German Comedian May Face Prison for Remarks on Turkish President’s Manhood

 

EUROPE

00:15 08.04.2016(updated 00:22 08.04.2016)

German law prohibits intentionally slandering a foreign head of state, applying a five year prison sentence if the insulted person sues.

Comedian Jan Böhmermann faces up to five years imprisonment under German defamation laws for his poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the poem, the comedian refers to the Turkish President with the racial slur of “goat f*****,” in addition to many other pointed insults.

In verse, Böhmermann alleges that the Turkish leader suffers from a diminished “tail,” which, in German, is suggestive of the penis. The popular comedian was apparently attempting to outdo an offensive song he wrote in March about Erdogan that elicited complaints from Ankara.

The comedian was apparently aware that his speech and his comedy act violates German law. 

“What I’m about to read is not allowed and if it were to be read in public – that would be forbidden in Germany,” said Böhmermann, as a prelude to reading his poem on public radio station ZDF.

Other lyrical insults directed at the embattled Turkish president include assertions that he “watches child porn while kicking Kurds,” referring to reports that Erdogan seeks persecution and destruction of the Kurdish minority, an ancient ethnic group whose soldiers the international community largely credits with repelling Daesh on the ground.

German Prime Minister Angela Merkel apologized on behalf of the German people in a personal call to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, saying that she agreed the poem was intended as a “deliberate insult.”

The German radio station ZDF, after broadcasting the poem, has complied with an official order to remove the audio content from their website.

Under paragraph 103 of the German Criminal Code, insulting a foreign head of state intentionally is punishable with up to five years in prison, if the insulted government leader files a lawsuit. 

Erdogan stated only days ago that, while he “welcomed criticism,” he would nonetheless file a lawsuit against anyone who insulted him. Currently the Turkish government has not filed any charges. 

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/europe/20160408/1037666435/german-comedian-erdogan-penis-porn.html#ixzz45BIddi7s

NBC Censored Snowden responses during interview

Saturday, 31 May 2014

 

Only around a quarter of the recent NBC News interview with former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden made it to broadcast, but unaired excerpts now online show that the network “neglected” to air critical statements about the 2001 terrorist attacks.

 

When the four-hour sit-down between journalist Brian Williams and Snowden made it to air on Wednesday night, NBC condensed roughly four hours of conversation into a 60-minute time slot. During an analysis of the full interview afterwards, however, the network showed portions of the interview that didn’t make it into the primetime broadcast, including remarks from the former National Security Agency contractor in which he questioned the American intelligence community’s inability to stop the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Continue reading “NBC Censored Snowden responses during interview”

US judge rules Baidu has First Amendment right to block content / Political Censorship is now an editorial freedom

EEV: Political Censorship is now an editorial freedom

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 March, 2014, 11:58pm

Reuters in New York
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Internet giant Baidu has won the dismissal of a US lawsuit by pro-democracy activists who complained that China’s most widely used search engine illegally suppressed political speech.

Eight New York writers and video producers had accused Baidu of creating search-engine algorithms, at the behest of Beijing, to block users in the United States from articles, videos and other information advocating greater democracy in China.

The plaintiffs in the case, which was heard in Manhattan, said this kept Baidu users from seeing their work, unlike users of other search engines such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing.

Continue reading “US judge rules Baidu has First Amendment right to block content / Political Censorship is now an editorial freedom”

AG Order No. 3420-2014 Policy Regarding Obtaining Information From, or Records of, Members of the News Media; and Regarding Questioning, Arresting, or Charging Members of the News Media

SUMMARY: This rule amends the policy of the Department of Justice regarding the use of subpoenas, certain court orders, and search warrants, to obtain information from, or records of, members of the news media. The rule also amends the Department’s policy regarding questioning, arresting, or charging members of the news media.

Reporter
Reporter (Photo credit: lierne)

In May of 2013, the Department initiated a comprehensive evaluation of its practices and policies regarding the use of subpoenas, court orders, and search warrants to obtain information from, or records of, members of the news media. As part of this process, the Department convened a series of meetings to solicit input from a wide range of news media stakeholders, First Amendment academics and advocates, and Members of Congress. Based on this review, the Department issued a report on July 12, 2013, announcing changes to the Department’s policies.

This final rule revises the existing provisions in the Department’s regulations at 28 CFR 50.10. The revisions are intended to ensure that, in determining whether to seek information from, or records of, members of the news media, the Department strikes the proper balance among several vital interests: (1) protecting national security, (2) ensuring public safety, (3) promoting effective law enforcement and the fair administration of justice, and (4) safeguarding the essential role of the free press in fostering government accountability and an open society. The revisions also ensure more robust oversight by senior Department officials; centralize the internal review and evaluation process; set out specific standards for the use and handling of information obtained from, or records of, members of the news media; and extend the policies to cover the use of subpoenas, court orders issued pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 2703(d) and 3123, and search warrants. Continue reading “AG Order No. 3420-2014 Policy Regarding Obtaining Information From, or Records of, Members of the News Media; and Regarding Questioning, Arresting, or Charging Members of the News Media”

US gov’t not to release info on drones anymore – White House press secretary

21 February 2014, 03:20
US gov't not to release info on drones anymore - White House press secretary

© Photo: en.wikipedia.org

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated Thursday that the Obama administration will not be releasing any more information about the controversial use of drones.

Some of the remarks of the off-camera press gaggle:

“This is not an open-ended process. This is a specific and unique accommodation in this circumstance. The fact is, when it comes to public disclosure, we have been — not with the kind of attention that’s been given it this week — but we have been publicly discussing these matters at the highest levels of government for the very reason that I’ve given, which is the President understands that these are core issues about how we conduct ourselves in war, how the President of the United States — any President — balances his constitutional obligation to protect America and American citizens, and his obligation to do so in a manner that is lawful under the Constitution and reflects our values. Continue reading “US gov’t not to release info on drones anymore – White House press secretary”

U.S. Newsman Says He Was Arrested for Using a Drone Camera

By CHRISTINE STUART

HARTFORD (CN) – In a bizarre twist to a civil rights issue, a news photographer claims in a federal lawsuit that Hartford police wrongfully arrested him for using a drone to photograph a fatal car accident – at an elevation of 150 feet, far too high to interfere with police, as officers claimed.

Pedro Rivera, a photographer and editor for a local television news station, claims he was not breaking any laws or hindering emergency operations by recording police activity after a Feb. 1 fatal car accident.

“On February 1, 2014, the plaintiff heard on a police scanner that there was a serious motor vehicle accident in the City of Hartford. He responded to the scene of the accident, where he operated a remote-controlled model aircraft, colloquially known as a ‘drone,’ he owns to hover over the accident scene and to record visual images of the accident scene. His device was hovering at an altitude of 150 feet. At all times relevant to this action, the plaintiff was standing outside of the area denoted as the crime scene by officers responding to the accident. He was standing in a public place, operating his device in public space, observing events that were in plain view,” Rivera says in his brief, 5-page lawsuit. Continue reading “U.S. Newsman Says He Was Arrested for Using a Drone Camera”

Bing censoring Chinese language search results for users in the US

English and Chinese language queries for terms such as ‘Dalai Lama’ return radically different results on Microsoft search engine

in New York

theguardian.com,              Tuesday 11 February 2014 16.36 EST

Bo Xilai
A Bing search in Chinese for Bo Xilai, the former Chinese government official, shows different results from an English search. Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters

Microsoft’s search engine Bing appears to be censoring information for Chinese language users in the US in the same way it filters results in mainland China.

Searches first conducted by anti-censorship campaigners at FreeWeibo, a tool that allows uncensored search of Chinese blogs, found that Bing returns radically different results in the US for English and Chinese language searches on a series of controversial terms.

These include Dalai Lama, June 4 incident (how the Chinese refer to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989), Falun Gong and FreeGate, a popular internet workaround for government censorship. Continue reading “Bing censoring Chinese language search results for users in the US”

China blocks foreign news sites that revealed elite’s offshore holdings

• Guardian among sites blocked over reports • China Digital Times publishes details of directive

Chinese President Xi Jinping
The Chinese government has recently concentrated on improving the image of President Xi Jinping. Photograph: Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images

The blocking of foreign news sites that revealed details of offshore holdings by the relatives of senior leaders has continued in China as reports emerged of a propaganda directive ordering websites and services to target users posting on the subject.

Details of the order were published by China Digital Times, a website that monitors censorship instructions.

“Immediately find and remove the foreign media report “China’s Secret Offshore Tax Havens” and related content. Interactive platforms must strictly check [users]. Related images and accusatory comments about leaders and the system [of government] must be deleted without exception,” said the instructions, according to CDT. Continue reading “China blocks foreign news sites that revealed elite’s offshore holdings”

Russia to block websites that call for rioting, ‘extremism’ without court ruling

 

Published time: December 21, 2013 09:54

 

 

Russia’s lawmakers have passed a bill authorizing prosecutors to issue emergency orders without a court ruling that block websites promoting rioting, racial hatred or extremism. Critics fear the law may infringe constitutional rights. Continue reading “Russia to block websites that call for rioting, ‘extremism’ without court ruling”

Police Devise App to Curb Far-Right Music ( Germany )

German police have developed a Shazam-like smartphone app that allows them to identify far-right rock songs by playing just a brief sample. It could make it harder for neo-Nazis to lure under-18s with music, which is seen as a “gateway drug” into the scene.

German authorities are considering using software akin to a smartphone app that would help them identify neo-Nazi music in seconds, SPIEGEL has learned.

The interior ministers of the country’s 16 regional states will meet this week to discuss an new method dubbed “Nazi Shazam,” in reference to the mobile phone-based music identification service Shazam, which can identify music bands and song titles from a short sample picked up via the phone’s microphone.

Continue reading “Police Devise App to Curb Far-Right Music ( Germany )”

Line censoring messages in China

370 banned words found; firm mum on who’s selecting them and why

Marking a milestone: Line Corp. CEO Akira Morikawa announces Monday that the number of users of the firm’s instant messaging service has topped 300 million. | KYODO

by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

In another example of the dilemmas facing Internet companies operating in China, Japan-based instant messaging app provider Line Corp. has been censoring chats among users there, blocking the transmission of politically sensitive words and phrases.

Line, which announced Monday that the number of people using its app has topped 300 million worldwide, launched its services for Chinese users last December under the brand Lianwo, in partnership with Chinese IT company Qihoo 360 Technology Co.

Recent research by the Citizen Lab, an Internet security and human rights research group at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, has confirmed that censorship functions are activated on Android smartphone and tablet users in China, and that similar functions probably exist for iPhone users as well.

Continue reading “Line censoring messages in China”

Obama boycott: Major US news outlets refuse to use White House photos

 Published time: November 27, 2013 21:03                                                                            

US President Barack Obama is surrounded by photographers while he eats breakfast. (AFP Photo / Scott Olson)US President Barack Obama is surrounded by photographers while he eats breakfast. (AFP Photo / Scott Olson)

The coalition of major news outlets protesting the White House’s photo policy continues to grow, with McClatchy newspapers adding their name on Wednesday to the list of publications that will no longer print official administration images.

McClatchy’s announcement that it will not be running official  White House images in its papers except in extreme circumstances  follows a similar promise made over the weekend by USA Today amid  growing complaints waged by photojournalists and those in the  news industry who oppose this administration’s tendency to  exclude independent reporters from official events.

Last week, the Associated Press, ABC News, the Washington Post  and Reuters all signed a letter to White House press secretary  Jay Carney imploring the administration of President Barack Obama  to provide photographers with increased access to the  commander-in-chief. According to those outlets, this White House  has more than any other administration prevented credentialed  photographers from shooting images of the president, and instead  has relied on Mr. Obama’s official photography team on a routine  basis to exclusively take pictures to be disseminated among the  press.

The selective nature of the White House’s process of hand-picking  which images to release — as well as its shuttering of a free  press — has raised numerous complaints as of late by news outlets  and media experts. “Journalists are routinely being denied the  right to photograph or videotape the president while he is  performing his official duties,” last week’s letter reads.   “As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s  camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the  public from having an independent view of important functions of  the Executive Branch of government.”

Continue reading “Obama boycott: Major US news outlets refuse to use White House photos”

Journalists: Obama photography policy dangerous, unconstitutional

Journalists: Obama photography policy dangerous, unconstitutional

Posted By Robby Soave On 9:01 AM  11/22/2013 In  |

President Obama’s refusal to allow journalists to photograph him at key events has now drawn the ire of the White House Correspondents’ Association, which joined other media outlets in sending a letter of protest to the president’s press secretary, Jay Carney.

