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2013: July-Sept

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Diary: Banned Books Week 2013...

22-28th September with events across the USA

Link Here24th September 2013

Each year, the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The ALA condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information.

A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. We estimate that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported. Therefore, we do not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges.

The latest list is of books challenged in 2012

Based on 464 challenges that were reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group

  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group

  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group

  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence

  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence



Extract: Politically Correctly Not Mentioning the Elephant...

90% of Top Newspaper Headlines Censor Islam in Nairobi, Pakistan Attacks

Link Here24th September 2013

  And if anyone does notice... It's a 'non-European' elephant. Right!

But not to worry, 90% of readers are adept at filling in the blanks. There's usually enough clues to fill in the blatantly missing information, and if there are no clues, then assuming the most obvious culprit won't be so far from the mark, because that is why they are hiding the clues in the first place.

A great example of politically correct headline censorship comes from no less than Reuters:

Suicide bombers kill 78 Christians outside Pakistani church

The writer (and no doubt a full editorial committee) felt that religion was important enough to provide information about the victims, but somehow was not important enough to explicitly mention who the attackers were. However the phrase 'suicide bombers' will be more than enough to allow 99% of readers to fill in the missing information anyway.

...See  90% of Top Newspaper Headlines Censor Islam in Nairobi, Pakistan Attacks from



Extract: Do Games Like Grand Theft Auto V Cause Real-World Violence?...

Forbes points out interesting stats that the computer game playing has little correlation to gun murders. However just being in America is a massive correlation. Now why should that be?

Link Here 19th September 2013
Full story: US Mass Shootings...Gun lobby vs violent media
No study has ever shown that violent video games result directly in actual violence, let alone mass shootings. That doesn't mean it isn't possible, though the numbers suggest it's very unlikely.

Analysts estimate 18 to 20 million copies of Rockstar's GTA V will be sold worldwide by the end of March, 2014.

It's possible that someone who buys and plays the game will later go on to carry out a horrible shooting. Should that happen, it will almost certainly occur in America, which boasts far and away the highest number of mass shootings (and shootings in general) while boasting no higher rate of video game consumption.

See the chart from the Washington Post's Max Fisher , which illustrates this fact starkly enough

The article also has a knock at tabloid reporting in the Daily Telegraph and notes:

The Telegraph's Nick Allen described the [Washington] shooter's darker side which saw him playing violent zombie video games in his room, sometimes from 12.30pm until 4.30am. Is it odd to describe a mass murderer's darker side not as his killings or other unstable interactions with people, but as an activity he shares with millions of other people?

...Read the full article .



Offsite Article: Protecting selected journalists from the government but the government is doing the selecting...

Link Here19th September 2013
The US shield law's dangerous precedent -- and how to fix it

See article from



Offsite Article: Dangerous Links...

Link Here19th September 2013
Journalist Barrett Brown faces prison for posting hyperlink

See article from



Causing Distress...

California debates a bill targeting 'revenge porn'

Link Here29th August 2013
Lawmakers in California are currently debating a bill targeting the posting of so called revenge porn , when compromising pictures are posted after a relationship has broken up.

The bill would make it a crime to post pictures of anyone in a state of full or partial undress even if the picture was originally taken with that person's consent. But a crime would have only been committed if the pictures were posted with the intent to cause serious emotional distress, and [that] the other person suffers serious emotional distress .

The bill reads:

This bill would provide that any person who photographs or records by any means the image of another, identifiable person without with his or her consent who is in a state of full or partial undress in any area in which the person being photographed or recorded has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and subsequently distributes the image taken, with the intent to cause serious emotional distress, and the other person suffers serious emotional distress would constitute disorderly conduct subject to that same punishment.

The law has been passed by the State's senate and is now under consideration by the state assembly.

If convicted offenders could be fined up to $2,000, or face a month in prison - or both, according to the BBC. More severe penalties would follow if more offences were proven.

The bill been opposed by anti-censorship groups who argue its definition is too broad in the context of the US constitution.



Update: Groklaw Closes...

