US neo-soul singer Erykah Badu has been charged with disorderly conduct for stripping naked on a street among pedestrians for her music video shoot.
She ended by re-enacting receiving a fatal gunshot to the head at the spot in Dallas where President John F Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
Sergeant Warren Mitchell said Badu was charged after a witness offered a sworn statement to police.
The singer, who was born in Dallas, performed a walking striptease in front of tourists and pedestrians during the shoot in Dealey Plaza on 13 March for her video for the song Window Seat.
Sgt Mitchell claimed that the police department has had people calling from all across the country to express their concern . After much discussion, we feel that these charges best fit her conduct. She disrobed in a public place without
regard to individuals and small children who were close by.
He said Badu can either fight the charge or pay the fine. Disorderly conduct is punishable by a fine of up to $500 (£328)..
Google's Chinese search engine was defying local law by returning links involving the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and the Xinjiang independence movement, according to a report from NBC News.
NBC was able to access previously-censored links from Google.cn, including the famous 1989 image of a lone man blocking a line of Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square. A search for tank man in Chinese characters on the search engine returned just one link
to the photo - though several are available from the company's engine overseas.
Meanwhile, searching for Tiananmen Square massacre , Xinjiang independence and Tibet Information Network turned up long lists of previously censored results.
NBC did say, however, that search results were erratic and that in some cases, access to verboten sites was indeed denied.
Google is expected to announce the closure of google.cn by as early as April 10 after the Chinese government refused to acquiesce to demands that it stop self-censorship of the site.
It is understood that Google will continue to operate other services in the country and will maintain its research and development operations.
It is understood that Sergey Brin, who founded Google with Larry Page while the pair were students at Stanford University, has been personally involved with the investigation into gmail attacks and the decision to withdraw from China.
Reports from China said Google will compensate the division's employees following the closure.
Update: China whinge at Google for highlighting Chinese censorship
China hit back at Google last night after the internet search giant closed its flagship Chinese site, carrying out a threat issued two months ago in a dispute over censorship.
The company stopped censoring its search results in China and redirected users of the Google.cn service to its uncensored Google.com.hk site based in Hong Kong. The White House, which had backed Google in its dispute, expressed disappointment that
an American company felt compelled to take such a drastic step.
Beijing isssued a furious riposte to Google, accusing it of violating the terms of the agreement it made when it opened its self-censored Chinese search engine in 2006. An official in charge of the Internet Bureau of the State Council Information Office
said: This is totally wrong. We're uncompromisingly opposed to the politicisation of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts.
The world's largest internet company has been in talks for two months with Beijing over its threat to shut down its Chinese-language search engine and close its offices, rather than kowtow to government censors. It delivered the ultimatum after alleged
cyber attacks aimed at its source code and at the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. The company said the attacks originated in China.
Although we have gained market share, it has become more and more difficult for us to operate there. Particularly when it comes to censorship. We have had to censor more. More and more pressure has been put on us. It has gotten appreciably worse and
not just for us, for other internet companies too.
So we increasingly came to feel that the original premise of our entry into China was being undermined. We thought when we went in that we could help to open the country and things could get better by our being there. Things seemed to be getting worse.
And what happens now?
We don't know what to expect. We have done what we have done. We are fully complying with Chinese law. We're not operating our search engine within the Firewall any more. We will continue to talk with them about how to operate our other services.
A Nigerian Islamic Sharia court has banned Twitter and Facebook debates on the country's first wrist amputation for theft, according to court papers seen by AFP.
A Kaduna court ordered the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), one of the country's leading rights groups, to suspend its Twitter and Facebook online debates on the amputation, which was carried out in 2000.
The court granted an interim injunction restraining the respondents either by themselves or their agents... from opening a chat forum on Facebook, Twitter, or any blog for the purpose of the debate on the amputation of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe, said the order.
Jangebe was the first person to have had his right hand amputated on the orders of a Sharia court in Zamfara State, a year after 12 northern Nigerian states adopted the strict Islamic penal code.
The order followed a suit filed by the Association of Muslim Brotherhood of Nigeria, a pro-Sharia group based in the northern political capital of Kaduna, which argued that Internet forums would be used as a mockery of the Sharia system as negative
issues will be discussed .
International shortwave radio monitors have confirmed that VOA broadcasts in the Amharic language are being jammed in Ethiopia.
The static began February 22 on all five VOA shortwave frequencies aimed at East Africa in the 25 and 31-meter shortwave bands.