The letter accuses the White House of restricting photojournalists’ access to the president to a degree far greater than any previous administration.

“As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government,” wrote the WHCA.

The letter notes that the White House’s typical excuse — that certain events are “private” — does not hold water, since it often allows a government-employed photographer to take the pictures instead.

“That rationale…is undermined when the White House contemporaneously releases its own photograph of a so-called private event through social media,” wrote the WHCA. “The restrictions imposed by the White House on photographers covering these events, followed by the routine release by the White House of photographs made by government employees of these same events, is an arbitrary restraint and unwarranted interference on legitimate newsgathering activities. You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases.”

Continue reading “Journalists: Obama photography policy dangerous, unconstitutional”

Thousands protest against tough new official secrets law ( Japan )

By Kiyoshi Takenaka

Politics Nov. 22, 2013 – 06:42AM JST ( 23 )

TOKYO —

Thousands of people protested in Tokyo on Thursday against a proposed secrets act that critics say would stifle information on issues such as the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The law, proposed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, would significantly broaden the definition of official secrets, which Abe says is vital for strengthening security cooperation with main ally the United States and other countries.

Tough secrecy regulations before and during World War Two have long made such legislation taboo, but the law is expected to pass when it comes to a vote next week, given the comfortable majority the ruling coalition has in both houses of parliament.

Continue reading “Thousands protest against tough new official secrets law ( Japan )”

French court orders Google to block Max Mosley orgy pictures

 

Ian Burrell

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Former F1 president Max Mosley has won a ruling in a French court that Google must prevent its search engine from providing links to nine images showing his involvement in a sadomasochist orgy.

The finding comes in the face of strong opposition from Google, with the company arguing that a ruling in favour of Mr Mosley would set a dangerous legal precedent for censorship of the Internet. It has launched an appeal.

The landmark ruling relates to nine widely-circulated images taken from a video of the orgy that was originally secretly filmed by the News of the World in 2008, three years before Rupert Murdoch closed the Sunday tabloid over the phone hacking scandal.

Mr Mosley, 73, was awarded the token sum of 1 Euro by the Paris court yesterday but Google described the ruling ordering it to remove the images as “troubling”. Daphne Keller, associate general counsel at Google, said in a statement:  “This decision should worry those who champion the cause of freedom of expression on the Internet.”

Mr Mosley, who is seeking to force Google to use automatic filters that eliminate any thumbnail images of the sex video, as well as links to it in Google’s search results, has also filed a suit against the Silicon Valley-based company in Germany.

Google said it had, at Mr Mosley’s request, already taken steps to ensure hundreds of pages whose content could be deemed to breach the law in some countries are excluded from its search results.

In a blog at the start of the case Ms Keller had argued that Google was merely the platform provider for content producers. “We don’t hold paper makers or the people who build printing presses responsible if their customers use those things to break the law. The true responsibility for unlawful content lies with the people who produce it.”

But Mr Mosley argued that it should remove them automatically as it does with child pornography. “The case is not about censuring the content of the Internet, it’s about complying with the court decision that already ruled it was a breach of intimacy,” said Clara Zerbib, Mr Mosley’s lawyer.

The former Formula 1 chief has been fighting the case through the courts since he was first exposed participating in a Nazi-themed party following a sting by the now defunct newspaper. His first victory was an award of £60,000 against Mr Murdoch’s UK news publishing division for breach of privacy. Outside the High Court in London, Mr Mosley said at the time: “I am delighted with that judgment, which is devastating for the News of the World. It demonstrates that their Nazi lie was completely invented and had no justification.”

Since then Mr Mosley, son of the 1930s British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, has continued to pursue the matter.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/french-court-orders-google-to-block-max-mosley-orgy-pictures-8925280.html#

 

China says will stamp out Dalai Lama’s voice in Tibet

Source: Reuters – Sat, 2 Nov 2013 05:19 AM

Author: Reuters

                                                                     

By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING, Nov 2 (Reuters) – China aims to stamp out the voice of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in his restive and remote homeland by ensuring that his “propaganda” is not received by anyone on the internet, television or other means, a top official said.

China has tried, with varying degrees of success, to prevent Tibetans listening to or watching programmes broadcast from outside the country, or accessing any information about the Dalai Lama and the exiled government on the internet.

But many Tibetans are still able to access such news, either via illegal satellite televisions or by skirting Chinese internet restrictions. The Dalai Lama’s picture and his teachings are also smuggled into Tibet, at great personal risk.

Writing in the ruling Communist Party’s influential journal Qiushi, the latest issue of which was received by subscribers on Saturday, Tibet’s party chief Chen Quanguo said that the government would ensure only its voice is heard.

“Strike hard against the reactionary propaganda of the splittists from entering Tibet,” Chen wrote in the magazine, whose name means “seeking truth”.

The government will achieve this by confiscating illegal satellite dishes, increasing monitoring of online content and making sure all telephone and internet users are registered using their real names, he added.

“Work hard to ensure that the voice and image of the party is heard and seen over the vast expanses (of Tibet) … and that the voice and image of the enemy forces and the Dalai clique are neither seen nor heard,” Chen wrote.

China calls the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dalai Lama a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” who seeks to use violent methods to establish an independent Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959, says he simply wants genuine autonomy for Tibet, and denies espousing violence.

Chen said the party would seek to expose the Dalai Lama’s “hypocrisy and deception” and his “reactionary plots”.

China has long defended its iron-fisted rule in Tibet, saying the region suffered from dire poverty, brutal exploitation and economic stagnation until 1950, when Communist troops “peacefully liberated” Tibet.

Tensions in China’s Tibetan regions are at their highest in years after a spate of self-immolation protests by Tibetans, which have led to an intensified security crackdown.   (Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

http://www.trust.org/item/20131102050818-iiqk8/?source=hpbreaking

Russian News Agency Shut Due to Swears

Screenshot rosbalt.ru/

By Benjamin Bidder

Russia’s media watchdog agency has forced the closure of the Rosbalt news organization because of two YouTube videos containing swear words. Russian journalists are furious, calling it the latest attack on freedom of the press.

Russia’s media watchdog agency has forced the closure of a news organization due to “obscene wording.” On Thursday, a court accepted the request by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, or Roskomnadzor, and revoked the license of the Rosbalt news agency. The judges justified the decision by claiming Rosbalt had repeatedly used Russian swear words.

The head of the news agency, Natalia Cherkesova, and her employees are allowed to stay on for one month, in which they can appeal to the country’s top court. The closure will affect 60 editors and countless freelancers. Rosbalt, which is headquartered in St. Petersburg and is smaller than news agencies like Ria Novosti and Interfax, had become especially popular online.

Russian President Vladimir Putin criminalized the spread of swears in early April, when he approved a change to the country’s media law. The media watchdog agency sent warning letters to editors explaining that spreading swears represented a “misuse of press freedom.”

YouTube Videos Are Blamed

Rosbalt’s troubles stem from its coverage of two online video clips — one showing a scene after a car accident, the other an appearance by imitators of the band Pussy Riot. Both videos included swears that are indecorous, but not unpopular, in Russia. Like countless other media companies, Rosbalt posted the videos on its site. Although the Rosbalt editor had, as is normally the case, covered the swears with a beep noise, the media watchdog referred to the uncensored, original YouTube videos in court.

Press spokespeople were indignant at the closing of the news agency. The case would have “negative effects on the entire media landscape and on freedom of expression in Russia,” said Pavel Gusev, the editor-in-chief of the high-circulation Moskowskij Komsomolez tabloid. The attack on Rosbalt will not “improve the image of our country,” criticized Nikolai Svanidze, a TV journalist and biographer of ex-President Dmitry Medvedev.

The actions of the Russian censors could also further strain the already tense relationship with Berlin. Rosbalt editor Cherkesova is member of the steering committee of the German-Russian Petersburg Dialogue — a biannual meeting of politicians, businessmen and representatives from civil society, which aims to foster mutual understanding between the two countries. Traditionally, the working groups address German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Putin on the last day of the Forum. This means Russia’s president may need to listen to uncomfortable questions about Rosbalt when that happens.

And there are several such questions: The Rosbalt editors can’t understand why they were shut down when other news organizations were given, at most, a warning in similar cases. Rosbalt engages in independent journalism, but other newspapers and websites attack the Kremlin much more harshly. Compared to the audience of millions reached by the anti-Putin broadcaster Echo of Moscow, Rosbalt’s reach is small. It’s possible the organization is being weakened in advance of a hostile takeover.

Baffling Shutdown

It’s surprising that, of all news organizations, Rosbalt became the victim of the authorities. It is especially well connected to law enforcement and security agencies. After the anti-immigrant riots in the Moscow suburb of Biryulyovo in the middle of October, Rosbalt published exclusive reports with information from the security agencies, claiming the unrests were stoked and targeted.

Rosbalt’s strong ties to the security agencies have a familiar explanation: Rosbalt head Cherkesova is married to a former general. Like Putin, Viktor Cherkesov began his career in the Soviet secret service, the KGB, in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Cherkesov rose to become the Petersburg head of the Federal Security Service, FSB. When Putin moved into the Kremlin in 2000, he first made Cherkesov his representative in the northwest of the country, and then later the head of the powerful Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation, FSKN. Cherkesov fell into disfavor in 2007 when he brought conflicts into the public eye by speaking of a “war between the security agencies.”

When thugs stopped his wife’s car in early October and beat up the driver, it merely took a few phone calls for those responsible to be apprehended. In Russia’s most important northern city, General Cherkesov is still a famous man. But his influence is no longer strong enough to prevent the media watchdog’s attack on Rosbalt. As a representative for the Communists in parliament, today Cherkesov counts himself among the opposition.

Thousands of protesters demand answers on HKTV decision

Leung declines to address rally on government decision to reject HKTV

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 9:45pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 October, 2013, 3:34am

Vivienne Chow, Amy Nip and Tanna Chong

  • 6a3e18f7152fbaaf8fa46940add7a93f.jpg
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Black-clad protesters at government HQ last night. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Tens of thousands of black-clad protesters occupied the grounds of government headquarters last night demanding an explanation of the decision on free-to-air television licences – but Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said this would only be given in court.

Leung refused to address the public rally on why Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) was denied a licence while two others were approved.

“There are two upcoming judicial reviews, so I cannot elaborate on the rationale at this stage,” Leung said.

He was referring to a challenge filed by Philip Li Koi-hop, chairman of fringe political group the People’s Opposition Party and one promised by HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay.

Li said later he would not go ahead with his review but ATV, facing competition from the new players, is now considering one.

Leung spoke as the number of protesters swelled in a week when former HKTV staff had camped outside the headquarters in Admiralty after a march last Sunday drew 36,000 to 80,000, people according to estimates by police and organisers.

Last night Civic Square, Tim Mei Avenue, Tamar Park and the Legco carpark were full.

The former staff have demanded an answer from the government by today on why i-Cable’s Fantastic Television and PCCW’s Hong Kong Television Entertainment got licences while HKTV did not.

Refusing to say any more, Leung said: “We know the public are very concerned.”

He added: “We have complied with procedural justice, having considered the consultancy reports and all criteria.”

Wong meanwhile distanced himself from the growing social movement saying it was his staff, not he, who had given the government an ultimatum. He said he would like to help disperse public grievances.

“But we need to talk to the government first. If they refuse to sit down and talk, the problem will remain unsolved,” he added.

Wong, who has repeatedly said he does not believe political considerations were behind the rejection of his licence bid, disclosed a “leftist” inclination in a public lecture yesterday.

He said some TV stations gave Hongkongers a bad impression of Beijing and things should be done to make local youngsters more patriotic. He said he was no democracy fighter, and was “a bit leftist”.

As the stock price of HKTV surged yesterday, Exco member Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun said in a statement that “there was no suggestion that the TV licensing decision would be reviewed”.

On Thursday, she told the Post that the Executive Council “could have a chance to discuss the licence issue again”.

 

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1339956/tens-thousands-final-hktv-rally-tamar

Chinese journalists obliged to take refresher course in Marxist reporting techniques

Kuchikomi Oct. 25, 2013 – 07:00AM JST ( 15 )

TOKYO —

Journalists and reporters employed by the media in the People’s Republic of China are said to number about 250,000. The Chinese government recently announced that in order to keep their accreditation they would be expected to undertake 18 or more hours of study and then undergo an examination.