Another casualty of US internet snooping

Link Here21st August 2013
Full story: The Edward Snowden Revelations...Internet Snooping in the US revealed

Groklaw , a respected legal analysis website, has ceased publication out of concern of inadequate privacy for its users due to US email surveillance.

The website shutdown comes just weeks after two providers of secure email, Lavabit and Silent Circle, opted to discontinue their services.

Groklaw founder and editor Pamela Jones said she cannot continue to operate her community-based website, which often relies on confidential tips, without some degree of email privacy.

Citing LavaBit founder Ladar Levison's observation that if we knew what he knew about email, we wouldn't use it either. Lavabit previously offered email privacy but seems to have been forced to close by the US authorities

Surveillance comes with an associated cost: It drives businesses away from the United States. The Information Technology and Innovation Institute, a technology think tank, estimates that U.S. cloud service providers, unable to assure privacy, could lose between $22 billion and $35 billion to competitors in Europe over the next three years.

But that rather assumes that Europe doesn't operate equally invasive internet snooping.



Blacked Out...

Warner Brothers set to censor two classic Tom and Jerry episodes from its Golden Collection Blu-ray

Link Here11th August 2013
Two episodes of classic Tom & Jerry cartoons have been pulled from the latest volume of a Blu-ray collector's disc because the feuding cat and mouse were blacked up .

Volume 2 of Warner Brothers' Golden Collection, which fans believed would be a full chronological and uncut series, was meant to have been released two months ago but still hasn't reached the shops and may not be seen until next year. Fans complain that the planned running order omitted Casanova Cat and Mouse Cleaning , episodes from 1951 and 1948 that are often censored when broadcast on children's TV.

One line of protest has been to bombard online sellers, particularly Amazon, with messages on its pre-sale order pages. Culture is always reflected in cartoons, and while this may not have been right, it existed. It is a shame to omit pieces of history in a collection simply due to PR getting shaky boots over the past, said one. Another added: These releases are almost exclusively for the adult collector, so why treat us like infants?

Meanwhile, a Facebook campaign called Unleash the banned Tom and Jerry cartoons rages on.

In Casanova Cat, above, Tom tries to impress a rich she-cat by blacking up Jerry's face with cigar smoke and then making him do a minstrel dance.

It is Tom who is blacked up in Mouse Cleaning. With his face covered in coal dust, he fools Mammy into thinking she is chatting to a black man by talking in an African-American accent.

A Warner Brothers spokesprat said:

The company felt that certain content would be inappropriate for the intended audience and therefore excluded several shorts.




Americans have to wait whilst Hollywood dumbs it down

Link Here7th August 2013

Snowpiercer is a 2013 South Korea/USA/France action Sci-Fi drama by Joon-ho Bong.
With Chris Evans, Jamie Bell and Alison Pill. YouTube icon IMDb

Summary Notes

In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet, a class system evolves aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine.

Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer opened in the director's native South Korea last week, and will continue to roll out around the world for the next couple of months. It has broken box-office records at home and is very well-reviewed across the board. But despite having a US distributor in The Weinstein Co., the film has yet to announce a U.S. opening date. Now we know what the holdup is.

Harvey Weinstein reportedly has plans to chop up Snowpiercer, reducing its running time by about 20 minutes. And it's not because the film's bloated or unwieldy. It's because in his opinion, according to one report, Midwesterners are too stupid to understand the movie as-is.

Film critic Tony Rayns explained that the cuts will remove much of the character work to make the film play more like a traditional action movie. In addition, voiceovers will be added to the beginning and end of the film.

Rayns reports that the U.K., for one, isn't interested in having Snowpiercer watered down.

Update: Good news for European film fans

18th November 2013. See article from

Good news for European film fans. Director Bong Joon-ho explained:

Me and The Weinstein Company are still negotiating about everything. The movie at the festival, the French version is my own director's cut. In Korea, Japan, France and many other European countries have all bought my director's cut. And for North America we are still negotiating with The Weinstein Company, we are discussing.



Offsite Article: Crippling free speech in the name of actions against trafficking...

