Melon Farmers Unrated

European News

2010: April-June

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30th June   

Update: Hotbird Jammed Shut...

Eutelsat asked why they gave in to Iranian jamming and censored the BBC and Voice of America
Link Here

The French satellite operator, Eutelsat, should share any policies and procedures it has in place explicitly to safeguard freedom of expression when dealing with governments that systematically engage in censorship, Human Rights Watch said. It should also explain its decision to suspend certain Persian-language programming from its most popular satellite after Iranian authorities began jamming its signals earlier this year.

In a letter sent to Eutelsat on June 25, 2010, Human Rights Watch repeated its requests for more information regarding the company's efforts to counter Iran's jamming of satellite signals carrying Persian-language broadcasts from BBC Persian TV and Voice of America. Human Rights Watch sent an initial letter to Eutelsat on February 8 asking the company to explain its decision to suspend the programs from its popular Hotbird 6 satellite.

A follow-up letter with additional questions, including a request for information regarding Eutelsat policies and procedures in place to protect freedom of information, was sent to Eutelsat on March 17.


23rd June   

Update: Up Front Proposals...

Front Against Censorship proposes to repeal censorial Maltese law
Link Here
Full story: Front Against Censorship...Censored article leads to Maltese protest

The Front Against Censorship has handed MPs a document proposing the abolition of censorship in Malta.

The group said that explicit and mandatory censorship of the arts and entertainment was being imposed mainly through the courts as a result of outdated laws; the Malta Broadcasting Authority, the Board of Film and Stage Classification and also the University of Malta which is supposed to nurture artistic freedom and not suppress it.

It is highly unacceptable and even offensive by EU standards, let alone by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that censorship is prevailing in Malta of the 21st century.

The group said it was not referring to the censorship of hate-speech which maliciously belittled specific groups in society, but about censorship which only seemed to defend and uphold the morality of the predominant religion, or any other religion for that matter.

We believe that the Catholic Church has a right to preach its values to society openly and freely. We will defend that right should it be denied in some form or other, directly or indirectly. We will never agree, however, that the values of the Church are the values of Maltese society in its entirety, despite the fact that the Roman Catholic faith is predominant. Individuals should have the right to express themselves in a free and unfettered manner in the same way that the Chursh is free to preach its values openly and freely.

The Front proposed the repeal of Article 163 of the Criminal Code, which states that:

Whosoever by words, gestures, written matter, whether printed or not, or pictures or by some other visible means, vilifies the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion which is the religion of Malta, or gives offence to the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion by vilifying those who profess such religion or its ministers, or anything which forms the object of, or is consecrated to, or is necessarily destined for Roman Catholic worship, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from one to six months.

Similarly, it proposed the removal of article 164 of the Criminal Code, which imposes similar constraints on criticising other religions recognised by the State. This article states that:

Whosoever commits any of the acts referred to in the last preceding article against any cult tolerated by law, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from one to three months.

The group said it was calling for a change in the definition of pornography in article 208 of the Criminal Code. Under the current law, that which is considered obscene and pornographic is decided by a particular parliamentary committee. The only time this committee met was in 1975.

The definition given was Work is obscene or pornographic when its dominant feature is the exploitation of, or unnecessary emphasis on, sex, criminality, fear, cruelty and violence. We propose that this definition should be changed to any product which graphically depicts sexual acts with the intent of causing sexual arousal. The distribution and production of pornography should not be illegal as long as it does not involve human trafficking, the abuse of minors, the exploitation of the human person or any other criminal acts defined by law.

The group called for the repeal of article 7 of the Press Act which states that:

Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, directly or indirectly, or by the use of equivocal expressions, shall injure public morals or decency shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine or to both such imprisonment and fine.

It also called for the abolition of the role of a centrally-appointed Classification Board for theatre performances and film, which has the authority to block and censor and to establish a set of criteria for self-classification in the performing arts based on a consultation exercise among the performing arts community. All classification systems (including self-classification for performances and classification for cinema) should be based on a list of established and transparent criteria, which should be made publicly available, and which should be re-evaluated from time to time in the light of international developments in these art forms.

