Following justifiable media criticism, politically correct officials at the Kulturhuset library in Stockholm have reversed their decision to ban Tintin comic books from library shelves.
The reversal comes after a report in Dagens Nyheter
newspaper in which artistic director, Behrang Miri said the library planned to remove Tintin comics from its shelves:
The image the Tintin books give of Africans is Afro-phobic, for example. Africans are a bit dumb,
while Arabs sit on flying carpets and Turks smoke water pipes.
But after criticism of the censorship erupted in Swedish media, Miri changed his stance. He said in a statement:
I wanted to highlight
an opinion piece about issues of discrimination, but realize now that it's wrong to ban books,
Among those who slammed Kulturhuset's Tintin ban was Fredrik Stromberg, chair of the Swedish Comics Association:
I think it's wrong. I don't think people should censure in this way, children are smarter than that. It's better to talk about the stupid things we have done than to hide them away, that would be the mistake.
Europe's top data protection officer has said that the concept of illegal content must be uniformly defined throughout the European Union.
The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Peter Hustinx, was responding to plans by the
European Commission to reform rules on notice and action requests - the removal of illegal content online.
In a statement, Hustinxs said that he was concerned that hosting service providers may be forced to process sensitive personal data
when removing illegal content, which the Commission defines as intellectual property rights infringements; consumer protection law breaches; hate incitement; child abuse content; terrorism-related content; defamatory material, and privacy-invading
Hustinx also questioned whether notice and action requests to content hosts, including social networking sites such as Facebook or user-generated content hosts like YouTube, is always the best approach. For instance, privacy
infringements could be best reported to data protection authorities, he said. And some infringements such as child abuse content and terrorism-related content would require the involvement of law enforcement agencies. Hustinx added:
The E-Commerce Directive clearly sets forth that service providers do not have a general obligation 'to monitor the information which they transmit or store, nor a general obligation actively to seek facts or circumstances indicating
illegal activity.' The Court of Justice of the EU has emphasised this principle in several case.
France has banned likely violent street protests against cartoons insulting the religious character of Mohammad that were published by a French satirical magazine this week.
So far imams in mosques have denounced the pictures but have urged their
followers to remain calm.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls said prefects had orders to prohibit any protest and to crack down if the ban was challenged. There will be strictly no exceptions. Demonstrations will be banned and broken up, he
told a news conference in Marseille.
Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Muslim Council, described both the film and the cartoons as acts of aggression but urged French Muslims not to protest in the streets. I repeat the council's
call not to protest. Any protest could be hijacked and counterproductive, he told radio RFI.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said there had been anti-French demonstrations in Afghanistan, Egypt and Indonesia, but there were no incidents
against French nationals.
Bullfighting is to continue in France, a decision that has infuriated animal rights campaigners across Europe.
It follows calls from high-profile showbusiness campaigners including Brigitte Bardot and Jean-Paul Belmondo to see the bloodsport
The Paris Constitutional Council, which adjudicates on contentious state issues, ruled that there was no need for corrida to be banned. The judges said an uninterrupted and long tradition of bull-fighting should not be
ignored simply because of animal rights protests in certain regions where bullfighting is still practiced. These are mainly southern areas, where bullfighting events are well attended and attract some of the best matadors.
Protestors stressed that
strict animal protection laws should apply equally across France, and should not be ignored in regions where bull-fighting takes place.
Former culture minister Frederic Mitterand had actually placed the bloodsport on a heritage list ,
leading to furious protests from animal rights groups. And Manuel Valls, the current Interior Minister who was born in Spain and moved to France as a child, this week made a passionate call for the corrida to be allowed, saying: We have to
preserve our culture -- we need these roots, we should not pull them out.' The Roman arena at Nimes where bullfights are still held
Iceland is considering internet censorship in the form of a default block on adult related material.
It is reported that the country's two largest ISPs, Vodafone and Siminn kind of like the idea of blocking adult related sites, assuming that
technical issues can be worked out.
A Vodaphone spokesperson, Hrannar Petursson, reportedly claimed that it's all in the name of customer safety, and has nothing... nothing! to do with censorship. Viruses and malware, Petursson explained, are
often found on porn sites.
