Dostana before the court at the next hearing of the case.

Update: Passed

18th November. See article from indiaglitz.com

The Lahore High Court has stated that the film can be released if it is certified by Pakistan censor board.

Today after the private screening, the officials of Censor Board signaled green lights for release of film in 4 cinema halls of Lahore…

 

18th November   

Updated: For Fear of a Backlash...

Indian state of Maharashtra bans film Deshdrohi
Link Here

Deshdrohi soundtrack CD With Deshdrohi is a film based on north Indians migrating to Mumbai which has been creating a controversy in the Indian state of Maharashtra,

Lok Janshakti Party leader and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan questioned the banning of the film in the State despite getting Censor Board clearance: What is the harm in screening the film? It has got clearance from the Censor Board. No other State has banned it.

The Maharashtra government has imposed a two-month ban on the film fearing backlash from the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and others if it was allowed to be released in the present format.

The Maharashtra police had asked the film's writer, producer and actor Kamaal Khan for a separate screening before the film's release.

The MNS has welcomed the ban on the film saying the movie had the potential for to create a law and order problem.

Update: Still Banned

18th November 2008. See article from dnaindia.com

The Bombay high court on Monday refused to interfere with the state's order suspending the screening of the film.

There was, however, a silver lining for Khan as a division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Sharad Bobde asked principal secretary (home) to give a hearing to the film's producer and pass a fresh order by November 20.

 

18th November   

Update: Too Radical...

Chinese blogger Guo Quan arrested
Link Here  full story: Human Rights in China...Chinese round up the usual suspects

China flag Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrest of blogger Guo Quan, for posting blog entries deemed to be too radical . He is currently being held in a Nanjing police station on a charge of inciting subversion of state authority.

What the authorities regard as ‘too radical' is open letters to the government calling for democratic change, Reporters Without Borders said. Guo's arrest is further evidence, if any were needed, that the Chinese dictatorship systematically punishes those who express views different from the Party's. We unfortunately fear that Guo could be jailed for a long time, like the 49 other cyber-dissidents currently held in China.

Guo had been under house arrest since February after calling for the creation of a Chinese Netizen Party to combat online censorship. He also announced on 4 February that he intended to sue the US company Google for ensuring - at the Chinese government's request after he created the Chinese New People's Party - that searches for his name on its Chinese-language search engine (http://www.google.cn) yielded no results.

Guo has been posting open letters on his blog calling for pro-democracy reforms ever since he was fired from his post as philosophy professor at Nanjing university.

 

17th November   

Oops...

BBFC harangued for 'disability themes' label
Link Here

Special People Disabled actors last night condemned a move by British film censors to label a new film featuring a disabled cast with a warning stating that the film contains disability themes.

Special People, a British, feature-length film with a cast of mainly disabled actors playing disabled characters, was given the label by the BBFC along with a 12A rating.

The director, Justin Edgar, is angry about the unnecessary labelling: I was really surprised to get this certificate. I couldn't understand why a film censor thought it was necessary to make people aware that the film had disabled people in it.

The movie – a comedy which follows a film-maker on the verge of a nervous breakdown who is enlisted to teach a class of wheelchair-users about film-making – has garnered awards and been selected for festivals around the world.

Sasha Hardway, one of the stars felt that the warning may have put people off watching it. The film is not based around disability. It's got disabled characters but the film is based around their characters not their disability. If you put 'contains disabled themes', people are going to think it's about illness and that it will be negative or depressing.

After pressure from the director and the film company, the label was removed, but not until after the company had paid for promotional material which still contains the label.

Sue Clark, a BBFC spokeswoman, said: These guidelines are there to give the public an idea of the issues we considered when classifying films. It's not designed to make any valued judgement.

 

17th November   

Scientology Exposé Covered Up...

Anti-Scientology book unlisted by UK Amazon
Link Here

Scientology protestor Amazon UK has barred the sale of a new Scientology exposé penned by a former member of the church's elite paramilitary group.

The British incarnation of the world's most popular etailer is no longer offering The Complex: An Insider Exposes the Covert World of the Church of Scientology , by John Duignan, who spent 22 years inside the top secret organization.

In a recent post to an anti-Scientology discussion forum, an Anonymous Brit says that after pre-ordering the book, he received an email from Amazon announcing it had been removed from sale for legal reasons.

The book is also no longer available at Waterstone's and is out of stock at US Amazon

The US listing describes the book like this:

For the first time ever, a former high-ranking member of the Church of Scientology is lifting the lid on life inside the world s fastest growing cult. The Complex reveals the true story behind the religion that has ensnared a Who's Who list of celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and convinced thousands of ordinary people to join up.

Duignan describes how two years ago he staged a dramatic escape from the elite paramilitary group at the core of the Church, the Sea Organisation, and how he narrowly evaded pursuit by Scientologists from the Office of Special Affairs. He looks back on the 22 years he served in the Church's secret army and describes the hours of sleep deprivation, brain-washing and intense auditing or religious counselling he endured, as he was moulded into a soldier of Scientology.

He talks about the money-making-machine at the heart of the Church, the Scientology goal to Clear the Planet and Get Ethics In, the training programmes, the Rehabilitation Project Force and the punishments meted out to anyone who transgresses, including children. We follow his journey through the Church and the painful investigation that leads to his eventual realisation that there is something very wrong at Scientology's core.

The Complex was published by the Dublin, Ireland-based Merlin Publishing.

 

17th November   

Culture of Easy Offence...

'window licker' comment led to being suspended from radio show
Link Here

Southern Counties Live Match logo Two presenters from BBC Southern Counties who were suspended for using the phrase 'Window Licker' on air have been re-instated.

Ian Hart and commentator Andrew Hawes are both back in position, with Andrew returning shortly after the incident on October 7th, and Ian making a come back over the weekend.

Just two people are believed to have complained about the remark, which is commonly known as a derogatory term for a mentally disabled person.

Since the incident, which took place during a phone-in show, the club and fans have been campaigning for the return of the duo. A message board broke the news of Ian Hart's return, and gained comments such as: Stop the clocks and lock the doors, thank heavens common sense has finally prevailed.

 

17th November   

Australian Sex Party...

Australian sex trade association launches political party
Link Here

Australian Sex Party The Australian political party, with the slogan we're serious about sex, launches at Melbourne Sexpo on November 20th and party convenor Fiona Patten is confident it will gain the 500 members required to register and contest state Upper House and Senate seats.

Ms Patten, who is also the chief executive of the Eros Association - representing the adult retail and entertainment industry, said she and others were concerned about the Government's proposed internet filter, which is being tested over summer on about 10,000 sites to block unwanted content.

This really came out of 20 years of lobbying on sex and censorship and then... the latest being the compulsory internet filter, which will ... prohibit and blacklist adult material that is currently legal in magazines, books and film, she said.

Ms Patten said there had already been a lot of interest from potential members: We'll probably have our 500 members by the time we launch on Thursday. But there's four million customers of adult shops in Australia."

She also hoped the 1000 or so adult shops around the country would become Sex Party branches: Hopefully we'll get their attention with the word but then we may be able to help influence some reasonably sensible policies.

An introductory statement on the Australian Sex Party reads:

We're serious about sex.

Sex is a wonderful thing. It's the reason we were born and (mostly) its NOT the reason we die. Sex, as gender, defines who we are and often what roles we undertake in society. It's responsible for a heck of a lot of pleasure and fulfillment in life. Also, the basis of much art, fashion and music. It entertains us, enthralls us and mystifies us. Because its such a fundamental need of human beings, it conditions much of our behaviour. And then politicians go and legislate that behaviour.

The Australian Sex Party is a political response to the sexual needs of Australia in the 21st century. It is an attempt to restore the balance between sexual privacy and sexual publicity that has been severely distorted by morals campaigners and prudish politicians.

A political party based on sex is certainly a single-issue party but to choose a bad metaphor, its a very broad church. Economic, social welfare, environmental and even defense policies have got lots to do with sex and sexuality. All those big guns and huge surpluses...

If you're sick of religious and anti-sex politicians like Steve Fielding, Brian Harradine and Fred Nile threatening to block legislation in the Senate and State Upper Houses unless they get their way on sex and gender issues, vote for someone who understands this rort.

Vote for the Sex Party.

 

17th November   

Update: Bonk Longer...

Australian advertising censor whinged at 'longer lasting sex' so replaced by 'bonk longer'
Link Here  full story: Longer Lasting Sex...Nutters get off on advert for longer lasting sex

bonk longer poster The Advertising Standards Bureau says it has received numerous complaints about new billboards advertising a medication for sexual dysfunction.

It is the second time this year advertising for the medication sold by the Advanced Medical Institute has attracted complaints.

In August, the company was asked by the Advertising Standards Bureau to remove more than 100 billboards nationally with the slogan Want longer lasting sex? because some people found it offensive.

The company says it thought the new slogan Bonk for longer was less offensive.

But the bureau's chief executive, Fiona Jolly, says it has already received numerous complaints about the signs on Sydney's Parramatta Road. Jolly says the board will make a decision on the new signs within the next two weeks.

The advertising standards board members will look at clause 2.3 of the Code of Ethics, which says that the treatment of sex, sexuality and nudity must be sensitive to the relative audience, she said.

The company says it will remove the signs if the bureau asks it to.

Update: Longer Lasting in London

25th December 2008. See article from blogs.telegraph.co.uk

Driving through Vauxhall the other day my eye was taken by a huge billboard posing the question in lurid day-glo colours several feet high Want Longer Lasting Sex?

At a busy traffic intersection? In broad daylight? The product being advertised seemed to be some sort of nasal spray.

Vauxhall, for those unfamiliar with the area, is a scruffy neighbourhood, just across the bridge from the Houses of Parliament which, for reasons that are not exactly clear, has recently transmogrified into London's largest gay erogenous zone.

In this context, the promise of Longer Lasting Sex seemed to be simply another, albeit rather more in-your-face, addition, to the colourful pageant of local life. But driving on to Waterloo, there was the billboard again. A colleague reports a sighting outside a Tesco on a busy road in West London - there was almost a pile-up.

 

17th November   

Too Many Nutters on TV...

Mediawatch commissioned survey finds too much violence on TV
Link Here

Mediawatch-UK logo Mediawatch-UK have commissioned a poll about violence on TV. Polling firm ComRes interviewed 1,010 adults earlier this month for the survey.

The poll claims that a majority of people believe there is too much violence on TV. The survey found that 64% of viewers think that entertainment programmes contain too many scenes of violence. Women are even more likely to disapprove, with 71% condemning the current output compared with 57% of men.

Of those questioned, 65% agreed that the Government has a role in reducing violence on screen, but only 47% believed that regulator Ofcom is effective in controlling scenes of violence on TV.

Mediawatch-UK director John Beyer said: It is clear that the majority of people want action taken to reduce screen violence, but the crucial question now is how broadcasters, film and game producers will respond to this latest expression of public concern about violence in entertainment.

At a time of rising social and criminal violence, manifested in the shocking level of gun and knife crime, we know there is widespread support for standards to be raised generally, especially on television."

 

17th November   

Update: Director's Commentary...

BBFC fees contribute to downturn in indy horror
Link Here

Trash House DVD A quick look around the shelves of my local Blockbuster (which, as a chain, has its own problems), reveals that very nearly all the straight-to-DVD horror on their shelves is put out by Sony or Lionsgate (oh, those tiny independents). Two years ago, when TrashHouse hit those shelves, there were at least a dozen distribution companies regularly putting out indie horror and getting decent distribution for it. Nowadays, they all seem to have either gone out of business or, at very best, gone into a kind of suspended animation whilst hoping to weather the storm. Companies are folding left and right; some of them, like Tartan, make headlines. Countless others have just quietly stopped putting out product and expired.

So we're in a kind of limbo at the moment. The day a movie hits the shelves in a single territory it also hits the torrents worldwide, which can be fatal for an indie with no simultaneous worldwide release. There seems to be no way of making money on smaller movies. Obviously, the BBFC have done their very best to turn the knife by tightening their restrictions on things like commentaries, (which now have to be rated as a whole new work, thus adding vast amounts of money to the BBFC costs) and Behind The Scenes materials. Thus when an indie flick does manage to get out onto DVD in the current climate, it can't even afford to have the full extras on the UK disc which might actually persuade people to buy it. And without economies of scale working in it's favour, it's gonna end up costing the consumer twice as much as a 2-disc set of a blockbuster. For a vanilla disc. And the consumer, understandably, will vote with their wallet.

I've seen awesome movies that would have been snapped up two years ago fail to find even basic distribution. There are, of course, other options to be explored. There's a terrific blog over at Zen Films about their decision to self-distribute the movie Mindflesh which is a really interesting read.. Tragically, though, the BBFC requirements as they currently stand would make a UK version of the Amazon Unbox scheme mentioned in the article completely non-viable. Thus driving yet more of our independent film business out of the country.

The whole thing's a total bummer for those who make and those who enjoy watching independent cinema.

 

17th November   

Forcibly Opted In to Turkmenistan Censorship...

City authorities dismantle satellite dishes
Link Here

Turkmenistan flag Officials in Ashgabat in Turkmenistan are continuing to dismantle satellite dishes. In place of the dismantled equipment their owners are offered a chance to sign up for cable television with a fixed choice of channels.

Along with that, authorities are introducing payment for setting up and running cable networks. According to BBC Monitoring which carried the report, citizens are alarmed that the set of channels can be changed arbitrarily by authorities, and authorities also have the possibility of turning off broadcasts.

The satellite dish dismantling campaign was triggered by the Turkmen president's remark at the beginning of this year that satellite dishes make the city look ugly. Rights activists have even more cause to be concerned about authorities' actions aimed at suppressing human rights, in particular, denying the right for free information access.

 

17th November   

Update: Gamers Lose No Sleep Worrying about Addiction...

Researchers find that violent games may effect sleep
Link Here

Stockholm University logo New research from Sweden indicates that violent video games affect boys' heart rate and sleep, according to Science Daily.

The study, conducted by researchers from Stockholm University, Uppsala University and Karolinska Institute, tracked 12-15-year-old boys who were asked to play two different games:

The heart rate variability was affected to a higher degree when the boys were playing games focusing on violence compared with games without violent features. Differences in heart rate variability were registered both while the boys were playing the games and when they were sleeping that night. The boys themselves did not feel that they had slept poorly after having played violent games.

The results show that the autonomous nerve system, and thereby central physiological systems in the body, can be affected when you play violent games without your being aware of it. It is too early to draw conclusions about what the long-term significance of this sort of influence might be. What is important about this study is that the researchers have found a way, on the one hand, to study what happens physiologically when you play video or computer games and, on the other hand, to discern the effects of various types of games.

The researchers hope that their work may also have some implications for the study of so-called game addiction.

 

17th November   

Offsite: Festival of Complaints...

We'd get complaints if we bleeped The Sopranos
Link Here

Channel 4 logo A new type of complaint has recently emerged that is becoming a cultural touchstone in its own right. Where a really complained-about show normally gets a few hundred calls, the hyper-complained-about can get near to 50,000. Many of the shows in the fame/shame list gained the dubious accolade of being the most complained about of their time by getting a positively scrawny number of letters and calls by comparison.

With what now seems a measly 992, Brass Eye was the ITC's second most-complained about programme ever and Queer As Folk managed to get into the top 10 with only 163. By contrast, what we've witnessed with Brand and Ross is a national event, a festival of complaint.

Hyper-complaint scenarios are not a snapshot of an audience's offence at watching a show and then picking up the phone, instead they will build for days or weeks with a running total on Sky News and many come from people who didn't even see the programme.

...Read full article

 

16th November   

Telegraph Bitches at the BBFC...

Newspaper defines 'bitch' as a swear word for the purposes of a bollox survey
Link Here

Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? DVD Films containing 'high levels of bad language' are being approved for children to see at the cinema, a bollox investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has found.

Ten films cleared for children's viewing were monitored for their use of expletives. In total, 'fuck' and its derivatives were used 17 times, 'bitch' 20 times, 'ass' 56 times and 'shit' 77 times.

All 10 films were passed recently by the BBFC with a rating of 12A, meaning that they can be watched in cinemas by over-12s alone, and by under-12s when accompanied by an adult.

The bollox findings come three weeks after this newspaper launched the 'Vulgar Britain' campaign, which has sparked a nationwide debate about standards on television, on radio and in films.

The investigation also found that films are being subjected to fewer cuts than ever by the BBFC. None of the 10 films studied was subjected to cuts before being awarded its 12A classification. So far this year, only five films, or 0.9% of the total released, have been required to make cuts by the BBFC to get their preferred classification - the lowest percentage since records began in 1914. Only one of the 159 films classified as 12A was subjected to cuts, even though many contain strong language, violence and scenes of a sexual nature. None of 45 films classified as 18 have had to cut any content.

Among the supposed offenders was Ghost Town , a comedy starring Ricky Gervais. It featured two uses of the 'fuck' and four 'shit'. Shotgun Stories , an American film about two sets of feuding half brothers, featured the  'fuck' three times and 'shit' 20 times. Another film monitored by this newspaper, Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? , a documentary about the war on terror directed by Morgan Spurlock, contained 'fuck' four times, 'shit' twice and the phrase ‘son of a bitch' eight times.

On its website, the BBFC, which is funded by the film industry, states that it allowed the film to be released with no cuts. It adds: The four uses of that particular term 'fuck' in this case were allowed at 12A because the work was considered to be of educational value to an adolescent audience.

Sue Palmer, the educational consultant and author of Toxic Childhood said: It is absolutely terrifying that the BBFC considers it appropriate to subject our children to this level of effing and blinding.

Nigel Algar, a senior curator of fiction at the British Film Institute, said: There is a definite drift downwards in terms of what children are considered able to view, and these decisions are sometimes surprising.

John Beyer, the director of Mediawatch-UK, said the level of swearing in 12A films was scandalous. We are spending millions of pounds on trying to improve education skills but by allowing these films through without cutting some of the swearing, the BBFC is undermining these efforts and normalising the use of obscene language by children.

A spokesman for the BBFC said: The role of the BBFC is not to see how many cuts we can make to films but to put them in the most appropriate age category. All our age category guidelines are based on extensive consultation with the public, so our classifications are a direct reflection of what the public think.

At present, the use of the f-word up to four times in a 12A film is considered acceptable. These guidelines are currently being looked at again, in a public consultation of more than 11,000 people, and if the public tell us that there is too much swearing at the 12A level, we will take this into account.

 

16th November   

Update: Green with Envy...

Atheist poet invited to read at the Welsh Assembly
Link Here  full story: Christian Voice vs Poetry...Stephen Green accuses poet of blapshemy

Darkness is where the stars are book The decision by Peter Black Welsh Assembly Member to invite the poet Patrick Jones to read his poetry in the National Assembly has been condemned by nutters.