Lastly, it called for the removal of article 13 of the Broadcasting Act which states that :

nothing is included in the programmes which offends against religious sentiment, good taste or decency or is likely to encourage or incite to crime or to lead to disorder or to be offensive to public feeling.

The Front said this should be replaced with a paragraph which allows such mentioned content from 10pm onwards.


20th June   

Neither Open Nor Friendly...

US rapper banned form Dutch festival
Link Here

Snoop Dogg has been banned from a free festival in the Netherlands after police said they wanted to guarantee its open and friendly character .

Authorities asked organisers to find a replacement act for Parkpop in The Hague because they thought the US rapper was inappropriate.

Organisers say they have been left with little time ahead of the 27 June gig.


19th June   

Update: Safe Haven...

Protection of anonymous sources and investigative journalism
Link Here

Iceland has passed a reform of its media laws that supporters say will make the country an international haven for investigative journalism.

The new package of legislation was passed unanimously in one of the final sessions of the Icelandic parliament, the Althingi, before its summer break.

Created with the involvement of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, it increases protection for anonymous sources, creates new protections from so-called libel tourism and makes it much harder to censor stories before they are published.

It will be the strongest law of its kind anywhere, said Birgitta Jonsdottir, MP for The Movement party and member of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, which first made the proposals. We're taking the best laws from around the world and putting them into one comprehensive package that will deal with the fact that information doesn't have borders any more.

Because the package includes provisions that will stop the enforcement of overseas judgements that violate Icelandic laws, foreign news organisations are said to have expressed an interest in moving the publication of their investigative journalism to Iceland. According to Ms Jonsdottir, Germany's Der Spiegel and America's ABC News have discussed the possibility.

More immediately, it is hoped that the changes will rebuild the Icelandic public's belief in the press. Trust in the media was very high before the crash, but then it sank, said Hoskuldur Kari Schram, a reporter with Stod 2 television in Reykjavik: Maybe this will be a step in the right direction.


14th June   

World Control...

Sarkozy intervenes in sale of Le Monde
Link Here

Nicolas Sarkozy has been accused of trying to Berlusconise French media after he personally intervened to stop the sale of Le Monde - France's most influential newspaper - to Left-wing businessmen for fear it would oppose his re-election.

Sarkozy does not want the hugely influential daily falling into the hands of a team led by Matthieu Pigasse, a banker who heads Lazard France, and Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent's long-time partner - both seen as close to the opposition Socialist Party.

A third signatory, Xavier Neil, is a maverick telecommunications tycoon with a personal fortune of two billion euros. The trio have indicated they are ready to invest up to 100 million euros in the paper, which will be unable to pay staff wages in July if it fails to find a buyer.

The Right-wing President has threatened to withdraw around 45 million euros in state funds earmarked to help restructure the cash-strapped paper's printworks if it is taken over by the front-running trio, as he fears they will campaign against his re-election in 2012.

Le Monde is due to pick a new owner Monday but the decision has been delayed a week, the source said.

Le Figaro, Les Echos, and Le Journal du Dimanche newspapers are owned by close friends of the president, as is TF1, France's most-watched TV channel. Sarkozy also recently changed the law to allow him to name the head of public television and is due to nominate his own man next week.

Update: Sarkozy interference comes to nothing

1st July 2010. Based on article from

This week Xavier Niel bought the world . He was one of three disparate French business figures who made a successful joint bid to take over Le Monde, the most prestigious newspaper in the French language.

Outside France, much has been made of the fact that Niel founded his fortune, while still a teenager, on pre-internet sex lines and peep-shows. Niel is no longer a porn baron. In any case, he made his real fortune by spotting the importance of the internet before anyone else in France.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has brushed with Niel in the past, attempted to block the take-over. When he summoned Le Monde's editor in chief, Eric Fottorino, to the Elysée Palace last month, the president referred to Niel as the peep show man .

At the age of 19, Niel entered the world of the Minitel Rose , which brought sex chatter, or contacts, onto the dial-up screens attached to the telephone in almost every French home. The young Niel's service was called 3615 DUCUL (literally 3615 arse ).

He rapidly branched out into other, more sobre Minitel services (while also investing in peep shows and sex shops). Crucially, unlike many French businessmen, Niel was not blinded by the success of Minitel to the importance of its infinitely more advanced, global rival, the internet. In 1993, his company, Iliad, started the first French internet access service, WorldNet, which he sold seven years later for 40m.