The title of the course is “Reporting with View toward Marxism.”

Weekly Playboy (Nov 4) reports that in 2009, after incidents of unauthorized reporters and others claiming to be journalists became problematic, the Chinese government clamped down and began issuing official identification cards for journalists, who were obliged to undergo a qualification test to obtain one. The cards were valid for five years, upon which they could be automatically renewed upon application.

However, Weekly Playboy reports, when the cards come up for renewal in February 2014, this time the government is raising the barrier.

“In May of this year, a demonstration with 10,000 participants took place in Beijing, protesting the gang rape of a 22-year-old woman from Anhui Province,” explains author-journalist Daisuke Kondo. “The security agency attempted to pass it off as a suicide. Infuriated people from Anhui living in Beijing rioted. The real reason for the troubles was the widening gap between the rich and poor. People from poor provinces like Anhui are particularly dissatisfied with the system under leader Xi Jinping. I think the new guidelines are aimed at muzzling the media from negative reporting.”

But what’s keeping journalists from raising a ruckus over the government’s heavy-handed attempt to muzzle them? Kondo suggests the reason is probably money, as it seems journalism in China can be an “unexpectedly profitable occupation.”

“With the exception of the reporters at Xinhua and CCTV, which are basically government mouthpieces, ordinary news reporters virtually never approach the government,” he says. “The majority write about auto manufacturers and so on, and receive monetary gifts from the companies they report about.”

“So although their regular monthly wages are in the neighborhood of 80,000 Japanese yen, some reporters make enough money on the side to build homes worth 100 million yen,” Kondo adds.

Weekly Playboy was apparently in such a rush to scoop this story it missed out on the best part—- at least as far as Japan is concerned. That must be left to the Sankei Shimbun (Oct 20). It seems that among the information that Chinese journalists will be expected to follow Chinese government guidelines related to reporting about Japan, for which they are henceforth expected to assume a critical stance. Likewise for reportage about the U.S., which is “bent on undermining China.”

Among the sticking points regarding Japan that the scribes are expected to touch on are criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “right-leaning” administration. Nonetheless, terms like “kaisen” (outbreak of war) are to be eschewed as being overly inflammatory.

And within China, voices calling for freedom of the press or rule of law are also to be criticized. After all, according to the powers that be, those who raise such issues as basic human rights or democracy are actually “bent on attacking the teachings of China’s Communist Party.”

The examinations will be administered by the end of this year. Journalists receiving a failing grade will be obliged to retake the test.

 

http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/chinese-journalists-obliged-to-take-refresher-course-in-marxist-reporting-techniques

Btitain’s Monarchy will now regulate the country’s Press

Press curbs ‘will damage Queen’s standing’

Politicians’ “repressive” plans to regulate press will undermine country’s   international standing, free speech groups warn

Culture Secretary Maria Miller has unveiled her plans to regulate the press

Culture Secretary Maria Miller has unveiled her plans to regulate the press Photo: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/PA
James Kirkup

By , Political Editor

9:50PM BST 23 Oct 2013

Politicians’ “repressive” plans to regulate the press will undermine the   country’s international standing and the reputation of the Queen, free   speech groups have warned.

In a personal appeal to the Queen, media freedom campaigners warned against   plans to use a Royal Charter to back new rules for British newspaper   journalists drawn up by politicians.

Using the monarch’s authority to regulate the press will weaken Britain’s   authority over human rights in the Commonwealth, the campaigners say in a   letter to the Queen.

It has been signed by media freedom groups from around the world, including   the World Press Freedom Committee, the International Press Institute and the   Inter American Press Association

They are worried by plans by politicians to impose a new system of regulation   following last year’s Leveson Inquiry into wrongdoing by tabloid   journalists.

After the inquiry, politicians and the newspaper industry put forward   differing proposals for regulation, to be backed with a Royal Charter. The   industry plan for regulation independent of the state would expose   newspapers to £1 million fines.

Described as the toughest regulatory regime in the free world, it was rejected   by ministers sitting on the Privy Council.

The three main political parties proposed a system underpinned by statute,   compelling newspapers to submit to the new regime.

Publications that refuse to participate will be faced with “exemplary” damages   in the event of libel cases.

The new rules are “a set of repressive statutory controls being imposed on the   press against its will”, the letter said. “It breaches the fundamental   principle that politicians must never get involved in editorial content   regulation.”

The new rules will harm both Britain and the Queen, the letter said.

“If the UK moves to control the press through the force of law then it will   have a terrifying knock-on effect throughout the Commonwealth and much of   the developing world where Britain has a key leadership role,” it said.

Addressing the Queen personally, the groups warn that using a Royal Charter to   implement the rules “will make it infinitely worse because of the respect in   which you personally, and the Crown institutionally, are held throughout the   world,” they said.

“And it is your name, Your Majesty, that will regrettably be taken in vain,”    they add. The free speech groups have also commissioned a survey that   suggests public doubts about the politicians plan.

The Survation poll shows that seven in 10 voters agree there is a risk that   politicians could use the new rules to dampen media criticism of politicians.

Sixty-two per cent of people agreed that politicians should not have the final   say over changes to press regulation. The steering group for the UK   newspaper and magazine industry has said that the politicians’ proposals   remain deeply flawed, describing the plan as “a charter written by   politicians, imposed by politicians and controlled by politicians.”

Some politicians have also expressed reservations.  Nick Boles, a Conservative   minister, described the politicians’ charter as the most troubling thing the   Coalition has done since taking office.

The politicians’ charter is expected to be approved by the Privy Council on   Oct 30.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10400899/Press-curbs-will-damage-Queens-standing.html

China’s influence over the media growing globally, says US think tank

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 9:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 9:36pm

Patrick Boehler patrick.boehler@scmp.com

  • kenya-africa-china-media_ken11_30762975.jpg
Africa Live presenter Beatrice Marshall says that through her news show Africans “are telling the story from our perspective”. Photo: AFP

China’s government and state-owned companies are putting more pressure on media outlets around the world to prevent and punish reporting critical of Beijing, a US-based think tank has said.

“These measures obstruct newsgathering, prevent the publication of undesirable content, and punish overseas media outlets that fail to heed restrictions,” the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington DC writes in a report released on Tuesday.

“Indirect pressure [is] applied via proxies – including advertisers, satellite firms, and foreign governments – who take action to prevent or punish the publication of content critical of Beijing,” it said.

The report by the US government-sponsored institution documented a series of efforts by Chinese government diplomats to stop critical coverage in France, Germany, Britain, Indonesia, and New Zealand. It also linked the spending of advertising revenue by Chinese companies and access to the Chinese market with publications’ adherence to the party line.

Last year, the websites of the International Herald Tribune and Bloomberg were blocked in China after the two media outlets reported on the extensive family fortunes of former premier Wen Jiabao and current President Xi Jinping. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have both traced attempts to hack their networks to China.

Sarah Cook, the author of the study and a senior research analyst at the Freedom House think tank in Washington DC, said Hong Kong has been most affected. “The most notable change under [President Xi Jinping’s administration] has been the reportedly renewed commitment to ‘regain the Hong Kong media’ and subsequent personnel changes, both at the Liaison Office and within some pro-Beijing news outlets, where there is closer scrutiny by internal censors to what is published,” she said.

Hong Kong’s standing in the think tank’s annual freedom-of-the-press index has declined over the past years, falling from 30 to 35 on its 100 points ranking, in which zero denotes completely free and 96 equates to the status of the media in North Korea. In 2008, Freedom House downgraded its assessment of the SAR’s press from “free” to “partly free”.

Chinese-language news outlets outside China have also taken more advertorials and free content from Chinese state media, which have replaced Hong Kong outlets as the pre-eminent source of information, the report said.

“Although living in Australia, ‘new migrants’ from China are still surrounded by the Chinese media dominated by Chinese government views and narratives,” it quoted Feng Chongyi, professor at the University of Technology Sydney’s China Research Centre.

In Canada, Beijing-friendly Chinese-language papers have an inflated circulation, giving them an unfair advantage when obtaining revenue through advertising, Jack Jia, founder of the Toronto-based twice-weekly Chinese News told the researcher.

For Cook, much is at stake: “Those of us outside China, are deprived of potentially important information about a major trading partner, emerging health and environmental crises, and an accurate understanding of the scale and intensity of human rights abuses.”

http://www.scmp.com/news/china-insider/article/1337248/chinas-influence-over-media-growing-globally-think-tank

 

China to restrict satellite TV stations to one foreign programme to push “morality-building”

Source: Reuters – Mon, 21 Oct 2013 03:18 AM

Author: Reuters

 

SHANGHAI, Oct 21 (Reuters) – China will allow satellite television stations to buy the right to broadcast only one foreign programme each year from 2014 as part of new restrictions to push “morality-building” and educational shows, state media reported on Monday.

The official Shanghai Securities Journal, citing an order by the General Administration for Press and Publication to domestic television stations, also said foreign programmes could not be broadcast in prime-time viewing hours from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the year in which the broadcasting rights were purchased.

The new rules are an intensification of an earlier policy announced in February, which capped the broadcast of foreign television series to 50 episodes, and will result in fewer foreign series being broadcast in China.

The campaign also could accelerate a wider trend: the migration of domestic viewers away from broadcast television toward pre-recorded shows downloaded from the Internet to computers and mobile devices.

The Chinese government is increasingly concerned about what it sees as rising vulgarity in domestic television programming. At the same time, it has been moving to limit domestic channels’ reliance on imported content.

The English-language Shanghai Daily said the new restrictions were intended to crack down on the growing practice of buying the copyright of proven foreign shows like “Britain’s Got Talent,” then localising them without further modification, spawning shows like “China’s Got Talent.”

Such programming can be quickly monetised at minimal risk and is generally easy to sell to advertisers.

The new rules also stipulate that stations must increase the amount of public-interest programming such as documentaries, education and “morality-building” programmes to not less than 30 percent of the total, and restrict the number of new musical talent shows to one every three months.

The Shanghai Daily quoted several programming directors at provincial television stations, which increasingly rely on advertising revenues instead of state subsidies, saying the new regulations would be tough on their operations.

Despite the government’s controls, popular foreign television shows are widely available as illegal downloads or on pirated DVDs.

In response to consumers’ shift toward watching downloaded content on mobile devices, many domestic television broadcasters have moved to make shows available online or have signed distribution partnerships with domestic video websites like Youku Tudou Inc’s Youku.com.

China committed to opening its domestic media sector to foreign competition during negotiations to join the World Trade Organization. Even so, it has maintained heavy restrictions on imported movies and television shows in order to provide room for state-controlled domestic producers.

 

http://www.trust.org/item/20131021030814-qhxus/?source=hpbreaking

How foreign authors are willing to bow to China’s censors

 

 

Foreign writers who allow their books to be altered find results can be frustrating and time-consuming but extremely profitable

 
PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 4:09am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 8:41am
 

The New York Times

 
  • 76303e4fb91c81fb928b33756581d95c.jpg       
Chinese edition of Vogel’s book on Deng. Photo: SCMP
 

Chinese readers of Ezra Vogel’s sprawling biography of China’s reformist leader Deng Xiaoping may have missed a few details that appeared in the original English edition.

The Chinese version did not mention that Chinese newspapers had been ordered to ignore the communist implosion across Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. Nor that General Secretary Zhao Ziyang , purged during the Tiananmen Square crackdown, wept when he was placed under house arrest. Gone was the tense state dinner with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev when Deng, preoccupied by the throngs of students then occupying the square, let a dumpling tumble from his chopsticks.

Vogel, a professor emeritus at Harvard, said the decision to allow Chinese censors to tinker with his work was an unpleasant but necessary bargain. His book, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, sold 30,000 copies in the United States and 650,000 in China.

“To me the choice was easy,” he said during a book tour of China through nearly a dozen cities. “I thought it was better to have 90 per cent of the book available here than zero.”

With a highly literate population hungry for the works of foreign writers, China is an increasing source of revenue for American publishing houses; last year e-book earnings for American publishers from China grew by 56 per cent, according to the Association of American Publishers. Chinese publishing companies bought more than 16,000 titles from abroad in 2012, up from 1,664 in 1995.