Christian Voice described the event, due to be held on 11th December, as a disgrace to the Assembly itself.

But Peter Black, who is the LibDem's culture spokesman, has now invited Jones, an atheist, to read his poems, which call for an end to Christian worship, in Committee Room 24 of the Assembly at 12 noon on Thursday 11th December.

Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said:

'This is a creepy event at which Jesus-hating AM's can swoon over poems packed with hatred for Christianity and which speak of Mary Magdalene and the poet having sex with the Lord Jesus Christ. They will also hear Jones' unfettered hatred of Christianity, which he has somehow managed to convince himself is indistinguishable from Islam.

'What they will not hear is Jones insult the prophet Mohammed. He dare not do that at all, let alone in the sexual way he insults Jesus Christ, whom he sees as a soft target.

'Christians in Wales must not take this lying down. We need to stand up for our Lord against this attack on His honour and on the Church itself by Peter Black. He has gone out of his way to show contempt for Christians in Wales . As he is the LibDem Culture Spokesman, that means insulting Jesus Christ is now official LibDem policy. The LibDems have thus become a political party Christians can no longer in conscience vote for or take any part in.'

 

16th November   

Update: Killing Me Softly...

Euthanasia book cleared by censors as unrestricted
Link Here  full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

Killing Me Softly book Following the May suicide of Perth woman in Tijuana Mexico, her sisters claimed she had used the book Killing Me Softly as a guide to end her life.

They wrote to the Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland calling for it to be banned. In October the Donald McDonald contacted Penguin, the publisher, and called it in for rating.

This has now resulted in the book being awarded an Unrestricted rating.

 

16th November   

Update: Face/Off...

Facebook removes pages inciting violence against gypsies
Link Here

Facebook logo Facebook has removed several pages from its site said to have been used by Italian neo-Nazis to incite violence after European politicians accused the Internet social networking site of allowing a platform to racists.

Seven different group pages had been created on the site with titles advocating violence against gypsies.

The existence of these groups is repulsive, said Martin Schulz, Socialist leader in the European Parliament which lodged a complaint with the California-based company.

Facebook said it had removed the pages because they violated its terms of use: Facebook supports the free flow of information, and groups provide a forum for discussing important issues. However, Facebook will remove any groups which are violent or threatening .

Italy's Roma, or gypsy, communities have been subjected to several attacks in recent months while Italy's media has focused attention on violent crimes committed by gypsies. The government has dismantled illegal shantytowns where many Roma live.

 

15th November   

A New Labour Banshee...

Shrill censorship noises from the new culture minister, Barbara Follett
Link Here

Barbara Follett Politicians are ready to introduce league tables naming the speed with which internet service providers take down supposedly 'offensive' material.

The culture minister, Barbara Follett, and her Tory shadow, Ed Vaizey, have backed the idea that web providers must be embarrassed into dealing with violent, sexually explicit web content.

Follett said she wants to see the pre-screening of material on sites such as YouTube, as occurs at present on MySpace. She claimed there was growing chaos out there on the internet, and order needed to be brought.

She has also admitted barriers aimed at preventing children from accessing over-age material on the internet are not just porous but leak like a sieve. "People can get straight through it, or straight by it."

Follett warned: We must teach children of the dangers of the internet. It is sad to make children more scared than interested, but fortunately the internet is so interesting that children tend to overcome their fear.

Discussing the internet and video games at a Westminster debate and facing suggestions that the industry is lax about controlling content, Follett said: We agree information about take-down times and levels of search need to be much clearer. Asked if she supported league tables of take-down times by internet service providers, she said name and shame can sometimes can work very well indeed.

Follett said: Many people have said that the internet is like the wild west in the gold rush and that sooner or later it will be regulated. What we need is for it to be regulated sooner rather than later.

She added: We must ensure that search engines have a clear link to child safety information and safe search settings on the front page of their website. She also said she saw some value in some form of age identity card for the internet. It is useful when it comes to alcohol and cigarettes and it is certainly useful when it comes to buying video games and other material on the internet.

The proposal for a take-down league table is backed by Vaizey. He said: The government is in a position to put out the information, and it is up to the internet service providers to react to it. If they are happy to be 55th in a league table of take-down times so be it.

Overall, Follett's remarks suggest she will be more interventionist than some other ministers, although she has stressed she favours the internet and largely thinks self-regulation is best option. She also insisted there was not yet compellingly persuasive evidence of a link between watching violent video games and subsequent acts of violence.

 

15th November   

Update: Kaboom Debate Implodes...

MPs dismiss Vaz's nonsense about amateur flash animation game
Link Here

House of Commons logo Internet and Video Games
Westminster Hall debates
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Keith Vaz's ludicrous tirade against the old flash animation game called Kaboom came up in a Westminster debate.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour)

The hon. Gentleman and I have both commented on the video internet game Kaboom in which people replicate the activities of a suicide bomber. It cannot be right that the makers of those games should choose such storylines to provide entertainment, especially on the internet, where our children and under-18s can access them more easily than if they were going into a shop to buy them, as with non-internet games?

John Whittingdale (Maldon & East Chelmsford, Conservative)

This is a very difficult area and Kaboom , which has been around for a little while, is an interesting example. It is a remarkably crude, cartoon-type game and is not in the least realistic, as many games now are. It is undoubtedly tasteless and might be offensive to a large number of people. I suspect that it is probably distressing to anyone who has suffered a bereavement as the result of a suicide bombing. Does that mean that it should be banned? I am not convinced that it should, because it is so crude, and other games pose greater concerns.

Edward Vaizey (Shadow Minister, Culture, Media & Sport; Wantage, Conservative)

May I make a point to my hon. Friend? In his response to Keith Vaz, he has implied that Kaboom is somehow a legitimate video game that breaches the boundaries of taste, but it is not. It was created by an individual in his bedroom. To say that we should ban Kaboom is, with the greatest respect to my hon. Friend, slightly missing the point. Kaboom is not subject to any legal constraints. It cannot be submitted to a regulator to be classified, because it is made by an individual, effectively illegally, outside the mainstream, just as violent pornographic films or child abuse photographs are. It is not at all part of the mainstream video games industry.

John Whittingdale

I agree with my hon. Friend. I hope that he noted that I did not say it should be banned, even if that were possible.

...

Keith Vaz

I first became involved in this issue when the son of one of my constituents, Stefan Pakeerah, was murdered in Leicester. The murder mirrored scenes in a video game called Manhunt . Warren LeBlanc was sent to prison, and Stefan Pakeerah is dead. Stefan's mother started a campaign about the harmful effects of video games and got me involved in it. I pay tribute to her for all the work that she has done.

As soon as I took up the issue, I became the subject of much internet abuse from those who felt that there should be absolute freedom in dealing with video games. I am not sure whether I got a website dedicated to opposing me, as my hon. Friend Janet Anderson did. I am fascinated to know who her WeeMee is.

I was once voted the third most unpopular person in the world, after Hillary Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, by the readers of one of the video game magazines. I suppose that I should take that as a compliment, but it points to the almost hysterical approach that the video games industry and the newspapers that support it sometimes take to anyone who manages to raise such matters in the House.

What we need first of all from the industry is responsibility and partnership. We are all on the same side. We are saying clearly that for someone who is over 18, there should be no censorship or attempt to stop them seeing or doing whatever they want as far as video games are concerned. My interest has always been to protect those who are under 18. Some are our children, of course, but it goes beyond protecting our own children. That is my only concern—not to stop adults buying games but to ensure that harmful games do not fall into the hands of young people and children.

 

15th November   

Update: Like Lemmings...

Politicians clamour for website take downs, this time suicide related
Link Here  full story: Suicide Censorship...UK government proposes to ban suicide information

House of Commons logo Internet and Video Games
Westminster Hall debates
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Madeleine Moon (PPS (Rt Hon Jim Knight, Minister of State), Department for Children, Schools and Families; Bridgend, Labour)

This week, I was sent an online game to look at. The online game is called Billy Suicide. Players of the game are encouraged to stop Billy shooting himself in the head. They are encouraged to keep Billy active—to move him around the room or get him to play his guitar—and to monitor his depression, get him a cup of coffee and do things to stop him taking his life. When people playing the game do not do that, he shoots himself in the head. Someone has said to me, Well, it's just the same as the tamagotchi games. In those games, if someone does not look after their pet, it gets fleas and dies.

What sort of society do we want? What sort of society are we promulgating? I would welcome the censorship of that online game. We must set limits and boundaries when we bring up our children. As a society, we set limits and boundaries on individual behaviour. We must start setting limits and boundaries in the online world and in cyberspace. If we do not, we will give our youngsters access to information and standards that, in fact, destroy the limits and values we set in the real world. As we know, sometimes our young people spend more time interacting in the online, unreal world than they do in the real world.

I am worried about the role that these sites play in relation to social contagion, which is where access to information about suicide—the normalisation of suicide and its social acceptability—makes it more likely that others will seek to take their own lives. We must take responsibility for the distress to the families and friends I have mentioned. We must also take responsibility for prolonging the grief of those families and friends, because that adds to the risk that a member of that family will take their own life.

The Press Complaints Commission is making progress on the matter, but I agree that an industry body is needed. It is imperative that we have an 0800 number that someone can ring to get a site taken down quickly. That is something I hope will come out of Lord Carter's review. My constituent had been trying to get a site taken down for two months before she came to me—two months with no action. We cannot allow such behaviour to continue. It is too complex to track down the person in these agencies who will allow change to happen. The public need to be able to send through their comments quickly.

I have highlighted the impact of the industry on just one small community in one small area. That impact has been devastating and has blighted the lives of many people. I am so grateful that the Committee has taken the opportunity to make these recommendations, and I hope that steps will be taken across Government to improve a totally unacceptable unregulated state of affairs.

 

15th November   

Glorified Censors...

YouTube take down videos said to glorify Columbine High School killings
Link Here

YouTube logo YouTube has removed a number of videos 'glorifying' the Columbine High School killers, after a BBC investigation.

Videos found on the site praised Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold - also known as Reb and Vodka - for carrying out the shooting, in which 13 people died.

The killings near Denver, Colorado nine years ago, were romanticised in some of the videos which have now been removed.

The BBC Six O'clock News discovered that nine years on from America's worst high school shooting there is a thriving online community obsessed with teenage gunmen Harris and Klebold.

Many tribute videos found on YouTube 'romanticise' the killers who shot 12 pupils, a teacher and wounded 23 others before shooting themselves.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, said it was grateful to the BBC for bringing the videos to its attention. Peter Barron, Head of Communication for Google UK, owners of the site said: We do not tolerate videos that glorify school shootings and have removed the videos that fall into that category.

 

15th November   

Update: Censors Dictate the Law...

Uganda bans porn
Link Here

Uganda flag The Media Council of Uganda has banned the publication and circulation of pornographic and obscene material.

The Chairperson of Uganda's Media Council, Dr. Goretti Nassanga, said the ban follows widespread concerns by Ugandans on the increase of pornographic and obscene materials in Uganda's media.

The functions of the Media Council include censoring films, videotapes, plays and other related apparatuses for public consumption. Dr. Nassanga said the ban is backed by Uganda's Press and Journalist Act and Penal Code Act, and also Article 17 of the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child.

Dr. Nassanga has warned newspaper publishers, editors, broadcasters, journalists, video hall operators and media practitioners to stop publication and/or circulation of pornographic and obscene material — or risk closure and arrest. The order shall stay in force until the government passes a law on publication and circulation of pornographic and obscene matter.

 

15th November   

Update: Anti-Freedom...

Saudi religious police arrest and beat poet blogger
Link Here  full story: Religious Police in Saudi...A law unto themselves

Saudi religious police logo The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has reported that blogger Roshdi Algadir was arrested by religious police in Saudi Arabia on 4th November.

He was taken from his place of work in Al-Dammam city, held for three hours, beaten up and forced to sign an agreement never again to publish his work on the internet. The reason behind the attack is a poem that Algadir has posted on his blog (in Arabic) .

Roshdi Algadir, winner of an international award for his collections of poetry, had posted some of them on his blog. Following this he was surprised by members of the Hisba apparatus who snatched him from his work, beat him and accused him of apostasy.

Algadir is insistent that poetry should only be subject to the critiques of literature, but the way he was arrested confirms the insistence of the apparatus to act against the interests of freedom of expression in the name of religious repression.

Gamal Eid, executive director of ANHRI stated: The members of the Hisba apparatus threaten the legal system and all the citizen's rights in the name of protecting the Islamic religion. The existence of this apparatus is an insult to Islam, depicting it as it does, as anti freedom of speech and anti freedom of expression.

 

14th November   

Darkness is Where the Nutters Are...

Book signing cancelled after pressure from Christian Voice
Link Here  full story: Christian Voice vs Poetry...Stephen Green accuses poet of blapshemy

Darkness is where the stars are book A poet has been forced to launch his new collection in the street after a bookstore cancelled the event because of a campaign by Christian nutters.

Darkness is Where the Stars Are is a collection of 30 to 40 poems from the Welsh publishers, Cinnamon Press.

Patrick Jones was due to sign copies at Waterstone's in Cardiff but the shop cancelled the event at the last moment.

The company said it was not a censor but felt it was prudent to cancel the event because of its duty to customers. The book remains on sale in Waterstones.

Jones said he was not going to be beaten down by religious activists, and signed copies for a small group of people in the street: I'm really proud of this book and I'm really sickened. There shouldn't be censorship of this sort - it doesn't set out to be offensive. He said he had not singled out Christianity in his poems, but was questioning beliefs in society.

Christian Voice said the book was obscene and blasphemous and called on the chain to remove copies from stores.

The national director of Christian Voice, Stephen Green, said the decision was a triumph for the Lord, not for us. The Lord had not even showed me what we should do at Waterstone's, only that it should be Christlike. Just the knowledge that we were on our way has put the fear of God into the opposition.

 

14th November   

Update: Crowd Troubles...

Australia Council releases guidelines for children in art
Link Here

Australia Council logo Anyone who photographs children will need the permission of the parents before the pictures can be exhibited.

The ruling is included in sweeping guidelines released by the Australia Council designed to protect children in the aftermath of the Bill Henson controversy.

The six-page document also requires artists who work with naked children to ensure that their parents understand the nature of the artwork. Artists must also have a commitment from parents that they will supervise the naked child.

But missing from the draft guidelines is any mechanism for policing them.

A key visual arts organisation has described elements of the draft protocols as unworkable. The executive director of the National Association for the Visual Arts, Tamara Winikoff, said requiring artists who work with children to obtain parental permission was restrictive: That's problematic particularly for people like documentary photographers who work in the street. At the moment there are no restrictions on taking crowd photographs or photographs of people in the street without their permission … This would impose a very, very unreasonable restriction.

The guidelines say images of nude or partly nude children taken over the past 25 years may need to be reviewed by the Classification Board before they can go on view.

Where there is no law to enforce them, the protocols will work as a minimum standard and a reminder to everyone that they must obey the law.

They will affect all projects funded by the Australia Council. From January 1, artists must adhere to the protocols if they want a grant from the Government's peak arts funding body.

The council is seeking comments on the draft protocols by November 27 and will publish the final guidelines on December 31

 

14th November   

Update: Salty Language...

Australian nutters get wound up by sex novel by a parliamentarian
Link Here

The Twelfth Fish book Australian Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner has defended a colleague's published novel over criticism it contains graphic and sexual material.

The book The Twelfth Fish - written by Labor backbencher Graham Perrett - is a perfectly reasonable mainstream novel, he says.

But nutters of Salt Shakers, a Christian ethics and lobby group, says leaders of the nation should not be encouraging reading that contains extremely graphic and sexual material.

The book contains five racy sex scenes, coarse language and racist remarks.

I have read the book and I think some of the expressions that have been made about this book are entirely exaggerated, Mr Tanner told ABC Television: If you look around at a few books here and there, you'll find equivalent sex scenes.

He described Salt Shakers as one of those rather obscure and extreme groups that sometimes get into public debate.

I suspect my mum would be a little bit worried about some of the content of the book, but it's an adult novel. It had been a long time since books with sex scenes were banned in Australia, Tanner said.

Perrett, a first-time parliamentarian, wrote the book before being elected the member for Moreton in Queensland.

 

14th November   

Prison Bloggers...

Life sentences for opposing Burma's tyrants
Link Here  full story: Repression in Burma...Long jail sentences for opposition to government

Burma flag An internet blogger and a writer who disguised an attack on Burma's dictator in the form of a love poem were among dozens of activists sentenced to draconian jail terms as the junta ordered a fresh crackdown on dissidents.

Nay Myo Kyaw who wrote blogs under the name Nay Phone Latt, was sentenced to 20 years and 6 months in jail by a court in Rangoon.

The poet, Saw Wai, received a two-year sentence for an eight-line Valentine's Day verse published in a popular magazine. Saw Wai's poem, entitled 14th February, was ostensibly a Valentine's Day verse but the first word of each line, however, spelt out a message about the leader of the country's military government: Power Crazy Senior General Than Shwe.

Aung Thein, the lawyer for the men, was given four months in prison for contempt of court during his defence.

More than a dozen people arrested during the protests last year against the ruling junta were handed harsh prison terms yesterday. Altogether 23 activists were sentenced today at Insein prison. They were sentenced to 65 years each, a family member of one jailed activist said

Other sources said that 14 people from the Generation 88 Students group, who spearheaded the revolt against Burma's military rulers in 1988, were jailed for 65 years. Ten rank-and-file members of a provincial branch of the opposition National League for Democracy party were given sentences ranging from 8 to 24 years.

The dissidents will join more than 2,000 political prisoners in Burma's jails, half of whom have been incarcerated since the Saffron Revolution last year, when tens of thousands of Buddhist monks and political activists took to the streets in a failed uprising against the military regime.

 

14th November   

Update: Battleaxe Grinder...

Swedish gender inequality triumphs over Black and Decker
Link Here  full story: Sexist Advertising in Sweden...Sweden considers banning sexist advertising

Black & Decker battleaxe grinder

US power tool maker Black & Decker has received a hammering from a Swedish advertising censor for an advert described as degrading to women.

The Swedish business sector's Ethical Council against Gender Discriminatory Advertising (ERK) slammed an advert that promised beauty treatments for the wives of men who bought its products.

The Black & Decker ad earlier this year promised customers a pleased wife guarantee, offering beauty treatments worth 350 kronor ($43 dollars) to the wives of men who bought spent more than 1,500 kronor on its tools.

Through this text, the council finds that (the company) conveyed an outdated view of gender roles in which women are expected to be placated with beauty treatments while men buy tools, ERK said in its ruling: This is degrading for both women and men. The ad is thereby gender discriminatory.