Link Here 2nd August 2013
US state attorney generals ask for safe harbour protections to be dismantled so they can pursue their pet projects against hyped up problems of sex trafficking

See article from



Update: Plugging Leaks with a Large Mallet...

Bradley Manning found guilty of most charges related to revelations published on Wikileaks

Link Here31st July 2013

Bradley Manning , the source of the massive WikiLeaks trove of secret disclosures, has been convicted of most charges on which he stood trial.

Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge presiding over the court martial of the US soldier, delivered her verdict in curt and pointed language. Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, she repeated over and over, as the reality of a prolonged prison sentence for Manning dawned.

The one ray of light in an otherwise bleak outcome for Manning was that he was found not guilty of the single most serious charge against him, that he knowingly aided the enemy . the soldier was found guilty in their entirety of 17 out of the 22 counts against him, and of an amended version of four others.

WikiLeaks and Julian Assange were mentioned repeatedly during the trial by the US government which tried to prove that the anti-secrecy organisation had directly steered Manning in his leaking activities, an allegation strongly denied by the accused. Prosecutors drew heavily on still classified web conversations between Manning and an individual going by the name of Press Association , whom the government alleges was Assange.

Update: 35 years

22nd August 2013. See  article from

Reporters Without Borders condemned the 35-year prison sentence meted out today to U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning on charges including 10 counts of espionage and theft .

Reporters Without Borders expressed the hope that the sentence will be reversed on appeal. The press freedom organization said:

Following the targeting of Edward Snowden , the disproportionate sentence for Manning hits hard at whistleblowers and shows how vulnerable they are. The Army is sending a clear message to them and to all journalists who dare to report whistleblowers' disclosures: the United States will strike back severely at anyone who uncovers information of public interest concerning the exercise of official powers.

The sentence strikes a blow against American democracy, in which the press must be free to report government abuses.



The Art of Censorship...

Texas authorities claim that an artwork is an advertisement for Playboy and so can be banned

Link Here6th July 2013

Texas art censors have given Playboy 45 days to take down a neon-lit 40-foot high sculpture of the magazine's iconic bunny logo from a West Texas road.

The Texas Department of Transportation ordered the removal of the sign, called Playboy Marfa , claiming the artwork to be an advertisement, and that Playboy does not have a license for outdoor advertisement in Texas.

The sign is part of a roadside art display designed by New York contemporary artist Richard Phillips and Playboy's creative director of special projects Neville Wakefield. The installation features the offending sign perched atop a post and a concrete platform displaying a stylized version of 1972 Dodge Charger, a classic American muscle car.

PR Consulting, a firm that represents Playboy said that they do not consider that the art installation by Richard Phillips violates any laws, rules or regulations. Our legal counsel is currently looking into this matter and we hope to resolve this issue satisfactorily and as quickly as possible.



Update: Holding ISPs Liable for What They Can't Possibly Check...

Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order Blocking Enforcement of Dangerous New Jersey Law

Link Here 2nd July 2013
Full story: Internet Minors...Criminalising internet comms harmful to minors

A judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking a dangerous a provision of a recently-passed New Jersey statute that would have left online service providers legally on the hook for user-generated content. The restraining order blocks enforcement of the new law until the court hears additional arguments in support of a permanent injunction in early August.

EFF represents the Internet Archive in this legal challenge to the law, which aims to make online service providers criminally liable for publishing or disseminating certain third party materials. separately filed suit against the law.

The New Jersey law is the latest in well-intentioned but shortsighted attempts to combat online ads for child prostitution with overbroad and vague laws that could seriously constrict the free flow of information online. This statue of the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act ) could impose stiff penalties, up to 20 years in prison and steep fines, on ISPs, Internet cafes, and libraries that indirectly cause the publication, dissemination, or display of content that contains even an implicit offer of a commercial sex act if the content includes an image of a minor.

One consequence of such vague language is that service providers would feel enormous pressure to block access to broad swaths of otherwise protected material in order to minimize the risk of such harsh penalties. The Internet Archive, which currently maintains an archive of over 300 billion documents in support of its mission is to archive the World Wide Web and other digital materials, has particular reason to be concerned if online providers could be pressured in this way.

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