US Censorship News

 2009: April-June



29th June   

Updated: Censor Fight Rated PG-13...

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US advert censor falls out with US film censor
Link Here  full story: FTC Advert Censor...FTC considers ads for age restricted movies

Star Trek BNET are reporting a tiff between The Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) and the MPAA

CARU has sent out a stream of press releases indicating it believes that sexy, violent movies are being wrongly advertised to kids — and the MPAA, per its agreement with CARU, has done nothing about it.

Often, CARU discovers that the movie studio intentionally placed the ad on kids' TV. That happened recently with an ad for Star Trek . The film is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content, but was advertised during children's programming hours. CARU's rules state that advertisers should take care to assure that only age appropriate videos, films and interactive software are advertised to children.

MPAA tells BNET that it has never found a movie studio in violation of its advertising rules, even though CARU has referred dozens of movies to MPAA over the years for alleged violations just like Paramount's.

It turns out that MPAA's idea of what's appropriate for kids is different from CARU's. MPAA notes that PG-13 is a cautionary rating, not a restrictive one. It suggests 13-year-olds shouldn't see the movie, but 12-year-olds can still buy their own tickets if they want to. So PG-13 movies can be advertised to under-13s.

Update: Nutters whinge at advertising Transformers to children

29th June 2009. Based on article from commondreams.org

CCFC logo The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has sent a letter to Chairman Jon Leibowitz of the Federal Trade Commission urging the FTC to stop the marketing of violent PG-13 movies targeted to children. CCFC cited over 2,700 ads shown on children's television stations for four of this summer's violent PG-13 blockbusters including Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen , Star Trek , Terminator Salvation , and X-Men Origins: Wolverine . The commercials were shown between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm on children's stations such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, and include ads for the films, as well as movie-related licensed toys and Burger King Kid's Meal promotions.

CCFC's appeal comes two years after the national advocacy organization first urged the FTC to act on the marketing of PG-13 movies. CCFC's initial request was spurred by the 2007 premiere of the first Transformers film which was marketed to children as young as two through ads, toys, and food promotions.

Because the MPAA continues to ignore the FTC's request, this summer preschoolers are once again being subjected to a barrage of advertising for violent PG-13 blockbusters, said Susan Linn, CCFC's Director and a psychologist at Judge Baker Children's Center: When it comes to the film industry and children's wellbeing, it's clear that self-regulation has failed.

Added Dr. Linn, It's bad enough that movie companies advertise violent, PG-13 films on children's channels before 8:00 pm. But marketing the films through ads for licensed toys and kid's meals is especially unfair and deceptive. For years, the FTC has expressed concern about violent, PG-13 movies being promoted to children. Now the Commission needs to act.

Update: Petitioning the FTC

6th August 2009. See article from examiner.com

CCFC logo Armed with over 3400 signatures, a significant number of statements from parents, educators and citizens nationwide, along with an updated figure of almost 5,000 commercials aired for PG-13 rated movies (March to July 2009), the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) have submitted their petition and request to the Federal Trade Commission's Chairman, Jon Leibowitz.

CCFC is asking once again for the FTC's assistance in getting the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to stop the film industry from targeting young children with their advertising for PG-13 films, which includes significant film-related merchandising.

 

27th June   

Pretty as a Swastika...

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Marilyn Manson finds that Swastika is a banned word
Link Here

High End of Low CD Marilyn Manson has lashed out at his record label bosses who tried to censor his new album The High End Of Low because it features a song called Pretty As A Swastika .

Manson said that he can't understand the controversy surrounding his new album and why his record company pushed for censorship.

It's shocking to me that it's easier to buy a gun at Wal-Mart than it is to buy my record. And it's entertainment, it's music, but that doesn't mean it has no value, Contactmusic quoted him as telling Spin magazine.

But it's just ironic that they can sell a CD in a store, and they won't put the title Pretty As a Swastika on the cover, but at the same store they'll have Valkyrie ' for example, which has a Swastika on the cover. Now, I'm not even using the symbol, I'm using the word, so the record company sort of created a new curse word, by default, for me.

 

23rd June   

FBI Censors...

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

Records show that the FBI had it in for the iconic film Deep Throat
Link Here

Deep Throat DVD The Watergate investigation's Mark Felt was behind the FBI's attempt to block the release of the 1972 porn film Deep Throat in a vain bid to prevent a cultural shift toward more permissive entertainment.

FBI agents from Honolulu to Miami, where the movie was filmed, seized copies of the film, had negatives analysed in laboratories and interviewed everyone from actors and producers to the messengers who delivered reels to cinemas, newly released FBI files have revealed.

Mark Weiner, a law professor at Rutgers University said: The story of 'Deep Throat' is the story of the last gasp of the forces lined up against the cultural and sexual revolution and it is the advent of the entry of pornography into the mainstream.

Felt was then second in command at the FBI and his name appears on the top of the files along with other top agents. He was later given the alias "Deep Throat" after he leaked the crucial information about corruption in the Nixon administration to the Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, but also as a reference to his role in the bid to suppress the pornographic film.

Deep Throat achieved fame unlike any pornographic film in history, becoming the most widely known adult film to reach a general audience. Shot for around $25,000, it earned hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office and became a cultural catchphrase.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI was forced to release 498 pages from its 4,800 page file on Gerard Damiano, the director of the film who died in October. Many parts of the released files have been blanked out, but the seriousness with which the agency treated the investigation is unquestionable.

 

20th June   

Updated: Minor Legislation...

Louisiana Senate passes bill targeting the sale of prohibited material to minors
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

Louisiana State Seal By a 35-0 vote, the Louisiana Senate passed SB 152, a bill which would make a pattern of distributing sexually explicit material to children a deceptive trade practice under state law.

SB 152 was drafted by disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson as a back-door means of enforcing ESRB content ratings. The original SB 152 mirrored Thompson's Utah bill, which was vetoed by Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman  in March. However, bill sponsor Senator A.G. Crowe subsequently gutted Thompson's focus on age ratings from the bill, amending it instead to its new focus on the distribution of sexually explicit material to minors.

Unlike the Utah bill, SB 152 doesn't make reference to video games, advertising, age ratings or any specific product, for that matter.

The basic idea is that any retailer that sell prohibited material to minors aren't allowed to describe themselves as family friendly or similar.

Now that it has been passed by the Senate, the next stop for SB 152 is the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Update: Game Over

20th June 2009. Based on article from gamepolitics.com

Louisiana Senate Bill 152 began life as a clone of Jack Thompson's failed Utah legislation and died quietly this week in the Commerce Committee of the Louisiana House, according to The Old River Road, a blog which tracks Louisiana politics.

Although Crowe's Senate colleagues passed the bill overwhelmingly, House members seemed less impressed. At a hearing earlier this week the bill was diverted to the Commerce Committee.

 

20th June   

Update: 2257 FAQs...

US Justice Dept post FAQs about legal record keeping requirements
Link Here  full story: 2257 Record Keeping...US adut industry onerous requirements

US Dept of Justice The US Justice Department and its Obscenity Prosecution Task Force has posted a list of frequently asked questions and answers pertaining to the most recent revisions for 18 U.S.C. § 2257 regulations, which were issued in December.

The 18 U.S.C. § 2257 regulations govern name- and age-verification, record-keeping and labeling requirements on producers of visual depictions of actual human beings engaged in actual sexually explicit conduct.

The Justice Department's FAQs attempt to define terms including lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area and simulated sexually explicit conduct. The FAQs also include information about which parts of a performer's ID can be redacted, whether records can be kept electronically and the appropriate dating of content.

Adult industry trade group the Free Speech Coalition has announced plans to challenge the revised 2257 regulations. In ongoing litigation against the Justice Department and the 2257 regulations, FSC has asserted that the regulations are burdensome for producers of sexually explicit content and a violation of content producers' First Amendment rights.