ERK, which is made up of representatives of Sweden's main advertising companies, has no power to impose sanctions on companies it finds guilty of discrimination.

 

14th November   

Update: Tit for Tat...

Art banned by Harrow council on show to the public in Watford
Link Here  full story: Harrow Council Prudes...Nutter council gets all stuffy about nude art

Harrow Art A Watford arts organisation is making a stand against censorship as its latest exhibition opens in a local shopping centre.

Artwork from members of the Watford Area Arts Forum (WAAF) will go on show this weekend in the public gallery at the top of The Harlequin shopping centre.

Included in the exhibition will be a drawing by Cheryl Gould, one of the forum's members, whose recently was forced to take one of her pieces of work down from Harrow Arts Centre.

Harrow Council objected to the drawing, depicting a nude man, and decided it had to be removed from the exhibition to avoid offending religious members of the community and children.

Several artists have walked away from the arts centre, in Hatch End, and members of the WAAF have criticised Harrow Council's censorship of the paintings.

Jonathan Hutchins, another artist whose life paintings were withdrawn from the Harrow exhibition, has been invited to show the censored artwork in the exhibition in The Harlequin.

The upper gallery in the shopping centre, where the exhibition is taking place from tomorrow until Sunday, November 23, is open to the public and artwork on show can be seen from outside the gallery.

 

14th November   

When You Can't Call a Nazi a Nazi...

Another victim of easily offended Britain
Link Here

Jon Gaunt One of the country's most notoriously outspoken radio presenters has been suspended from his daily show after calling a London Tory councillor a Nazi on air.

Talksport host Jon Gaunt made the comment during his regular phone-in show, sparking listener complaints.

He was interviewing councillor Michael Stark, who was defending Redbridge Council's decision to ban smokers from becoming foster parents.

Gaunt apologised at the end of his show after also calling Stark an ignorant pig during the heated discussion. The radio host is known to have strong feelings about child welfare having spent his childhood in care.

Prior to the show, he wrote of his disgust about the council's decision in his column for The Sun newspaper, saying: The SS - that is social services by the way - think the risk from passive smoking is more dangerous to a child than them being left to rot in a children's home.

 

13th November   

Update: Swearing by Jamie Oliver...

Channel 4 head battles culture of conservatism
Link Here

Ministry of Food book The head of Channel 4 has defended strong language on television, saying he will not allow a culture of conservatism to stop presenters such as Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay from using offensive language.

Julian Bellamy, who is in charge of programming, said it was important that occasional errors of judgement did not usher in a new era of censorship.

Bellamy said he had no intention of reining in presenters such as Oliver, whose most recent Channel 4 show was criticised by MPs for being riddled with swearing.

He said that Channel 4 programmes, which include those fronted by the notoriously foul-mouthed Gordon Ramsay, struck a balance between reflecting how people express themselves and not using bad language gratuitously.

I think we've got the balance right with Jamie, he said: When we watch those shows it's very clear that when Jamie uses fruity language it is a real response to the shock and anger at what he sees. It's spontaneous.

He said that audiences wanted Channel 4 to push boundaries, challenge orthodoxies and take risks even if that meant that some programmes caused offence.

That doesn't mean producers should be given free rein to offend. Far from it, he said at the launch of Channel 4's winter schedule. Challenging material must be editorially justified in the proper context, with procedures in place so we don't cause undue offence. But I believe that if television loses its nerve and never risks offence it will be come a weaker and less relevant medium today.

Selected for Interrogation

Based on article from mirror.co.uk

Culture, Media and Sport select committee MPs are to question BBC chiefs about strong language on the box.

Director general Mark Thompson and the BBC Trust's Sir Michael Lyons will also be quizzed about the Manuelgate scandal involving Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.

John Whittingdale, chairman of Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said the two men will be asked to account for a lapse in broadcasting standards. He added: The committee also intends to raise with them concerns that have arisen following the Jonathan Ross broadcast.

Watchdog Ofcom said it had no plans to review its guidelines on bad language. A spokesman said the amount of swearing in a programme was an editorial decision.

 

13th November   

Update: Gone in a Flash...

Suicide charities condemn flash animation game
Link Here  full story: Suicide Censorship...UK government proposes to ban suicide information

Billy Suicide game Suicide charities have condemned an internet flash animation game in which players have to keep a depressed man from killing himself.

In Billy Suicide , players give a young man caffeine, alcohol and drugs to keep him happy.

He is also boosted by watching TV, internet porn and listening to heavy metal. But if his mental health drops, he kills himself using methods ranging from hanging to a shot to the head.

The calls follow the death by hanging on Monday of mother-of-one Lisa Dalton in Bridgend. The 25-year-old, who was battling anorexia, was the 24th suicide victim in the area in two years.

Suicide is not a light-hearted subject, said The Samaritans : Types of suicide portrayal can act as a catalyst.

A spokesman for Papyrus (Prevention of Young Suicide) called the game irresponsible, adding: Vulnerable young people can be influenced by online content.

 

13th November   

Update: Unwanted Minister...

Stephen Conroy refuses to detail what will be censored
Link Here
Stephen Conroy

Stephen Conroy:
 Unwanted Content?

The federal Government has been urged to come clean over grey areas in its internet filtering plan after Broadband and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy pointed to unwanted content being censored.

During question time yesterday, Senator Conroy was unclear on the exact type of content that would be blocked during the trials.

The pilot will test filtering specifically against the ACMA blacklist of internet prohibited content, which is mostly child pornography, as well as filtering of other unwanted content, he said in response to a question by Greens Senator Scott Ludlum.

There were 1000 pages on the current ACMA blacklist at the beginning of the year and has since increased by 300 URLs. The list is compiled based on complaints from the public.

Senator Ludlum urged Senator Conroy to specify what he meant by unwanted conten: Will the minister provide a definition of unwanted content and where we might find a definition of unwanted?

Will the minister acknowledge the legitimate concerns that have been raised by commentators and members of the public that such a system will degrade internet performance, prove costly and inefficient and do very little to achieve the Government's policy objectives?

Furthermore, the Government's proposal for dynamic filtering is equivalent to the Post Office being required to open every single piece of mail.


Senator Conroy said he couldn't answer all the questions in under a minute. I will happily get you some further information on that very long list of questions, he told Senator Ludlum, who is the Greens Communications spokesperson.

Senator Conroy's lack of clarity during question time adds more confusion to the discussion -- as ACMA blacklist's comprises illegal websites containing child pornography, X-rated and violent material, among others, it is unclear if he was referring to these sites specifically.

While the ACMA blacklist contains around 1300 URLs, the pilot will test filtering for a range of URLs up to around 10,000, Senator Conroy said. This is so that the impact on network performance of a larger blacklist can be examined.

Senator Conroy acknowledged expert technical advice that such a filter was not feasible, and would slow down internet access speeds, but said that was the reason for conducting a pilot

No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in Australia
Keep Your Filter Off Our Internet badge

 

13th November   

Update: Playing a Detailed Rating Game...

ESRB introduce extended explanations of their games ratings
Link Here

ESRB logo The US games rating organisation, ESRB, has begun a new program to add summaries of why each game has earned its rating.

Research shows that the vast majority of parents who purchase games for their kids are aware of and regularly check ESRB ratings, but parents can always use more help when making choices as to which games are right for their children, said Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB: With our new rating summaries, which provide exclusive and unprecedented insight into the nature of the content that triggered a given rating assignment, parents will be that much more empowered in making those choices.

Games rated from July 1 of this year will have a summary available, and the ESRB has also launched a mobile site to make these summaries accessible from cell phones. If you want this information while at a game store, simply look up the game on your cell phone.

An example database entry now looks like this

Dead Space

Platform : Windows PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Rating : Mature

Content descriptors : Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

Rating summary : Dead Space is a third-person action game that takes place in a mysterious space station. The protagonist searches for clues found in the form of audio/video clips and various other items while avoiding hazards and fighting alien monsters. He uses several types of guns, lasers and flame throwers to defeat enemies. Characters lose limbs and heads, accompanied by sprays, stains, and gushes of red blood. Dismembered alien and human corpses appear regularly. Strong profanity (e.g., "sh*t" and "f*ck") can be heard in dialogue and seen in graffiti.

 

13th November   

Update: Anti-Statues Resistance Committee...

Bangladesh muslims set their sights on art
Link Here

Bangladesh flag Rashed Ahmed paints the fiery eyes of a python on to a giant piece of white cloth in the grounds of Dhaka University, as a huge crowd of painters, actors and writers cheer the fine arts student on.

Each of those gathered then has a tilt at drawing their own symbols, leaving a personal mark indicative of the Bangladeshi cultural heritage they say hardline Muslims are determined to destroy.

Large groups of Bangladeshi artists -- including film-makers, singers and writers -- began daily protests last month after authorities removed two newly commissioned sculptures of local folk singers erected outside Dhaka's airport.

A group of Muslim hardliners calling themselves the Anti-Statues Resistance Committee complained that the sculptures were idols, which are strictly forbidden in Islam, and threatened to attack the artwork with power tools.

One of the group's leaders Mufti Fazlul Haq Amini, a former MP, says that he will demolish all statues if his party wins the December 18 parliamentary elections.

 

13th November   

Update: Trouser Wearing Lap Dancers...

Lap Dance Association make their case in Parliament
Link Here  full story: Lap Dancing License Change...UK lap dancing suffers repressive new licensing

Culture, Media and Sport select committee Members of the Lap Dancing Association are to visit the Palace of Westminster later this month as part of their campaign against proposals to classify them as sex workers.

I don't suppose many select committees discuss lap dancing, not as part of official business anyway, says Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley: I have no idea whether there will be an official visit to one of these clubs, but it is always a good idea to see these things first-hand. John Whittingdale, who chairs the committee, can't believe what has landed in his lap: I have the best job in parliament,

The association has already submitted a report, which defends women's right to perform striptease.

It ends with the cheeky postscript: Our criticisers have obviously never visited a lap dancing club. The reality is that, if they had, they would realise that although the girls take their tops off, it is definitely they who wear the trousers.

 

13th November   

Petting with Pets...

Sweden debates bestiality
Link Here

HIV warning scorpian The unmasking this week of an animal sex network by the Stockholm newspaper Expressen has  highlighted the issue of bestiality.

Members of parliament are urging a tightening of the laws (bestiality was decriminalised along with homosexuality in 1944) but the government is resisting the pressure.

Should a human be allowed to affectionately stroke the teats of a female dog? asked Eskil Erlandsson, the Agriculture minister, explaining the complexities of an anti-bestiality law: or does that count as the sexual abuse of an animal? The minister, famed for his outspoken manner, later left many Swedes aghast when he gave an even more explicit example.

One, the Swedish Animal Welfare Agency, registered 115 cases of bestiality between 2000 and 2005. This is regarded however as the tip of the iceberg and some published projections suggest that between 200 and 300 dogs and cats a year are being sexually assaulted.

The Expressen story has stoked up the debate even more. It infiltrated a reporters into a group run by the organiser of a flourishing internet animal sex forum. He owns a farm with dogs and horses and told the newspaper that he had regular sex with his female dog but claimed the animal initiated the act. This is a sufficient defence under current Swedish laws to prevent prosecution under charges of animal cruelty.

The network of around 30 people, mainly men, organise regular rendezvous with different farmyard animals and dogs. The events are often filmed for later use in pornographic films.

 

13th November   

Ofcom in Need of Happy Pills...

Painkiller joke in After You're Gone causes pain at Ofcom
Link Here

After You're Gone Season 2 DVD After You've Gone
BBC1, 28 July 2008, 19:30

After You've Gone is a comedy series featuring the character Jimmy, whose mother-in-law has moved in with the family after his divorce.

In this episode Jimmy has a painful hernia and is unable to move off the sofa. In the scene in question, Jimmy craves a sweet biscuit but his mother-in-law, Diana, leaves him with a healthier rice cake to eat and his prescription painkillers in a bottle. She advises him to take two tablets every four hours. After Diana has left the house Jimmy looks at the tablet bottle and says these are bound to have some sugar in them and proceeds to shake out a handful of tablets and swallow them. He then swallows another handful.

In the next scene, Jimmy wakes disorientated and under the influence of the overdose of tablets. In his drug-induced state, he is shown to be in a mellow and relaxed mood, demonstrating a comic softening of his more uptight attitude towards his children and Diana, before falling asleep contented on the sofa. He wakes later, believing he has experienced a dream and showing no adverse side effects of the overdose of drugs. Later in the programme his mother-in-law attributes his more relaxed behaviour as being the result of one too many happy pills.

A viewer expressed concern that the overdose of painkillers shown in this episode was unsafe, appeared to show no adverse health consequences and that this demonstrated irresponsibility on the broadcaster's behalf.

Ofcom considered Rule 1.10 (the abuse of drugs must generally be avoided before the watershed.)

Ofcom Decision

Rule 1.10 requires broadcasters to avoid generally the abuse of drugs, and in any case such abuse should not be condoned, encouraged or glamorised in programmes broadcast before the watershed, unless there is editorial justification. This Rule covers all drugs, not just recreational or illicit drugs.

In this episode it is made clear that the character Jimmy chooses to exceed the recommended dosage of prescription medication. In reality, any abuse of painkilling medication carries the risk of very serious and even fatal side effects. In the scene, however, Jimmy is shown to experience only a relaxing of his inhibitions. The hallucinatory side effects of the overdose and his subsequent behaviour are accompanied by canned audience laughter which serves to emphasise the intended comedy of the situation.

Ofcom notes the broadcaster's argument that Jimmy did not take the drugs for their intended medical effect, but because he thought they might have sugar in them and this behaviour was consistent with the well established ignorance and foolishness of Jimmy in this long-running series. Although Jimmy appeared to suffer no adverse effects through his overdose, we took into account that by the conclusion of the episode Jimmy was shown to be embarrassed by his behaviour under the influence of the medication.

Ofcom recognises this was a comedy and therefore the scene was intended for humorous effect. Humour often derives from exaggerating a situation to the point of absurdity, but it is Ofcom's view that where the content includes the abuse of drugs, particularly when the programme is broadcast at a time when younger children may be watching, broadcasters should exercise particular caution.

We welcome the BBC's recognition that given its content this programme was not appropriately scheduled for younger viewers and its assurances that it would not therefore broadcast this episode again before 20:30 . In light of this, Ofcom considers the matter resolved.

 

13th November   

Update: Headless Hackers...

Pakistan passes law with a death sentence for cyber crime
Link Here

Pakistan flag Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari has signed a law making cyber terror a crime punishable with death.

Executions will only be allowed if the hack attack causes [the] death of any person, the Prevention of Electronic Crimes law states.

But the definition of what is considered cyber terror is alarmingly broad in the law, proposed last year and signed Thursday by the Pakistani president. Not only does it apply to any person, group or organization who, with terroristic intent utilizes, accesses or causes to be accessed a computer or computer network or electronic system or electronic device or by any available means, and thereby knowingly engages in or attempts to engage in a terroristic act. The ordinance also considers cyber terrorism to be:

  1. altering by addition, deletion, or change or attempting to alter information that may result in the imminent injury, sickness, or death to any segment of the population
  2. transmission or attempted transmission of a harmful program with the purpose of substantially disrupting or disabling any computer network operated by the Government or any public entity
  3. aiding the commission of or attempting to aid the commission of an act of violence against the sovereignty of Pakistan, whether or not the commission of such act of violence is actually completed
  4. stealing or copying, or attempting to steal or copy, or secure classified information or data necessary to manufacture any form of chemical, biological or nuclear weapon, or any other weapon of mass destruction.

 

12th November   

MadBeyerWorld...

Mediawatch-UK get a bit of stick from gamers
Link Here  full story: MadWorld...Nutters rant against MadWorld video game

Madworld game screen shot Mediawatch-UK's autumn newsletter has just been published on the website.

Mostly predictable stuff but it does have an interesting summary of feedback in response to Mediawatch-UK comments about banning the up 'n' coming MadWorld game:

John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk, said: 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.

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 has decided to release this game exclusively on the Wii. I believe it will spoil the 'fun for all the family' image of the Wii."

Within hours of these remarks being published a rain of hostile emails from gamers poured into our office telling us to "shut the f*** up", suggesting that we have "got our knickers in a twist", demanding, as though we were on trial for an heinous crime, to know what right we had to impose our "narrow minded bigotry" on them and stopping them playing an "adult" game of their choice.

Others, of a more sober character, asked reasonably why we should be so concerned about games when there was so much violence in films and on television! We were also accused us of being "cowards" for not responding properly to belligerent strictures and one ‘emailer' observed glibly that "violent acts are not a symptom of video games and films, but rather the human condition". Another said: "If you don't like violent content, don't view or use it".

Others thanked us cynically for drawing attention to the game saying they would rush out and buy it as soon as it was available. Yet others told us to focus on retailers and said that parents should safeguard their children from "adult" games.

Feature articles, grossly exaggerating the significance of our comments, were written in computer game magazines exonerating the multimillion pound games industry and headlines were achieved on Google News UK and dismissive remarks made in The Guardian newspaper. It is comforting to know that the BBFC, too, received "abusive and incoherent" protests from gamers who disagreed with their decision to reject the game Manhunt II - a decision that was subsequently overturned on appeal.

 

12th November   

Update: A Word that Begins with 'Fuck' and Ends in 'Wit'...

Denis MacShane whinges about strong language on TV
Link Here
Denis MacShane

MacShane : I hear f f f f
on TV, tell me we don't
hear that in France.
Burnham : No they
say b b b b

House of Commons debates
Monday, 10 November 2008
Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport
Public Service Broadcasting

Denis MacShane (Rotherham, Labour)

Mr. Speaker, if I used that English vernacular word that begins with f and ends in k, you would chop me off at the knees—if not higher—before I had even got up. Yet all the broadcasters now use it regularly, and it is really offensive. This is not a watershed matter. There are plenty of children watching TV programmes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights after 9 o'clock. I have watched Jamie Oliver reporting from Rotherham, and I have watched quiz shows, and I hear f, f, f, f. Please tell the BBC and Ofcom that we do not hear that in France, Germany or America, so why, with our great language, does British broadcasting have to be in the linguistic sewer?

Andy Burnham (Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media & Sport; Leigh, Labour)

My right hon. Friend has expressed himself very clearly and trenchantly. The report that I mentioned a moment ago revealed an increase, indeed a spike, of bad language immediately after the watershed, which suggests that it needs to be said that it is not obligatory to use bad language after the watershed.

I believe that my right hon. Friend speaks for many people in the country in saying that while people accept that the language used on television programmes ought to reflect the language used in the country as a whole, there are occasions on which the line has clearly been crossed, and I know that others share the discomfort that he has so eloquently expressed.