Foreign writers who agree to submit their books to China’s fickle censorship regime say the experience can be frustrating. Qiu Xiaolong, a St. Louis-based novelist whose mystery thrillers are set in Shanghai, said Chinese publishers who bought the first three books in his Inspector Chen series altered the identity of pivotal characters and rewrote plot lines they deemed unflattering to the Communist Party.

Qiu, who writes in English but was born and raised in China, said he reluctantly agreed to some of the alterations, but that others were made after he had approved what he thought were final translations. “Some of the changes are so ridiculous they made the book incoherent,” he said. Having been burned three times, he said, he has refused to allow his fourth novel, A Case of Two Cities, to be printed in China.

Jo Lusby, managing director at Penguin Books China, which has published 250 foreign titles in the past eight years, said she often tries to ease communications between indignant Western writers and the Chinese editors whose job it is to iron out passages they deem unacceptable. In most instances, she said, the Chinese side refuses to bend.

For Western writers, the process can be time-consuming and confounding. Vogel, whose Chinese publisher, Sanlian, is one of China’s most respectable publishing houses, said it took a year to settle on a final translation, which was adapted from the unexpurgated version published in Hong Kong.

Many deletions involved passages that detailed squabbles between top leaders or specific adjectives, like those describing Mao Zedong as “paranoid” and “vindictive.”

So was a phrase suggesting Deng, then in his 80s, was aloof from the yearnings and complaints of ordinary Chinese.

“The impressive thing is how much actually got through,” Vogel said.

 

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1336182/how-foreign-authors-are-willing-bow-chinas-censors

All Chinese journalists ordered to censor supportive stances toward Japan

Kyodo

  • Oct 20, 2013

BEIJING – China’s Communist Party has begun ordering all Chinese journalists not to take supportive stances toward Japan when writing about territorial and historical issues between the two countries, participants of a mandatory training program revealed Saturday.

Around 250,000 journalists who work for various Chinese media organizations must attend the nationwide training program to learn about such topics as Marxist views on journalism, laws and regulations and norms in news-gathering and editing, in order to get their press accreditation renewed. The unified program started in mid-October and will run through the end of this year.

It is believed to be the first time the ruling Chinese Communist Party, which tightly controls the country’s media industry, has carried out this kind of training program before renewing press credentials.

On Japan, the instructors denounced Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “right-leaning” policies and urged reporters from newspapers, news agencies, broadcasters and online media to refrain from concessionary comments regarding China’s claims over the Japan-held Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, the participants said. China claims the islets as Diaoyu.

But at the same time, they warned participants not to adopt overly belligerent positions vis-a-vis Japan.

In addition to Japan, the instructors said the United States is “trying to undermine our country” and criticized the Philippines and Vietnam, which are mired in territorial disputes with China, the participants said.

They were also told to reject democracy and human rights, as these values, the instructors said, are claimed by “the West as universal (but) are targeting China’s Communist Party.”

One group of instructors praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the Chinese government has been trying to promote images of close relations with him, according to the participants.

After taking the program, Chinese journalists are required to pass an exam, seen taking place between January and February, to obtain press cards.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/20/national/all-chinese-journalists-ordered-to-censor-supportive-stances-toward-japan/#.UmNE7MHn_Vg

Suppress the press: The Obama administration’s history of targeting the media

Posted By Jeff Poor and Vince Coglianese On 2:13 AM  05/20/2013 In Politics |

The usually-cocksure Jay Carney has rarely appeared so uncomfortable.

“What I can tell you is that this president believes strongly in the First Amendment and is a strong defender of the First Amendment,” Carney insisted to a packed house of angry reporters last Tuesday afternoon.

The White House had just been freshly stung by news that the Department of Justice had secretly raided the phone records of up to 100 Associated Press reporters, looking to identify the news organization’s private sources.

“He believes strongly in the need for the press to be unfettered in its pursuit of investigative journalism,” Carney continued, contorting his face between looks of concern and annoyance as question after question highlighted the press corps’ newly discovered skepticism.

“How can it be unfettered if you’re worried about having your phones –,” started one reporter.

Carney quickly dodged.

“I am very understanding of the questions on this issue and appreciate the nature of the questions,” he offered.

While this full-frontal assault on the media — and more importantly, news consumers — may suddenly have the press rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, it’s far from the first time Obama and his allies have used the power of the office to try to silence their critics.

It began gently enough.

Back in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama traveled to Manhattan for a special mission: a personal sit-down with Fox News chief Roger Ailes. The goal of the meeting? Obama wanted Sean Hannity to ease up on the criticism.

Columnist and author Zev Chafets recently detailed the exchange for the first time in his book “Roger Ailes: Off Camera”:

“After some pleasantries, Obama got to the point. He was concerned about the way he was being portrayed on Fox, and his real issue wasn’t the news; it was Sean Hannity, who had been battering him every night at nine (and on his radio show, which Fox doesn’t own or control).”

Ailes, of course, wouldn’t change a thing about Hannity’s presentation, consoling the candidate with the reality that his supporters weren’t likely to be Hannity watchers. After a few more minutes, sensing a fruitless battle, Obama’s aide Robert Gibbs abruptly pulled the plug on the meeting.

Then, a single week into his presidency, Obama started what’s become a tradition for the president: blaming Rush Limbaugh.

“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” he told a room full of Republican leaders at the White House while pushing his $787-billion stimulus plan.

A few weeks later, energetic, long-time CNBC reporter Rick Santelli caused waves within the Obama White House when he made his famous “rant heard around the world,” credited with jump starting the tea party movement.

That caused White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to take the unusual step of responding directly to Santelli during an interview on NBC, saying the CNBC host “doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

“I would encourage him to read the president’s plan and understand that it will help millions of people, many of whom he knows,” Gibbs said. “I’d be more than happy to have him come here and read it. I’d be happy to buy him a cup of coffee — decaf.”

A month later, Santelli’s CNBC colleague Jim Cramer would have his own criticisms of Obama’s economic policy, calling the president’s budget agenda “radical.”

“This is the greatest wealth destruction I’ve seen by a president,” Cramer exclaimed.

Gibbs reacted to those criticisms through a question from NBC’s Tom Costello, but in the end, it would be Jon Stewart — a loyal Obama supporter and host of “The Daily Show” — who would famously unload on Cramer a couple weeks later.

Meanwhile, the White House was growing increasingly frustrated with then-Fox News host Glenn Beck.

In October 2008, prior to Obama’s winning the White House, Fox News announced Beck would be taking its 5 p.m. ET time slot. Beck’s first show on the cable news juggernaut aired on Jan. 19, 2009.

Obama was sworn in the next day.

Beck’s show became a huge ratings success in the challenging time slot, with Beck relentlessly hammering the president.

“Beck’s indignant critiques of the Obama administration and gloomy outlook on the nation’s financial health have found near-instant resonance,” Matea Gold wrote for the Los Angeles Times.

“His eponymous 2 p.m. PST program averaged nearly 2.2 million viewers last month — double the number the time slot attracted the previous February and a remarkable amount for the afternoon. That made ‘Glenn Beck’ the third-most-watched program in all of cable news for the month, after Bill O’Reilly’s and Sean Hannity’s evening shows.”

But Beck’s anti-Obama antics put him in the crosshairs of angry liberals. In August 2009, a relatively unknown college student named Angelo Carusone struck the first blow, convincing Kraft Foods to drop any association with Beck’s television show. Other advertisers soon followed.

By the end of 2009, the Obama administration joined in and declared war on Fox News. The White House blocked the network’s access to interviews and communications director Anita Dunn publicly accused the network of being “a wing of the Republican Party.”

“[L]et’s not pretend they’re a news network the way CNN is,” she said.

And Dunn had backup.

As The Daily Caller has previously reported, the left-wing advocacy group Media Matters for America had dreamt up that very campaign to discredit Fox News, and within a month Dunn was echoing the talking points to the world.

It was too much for some members of the press to handle, including Jake Tapper, formerly of ABC News.

“It hasn’t escaped our notice that in the last few weeks the White House has decided to declare war on one of our sister organizations saying it’s not a news organization and tell the rest of the news media to not treat them like a news organization,” Tapper said during a press conference with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

“Can you explain why it’s appropriate for the White House to say one of them is not a news organization and the rest of the media should not treat them like one?” Tapper continued.

“That is our opinion,” Gibbs replied.

Days after that exchange, then-Deputy White House Communications Director Jennifer Psaki threatened to put dead fish in “the fox cubby.” She also called FNC “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier a “lunatic,” in emails obtained by Judicial Watch.

Angelo Carusone’s efforts to help the White House attack Fox didn’t go unnoticed. In December 2010, Media Matters hired him to beef up its efforts to take on Fox News. (He’s now the organization’s vice president.)

Then and now, Media Matters’ attacks have been used by the White House as a subtle way to take on its critics. As The Daily Caller previously reported, Media Matters coordinates — or did for a time — its messaging with the White House in weekly phone calls.

Beck’s show on Fox News would eventually end in June 2011. Media Matters even celebrated the show’s ending with a party.

By early 2012, Rush Limbaugh had captured the president’s attention yet again. In the heat of his re-election campaign, Obama took it upon himself to personally console Sandra Fluke — the contraception activist who Limbaugh had famously mocked as “a slut” and “a prostitute” for, as he put it, wanting to be “paid to have sex” — in a widely-publicized phone call.

Limbaugh ultimately issued an apology to Fluke, but Obama’s call lit a fire under liberal activists, including Carusone, who have long been trying to take down the radio host.

“He encouraged me and supported me and thanked me for speaking out about the concerns of American women,” Fluke relayed on MSNBC. “What was really personal for me was that he said to tell my parents that they should be proud. And that meant a lot because Rush Limbaugh questioned whether or not my family would be proud of me. So I just appreciated that very much.”

Seeing an opportunity, Carusone used Media Matters’ resources to mount a pressure campaign, attempting to scare advertisers away from Limbaugh’s show.

And now, with Limbaugh reportedly at odds with radio distributor Cumulous Media, Carusone and Media Matters are pushing all the harder, hoping Limbaugh’s massive reach is narrowed in the split.

As the election wore on, the White House only became more aggressive with the media.

On June 15, 2012, as The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro strolled back to this publication’s Washington offices from a sunny event in the White House Rose Garden, press secretary Jay Carney frantically began phoning Daily Caller editors.

Munro had just interrupted President Obama with an ill-timed question about sweeping executive changes to the immigration system and Carney threw a fit.

“It’s utterly disrespectful to interrupt the president of the United States while pretending you’re a journalist,” Carney exclaimed in one call.

“The White House called and bitched us out vigorously,” Munro told the New York Post. “I haven’t been called on since shortly after Osama bin Laden was killed.”

It was a typical reaction from the White House, where officials are well-known for getting aggressive with reporters who fail to toe the administration’s line.

As Bob Woodward was overhyping being threatened by diminutive economic adviser Gene Sperling in early 2013, a host of more legitimate “me-too” stories started to seep out of the press.

The New York Post’s Maureen Callahan captured one of the more perverse anecdotes:

“’I had a young reporter asking tough, important questions of an Obama Cabinet secretary,’ says one DC veteran. ‘She was doing her job, and they were trying to bully her. In an e-mail, they called her the vilest names — bitch, c–t, a–hole.’”

In contrast, media figures who regularly help the White House advance its agenda are rewarded with access.

Regular viewers of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” were occasionally treated with mid-show text messages directly from the White House, as co-host Mika Brzezinski would read the messages from her Blackberry on-air.

Brzezinski’s MSNBC colleague Ed Schultz detailed the arrangement on his radio show in December of 2009:

“So Mika starts looking at her Blackberry and so does Scarborough and obviously the White House is texting them or emailing them or whatever and they didn’t like the show. Because Arianna had been on there, I’m on there, Howard Dean had been on there and they wanted some balance.

“Now think about that — here’s the White House getting in contact with ‘Morning Joe’ because they’re afraid there’s too many lefties on the air! Now if that’s not sensitivity at its highest level, I don’t know what is! I told ya a few days ago they had rabbit ears! They don’t like anything that’s being said right now, they’re getting beat up!”

And MSNBC’s relationship with the White House went beyond exchanging text messages.

As reported by The Daily Caller, while the White House and Media Matters were engaging in weekly conference calls and meetings, the liberal advocacy group was “pretty much writing [MSNBC’s] prime time,” according to a Media Matters employee.