 

19th June   

Updated: Black Circles...

A pre-cut Brüno rated 18 at the BBFC
Link Here  full story: Bruno...Supporting the hype for Bruno

Bruno film poster The BBFC has ruled that strong sexual content in three scenes of Brüno made one of the summer's most widely anticipated films unsuitable for the 15 certificate needed to generate a blockbuster audience. The British comic's two previous efforts, Ali G Indahouse and Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, were both rated 15.

A re-edit helped to avert a worse fate in the United States where Brüno was originally awarded a NC-17 rating, meaning that most American cinemas would not have screened it. A revised version was later passed as an “R”, restricted to over 17s or younger teenagers accompanied by an adult.

The same revised version, where black circles were inserted to cover body parts, was presented to the BBFC.

Under the British censor's system which unlike their American equivalent is based partly on public consultation this was insufficient to earn a lower rating. A spokesperson said: We felt that made it worse not better in some scenes because you could not tell what was acted out.

In two of the three most extreme scenes the sex was faked: an outrageous love scene between Brüno and his pygmy boyfriend and a sequence where Brüno mimes a sexual act in explicit detail.

However a third, filmed at a real swinger's party, shows unsimulated sex.

Conor Dignam, editor of the industry magazine Screen International, suggested that they may be gambling that the notoriety of an 18 certificate will merely build anticipation amongst a teenage audience and guarantee an even longer commercial life on DVD and television.

Update: Producers unhappy with 18 certificate

19th June 2009. Based on article from independent.co.uk

18 cert The film's distributor Universal described the 18 certificate as absurd .

There is no question they will lose money because of us. They actually requested the 18 certificate, explained BBFC spokeswoman Sue Clark. They knew very early on, at an advice viewing, that if they wanted a 15 they would have to cut some scenes. They have had plenty of time to do it and have chosen not to.

The scenes deemed unsuitable for a younger audience included an extended sex sequence starring Brüno and his pygmy boyfriend, another in which he mimes oral sex with a ghost of German dance act Milli Vanilli, and a third in which he attends a swingers' party.

Last night, David Kosse, president of Universal Pictures International, said the company had been left with no other option than to submit the film with an 18 request: They requested cuts that were some of the funniest bits of the movie. Ultimately you then know what you are going to get and, at the end of the day, we submitted the film to be an 18. We clearly wanted it to be a 15. In Ireland it is a 16, in the Netherlands a 12 and in America an R. It is absurd that you can see it as a 17-year-old in Dublin but not in London.

Kosse said the cuts would have proved too much of a compromise. Why take a movie that is very, very funny to the rest of the world but say the population of one country cannot see that version?

 

18th June   

Denying Deniers...

Campaign against holocaust denial groups on Facebook
Link Here

Facebook logo Last week's fatal shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in the US capital by a man authorities say has deep ties to white supremacist and neo-Nazi organisations has renewed calls by some for Holocaust denial groups to be shut down on popular social networking sites.

Brian Cuban, an attorney in Texas who writes a blog called The Cuban Revolution , is seeking to have groups such as Facebook's Holohoax and Holocaust: A Series of Lies removed from the site, calling them a hateful form of speech that promotes violence. It's not a historical theory .

Facebook, for its part, has said the existence of such groups, while repulsive and ignorant , does not violate the site's terms of service. Those terms disallow hateful and threatening speech, but officials say the Holocaust groups Cuban is seeking to have removed have not crossed that line. In some countries, Holocaust denial is a crime, though not in the US.

Just being offensive or objectionable doesn't get it taken off Facebook, Barry Schnitt, a Facebook spokesman, told CNN last month: We want it to be a place where people can discuss all kinds of ideas, including controversial ones.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish rights organisation, released a report last month titled Facebook, YouTube: How Social Media Outlets Impact Digital Terrorism and Hate , which said that the extremist use of such sites has grown. It documented a 25% increase in the past year of problematic groups on those sites.

Facebook has taken action in some cases. The site recently disabled the group I Hate Muslims in Oz because it contained an explicit statement of hate . It also removed a Ku Klux Klan group, a blog at CNET.com reported.

It's silly games with semantics, Cuban said in an interview. Because the site doesn't say ‘We hate Jews', and they call it Holocaust denial instead, that does not qualify it as a hate group. It's semantics. It's ignorant semantics and it's naive semantics.

The Holocaust denial groups are relatively small. Holocaust is a Myth listed 64 members on Friday, while Holohoax had 59. A counter-group that has sprung up, United Against Holocaust Denial on Facebook , has grown quickly to 49,000 members.

The Jewish internet Defense Force (JIDF), an online organisation that works to remove material from the internet that supports Islamic terrorism and racial hatred, has launched a letter-writing campaign to 20 companies, including Radio Shack, Sprint, AT&T and Microsoft, that it says advertise on Facebook side-by-side with material which denies the Holocaust. They are asking the companies to pull their ads.

 

16th June   

Update: Freedom Taken for a Ride...

Utah public transport users to be fined for 'inappropriate' internet use
Link Here

Utah state seal Public transport passengers now may face hefty fines for what Utah Transit Authority (UTA) calls inappropriate use of its free Wi-Fi service.

The UTA Board of Trustees approved an ordinance May 27 which targets people viewing pornography, gambling or gaming Web sites using UTA's Web service. Transit police can issue a $300 fine for the first violation and a $500 fine for repeat offenders.

UTA can impose fines for those visiting naughty Web sites while on the train. When it's in the presence of others it should have a certain amount of respect, one passenger told KSL. There are some people on the train who wouldn't want to be exposed to that type of thing, another said.

The new ordinance does not apply to riders using their own wireless card or viewing images they downloaded before they got on, but another ordinance does. People who violate the disorderly conduct ordinance face a $100 fine.

First Amendment lawyers question the policy, largely over what constitutes pornography.

UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter said, There is some question about the subjectivity of what's appropriate and what's inappropriate. He said the new ordinance allows for passengers to appeal a fine.

 

16th June   

Update: Tourism Down...

US law to ignore UK libel judgements passes first step
Link Here  full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad

US Senate A bill in the US to stop libel tourism has been passed by the House Judiciary Committee, the first step to becoming law.

Sponsors of the bill say it has been designed as a way to protect US journalists from libel suits in foreign courts which do not have the same protections for free speech as the US constitution.

Libel tourism is a growing phenomenon, where people travel to the UK to sue for material which would be protected elsewhere.

Congressman Steve Cohen is one of the sponsors of the bill, which aims to prohibit recognition and enforcement of foreign defamation judgments. According to Cohen, who is chairman of the Commercial and Administrative Law Sub-committee, UK libel laws are stifling free speech. He said in a statement: Libel tourism threatens to undermine the principles of free speech because foreign courts often don't place as difficult a burden on plaintiffs in libel cases.

Press Gazette understands that the bill is expected to come up for a vote in the full House of Representatives on Monday. No amendments will be allowed and the bill will require a two-thirds majority rather than a simple majority in order to be passed. The bill would then need to be approved in the Senate.

 

11th June   

Update: Jihard Against Censors...

Civil liberties group in court challenge against town who used building regs for censorship
Link Here

Wafaa Bilal animation The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the city of Troy, New York and its Public Works Commissioner suppressed free speech by shutting down a controversial video game exhibit in March, 2008.

Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal via his Virtual Jihadi exhibit employed a modded PC game which included a mission to blow up then-President George W. Bush. Bilal said that the exhibit was intended to express his view that US policy in Iraq helped create terrorists.

Bilal was offered space to display Virtual Jihadi at the Sanctuary for Independent Media.

The gallery, however, was suddenly shut down for building code violations by Troy's Public Works Commissioner, Robert Mirch. Mirch, who is named as a defendant in the suit, had earlier led a demonstration protesting the exhibit. He called the suit politically motivated.