 

12th November   

Update: The Worst Comms Minister in 15 Years...

Stephen Conroy gets stick from ISP over internet censorship
Link Here
Stephen Conroy

Stephen Conroy:
 The worst Comms
Minister in 15 years

As opposition grows against the Government's controversial plan to censor the internet, the head of one of Australia's largest ISPs has labelled the Communications Minister the worst we've had in the past 15 years.

Separately, in Senate question time today, Greens senator Scott Ludlam accused the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, of misleading the public by falsely claiming his mandatory censorship plan was similar to that already in place in Sweden, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.

Despite significant opposition from internet providers, consumers, engineers, network administrators and online rights activists, the Government is pressing ahead, this week calling for expressions of interests from ISPs keen to participate in live trials of the proposed internet filtering system.

Michael Malone, managing director iiNet, said he would sign up to be involved in the ridiculous trials, which are scheduled to commence by December 24 this year.

Optus and Telstra both said they were reviewing the Government's documentation and would then decide whether to take part.

But Malone's main purpose was to provide the Government with hard numbers demonstrating how stupid it is - specifically that the filtering system would not work, would be patently simple to bypass, would not filter peer-to-peer traffic and would significantly degrade network speeds.

They're not listening to the experts, they're not listening to the industry, they're not listening to consumers, so perhaps some hard numbers will actually help, he said.

Every time a kid manages to get through this filter, we'll be publicising it and every time it blocks legitimate content, we'll be publicising it.

Malone concluded: This is the worst Communications Minister we've had in the 15 years since the [internet] industry has existed.

No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in Australia
Keep Your Filter Off Our Internet badge

 

12th November   

Update: Fallout Bombshell...

Japanese gamers unimpressed by PC censorship of Fallout 3
Link Here

Fallout 3 game Fallout 3 is scheduled for release in Japan next month and developer Bethesda has decided to make some PC changes to the Japanese version.

For starters, the possible detonation of an unexplored nuclear bomb has been edited out, along with Mr. Burke, the non-playable character.

Bethesda also noted that one weapon title was changed because it was inappropriate and this is most likely the Fat Man, as it was the code name for the atomic bomb that was detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, by the US during WWII.

The irony is that despite Bethesda's best intentions to be culturally sensitive to a country and their history, online reactions from Japanese users, however, indicate complete irreverence and disappointment regarding the censorship.

 

12th November   

Name Censors...

Argentina search engines ordered to remove celebrity searches
Link Here

Yahoo Argentina logo Both Yahoo and Google are locked in a legal battle with dozens of fashion models and other public figures like Maradona over whether the Internet companies should have to censor search results relating to those persons' names.

Since last year, Internet users have been left with abbreviated search results from Yahoo Argentina and Google Argentina, as a result of temporary restraining orders handed down by Argentine judges.

The move effectively holds the search companies responsible for content on other Web sites, a legal maneuver that would not be possible in the United States or the European Union, according to a Google representative. In the United States, federal law generally says that search engines are not responsible for the content of pages they index.

Google first received an injunction to block references to the individuals on its Argentina search engine in mid-2007. A group of about 70 fashion models, represented by the same lawyer, initially asked the Internet company to block all search results with their names with the intent of blocking pornographic sites that used the models' pictures. Google responded that it would only block specific problematic links, provided it could notify users.

The matter was taken to court, and judges in Argentina have so far sided with the models. Other public figures--including Maradona and Judge María Servini de Cubría--have in recent months sought out the same lawyer to successfully block search results about them on Google and Yahoo as well.

The lawyer representing all the plaintiffs, Martin Leguizamon Peña, has sought damages between 100,000 and 400,000 pesos for his clients (about $30,000 to more than $121,000.

Both Google and Yahoo have unsuccessfully appealed the restraining orders and are now complying with them while the underlying lawsuits filed by Peña's clients are pending.

 

12th November   

Update: Clarkson Given the Finger...

Whingers quick to fire off complaints about Top Gear
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Top Gear DVD Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has angered a few easily offended nutters by making a rude gesture to a policeman on TV.

He was seen holding up a middle finger twice while talking to a US patrolman. Clarkson was telling him they were not fooling but making a documentary.

Afterwards he clearly thought it was hilarious that he had got away with the gesture by making out he was showing the officer what others had signalled to him.

Media Watch UK said: Clarkson must like the publicity and obviously thinks he's untouchable.

The BBC said nobody had complained but Ofcom confirmed: We received complaints about the Top Gear programme shown on Sunday, November 9. These will be assessed.

 

12th November   

Diary: Harmful Effects of Violent Films and Computer Games...

Mediamarch organise nutter conference
Link Here

Mediamarch logo The Harmful Effects of Violent Films and Computer Games on Young People's Behaviour, and Effective Preventive Action
Houses of Parliament, London
Monday 17 November 2008 from 1.00pm to 4.00pm

The purpose of this conference is to sensitise those in authority to the link between violent media content and violent behaviour, particularly among young people. If you cannot attend please invite your Member of Parliament.

Speakers include:

  • Kieth Vaz MP
  • Professor Kevin Browne, University of Liverpool
  • Brian Moore, Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police
  • Keith Bakker, founder of the first Clinic for Video game addicts
  • Robert Prendergast, Joint Director of Urban Mission
  • Louise Brown from Christian Care for Our Nation.

This event is sponsored by Nadine Dorries MP and organised by Pippa Smith and Miranda Suit, founders of mediamarch.

This event is free and entry is by ticket only. Please telephone: Pippa on 01308 482333 or Miranda on 020 8467 6452

 

12th November   

Diary: FrightFest...

The next stop for the FrightFest Express is Glasgow
Link Here

Frightfest logo FrightFest at the Glasgow Film Festival
20th & 21st of February

The next stop for the FrightFest Express is Glasgow.

For the fourth time, we are heading North of the border for an extended two day event, which is part of the Glasgow Film Festival. Dates for this year's jaunt are the 20th & 21st of February.

Tickets will be on sale in early January 2009.

 

12th November   

Fake Press Freedom...

China cracks down on unregistered journalists
Link Here

China flag China has said it would crack down on 'fake' journalists, a category that appears to include many freelance journalists.

The General Administration of Press and Publications issued a circular asking journalists to register for press cards in order to prove their legal identities to their interviewees. People who forged press cards would be severely punished, it said.

Media organizations should improve their journalists' ethics and skills, and prevent them from seeking money or other advantage for favours, the agency said. The circular banned paid journalism, emphasized the importance of credible reporting and directed journalists not to distort the truth or disseminate false information.

 

12th November   

Update: Critical Censorship...

Iranian weekly banned for criticising the President
Link Here

Shahrvand-e Emrouz logo Iran has closed down a prominent reformist weekly which has often criticised the policies of conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran's Press Supervisory Board have sent a letter to the Shahrvand-e Emrouz (Today's Citizen) weekly formally informing it of the decision.

It was banned because of content which was contrary to the previous commitments of the publisher, Kargozaran said, without giving specific details.

Since 2000, the Press Supervisory Board and Iranian courts have closed some 100 publications, condemning many as pawns of the West and accusing them of trying to undermine Iran's system of clerical rule.

The semi-official Fars News Agency said Shahrvand-e Emrouz had 'misrepresented' some of the government's actions.

 

12th November   

Live Censorship...

Sri Lankan broadcasting restrictions criticised
Link Here

Sri Lanka Reporters Without Borders condemns the government pressure that led to the debate programme Ira Anduru Pata being cut short as it was being broadcast live on the evening of 4 November on state TV station Rupavahini.

The abrupt censorship, which has become a talking point among TV viewers, ended a discussion of a new broadcasting law by three guests, including Uvindu Kurukulasuriya, convener of the Free Media Movement, a local media rights group.

The presenter announced a break for advertisements after 45 minutes, but the rest of the programme, which normally lasts two hours, was suppressed, the RWB statement said Kurukulasuriya had been criticising the government's media policies before he was censored, it said.

This censorship came as widespread criticism forced the government to retreat on its newly-introduced Private Television Broadcasting Station Regulations, the RWB statement said.

The new rules would restrict development of privately-owned TV by increasing the government's control over the issuing and withdrawal of broadcasting licences, which would have to be renewed annually.

After receiving representatives of journalists' organisations and media owners, media and information minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa announced that implementation of the new regulations would be suspended for a month.

Noting the government's decision to suspend the regulations, Reporters Without Borders said: This law is extremely dangerous for media freedom. Delaying its implementation is not enough. Its content needs to be changed radically.

 

12th November   

Extreme Awards...

Erotic Awards for Politicians
Link Here

Erotic Awards winner The recent Erotic Awards honoured three politicians

Lord Richard Faulkner

Labour peer who defended the rights of sex workers, their clients, and extreme pornography, during the debate on the Criminal Justice Bill 2008. Regarding pornographic images that are said to be ‘extreme', he said, ‘I was left with the question of whether their possession is so threatening to society that it is worth turning people into criminals and sending them to jail,' and decided, ‘I really cannot imagine that any useful purpose is served by creating criminals out of the people who possess them.

John McDonnell MP

Politician who took a brave step by arranging for sex workers to join politicians and academics to discuss the laws surrounding sex work in the House of Commons Committee Room 10. This momentous meeting, on Wednesday 16th January 2008, was called by the Safety First Coalition, and the committee room was bulging with people and enthusiasm. Ten peers came to inform themselves in preparation for a debate in the Lords on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. The Bill introduced an offence of persistent soliciting and compulsory ‘rehabilitation' against sex workers. These sections of the Bill were eventually dropped. One of the speakers, outspoken pioneer Swedish sex worker Pye Jakobson said of the event, ‘This was the day in my life when I knew I was making history.'

Baroness Sue Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Defended the rights of sex workers and clients, and extreme porn, during discussion of the Criminal Justice Bill 2008. When absolutely no concessions were made, she withdrew her amendments in order that she could bring them back on a third reading.

See also www.suemiller.org.uk

 

12th November   

Update: Aboriginal Abuse...

The discriminatory Aborigine porn ban lives on
Link Here  full story: Discriminatory Porn Ban in Australia...Porn is banned in Aboriginal communities

Aborigine woman with a beer Northen Territory Aborigines have been made to feel repugnant by the Federal Government's intervention, with restrictions like income quarantining a boot in the guts, says the man who headed the government review into the policy.

Peter Yu, chairman of the Northern Territory Emergency Response Review Board, said many indigenous people found the intervention punitive, coercive and racist.

Earlier this month, his board reported to the Government that controversial restricted welfare payments to Aborigines in the Territory, which require the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act, should be abolished. It also recommended the reinstatement of permit systems for entry onto Aboriginal lands.

But the Government has opted to keep the intervention operating unchanged for at least the next year.

See also Aboriginal pawns in nanny state's porn game from theaustralian.news.com.au

These bans on pornography damaged Aboriginal culture in a very devious way. They told white Australians that black Australians were so primitive and so base that even depictions of non-violent adult sex had the potential to turn them into pedophiles and rapists.

Much of what the Howard government banned from these communities was category 1 restricted magazines, which are legally available from every newsagency, service station and convenience store in the country. If Aborigines cannot manage to control their lust while viewing magazines that sit alongside The Australian Women's Weekly in a newsagent, what sort of people are they?

Nowhere in the original Little Children are Sacred report did the authors call for bans on porn. This approach was white conservative Christian policy. The report's authors wanted more education and enforcement of the Classification Act in the NT. They knew that bans on porn in Aboriginal communities would simply say to the general public that they had a genetic predisposition to sexual assault when confronted with nudity and sexual activity. The report even stated that bans on pornography would not be effective.

In case Howard and Kevin Rudd have missed it, Aborigines had been walking around the continent without clothes on and watching others have sex out of the corner of their eye for more than 50,000 years without a problem. Yet as a result of the intervention, Aborigines in the NT are being unfairly discriminated against, both as a matter of social equity and of racial equality.

The original report that lead to the intervention stated that young children were being shown sexually explicit material in an inappropriate fashion. This was largely because many Aboriginal adults had no idea that it was an offence to do so, but mainly because of serious overcrowding. How do you watch a sexually explicit film in private when there are 30 people living in a dwelling?

 

11th November   

Ofcom F***s Scott Mills...

Ofcom flays Scott Mills over Badly Bleeped TV
Link Here

Scott Mills on Radio 1 Scott Mills
Radio 1, 12 August 2008, 16:00

A listener complained about an item called Badly Bleeped TV - a regular feature in this radio programme, in which extracts from TV or radio are played with words bleeped out. The words themselves are later revealed as being not offensive. However, the remaining beginning and ending sounds of the words give the impression that the bleep is masking an offensive word, or create the beginning and end sound of an offensive word on either side of the bleep.

On this occasion, two of the clips included words that began with ‘f' and these were edited in such a way that the listener believed that he had heard the word 'fuck'.

Ofcom considered Rule 1.14 of the Code (the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed or when children are particularly likely to be listening).

The BBC responded that Badly Bleeped TV is one of the more popular items on Scott Mills and that it considered that the item is in line with the level of satire and humour that the programme's audience would expect from the show. It acknowledged that the feature is somewhat risqué . However it maintained that the words omitted from the extracts are entirely innocuous in nature, with the humour of the item resting in the listeners recognising in their minds a similarity between the remaining parts of the bleeped word and a potentially offensive word. It belongs to the saucy seaside postcard tradition of comedy, than to anything more offensive.

The BBC said that the words that were bleeped, as referred to by the complainant, were 'fated to meet' and 'fantastic'. The word 'fuck' was therefore not used and the words that were bleeped bore no resemblance to that word. It said the real missing words were revealed very quickly, leaving the listener in no doubt as to what was omitted.

Ofcom Decision

In respect of the complaint, Ofcom considered the two words that began with ‘f'.

As regards the first instance, Ofcom noted that while listeners had been led to believe the word fucked' was the missing word, the word 'fucked' was not clearly audible.

However in relation to the second word in the broadcast which began with an ‘f', Ofcom noted that the beginning and end sounds of the bleeped word were ‘f' at the beginning, and a strong ‘ck' after the bleep. This was played twice and clearly - for all intents and purposes - sounded like the word 'fuck'.

Rule 1.14 does not allow for editorial justification in the use of such language. In this instance, the programme was broadcast at 16:00 , during school holidays, and was therefore on air at a time when children were likely to be listening.

Ofcom found that, by broadcasting a word that had been purposefully edited to sound identical to the word 'fuck', the programme was in breach of Rule 1.14 of the Code.

 

11th November   

Update: Shame on Dacre...

The moral shortcomings of Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre
Link Here  full story: Max Mosley Privacy...Max Mosley, spanking and Nazi sex

Daily Mail Sick Filth Daily Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre has launched an attack on a High Court judge, accusing him of bringing in a privacy law by the back door.

He said Mr Justice Eady had used the Human Rights Act against the age-old freedom of newspapers to expose moral shortcomings of people in high places.

Mr Justice Eady ruled in favour of motorsport boss Max Mosley in his legal action against the News of the World. He ruled in July that the paper had breached Mosley's privacy, saying he could expect privacy for consensual sexual activities (albeit unconventional).

Dacre told the audience at Society of Editors' annual conference in Bristol that the judge's amoral judgements, in this and other defamation and libel cases, were inexorably and insidiously imposing a privacy law on the press.

Dacre said this had huge implications for newspapers and for society. Public shaming had always been a vital element in defending the parameters of what are considered acceptable standards of social behaviour, he said. Without the freedom to write about scandal, newspaper sales would fall, creating worrying implications for the democratic process, he said.

Now, some revile a moralising media. Others, such as myself, believe it is the duty of the media to take an ethical stand. Either way, it is a choice but Justice Eady - with his awesome powers - has taken away our freedom of expression to make that choice.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Lord Falconer defended Mr Justice Eady's role. He said it was not necessarily acceptable for public figures to have aspects of their private lives, such as abortions and other medical treatments, reported in the newspapers.

Of course, if I'm acting hypocritically or I'm accountable, or there's something that may affect what I do in my public life which emerges from my private life, then that should be published. But there are things which are private and just as we don't want the state to know everything about us, do we want things that are legitimately private to be made public? I don't think we do.

 

11th November   

Update: CPS Stand Proud...

CPS ends private prosecution of Koh's art as no case to answer
Link Here  full story: Jesus Hard Up...Terrence Koh's Jesus with erection shocks

Terence Koh's Jesus An art gallery will not face any legal action over nutter claims that it displayed an indecent statue of Jesus Christ.

The artwork was part of an exhibition at Gateshead's Baltic Centre featuring several plaster figures with erections.

A private prosecution was being brought by Christian group member Emily Mapfuw on the grounds the statue outraged public decency.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) stopped the action on Monday and said the gallery had no case to answer.

Nicola Reasbeck, Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: The CPS has the right to take over a private prosecution and prosecute it ourselves, take it over and stop the case, or allow the private prosecution to continue.

Having considered the evidence in this case with great care, we are satisfied that there is no case to answer. We have taken into account all the circumstances, including the fact that there was no public disorder relating to the exhibition and that there was a warning at the entrance to the gallery about the nature of the work on display.

The case has therefore been discontinued.


The statue was part of Baltic's September 2007 to January 2008 exhibition by Chinese-born artist Terence Koh, Gone, Yet Still.

 

11th November   

Victims of Intimidation...

Call for protected freedom of speech for muslim reformers
Link Here

Victims of Intimidation Governments across Europe must do more to safeguard freedom of speech for Muslim reformers who face threats from extremists, a think tank has warned.

The UK-based Centre for Social Cohesion highlighted the cases of 27 writers, including Sir Salman Rushdie, activists, politicians and artists.

The centre said they had suffered violence and intimidation for criticising Islam or seeking reform.

It said governments had a duty to ensure free speech for all citizens.

The report - Victims of Intimidation: Freedom of Speech within Europe's Muslim Communities - said official failure to offer victims the protection they needed had left "significant numbers" of Muslims unable to express themselves.

It said this also created the impression that more Muslims were opposed to free speech than was actually the case.

The centre called for European governments to promote greater religious and social harmony by demonstrating that they see Muslims and those of Muslim background as complete citizens, neither restricted in their freedoms nor unduly permitted to issue threats against others.

Douglas Murray, director of the Centre for Social Cohesion and co-author of the report, said Muslims found it increasingly difficult to criticise elements of their faith or culture without fear of reprisal.

In a free society, no belief or set of values should remain beyond open criticism. To grant a belief system amnesty from discussion concedes that intimidation and violence can succeed.

Unless Muslims are allowed to discuss their religion without fear of attack there can be no chance of reform or genuine freedom of conscience within Islam.

 

11th November   

Update: NetChoice...