The other foreign broadcast heard in Ethiopia, the German government's Deutsche Welle Amharic language program, also reports experiencing some interference, in the past few days.
VOA and Deutsche Welle were jammed around the time of the last parliament election in 2005, and again before the 2008 nationwide local elections. The next crucial parliament vote is scheduled for May 23.
Ethiopian officials have often described VOA's Amharic Service as the voice of the opposition , saying its broadcasts reveal an anti-government bias.
The Voice of America is a multi-media international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government. VOA broadcasts more than 1,500 hours of news and other programming every week in 49 languages.
The United States condemned Ethiopia's blocking of Voice of America broadcasts.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi earlier admitted to jamming the US government-funded VOA broadcasts in Amharic, saying he was prepared to censor the broadcasts because of the service's destabilizing propaganda.
The Ethiopian government has been accused of blocking the website of US broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) as a row over press intimidation continues to escalate in the Horn of Africa. Residents of the capital Addis Ababa have been unable to access the
site since early on Sunday,
The Motion Picture Association of America has relaunched its film ratings website, www.filmratings.com, with enhanced features.
The official website of the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA) features an expanded printable database of films rated all the way back to 1968, when the ratings system was created. Users can search by title, year of release or rating.
Other features include detailed explanations of the process and history of the system, ratings definitions, answers to frequently asked questions and a place for parents to sign up for Red Carpet Ratings, a free weekly email service that provides ratings
information on current films.
The outgoing chairman Dan Glickman said the purpose of the revamped site is to bring added transparency to the ratings process.
The sole purpose of the ratings system is to provide parents with clear and concise information about the content of a film in order to help them determine whether a movie is suitable for their children . We overhauled our film ratings website
so that we can continue to provide additional clarity, enhanced information and added transparency about the system to maximize our communication with parents.
All of our film raters share one essential attribute: parenthood! Each time we rate a movie we ask the primary question, 'What would I want to know about this film before I decide to let my child see it?' Joan Graves, chairman of CARA, said in a
statement. Our goal is to help make parents' jobs easier, by providing clear information about films so parents can make choices for their kids according to their values, keeping in mind their children's individual sensitivities. It's a responsibility
we take seriously, and we are excited to have a more user-friendly website to provide information to parents on the ratings process and about the ratings themselves.
The site also features a section on the MPAA's Advertising Administration, which ensures that movie advertising is appropriately placed before the right audience. Every film that is submitted for an MPAA rating is required to have its advertising
approved by the Advertising Administration before it is displayed to the public.
The Advertising Administration reviews about 60,000 pieces of film advertising annually, including theatrical, home video and online trailers; print ads; radio and TV spots; billboards; posters; and other promotion materials.
A Minnesota lawmaker wants state employees to stay out of hotels with violent porn while traveling for work.
A bill sponsored by Democratic Senator Tarryl Clark of St. Cloud could prohibit spending public dollars at in-state hotels or meeting facilities that provide their customers with pornographic materials that link sex with violence. Non-violent adult
movies would be OK.
The bill gets a hearing in a Senate committee on Wednesday.
The Department of Administration would keep a directory of approved facilities to help employees plan travel.
A bill that would prohibit state employees and elected officials from spending public dollars at hotels that offer customers access to violent pornographic movies has passed unanimously out of a Senate committee.
The measure, introduced by Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, cleared the Senate's State and Local Government Operation and Oversight Committee and will proceed directly to the floor.
The legislation allows for state employees to ignore the prohibition if there's no porn-free facility available. But they're required to provide a written explanation as to why they opted to stay in a hotel providing access to pornographic materials. The
legislation defines that term as a sexually explicit image or performance that objectifies or exploits its subjects by eroticizing domination, degradation, or violence.
Only one person testified against the bill. Francis Jenkins White told legislators that sexual role play involving blindfolds or handcuffs is perfectly natural and should not be regulated in any way by the state. The bill is a classic case of trying
to regulate someone's thoughts and desires, he said.
The only senator who expressed some misgivings about the legislation was Claire Robling, GOP-Jordan. She noted that pornography is all over the Internet and that the legislation would do little to limit access to such materials. Someone coming in with
a computer could still be viewing it, Robling said.
A Minnesota House committee has voted down a bill that would have prevented state employees from using state funds at hotels or meeting facilities in the state that provide pay-per-view violent porn for guests.
The bill, HF 3287, which was introduced on March 1 by Larry Haws was taken up by the State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee, but didn't make it out.