13th June   

Cavalier Censorship...

Berlusconi gets a law to ban an exposé about his life of fun
Link Here

A film about Silvio Berlusconi's love life is set to become the first victim of a crackdown by the Italian prime minister on the publication of phone taps and bugged conversations.

The documentary, Le dame e il cavaliere (The Ladies and the Cavalier) a reference to the Knight as Berlusconi is known in Italy is the first film to use a series of embarrassing taped conversations at the heart of a sex scandal that engulfed him.

They include a clandestine recording that the former prostitute Patrizia D'Addario said she made when she spent a night with Berlusconi at his Rome residence in November 2008. Berlusconi has denied her allegations and said he never paid for sex.

The centre-right government last week used a confidence vote to force a bill through the Senate in the face of fierce opposition protests at what it said was yet another law tailor-made to suit Berlusconi, following measures to make him immune from prosecution while in office.

The new bill restricts police use of phone taps and punishes media that publish them. Critics say the gagging law will favour criminals and muzzle the press. D'Addario herself would face a sentence of up to four years in prison, as only journalists would be allowed to record conversations.

Franco Fracassi, the film's director, said he had rushed to finish it before the new law comes into force in July, when it is due to be approved by parliament's lower house: It was a race against time. When the law is passed the film becomes illegal and I could be arrested, he said. If found guilty, he faces a month in prison and a fine of up to £8,200.

The makers of the documentary, launched as a DVD on the eve of the Senate vote, are organising private screenings after distributors refused to touch it.


11th June   

Lodging a Complaint...

Maltese police look into hotel room porn
Link Here

Maltese police are making inquiries about reports of transmission of hard core porn films on pay TV systems in hotels, Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici has confirmed in Parliament.

Labour MP Adrian Vassallo asked the minister whether it was legal for hotels to transmit hard core films on their pay systems and if not, why the police were not taking action.

He also asked the minister to ensure that the police investigated whether programmes which were being transmitted almost daily on cable TV were pornographic. If so, he asked whether they would be stopped.

The minister said the police were making enquiries about the alleged facts.

The Front Against Censorship in a statement expressed concern about the police enquiries:

The Front believes that this investigation is a draconian measure which further proves that Maltese laws are outdated with respect to European democratic standards. The Front has already proposed that the distribution of pornography should not be illegal as long as it does not involve human trafficking, the abuse of minors, the exploitation of women or any other criminal acts defined by law.

Bearing in mind that pay per view adult channels are not accessible to children and people without credit cards, it would be extremely paternalistic of the State to interfere with what adult tourists and hotel residents can view in the privacy of their own rooms.


6th June   

A Monopoly on Gambling...

Netherlands wins online foreign gaming ban so as to preserve advantage for local lottery
Link Here

Europe's highest court has handed down a setback to online betting sites, ruling that member states are allowed to ban them from operating.

A member state can prohibit the operation of games of chance on the Internet, the European Court of Justice said in its judgement on a challenge by British online bookmakers against Dutch law: Prohibition may, on account of the specific features associated with the provision of games of chance on the Internet, be regarded as justified by the objective of combating fraud and crim e.

The Netherlands has a licensing system that allows it to restrict access to the gambling market. Two British firms, Ladbrokes and Betfair, challenged the Dutch ban arguing, in separate cases, that they were properly licensed in a fellow EU nation and that European law upholds the right of companies to cross borders and carry out business in other European Union countries.

While the case concerned the Netherlands, the ruling covers the whole of Europe.

In a statement, De Lotto director Tjeerd Veenstra welcomed the ruling: Ongoing attempts by the commercial gambling lobby to undermine the restrictive Dutch policy have at last been called to a halt by the European Court. The principles of the free market are subordinate to overriding principles of public policy aimed at preventing addiction and fraud.


5th June   

Moral Censors...

Italian state TV to be monitored to ensure 'the correct representation of people's dignity'
Link Here

Italian taste and decency nutters have found a new optimism.  A new anti-sexism censor is set to target any sexiness found on state-funded Rai TV.

The independent observation panel will have responsibility, in the words of one of its parliamentary backers, for ensuring the correct representation of people's dignity, with particular emphasis on the distorted representation of women .