He spewed: It's not a big deal, anyway. Customers can always ask the ISP to allow the porn sites, gambling sites, and related sites.
France's richest man, Bernard Arnault, head of the LVMH luxury group, is suing the leftwing newspaper Liberation for supposed public insult. The LVMH group includes Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Guerlain, Hennessy cognac Moet et Chandon
Arnault launched a lawsuit after the paper carried a large photograph of the business tycoon with the headline Casse-toi riche con! (Get lost, rich jerk) on its front page. The headline echoed the former president Nicolas
Sarkozy's insult to a farmworker who refused to shake his hand at the national agricultural show. Sarkozy told the man: Casse-toi pauv' con! (Get lost, poor jerk).
Lawyers for Arnault announced in a statement that he was suing Liberation
for public insult over the headline, which he described as vulgar and violent.
Germany's top-selling women's magazine is considering abandoning its use of amateur models barely two years after deciding to banish professional ones.
The fortnightly Brigitte hit the headlines in 2009 when it said it would feature only real
women in its pages, part of a backlash against the use of ultra-thin professional models in fashion.
The new direction proved more difficult than anticipated. For one thing, the magazine says, its stylists and photographers have found it is
harder and takes longer to work with inexperienced non-professional models. At the same time the models are being paid at a level comparable to professionals, the Su ddeutsche Zeitung reports.
At the same time, the radical move has
not had the desired impact on readers. They have complained that the women that now appear in Brigitte's pages are just as skinny and pretty as the models previously used.
Furthermore, the publicity gained by abandoning models appears to have done
little for the bottom line. Sales have continued to slide.
Now, with Stephan Schafer taking over at the helm as co-editor-in-chief alongside Brigitte Huber, the magazine is reconsidering the policy.
The French government is looking to reform the country's media and communications regulatory regime by bringing together media regulator the CSA and telecoms watchdog ARCEP.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has asked culture and communication
minister Aure'lie Filippetti, digital economy minister Fleur Pellerin and productivity minister Arnaud Montebourg to come up with proposals for a more unified regulatory regime.
This month's cover of Spain's Fuera de Serie , magazine features Michelle Obama in a mocked up nude.
The Spanish Magazine either decided to go provocative or political when featuring a manipulated image of the first lady pictured as a
topless, enslaved woman.
Taken from the Famous Nudes series done by artist Karine Percheron-Daniels, the painting was created by superimposing Obama's face onto the body of the Black enslaved woman shown in the 1800 Portrait d'une
ne'gresse by French artist Marie-Guillemine Benoist.
Clearly provoked by the sight of Obama showcased as an enslaved woman, the black blogosphere has waged a digital war against the cover, claiming that the image is nothing short of blatantly
By choosing to use such a jarring image to tell the story of how America's first lady seduced the people of the United States and stole the heart of Barack Obama, as Fuera de Serie describes her, writes
Brande Victorian of Madame Noire, it's clear the magazine agrees with that mentality and wants to spread the message loud and clear: todavi'a estamos esclavos. We are still slaves.
German politicians are mulling over a law to make Facebook pay for when police break up parties advertised on the social network.
Reinhold Gall, interior minister of the southern German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, said:
A commercial internet platform that makes something like this possible also carries a large measure of responsibility.
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann added:
does not meet its responsibilities to protect its users, if the only difference between an invitation to friends and the whole world is just one mouse-click. Facebook has a duty to protect its users and the public with appropriate warnings and
Some mass parties descended into chaos in Germany when hosts did not realise their invitations had reached the entire network rather than just their friends. But one youth who invited 1,500 people to a rave-up
on the shores of Lake Constance was fined £ 200,000 after a massive police operation to stop it going ahead.
Rainer Wendt, chairman of the German Police Union, said:
invite people to a Facebook party that sparks a police intervention, you will have to pay the costs.
Wine bottles featuring Adolf Hitler on the label have been called offensive after complaints from US tourists in the Italian city of Garda.
Michael Hirsch, a lawyer from Philadelphia, complained to local media after he found a supermarket
near his hotel was stocking wine bottles with Hitler in various poses and another bottle featuring an image of Pope John Paul II. Hirsch told The Daily Telegraph:
It is very shocking and startling to us. We would think
of it as neo-Nazism It makes you wonder about the sympathies of the local people.