The Senate version, SF 2861, was introduced in late February by Tarryl Clark, and passed the State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee last week.
Language from the House version included:
Constitutional officers, members of the legislature, an agency and its employees must ask if a facility is a preferred site and must use a preferred site when selecting lodging or facilities for state employees traveling on state
business and when selecting facilities for conferences, meetings, education or training sessions, and similar events in Minnesota sponsored by state agencies unless:
Preferred site means lodging that can demonstrate, upon request, that it has adopted clean hotel policies and procedures;
Clean hotel policies and procedures means reasonable policies and procedures that eliminate within the facility the availability of sexually explicit work with depictions of sexual conduct that objectifies and exploits its
subjects by eroticizing domination, degradation, or violence.
When I excitedly flicked on one of my favorite movies, Hustle & Flow , when I saw it was being aired on MTV this weekend, I was reminded of how weirdly obsessed it remains with being safe and politically correct concepts that are
squarely at odds with its reputation as a destination for disaffected youth.
The movie is a great fit for the network, since it's about an aspiring rap star, and even co-stars Ludacris, a real-life rap star who is an MTV mainstay. But the plot revolves around a man who makes his living as a pimp who deals drugs on the side. When
I tuned in, Terrence Howard's character was handing a client a bag of weed, a delivery that the network blurred out. Bleeping out language that will get your network fined is one thing; but censoring objects and content in a movie that is all about
offensive objects and content is futile either air a movie about a drug dealer, or don't. But don't air a movie about a drug dealer then blur everything associated with dealing drugs.
Don't smoke kids.
Smoking addles the brain and
you may turn into a barmy researcher
The analysis of hundreds of films released in the past decade found that young Britons see more cigarette use in movies than their US counterparts because the UK censors judge more films to be family friendly.
Researchers warn that the more smoking adolescents witness onscreen, the more their chances of taking up the habit increases, with those who see the most tobacco use about three times more likely to start smoking than those who watch the least.
The study, compiled by Dr Christopher Millett of Imperial College London and Professor Stanton Glantz of California University, advocated an overhaul of the ratings system: Awarding an 18 rating to films that contain smoking would create an economic
incentive for motion picture producers to simply leave smoking out of films developed for the youth market .
The researchers assessed the number of onscreen smoking or tobacco occurrences in 572 top grossing films in the UK between 2001 and 2006, including 546 screened in the United States, plus 26 high-earning films released only in the UK. They then divided
the total box office earnings of each film by the year's average ticket price to calculate the estimated number of tobacco impressions delivered to audiences for each film.
Among the films assessed, over two thirds featured tobacco. Of these more than nine out of ten were classified as suitable for adolescents (15 or 12A) under the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) system.
The study, which will be published in Tobacco Control, found that in all, 5.07 billion tobacco impressions were delivered to UK cinema-going audiences during the period, of which 4.49 billion were delivered in 15 and 12A rated films. Because 79% of the
films rated only for adults in the US (R) were classified as suitable for young people in the UK young Britons were exposed to 28% more smoking impressions in 15 or 12A rated movies than their US peers.
Dr Millett said: The decision to classify a film as appropriate for youths clearly has economic benefits for the film industry. A film classification policy that keeps on-screen smoking out of films rated suitable for youths would reduce this
exposure for people under 18 years of age and probably lead to a substantial reduction in youth smoking.
However, Sue Clark, spokeswoman for the BBFC, said imposing an 18 rating on films which feature scenes of smoking is not going to happen .
She said: Sometimes smoking is included in a film for reasons of historical accuracy. The only time we would consider stepping in is if we felt a film was actively promoting smoking. But I have never seen a film that did that.
Wikileaks have published a 2008 U.S. counterintelligence investigation into WikiLeaks.
It reports: The possibility that current employees or moles within DoD or elsewhere in the U.S. government are providing sensitive or classified information to Wikileaks.org cannot be ruled out.
It then suggests a plan to fatally marginalize the organization. Since WikiLeaks uses 'trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers or whisteblowers, the report recommends The identification,
exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistlblowers could potentially damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the
Wikileaks.org Web sit .
The ongoing feud between brick-and-mortar video store owners and the DVD kiosk industry is heating up in one Indiana county, where retailers with Redbox and MovieCube kiosks have been told to remove all DVDs rated above G or face prosecution under
Paul Black an attorney representing the owner of several area video stores, convinced the Vanderburgh County prosecuting attorney to send letters to roughly a dozen retailers with DVD kiosks earlier this year, telling them to stop providing access to
videos, movies, games, etc. that contain an R or PG rating or are unrated.