The panel has been written into Rai's new contract and approved by ministers. If it spots too much flesh or female stereotyping it will report back to the Rai commission in parliament, which has the power to censure programme-makers.

Giovanna Melandri, the Democratic Party MP and a member of the Rai commission in parliament, said there was a long way to go in reforming Italian TV but she said the tide was finally turning. Is this the beginning of a revolution? We hope so. With the creation of the panel to monitor the way women are portrayed on state TV we hope to curb the use of women as mere decorative images, she said.

But one Mediaset comedy writer, who declined to be named, told The Independent that people hoping for a radical change on Italian television shouldn't hold their breath. Every five years some politician realises that Italian TV is too sexist, and tries to change that. It never worked and I'm not sure it will work this time. It would be like trying to stop us eating pizza: showing sexy girls on TV is so ingrained in our daily life that it can't be stopped anymore. I really believe that.


5th June   

Too Much Egalité and Not Enough Liberté...

French politician fined for minor racial quip
Link Here

France's interior minister was found guilty of making incontestably offensive racist remarks to a man of North African origin and faced opposition calls to resign.

Brice Hortefeux, the former immigration minister and a close friend of the president, Nicolas Sarkozy, was fined 750 (£621) and ordered to pay 2,000 in damages for making private insults of a racial nature at a political gathering in September. His lawyers said he would appeal.

The case stems back to an event in the south-western town of Seignosse, at which a video appeared to show him making jokes about Amin, a young member of the ruling rightwing UMP party. The footage, which first shows a member of the crowd saying of Amin, He eats pork, he drinks beer, then shows Hortefeux joking: So he doesn't correspond at all to the prototype.

A woman in the crowd then shouts: He's our little Arab, after which Hortefeux says: There's always one. When there's one, that's OK. It's when there are a lot of them that there are problems.

Although ruling that the mention of a prototype was not racial in nature, the Paris court said the second part of the comments were offensive, if not contemptuous , and that they stigmatised French people of North African origin.


3rd June   

Update: TinTin in the Belgian Courts...

An attempt at book burning
Link Here
Full story: TinTin Book Censorship...TinTin au Congo and the overly sensitive

Legal attempts to ban Tintin in the Congo for racism are a form of book burning , according to lawyers acting for the estate of Hergé, the Belgian cartoon hero's creator.

Belgium's courts are investigating whether Tintin's 1931 Congolese adventures, when the country was a Belgian colony, portrays black Africans in a racist way.

Alain Berenboom, a lawyer for the estate of Georges Remi, the Tintin cartoonist who worked under the Hergé pen-name, attacked the calls to censor the book which was published for over 70 years before being accused of racism.

He Said: I cannot accept racism but I consider it equally lamentable that we burn books. To ban books is to burn them . It has never caused public order problems, including in Africa.

Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, a Brussels-based Congolese man, has spent the last three years pursuing Tintin's copyright holders and publisher in the civil and criminals courts.

This book contains images and dialogue of a manifestly racist and offensive nature not only to blacks but to the whole of humanity, said Ahmed L'Hedim, Mondondo's lawyer: It is simply unbearable to my client that his children could come across this book and feel insulted.


3rd June   

Update: Arms Length Regulator...

EU telecoms regulator shipped out to Latvia
Link Here

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications was going to be a superpower: able to dictate policy across the EU and ride roughshod over national regulators. Since then its power has been steadily eroded to the point where it's a talking shop with a staff of ten, who now find themselves based in the capital of Latvia.

The purpose of BEREC is now to advise the EU Commission as well as national regulators on just about everything relating to telecommunications, when asked. It's hard to imagine the fiercely independent national regulators rushing to Riga for advice, but it will provide a place for the regulators to meet up.


2nd June   

Nazi Jobsworth...

German magazine publishers ask Steve Jobs to lay off the censorship
Link Here

German publishers have told Apple's Steve Jobs to stop behaving like a Nazi censor.

A group of German magazine publishers have been trying to get Jobs to negotiate on the handling of applications for iPad and iPhone.

The Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ) and the international umbrella organization FIPP have written to Jobs to discuss the regulation of the content in the AppStore.