More organisations join the fight against Australian internet censorship
Link Here

A lobby group set up by internet auction house eBay and other online merchants in the US and Europe plans to open a chapter in Australia as the Federal Government is poised to reveal details of its contentious cyber safety plan.

Labor promised before last year's election to censor 'objectionable' content on the internet and set aside $128.5 million in the May budget to deal with cyber censorship and law enforcement.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Government has hired Melbourne company Enex TestLab to design a live pilot test on a real network.

This filtering plan has been widely criticised and now international lobby group Netchoice wants to weigh into the debate. Netchoice is backed by members including eBay, publisher AOL Time Warner, some heavyweight trade associations in the US and software house Oracle. Netchoice said it would recruit Australian online retailers and internet players to its cause. The group's executive director, Steve DelBianco, is currently visiting Sydney.

Last week the System Administrators Guild of Australia criticised plans to introduce a filter system. The guild, while acknowledging efforts to protect children from objectionable content, said the proposals could slow down the internet for everybody. Guild president Donna Ashelford said those who created objectionable material already used encryption methods that would not be stopped by filtering.

 

11th November   

Update: Burkhas on in Bali...

Police will enforce the new sharia dress code law
Link Here  full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Burkha is the new bikini

Bali Police chief Insp. Gen. Teuku Ashikin Husein said his institution had no option but to enforce the new pornography law in the province.

I have no option. The police must enforce every positive law in the country, he said in Denpasar, as quoted by Tempointeraktif.com.

Ashikin said the law would be implemented through a government regulation which had yet to be established.

Last week, Bali's governor and speaker of the provincial legislature announced that the province would not be able to enforce the newly passed law, saying it was not in line with Balinese philosophical and sociological values.

Bali leaders and members of the public have united in an organization named the Bali People's Component to challenge the new law through the Constitutional Court.

 

11th November   

PR and Censored Information...

New media censor created in Armenia
Link Here

Armenia flag The Armenian government has set up a new agency tasked with monitoring and regulating the work of the local media outlets, prompting serious concern from some of them.

The Center for Public Relations and Information (CPRI) was set up during a weekly cabinet session upon the recommendation of President Serzh Sarkisian's administration.

A government statement said that the body will be tasked with conducting, among other things, a monitoring and analysis of activities of the Armenian media, including newspaper circulations and the size of TV and radio audiences. It will also come up with initiatives relating to the legal regulation of media outlets' activities.

Some independent outlets expressed concern at the development on Friday, saying that it could herald government restrictions on press freedom and even censorship.

Mesrop Movsesian, owner and chief executive of Independent TV channel A1+, claimed that the CPRI's main mission is to censor independent news reporting: It looks like the idea is to have one center from which information will be controlled and delivered to the public .

 

11th November   

Update: Ban over Strike over Censorship...

Sudan newspapers banned for protesting against censorship
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan flag The Sudanese authorities banned Saturday the publication of two daily newspapers after a three day strike to protest against press censorship and journalists arrest.

The National Security Service barred Ajras Al-Huriya and Ray Al-Shab newspapers from publishing on Saturday because they didn't inform the security apparatus of the strike.

They told us 'you didn't inform us about your strike and... we're taking the measure of stopping you for one day', said Murtada Al-Ghali, the editor in chief of Ajras Al-Hurriya.to sanction sanctioned two daily newspapers that were in a three day strike to

On Tuesday November 4, Sudanese journalists began a 24-hour hunger strike and the Ajras Al-Hurriya, Al-Maidan and Rayal Al-Shab newspapers halted production for three days, saying they could no longer accept government restrictions over editorial content.

Ajras al-Huriya whose name means Freedom Bells in English, had failed to appear more than 20 times since its April 7 launch owing to censors. The daily is closely linked to the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), the main partner of the National Congress Party and the ruling party in southern Sudan.

 

10th November   

Update: Police Go Secret...

Parliament security committee seek UK government and police powers to censor news media
Link Here

Stasi Britain's security agencies and police would be given unprecedented and legally binding powers to ban the media from reporting matters of 'national security', under proposals being discussed in Whitehall.

The Intelligence and Security Committee, the parliamentary watchdog of the intelligence and security agencies which has a cross-party membership from both Houses, wants to press ministers to introduce legislation that would prevent news outlets from reporting stories deemed by the Government to be against the interests of 'national security'.

The committee also wants to censor reporting of police operations that are deemed to have implications for 'national security'. The ISC is to recommend in its next report, out at the end of the year, that a commission be set up to look into its plans, according to senior Whitehall sources.

Civil liberties groups say these restrictions would be very dangerous and damaging for public accountability. They also point out that censoring journalists when the leaks come from officials is unjustified.

But the committee, in its last annual report, has already signalled its intention to press for changes. It states: The current system for handling national security information through DA-Notices and the [intelligence and security] Agencies' relationship with the media more generally, is not working as effectively as it might and this is putting lives at risk.

The human rights lawyer Louise Christian said: This would be a very dangerous development. We need media scrutiny for public accountability. We can see this from the example, for instance, of the PhD student in Nottingham who was banged up for six days without charge because he downloaded something from the internet for his thesis. The only reason this came to light was because of the media attention to the case.

 

10th November   

Humourless in Belgium...

Magazine forced to censor mock up of police chief having sex with secretary
Link Here

Humo magazine cover Reporters Without Borders condemns a Brussels court ruling on 4 November ordering the weekly Humo to immediately withdraw all copies of its latest issue from sale on penalty of paying a fine of 250 euros for each copy left on sale.

The summary judgment was issued in response to an action brought by the federal police chief about a satirical photo-montage showing his head, and that of his secretary, super-imposed on naked bodies.

After the newspaper filed an appeal, the court put a ceiling of 25,000 euros on the fine.

We deplore the court's ruling and the disproportionate nature of the legal procedure used,” Reporters Without Borders said: Satire is by definition an inalienable part of freedom of expression. Morality and good taste cannot under any circumstances justify media censorship in a country that belongs to the European Union.

The satirical section of Humo 's 4 November issue, called the Het Gat van de wereld (Backside of the world), had photomontages of federal police chief Fernand Koekelberg frolicking naked with his secretary, Sylvie Ricour, who had been suspended after several newspapers suggested there was something irregular about the way she got the job - only to be reinstated on the orders of the Council of State.

Humo put a new version of the issue on sale today with a black strip across the cover page and the words Humo censored. Page 175 with the photomontages was kept, only now the photos were covered with a black strip and the word Censored.

 

10th November   

Update: Ruddy Hypocrite...

Kevin Rudd previously whinged at the Chinese for what he is now doing in Australia
Link Here

I said that!

Before this year's Beijing Olympic Games, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd chastised the Chinese authorities for blocking full access to the internet for the assembled world media: My attitude to our friends in China is very simple. They should have nothing to fear by open digital links with the rest of the world during this important international celebration of sport.

Although Rudd expressed no concern for the average Chinese web user being unable to view tens of thousands of banned websites, his intervention was nevertheless a welcome call for transparency and greater democracy.

But now the Rudd government is working towards implementing an unworkable filtering process in Australia that suggests a misguided understanding of the internet and worrying tendency to censor an inherently anarchic system.

 

10th November   

Googling For Prosecution...

Italy to take Google employees to court over YouTube bullying video
Link Here

YouTube logo Google is awaiting confirmation that four employees will face charges in Italy for failing to stop the publishing of a video of a disabled teenager being bullied.

The employees will face charges of defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data, with court proceedings to start Feb. 3 in Milan.

Prosecutors appear concerned that the video also highlighted the boy's disability, which could run afoul of data protection rules, said Marco Pancini, Google's European public policy counsel.

The three-minute video in question depicts four youths harassing a boy with Down's Syndrome and eventually hitting him in the head with a pack of tissues.

It was posted in September 2006 on Google Video, one of the company's video upload sites. Google removed the video within a day after it received a complaint from the Italian Interior Ministry, which has a department that investigates Internet-related crime. By that time, the video garnered around 12,000 hits.

Google maintains charges against the employees are unwarranted, Pancini said. Europe's E-commerce Directive exempts service providers from prescreening content before it is publicly posted, he said. Also, the video was technically uploaded to a Google server in the US, not in Italy, Pancini said.

 

10th November   

Long Running Censorship Saga...

Little House on the Prairie 18 rated in Finland
Link Here

Finland unsubmmitted 18 rating Finland has just rated the DVD release of the children's television series, Little House on the Prairie , as suitable only for adult viewing.

In an attempt to save money, the heads at Universal Pictures decided not to submit the series to the censors for inspection.

Turns out that Finnish authorities charge around $2.57 per minute to assess the age limit on films and television series.

The distributors who decide not to pay the fee can only sell their flicks with the sticker Banned for under-18s.

Matti Paloheimo, Director at the Finnish Board of Film Classification, said Long series can get quite expensive to check, and some use this exemption in the law to their advantage. Such unchecked material should not be shown to children publicly.

 

10th November   

Update: Burkha is the new Bikini...

Erotic dancers arrested in Jakarta under new sharia morality law
Link Here  full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Burkha is the new bikini

Indonesia watched its new anti-pornography law leap into action last weekend, as police raided a Jakarta nightclub and arrested three employees. The officers detained three erotic dancers in the raid. The women now face up to 10 years in prison.

The new law retains a broad definition of pornography that many fear could be abused by law enforcers and radical organizations. The law is wide open to interpretation and could even apply to voice, sound, poetry, works of art or literature, says Kadek Krishna Adidharma, one of many Balinese who see the law as an attempt by the Indonesian Muslim majority to impose their will on the rest of the country: Anything that supposedly raises the libido could be prosecutable.

The law has a long list of possible offenses. Anyone displaying nudity could be fined up to $500,000 and jailed for up to 10 years. Public performances that could incite sexual desire have been banned, and civil society groups will be allowed to help enforce the legislation.

While it is true that pornographic magazines and pirated DVDs are easily available in Indonesia, advocates for the rights of religious and ethnic minorities say the problem will not be righted by the new legislation. They point to existing provisions in the criminal law as sufficient to deal with the problem, and complain that the new law poses a threat to non-Muslim Indonesians. The law imposes the will of the majority that embrace Islam, is a form of religious discrimination and against the spirit of tolerance taught by the country's founders, says Theophilus Bela, chairman of the Christian Communication Forum.

Four provinces with sizeable non-Muslim populations — Bali, Yogyakarta, Papua and North Sulawesi — have already rejected the law and said it will not be enforced in their regions. It remains to be seen how and if that will be tolerated by Jakarta. Major protests are planned for this month in Bali, where the governor has been a vocal opponent of the law and pledged that it will not be implemented. Many Balinese are now calling for greater autonomy and say dire consequences lie ahead if their demands are not met. There is even a possibility that Bali will ask to separate from Indonesia, says Rudolf Dethu, a Balinese who has helped organize protests against the law: It's that serious.

 

10th November   

Duff TV Censors...

Hilary Diff music video offends over finger sucking
Link Here

Best of Hilary Duff CD Hilary Duff has been hit with TV censorship on her music video for new single Reach Out .

The promo video is deemed too rude for US television, as the singer can be seen suggestively sucking the finger of a man.

Reports say Duff will have to remove the raunchy scenes and replace them with more TV-friendly footage.

 

10th November   

Offsite: Fleeting TV Censorship...

Supreme Court Hears FCC vs. Fox Broadcasting
Link Here  full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

US Dept of Justice For the first time in 30 years, the US Supreme Court is taking a look at so-called indecent speech on broadcast TV and radio ... but it may not look very deeply, opting instead to decide simply whether the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) violated the Administrative Procedures Act in attempting to fine Fox Broadcasting for airing so-called fleeting expletives - that is, single unexpected utterances of words like 'fuck' and 'shit.'

But 'fuck' and 'shit' weren't in evidence when the Supreme Court heard argument in the petition of FCC vs. Fox Broadcasting on Tuesday morning. Rather, everyone referred to them as the F-word and the S-word - leading to the interesting conundrum that the high court would be deciding the broadcast fate of words that it would apparently hurt their ears (or minds) to hear spoken in a courtroom.

The present cases arises, although even this was a matter of contention, from the FCC's decision to begin levying fines on broadcasters who allowed even single instances of 'fuck', 'shit' and its variations to go out over the airwaves, even though, historically, it had overlooked such slips.

It will likely be several months before the decision is published, so it is equally likely that broadcasters will spend that time policing their guests' language very carefully, since millions of dollars in fines are in the balance.

...Read full article

 

10th November   

The Database Rag...

A couple of amusing animations for you
Link Here

Daily Mail Song A couple of amusing animations for you from eclectech.co.uk :

 

9th November   

Update: Beyer Bait...

Telegraph survey find majority want to ban 'fuck' on TV
Link Here

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVD Most people in Britain think the f-word should never be used on air, an opinion poll has found.

The survey for The Sunday Telegraph also shows that a majority believe that there is now too much swearing on television and radio, and that comedy programmes have become too vulgar.

In the nationwide poll of 1,005 adults, by ICM, 56%felt the word 'fuck' should never be broadcast. Only 36% said it should be allowed, while 9% replied it depends.

More than half – 57% – said that there was too much swearing on television and radio, while only 2% felt that there should be more, and 38% felt that broadcasters had got the balance right.

Asked whether television and radio comedy is too vulgar, 57% replied 'Yes', 39% 'No' and 4% 'Don't know'.

John Beyer, the director of Mediawatch-UK predictably called on broadcasters to take urgent action to reduce the amount of swearing on air. This poll clearly shows just how offensive the public finds certain words and how tired they are of hearing their repetitive use on air at any time of the day.

Broadcasters must take urgent action to eradicate gratuitous bad language from programmes. They are long overdue in responding to public opinion on the issue, and the poll shows that doing nothing is no longer an option.

Based on article from telegraph.co.uk

John Whittingdale John Whittingdale MP, chairman of Culture, Media and Sport select committee:

I am concerned. It appears that some broadcasters seem think that as soon as you get to 9.01pm, it is no holds barred with bad language. What seems to be getting worse is the gratuitous nature of so much of it, particularly in comedy shows where it seems to be routine for everyone to use bad language. People find that offensive.

Obviously we need to be careful about being too censorious, and swearing is permissible in some instances ...BUT... broadcasters need to be more thorough about making sure there's a good reason for it. The effect of the watershed is also being affected by the use of on demand services and services like the BBC's iPlayer, where any programme can be watched at any time of the day.

Broadcasters are also so desperate to attract the 17 to 25 demographic, they are often ignoring the offence that is caused to older viewers and listeners with some of the material put out there to try and draw in the younger audience.

Not so long ago, if some bad language was going to be aired on a programme, you would get a proper warning about the content before it was broadcast. Now we don't get that with programmes like the Graham Norton Show , Friday Night with Jonathan Ross or Mock the Week . That is something the broadcasters should address."

 

9th November   

Update: D-Censors...

More D-Notices issued by the Government
Link Here  full story: D-Notices...UK press censorship of defence issues

MOD logo Seven D-notices were sent to all UK newspaper editors by the Defence Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee (DPBAC) in 2007 and a further five so far this year, Defence Minister Kevan Jones revealed in a written parliamentary reply published.

This compares with just two being issued in each of the previous three years from 2003, one in 2002, three in 2001, two in 2000, three in 1999 and none in either 1998 or 1997.

The D-Notice system, which is a virtual blanket publication ban, is a voluntary code that began back in 1912 to provide guidance to the British media on the publication or broadcasting of national security information.

The committee, a joint government-media body, says the objective is to prevent inadvertent public disclosure of information that would compromise UK military and intelligence operations and methods, or put at risk the safety of those involved in such operations, or lead to attacks that would damage the critical national infrastructure and/or endanger lives.

No details are given of the latest bans. Some journalists have argued that the bans often include subjects that are merely unflattering to government, rather than a matter of national defence and thus are a form of soft censorship.

 

9th November   

Update: The Nature of Offence...

A few nutters whinge at Bill Oddie's dead squirrel comments
Link Here  full story: Bill Oddie...Whingeing at light hearted nature commentaries

Autumnwatch The BBC has received 4 complaints after a family show featured close-up shots of an electrocuted squirrel.

Viewers of Autumnwatch , the popular wildlife series, claimed that there was no need to include the footage, which they said had upset their children.

The programme, broadcast at 8pm last Monday, showed images of the corpse of a squirrel that had been electrocuted after gnawing through a live cable connected to presenter Bill Oddie's garden shed.

Oddie and his co-presenter Kate Humble joked about the incident, with Oddie quipping: Better red than dead . . . or grey. Let all squirrels watching be warned, because you can get too cocky.

Echoing the Monty Python dead parrot sketch, Ms Humble said: So, it's not a sleeping squirrel? It's an ex-squirrel.

Mick Read who was watching with his two young children, said: My kids were really upset. Why did they have to show the squirrel? They could just have shown the electric cable where it had been bitten through. I know adults regard squirrels as pests but kids love them. I don't think Bill Oddie should have been joking about it.

A BBC spokeswoman said: As with all natural history programmes, Autumnwatch has a duty to show nature “as it is”, which sometimes includes scenes of death. Addressing these difficult subjects for our family audience in a sensitive way is of utmost importance to us. In this case, we felt the close-up was necessary as it showed the reason for the animal's death, the gnawed electrical wire.

 

9th November   

Update: My God Not Yours...

Malaysian christians waiting to see of they can use the word 'Allah'
Link Here

Evangelical Church of Borneo A Malaysian court hearing the appeal by an evangelical church to use the word "Allah" in its Sunday School materials has been adjourned to next month.

The Evangelical Church of Borneo, otherwise known as SIB (Sidang Injil Borneo), and its president Pastor Jerry Dusing filed the appeal at the High Court against the Internal Security Ministry and the Malaysian Government.

The hearing will resume on November 12.

On August 15 last year, SIB was preparing to bring in three cartons containing six different publications from Indonesia to be used as Sunday School materials when they were withheld by a customs officer and later handed over to the Internal Security Ministry (ISM.

Nearly a month later, Dusing received a letter from the ISM stating that the import of the publications had been denied, that Christian publications containing the word “Allah” cannot be distributed in Malaysia. The letter also stated that the publications can raise confusion and controversy in Malaysian society.

In response the church sent an appeal letter dated September 24 to the minister, stating that the previous prime minister had allowed the use of the word “Allah” in their publications.

 

8th November   

Update: Wasting Parliamentary Time...

Keith Vaz tries to wind up parliament over whimsical flash animation
Link Here

Kaboom screen shot Nutter MP Keith Vaz has lodged an early day motion with parliament.