The letter goes on to warn that the county sheriff's office will follow up to see that your kiosks no longer contain these videos which are prohibited to be disseminated to minors. The letters site Indiana state law, which calls for class D felony
charges against a person who knowingly or intentionally disseminates matter to minors that is harmful to minors.
We asked the local prosecuting attorney to look into whether these kiosks could possibly violate state law, Black said. We're not on a particular crusade ...BUT... you can just walk up to any of these kiosks and rent adult material.
There's a danger in availability. We card people in liquor stores, minors don't have access to cigarette machines. This is a level playing field issue.
First, overall, we have clear processes in place to restrict the rental of DVDs to the appropriate age of consumer, and we believe our kiosks are being operated in full compliance with the law, said NCR spokesman Jeff Dudash. The kiosks are
operated consistent with the industrywide practices for DVD vending kiosks all over the United States.
Gary Cohen, SVP of marketing and customer experience for Redbox said: Confirmation of age is a requirement of Redbox, he said. When renting a movie from Redbox, customers must confirm they are 18 years of age or older with a valid debit or
In the event a customer selects an 'R'-rated title, the customer must confirm they are 18 years of age to proceed with their rental. Whether renting movies online, from a kiosk, from a store or purchasing content from the Web, parental supervision is the
most important factor in entertainment access and selection.
Cohen also noted that the courts have uniformly ruled that attempts to restrict rentals based on Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings violate the First Amendment.
Cops ordered a New Jersey family to cover up their snowlady after receiving a complaint that the frosty front yard figure was X-rated.
While neighboring snowmen were allowed to flaunt their nudity with coal-eyed jauntiness, Elisa Gonzalez and her kids heeded the warning from the police.
They dressed their controversial snowlady in a green bikini top and hip-hiding blue sarong.
I thought she looked more objectified and sexualized after you put the bikini on, Gonzalez, 44, of Rahway told the Newark Star-Ledger.
Gonzalez, a court reporter, said her family's twist on the favorite winter pastime was influenced by the armless ancient Greek statue Venus de Milo. She admits the snowbabe was curvaceous, bodacious and booty-licious - but hardly obscene.
Rahway police received an anonymous complaint of a naked snow woman and dispatched an officer to Gonzalez's Colonia Blvd. home to investigate. Gonzalez said the cop who came to her house said, It's very good, adding that the cop was
apologetic about asking her to tone down the display.
The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) sent a letter to Temecula, California, City Management protesting the
censorship of an artwork to be displayed at a city-owned gallery.
Jeff Hebron's painting, which had been selected for inclusion in Visual Expressions 2010, was removed from the exhibition because it depicted a nude figure.
I am writing on behalf of the National Coalition Against Censorship, an alliance of over 50 national non-profit organizations united in defense of free expression, regarding the removal of Jeff Hebron's work from Visual
Expressions 2010. The removal of the artwork from an exhibition at the gallery of The Merc, a city-owned theater and gallery space, raises serious First Amendment concerns. We urge the City to apologize for removing Mr. Hebron's work and to draft
exhibition policies that are consistent with First Amendment principles.
It is our understanding that Mr. Hebron's work, which had been selected for inclusion in Visual Expressions 2010 based on its artistic merit, was removed from the exhibition upon a request by the City Management. Apparently,
according to the City Management, a painting of a nude figure does not belong in a gallery where families with children may come.
It is not the role of a public official to shield the eyes of the public from work because he subjectively decides it is not family-friendly. As a public gallery, the gallery at The Merc is governed by the free speech
clause in the First Amendment, meaning that the selection of art in the gallery should be based on viewpoint-neutral criteria such as creative excellence, cultural significance and intellectual richness. The arbitrary, subjective, and vague
determination of what might be appropriate for the venue has led in this case to the impermissible imposition of an individual's viewpoint on the whole community and is likely to be found in violation of First Amendment principles.
Simple nudity is not sufficient ground for excluding artwork from public exhibition. If it were, a vast amount of great art, including masterpieces like Michelangelo's David, would be off limits.
We urge you to reconsider your decision in this matter and make it clear to the public through a carefully drafted policy that work like the one you recently censored will be allowed in future exhibitions at the gallery
at The Merc and other City venues.
Svetlana Mintcheva Director of Programs National Coalition Against Censorship
Update: Temecula does not believe in censorship...BUT...