The Albany Times-Union commented: City officials cannot selectively enforce building codes to shut down an art exhibition they find distasteful. Mr. Mirch abused his authority to suppress the free speech rights of people he disagree with, an unconstitutional act that must be challenged.

According to the Times-Union report, the NYCLU seeks a court order to block the city from using its building code to infringe on civil rights. The suit also seeks damages on behalf of the non-profit which owns the Sanctuary for Independent Media as well as for the gallery's executive director.

 

10th June   

Update: NoUseNet...

US major ISP ends Usenet service
Link Here

at&t logo AT&T has dealt another blow to the internet service known as Usenet.

Sometime next month, the American telecom giant will terminate its entire newsgroup service. Please note that on or around July 15, 2009, AT&T will no longer be offering access to the Usenet netnews service, reads a note sent to AT&T and posted on the company's Usenet servers.

Last July, bowing to pressure from grandstanding New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, AT&T eliminated access to all alt.binary newsgroups. As he had done with AOL, Time Warner Cable, Sprint, and Verizon, Cuomo coaxed AT&T into signing an agreement that cut the cord to 88 newsgroups where state investigations had turned up child abuse images

But like many of its ISP brethren, AT&T chose to extend this ostensible porn crackdown beyond those 88 groups. First they censored the entire alt.binary newsgroup architecture, Now they are halting the entire service.

 

9th June   

Updated: Gambling on a Legality...

US online gaming companies hope to have struck lucky
Link Here  full story: Online Gambling in the US...US censorship problems with online gambling

Minnesota state seal Emerging news stories on the ongoing battle between the state of Minnesota and the online gambling world indicate a victory for online gambling and Internet freedom is near.

The ongoing dispute between Minnesota's Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (AGED) of the states Department of Public Safety and the online world dates from late April, when the division ordered eleven Internet service providers doing business in the state to block access to 199 different Internet domains associated with online gambling. Several prominent poker sites were among those listed.

However, the order was met with a widespread public outcry and appeared to be based on shaky legal ground, using the 1961 Wire Act as its base. Among the first actions against the order was a lawsuit filed by the Interactive Media and Entertainment Gaming Association (iMEGA), which sought to block enforcement of the order. iMEGA represents several online interests and has been involved in other actions on both the state and federal level.

The Poker Players Alliance have now claimed victory in the battle between Minnesota and the online gambling world, claiming that the state was dropping enforcement action, citing an announcement by Minnesota State Rep. Pat Garofalo, who stated that the matter was concluded after the legal position underlying the issuance of the notices was reconsidered.

Update: Minnesota Withdraws Internet Blocking Instructions

9th June 2009. Based on article from pocketfives.com

In breaking news out of Minnesota, the Department of Public Safety's Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division has sent letters to 11 of the world's largest internet service providers (ISPs) withdrawing an earlier mandate to block 200 domain names.

Those at risk included Bodog and Full Tilt Poker, which were among a handful of rooms on the list that accept customers from the United States. On Monday, the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) also withdrew its civil court case against Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division Director John Willems. In total, a crisis seems to have been averted.

 

8th June   

Updated: Bye Bye Grasshopper...

David Carradine dies in Bangkok hotel
Link Here

Kung Fu DVD David Carradine, the actor who starred in 1970s television series Kung Fu and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films, was found hanged in a Bangkok hotel room yesterday.
Thai police are investigating the twin theories that the death was either suicide or a sex game gone wrong. Carradine, 72, was found hanging in a wardrobe with a rope around his neck and other parts of his body.

The actor was in Thailand to shoot a film and checked into the luxury Nai Lert Park Hotel, situated next to the British Embassy. He failed to join crew members for dinner on Wednesday night but they did not raise the alarm, believing him to be resting in his suite. A maid discovered his body at 11.30am on Thursday.

Initially, police said they believed Carradine had committed suicide and were not seeking anyone else in connection with the death. There is no trace of fighting in the hotel room and the room was locked from inside. There is no sign of bruising on his body, police official Pirom Janthapirom said. We are investigating from where he got the rope because it does not seem it was from the hotel.

However, there was no suicide note and an unnamed officer claimed the death may have been an attempt at auto-eroticism.

Carradine is survived by his wife, Annie Bierman, and three children. His agent, Chuck Binder, said the news was shocking. The actor was full of life, always wanting to work... a great person, and had been in good spirits of late Binder said.

We will always remember David Carradine for the stature and strength of character that added so much to many of the low budget movies that he starred in.

Update: Thai Rath Wrath

8th June 2009. Based on article from inquisitr.com

Thai Rath (not the David Carradine cover) The family of the late actor David Carradine are reported to be outraged over a picture of his body published in a Thai newspaper.

The Thai Rath newspaper, a Thai language newspaper ran the picture on its front page, and a larger version inside the paper. The image shows Carradine crouching, although does censor some of the more explicit parts of the shot.

Thai Rath is Thailand's best selling newspaper with a circulation of about a million. It is a tabloid style rag never shying away from lurid pictures of victims of accidents and crimes.

A lawyer for Carradine's family said that The family is outraged about the release of these photos” and that the family sue for invasion of privacy and emotional distress if the David Carradine death photo is run in a United States publication.

 

7th June   

Burn This Book...

Launch of the Free Speech Leadership Council
Link Here

Burn this Book Some 50 publishers, writers and other First Amendment supporters gathered to launch the Free Speech Leadership Council, an advocacy arm of the National Coalition Against Censorship, a non-profit founded in 1974.

Former HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman is the council's chair.

Toni Morrison has long experience with censorship. Her novels Beloved , Song of Solomon and The Bluest Eye have frequently been threatened with removal from library shelves - and sometimes pulled - because of sexual, racial or violent content.

Morrison said the problem was fear - fear of information, dating back to the book of Genesis and the fatal temptation of the Tree of Knowledge.

Knowledge is bad is the Bible's message, Morrison said: It is sinful. It will corrupt you and you will die. And that fear still floats around in the back of the brain.

Also attending was Judy Blume, whose books, too, often show up on lists of banned works. The author, whose novels include Forever and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, joked about being forbidden as a girl to read John O'Hara's novel of a woman's uncontainable sexual desire, A Rage to Live. She first became aware of the book around age 9, when her mother warned not to look at the book, especially a certain page. The library would not allow Blume to borrow it without written permission. When she finally got her hands on it, Blume found the novel very satisfying.

At the end of event, signed copies were handed out of a new release edited by Morrison, Burn This Book , which compiles essays by Morrison, John Updike, Salman Rushdie and others about writing and its risks and challenges.

 

3rd June   

Update: Blocking Free Expression...

US block Cubans from using Microsoft Messenger
Link Here  full story: Axis of Evil...US censor their computer products from export

Cuba flag Cuba have criticized Microsoft for blocking its Messenger instant messaging service on the island and in other countries under US sanctions, calling it yet another example of Washington's harsh treatment of Havana.

The technology giant recently announced it was disabling the program's availability in Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea to come into compliance with a US ban on transfer of licensed software to embargoed countries.

Messenger had previously been used on the island for a decade without Microsoft interference.

Dharmesh Mehta, director of Windows Live Product Management said Microsoft made the change late last year in connection with the last product release of Windows Live Messenger. Microsoft is one of several major Internet companies that have taken steps aimed at meeting their obligations to not do business with markets on the US sanctions list.

Mehta seemed to lay the blame of this censorship at the door of the US government. He said that Microsoft supports efforts to ensure that the Internet remains a platform for open, diverse and unimpeded content and commerce, and that governments should exercise restraint in regulating the Internet.

 

1st June   

Pandering to Nutters...

Nutters get interactive DVD banned from Amazon.com
Link Here

Stockholm Amazon.com have removed an interactive DVD from sale called Stockholm: An Exploration of True Love.