EDO 2416:

That this House condemns the creation of the online computer game Kaboom which asks the player to replicate the actions of suicide bombers; believes that this game is offensive to the families of those killed by suicide bombers and devalues all human life; further believes that this game depicts an unnecessary level of violence; is deeply concerned that vulnerable people under the age of 18 are able to access and play this game; calls upon the game's creator to show sensitivity and responsibility by removing it from the internet; welcomes the findings of a new study from Iowa State University which recognises the link between violent video games and aggressive behaviour; and calls on the Government to revise its regulation of violent video games.

Vaz also brought the subject up in Parliament with a question to Harriet Harman, Leader of the House

Vaz: Has my right hon. and learned Friend had the opportunity to look at early-day motion 2416?

[The motion] refers to an online computer game called "Kaboom", which asks players to replicate the actions of a suicide bomber. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that that is offensive to the families of the victims of suicide bombings and that it devalues human life? I have raised this matter on several occasions at business questions and in other debates. What action are the Government taking to remove such material from the internet or, at the very least, to approach service providers to ensure that they take appropriate action? Children and young people will be able to have access to those games. Could we have a debate on this important matter?

Harman: The Government are concerned about the effect on children of violent internet and video games, which is why we commissioned the Byron review. That set out how we need action from parents, from the industry itself and from the Government to ensure that there is proper control of content and clear labelling to protect young children. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend's long-standing interest in these issues, which he had even before he became Chair of the Select Committee on Home Affairs. Under his leadership, the Committee has taken a strong interest in such matters. I bring to his attention the fact that on Thursday 13 November, in Westminster Hall, there will be a debate on the question of harmful content on the internet and in video games.

 

8th November   

Update: More Sachs Sacks...

BBC rolling heads and apologies over the Russell Brand Show
Link Here

Radio 2 logo A second BBC Radio 2 executive has resigned over the Sachsgate affair as the corporation prepares to broadcast two apologies.

The resignation of Dave Barber, the station's head of specialist music and compliance, has been confirmed in an internal email from the channel's acting controller Lewis Carnie.

The apologies will be directed to Andrews Sachs along with his granddaughter and the licence fee-payers

The first apology will air just after 10am tomorrow when Jonathan Ross, currently suspended without pay, would normally be broadcasting his radio show on BBC Radio 2.

This will be repeated just after 9pm, when Russell Brand used to be on air with his Saturday night show on the same station.

The BBC will say that the phone call to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs's answering machine should never have been recorded or broadcast. It will apologise unreservedly to Mr Sachs, Miss Baillie and to our audiences as licence fee payers in the broadcasts.

 

8th November   

Furthering our Digital 'Society'...

Government announces Digital Britain Report Steering Board
Link Here

DCMS logo A forum of independent experts has been appointed to guide the work of The Digital Britain Report and develop a comprehensive plan to further our digital economy and society.

Among the members of the Steering Board, who will provide input into the Digital Britain Report are the authors of recent and related reviews, including Dr. Tanya Byron, Francesco Caio, Barry Cox, Chairman of the Digital Radio Working Group, Andrew Gowers and Robin Foster from the Convergence Think Tank. Along with other members of the Steering Board, they will provide sponsorship and expertise in their particular areas of focus and will advise on the overall strategy and direction of The Report.

Stephen Carter, the Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting said:
Fully embracing a digital future is a must for any successful knowledge economy. The Steering Board will serve and advise The Digital Britain Report in its ambition and its practical recommendations.

The expert advisers and their primary area of focus are:

  • Peter Black - Network technology
  • Dr. Tanya Byron – Online protection
  • Francesco Caio - Next generation networks
  • Andrew Chitty - Production/new media
  • Barry Cox - Digital radio
  • Matthew d'Ancona – Print media/new media
  • Robin Foster - Public service content
  • Andrew Gowers - Creative economy
  • Ian McCulloch - Media markets
  • Peter Phillips – Regulatory frameworks
  • Stephen Temple – Spectrum

 

8th November   

Guest of Little Honour...

Turkey censors Swiss film festival
Link Here

Gitmek: My Marlon and Brando poster Alleged Turkish interference in a culture festival in Switzerland results in the removal of a movie and five articles written by leading journalists from the printed program.

I shouldn't have followed the pressure but the pressure was so strong, says the director of CultureScapes

Claims of a censorship attempt by Turkey on a movie featuring a love affair between a Turkish woman and a Kurdish man from northern Iraq have overshadowed the Swiss festival CultureScapes.

The artistic director of the festival said yesterday that the movie Gitmek was taken out of the printed program after a threat from the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry.

The Culture Ministry threatened to withdraw money if the movie was not removed from the program. And they did it very offensively, Jurriaan Cooiman told the Hrriyet Daily News.

Starring Turkey as guest of 'honor' this year, the annual festival's 800,000 euro budget is equally financed by the Turkish and Swiss governments.

 

7th November   

Update: A Worrying Mirror...

Grand Theft Auto takes the rap for sex assaults
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game A judge attacked a violent video game as he jailed a teenager. Ryan Chinnery had subjected four women to degrading sex assaults.

Sentencing Chinnery to eight years, Judge Philip Statman said: It is not for this court to enter the controversy as to whether such conduct is encouraged by pornographic material and video games such as Grand Theft Auto. But there is a worrying mirror of conduct between that which pornography presented to you and that which you have carried out.'

He said: You were driving alone at night to select a female victim, replicating that which was in your fantasy. You have sought to dominate and humiliate women to gain sexual satisfaction. You thrive on the feeling of power and control.

Maidstone Crown Court was told that Chinnery had a secret dark side when he would spend hours playing video games, watching pornography and taking cannabis.

He attacked his first victim under a railway bridge, groping her breasts and pulling down her trousers. A month later, Chinnery stalked another woman, dragging her along a path before he was scared off by passers-by. He set upon a third woman as she made her way home from work – grabbing her arm and fleeing only when another man approached. In August last year, he grabbed a 42-year-old woman around the throat as she walked home at 2am. Her arm was broken in the struggle. Her clothes were torn off and she was sexually assaulted.

Patsy McKie, from Mothers Against Violence, said last night: The Government must ban these games as soon as possible. The only people they benefit are the makers, who cash in on the misery they have generated.

 

7th November   

Update: Nutter Bali Hoo...

Flash animation fun winds up Keith Vaz
Link Here

A flash animation in which players operate a suicide bomber and try to kill as many men, women and children as possible has provoked nutter outrage.

A senior Labour MP said Kaboom: The Suicide Bombing Game, which is freely available to all age groups on the internet, devalues human life and should be banned.

Players move a terrorist of Arab appearance along a busy street to get as close as possible to the most civilians. They then click their mouse and the bomber opens his coat to reveal grenades strapped to his body before exploding in a shower of bloody limbs.

The more men, women and children are injured, the more points the player receives.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, said the game contained an unnecessary level of violence and offended relatives of those killed by suicide bombers.

He also said he was deeply concerned that vulnerable users under the age of 18 are able to play the game.

The Israeli Embassy in London is also understood to have complained. Scores of Israeli citizens have been killed by suicide bombers in recent years.

 

7th November   

Update: Political Games...

Consultation for R18+ games rating back on track
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ banned Australian censorship ministers have finally agreed to release a discussion paper on the proposed introduction of an R18+ rating for video games.

There were fears last week that the introduction of an adults-only games rating had been delayed indefinitely after South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson withdrew his support for the discussion paper and public consultation process.

However, at yesterday's Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting in Brisbane, Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls, who has long supported the push for an R18+ games rating and took the lead in drafting the discussion paper, achieved consensus with fellow censorship ministers.

Spokesperson for Hulls, Meaghan Shaw, said censorship ministers at SCAG agreed that the discussion paper will be finalised by the end of the year, with the view to Australia-wide distribution.

Ministers originally agreed back in March to canvas public opinion on the proposed introduction of a R18+ classification for games following the release of a discussion paper on the issue.

A draft of the paper, simply titled R18+ for computer games was sent to ministers in September and details the pros and cons of introducing an adults-only rating for games.

When finalised, the paper will be available to the public on the internet and provided to interested parties such as games industry groups and family associations to seek their views.

The South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson would not specify last week why he was unable to support the release of the discussion paper, and it has not been revealed why he changed his stance yesterday at SCAG.

 

7th November   

Petition: Stop Australian Internet Censorship...

Petition against Stephen's mandatory internet filters
Link Here

X18+ Banned symbol Australian Senator, Stephen Conroy, is set to introduce mandatory Internet filtering in 2008. This petition has been organised to put an end to the filtering in Australia, before it begins!

Existing reports (some even conducted by the Australian Government) show that ISPs and customers will be forced to pay if mandatory filtering is introduced. The 2003 Ovum report on filtering commissioned by the Howard Government even finds that smaller ISPs will not be able to absorb the costs like large ISPs.

Furthermore, industry groups have all warned that the filtering can and will be bypassed. Why waste money on something that isn't going to work?

Show your support by signing this petition. Show Mr Conroy and Mr Rudd that Australia does not require a Government babysitter.

This petition will be forwarded to all politicians concerned.

...Sign the petition Stop Australian Internet Censorship

See also:

No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in Australia
Keep Your Filter Off Our Internet badge

 

7th November   

Update: Nutter Mole...

Chris Mole MP seeks sacking of Jeremy Clarkson
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Chris Mole MP A nutter Labour MP has urged the BBC to dismiss Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson over a joke he made on the motoring show.

And while TV censor Ofcom has said the remark was not a breach of the broadcasting code, Ipswich MP Chris Mole claimed it was a dismissible offence.

Mole was 'offended' by the possible reference to the murders committed by Steve Wright in Suffolk and has written a strongly-worded letter to the BBC's director general Mark Thompson:

The murders in my constituency in 2006 were horrific and the community has spent a lot of time pulling together to respond constructively to such dreadful events, he wrote.

For Mr Clarkson to make light of murder in any circumstance must be a dismissible offence. To do so with complete disregard for the families of the murdered women should make this a matter on which I would expect you to take immediate action.

 

7th November   

Update: Malaysia Freer Today...

Malaysia Today blogger freed as no threat to national security
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia Today logo In what lawyers described as a landmark ruling, a court in Malaysia ordered the release of one of the country's best-known bloggers, ruling that the government acted beyond its authority in invoking a threat to national security.

Raja Petra Kamarudin, who was arrested September 12 and detained without trial, was expected to be released later Friday.

Lawyers have long complained that Malaysia's mildly authoritarian government uses the Internal Security Act as a tool against the opposition. The act allows for indefinite detention without trial. Raja Petra, one of the most vocal critics of the current government, was detained for comments posted on his Web site that the government said insulted Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad. He was also accused of posting articles that defamed the country's leaders and incited hatred against the government.

The court ruled that these were not sufficient grounds for detention under the Internal Security Act. The government can appeal the decision but the judge, Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad, ordered that Raja Petra be released without delay.

Tommy Thomas, a prominent Malaysian human rights lawyer, estimates that more than 20,000 people have been detained under the act.

Update: Exile

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

Popular Malaysian blogger and editor of the Malaysia Today website, Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK), failed to attend his sedition trial on April 23, 2009. As a result, the Sessions Court in Petaling Jaya issued a warrant of arrest against RPK. News reports state that Sessions Judge, Rozina Ayob, issued the order after prosecutor, DPP Shahidani Abd Aziz, applied for the warrant due to his absence. DPP Shahidani was reported to have said that the prosecution had no choice but to get the order to proceed with the trial.

On his website Kamarudin said that he had gone into  exile over a family dispute arising from comments about the Perak royal family

 

7th November   

Offsite: Freedom Blacklisted...

Is the Internet going down down under?
Link Here

X18+ Banned symbol The battle is now on for the soul of the Australian internet. The outcome could have enormous repercussions for the future of the internet in the UK.

Regular readers will be aware of the Australian Government's plans to clamp down on the internet down under. These, the brainchild of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, have been bubbling away since last year, and began, as so many half-baked government schemes do, with the plea that someone think of the children.

The scheme would put in place a server-level content filtering system, to block material unsuitable for children. The cat was put well and truly amongst the pigeons with the recent claim by Internode network engineer Mark Newton that there will be no opt-out from filtering for parents. Rather, there will be a blacklist that parents can opt into to protect their children.

But failing to opt into that list would merely switch users to an alternative filtering system, trapping content deemed unsuitable for adults.

According to Newton: That is the way the testing was formulated, the way the upcoming live trials will run, and the way the policy is framed; to believe otherwise is to believe that a government department would go to the lengths of declaring that some kind of internet content is illegal, then allow an opt-out.

...Read full article

 

7th November   

Offsite: Obscene Chilling of Free Speech...

John Stagliano challenges unconstitutional obscenity test
Link Here

US Constitution Attorneys for John Stagliano have filed motions to dismiss the federal obscenity charges against the director and his companies, arguing that the Supreme Court test for obscenity is outdated and unconstitutional.

Attorneys Allan Gelbard and Paul Cambria filed their respective motions on Oct. 30 and 31 in reply to the federal government's opposition to the Stagliano defense team's original motions to dismiss the charges.

They contend in their motion that the First Amendment prohibits prosecution of E.A. Productions for use of an interactive computer service to distribute on-line communications because, unlike many off-line publishers, Internet publishers cannot control the geographic reach of their communications.

[T]he use of local community standards to judge the lawfulness of such on-line communications invariably subjects those communications to the restrictions of the most conservative communities in the nation, E.A. Productions submits that this reality unconstitutionally chills speech by allowing an Internet heckler's veto to these conservative communities.

...Read full article

 

6th November   

Update: What a Wowser...

Conroy confirms that he will ban adult consensual porn from the Australian internet
Link Here
Stephen Conroy

Wowser Stephen Conroy:
  I am not a wowser
...BUT...
I will ban hardcore porn

Online pornography will be caught in the Rudd Government's compulsory blacklist internet filter, the Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) has confirmed.

Any website that is subject to a complaint and classified RC or X18+ will be added to the blacklist, an ACMA spokesman said: This includes real depictions of actual sexual activity

Legal X18+ pornography in the territories will not be immune, the ACMA spokesman added.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy: This is not an argument about free speech. As I have already said, [...BUT...] we have laws about the sort of material that is acceptable across all mediums and the internet is no different.

Currently, some material is banned and we are simply seeking to use technology to ensure those bans are working. The National Classification Code determines content against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults.

ACMA received 1122 complaints about online content in 2007/08 resulting in 15 take-down orders and 781 recommendations to makers of online filters.

A third of those 796 blocked websites were classified X18+ for actual sexual activity between consenting adults, with the remainder refused classification for depiction of a sexual fetish or fantasy, violence, or a child.

A separate filter, dubbed the Clean Feed, will further block a range of material unsuitable for children. Adults will be able to opt out of the Clean Feed, but not the illegal content filter.

No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in Australia
Keep Your Filter Off Our Internet badge

 

6th November   

No Great Firewall in New Zealand...

No plans to follow Australia's internet censorship lead
Link Here

New Zealand flag The New Zealand government has no current plan to follow Australia into compulsory filtering of internet connections by ISPs, says ICT minister David Cunliffe.

New Zealand's response to undesirable online material emphasises education, says Cunliffe, referring to NetSafe's educational programme aimed at parents and children.

There is currently no legislative authority in the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act for website filtering, Cunliffe notes.

The Australian proposal, first mooted by the Howard government, has attracted criticism. The extent of the planned filtering is still unclear. Australian civil liberties campaigners have called it the Great Firewall of Australia, in allusion to China's strict state online censorship.

In New Zealand a trial web filtering programme is being conducted by the DIA in association with a number of ISPs, who have volunteered. The trial currently blocks access to about 7,000 websites that are known to deal exclusively with child sexual abuse imagery, Cunliffe says: There are no plans for the programme to be expanded to other types of illegal material.

 

6th November   

Update: Cleaning up on Hypocrisy...

Daily Express editorialises for a TV clean up...
Link Here

Express mock up The Guardian's Media Monkey column points out a debate in the Daily Express.

After the Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross fiasco, the opinion page asks: Is It Time We Cleaned Up Television?

Yes, according to chief political commentator Patrick O'Flynn. No, according to TV critic Charlie Catchpole.

But no matter, Express owner Richard Desmond has already made up his own mind. Turn to the TV listings on page 50 and we find listings for TelevisionX, owned by one R Desmond.

Plenty to clean up there, Daily Express!

 

6th November   

Quick Off the Blocks...

US Army sees a threat in quick and simple widely broadcast messaging
Link Here

Twitter logo The US Army is flagging the popular blogging service Twitter as a potential terrorist tool, the Agence France-Presse reported.

A recently released report by the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion contains a chapter entitled Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter, which expresses concern over the increasing use of Twitter by political and religious groups.

Twitter has also become a social activism tool for socialists, human rights groups, communists, vegetarians, anarchists, religious communities, atheists, political enthusiasts, hacktivists and others to communicate with each other and to send messages to broader audiences, according to the report: Twitter is already used by some members to post and/or support extremist ideologies and perspectives .

The blogging service and social networking site has previously sent out messages known as tweets faster than news organizations during such major news events as the July Los Angeles earthquake and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis.

Twitter describes itself as a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

 

6th November   

Sex and the City Causes Teen Pregnancy...

Research claims that racy TV leads to teen pregnancy
Link Here

AAP logo A research suggests that pregnancy rates are much higher among teens who watch a lot of TV with sexual dialogue and behavior than among those who have tamer viewing tastes.

The new study is the first to link those viewing habits with teen pregnancy, said lead author Anita Chandra, a Rand Corp. behavioral scientist. Teens who watched the raciest shows were twice as likely to become pregnant over the next three years as those who watched few such programs.

Shows that highlight only the positive aspects of sexual behavior without the risks can lead teens to have unprotected sex before they're ready to make responsible and informed decisions, Chandra claimed.

The study was released in the November issue of Pediatrics . It involved 2,003 12- to 17-year-old girls and boys nationwide questioned by telephone about their TV viewing habits in 2001. Teens were re-interviewed twice, the last time in 2004, and asked about pregnancy. Among girls, 58 became pregnant during the follow-up, and among boys, 33 said they had gotten a girl pregnant.

Participants were asked how often they watched any of more than 20 TV shows popular among teens at the time or which were found to have lots of sexual content. The programs included Sex and the City , That '70s Show and Friends .

Pregnancies were twice as common among those who said they watched such shows regularly, compared with teens who said they hardly ever saw them. There were more pregnancies among the oldest teens interviewed, but the rate of pregnancy remained consistent across all age groups among those who watched the 'racy' programs.

Chandra said TV-watching was strongly connected with teen pregnancy even when other factors were considered, including grades, family structure and parents' education level.

But the study didn't adequately address other issues, such as self-esteem, family values and income, contends Elizabeth Schroeder, executive director of Answer, a teen sex education program based at Rutgers University: The media does have an impact, but we don't know the full extent of it because there are so many other factors.