After days of silence, the city of Temecula has accepted responsibility for the removal of a nude oil portrait from the Visual
Expressions 2010 exhibit at The Merc in Old Town. Jeff Hebron's nude oil portrait was removed from the Visual Expressions 2010 exhibit at The Merc by Temecula city officials because of concern that children would view it.
Temecula Mayor Jeff Comerchero said that Temecula artist Jeff Hebron was sent a letter of apology in which the city expressed remorse for the withdrawal last month of Hebron's nude oil portrait from the exhibit.
The city's not in the censorship business, he said: ...BUT... neither does the city want the reputation of exposing children to art that's not appropriate.
SWRNN obtained a copy of the letter that was signed by the mayor. In it Comerchero said, On behalf of the City of Temecula, I wish to apologize to you for the removal of your art work.
Hebron said that he was aware that a letter of apology was offered by the city and that he was overwhelmed and thrilled at the gesture: It was never my intention to make the city look bad, but the First Amendment is important. We're
Americans. All I am asking for is the chance for people to see my art and let them make their own judgments, Hebron said.
My take is the whole manufactured controversy over Lionsgate's red-band Kick-Ass trailers is pretty simple. At the end of the day, trailers are supposed to give you an accurate look at what kind of movie you're going
to be seeing. Granted, not every trailer accomplishes this, and many are quite deceptive, but that's the general idea. At the end of the day, red-band trailers for R-rated movies are more likely to be accurate in regards to tone and content than
an all-ages green-band trailer. So, one could argue, that studios make red-band trailers to best advertise the kind of movie that they are selling. And, they do take certain steps to make sure that said previews are not easily viewed by those who
otherwise wouldn't be allowed to see such films. Of course kids will invariably get around these barriers, but that's the nature of childhood.
But here's the issue: Let's say that Lionsgate didn't put out these R-rated trailers, specifically for a film that could easily be advertised as a family-friendly PG-13 superhero comedy about teenagers becoming costumed
vigilantes. Frankly, profanity and violence aside, the film feels aimed at ten-year old boys anyway. Which is why, slight digression, even if it's as stupid as it looks, I'll probably be less offended by it than Wanted, which presumed itself to
be intelligent, quasi-feminist, adult entertainment. Anyway, we all know that even with these trailers available online, there are still going to be any number of clueless parents who take their kids to see Kick-Ass over opening weekend fully
expecting a feel-good teen comedy variation on Spider-Man . It happened with South Park: Bigger Longer Uncut and it'll happen here too.
Interesting to note the 11 year old using 'fuck' and 'cunt' in the trailer and also to ponder about adult versus child comic book violence.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., refused to dismiss a case against pornography producers who were charged with trafficking
hard-core porn films across state lines and displaying illicit movie trailers online.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon rejected their claim that federal obscenity laws are unconstitutional.
John Stagliano and Evil Angel Productions Inc. claimed that federal laws criminalizing the interstate trafficking of obscenity were unconstitutional. They argued that the law barring a Web site from displaying obscene materials was
unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, because made online material subject to the community standards of the most conservative jurisdictions in the country.
But Judge Leon said the law was confined to a very narrow legal definition of obscenity. He said he is certain that online material will be judged as a whole and not individually according to obscenity laws, quashing filmmakers concerns
that the trailer would be taken out of context.
Federal obscenity statutes require items to be judged in context of surrounding work. The government will have to show that the trailer is obscene in the context of the Web page, Leon said.
He also rejected their claim of a right to sexual privacy, saying such a right does not cover the distribution of obscene materials. He said the producers' case pales in comparison and does not even remotely approach the sexual
privacy cases concerning homosexual rights and rights to obtain birth control. However you look at it, obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment, Leon concluded.
A federal judge has set a July 7 trial date for the obscenity case against John Stagliano and his two production companies, Evil Angel Productions Inc. and John Stagliano Inc.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, at a status conference in Washington at 3 p.m., set the trial date one month and one day after he rejected Stagliano's claim that federal obscenity laws are unconstitutional.
Leon said last month that obscene material is not protected by the 1st Amendment: Having considered the defendants' overbreath of arguments, I am not convinced that such strong medicine is warranted in this case. Nor am I convinced that the
federal obscenity statutes are unconstitutionally vague as applied to Internet speech.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel apologized recently for using the word retarded during a private meeting last summer, telling advocates for the disabled that he will join their campaign to help end the use of the word.