Last Monday, Obama reportedly called out Rush Limbaugh yet again at a New York City party hosted by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, attended by stars like Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.

Obama lamented his inability to overcome Washington gridlock, blaming the radio host.

“I genuinely believe that there are actually Republicans out there who would like to work with us but they’re fearful of their base and they’re concerned about what Rush Limbaugh might say about them,” Obama said. “And, as a consequence, we get the kind of gridlock that makes people cynical about government and inhibits our progress.”

As he always does, Limbaugh reacted to Obama’s remarks on his program.

“Now, let me tell you what he’s doing, folks,” Limbaugh said Tuesday. “He is essentially begging any Republican to denounce me. He is fixated on me. He simply cannot get me off his mind. I live rent free in his head. And he is using me as his convenient excuse for not being able to get anything done.”

“He really thinks the Republicans would work with him if it weren’t for me,” he continued. “So he’s telling these Hollywood people — and you got to understand, they’re sitting there and they’re very sympathetic, and they love Obama, and they want Obama to succeed. I’m the guy who said, ‘I hope he fails.’”

As the Justice Department struggles to contain the fallout over its decision to secretly seize phone records from the media, even The New York Times has begun to publicly criticize the Obama administration’s attempts to intimidate the press.

“This action against The A.P., as the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press outlined in a letter to Mr. Holder, ‘calls into question the very integrity’ of the administration’s policy toward the press,” the Times’ editors wrote last Wednesday.

“These tactics will not scare us,” they wrote.

Follow Jeff and Vince on Twitter


Article printed from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com

URL to article: http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/20/suppress-the-press-the-obama-administrations-history-of-targeting-the-media/

Book by whistleblower at center of ‘Fast and Furious’ blocked by the ATF

 Published time: October 08, 2013 00:20 Edited time: October 09, 2013 09:47                                                                            

AFP Photo / Pedro PardoAFP Photo / Pedro Pardo

A book authored by an agent at the center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “Fast and Furious” gun running debacle has been rejected and barred from being published by the agency, citing concerns for morale.

Special Agent John Dodson, who became a whistleblower in 2011  when he approached Republican lawmakers in Congress with details  of a botched attempt by the ATF to allow sales of firearms in  order to build a case against Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel,  has already penned a book on the saga, though it was unclear on  Monday whether it will ever see the light of day.

“This would have a negative impact on morale in the Phoenix  [field division] and would have a detremental [sic] effect on our  relationships with [the Drug Enforcement Administration] and  FBI,” the ATF’s rejection letter stated.

Current restrictions prevent federal employees from profiting  from “any source other than the government for teaching,  speaking or writing that relates to the employee’s official  duties,” ruling out the possibility for Dodson to cash in on  any book deal.

According to officials who spoke with the Washington Post, the  ATF is currently evaluating whether Dodson’s book divulges any   “law enforcement sensitive” information. Dodson could be  allowed to publish his book while receiving no monetary  compensation.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Dodson  on the matter, filed a protest on Monday with the ATF’s Deputy  Director Thomas Brandon over his agency’s efforts to block the  book’s publishing, citing a violation of Dodson’s constitutional  rights.

“It was Agent Dodson’s disclosures that helped bring the  operational failures at the Phoenix field division to light. As a  knowledgeable and informed ‘insider’ who was directly involved in  Operation Fast and Furious, Agent Dodson will add significantly  to the national conversation about gun policy,” writes the  ACLU.

Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Darrell Issa, two  Republicans who spearheaded a Congressional investigation into  the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” operation, have written a foreword  for Dodson’s book.

Responding to the ATF’s rejection of Dodson’s book, Grassley  noted that “this isn’t the first time somebody from the ATF  or another government agency has written a book.”

“Just because the ATF leadership doesn’t like the content of  the book doesn’t mean they should be able to prevent the author  from giving his side of the story,” adds Grassley.

Sen. Grassley, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, and  Rep. Issa, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee  Chairman, produced an expansive joint report on “Fast and  Furious” consisting of over 2,000 pages of dozens of  interviews and a review of more than 10,000 pages of documents.

That Congressional inquiry also led to accusations that the  Justice Department had withheld documents and denied access to  witnesses, which culminated in Attorney General Eric Holder being  held in contempt of Congress in June of 2012. The investigation  also led to the resignation of Arizona US Attorney Dennis Burke  and the reassignment of ATF acting director Kenneth Melson.

Dodson, who began to write his book last year, sought permission  for external employment allowing him to secure a publisher in  June, according to the Washington Times.

A manuscript was presented to Dodson’s superior in Washington in  May, and to an immediate superior in Arizona in July. According  to documents first reported by the Washington Times his request  was rejected first in Arizona in July, and backed by the ATF’s  head in that office four days later.

Testimony presented by Dodson of his first day of undercover work  in Phoenix was possibly some of the most embarrassing for the  ATF. While trailing a suspected gun runner who had just purchased  10 semiautomatic rifles from a Phoenix gun store, Dodson and  another agent sought permission to seize the guns, but were  rebuffed by superiors who hoped to instead trace the firearms  back to more significant figures within the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Dodson and some fellow ATF agents disagreed with what they  considered a large volume of arms being allowed to flow into  Mexico in the “gun walking” sting program. In one case,  two AK-47 semiautomatic rifles sold at a Phoenix gun store  monitored by the ATF were linked to the deadly Arizona shooting  of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December of 2010.

“Fast and Furious” was launched in the fall of 2009, at  which point the ATF estimated that 90 percent of firearms  recovered for tracing by Mexican authorities struggling to deal  with spiking cartel violence were originating in the US.

http://rt.com/usa/book-fast-and-furious-blocked-866/

 

Teenager becomes first victim of China’s new ‘anti-gossip’ law after blog

  • Boy publicly questioned police  investigation into death of local businessman
  • Internet censors have ordered bloggers to  ‘keep social order’

By  Anna Edwards

PUBLISHED: 04:16 EST, 20  September 2013 |  UPDATED: 06:07 EST, 20 September 2013

 

A draconian measure to stop people  ‘gossiping’ online in China has claimed its first ‘offender’ – a 16-year-old  boy.

The country has imposed strict limits on what  people can and cannot say on the internet, which many thought would target  whistleblowers, critics of the government, or activists.

Instead, a teenager, named only as Yang, was  arrested for ‘provoking trouble’ by criticising police online.

In August, internet censors called popular bloggers to meetings and asked them to agree to standards, including keeping social order  

In August, internet censors called popular bloggers to  meetings and asked them to agree to standards, including keeping social order

 

The Beijing Times has interviewed a man, who  claims police took his 16-year-old son away this week, after accusing him of  ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’.

The newspaper said the blogger had gone on  the popular social media site Weibo to post his criticisms of the police  handling of a death in the community.

A statement from authorities in  Zhangjiachuan, Gansu province said the boy had publicly questioned a police  investigation about the death of a local businessman, the Daily Telegraph  reported.

The case involved a karaoke bar manager who  supposedly committed suicide by leaping from a building.

But the sceptical teenager posted the claim  that the man had been beaten up in a row, and accused the police of failing to  investigate fully.

State media have also accused some microbloggers of undermining socialism and promoting Western values  

State media have also accused some microbloggers of  undermining socialism and promoting Western values

His accusation quickly went viral and caught  the attention of the authorities, who decided to act.

Under the new Chinese law it is illegal to  post ‘false information’ that may be harmful to others.

The law stipulates that if such information  is retweeted 500 times or seen by 5000 users, the person who posted it can be  arrested.

In August, internet censors summoned popular  micro-bloggers to meetings and asked them to agree to standards, including  keeping social order – a move observers have said has a chilling effect on  public discourse.

State media have also accused some  micro-bloggers of undermining socialism and promoting Western values by  spreading lies and negative news.

Last month government-run newspaper The  People’s Daily reminded China’s ‘big Vs’ – popular bloggers whose social media  profiles are verified as genuine – that they ‘should be careful what information  they convey.. and use their right to expression responsibly.’

Many Chinese celebrities, from pop stars to  business tycoons, have amassed huge followings on social media sites, and at  times have posted material that the government has not approved of, such as  calling attention to social injustices and questioning state  policies.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2426559/Chinese-teenager-suggested-police-investigated-mans-death-thoroughly-person-arrested-countrys-new-anti-gossip-law.html#ixzz2fRh0SN7Z Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Say fromage! Agency denies censorship after withdrawing ‘gormless’ picture of Francois Hollande

Agence France Presse transmitted the unflattering picture to clients on Tuesday, then quickly issued a ‘Mandatory Kill’ order

Rob Williams

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Agence France Presse (AFP), the French press agency, has been forced to deny charges of self-censorship after attempting to withdraw a picture of the French President, Francois Hollande, with a ‘gormless’ grin on his face.

The image, which shows the President gurning while sat beneath a blackboard on which is written “Today, it’s back to school”, was taken on Tuesday as Hollande visited a school in Denain, northern France, to coincide with the start of term.

AFP initially transmitted the unflattering picture, which was taken by a pool photographer, to clients on Tuesday, then quickly issued a “Mandatory Kill” order, sparking allegations of self-censorship when the image emerged on Twitter.

The picture prompted derision from users of the micro-blogging site with one writing that no amount of Photoshop editing software “can make the president look more intelligent”.

AFP also faced a raft of questions from French media hinting that they may have come under pressure from Elysée Palace to withdraw the photo. The picture was also made available via Reuters on a pooled basis.

AFP’s global news director, Philippe Massonnet, was forced to deny suggestions that the agency withdrew the picture because of pressure from the French government.

In a lengthy piece on the AFP ‘Correspondent’ blog Mr Massonnet explains that “AFP has a rule not to transmit images that gratuitously ridicule people,” explaining that their photographers often catch public figures “at international conferences or waiting to give a speech, for instance – in unflattering but entirely human poses, such as with a finger in a nostril.”

Mr Massonnet says that the image was shot by a “pool” photographer because of the lack of space in the classroom. He explains that the photographer has a particular responsibility to avoid “unusual angles” in order to avoid the photograph being miscontrued.

Massonnet explains that this was the reason for the withdrawal of the image and that the decision was based on editorial guidelines.

He goes on, however, to conclude that the attempt to withdraw the picture “breathed new life” into the photograph writing: “In trying to “kill” the photo after it had already been transmitted, we actually drew more attention to it and fueled the suspicion that AFP had bowed to political pressure, thus causing some people to call into question the agency’s credibility.”

The incident, as Massonnet explains,  is an example of the so-called ‘Streisand effect’.

The Streisand effect is when an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicising it more widely.

The term is based on the American entertainer’s attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her residence in Malibu. After losing her lawsuit the almost-unseen photographs subsequently attracted worldwide attention.

Federal court order prohibits Brown from talking to the media in what critics say is latest in crackdown on investigative journalism

US stops jailed activist Barrett Brown from discussing leaks prosecution

  • Ed Pilkington in New York theguardian.com, Wednesday 4 September 2013 17.50 EDT

Barrett Brown, Anonymous spokesman

Brown’s lawyer says the gagging order is a breach of Brown’s first amendment rights. Photograph: Nikki Loehr

A federal court in Dallas, Texas has imposed a gag order on the jailed activist-journalist Barrett Brown and his legal team that prevents them from talking to the media about his prosecution in which he faces up to 100 years in prison for alleged offences relating to his work exposing online surveillance.

The court order, imposed by the district court for the northern district of Texas at the request of the US government, prohibits the defendant and his defence team, as well as prosecutors, from making “any statement to members of any television, radio, newspaper, magazine, internet (including, but not limited to, bloggers), or other media organization about this case, other than matters of public interest.”

It goes on to warn Brown and his lawyers that “no person covered by this order shall circumvent its effect by actions that indirectly, but deliberately, bring about a violation of this order”.

According to Dell Cameron of Vice magazine, who attended the hearing, the government argued that the gag order was needed in order to protect Brown from prejudicing his right to a fair trial by making comments to reporters.

But media observers seen the hearing in the opposite light: as the latest in a succession of prosecutorial moves under the Obama administration to crack-down on investigative journalism, official leaking, hacking and online activism.

Brown’s lead defence attorney, Ahmed Ghappour, has countered in court filings, the most recent of which was lodged with the court Wednesday, that the government’s request for a gag order is unfounded  as it is based on false accusations and misrepresentations.