The letter said that the world is multicultural and content that is in a country totally acceptable in another seem to be inappropriate.

Publishers have always criticized Apple's rigid rules for the acceptance of applications and talking about censorship. It also is miffed about how much of a slice that Apple takes from advertising.


1st June   

Gambling on Censorship...

Internet blocking of gambling and file sharing websites in Denmark
Link Here

The Danish Supreme Court has upheld a decision made in a lower court which insures that internet service providers will continue to block access to websites that may contain or link to other sites which contain content which infringes on copyrights.

The decision has been criticized by internet freedom advocates as a step backward for web freedom in Denmark. The argument contends that forcing ISP's to police the Internet without due process the decision marks a dangerous precedent that is likely to include other illegal or offensive material in the future like online gambling.

Recently the Danish parliament passed a law, allowing the taxation department to notify ISPs of web sites operated by unauthorized providers of online-gambling. ISPs will then be required to censor these sites. If the relevant ISPs refuse or fail to do so they will be subject to criminal liability and prosecution. There is no room left for discussion on the decision of the tax authorities and no recourse is offered to websites or ISP's.

Further debate is expected from those opposing this kind of censorship, claiming the new law is in contravention of the Danish constitution's prohibition against censorship and or the European Convention on Human Rights' protection of freedom of expression and access to information. Several Danish lawmakers such as the Socialist Peoples' Party and the Danish Peoples' Party have suggested far reaching internet censorship without too much success.


1st June   

Nutter Networking...

Euro MP whinges at supposed addiction to social networking websites
Link Here

An Irish Labour MEP has called for intervention and regulation by the EU for websites like Facebook, which she believes are addictive and hazardous to mental health.

The minister, Nessa Childers, who is also a psychotherapist, said that since the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified, the EU now has increased powers to legislate when there is a threat to public health in Europe .

She claimed that millions of Europeans are at risk of becoming addicted to these kinds of websites, particularly Facebook, which has over 400,000 Irish users alone.

Childers said that visiting Facebook causes intermittent reinforcement , which means that connecting with virtual friends, receiving notices and messages, etc. gives users an unpredictable high, similar to gambling and makes them feel the need to expand to fill an increasingly empty internal world creating a vicious circle. In other words, people are living virtual lives instead of real ones, using social networking to escape the pains and struggles of everyday existence.

Childers said that as a psychotherapist she has seen an increase in addiction to internet pornography, which has ruined lives, and that action is needed at international level from the EU to properly take on the disturbing trend of addiction to sites such as Facebook which are responsible for all sorts of problematic behaviour .

Childers failed to mention exactly what kind of regulations are needed though.


31st May   

Dressed to Censor...

Juliette Binoche taunts Iran during the Cannes festival and gets her film banned in Iran
Link Here

A rumbling row over censorship between the Cannes film festival and Iran flared anew as Tehran banned celebrated director Abbas Kiarostami's new movie due to star Juliet Binoche's attire .

The actress award last weekend for her role in Certified Copy, a tortuous tete-a-tete about love and marriage in which she remains determinedly fully clothed throughout.

If Juliette Binoche were better clad it could have been screened but due to her attire there will not be a general screening, Deputy Culture Minister Javad Shamaqdari was quoted as saying by local newspapers.

Binoche and Kiarostami heaped criticism however against Tehran throughout the festival, for the way it treats its film-makers and for its tough censorship stance.

On picking up the best actress prize, the French star brandished a sign with the name of Jafar Panahi, the Iranian film-maker jailed in Tehran in March for planning a film against the Islamic regime.

After years of friction between the Cannes film festival and Tehran, organisers may have added insult to injury this year by inviting jailed Panahi to join the festival jury that decides on the winners of its awards. At the festival's gala opening, the jury headed by Alice in Wonderland director Tim Burton called for his release and left a seat symbolically empty for him on stage.


23rd May   

Tit for Twat...

Romanian twats censor art exhibition
Link Here

Renowned artist Kaucyila Brooke, an invited exhibitor and speaker at Bucharest Biennale 4, which begins on May 21, 2010, has, without warning, had her work removed from the show.

Ms. Brooke had been formally invited to participate in BB4 by curator Felix Vogel who has been following her work since viewing one of her exhibits in Munich in 2007. Kaucyila Brooke is a highly respected Los Angeles-based artist whose work has been shown extensively in museums and art galleries throughout Europe and in the United States.