In a statement, Special Olympics Chief Executive Tim Shriver and five other disability rights advocates said Emanuel had sincerely apologized for the earlier comment during a strategy meeting, which was reported in the Wall Street Journal:
We are happy that he will join more than 54,000 other Americans in pledging to end the use of the R-word at www.r-word.org, and that he committed that the administration would continue to look for ways to partner with us, including examining
pending legislation in Congress to remove the R-word from federal law, they said in the statement.
Controversy about Emanuel's use of the word erupted more broadly after former Alaska governor Sarah Palin called on President Obama to fire his chief of staff. In a statement on her Facebook page, she asked: Are you capable of decency, Rahm
An Albuquerque judge has fined a group responsible for organizing an adult film festival.
The Guild Theatre near Central and Carlisle has hosted the Pornotopia film festival an event that has attracted both porn lovers and controversy.
After three years, the judge decided the theatre that has hosted the Pornotopia film festival is not zoned for adult entertainment, but organizers say the show will go on. The festival will likely be held somewhere else though.
Matie Fricker, the co-owner of Self Serve, a sex store in Nob Hill, is trying to figure out where she can host Pornotopia later this year. She has organized the festival since it started in 2007.
A Metro Court judge fined the Guild Theatre $500 for a building code violation stemming from one of the previous festivals, saying the theatre is not zoned for adult entertainment.
City officials admit there have been no formal complaints from the public about the event, but now their legal department is checking to see if the Guild can be fined for the other two festivals.
A US comic book collector has been sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to importing and possessing Japanese
manga books supposedly depicting illustrations of child sex and bestiality [presumably referring to the usual many tentacled monsters].
Christopher Handley was sentenced in Iowa almost a year after pleading guilty to charges of possessing obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children. Without a plea deal with federal authorities, he faced a maximum 15-year
The man was charged under the 2003 Protect Act, which outlaws cartoons, drawings, sculptures or paintings depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and which lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. Handley was the nation's first to be convicted under that law for possessing cartoon art, without any evidence that he also collected or viewed genuine child pornography.
Comic fans were outraged, saying jailing someone over manga does not protect children from sexual abuse. I'd say the anime community's reaction to this, since day one, has been almost exclusively one of support for Handley and disgust with the
U.S. courts and legal system, Christopher MacDonald, editor of Anime News Network, said in an e-mail.
Congress passed the Protect Act after the Supreme Court struck down a broader law prohibiting any visual depictions of minors engaged in sexual activity, including computer-generated imagery and other fakes. The high court ruled that the ban was
too broad, and could cover legitimate speech, including Hollywood productions.
In response, the Protect Act narrows the prohibition to cover only depictions that the defendant's community would consider obscene.
One of the issues we've talked about repeatedly over the years is the question of what is the internet jurisdiction .
If you think that just because it appears on the internet, anyone's laws apply, then you reach an untenable situation where all online content is controlled by the strictest, most draconian rules out there. That makes little sense.
And yet some courts still think this is the appropriate interpretation of the law.
In the US it's already troubling enough that the issue of indecency is measured on an amorphous community standards basis, but when it comes to the internet, what community applies?
A recent ruling in the 11th Circuit Court of appeals on a pornography case, the court seems to have made a ruling that effectively says all online content should be held to the standards of the strictest communities. Thus, an erotica website
targeting a NY subculture should be held to the standards of a southern bible belt rural community? That seems ridiculous, but it's what the court said.
In this case, a guy who produced porn content in California was tried in Tampa, Florida, because investigators downloaded his content there:
The Atlanta-based court rejected arguments by Paul Little (Max Hardcore)'s attorneys that applying a local community standard to the Internet violates the First Amendment because doing so means material can be judged according to the standards of
the strictest communities.
Other courts, including one in California, have found differently on similar questions, so it seems likely that, at some point, this issue will finally go back to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, it seems likely that the Supreme Court will focus
on what counts as community standards rather than whether or not laws against obscenity even make legal sense under the First Amendment.
A committee of parents, teachers and administrators has now decided to return the dictionaries to the fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms at Oak Meadows Elementary School just days after they were removed over complaints about entries detailing
references to various types of oral sex.
The dictionary will go back to the classroom but the parents will be given the option to determine if they want their kids to have access to that dictionary, said Betti Cadmus, a spokeswoman for the Menifee Union School District in
southwest Riverside County. Students will take permission slips home and parents who don't want them to use Webster's 10th Collegiate Edition can opt for alternative dictionaries.
Setting the stage for a showdown over free speech rights, a Minnesota resident plans to fight St. Cloud officials'
decision to fine him for posting offensive anti-Muslim cartoons last month.