One bottle features Hitler with his arm raised in the Nazi, another is labelled Mein Kampf and another was labelled Ein volk, ein Reich, ein
Fuhrer (one people, one empire, one Fuhrer).
Local prosecutors said they have opened an inquiry into the sale of the wine bottles. But prosecutor Mario Giulio Schinaia told Ansa:
The only crime that could be
currently attributable to this is that of apologising for fascism. At this point though it would be opportune to invent the crime of human stupidity.
I want to reassure our American friends who visit our country that our Constitution
and our culture rejects racism, anti-Semitism and Nazi fascism, said Andrea Riccardi, the Italian integration minister. This offends the memory of millions of people and risks compromising the image of Italy abroad.
A government making a raft of public spending cuts might not be expected to win many friends. But critics of Mariano Rajoy's rightwing Partido Popular (PP) claim that a series of departures from Spain's leading state broadcasting organisations are a sign
that it will not tolerate any criticism.
A number of journalists who have presumed to question the administration's austerity policy have been purged from the national RTVE radio and TV channel. And this weekend the most
high-profile exit in recent months -- that of Ana Pastor, the presenter of Los Desayunos de TVE, a popular breakfast news magazine programme -- was announced.
The Swiss Olympic delegation have sent defender Michel Morganella, 23, home from the Games after he posted the message in the wake of the team's 2-1 defeat to South Korea on Sunday.
The star posted the message shortly after the game, saying that
South Koreans can go burn and referred to them as a bunch of mongoloids.
Gian Gilli, chef de mission for the Swiss Olympic delegation at the Games, said: Michel Morganella gravely insulted and discriminated against the South
Korean people and their football team with his highly offensive comments on Twitter.
We condemn his comments, which are in fundamental violation of the IOC's Olympic charter and Swiss Olympic's own ethics charter.
The European Humanist Federation (EHF) and its Greek member, the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) have protested to the Greek Justice Minister about the arrest of three actors on charges of blasphemy.
The actors were taking part in a production of
Terence McNally's 1997 play Corpus Christi , which portrays Jesus and his disciples as homosexuals living in Corpus Christi, Texas.
EHF and GHM have written to the Greek Justice Minister asking that not only that charges against the three
actors be dropped but that the blasphemy law should be repealed. In a joint statement, Pierre Galand, President of the European Humanist Federation, and Panayote Dimitras, Spokesperson for Greek Helsinki Monitor, said:
With the secularisation of Europe, the offence of blasphemy tends to disappear from national criminal laws. While some countries have abolished it, others still have it in their domestic law but do not prosecute (e.g. Austria, Denmark, Italy and the
Netherlands). In Greece, Ireland or Poland, blasphemy laws allowing fines and imprisonment may lead to prosecution or have a deterrent effect on journalists, academics, artists and other citizens which may amount to self-censorship.
Freedom of expression is protected by all major international human rights instruments. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has stressed on numerous occasions that freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential
foundations of [a democratic] society, and that it is applicable not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any
sector of the population.
The EHF strongly defends freedom of expression, which includes the right to be critical about religions in discussions or artistic expressions. There is no fundamental right not to be offended in one's
religious feelings, churches and religious groups should accept criticism, just as every group in society.
Culture Minister Mario de Marco has told the Maltese Parliament that there would be a shift from a preventive system of censorship to a system of self-classification.
Speaking during the debate in the second reading of the Bill amending various
laws dealing with the classification of films and stage productions, he said theatrical companies in Malta would be able to classify their own works.
The Bill proposed to transfer the laws regulating classification from the ministry responsible
for the police to that responsible for culture. Such regulations would be amalgamated with the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts Act.
Dr de Marco said the legislation would only serve as a framework and the arts sector would become completely
self-regulatory. Nevertheless, the Bill did not affect other legislation and essential rules such as laws protecting minorities, minors and those guarding against libel. He said such laws would remain applicable to the theatrical and film sectors.
Turning to the film sector, Dr De Marco said that new age classification benchmarks were being introduced. The Bill would not change the requirement of obtaining a certificate before viewing, since it was only for theatrical performance that this
requirement would no longer be needed.