 

6th November   

Update: Black Days...

UK government ready to insert black boxes to snoop the internet
Link Here  full story: Communications Snooping...Big Brother Extremism
Jack & Jacqui

Jack & Jacqui
Jack: Good one Jacqui, can't wait to
read the consultation results.

Jacqui: No need to wait, we just
listen in to what people are saying

Internet black boxes will be used to collect every email and web visit in the UK under the Government's plans for a giant big brother database, The Independent has learnt.

Home Office officials have told senior figures from the internet and telecommunications industries that the black box technology could automatically retain and store raw data from the web before transferring it to a giant central database controlled by the Government.

Plans to create a database holding information about every phone call, email and internet visit made in the UK have provoked a huge public outcry. Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, described it as step too far and the Government's own terrorism watchdog said that as a raw idea it was awful.

Nevertheless, ministers have said they are committed to consulting on the new Communications Data Bill early in the new year. News that the Government is already preparing the ground by trying to allay the concerns of the internet industry is bound to raise suspicions about ministers' true intentions. Further details of the database emerged on Monday at a meeting of internet service providers (ISPs) in London where representatives from BT, AOL Europe, O2 and BSkyB were given a PowerPoint presentation of the issues and the technology surrounding the Government's Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), the name given by the Home Office its database monstrosity proposal.

Whitehall experts working on the IMP unit told the meeting the security and intelligence agencies  said the technology would allow them to create greater capacity to monitor all communication traffic on the internet. The black boxes are an attractive option for the internet industry because they would be secure and not require any direct input from the ISPs.

During the meeting Whitehall officials also tried to reassure the industry by suggesting that many smaller ISPs would be unaffected by the black boxes as these would be installed upstream on the network and hinted that all costs would be met by the Government.

A source close to the meeting said: They said they only wanted to return to a position they were in before the emergence of internet communication, when they were able to monitor all correspondence with a police suspect. The difference here is they will be in a much better position to spy on many more people on the basis of their internet behaviour. Also there's a grey area between what is content and what is traffic. Is what is said in a chat room content or just traffic?

A spokesman for the Home Office said that Monday's meeting provided a chance to engage with small communication service providers ahead of the formal public consultation next year.

 

5th November   

Update: For Truck's Sake...It's Only a Joke...

Jeremy Clarkson humour for the 21st century
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Born to be Riled book The BBC have said complaints about the Top Gear show in which Jeremy Clarkson joked about murdering prostitutes have risen to more than 500.

The Top Gear presenter made the quip about lorry drivers killing sex workers on Sunday's BBC2 show.

The Iceni Project is  a charity which had helped some of the murdered prostitutes in Ipswich. The group's director, Brian Tobin, said: I just think it was highly distasteful and insensitive.

Speaking for campaigning group All Women Count, Cari Mitchell has said: It was a truly heartless comment.

But others held different views, including Eddie Stobart chief executive Andrew Tinkler, who said the reference was used to comically exaggerate an unfair urban myth about the world of lorry driving. He said: They were just having a laugh. It's the 21st century, let's get our sense of humour in line.

Will Shiers, editor of Truck & Driver magazine, believed most of the UK's drivers who saw the programme loved it. He said: On the whole I thought the show was really entertaining. Yes, a small number of drivers were offended by the murdering prostitute reference, but they really are in the minority. On the whole I thought the show was really entertaining. If anything it succeeded in demonstrating to car drivers just how difficult it is to drive a truck. It's all a bit shockingly sensible.

Based on article from dailymail.co.uk

Ofcom clears Clarkson over jibe that truck drivers murder prostitutes . TV censor Ofcom has said it is not planning to investigate complaints about Jeremy Clarkson's joke.

 

5th November   

Kaboom...

Suicide bomb fun winds up the nutters...
Link Here

Kaboom flash game A trivial computer flash game where players score points for blowing up women and children has been branded sick and callous by bomb victims.

Kaboom – The Suicide Bombing Game features a cartoon man running around a busy market town and blowing himself up to kill as many people as possible.

The free online game, which can easily be accessed by children, shows graphic images of body parts being splattered across the town.

Yesterday, it was branded sick, callous and upsetting by the Bali Bombing Victims Group, who want it removed from the internet.

One member, Susanna Miller said: It's callous, inappropriate, irresponsible and deeply offensive. I find it disturbing. I appeal to any sites featuring this game to remove it. It's completely sick.

The game's creator writes on one website: If you find this game offensive, tell your friends! If you are deeply offended by this game then you're way too fucking sensitive and I hope you've been scarred for life.

Tory MP John Whitting­dale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, earlier this year chaired a report into harmful internet content.

He said yesterday: I find this game tasteless but I don't think it will necessarily start turning people into suicide bombers. But those whose lives have been affected by suicide bombings I imagine would find it upsetting.

 

5th November   

Update: Burned at the Stake...

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross feature on bonfire night...
Link Here

Ross effigy A fortnight of debate about Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross' phone incident will come to a head this weekend when a 27ft effigy of the pair is burned in a public display.

The town of Edenbridge in Kent is due to unveil this year's 'celebrity Guy' for its annual bonfire night fireworks display on 5 November.

Each year, the town chooses a newsworthy figure to immortalise in the form of a Guy. This year, the figure will be half Brand, half Ross.

The effigy will be unveiled to the press at 9am and burned during the town's Bonfire night celebrations on Saturday.

Meanwhile complaints about the Ross/Brand prank call have continued to roll into the BBC over the last few days, with the figure reaching 42,000.

 

5th November   

Update: Wii Use Chimps?...

Sega game advert pulled after criticism for using chimp actor
Link Here

Samba de Amigo game After learning that SEGA used a real chimpanzee in an online video promoting Samba De Amigo... People for the Ethical Treament of Animals (PETA) contacted the company:

We explained how involuntary chimpanzee "actors" are taken away from their mothers when they are just a year or so old and forced to perform confusing and repetitious tricks. We also explained some of the horrible methods that chimpanzee "trainers" use, such as electric shocks with shock collars and prods, isolation, beatings with sawed-off pool cues and slapjacks, and food deprivation. Then, at the ripe old age of just 8, the chimpanzees reach puberty and their showbiz careers are over—and they end up being dumped at dismal roadside zoos or sold to laboratories for experimentation.

SEGA quickly pulled the video from its site and promised to keep all great apes out of its ads!

 

5th November   

Update: Sudanese Corruption...

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

Sudan flag Two Sudanese daily newspapers said that they would suspend publication for three days and that their journalists would go on a 24-hour hunger strike to protest state censorship.

The journalists said they were resisting a mounting crackdown on freedom of expression ahead of elections expected next year.

Salah Kajam, publisher of the independent Ajras al-Hurria, said state agents regularly removed articles critical of the government and reports of violence in Darfur, among other things.

 

5th November   

Bad Eggs...

Japanese police target internet sites with suicide gas instructions
Link Here

Suicide Club More than 870 people have killed themselves this year by mixing particular brands of toilet cleaner & bath salts and then inhaling the hydrogen sulphide gas produced.

The method has sparked a series of mass-evacuations in homes and hotels because the gas forms noxious clouds that can also poison those nearby.

The internet has long been studied by suicide fads in Japan, which is home to the one of the highest rates in the industrialised world.

Police are now clamping down on the most popular sites, including those that provide instructions on how to commit suicide by gassing.

The move follows the release of government figures that show that 876 people killed themselves between January and September this year by inhaling gas in this way. In 2007 the number was just 29.

There are fears that the suicide rate in Japan will increase even more sharply over the coming months amid the nation's deepening economic crisis. In the past, recessions have always gone hand in hand with a spike in the number of suicides in Japan.

In a bid to curb the nation's soaring suicide rates, the government is running an anti-suicide programme to help those suffering from mental health problems.

 

5th November   

Offending Africa...

Irish press council ruling is limiting freedom of speech
Link Here

Irish Press Council logo Freedom of speech is being limited by the Irish Press Council and its Press Ombudsman.

Some editors are worried by a decision of the Press Council relating to Africa. They believe these decisions may make it harder for writers to say what they feel, or for the media to report on stories that matter to the public.

Columnist Kevin Myers has just been rapped across the knuckles by the Press Council for his offensive opinions on Africa. It has never been a crime simply to cause grave offence, nor can you sue if offended by someone's words unless you are actually libelled.

Kevin Myers is a controversialist who caused consternation in last July's Irish Independent, he claimed that Africa is giving nothing to anyone ... apart from Aids.

The Press Council received dozens of complaints about that Myers article.

Principle 8 of the Code of Practice of the Press Council, as agreed with media, states: Newspapers and periodicals shall not publish material intended or likely to cause grave offence or stir up hatred against an individual or group on the basis of race, religion, nationality, colour, ethnic origin, membership of the travelling community, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, illness, or age.

The Press Council found against Myers because he used the failings of some to stigmatise whole societies, employing a level of generalisation that was distorting and seriously insulting to Africans as a whole. His article was likely to cause grave offence to people throughout sub-Saharan Africa and to the many Africans in particular who are now resident in Ireland.

Which is no doubt true. But the Press Council specifically rejected complaints that Myers was anything more than offensive. It did not find reason to conclude that the article was likely to stir up hatred or that there was any intention of doing so.

So it is now clear that Principle 8 of the Press Council code is actually two principles. The first is simply that Newspapers and periodicals shall not publish material intended or likely to cause grave offence, to anyone! The rest of Principle 8, including its long list of possible victims, relates only to cases where someone has stirred up hatred.

Where is the balance between causing offence and suppressing freedom of speech? Many readers welcome some offensive comments about the powerful or rich, or about irritable self-righteous pressure groups. What is freedom of speech if it is not the freedom to say on occasion things that most people in society find offensive?

 

5th November   

CensorSat...

Two Arabic channels removed from Egypt's Nilesat
Link Here

al-Barakah logo BBC Monitoring stated that local reports suggest that two controversial Arabic channels had been removed from Nilesat's platform of services.

One report emanated from the Muslim Brotherhood website in Cairo and said that the Egyptian government has suspended the transmission of the space channel, al-Hikmah, on Nilesat without giving any reasons for the action.

The website's reason for the suspension was that the al-Hikmah channel launched a campaign to lift the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, adding: however, the public relations officer of the space channel denied that the reason was the campaign launched to lift the Gaza blockade and said that the real reason was the financial difficulty which the [satellite] channel was undergoing and which precluded payment of its debts to Nilesat.

The second problem channel is the al-Barakah satellite channel, also transmitting on Nilesat. The report, carried by BBC Monitoring, said that Egyptian security services had suspended transmissions of the al-Barakah space channel on Nilesat, claiming that the channel was transmitting programmes that threatened the Egyptian national security.

 

4th November   

Jeremy Clarkson Raises His Game...

Lorry drivers...the new easily offended?
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Born to be Riled book Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has joked that lorry drivers spend their time murdering prostitutes.

His comments were aired on Sunday night, in the midst of the outcry overphone calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.

The pre-recorded remarks made by Clarkson were cleared for broadcast by senior BBC executives.

But they have prompted nearly 200 nutter complaints and a furious response from victim support groups and road hauliers. Ofcom, the media regulator, has also received complaints and is considering an investigation.

Clarkson and his co-presenters, James May and Richard Hammond, were taking part in a stunt for the BBC2 show which involved driving lorries around an obstacle course.

Climbing behind the wheel, Clarkson mused: What matters to lorry drivers? Murdering prostitutes? Fuel economy? This is a hard job, and I'm not just saying this to win favour with lorry drivers. It's a hard job - change gear, change gear, change gear, check your mirrors, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That's a lot of effort in a day.

The Road Haulage Association, which represents Britain's 9,000 haulage companies, has demanded a public apology from the presenter. Spokeswoman Kate Gibbs said: Road hauliers are having a hard enough time as it is without the kind of ridiculous comments being made. In a week following thousands of similar complaints to the BBC over comments made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, this is in particularly poor taste. It is just another example of celebrities having the licence to say absolutely anything they like.

This is an unacceptable ... slur on the character of lorry drivers and the character of the industry, and it is grossly unfair. It's up to the BBC what action they take against Clarkson but we are certainly demanding an apology over these disgraceful comments.


A spokesman for the United Road Transport Union said it had been inundated with complaints from its 17,000 members: We would absoltuely condenm what he said about murdering prostitutes. It beggars belief that those words can be broadcast on TV. The BBC is an institution that is paid for by the licence fee and they should not be allowing this kind of sick joke.

Clarkson's joke is believed to be a reference to 'Suffolk Strangler' Steve Wright, jailed earlier this year for the murder of five Ipswich prostitutes. The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who killed 13 women, was also a lorry driver.

The BBC issued a statement which read: The vast majority of Top Gear viewers have clear expectations of Jeremy Clarkson's long-established and frequently provocative on-screen persona. This particular reference was used to comically exaggerate and make ridiculous an unfair urban myth about the world of lorry driving, and was not intended to cause offence.

 

4th November   

An Old So and So Whinger...

Michael Grade has a go at strong language on late night TV
Link Here

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVD The ITV executive chairman, Michael Grade, has called for a clampdown on strong language after the 9pm watershed, saying the use of offensive words was now indiscriminate.

I do think the prevalence of bad language such as the F-word is a little bit unrestrained, Grade told a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch today: I am not calling for it to be banned but I don't think we take enough care over the use of the F-word and similar words.

It used to be that you had to get very senior sign-off to use that word in any show. I am not sure what the rules are these days. Clearly not enough consideration is given to a very large section of the audience who don't want to hear that word or such words.

You have to know where you are using it and give it some extra consideration. It seems to be indiscriminate now.

The ITV executive chairman told journalists today he was trying very hard not to sound like an old so and so, but said it was something he felt strongly about.

He said he agreed with the BBC director general, Mark Thompson ,when he said that the Brand and Ross issue was not a marginal case.

They had strayed beyond what was acceptable. They strayed into territory that was pretty horrible and indefensible in any terms, Grade added.

 

4th November   

Why I Like Knives...

HMV to withdraw Joker's knife badge
Link Here

Why I like knives cap Record store HMV has removed badges from its shelves that customers said glorified knife crime.

The £2.99 packet of four badges, based on the recent Batman film, The Dark Knight , was in the centre of a display aimed at primary school children.

One image features the bloodied face of the Joker surrounded by a circle of 12 gleaming blades and flick knives.

Another contains the slogan Let's put a smile on that face, the line used by the Joker before slashing open the mouth of a victim.

Now the store has removed the items from sale pending a review because of the sensitivities surrounding knife crime in Britain.

A spokesman for HMV said the badges would be removed from all its stores. He said: The badges are part of a licensed range from the Dark Knight/Batman film franchise, and are stocked by numerous retailers.

Whilst we have not received any direct complaints regarding their sale, and whilst we do not believe that HMV should censor the choice that it makes available to its customers, we do recognise the particular sensitivities surrounding this issue at the present time, and will therefore instruct our stores to withdraw this item from sale pending a review.

We sincerely apologise for any concern and offence caused, and we thank the Daily Mail for bringing this matter to our attention.

 

4th November   

Aggressive Games Research...

Research suggests that violent games lead to getting into more trouble at school
Link Here

AAP logo Children and teenagers who play violent video games show increased physical aggression months afterward, according to new research.

The research, published today in the journal Pediatrics , brings together three studies, one from the United States and two from Japan, examining the content of games, how often they are played and aggressive behaviors later in a school year.

The U.S. research looked at the effects of violent video games over time, said lead author Craig A. Anderson, a psychology professor at Iowa State University and director of its Center for the Study of Violence.

Anderson said the collaboration with Japanese researchers was particularly telling because video games are popular there and crime and aggression are less prevalent. Some gamers have cited Japan's example as evidence that violent games are not harmful.

Yet the studies produced similar findings in both countries, Anderson said. When you find consistent effects across two very different cultures, you're looking at a pretty powerful phenomenon. One can no longer claim this is somehow a uniquely American phenomenon. This is a general phenomenon that occurs across cultures.

The study in the United States showed an increased likelihood of getting into a fight at school or being identified by a teacher or peer as being physically aggressive five to six months later in the same school year. It focused on 364 children ages 9 to 12 in Minnesota and was first included in a 2007 book, Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents.

Japanese researchers studied more than 1,200 Japanese youths ages 12 to 18. In all three studies, researchers accounted for gender and previous aggressiveness.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which publishes the journal in which the study appears this month, is in the process of revising its recommendations on media violence, and expects to issue a new statement in four to six months, a spokeswoman said. The academy now recognizes violence in media as a significant health risk to children and adolescents and recommends limiting screen time including television, computers and video games to one to two hours a day.

Refuted

Based on article from gamepolitics.com

In a letter to Pediatrics , Christopher Ferguson, a researcher at Texas A&M International University, has called the Anderson study into question. Ferguson claims that the research contains numerous flaws and disputes its meaningfulness. Ferguson writes:

In the literature review the authors suggest that research on video game violence is consistent when this is hardly the case. The authors here simply ignore a wide body of research which conflicts with their views...

The authors fail to control for relevant "third" variables that could easily explain the weak correlations that they find. Family violence exposure for instance, peer group influences, certainly genetic influences on aggressive behavior are just a few relevant variables that ought either be controlled or at minimum acknowledged as alternate causal agents for (very small) link between video games and aggression...

Lastly the authors link their results to youth violence in ways that are misleading and irresponsible. The authors do not measure youth violence in their study. The [research tool used] is not a violence measure, nor does it even measure pathological aggression. Rather this measure asks for hypothetical responses to potential aggressive situations, not actual aggressive behaviors.

 

4th November   

Reaching the Heights of Bad Taste...

Pizza chain pull dancing corpses ad campaign
Link Here

Hell Piza logo A New Zealand pizza chain has withdrawn an ad campaign that featured the dancing corpses of the Queen Mother, actor Heath Ledger and climbing legend Sir Edmund Hillary.

The animated ad was part of a Halloween email campaign sent out to 5,000 people by pizza chain Hell Pizza. It showed three skeletal depictions of the celebrities dancing on graves to the tune of Michael Jackson's Thrille' .
 

Hillary's son Peter told the New Zealand Press Association that the ad was in extremely poor taste. I think it's a bit disturbing, a little grotesque. I don't think it's funny and I'm not very impressed. It is early days and it's still pretty raw.

Glenn Corbett, the retail operations manager of Hell Pizza owner TPF Group, explained that the ad was not intended to be disrespectful: Clearly [Edmund Hillary is] revered in New Zealand and we all love him.

The company said that the website animation was meant to bring some much-loved people back from the dead and was Hell Pizza's way of honouring them. But it added it had no intention of contacting the Queen or Ledger's family to apologise.