The city attorney's office last week cited Sidney Allen Elyea with violating a city ordinance that prohibits posting written materials on utility poles.
Elyea has admitted posting the cartoons, telling police he did so to 'educate' city residents about Islam, said his attorney, Ryan Garry. The cartoons depicted images such as Mohammed engaged in bestiality and sodomy, as well as an Islamic
crescent with a swastika inside it. They were posted in front of a mosque and a Somali-owned store.
The city's complaint states that the cartoons were placed in high-pedestrian traffic areas and were placed to target local Muslim citizens. The posters were designed to harass, and they had that effect.
Although some local residents pushed for Elyea to face criminal charges, prosecutors in Stearns and Benton counties declined to do so, saying the cartoons had to be considered free speech.
Garry agreed with Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall's description of the case as classic First Amendment issue. Garry said the city's ordinance is overly broad, too vague and amounts to discriminatory enforcement.
In an e-mail, Garry wrote, the government is not punishing my client for posting a piece of paper to a telephone pole, but rather punishing him for offering an opinion on a religious and political issue that they disapprove of and find
offensive. I am not defending the content of my client's political and religious speech. However, the government should know that I will vigorously fight this case to the end to defend his right to say it.
Bob Pisano, the former head of the Screen Actors Guild, has been named interim chief executive of the Motion Picture Assn. of America
as Dan Glickman exits his role five months sooner than expected.
The MPAA announced that Glickman was leaving April 1 to become president of Refugees International, an advocacy group that deals with refugee crises.
Our industry has been well served by Dan's efforts and advocacy worldwide, and we appreciate the job he has done on our behalf. He is a great humanitarian and will be very effective in his new role, said Bob Iger, chief executive of Walt
Pisano has been the MPAA's president and chief operating officer, based in Los Angeles, since 2005. Pisano takes over as interim CEO immediately, though Glickman will remain on the job. Pisano has been mentioned as a possible permanent replacement
for Glickman. The MPAA said he would serve as its interim chief while the search continues for Glickman's replacement.
The DoD (US Department of Defense) claims unconvincingly that the new policy is necessary to conserve bandwidth but the new policy is
simply censorship effectively preventing soldiers from presenting graphic images of the war or seeing disturbing images that may upend morale.
The situation both in Iraq and in Afghanistan is a lot more involved than mainstream media can fathom. And, if it could fathom what is going on, it would not be allowed to report it for obvious reasons, as this would further undermine the morale
of the Western world. Troops and their families at home used to be able to at least write emails to each other via blog spots and troops were also allowed to access certain parts of the internet. This is now no longer possible.
Active duty personnel are no longer able to post material themselves or view what has been put online. The Defense Department ban on popular Web sites including YouTube, MySpace, and several others will only apply to Defense Department
computers and networks, not to PCs that connect to personal ISPs through the DoD network; however, in most theaters of operation, Defense Department computers are the only ones available to service personnel.
China said remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticizing China's censorship of the Internet were unjustified and damaged bilateral ties.
In a speech in Washington, Clinton called on U.S. technology companies to resist censorship of the Internet and said perpetrators of cyber attacks such as those who targeted Google Inc. must face consequences. Clinton also said China's Internet
controls could harm the Asian nation's development.
We are firmly opposed to these words and deeds which are against the facts and damage Sino-U.S. relations, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a Chinese-language statement posted on the ministry's Web site. We urge the U.S. side
to respect facts and stop using the issue of so-called Internet freedom to make unjustified attacks on China.
Clinton's long-planned address on Internet freedom laid out the Obama administration's view of an uncensored global Internet where everyone has access to the same information, and governments and corporations don't block knowledge or steal
Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation, Clinton said. In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation's network can be an attack on all.
Clinton compared firewalls that governments in China, Uzbekistan, Tunisia and elsewhere have erected to keep out information to the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain that divided the West and the Soviet Union's sphere of influence during the Cold
Virtual walls are cropping up in place of visible walls, she said. With the spread of these restrictive practices, a new information curtain is descending across much of the world.
Google issued a statement praising Clinton's remarks. The company said it believes in unfettered access to information and will continue work with governments, human rights organizations and bloggers to promote free expression.
Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from
China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different.
First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and
chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.
Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that
objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.
Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to
have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers.