This censorship seems to be in response to a posting at feministing.com:

Amazon sells another video game where you "play" sexual abuser

While we haven't been the biggest fans of Amazon as of late and their history of selling a rape simulation game (which they did end up banning), it looks like another game involving violence against women seems to have "slipped" past their radar. Stockholm: An Exploration of True Love is a game that allows the user to experience,

" ...a terrifyingly vivid exploration of Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition in which a captive falls in love with her kidnapper. And you play the part of the kidnapper. With a limited number of options, you must figure out how to make her fall in love with you."

This includes using poison gas on the victim, sexually assaulting her and using psychological abuse against her in efforts to make her "love" you. Unbelievable.

 

30th May   

Rangers Suck...

Baseball fan offends with 'Yankees Sucks' t-shirt
Link Here

Yankees Suck t-shirt A couple attending a Texas Rangers game for their anniversary was shocked when the Rangers nearly ejected the wife for foul language.

It wasn't what she said. It was a word on what she wore, which she argues was not a cuss word.

Walter Webb and Kristen both wore t-shirts to the game. His read, Rangers . Hers read, Yankees suck.

The word suck, I don't think is that offensive, Walter said. But a security guard told her to turn it inside out, buy another shirt or they would eject her.

Going back five or six years when we added this item based on a number of complaint we'd received from fans at games, said John Blake of the Texas Rangers staff.

 

29th May   

Update: Rated R for Rant...

US Medical Association whinges at smoking in the movies
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

X Men Origins: Wolverine DVD The American Medical Association Alliance, pointing to research that big-screen smoking leads teens to pick up the tobacco habit, called for an R rating for any movie with smoking scenes.

The MPAA head, however, said the smoke has been clearing from youth-rated movies, a result of the film industry's sensitivity to the issue.

The alliance, the medical association's advocacy arm, launched a summer campaign this week aimed at publicly shaming studios into making smoke-free films.

Research has shown that one-third to one-half of all young smokers in the United States can be attributed to smoking these youth see in movies, said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, head of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

Fielding cited another study that he said found that adolescents whose favorite movie stars smoked on screen are significantly more likely to be smokers themselves and to have a more accepting attitude toward smoking.

In all, 56% of the top box office movies with smoking released between May 2007 and May 2009 were youth-rated films -- G, PG or PG-13, Fielding said.

Joan Graves, who chairs the MPAA movie rating committee, offered her own statistics, based on all of the 900 films rated each year, not just the top movies included in Fielding's numbers. The association has given no G ratings in the past two years to a movie with smoking, Graves said.

Overall, 55% of the movies rated in the past two years showed some smoking, but 75% of those with smoking scenes were given R ratings, Graves said. 21% were rated PG-13 and the remaining 5% were PG, she said.

American Medical Association Alliance President Sandi Frost used as her chief example of a movie with gratuitous smoking this month's blockbuster X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which was rated PG-13: Millions of children have been exposed to the main star of the film, Hugh Jackman, with a cigar in his mouth in various scenes. I'm willing to bet that not one child would have enjoyed that movie or Mr. Jackman's performance any less if he hadn't been smoking.

 

29th May   

Update: Facing up to Insensitive Censorship...

Facebook censor breast cancer awareness pictures.
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

Facebook logo After having a mastectomy, Sharon Adams decided to raise awareness of breast cancer by posting photographs of her scar on Facebook.

They were accompanied by a description of the mother of four's fight against the disease and encouragement from her for other women to go for regular check-ups.

But within a day, the social networking site removed the photos after describing them as sexual and abusive.

The action triggered a wave of protest, with nearly 900 people joining an online group calling for the ban to be lifted. Supporters set up a site called Get Sharon Adams' Pictures Back on Facebook for Breast Cancer , which attracted support from across the world.

I put these pictures out on Facebook to put a message out to women - check your breasts regularly and do not ever be ashamed of a mastectomy, said Miss Adams, 45, yesterday: For Facebook to claim they were sexual and abusive was absurd. Facebook has online groups about sexual positions and some groups which are bordering on racist - but they ban this.

Facebook has admitted that it made a mistake. A spokesman said: Our user operations team reviews thousands of reported photos a day and may occasionally remove something-that doesn't actually violate our policies. This is what happened here. We apologise.

 

26th May   

Update: Access of Evil...

Microsoft Messenger withdrawn from Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea
Link Here  full story: Axis of Evil...US censor their computer products from export

Microsoft Microsoft has stopped offering its Windows Live Messenger service to users in five countries that are subject to US sanctions.

People in Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea no longer have access to Microsoft's free, web-based instant-messaging service, Microsoft said.

The US considers each of those countries to be hostile or threatening in some way to its national interests.

 

24th May   

Offsite: No Tits at Facebook...

An insight into Facebook's censorship of flagged content
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

Facebook logo Censors at Facebook have developed semiformal policies like the Fully Exposed Butt Rule, the Crack Rule and the Nipple Rule. In this photo there's no visible areola, he decides, so it stays. After delivering a verdict on 75 of the 438,848 outstanding photos flagged by Facebook users—buff guy soaping up in the shower (OK); girl blowing an epic cloud of pot smoke (he deletes it); an underage user drinking from two liquor bottles at once (ditto)—Axten is off to a meeting. It's just another day at the office of the world's fastest-growing social-networking site.

Axten is one of 150 people Facebook employs to keep the site clean—out of a total head count of 850. Facebook describes these staffers as an internal police force, charged with regulating users' decorum, hunting spammers and working with actual law-enforcement agencies to help solve crimes. Part hall monitors, part vice cops, these employees are key weapons in Facebook's efforts to maintain its image as a place that's safe for corporate advertisers.

It's a tricky job: by insisting that users sign up under real names and refrain from posting R-rated photos, Facebook hopes to widen its user base to include professionals, but it's aware that heavy-handed censorship could upset its existing members.

...Read full article

 

23rd May   

Explicit Hype...

Wal-Mart bans the latest Green Day album
Link Here

Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown Green Day have revealed that 21st Century Breakdown has been banned by US Wal-Mart.

Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said that their number one album will not be carried by the chain: Wal-Mart's become the biggest retail outlet in the country, but they won't carry our record because they wanted us to censor it .

The singer revealed that he and his fellow bandmates refused to edit language and content on their chart topper so it could be sold in the superstore.

A Wal-Mart representative maintains that it is their policy to not carry any CD with a parental advisory sticker: The label and artist in this case have decided not to do so, so we unfortunately can not offer the CD .

 

22nd May   

Shat Upon in Salina...

Whinges about band's local access TV appearance
Link Here

Shat performing Salina resodent Debbie Allen was shocked by what she saw on Salina's Community Access TV Channel 21 at about 2am.

The band Shat were performing at the Blue Goat, a Salina bar at 232 N. Santa Fe.

It's an overweight guy with a beer belly wearing a jock strap or a G-string with a dildo on it, she said. He has a headdress, like a Mohawk with spikes (affixed to a helmet), only they're dildos.

The lead singer's costume featured more dildos on his chest in the shape of a cross. There were also dildos attached to both arms and his shins. Other band members wore masks and adult diapers that appeared to be soiled.

The band was playing head-banger music, Allen said, and freely using foul language to speak and sing about sexually explicit subjects. The lead singer shined a spotlight into the audience, imploring fans to bare their chests.

She phoned Access Television to complain, calling the band's performance pornography.

Access TV serves the entire community, Executive Director Marcia Smith said, and people have the right to produce and broadcast shows within legal limits: That's the reason for public access. It is to bring out views and bring things to light in the community .

When Allen called to complain, Smith pulled the show. I viewed it, and although it's not my taste in a band, I did not find it to be against the policies that we have here. It aired once because I'm obligated to do that, Smith said. As executive director, I do not feel that content is appropriate to be aired several times. Smith determined no further action was needed.
Allen said she has no problem with Shat performing at a local bar: I am not a prude and appreciate eye candy of the male species ...BUT... she said there is no place for performances of that type on Access TV.