The lawyer says the gagging order is a breach of Brown’s first amendment rights as an author who continues to write from his prison cell on issues unconnected to his own case for the Guardian and other media outlets.

In his memo to the court for today’s hearing, Ghappour writes that Brown’s July article for the Guardian “contains no statements whatsoever about this trial, the charges underlying the indictment, the alleged acts underlying the three indictments against Mr Brown, or even facts arguably related to this prosecution.”

The gag order does give Brown some room to carry on his journalistic work from prison. It says that he will be allowed to continue publishing articles on topics “not related to the counts on which he stands indicted”.

Following the imposition of the order, Ghappour told the Guardian: “The defense’s overriding concern is that Mr Brown continue to be able to exercise his first amendment right as a journalist. The order preserves that ability.”

The lawyer adds that since the current defence team took over in May, Brown has made only three statements to the media, two of which where articles that did not concern his trial while the third ran no risk of tainting the jury pool. “Defendant believes that a gag order is unwarranted because there is no substantial, or even reasonable, likelihood of prejudice to a fair trial based on statements made by defendant or his counsel since May 1, 2013.”

Brown, 32, was arrested in Dallas on 12 September last year and has been in prison ever since, charged with 17 counts that include threatening a federal agent, concealing evidence and disseminating stolen information. He faces a possible maximum sentence of 100 years in custody.

Before his arrest, Brown became known as a specialist writer on the US government’s use of private military contractors and cybersecurity firms to conduct online snooping on the public. He was regularly quoted by the media as an expert on Anonymous, the loose affiliation of hackers that caused headaches for the US government and several corporate giants, and was frequently referred to as the group’s spokesperson, though he says the connection was overblown.

In 2011, through the research site he set up called Project PM, he investigated thousands of emails that had been hacked by Anonymous from the computer system of a private security firm, HB Gary Federal. His work helped to reveal that the firm had proposed a dark arts effort to besmirch the reputations of WikiLeaks supporters and prominent liberal journalists and activists including the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald.

In 2012, Brown similarly pored over millions of emails hacked by Anonymous from the private intelligence company Stratfor. It was during his work on the Stratfor hack that Brown committed his most serious offence, according to US prosecutors – he posted a link in a chat room that connected users to Stratfor documents that had been released online.

The released documents included a list of email addresses and credit card numbers belonging to Stratfor subscribers. For posting that link, Brown is accused of disseminating stolen information – a charge with media commentators have warned criminalises the very act of linking.

As Geoffrey King, Internet Advocacy Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, has put it, the Barrett Brown case “could criminalize the routine journalistic practice of linking to documents publicly available on the internet, which would seem to be protected by the first amendment to the US constitution under current doctrine”.

In its motion to the Dallas district court, US prosecutors accuse Brown and his associates of having “solicited the services of the media or media-types to discuss his case” and of continuing to “manipulate the public through press and social media comments”.

It further accuses Ghappour of “co-ordinating” and “approving” the use of the media, and alleges that between them they have spread “gross fabrications and substantially false recitations of facts and law which may harm both the government and the defence during jury selection”.

But Ghappour in his legal response has pointed out that several of the specific accusations raised by the government are inaccurate. Prosecutors refer to an article in the Guardian by Greenwald published on 21 March 2013 based partly on an interview between the journalist and Brown, yet as Ghappour points out that piece was posted on the Guardian website before the accused’s current legal team had been appointed.

Under his legal advice, Ghappour writes, Brown has maintained “radio silence” over his case and has given no further interviews, thus negating the government’s case for a gagging order.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/04/barrett-brown-gag-order-us-government

Painting of Vladimir Putin in women’s underwear seized by Russian police for breaking unspecified laws

A visitor takes a picture of the artwork entitled

Picture displayed in St Petersburg gallery portrayed president in tight-fitting slip brushing Dmitry Medvedev’s hair

Reuters in St Petersburg

theguardian.com,              Tuesday 27 August 2013 14.26 EDT

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin in his work attire. Photograph: Itar-Tass/Barcroft Media

Russian police seized a painting of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev in women’s underwear from a gallery in St Petersburg, saying the satirical display had broken unspecified laws.

The officers also removed a picture of the head of the Russian Orthodox church, his torso covered in tattoos, and two others poking fun at MPs who have backed legislation banning so-called gay propaganda, gallery staff said.

The police service said it had taken paintings from the Museum of Power gallery – based in two rooms of a flat – late on Monday after receiving reports that they were illegal. It gave no further detail but Russia does have a law against insulting authorities, an offence that carries a maximum one-year prison term.

One painting showed Putin wearing a tight-fitting slip and brushing the hair of the prime minister Medvedev, who is wearing knickers and a bra.

The St Petersburg deputy Vitaly Mironov, whose face was combined with the gay rights movement’s rainbow flag in one of the paintings, said the images were inappropriate and “of a distinctly pornographic character”.

St Petersburg, which hosts world leaders at a G20 summit next week, was one of the first Russian cities to introduce a law banning the spread of “gay propaganda”. The Russian parliament has also adopted similar legislation, prompting protests from abroad and calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics which Russia will host in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in February.

The gallery’s owner, Alexander Donskoy, said the officers had also shut down his establishment and gave him no explanation for the removal of paintings from the exhibition.

“This is an [illegal] seizure,” he said. “We have been given no formal documents banning us from operating and no receipt confirming our petty cash was seized.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/27/painting-vladimir-putin-underwear

China orders all the nation’s journalists to take Marxism classes

Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 6:05pm

News›China Insider
Class struggle
Patrick Boehler patrick.boehler@scmp.com

China has ordered its entire press corps back to school in an effort to shore up ideological unity. The nation’s 307,000 reporters, producers and editors will soon have to sit through at least two days of Marxism classes, the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department has announced along with the press association and the state press regulator.

The announcement comes a week after Xi Jinping called for increased unity in a much publicised speech and amid a widening crackdown on online dissent. Last week, a reporter with the Modern Express, Liu Hu, was detained in Chongqing on charges of “causing trouble” when he openly called for a corruption investigation into a deputy director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

Xi Jinping’s administration has also started a campaign against “internet rumours”, unverified reports circulating online, and those sharing such information. Influential media commentator Charles Xue was detained for soliciting prostitution over the weekend, according to Beijing police, in what observers have called trumped-up charges related to the clampdown.

“The internet has become the main battlefield in the fight for public opinion,” Xinhua quoted an unidentified official in charge of the Marxism classes as saying. “At present, the situation in the ideological field is complex, journalism and propaganda hold even greater responsibility and the task is becoming increasingly difficult.”

The official also pointed to a changed media environment where journalists were younger and less ideologically reliable in their reporting. “Journalists’ ideological and political qualities vary greatly,” the official said.

A woman sits beside a portrait of Karl Marx at a market in Beijing. Photo: AP

 

Last week, Li Baoshan, the publisher of the Central Party School’s magazine Seeking Truth, called on journalists [1] to focus on positive reporting, even though bad news sell well. “Socialist outlook on news puts emphasis on social benefits, if there is a conflict between [commercial and social] benefits, then [commercial] benefits have to conform to social benefits,” Li wrote.

Marxism classes are scheduled to begin this month in main provincial publications and then spread to minor publications. Until next February, central government monitors’ will inspect the programme’s progress.

Journalists have reacted with muted apathy to the announcement made by Xinhua on Tuesday. “I’ve studied Marxism for so many years, the more I study it, the less I understand it,” was a Beijing-based journalist’s reaction. “Speechless,” Lv Minghe, an investigative reporter with Southern Weekly commented in a Sina Weibo post.


Links: [1] http://www.qstheory.cn/zxdk/this year/this year16/this year08/tthis year0813_259118.htm

Popular China bloggers should ‘promote virtues’

Chinese Internet celebrities have been told to “promote virtues” by a leading official, state media said Sunday, after a singer sparked a free speech debate by venting about bombing government offices.

A man uses a laptop computer at a wireless cafe in Beijing on July 1, 2009. Chinese Internet celebrities have been told to “promote virtues” by a leading official, state media said Sunday.

Beijing expects celebrities to “uphold law”, state news agency Xinhua reported the official as saying, after singer Wu Hongfei was released earlier this month following her detention by authorities over her online comments.

She said she wanted to target Beijing’s housing authority and a neighbourhood committee, soon after a man set off a homemade device at the capital’s airport, citing grievances with local government.

“The government expects (Internet celebrities) to uphold law and order and to promote virtues and trust,” Xinhua quoted Lu Wei, director of the State Internet Information Office, as saying in indirect speech.

“They shall set an example of protecting the legal rights of citizens and denouncing any activities that harm the reputation and interests of other people,” he was reported as saying in a statement after a high-level meeting on Saturday.

AFP could not find the statement on the website of the department, who could not be reached for comment Sunday.

There are more than 1.2 billion accounts on the country’s popular Internet blogging websites, Xinhua said.

On two of the most popular Internet sites, the Twitter-like Sina Weibo and t.qq.com, 3,300 accounts have more than one million followers while about 200 have more than 10 million, the news agency added.

Media reported that Wu was held on suspicion of “fabricating fake terrorism information”, an offence that carries a maximum of five years in jail.

In an informal online poll run by state broadcaster CCTV, 80 percent of voters did not think Wu’s words constituted a crime.

Wu’s comments were made just one day after a man in a wheelchair detonated a small handmade explosive device at Beijing airport in protest over historical grievances with the authorities.

The airport bomber, Ji Zhongxing, was a former motorcycle driver who despaired at his failure to win redress for what he called a 2005 police beating in southern Dongguan city that left him paralysed, though authorities there said his claims lacked evidence.

The blast destroyed Ji’s hand and injured an officer, but his story triggered widespread sympathy and an outpouring of resentment at abuse by local authorities.

He has been formally arrested and could face three to 10 years in jail, his lawyer told AFP

http://www.bangkokpost.com/tech/computer/364113/

 

The UK Bans Two Prominent American Bloggers From Entering the Country

Jun. 26, 2013 11:59pm

(This story has been updated.)

On Wednesday, two American citizens were told that their opinions were a danger to the UK and as such, they were banned from visiting the country.

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, two outspoken American bloggers and pro-Israel activists were slated to speak this week at a rally for the English Defence League in the United Kingdom (UK). But that’s not happening. Both Geller and Spencer were denied entry into the UK by the Home Secretary’s office. Among the reasons given, their presence is “not conducive to the public good.”

According to documents sent to Geller and Spencer (both of the letters were virtually identical), their denial was based upon a perceived violation(s) of the British government’s “Unacceptable Behaviour” policy. That policy states that the government can expel/deport or deny entry to any non-UK national who violates the policy by engaging in one of the “behaviours” on the list.

These include:

  • Writing, producing, publishing or distributing material
  • Public speaking including preaching
  • running a website
  • using a position of responsibility such as a teacher, community or youth leader

To express views that:

  • foment or justify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs
  • seek to provoke others to terrorist attacks
  • foment other criminal activity or seek to promote others to commit serious criminal acts
  • foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK

The backgrounds of the two banned Americans were reviewed by the Home Secretary’s office and they were told in crystal clear terms, “your presence here is not conducive to the public good.”

The official notice went on to clarify, ”You are therefore instructed not to travel to the UK as you will be refused admission on arrival.”

Spencer’s blog post titled, “Britain capitulates to jihad,”  and Geller’s called , “Banned In Britain: UK Caves To Jihad,” carried identical reply messages regarding their interpretation of the ban.

In a striking blow against freedom, the British government has banned us from entering the country. Muhammad al-Arifi, who has advocated Jew-hatred, wife-beating, and jihad violence, entered the U.K. recently with no difficulty. In not allowing us into the country solely because of our true and accurate statements about Islam, the British government is behaving like a de facto Islamic state. The nation that gave the world the Magna Carta is dead.

If Geller and Spencer’s names sound familiar to you, they are the driving force behind many campaigns to educate people in America and around the world to the dangers of “creeping sharia” and some of the motives behind the more militant factions of Islam. They are regularly described as “extreme” and “anti-Islam” by their opponents.

Last November, TheBlaze published a story about their mass transit campaign that irritated many pro-Muslim organizations like CAIR. The ad in question showed the World Trade Center towers in flames along with quotes from the Quran.