European Court examines Swiss ban on posters for an association that seeks to make contact with aliens. The case centred on democracy, free speech issues and religion, but was rather muddied by issues of child sexuality See
article from ukhumanrightsblog.com
Portuguese MPs have slammed proposed law changes to end the showing of bullfights on Portugal's public television channels.
The proposal put forward by the Green (PEV) and Left Bloc (BE) parties includes removing all public support for shows that
inflict physical and psychological suffering or lead to the death of animals involved in bullfights, that bullfighting should no longer be aired on public service channels and the activity should be classed as an illicit show.
The Green party said
in a statement:
Society should be heading in a direction of abandoning practises that are not compatible with the increasing statute of protection given to animals.
The party also proposed for
bullfighting to be classified for over 18s only when aired on television:
This is a measure that aims to defend TV audiences, but also to protect children and youngsters from shows that do not teach respect for
MPs from nearly all opposing parties criticised the proposals during a debate on Wednesday, calling it cultural censorship .
Update: MPs shout Ol é and vote to
retain bullfighting on TV
Proposals by the Left Bloc (BE) and the Greens (PEV) to change the laws that regulate the showing of bullfights on television have been crushed by a
majority in Parliament, meaning the controversial sport will continue to be shown unrestricted on national public channels.
PAN, the Party for Animals and for Nature, slammed the lively opposition to the bill, saying:
Anyone who witnessed the debate about these matters couldn't help but be surprised by the behaviour of the MPs on the CDS-PP, PSD (Social Democrats) and PS benches, who, among boos, jeers and shouts of ole, made the BE's and PEV's
speeches about their law-projects practically inaudible.
PAN condemns the lamentable attitude of these MPs, recalling that they were elected to represent all Portuguese, not only those who are fans or part of the bullfighting
The Portuguese Federation for Bull-related Associations, Protoiro, described the outcome as a resounding victory for Portuguese bullfighting and freedom. On its Facebook page Protoiro claims that the proposals were
quashed by 85% of parliament saying:
This is the third defeat suffered by anti-bullfighters who, in just six months, have seen all of their initiatives completely trounced.
In a 478 to 39 vote, the European Parliament decided to reject ACTA once and for all.
Six months ago, it was all but certain that ACTA would pass unnoticed in silence. The forces fighting for citizens' rights tried to have it referred to the
European Court of Justice in order to test its legality and to buy some time. But then, something happened.
A monster by the name of SOPA appeared in the United States. Thousands of websites went dark on January 18 and millions of voices cried
out, leaving Congress shell-shocked over the fact that citizens can get that level of pissed off at corporate special interests. SOPA was killed.
In theory, ACTA could still come into force between the United States and a number of smaller states.
Ten states have been negotiating it, and six of those need to ratify it to have it come into force. In theory, this could become a treaty between the United States, Morocco, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland. (But wait, the Mexican Senate
has already rejected ACTA. As has Australia and Switzerland in practice.
The European Commissioner responsible for the treaty, Karel de Gucht, has said that he will ignore any rejections and re-table it before the European Parliament until it
passes. That's not going to happen. Parliament takes its dignity very seriously and does not tolerate that kind of contempt.
In the wake of the rejection vote, EuroISPA, An organisation of ISPs at the European level, said:
EuroISPA and its
members welcome the European Parliament's decision to call for a more balanced approach in the protection of the fundamental rights at stake when the EU negotiates international treaties. The European Parliament found that the intended benefits of the
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) were far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties and the legal uncertainties about the role of Internet Service Providers in enforcing intellectual property rights.
The European Union has been accused of trying to push through a controversial deal, which would force internet service providers to hand over the
personal details of anyone suspected of infringing copyright online, by the back door.
Leaked documents show that the most hotly contested sections of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which was overwhelmingly rejected by the
European Parliament less than a week ago, also appear in a trade agreement between the EU and Canada called CETA, negotiations on which are in their final stages.
Experts say that the Agreement's supporters -- who include the European Commission -
are trying to get its most controversial provisions past European lawmakers in the knowledge that they would not be able to object to the full Agreement on grounds they have already acceded to in another.