 

21st May   

Update: McMaster Stroke Against South Carolina...

Craigslist sue Attorney General for continued duress
Link Here  full story: Website Craigslist...Small ads for sexual services on Criagslist

South Carolina After receiving threats of criminal charges from South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster over its alleged refusal to block prostitution and graphic pornographic ads on the site, Craigslist yesterday sued McMaster, seeking declaratory relief and a restraining order against the charges. In addition to being unwarranted by the facts, legal experts agree that the charges threatened represent an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech, and are clearly barred by federal law, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster wrote in a blog post.

A number of state attorneys general went after Craigslist, prompting the company to voluntarily agree to remove the section entirely, and henceforth manually screen for prostitution or graphic pornography in ads.

McMaster, however, continued to threaten criminal prosecution against the company and its executives.

Despite Craigslist's legal immunity from criminal or civil liability under state law for unlawful third-party content on its website, and despite the numerous good-faith actions that Craigslist has voluntarily taken to deter abuse of its service by third parties ... McMaster has persisted in threats to criminally prosecute Craigslist on the basis of third-party content appearing on the Craigslist website, reads the company's legal complaint.

In a statement on Wednesday, McMaster backpedaled somewhat. Talk of a criminal investigation, supposedly already underway, was replaced with McMaster saying his office will continue to monitor the site to make certain that our laws are respected.

 

21st May   

Update: Games Restriction Law Unterminated...

California appeals to Supreme Court to allow a law restricting the sale of violent games
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

California state seal California Attorney General Jerry Brown has  announced that the state will appeal the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding an injunction allowing violent video games to be sold to minors to the US Supreme Court.

The California Civil Code Sec. 1746.1(a) prohibits anyone from selling or renting a violent video game" – that is, a "game in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being – to a minor, under penalty of a $1,000 fine for each such sale or rental.

This unconstitutionally vague piece of legalese was the brainchild of San Francisco State Sen. Leland Yee, but practically from the moment it was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Oct. 7, 2005, the ban was challenged by the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), which has since become the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA).

On Aug. 6, 2007, U.S. District Judge Ronald M. Whyte issued a permanent injunction against the application of the law; an injunction that was upheld in February of this year by the Ninth Circuit.

EMA Vice-President of Public Affairs Sean Bersell  noted that within the past ten years, eight similar laws have been enacted in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and the cities of St. Louis and Indianapolis, all of which have been ruled unconstitutional by federal courts.

The taxpayers of California should demand that their elected officials stop wasting precious tax dollars on this quixotic quest, Bersell declared.

 

15th May   

Credibility Terminated...

Director talks bollox over cutting Terminator Salvation for a lower rating
Link Here  full story: Terminator Salvation...Hyping up cuts for a lower rating

Terminator Salvation poster Director McG has said that he cut a topless scene of Moon Bloodgood from Terminator Salvation because it felt gratuitous when he looked at it during the edit.

McG said: It just felt like: 'Oh, there's the genre stunt of the good looking girl taking her top off.' It felt counterproductive in the spirit of what we were looking to achieve on a storytelling level.

He said: I suspect it will be on the DVD. I don't know, ask Moon. She was very passionate in sort of a third-wave feminist take on the whole thing. It was a fun conversation to have.

The director had previously said that he would not remove the half-naked scene in order to receive a lower age classification for the movie from the MPAA.

 

14th May   

Update: Not So Erotic Services...

Craigslist buckles under to the mean minded attorney generals
Link Here  full story: Website Craigslist...Small ads for sexual services on Criagslist

Craigslist logo Pressure from US officials has forced classified advertising website Craigslist to pull the shutters down on its controversial sex adverts in favour of a new, closely-monitored system.

Craigslist chief executive Jim Buckmaster said the site would be closing the erotic services category next week. Instead, the site will open a new adult services category, in which every advert will be manually approved by staff before it is seen by members of the public.

Each posting to this new category will be manually reviewed before appearing on the site, to ensure compliance with Craigslist posting guidelines and terms of use, said Buckmaster in a post on the Craigslist blog: We are optimistic that the new balance struck today will be an acceptable compromise.

The website has consistently rejected claims that it encourages prostitution, saying that it had often assisted law enforcement in their investigations and kept records of everybody who had advertised on the site. Despite such protestations, however, the attacks sparked a period of concerted pressure.

After similar public statements by politicians around the US, Buckmaster met with attorneys general from several US states in an attempt to broker a truce. That meeting appears to have led to today's solution, which was greeted positively by officials.

Connecticut attorney general Dick Blumenthal, who was at the meeting last week, said that the change was a good move - but that the site had to prove that it would continue its commitment: We're very encouraged that Craigslist is doing the right thing in eliminating its online red light district with prostitution and pornography in plain sight. We'll be watching and investigating critically to make sure this measure is more than just a name change.

 

14th May   

Update: Virtually Ahead of the Game...

Federal Trade Commission looks into children's access to explicit content in virtual worlds
Link Here  full story: Adult Second Life...Second Life create a separate sdult space

FTC logo At the behest of US Congress, the Federal Trade Commission is looking into children's access to explicit content in virtual worlds.

In 2008 Representative Mark Kirk called on the FTC to issue a parental alert about the virtual sex occurring in Second Life : Sites like Second Life offer no protections to keep kids from virtual rape rooms, brothels, and drug stores. If sites like Second Life won't protect kids from obviously inappropriate content, the Congress will.

Second Life publisher Linden Lab recently announced a plan to restrict underage Second Life users from accessing mature content.

 

14th May   

Update: Searching for Legal Liabilities...

US case sees web hosts yahoo more liable for user posted content
Link Here

Yahoo logo When Oregon resident Cecilia Barnes broke up with her boyfriend, he responded by posting a fake profile of her on Yahoo -- and a particularly nasty one at that. He included nude photos of Barnes as well as her name, address and phone number.

Barnes complained to Yahoo and a company executive promised to take down the profile. Yahoo allegedly reneged on that promise, spurring Barnes to file suit against the company.

Now, in a ruling that could have significant ramifications for Web publishers, a federal appellate court has held that Yahoo could face liability for breach of contract for failing to delete the post.

Yahoo will still have the opportunity to contest Barnes' claims in court, and it's not yet clear that she will be able to prove her case.

Still, the decision potentially leaves Web publishers more vulnerable to new lawsuits stemming from the posts of users. That's because the ruling appears to carve out a new exception to the federal Communications Decency Act -- a law that many attorneys had long thought immunized Web sites from liability for libelous or offensive user comments. In fact, U.S. District Court, Judge Ann Aiken in Oregon originally dismissed Barnes' lawsuit for that reason.

But Barnes appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled last week that the Communications Decency Act created only a "baseline" rule that Web companies need not censor posts. Once a Yahoo employee promised Barnes that the post would be deleted, Yahoo was obligated to do so, according to the court. The decision surprised some observers because it diverges from similar past decisions taken in other courts.

 

11th May   

Nonsense Prevails...

US Pupil wins lawsuit against teacher who described creationism as superstitious nonsense.
Link Here

Quetzalcoatl A US teenager has successfully won a lawsuit against a teacher who described creationism as superstitious nonsense.

Chad Farnan, a devout Christian studying at California's Capistrano Valley high school, persuaded a judge that his European history teacher, James Corbett, violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which courts interpret as banning government employees from promoting, or displaying hostility towards, religion.

Farnan claimed Corbett made comments that were derogatory, disparaging and belittling regarding religion and Christianity in particular .
Farnan spent almost 18 months gathering material against Corbett, compiling a dossier that featured secret recordings of the teacher's remarks.