However, once the director of the Geology Institute had viewed the partially installed exhibit, he demanded that it be removed from the museum. No formal explanation has yet to be offered, although officials at BB4 have indicated they still expect Ms. Brooke to speak, but without having her work exhibited.

This de-installation will make Kaucyila Brooke's work, Tit for Twat , the only project to be censored during the 2010 Biennale.

Kaucyila Brooke's ongoing project, Tit for Twat , is a three part photo montage, photo novella, gender art narrative designed for both exhibition and publication. Its chapters, Madam and Eve in the Garden, Can We Talk?, and It's Not About Shame. Accessorize!, address the biblical presumption of heterosexuality and its relationship to other theories of origin, notions of innovation and origin in history, creationism, science and material culture.


21st May   

Update: Killer Games Ban Killed...

German government backs off from ban on violent video games
Link Here
Full story: Games Censorship in Germany...German politicians target video games

A group of Interior Ministers have been asking for a total ban on the production and distribution of violent videogames in Germany. 

Thanks in large part to a petition, such a ban will not be enacted in the near future. German website Game Captain reports that the 73,000 signatures captured on a petition against banning such games allowed the matter to be taken up in front of the Committee on Petitions. The petitioner was allowed to speak, and apparently asked more education on media be provided in place of the ban.

Parliament State Secretary Dr. Herman Kues, of the Federal Ministry for Home Affairs must have been swayed, as he announced that no changes to the current criminal code would be enacted. Instead the government will push for more public education of the PEGI ratings system.


21st May   

One Way Trade Filter...

EU complains that Chinese internet censorship is used as a tool for protectionism
Link Here

EU digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes has hit out at Chinese online censorship, saying the government process constitutes an unfair trade barrier that may require World Trade Organisation (WTO) action.

It is one of those issues that needs to be tackled in the WTO and I'm aware it is at stake, Kroes said in Shanghai.

Analysts suggest the Chinese practice of blocking online content, ranging from pornography to political dissent, is likely to become an issue of increasing concern for European firms.

Dubbed the Great Firewall of China, they say Beijing uses the practice as a means of restricting foreign firms in favour of domestic companies.

Google became the highest profile example this year, with the company announcing it would no longer comply with Beijing's censorship requirements, subsequently rerouting its server to Hong Kong.


11th May   

Update: On the Offensive...

Dutch public prosecutor reopens holocaust cartoon case
Link Here

The Dutch public prosecutor has appealed against a court ruling acquitting a Muslim group of insulting Jews with a cartoon suggesting they invented the Holocaust, in a case testing the bounds of free speech.

The court ruled last month the cartoon published by the Arab European League (AEL) showed bad taste and was exceptionally offensive, but it acquitted the group on charges it insulted Jews because of the context in which the cartoon was published.

The court ruled that the context of its publication removed its criminally offensive nature. The AEL had argued that the cartoon was meant to show how other religious groups were also sensitive about certain images.

In announcing its appeal, the public prosecutor said it was essential to determine whether the cartoon was unnecessarily offensive, adding it was not certain whether the cartoon was designed as a contribution to the social debate.


6th May   

Update: Freedom to Roam...

Walking the length of Ireland to protest about blasphemy law
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law

A man is about to walk the length of Ireland to protest against the blasphemy law introduced in the Republic.

Former social worker and English teacher Paul Gill says that making blasphemy a crime undermines freedom of speech: It is a draconian, oppressive tool to use against people in a so-called vibrant democracy and it is unenforcable. Laws should be to protect people, not ideals .

Gill will set out from Mizen Head on the 625km trek and will walk 25km a day, sleeping most nights in a tent on the roadside. He expects to arrive at Ireland's most northerly point of Malin Head in Co Donegal in 25 days' time.

Along the way there will be public debates and forums for discussion at various venues organised by Atheist Ireland, which is sponsoring the event.

Gill hopes that debate and discussion would encourage the electorate to repeal the law in a referendum later in the year.


1st May   

Update: Let Bygones be Bygones...