We have already used information gained from this attack to make infrastructure and architectural improvements that enhance security for Google and for our users. In terms of individual users, we would advise people to deploy
reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on their computers, to install patches for their operating systems and to update their web browsers. Always be cautious when clicking on links appearing in instant messages and emails, or when asked
to share personal information like passwords online. You can read more here about our cyber-security recommendations. People wanting to learn more about these kinds of attacks can read this U.S. government report (PDF), Nart Villeneuve's blog and
this presentation on the GhostNet spying incident.
We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes
to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech. In the last two decades, China's economic reform programs and its citizens' entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this
great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today.
We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time
we made clear that we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach
These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business
operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search
engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the
United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.
Posted by David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer
Update: Tank Man finally appears on Chinese Google
Users on Google.cn's image search can now see the iconic picture of Tank Man, among other images from the massacre in the Beijing
square in 1989.
Students and intellectuals protested communist rule for seven weeks in the square in 1989 in the face of a brutal security crackdown. Roughly 100,000 people are believed to have taken part in the protests - with up to 3,000 of those killed during
Tank Man: One of the most iconic images of the Tiananmen Square massacre, that of a man standing alone and defenceless in a face off against four tanks, now appears on Google.cn
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation plans to file a complaint with three Florida citizens to the state
Department of Health over the lack of use of condoms in adult film productions.
Michael Weinstein, president of the AHF, said the organization has decided to ramp up its efforts beyond California, where the bulk of porn is shot: In light of the tremendous growth of adult film production in Florida, particularly in Miami
and in response to repeated threats from California producers who say they will leave California and take their productions and jobs to other states including Florida, AHF decided to expand our adult film worker safety campaign to include
This is why we are filing 'sanitary nuisance' complaints with Florida health officials to press for the enforcement health statutes which we believe should require the use of condoms in all adult films produced in Florida.
Florida does not have designated occupational safety and health divisions like California, Weinstein noted.
Weinstein said that AHF will back its Miami complaints with evidence from 10 adult DVDs and streamed online videos filmed or produced in the Miami area in which many performers do not wear condoms. Two of the films cited include South Beach
Cruisin' No. 2 , a double-DVD film by Josh Stone Productions, and Barely Legal: Miami Girls , produced by Hustler Video.
James Cameron has generously prepared a little something special for the eager movie fans that watch his latest blockbuster, Avatar when it comes out on DVD.
Apparently, there is going to be an extended version of the scene in which human Jake Sully in his Na'vi body and the chief's daughter Neytiri have sex. The Na'vi are the native people of the planet Pandora.
While Jake and Neytiri's romantic coupling is alluded to in the theatrical release, the extended scene is said to be more graphic.
The scene was left out of the theatrical release so that the film could maintain its PG-13 rating.
Snooki, the Situation, Vinny, DJ Pauly D, Ronnie, Angelina, Sammi and J-WOWW the stars of MTV's new reality
show, Jersey Shore are distinguished by a common factor that has provoked controversy unusual even by the standards of the genre: they are Italian-American. Worse, they are self-styled guidos and guidettes .
I love guidos! I love Italian boys with muscles, screeched Angelina soon after the start of the first episode of a series that has gained notoriety almost overnight.
The problem is that guido slang for a working-class urban Italian-American is widely perceived by Italian-Americans as a pejorative word, like spic or wop , and the stereotype is unflattering. In its promotion for the
series, which went on air last month, MTV said it had gathered the hottest, tannest, craziest guidos and assembled them in Seaside Heights, a popular beach resort.
But if the channel expected applause from the Italian-American community, it had a rude awakening. Three Italian-American groups cried foul, including Unico National, the largest Italian community organisation in New Jersey. Its president, Andrew
DiMino, said: It's a term used to insult us, implying we are all uneducated people without social graces. New Jersey state senator Joseph Vitale has called on MTV's parent corporation, Viacom, to take the show off the air. It promotes
hatred and insults women of this state, he said. If this were the same with African-American or Hispanic or Polish kids, there would be hell to pay.
DiMino accepted that Guido is used by some Italian-Americans not least the eight cast members of Jersey Shore as a self-description, but he said that didn't make such self-loathing right and likened it to black Americans calling
MTV has been showered with complaints. The New York Post's Linda Stasi waded in with a fiery column in which she accused MTV of stereotyping her ethnic group as gel-haired, thuggish ignoramuses with fake tans, no manners, no diction, no taste,
no education, no sexual discretion, no hairdressers (for sure), no real knowledge of Italian culture and no ambition .
MTV responded with a statement insisting that the show depicts just one slice of youth culture. Our intention was never to stereotype, discriminate or offend, it said.