However, Judge James Selna found that almost all the statements cited by the plaintiff did not violate the establishment cause.  Only one of Corbett's opinions fell foul of the First Amendment – his unequivocal belief that creationism is superstitious nonsense. Judge Selna concluded that there was no legitimate secular purpose to the statement and it constituted improper disapproval of religion in violation of the establishment clause.

In his ruling, the judge said he tried to balance the rights of both parties. He said the case reflected the tension between the constitutional rights of a student and the demands of higher education, as well as the tension between Farnan's religious beliefs and the need for government, especially schools, to carry out their duties free of the strictures of any particular religious or philosophical belief system.

 

10th May   

Hardcore Challenge...

Adult star Stormy Daniels considers standing for the Louisiana Senate seat
Link Here

Stormy Daniels Private Eyes An adult film star named Stormy Daniels has announced her plans to run for the Louisiana Senate seat in 2010, seat currently held by Republican David Vitter, whose family-values reputation was marred when it emerged he had visited prostitutes.

Miss Daniels born in Louisiana, insists she's serious and is spending her own money on a listening tour to hear what people have to say as she considers a possible run, and said she isn't just starting a publicity stunt to promote her work or embarrass Vitter.

Miss Daniels, who is not affiliated to a political party, backs some issues common to many candidates, including bringing troops home sooner from Iraq and replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax. Others are closer to her professional background, including pushing to remove child pornography from the Internet and keeping minors from viewing adult material.

Noting Vitter's conservative stances and his healthy campaign account, Ed Chervenak, a political-science professor at the University of New Orleans, doesn't think a Daniels candidacy would do much damage: It's probably going to be fairly easy for him to ignore her. What it really shows is the lack of any real credible Democratic challenger.

Update: Money Counts

16th April 2010. See  article from  business.avn.com

Adult film star Stormy Daniels has decided not to challenge Republican incumbent David Vitter for his Louisiana Senate seat, according to Politico, which published a planned Tax Day announcement issued by Daniels' team.

The reason is money, the announcement explains, or a relative lack thereof.

The simple fact that David Vitter has $5 million in his bank account pretty much says it all, the Wicked Pictures star said. Against that sheer accumulation of special-interest dollars, I have no legitimate means of winning a race for the United States Senate under these circumstances. As a businesswoman, I know that better than anyone.

 

8th May   

Free Speakers Bullied...

US bloggers worried about law that could make internet insult a crime
Link Here

US Senate American bloggers have reacted angrily to proposals for a new law that could potentially make it illegal to criticise or make fun of somebody online.

Linda Sanchez, a Democratic congresswoman for California, is leading a bill intended to combat cyberbullying – but opponents say the law's limits are vague and threaten freedom of speech.

The bill, which is being submitted to Congress for the second time, proposes that any electronic communication intended to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause substantial emotional distress could be punished with a fine or a prison sentence of up to two years.

According the proposals, the new rules would cover email, blogs, instant messaging and texts.

Opponents are concerned that it could violate the US constitution's first amendment – which guarantees freedom of expression – and threatens valid online criticism.

Eugene Volokh, a professor at the UCLA school of law and one of the most high-profile political bloggers in the US, has attacked the proposals as overbroad and constitutionally vague. Although serious cyberbullying is clearly an unwanted problem, Volokh says the definition of severe could easily lead to the censorship of campaigning blogs, political arguments or even consumer boycotts. This cannot possibly be constitutionally permissible, it cannot possibly be a good idea, it cannot possibly be what the drafters intended, and yet that is what they wrote. If it is passed through Congress, I see it being struck down in courts.

 

8th May   

Update: Listed Under Miserable Gits...

Miserable US attorney generals gunning for erotic services ads on Craigslist
Link Here  full story: Website Craigslist...Small ads for sexual services on Criagslist

Craigslist logo US attorneys general have met with Craigslist to discuss concerns that the free online classified service is being used to advertise prostitution.

We are optimistic that our shared concerns can be addressed while preserving the beneficial aspects of Craigslist...without compromising the quintessentially American values of free speech embodied in our Constitution, the website's chief executive Jim Buckmaster told AFP after the meeting.

Missouri misery attorney general Chris Koster said prior to the meeting that he intended to begin negotiating with Craigslist representatives to eliminate Erotic Services ads that amount to little more than offers of sex for sale.

US law protects Craigslist and other websites from being responsible for content posted by users, the website's lawyers argue.

Craigslist is responsible for the types of advertisements it allows, and it is imperative that Craigslist agree to tougher restrictions and to remove ads for illegal activities from its site, Koster claimed.

 

5th May   

Update: A Long Exposure...

Court bid to re-impose fine for Janet Jackson's boob
Link Here

Janet Jackson's boob The US Supreme Court has ordered a re-examination of a ruling that threw out a fine over Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction during 2004's Super Bowl.

FCC censors had initially fined CBS TV $550,000 (£368,000) in September 2004 for airing the glimpse of Jackson's breast during the broadcast.

But an appeals court quashed it in July last year saying the watchdog acted arbitrarily in issuing the fine.

Now the high court has directed the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to consider reinstating the fine imposed by the FCC.

The order follows a high court ruling last week that upheld the FCC's policy that subjects broadcasters to fines against even single uses of swear words on live television.  Last year, the appeals court threw out the fine against CBS, saying that as the incident lasted nine-sixteenths of one second, it should have been regarded as "fleeting".

Lawyers for CBS had urged the Supreme Court to reject the FCC's appeal.

 

30th April   

Gambling on a Legality...

Minnesota tells ISP to block 200 gambling websites
Link Here  full story: Online Gambling in the US...US censorship problems with online gambling

Minnesota state seal The state of Minnesota has decided to try its hand at Internet censorship. Officials from the Minnesota Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division have commanded Internet service providers to block almost 200 online gambling sites.

To reconcile its action with actual law and statutes, the Division is citing the federal Wire Act of 1961 as the basis for attempting to prevent residents from accessing online casinos. However, federal courts have ruled that the Wire Act pertains only to sports betting, which leaves Minnesota in an uncomfortable legal position.

Officials notified Comcast Cable, AT&T, Charter Communications, and eight other sources of Internet connections to respond within the next two to three weeks. ISP spokesmen had no immediate comment.

 

29th April   

Update: Fleeting Justice...

FCC win their case to censor US TV over fleeting expletives
Link Here

FCC logo The US Supreme Court has ruled that the FCC can penalize broadcasters for airing as little as one single expletive over the air. The decision will not affect cable TV, satellite broadcasts or the Internet, none of which is transmitted over public airwaves.

In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court reversed a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said the FCC's decision to sanction fleeting expletives was arbitrary and capricious under federal law. That court decision had agreed with Fox Television stations, which broadcast the Billboard Music Awards, that such isolated utterances are not as potentially harmful to viewers as are other uses of sexual and excretory expressions long deemed indecent and banned by federal regulators.

Even isolated utterances can be made in vulgar and shocking manner, and can constitute harmful first blows to children, Scalia wrote in the opinion.

Dissenting were liberal Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. In a statement by Breyer, signed by the others, they said the FCC failed adequately to explain why it changed its indecency policy from a policy permitting a single 'fleeting use' of an expletive, to a policy that made no such exception.

The court pointed out that broadcasters can go back to the federal appeals court in New York and argue that the FCC policy violates the 1st Amendment.

Bono's televised strong language at the 2003 Golden Globes led the FCC to reverse a longstanding policy that had punished only repeated expletives and declare that a single use of certain words could be sanctioned as indecent.

The new policy was developed under FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a George W. Bush appointee who resigned in January.

 

28th April   

Update: Listed Under Oppression...

Craigslist says that it will continue with erotic services listing
Link Here  full story: Website Craigslist...Small ads for sexual services on Criagslist

Craigslist logo Craigslist isn't closing down the well-visited erotic services section of the ad-posting site, though it will continue to work to remove inappropriate material.