CAIR was not pleased by this Ad

Update:

Overnight, Ms. Geller provided answers to TheBlaze questions about the ban as well as the stated purpose of her visit to England;

I was going to lay flowers at the site on Armed Forces day and I was banned. My crime? My principled dedication to freedom. I am a human rights activist dedicated to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and individual rights for all before the law. I fiercely oppose violence and the persecution and oppression of minorities under supremacist law. I deplore violence and work for the preservation of freedom of speech to avoid violent conflict.

Geller pointed out that the UK banned her without her being charged or convicted of any crime, “I became a writer and activist in the wake of 911. For this I am banned. I shed no tears. I am banned from Mecca, too.”

Concerning the charge by the Home Secretary’s office that Geller and Spencer’s presence in the UK was “not conducive to the public good”, Ms Geller also states;

It is painfully apparent that the action of the British authorities will have the opposite effect of what they had intended. They have lit a fuse. And instead of allowing a respectful laying of flowers in memory of Lee Rigby on Armed Forces day, they have given rise and sanction to poison like this: “IED threat to Britain as fanatic Anjem Choudary recruits vigilante squads” (Geller was pointing to a story from the Sun about radical muslim preacher Anjem Choudary and his recent call to create a network of “task forces” in the UK with the intention of meting out their own form of justice.)

We have posted a copy of Ms. Geller’s letter below. As stated above, it is identical to the one received by Mr. Spencer, only the names have been changed.

Pamela Geller banned by the UK

Page two of the Geller banned letter

Follow Mike Opelka on Twitter — @stuntbrain

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/06/26/the-uk-bans-two-prominent-american-bloggers-from-entering-the-country/

Turkish PM’s treason claims against BBC reporter chills other journalists

Turkish journalists see Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s attack on presenter for BBC’s Turkish service as a warning to them all

Protesters take cover from water cannon

Erdogan took offence at the BBC’s coverage of anti-government protests. Photograph: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

Based in London, where she is a presenter for the BBC‘s Turkish service, until last week Selin Girit was little known in her home country. That all changed when the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accused her of treason after her coverage of the recent anti-government protests. The attack struck fear into other journalists, who believe Erdoğan – having consistently blamed the media for fanning the protests – is intent on stifling all dissent.

The campaign against Girit was launched last weekend when the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek, started tweeting aggressively against her. The BBC protested strongly against what it called government intimidation. Erdoğan was clearly unimpressed. Speaking in parliament a day later, he said Girit was “part of a conspiracy against her own country”.

Turkish journalists see the focus on Girit as a warning to them all – an example to cow the rest of them into submission. Serdar Korucu, editor of a major Turkish news outlet, said: “The prime minister is telling us, ‘Be careful what you say and do, or you can easily be next’.”

The Turkish mainstream media have ignored much of the unrest, with CNNTürk airing a documentary on penguins while the central square in Istanbul became the scene of street protests unprecedented in Erdoğan’s 10-year rule.

The public was outraged, and protests were staged in front of Turkish news outlets. Many journalists, however, were not surprised. Fatma Demirelli, managing editor of the English-language daily Today’s Zaman, explained that self-censorship had long become the norm in Turkish newsrooms. “Journalists now have a sort of split brain: on the one hand you see what the news is, but on the other you immediately try to gauge how to report it without stepping on anyone’s foot. Self-censorship has become an automatic reflex.”

Self-censorship is not new in a country that tops the world list of jailers of journalists, with 67 currently incarcerated, according to Reporters Without Borders. But it has drawn more attention during the protests around Gezi Park.

“The significant difference with the current events is that the censorship has affected a different constituency of people – middle-class Turks – rather than other groups whose causes have been more frequently subjected to censorship, such as activists advocating Kurdish rights and politics,” said Andrew Gardner, Turkey researcher for Amnesty International. “Another difference is that the events were widely covered in international media, exposing the self-censorship in mainstream Turkish media further.”

Censorship and control aside, violence and arbitrary threats against reporters trying to cover the events have also increased.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented a large number of cases of attacks on the press during the protests, including physical assault, detentions, threats and the unlawful confiscation of equipment and protective gear. Several journalists, Turkish and foreign, have sustained injuries from beatings and plastic bullets used by the police.

The organisation singled out police brutality as the biggest threat against journalists working in Turkey, saying that reporters were more at risk than they had been in two decades.

After covering a peaceful protest that was violently dispersed with tear gas and water cannon, journalist Alpbugra Bahadir Gültekin was repeatedly beaten by the police. “I told them that I was with the press, but they first insulted and then started beating me. After I fell to the ground, several officers continued to beat and to kick me,” he said.

Having recovered security camera footage of the incident, he brought charges against the police. He does not expect to be heard. “They operate in an atmosphere of impunity. But we have to start somewhere, and bring these incidents to light.”

Demirelli and Korucu agreed that Erdoğan had become a figure beyond criticism. “News stations have started to correct the prime minister’s slips of the tongue unasked, in order to be on the safe side,” Korucu said. “Nobody wants to ask uncomfortable questions, in order to keep him happy. But how can we begin to understand issues of interest if asking is not free any more?”

Demirelli said: “Journalists now always wonder if they really want to investigate, for fear that they might actually find something.”

Kentucky middle school student,14, faces up to 1 year in jail over NRA t-shirt

  • The 14-year-old student has no prior  criminal record
  • Insists he was only exercising his right to  freedom of speech
  • Logan Middle School, where the incident  occurred, has a statue of a gun holding man out front

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 12:56 EST, 16  June 2013 |  UPDATED: 12:56 EST, 16 June 2013

The 14-year-old Kentucky student arrested and  suspended from school over a t-shirt now faces the possibility of a year in  jail. Originally arrested for wearing a National Rifle Association shirt to  school,  Jared Marcum was charged Friday with obstructing an officer and  faces up to a  year in jail and a $500 fine. ‘[Marcum]  has no background of anything criminal at all, until now,’  Allen Lardieri,  Marcum’s father told WOWK  TV. ‘It just seems like nobody wants  to admit they’re wrong.’

Suspended: 14-year-old student Jared Marcum was suspended from school and now faces one year in jail for wearing NRA t-shirt to school 

Suspended: 14-year-old student Jared Marcum was  suspended from school and now faces one year in jail for wearing NRA t-shirt to  school

The charge of obstruction comes from Marcum  refusing to stop talking,  hindering the arresting officer’s ability to do his  job, according to  the police report. Nowhere in the report did it mention  Marcum making  any threats or doing anything other than talking, the station  reported. ‘In  my view of the facts, Jared didn’t do anything wrong,” Ben White, Marcum’s  attorney said.

Marcum, while standing on line for lunch in the Logan  Middle School  cafeteria last month, was ordered by a teacher to either remove  his  shirt or turn it inside out. Refusing the teacher’s demands resulted in a trip to the school office, where he again refused a similar request,  resulting  in a call to the police from administrators at a school with a statue of a man  holding a gun out front.

 

Hypocrits: Logan Middle School has this statue just feet from the entrance 

Hypocrits: Logan Middle School has this statue just feet  from the entrance

Proud papa: Allen Lardieri, Marcum's father, has vowed to fight to clear his son's good name 

Proud papa: Allen Lardieri, Marcum’s father, has vowed  to fight to clear his son’s good name

The responding officer told Marcum to sit  down and be quiet, Marcum told the Associated press shortly after his arrest.  The eighth grader says  he instead calmly told the officer that his shirt was  not against any  school policy, that he was only exercising his freedom of  speech. The  officer charged him with disrupting an educational process and  obstructing an officer. Local  officials could not be reached for comment by Mail Online, Marcum has a  scheduled court appearance on July 11. ‘Me, I’m  more of a fighter and so is Jared and eventually we’re going to get through  this,’ Lardieri told the station. ‘I don’t think it should  have ever gotten  this far.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2342692/Kentucky-middle-school-student-14-faces-1-year-jail-NRA-t-shirt.html#ixzz2WRPwSI3v Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Parents outrage as school cuts off valedictorian’s microphone as he makes unauthorised remarks about the value of freedom of speech

  • Remington  Reimer was to make the Valedictory speech
  • All  speeches had to be pre-approved by the school
  • Reimer  deviated from the script and his mic was pulled
  • Continued  speak even after being muted although nobody could hear him

By  James Daniel

PUBLISHED: 15:40 EST, 8 June  2013 |  UPDATED: 15:57  EST, 8 June 2013

A Texas high school silenced its  Valedictorian’s microphone during his speech when he diverted from his  pre-approved remarks and began to speak about the constitution.

Joshua High School graduate Remington Reimer,  who was accepted into the Naval Academy, had his microphone silenced during his  speech right after he told fellow graduates that school officials had threatened  to cut him off the day before.

His speech began like any other: ‘I’m honored  to stand before you today as the Valedictorian of 2013!’

Scroll down  for video…

Censored: Remington Reimer, seen speaking here, was giving the valedictory speech when his microphone was turned off because he deviated from approved remarksCensored: Remington Reimer, seen speaking here, was  giving the valedictory speech when his microphone was turned off because he  deviated from approved remarks

Turned off: Up until the point the sound was cut, the speech had been well receivedTurned off: Up until the point the sound was cut, the  speech had been well received

 

Gifted: Remington Reimer's (left) classmates at Joshua High School called him 'Spock', not due to any lack of human emotion but because he is 'the most gifted, academically excellent student that Joshua High School has ever produced'Gifted: Remington Reimer’s (left) classmates at Joshua  High School called him ‘Spock’, not due to any lack of human emotion but because  he is ‘the most gifted, academically excellent student that Joshua High School  has ever produced’

Reimer thanked his parents, teachers and  classmates. ‘Most people have never ever heard me speak much less see me smile,’  said Reimer.

He then talked about his faith and God, ‘Most  important I want to thank God for giving us the only son who went through  excruciating death on a cross…’

 

Then he said it was his constitutional right  to talk about such topics. ‘I was threatened with having the mic turned off,’  and right then the mic was turned off.

Reimer continued with his speech, but some  thought that he had finished and began applauding.

Warning: Speakers were told to stick to his prepared remarks, but Reimer, soft-spoken and headed to the Air Force Academy, didn't follow the scriptWarning: Speakers were told to stick to his prepared  remarks, but Reimer, soft-spoken and headed to the Air Force Academy, didn’t  follow the script

He continued speaking even though few could  hear him.

Colin Radford, a fellow graduate explained  what happened to MyFoxDFW.com ‘He just said, he was talking about getting  constitutional rights getting taken away from him, and then he said, just  yesterday they threatened to turn my microphone off, and then his microphone  went off.’

‘Student speakers were told that if their  speeches deviated from the prior-reviewed material, the microphone would be  turned off, regardless of content,’ Joshua Independent School District said in a  statement.

Colin Radford: Fellow classmate of Reimer's said that everyone knew the rules about sticking to the script so the silencing came as no surpriseColin Radford: Fellow classmate of Reimer’s said that  everyone knew the rules about sticking to the script so the silencing came as no  surprise

Zachary Hull: Another of Reimer's classmates also believes the school were within their rights to lower the sound of his speechZachary Hull: Another of Reimer’s classmates also  believes the school were within their rights to lower the sound of his  speech

WAS THE SCHOOL RIGHT TO CENSOR THEIR  VALEDICTORIAN?

Joshua school district policy gives these  rules about graduation speeches by valedictorian, salutatorians and class  historians.

‘The subject of the addresses shall be  related to the purpose of the graduation ceremony, marking and honoring the  occasion, honoring the participants and those in attendance, and the student’s  perspective on purpose, achievement, life, school, graduation, and looking  forward to the future.

The student shall stay on the subject, and  the student shall not engage in speech that: Is obscene, vulgar, offensively  lewd, or indecent; Creates reasonable cause to believe that the speech would  result in material and substantial interference with school activities or the  rights of others; Promotes illegal drug use; Violates the intellectual property  rights, privacy rights, or other rights of another person; Contains defamatory  statements about public figures or others; or Advocates imminent lawless action  and is likely to incite or produce such action.

Source: Joshua ISD policy  FNA (Local) Student Rights and Responsibilities, Student Expression

‘When one student’s speech deviated from the  prior-reviewed speech, the microphone was turned off, pursuant to District  policy and procedure,’ the statement said.

Some attendees initially asked if the  microphone was turned off because Reimer mentioned religion.

However, since the ceremony opened and closed  with a prayer, and Reimer’s speech mentioned God and Jesus throughout, graduate  Zachery Hull believes it had nothing to do with religion.