 

3rd November   

Bona Fide Newspeak...

Councils expunge Latin words from the English language, eg vice versa etc
Link Here

Amo Amas Amat and All That Local authorities are claim that Latin words are elitist and discriminatory, and have ordered employees to use often-wordier alternatives in documents or when speaking to the public.

Bournemouth Council has listed 19 terms it no longer considers acceptable for use. They include ad hoc, bona fide, status quo, vice versa and even via.

Mary Beard, a Cambridge professor of classics, said: 'This is absolutely bonkers and the linguistic equivalent of ethnic cleansing: English is and always has been a language full of foreign words. It has never been an ethnically pure language.

Harry Mount, author of the best-selling book Amo, Amos, Amat and All That , a light-hearted guide to the language, said: Latin words and phrases can often sum up thoughts and ideas more often than the alternatives which are put forward. They are tremendously useful, quicker and nicer sounding. They are also English words. You will find etc or et cetera in an English dictionary.

Of other local authorities to prohibit the use of Latin, Salisbury has asked staff to avoid the phrases ad hoc, ergo and QED, while Fife has banned ad hoc as well as ex officio.

 

3rd November   

Update: Branded as a Repeat Offender...

Ofcom have previously warned BBC over dodgy phone ins...
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Russell Brand on Radio 2 TV censor Ofcom warned BBC bosses about lax editorial procedures on Russell Brand's BBC 6 Music show over a year ago, it emerged last night. In a ruling published 15 months ago, it criticised the corporation for failing to follow its own editorial procedures and allowing Brand to broadcast a quiz won by a member of his production team posing as a listener to the digital radio station.

As director-general Mark Thompson today says that the corporation will not overreact to the events of the past week, the revelation that Ofcom highlighted the failure of the BBC's programming rules in July last year will be seized on by critics as evidence that Brand's latest gaffe should have been avoided.

The repeat offence could mean that the BBC will be fined the maximum for its latest misdemeanour.

 

 

3rd November   

Long Time Censors...

Korean censors stripped of power to ban films by indefinite delay of rating decision
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KMRB logio The South Korean Constitutional Court announced that it was unconstitutional for a state agency to defer rating video films due to their lewdness or violence.

The court said it concluded that the law allowing the Korea Media Rating Board to delay rating video films, music albums and games was against the Constitution.

In October 2002, the board decided to put off rating a movie for 10 days, citing the film's obscenity. At a review in March 2003, it again decided to delay rating the movie for three months, leading the director to file a petition with the court.

According to law, the rating board can suspend the rating of video films, albums and games for up to three months if it needs to thoroughly examine those which are considered to be violent or obscene. The delay consequently forces the producers of the video and audio products to suspend sales until a rating is given.

The Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech and publication and bans their censorship. Censorship here means a system in which an administrative power screens opinions before they are expressed, the court said in its ruling: The board can delay its rating indefinitely. It is virtually censorship by an administrative body, so it is against the Constitution.

 

3rd November   

Arabian Censorship Piracy Alliance...

Censorship causes games piracy in Saudi
Link Here

Saudi flag Spin coming from the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA) suggests that piracy is ruining the video game market in Saudi Arabia.

But the GameCulture website explains, it is actually game censorship by the Saudi government which pushes gamers into pirating the titles they want.

AAA official Scott Butler claims that Saudi officials aren't doing enough to combat piracy: In the UAE they are sending pirates to prison a lot, whereas in Saudi Arabia there has never been a judgment like that for any kind of pirate. When they mete out the judgement of imprisonment, that's when the market will finally crack.

But, as GameCulture editor Aaron Ruby points out:

That might be the first time the Saudi legal system was chastised for being too lenient. And therein lies the absurdity of Butler's proposal... Censorship in that country has effectively driven the videogame industry underground. The kingdom's fear of media that challenges its cultural values has created a thriving entertainment black market, of which games are a key segment...

Iran, whose entertainment is also heavily regulated by the state, is also a hotbed of piracy. According to Mehrdad Agah, chariman of Puya Arts Software, 99% of all games sold in Iran are pirated...

It's no coincidence that the countries with the highest piracy rates (Saudi, Iran, China) have some of the most draconian censorship policies on the planet. The true counter to piracy is more freedom, not less.

 

3rd November   

Offsite: Energized Fundamentalists...

A Chilling New Anti-Obscenity Law in Indonesia
Link Here  full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Indonesia Goes Burkha

The House of Representatives pushes through an overly broad bill that could energize Islamic fundamentalists even more

Analysts and critics are warning that the bill will embolden the country's already-unswerving Muslim fundamentalists.

Provisions of the Bill

  • Article 29
    Any person who manufactures, produces, duplicates, reduplicates, distributes, broadcasts, imports, exports, makes for sale, trades in, leases or makes available pornography shall be punished with a prison term of 6 months to 12 years and/or a fine of Rp250 million or Rp6 billion.
     
  • Article 30
    Any person who makes available pornography …shall be punished with a prison term of 6 years and/or a fine of Rp250 million to Rp6 billion
     
  • Article 31
    Any person who loans or downloads pornography…shall be punished with a maximum prison term of 4 years and/or a fine not to exceed Rp2 billion
     
  • Article 32
    Any person who exhibits, possesses or stores pornography shall be punished with a maximum prison term of 4 years and/or a fine not to exceed Rp2 billion
     
  • Article 34
    Any person who consents to be a pornographic object or model shall be punished with a maximum prison term of 10 years and/or a fine not to exceed Rp5 billion
     
  • Article 36
    Any person who exhibits themselves or others in a performance…that contains nudity, sexual exploitation, coital acts or other pornographic content shall be punished with a maximum prison term of 10 years and/or a fine not to exceed Rp5 billion.

...Read full article

Update: Papua Protests

5th November 2008. Based on article from radioaustralia.net.au

About a thousand Christians in the Indonesian province of Papua have protested against an anti-pornography bill passed by parliament last week, saying it conflicts with their traditional culture.

The protesters say the bill, which has the support of a number of Islamic parties, could threaten Indonesia's national unity.

Minority groups, especially Christians and Hindus, say the new law is too vague, and a threat to artistic, religious, and cultural freedom.

 

2nd November   

CensorByJan...

Azerbaijan to shut out foreign broadcasters
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Azerbaijan flag Authorities in Azerbaijan say they plan to halt local broadcasts by foreign stations by the end of the year.

The chairman of Azerbaijan's National Television and Radio Council, Nushiravan Maharramli, says his country is not interested in granting local frequencies to foreign broadcasters. He says the change will affect the BBC and U.S. financed Voice of America and Radio Liberty.

The official says his country has been gradually implementing changes, having previously eliminated broadcasts by Russian, French and Turkish stations.

 

2nd November   

Update: Bali Baulks at Burkas...

Unimpressed by Indonesia's new sharia dress code bill
Link Here  full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Indonesian bikini
compromise

In a move of defiance against the controversial Indonesia pornography bill, Bali's governor and speaker of the provincial legislative council declared Friday the province would not be able to enforce the newly passed law.

In a two-point written statement, signed by Governor Made Mangku Pastika and Speaker Ida Bagus Putu Wesnawa, Bali made its historic mark as the first region ever to publicly declare an inability to implement a law passed by the House of Representatives.

With the passing of the porn bill on Thursday, we hereby declare that we cannot carry it out because it is not in line with Balinese philosophical and sociological values, Pastika said at the council building here.

We further implore every element of the Balinese public to keep calm, stay alert, not be easily provoked and maintain the appropriate atmosphere to maintain the integrity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.

However, the legal force of the declaration remains unclear. Pastika did not elaborate on how the declaration would affect the island, calling it simply a statement from the people of Bali.

Asked whether the provincial administration would pursue a Constitutional challenge, Pastika said he and other leaders were still considering it, adding a legal challenge was the next most viable option.

The previous governor, Made Dewa Beratha, even stated during the bill's first introduction to the public in 2006 that Bali might as well declare independence if the bill was passed.

Update: Support

6th November 2008. Based on article from thejakartapost.com

Members of Bali's tourism industry declared their support Tuesday for efforts to legally challenge the recently passed pornography bill, calling the bill a violation of individual rights and an egregious monopoly on cultural values.

Head of Bali Tourism Board (BTB) Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya said the industry was ready to support any legal challenge made to the pornography bill, including the plan by the Bali People's Component (KRB) to file a judicial review with the Constitutional Court.

He regretted the passing of the bill, saying it was a violation of personal rights and a blatant attempt to standardize public values: Thus we are in full support of KRB's attempt to have a judicial review of the bill .

He further applauded the island's leaders, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika and Speaker of the Bali Provincial Legislative Council (DPRD) Ida Bagus Putu Wesnawa, who last Friday had declared that the province would not carry out the law because it was not in line with the island's philosophical and social values: That was indeed representative of our Balinese feelings as a community. We salute and support the governor and DPRD speaker.

 

2nd November   

Update: Pictures of a Censor...

Heavy fine for TV news showing protestors tearing down pictures of Egyptian president
Link Here  full story: Press Freedom in Egypt...Press under duress in Egypt

Egypt flag Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned an Egyption court's recent decision to fine Nader Gohar, the head of the Cairo News Company (CNC), LE 150,000 after his company broadcast images of rioters tearing down portraits of President Hosni Mubarak in April.

The court's decision is a death warrant to CNC, RSF said in a press statement. The Egyptian authorities are not even trying to hide their desire to censor independent media and control the news.

The Egyptian Television and Radio union (ERTU) had filed a complaint against Gohar for airing footage of riots in the Delta region showing citizens protesting high prices and attacking President Mubarak's pictures. The footage dates back to April 6.

Following the complaint, the Egyptian police forces raided CNC's office confiscating several pieces of equipment, accusing him of working without required licenses and permits.

The video recording was later aired by channels such as Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and France 2.

The case is not legitimate as the sole reason behind it is the footage that shows the citizens stepping on President Mubarak's picture, Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) who is also part of Gohar's defense team told Daily News Egypt: Security forces wanted a scapegoat to show the president that they got who's responsible.

According to Eid, ANHRI will appeal the case soon.

 

2nd November   

Backward Censors...

Swedish number plate censors and oral sex
Link Here

reverse oral Officials with Sweden's Road Administration (Vägverket) have denied a driver's request for a licence place with what at first glance appears to be a completely innocent combination of characters.

Recently, the agency received a request from an individual who wanted a licence plate reading X32IARO. Despite no obviously offensive reference in the desired combination, Vägverket nonetheless rejected the application.

When read in reverse, as it would be seen through a rear-view mirror, X32IARO suddenly appears nearly as ORALSEX.

The guiding principle is that a licence plate shouldn't be offensive, regardless of whether it's read forwards or backwards.

 

1st November   

Update: Ever More Easily Offended...

Today's complaints are about Mock The Week
Link Here  full story: Frankie Boyle...Whinges about Frankie Boyle and Mock the Week

Mock the Week book Mock The Week has been criticised for broadcasting jokes about the Queen.

Frankie Boyle was one of several comedians on the show asked to think of something the Queen would not say in her Christmas speech.

He put on a high-pitched voice and said: I have had a few medical issues this year - I'm now so old that my pussy is haunted.

Other comedians in the show also offered suggestions, including Hugh Dennis saying the Queen would not say: This year, I am in an unusual location - I am in a cave with Osama Bin Laden.

Dennis also offered the suggestion: Yum, yum, I've just eaten a swan.

Russell Howard said the Queen would not say: And now for an impression, before performing a version of Shaggy's reggae song Mr Boombastic.

John Beyer, of MediaWatch UK, told the Daily Mail: It is very offensive and should not have been broadcast. It is indicative of the sloppy way in which this kind of thing gets on air. There is a great deal of respect for the Queen and people do feel very strongly about any kind of disrespectful comments about her.

A BBC spokeswoman said the show was a well-established satirical comedy series which sometimes built on provocative humour.

 

1st November   

Update: Protest at the Daily Mail Office...

15,000 Facebook users support Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross
Link Here

Facebook logo More than 15,000 people have signed up to a Facebook group supporting Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, which has a protest planned for tomorrow outside the Daily Mail's London offices.

Fans of the pair are planning a demonstrate outside the Mail's Derry Street HQ in Kensington at noon, followed by one outside BBC offices in the capital.

Called Support Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, Facebook group has swollen its membership in recent days as Brand resigned from his Radio 2 show and Ross was suspended without pay from all BBC TV and radio services for three months.

The 15,609 supporters who have joined the Facebook group compares with the 34,690 who complained to the BBC about the show following the Mail on Sunday's story on October 26.

Only two people complained after the show was broadcast on October 18.

The Support Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross group is also presenting a petition signed by almost 4,000 people: We, the undersigned call on the BBC to turn blame on the Andrew Sachs incident away from Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross as it was only intended as a joke, the petition states: We also wish that Jonathan Ross's and Russell Brand's careers will continue just as before this started.

 

1st November   

Update: Here's Looking At You Kids...

Liverpool protestors call for 18 certificates for depictions of smoking
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Humphrey Bogart A 70-strong group of dancers and members of the SmokeFree youth group, D-MYST, marched through Liverpool in Halloween costumes to raise awareness of smoking in youth-orientated movies.

The event is part of the SmokeFree Movies Scary Movies campaign which is designed to turn the spotlight on the issue – the biggest single influence on young people to start smoking. SmokeFree Liverpool are asking UK film regulators BBFC to keep smoking out of all future films which can be seen by under-18s.

Gideon Ben-Tovim, chairman of Liverpool PCT said: This issue is a simple one, and simple action can be taken instantly by the BBFC, who already have the power to rate films which show smoking images as adult only.

The scientific fact is that more than half the young people who take up smoking say they did so because of seeing smoking in movies. That means thousands of under-18s are put at risk because of smoking images which simply don't need to be there.

The BBFC already know the facts, but have chosen to do nothing.

 

1st November   

Update: Formula Voodoo...

Website wishing misfortune on Hamilton under fire
Link Here
 
 

Puncture Hamilton's Tyre logo The Foreign Secretary was urged to make a formal protest to the Spanish government over online racist abuse of Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.

The FIA, the sport's world governing body, and McLaren, Hamilton's F1 team, have condemned a voodoo-style website in Spain where hundreds of abusive messages, many of which refer to Hamilton's colour, have been posted.

Visitors to the site – about 20,000 to date – are encouraged to drop imaginary nails, pins or porcupines on a mock-up of the Interlagos circuit, in Sao Paulo.

Hamilton will take to the circuit on Sunday for the Brazilian Grand Prix, needing only to finish in the top five to become the youngest champion in Formula One history.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, the chairman of the party's Ethnic Minority Taskforce, condemned the abuse and said more action needed to be taken. He urged the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, to make a formal protest to Spain asking them to stop the abuse.

 

1st November   

Hackney Book Censors...

Labour censors unimpressed by Olympic critique
Link Here

Hackney that Rose Red Empire book An author banned from launching his book at a Hackney library because of his views has been welcomed to Islington with open arms.

Ian Sinclair was due to appear at the Stoke Newington Library to talk about his upcoming book Hackney, That Red Rose Empire .

But Hackney's Labour leaders intervened to cancel his reading after he published an article in the London Review of Books entitled The Olympics Scam .

A spokesman for Hackney Council said it would be inappropriate to host a book expressing controversial or political opinions.

But Councillor Ruth Polling, Islington's executive member in charge of libraries and culture, called the decision deeply troubling. She said: There will never be censorship of this sort as long as the Lib-Dems run Islington. Banning an author from speaking because of his views about the Government's incompetence is monstrous. But what's worse is the Labour council's blanket statement that controversial opinions are no longer welcome in their libraries. Libraries should be a place for discourse and free thinking. I'm pleased to offer Islington's libraries for Mr Sinclair's book launch.

 

1st November   

Update: Election Cover Up...

Election posters of women banned on Jerusalem buses
Link Here  full story: Religious Police in Israel...Ultra orthodox censorship in Israel

Jerusalem election poster A company responsible for advertising on the Egged bus company has refused to place a political advertisement on Jerusalem city buses showing female candidates for the city council, so as not to offend the haredi public.
The poster disqualified by...

The advertisement rejected last week by the Canaan advertising company, which is charged with advertising with the Egged bus cooperative, includes the portrait of two  women and a man running for city council on a joint religious-secular list called Wake up Jerusalem-Yerushalmim. The municipal elections will take place on November 11.

A spokesman for the company stood by the rejection of the ad. All advertisements are subject to the approval of the Egged censor, Canaan company spokesman Ohad Gibli said: In order not to offend the sensitivities of a certain public, certain criteria have been defined regarding the content of advertisements. Pictures of women cannot appear on buses that go through haredi neighborhoods, Gibli said.

Egged spokesman Ron Ratner said the bus company was never asked about advertisements with the portraits of women running for the city council, and would never have nixed them: Egged never received a query on this issue and would never have rejected such an advertisement of a public figure so long as it was positive, modest and respectable, and did not hurt public sensitivities. The Egged spokesman said he thought the whole issue was a PR ploy since the would-be city councilors never contacted Egged on the issue.

It is very sad that in Israel of 2008 women suffer such brazen discrimination, which is absolutely unacceptable, said Wake up Jerusalem-Yerushalmim spokeswoman Meirav Cohen, whose portrait was one of those appearing on the banned advertisement.

In the meantime, the ads in question have gone up on bus stations, which are the responsibility of another advertising company.

 

1st November   

Tongue Lashings of Ginger Beer...

Golly gosh in Enid Blyton country
Link Here

A local bar sign

The owner of the Ginger Pop shop - a shrine to the children's author, Enid Blyton, who lived nearby - has received hate mail branding her a racist and urging her to stop selling the rag dolls.

Viv Endecott has also received verbal complaints which she has informed the police about.

She insists the golliwogs are harmless soft toys synonymous with Enid Blyton who regularly featured them in her famous books, including Noddy.

In recent years the golliwogs have been 'cleansed' from the novels as many people began to see them as a crude racial stereotype.

But Miss Endecott claims there is demand for the toys in the Dorset village of Corfe Castle - immortalised in Blyton's Famous Five books. She said she has sold more than 500 in the last six months to customers of varying ages and ethnic backgrounds.

She said despite the complaints she will continue to sell the doll: No offence has ever been intended by me and therefore none should be taken.

Councillor Gary Suttle, leader of Purbeck District Council, said: 'I can understand why she is selling them because they are part of the heritage of Enid Blyton. There is a great move in this country to be politically correct and sometimes it goes beyond its remit. I don't think she is in anyway being non-PC. Four people may have complained but 500 people have bought them, so I would err on the side of democracy.'

Adnan Chaudry, chief officer of the Dorset Race Equality Council, said golliwogs had no place in today's society, even in Enid Blyton country.