Appearing on ABC's Nightline site founder Craig Newmark said users already flag questionable postings.

As reported by AVN.com, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to Craigslist outlining steps to combat the proliferation of prostitution and pornography on the ad site, including the banning of photos in the erotic services section and the hiring of staff to screen for violating images.

Despite accusations that Craigslist enables and aids in prostitution, including a lawsuit filed in Illinois by the Cook Country Sheriff's office, Internet legal experts believe such actions won't be effective as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act states websites are immune from liability when users of the site violate state law.

Craigslist has claimed that erotic services postings have dwindled since new restrictions and criteria were put into place.

 

25th April   

Anonymous Sentencing...

US to increase penalties for criminals using internet proxies
Link Here

US Senate Proxy servers used in a crime could soon lead to more time in the clink.

A key vote on new US federal sentencing guidelines would classify the use of proxies as evidence of sophistication, increasing sentences by about 25%. It's akin to judges handing down stiffer sentences when a gun is used in a robbery.

Yet digital-rights advocates are worried. Although they aren't absolving criminals, they complain that the proposal is so broad, it could lead to unnecessarily harsh sentences for tech neophytes who didn't know they were using proxies in the first place or who were simply engaging in a practice often encouraged as a safer way of using the Internet.

It sends a bad message about protecting your own privacy, said John Morris, general counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology: This is the government saying, 'If you take normal steps to protect your privacy, we're going to view you as a more sophisticated criminal.'

Proxies are computers that sit between a user and the Internet at large. They can be used to disguise that person's numeric IP address. Corporations routinely use proxies to let their employees work from home; virtual private networks, or VPNs, make traffic look like it's coming from within the company's internal network, thus bypassing its security firewalls.

 

24th April   

Hated Law...

Hate Crimes Act debated in US legislature
Link Here

US Senate The US House Judiciary Committee is debating hate crimes legislation that seeks to add homosexual and transgender people to a list of specially protected categories of people under federal law.

HR 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Act of 2009 , would add sexual orientation, gender and gender identity to a list of federally protected classes that already include race, religion, color, or national origin.

During the debates, Republican lawmakers attempted to include members of the military, seniors, unborn babies and pregnant women in the measure but Democrats rejected the proposed amendments.

Rep. Steve King sought to change the name of the legislation to Local Law Enforcement Thought Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. This hate crimes bill is actually a bill to control our thoughts, said King, while citing George Orwell's 1984 : The party is not interested in the overt act, the thought is all we care about.

John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties organization, said the legislation is riddled with problems. The problem, which few want to acknowledge for fear of being labeled politically incorrect, or worse homophobic, is that in order to crack down on hateful behavior, hateful thoughts and expression must also be targeted-which runs diametrically counter to the First Amendment's protections for free speech and expression.

Conservative groups say that the legislation would violate the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law for all citizens, by granting special protections to some victims and not to others.

Update: Expanded hate

1st May 2009, See article from christianpost.com

The U.S. House of Representatives has now passed the expanded hate crimes bill.

The expanded hate crimes bill seeks to add violence against individuals based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability to the list of federal hate crimes.

The bill is now headed for the Senate, which Obama urged to work with his administration to finalize this bill and to take swift action.

The president had urged both sides of the House to pass the legislation that will enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association.

 

23rd April   

Bitching at Ali G...

Ali G wins the right to speak absurd gibberish
Link Here

Da Ali G Show Season 2 Channel Four claimed a landmark victory yesterday when a US judge ruled that Ali G, the character created by Sacha Baron Cohen, is so absurd that no reasonable person would take him literally.

Heddi Cundle, a British-born woman who now lives in the US, was seeking damages for what she claimed were defamatory comments made on HBO television in 2004.

Interviewing the American writer Gore Vidal, Ali G was talking abut the US being constitution constantly amended.

He explained: Me used to go out with this bitch called Heddi Cundle and she used to always be trying to amend herself. Y'know, get her hair done in highlights, get like tattoo done on her batty crease, y'know gave the whole thing shaved very nice but it didn't make any more difference. She was still a minger.

Ms Cundle, who met Cohen 20 years ago in Israel, claimed that these comments were untrue and damaging. HBO twice settled out of court, but Channel Four, which holds the worldwide rights, fought the action.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Friedman said: The Ali G character is absurd, and all his statements are gibberish and intended as comedy. No reasonable person could think otherwise.

C4 controller Prash Naik said: This is an important ruling for Channel 4 and sends out a clear signal that we will not hesitate to fight unmeritorious claims of this nature.

 

23rd April   

Offsite: American Compromise...

What does 'Rated R' really mean?
Link Here

R Rating How the MPAA's inflexibility keeps parents from figuring out which films are really offensive -- and which just touch on politically sensitive subjects

As a film critic, I want artists free to photograph anything they want, outside of child pornography.

As a father, I want to be given enough advance information so I can make up my own mind about what I let my son and daughter see.

These desires aren't necessarily in opposition.

Yet, more and more, the Motion Picture Association of America -- whose ratings, begun in 1968, are supposed to provide that freedom and that information -- fails miserably at both, confusing parents and censoring filmmakers.

...Read part 1 from nj.com
...Read part 2 from nj.com

 

21st April   

Ten Years After...

The blame game 10 years on from Columbine
Link Here

Bowling for Columbine Ten years ago, Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered their campus armed to the teeth and killed 12 students and one teacher, and wounded 23 other people. Then they killed themselves.

In the hysteria following the tragedy, many people attempted to blame video games for the violence. A decade later, Youth Radio's Noah Nelson looks at whether the correlation between video games and violence correlation is still all the rage. From Youth Radio:

What we’ve found is that violent crime has decreased dramatically starting in 1996 while video games sales have soared. More than doubling last year, said Dan Hewitt, a spokesman for the Entertainment Software Association the trade association for the video game industry. He cites a report that contrasts the Department of Justice numbers on violent crime and sales figures for games. Hewitt contends that if there was some type of causal connection between video games and real life violence that the rate of real lifer violence would actually be going up, but actually the opposite is true.

Dr. Karen Sternheimer, a professor of Sociology at USC says that because a game is interactive it seems like logically that it could cause some kind of casual effect. She notes that the decline in the rate of violence is most notable in youth, especially juveniles. While the data and the perceived connection don’t agree, the perception remains compelling because it’s really easy for us to understand. The professor points to Dave Cullen’s recent book on Columbine that paints a picture of Klebold and Harris as not just everyday kids who played video games, and just kind of became crazy from too many video games. These were seriously disturbed individuals. We make a really big mistake when we overlook issues like that.

 

17th April   

Update: Bruno Censored...

Supporting the hype for Bruno
Link Here  full story: Bruno...Supporting the hype for Bruno

Bruno publicity still Universal Studios have announced that Bruno is officially an R-rated movie. The MPAA's rating board toned down the NC-17 rating to R rating reportedly after viewing a new edit of the film.

Of the new rating, the board explained that the movie contains pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language.

 

15th April   

Investing in Repression...

Goldman Sachs bully critical blogger
Link Here

Goldman Sachs logo Goldman Sachs is attempting to shut down a dissident blogger who is extremely critical of the investment bank, its board members and its practices.

The bank has instructed Wall Street law firm Chadbourne & Parke to pursue blogger Mike Morgan, warning him in a recent cease-and-desist letter that he may face legal action if he does not close down his website.

Florida-based Morgan began a blog entitled Facts about Goldman Sachs just a few weeks ago.

Goldman Sachs Information, Comments, Opinions and Facts

This website has NOT been approved by Goldman Sachs, nor does this website have any affiliation with Goldman Sachs. This website was designed to provide information about Goldman Sachs direct from the public, and NOT from Goldman Sachs's marketing and public relations departments.

According to Chadbourne & Parke's letter, dated April 8, the bank is rattled because the site violates several of Goldman Sachs' intellectual property rights and also implies a relationship with the bank itself.