Court application for a ban on Tintin in the Congo
Link Here
Full story: TinTin Book Censorship...TinTin au Congo and the overly sensitive

A Congolese man wants a supposedly racist Tintin book banned in Belgium, the homeland of the cartoon detective.

Tintin In The Congo , first published in 1931, features an African sidekick named Coco who is portrayed as a little black helper, stupid and without qualities , according to Bienvenu Mbutu.

Mbutu, who lives in Belgium, is demanding the book be stripped from the shelves or printed with a warning that it contains racist content .

In one scene a black woman is featured bowing before Tintin and exclaiming: White man very great. White mister is big juju man!

When Tintin is chased by a villain and nearly fed to crocodiles, his saviour is a white Belgian missionary. It makes people think that blacks have not evolved, said Mr Mbutu.

Copies sold in Britain now come with a band around the outside warning that it may be offensive. Border's bookshop removed it from the children's section to the shelves reserved for adult graphic novels, while WHSmith recommended it for readers aged 16 and over.

A court in Brussels will rule on the case on May 5.


30th April   

Update: Fitna for Trial...

Trial of Geert Wilders set for October
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Dutch political party leader Geert Wilders is set to stand trial in October on charges of inciting racial hatred against Muslims, the Amsterdam district court has announced.

The trial of Mr Wilders will start in October, the court said in a statement. According to a preliminary schedule, the case is to be heard on October 4, 6 and 8, followed by judgment on November 2, it said.

The lawmaker is accused of five counts of religious insult and anti-Muslim incitement. Wilder faces up to one year in jail if convicted.

His 17-minute film, Fitna , was called offensively anti-Islamic by UN chief Ban Ki-moon after its screening in The Netherlands in 2008 prompted protests in much of the Muslim world. Prosecutors initially declined to charge Wilders, citing freedom of speech in dismissing dozens of complaints from around the country. But an appeals court last January ordered prosecutors to put the MP on trial, saying politicians could not make statements which create hate and grief .


30th April   

Update: Fear of Teddy Bears...

Swedish affiliate of Comedy Central opts to censor episodes of South Park
Link Here
Full story: South Park...TV comedy offends the easily offenced

The Swedish affiliate of broadcaster Comedy Central has said it will not show two controversial episodes of US satirical cartoon show South Park depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad in a bear costume, Aftonbladet reports.

Comedy Central has decided not to air these two episodes of South Park. It is a decision we've made with great reluctance. Comedy Central believes strongly in creative freedom of expression; when unique and deeply insightful creative talents like those behind South Park are able to express themselves freely, we all benefit.

However, the safety of our employees is our unquestioned number one priority, and therefore we have decided to take these precautionary measures, the broadcaster explained in a statement released to Aftonbladet.

Spokesman Peter von Satzgerl told the Svenska Dagbladet daily that the decision came as a result of international directives from the channel's parent network in the United States.


23rd April   

Flag Browning...

French politicians get wound up by prize winning flag photo
Link Here

Its aim was to shock. And a prize-winning photograph of a man wiping his derriere with the French flag has certainly succeeded.

So outraged is the French government that ministers are demanding the artist behind it is punished - even if the law needs to be changed to do so.

Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said criminal proceedings should be launched against this unacceptable act . Presumably the law can punish such an intolerable act against the French flag? If the existing law is not strong enough, then it should be revised.

The photograph was taken on a public street in France by an unnamed artist and entered for a competition organised by the FNAC store in Nice.

It was praised by judges and won a special mention in the politically incorrect category. It was later published in a newspaper.

Eric Ciotti, an MP from the ruling UMP party, said: The image is utterly offensive and should be removed. I want the person who committed this outrage to be punished, and possibly those who published it too.

But Eric de Mongolfier, the Nice prosecutor, said the image did not constitute an offence because it was produced in a creative spirit .

Frederic Vezard, editor of the Metro newspaper which published the photograph, said: It is a question of knowing what the limits of art, provocation and freedom of speech are.


17th April   

Freedom to Block...

Ireland considers internet censorship
Link Here

The Irish government has had extensive private discussions on introducing internet blocking – barring access to websites or domains – according to material obtained under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The approach is already used by some ISPs and mobile network operators to block access to child pornography. But increasingly, governments and law enforcement agencies are pushing for much broader use, ranging from blocking filesharing sites to trying to tackle cybercrime and terrorism.