Morgan claims he has followed all legal requirements to own and operate the website – and that the header of the site clearly states that the content has not been approved by the bank. On a special section of his blog entitled Goldman Sachs vs Mike Morgan he predicts that the fight will probably end up in court.

It's just another example of how a bully like Goldman Sachs tries to throw their weight around, he writes.

 

13th April   

Gay and De-listed...

Amazon.com hides away gay books that it deems adult
Link Here

Amazon.com logo Amazon.com recently de-listed gay and lesbian titles from its sales ranking system it deemed adult , raising the ire of some who characterize the move as online censorship.

Author Mark R. Probst wrote on his blog Sunday that he noticed the change a few days ago:

On Amazon.com two days ago, mysteriously, the sales rankings disappeared from two newly-released high profile gay romance books: Transgressions by Erastes and False Colors by Alex Beecroft. Everybody was perplexed. Was it a glitch of some sort? The very next day HUNDREDS of gay and lesbian books simultaneously lost their sales rankings, including my book The Filly . There was buzz, What's going on? Does Amazon have some sort of campaign to suppress the visibility of gay books?

Probst, the author of a novel with gay characters in the Old West, said he was perplexed by the move and used his status as a publisher to contact Amazon for an explanation. He said he received the following response from an Amazon Advantage service representative:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

Of course, being delisted from the rankings doesn't mean that the book giant has stopped selling the title; it just means that the title won't show up with a public sales ranking or in the best-seller lists--often a factor in how shoppers make their purchases.

 

12th April   

Cybersecurity Act of 2009...

US Government to grab control of the internet in the name of security
Link Here

US Senate There's a new bill working its way through Congress that is cause for some alarm: the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, introduced by Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe. The bill as it exists now risks giving the federal government unprecedented power over the Internet without necessarily improving security in the ways that matter most. It should be opposed or radically amended.

Essentially, the Act would federalize critical infrastructure security. Since many of our critical infrastructure systems (banks, telecommunications, energy) are in the hands of the private sector, the bill would create a major shift of power away from users and companies to the federal government.

One proposed provision gives the President unfettered authority to shut down Internet traffic in an emergency and disconnect critical infrastructure systems on national security grounds goes too far. Certainly there are times when a network owner must block harmful traffic, but the bill gives no guidance on when or how the President could responsibly pull the kill switch on privately-owned and operated networks.

Furthermore, the bill contains a particularly dangerous provision that could cripple privacy and security in one fell swoop: The Secretary of Commerce— shall have access to all relevant data concerning (critical infrastructure) networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access…

In other words, the bill would give the Commerce Department absolute, non-emergency access to all relevant data without any privacy safeguards like standards or judicial review. The broad scope of this provision could eviscerate statutory protections for private information. Even worse, it isn’t clear whether this provision would require systems to be designed to enable access, essentially a back door for the Secretary of Commerce that would also establish a primrose path for any bad guy to merrily skip down as well.

A privacy threat still in the cocoon is the provision mandating a study of the feasibility of an identity management and authentication program with just a nod to appropriate civil liberties and privacy protections. There’s reason to fear that this type of study is just a precursor to proposals to limit online anonymity. But anonymity isn’t inherently a security problem. What’s “secure” depends on the goals of the system. Do you need authentication, accountability, confidentiality, data integrity? Each goal suggests a different security architecture, some totally compatible with anonymity, privacy and civil liberties. In other words, no one identity management and authentication program is appropriate for all internet uses.

The Cybersecurity Act is an example of the kind of dramatic proposal that doesn't address the real problems of security, and can actually make matters worse by weakening existing privacy safeguards – as opposed to simpler, practical measures that create real security by encouraging better computer hygiene. We’ll be watching this bill carefully to ensure that it doesn’t pass in its present form.

 

11th April   

Meet Your Ancestral Censors...

Harold Ramis cuts Year One for a PG-13
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Year One poster Despite a personal appeal from director Harold Ramis and producer Judd Apatow, the MPAA refused to lift the R-rating on Year One .

Since Ramis, Apatow and Sony lost their one and only appeal, that meant one of two things could happen: they could release the film with an R-rating or they could cut it down to a PG-13. They chose the latter.

The MPAA revisited the film and has now given the film a PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, brief strong language and comic violence.

The PG-13 rating was sought on the grounds that it would help bring in some of Michael Cera's teen fans and hopefully give the film a better chance to break even.

 

8th April   

That's Blog's Truth...

US advert censors look to include bloggers in their remit
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FTC logo The US advertising censor, The Federal Trade Commission recently released proposed changes to their Consumer Product Testimonial and Endorsement Rules.

All the usual ideals about fairness and evidence of claims etc but one new direction is that they are looking to include bloggers in their remit.

The FTC addressed advertising in new media (Web 2.0). Essentially, if an advertiser pays a blogger to write a review endorsing a product or service, the advertiser and the blogger must disclose the financial relationship. In addition, both blogger and advertiser both will be liable for any false or unsubstantiated claims regarding results of products or services.

  1. When using bloggers to endorse product or services, advertisers should make certain that their products do what they claim to do. Advertisers should extensively test products, run trials, and document evidence that substantiate results for most individuals.
     
  2. Advertisers should provide data to bloggers that evidence typical results for most individuals. Advertisers should stress to bloggers that if the product does not produce the desired results as documented, do not write a favorable review.
     
  3. Advertiser should include disclaimers on consumer endorsements that state that results are typical of most individuals using the products. However, if a consumer achieves an unfavorable result, it is atypical and may be based on a variety of personal factors unknown to the advertisers.
     
  4. When writing a favorable review or endorsement of a product, bloggers should always disclose they received the product for free or was paid to write the review.
     
  5. Bloggers should always give their true opinion of the product whether paid or not.
     
  6. Bloggers should post any product disclaimers and company trials or evidence substantiating your review of the product.

 

8th April   

Mail Censors...

Supporting the Hype for Anchor Bay's Look
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Look DVD T he United States Postal Service (USPS) has refused to mail 800 postcards promoting the May 5 DVD release of Anchor Bay's Look . The postcards feature a man in his boxers with his pants around his legs, a woman’s legs wrapped around him, as they fool around in a retail warehouse. There is no nudity in the scene, which has It is LEGAL for your company to get permission to install HIDDEN CAMERAS IN THE WORKPLACE! written above it.

Look advert The mailing house that was sending the cards received a letter from the USPS, telling them the postcards could only be mailed in envelopes, citing United Stated Code 3010, Paragraph D, which prohibits the mailing of any sexually oriented advertisement, meaning any advertisement that depicts, in actual or simulated form, or explicitly describes, in a predominantly sexual context, human genitalia, any act of natural or unnatural sexual intercourse, any act of sadism or masochism, or any other erotic subject directly related to the foregoing.

Look takes on the lack of privacy for Americans today, with more than 30 million surveillance cameras, reality TV, Webcams and more constantly monitoring our daily moves.

 

7th April   

Return of Media Coverage...

Obama overturns ban on media coverage of the homecoming of fallen soldiers
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US flag For the first time since the Obama administration reversed an 18-year-old ban on news coverage of returning fallen soldiers, the military allowed media to cover the arrival tonight of an airman killed in Afghanistan.

The arrival of remains of Staff Sgt. Phillip A. Myers, a 30-year-old supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, at Dover Air Force Base at 11 p.m. today marked the first time that the transfer of any of the nearly 5,000 U.S. troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan was open to the media. The transfer of the flag-draped casket was carried out with great dignity, for the seven family members present.

In February, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates lifted the ban on media coverage of returning war dead, ending what some have called an era of censorship enforced by President George W. Bush.

Under the new policy, Myers' family was given the option of whether to admit the media and they chose to let news media cover the dignified transfer.