The exact nature of the Government discussions cannot be determined as many of the requests for key documents were refused by the Department of Justice. However, the ongoing high level of discussion on the subject is indicated in the detailed description of each refused item in the list of materials returned by the department.

The FOI request, made by privacy advocate Digital Rights Ireland and seen by The Irish Times, contains eight pages of listed documents. One refused item details a June 2009 meeting between the department and Vodafone on the introduction of internet filtering in Ireland . Another is an e-mail from mobile operator 3 listing filter technologies it is using. Another refused item details minutes of a meeting between the Office for Internet Safety and the Garda re proposed introduction of blocking technology . Discussions on the international use of blocking and on proposed European legislation were also refused.

Possible interest in the wider use of such technologies is indicated by a refused document in which an e-mail and note on blocking child pornography sites was forwarded to the official in the Department of Justice in charge of casino gaming regulation.


17th April   

24 Rumours...

France 24 fined for reporting rumours of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy affair
Link Here

A Paris court has fined the France 24 news channel for reporting rumours that first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was having an affair with a French pop singer.

Judges ordered the publicly-funded television channel to pay 3,000 euros to the singer in question, Benjamin Biolay, after ruling that the coverage violated his privacy.

Biolay had sought 20,000 euros in damages over a 10 March broadcast that referred to speculation about his possible involvement with Bruni-Sarkozy.

The judge downsized his compensation, but rejected France 24's defence that its report was in the public interest.

In the programme in question, France 24 journalist Stanislas de Saint Hippolyte discussed international coverage of rumours surrounding the presidential couple, Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, as part of a review of the day's press. In particular he mentioned reports in the Daily Mail, Telegraph and The Sun newspapers of Britain, and the Swiss Tribune de Gen?e, which printed pictures of Bruni and Biolay and referred to online rumours about a romantic involvement.

France 24's lawyers argued that the exceptional volume of foreign coverage made it legitimate to include the story in its press review, and that not to do so would have constituted self-censorship .


6th April   

Update: Putting the Swiss Knife into PEGI...

Swiss nutter MP looks to ban the top dozen violent games
Link Here
Full story: Violent Games Ban in Switzerland...Parliament passes motion to ban violent games

According to the politician behind a proposed Swiss law to ban violent video games, the ban would not blindly outlaw all violent games.

Swiss Social Democrat Evi Allemann indicated that the ban would apply only to individual games. She estimated that, like in Germany, only 12 or so games would wind up being banned, including titles such as Mortal Kombat and Manhunt (which are banned in Germany), but not the likes of Counter-Strike .

It appears Allemann would specifically focus on games which display cruel acts of violence that a player contributes to.

Allemann also said that the PEGI rating system is not enough and intimating that Switzerland and/or Europe needs an independent federal agency to rate games, one that is free of any ties to the gaming industry.


3rd April   

Updated: Behind the Curtain...

EU calls for internet censorship
Link Here

The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom, wants all member states to be obliged to block websites containing child pornography.

This would be a great mistake, the left-liberal daily Frankfurter Rundschau writes:

Firstly, hiding online images of abuse and rape behind a curtain rather than erasing them won't help a single child.

… Secondly the possibility of blocking websites will create the infrastructure for a censored Internet. This could lead to the blocking other types of content that have nothing to do with child pornography. We have seen this in Finland and Australia. And in Germany several politicians want gambling sites, filesharing sites and online killer games blocked. The promises that only illegal content would be blocked are therefore implausible. A political class that thinks only in the short-term can't be trusted to keep such promises in the long term.

Update: Delete Not Block

3rd April 2010. Based on article from

Germany has called for stronger action to combat images of child sex abuse online, saying material should be deleted rather than blocked.

Justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said Germany rejected the idea of stopping people getting access to images by blocking.

Blocking, said Ms Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, is not an effective weapon in the fight against child pornography and also leads to a loss of trust among internet users.

I expect a broad debate ... in which I will push the position 'delete, not block', said the minister during an interview with the Hamburger Abendblatt regional daily newspaper.

Her comments came after the unveiling of European Commission plans to block child sex abuse sites outside Europe. The blocking plan is part of proposed new laws on child exploitation.

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