‘Freedom of speech,’ Hull said. ‘He said what  he was going to say, they did what they had to do. Everyone was  right.’

In addition to being the smartest kid in his  class, Reimer was active in Junior ROTC and has accepted a full scholarship to  the U.S. Naval Academy, friends say.

In his speech, he mentioned God and Jesus and  his religious faith while urging others to stick up for their constitutional  rights.

Administrators say his religious comments had  nothing to do with their decision to cut him off, noting that other students  were allowed to make religious comments which had been pre-approved.

Joshua school district administrators say  they censored Reimer because he began to stray from his prepared  remarks.

‘At the time that the speech was deviated  from, the microphone was turned off — and they were told that, prior to the  graduation ceremony, regardless of content,’ Superintendent Fran Marek  said.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2338095/Valedictorians-mic-cut-impromptu-speech-value-constitution.html#ixzz2Vgbd3uhW Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Web firms will be told to block terror sites and pornography

Culture Secretary orders internet crackdown in wake of Woolwich attack and April Jones killing

Andrew Grice

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Internet and telecom companies will be ordered by the Government to block “harmful” content such as extremist material and pornography  in the wake of the Woolwich terrorist attack and killing of five-year-old April Jones.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, has summoned the bosses of companies  such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook to a summit in two weeks at which she will demand much closer industry-wide co-operation to prevent the uploading, downloading and sharing of  harmful material. The agenda will include illegal porn, images of child abuse, material that could incite religious or racial hatred and so-called “suicide websites.”

Ms Miller will deliver an “enough is enough” message to the internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms firms, rejecting the argument that their products are too complex to regulate. She will tell them that they must put aside competition to collaborate over harmful content to meet growing public concern about the issue. She is worried that there is not enough co-ordinated action.

Although the Government planned a crackdown before the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby, the tragedy has given it greater urgency. It also emerged last week that Mark Bridger, who was jailed for life for the murder of April Jones, had a library of violent child porn.

Possible new measures include greater use of online filters; making public Wi-Fi more “family friendly” so children cannot access harmful material on their laptops;  ensuring all companies sign up to industry guidelines and setting up permanent bodies to monitor content and education campaigns for parents.

In a letter to ISPs and telecom firms, Ms Miller said: “Recent horrific events have again highlighted the widespread public concern over the proliferation of, and easy access to, harmful content on the internet.” She added: “A relatively small number of organisations wield a great deal of online power – and I believe that with that power comes a great responsibility. Given the grave concerns that have been raised it is right that we now consider what more could and should be done in this area.”

The other companies asked to attend  the summit are Yahoo, Twitter, BT, Virgin, TalkTalk, Vodaphone, Sky, O2, EE and Three. Ms Miller told them to produce new ideas “to get to grips with these pervasive and pernicious problems  in all their forms.”

The Culture Secretary regards this month’s summit as the start of a process, not a one-off event. She wants to work “in partnership” with the industries concerned but will keep up the pressure on them to take swift action over harmful online content  in the next few months.

Ms Miller is not threatening legislation at this stage but measures could be considered if the firms fail to put their house in order. She hopes they will be keen to head off the threat of statutory controls being included in the Government’s White Paper on “connectivity” to be published later this year.

Although some progress has been made on child safety and porn, Ms Miller wants to involve giant  search engines like Google to ensure a more effective approach across the relevant industries. She believes mobile phone companies, who have agreed a code of practice, have shown how joint action can be taken on an industry-wide basis.

Sources at Google said the company would be happy to attend the Whitehall talks to explain what it was doing to tackle such problems.

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/web-firms-will-be-told-to-block-terror-sites-and-pornography-8646545.html#

Tiananmen Square online searches censored by Chinese authorities

Banned search terms include ‘today’, ‘tomorrow’ and date references in attempt to quell protest

in Beijing

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 4 June 2013 08.55 EDT

Yellow rubber duck

Twitter image mocking Chinese censorship of Tiananmen Square, adapted from AP’s 1989 photograph (the search term ‘Big Yellow Duck’ is banned). Photograph: Twitter/weibo.com/weibolg

It takes a very significant date for the word “today” to be deemed too sensitive to mention. But 24 years after the Chinese government’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, “today” is part of a long list of search terms that have been censored on Sina Weibo, the country’s most popular microblog.

Other banned words include “tomorrow,” “that year,” “special day,” and many number combinations that could refer to 4 June 1989, such as 6-4, 64, 63+1, 65-1, and 35 (shorthand for May 35th).

Chinese Communist party authorities, fearing a threat to their legitimacy, forbid open discussion of the so-called “June 4th incident” in the country’s media and on its internet. Yet internet users have reacted by using ever-more oblique references to commemorate the tragedy, treating censors to an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse.

Many of their posts have been embedded in pictures, which can often elude automatic detection: a girl with her hand over her mouth; a Lego man facing down three green Lego tanks; the iconic “tank man” picture with its tanks photoshopped into four giant rubber ducks, a reference to a well-known art installation in Hong Kong’s Victoria harbour.

Most of these pictures, too, have since been scrubbed clean. By Tuesday afternoon, the term “big yellow duck” had also been blocked.

AP tank man Tiananmen Square

  Monday, June 5, 1989: a Chinese man blocks a line of tanks on Beijing’s Cangan Boulevard in Tiananmen Square. He was pulled away by bystanders. Photograph: Jeff Widener/Associated PressOfficially, the Chinese government considers the Tiananmen protest a “counter-revolutionary rebellion,” and its subsequent crackdown – the declaration of martial law, troops firing indiscriminately at unarmed demonstrators – as necessary for maintaining social stability. Many one-time protesters have since been consigned to the margins of Chinese society. Some have spent long stints in jail; others have fled the country. A large number still face regular harassment by security agents.

On Tuesday, Beijing was both overcast and smoggy, the noon sky as dark as early evening. Volunteer guards with red armbands were stationed every 100 meters on Chang’an Avenue, a broad boulevard which runs past Tiananmen Square in the heart of the city. A group of Hong Kong journalists were briefly detained for filming at an early morning flag-raising ceremony in the historic square and were forced to delete their footage.

Lego tanks

A Lego version of AP’s photo of a man blocking tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests on 4 June 1989. Photograph: Twitter/weibo.com/weibolgOn Saturday, China‘s foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, censured US calls to provide a full account of the crackdown, calling them “political prejudice”. He warned Washington not to make “groundless accusations” and to “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs“.

Last week, Sina Weibo appeared to have rolled out a new censorship function – searches for “Tiananmen incident” and “six-four incident” were not blocked, but instead pulled up posts about other historical events, such as a 1976 demonstration in Tiananmen Square mourning the death of Premier Zhou Enlai. Yet as of Monday, searches resulted in the regular message: “According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results for ‘six-four incident’ cannot be displayed.”

Many prominent intellectuals and celebrities on Sina Weibo have simply taken the day off from posting in an act of quiet protest. One appears to be the prominent film-maker Jia Zhanke. “Don’t worry about forgetfulness – at least the Sina censors remember,” he wrote on 3 June, according to the blog Tea Leaf Nation. The post has since been deleted.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/04/tiananmen-square-online-search-censored

 

US government orders Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed to remove blueprint for 3D-printed handgun from the web

Last week Wilson printed and fired the “Liberator” handgun

James Legge

Friday, 10 May 2013

The US government has demanded the removal of online files which allow users to 3D-print their own unregistered gun at home.

The blueprint has so far been downloaded more than 100,000 times since Defense Distributed – which spent a year designing the “Liberator” handgun – made it available online.

Last week Defense Distributed built the gun from plastic on an industrial 3D printer bought on eBay for $8,000 (£5,140), and fired it.

The Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance wrote to the company’s founder Cody Wilson demanding the designs be “removed from public access” until he could prove he had not broken laws governing shipping weapons overseas.

“We have to comply,” Mr Wilson told news magazine Forbes in an interview.

But he said Defense Distributed had been set up specifically to meet requirements that exempted it from the regulations.

The designs have since been removed from the company’s Defcad site, but this may not prevent people accessing the blueprints, many links to which have been uploaded to file-sharing site the Pirate Bay, making them widely available.

Wilson – a self-described “crypto-anarchist” who believes everyone has a right to a gun – welcomed the government intervention, saying it would highlight the issue of whether it was possible to stop the spread of 3D-printed weapons.

The group’s website currently has a red banner at the top reading: “DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls.  Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.”

Wilson told the tech blog Betabeat: “We got an official letter from the Secretary of State, telling me who they were, what their authority was under US law and telling me they want to review these files to see if they’re class one munitions. That includes blueprints.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-government-orders-cody-wilson-and-defense-distributed-to-remove-blueprint-for-3dprinted-handgun-from-the-web-8610842.html#

 

New York Times says Royal Charter harms free speech

Small publishers and websites under threat, says paper that helped expose hacking scandal

IAN BURRELL

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The New York Times has warned that British proposals to regulate the press through a Royal Charter will “chill free speech and threaten the survival of small publishers and internet sites”.

The newspaper said the plans drawn up by the three main political parties to implement the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson would do “more harm than good”. The criticisms carry particular weight because of the role of the New York Times in exposing the phone-hacking scandal, which led to the Leveson inquiry.

In an exposé published in 2010, the paper shone new light on the “endemic” use of phone hacking at the News of the World. In its leader column, it said that the role of the press in uncovering the criminal activities of other journalists needed to be kept in mind. “It would be perverse if regulations enacted in response to this scandal ended up stifling the kind of hard-hitting investigative journalism that brought it to light in the first place.”

The comments came as The Guardian published a piece by Simon Jenkins describing the charter as “blatantly one-side justice”. He said “it is hard to imagine a more ‘chilling’ deterrent to serious press investigation than this” and added that the press must face a difficult economic future “wearing a ball and chain”. Mr Jenkins, a former editor of The Times, is a member of group advising Lord Hunt, chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, on the setting up of the new press regulatory body.

The criticisms of the Royal Charter continue to create doubt over whether the system can operate with credibility. Britain’s biggest newspaper groups – including the publishers of the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and The Sun – and the magazine sector have expressed concerns about “deeply contentious issues” in the charter. The president of the Newspaper Society, Adrian Jeakings, said the system would “open the floodgates to compensation claimants” and “place a crippling burden” on the regional press.

News organisations are understood to have taken high legal advice amid speculation of a widespread boycott. The Spectator and Private Eye magazines have both indicated that they will not be joining the new system, which is voluntary but leaves non-members at risk of exemplary damages imposed in the libel courts. In an editorial today, The Independent says that, “with reluctance”, it was accepting the Royal Charter. “It is not enough for newspapers simply to promise a cleaner future,” it said.

In an attempt to appease fears among bloggers and news websites that they would be restricted by the new regulator, members of the Open Rights Group, which campaigns to protect the rights of internet users, were called to a meeting at Hacked Off’s offices in London. In a piece on the Open Rights Group website, writer Simon Phipps said of the charter: “The big story here is not erosion of press freedom; it is rather the chilling of the voice of the citizen.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/new-york-times-says-royal-charter-harms-free-speech-8543030.html#

 

MEPs to vote on EU ‘ban on all forms of pornography’

MEPs will next week vote on a “ban on all forms of pornography” including censorship of the internet in a bid to “eliminate gender stereotypes” that demean women.

MEPs to vote on EU 'ban on all forms of pornography'

MEPs will next week vote on a “ban on all forms of pornography” including censorship of the internet in a bid to “eliminate gender stereotypes” that demean women.  Photo: ALAMY

 

Bruno Waterfield

By , Brussels

10:09AM GMT 08 Mar 2013

Controversy has erupted over next Tuesday’s European Parliament resolution “on eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU”, meant to mark international women’s day, after libertarian Swedish MEPs from the Pirate Party spotted the call for a ban in the small print.

While not legally binding, the vote could be the first step towards European legislation as the EU’s assembly increasingly flexes its political muscle within Europe’s institutions.

The proposal “calls on the EU and its member states to take concrete action on discrimination against women in advertising… [with] a ban on all forms of pornography in the media”.

Kartika Liotard, a Dutch left-wing feminist MEP, is seeking “statutory measures to prevent any form of pornography in the media and in advertising and for a ban on advertising for pornographic products and sex tourism”, including measures in the “digital field”.

The MEPs are also demanding the establishment of state sex censors with “a mandate to impose effective sanctions on companies and individuals promoting the sexualisation of girls”.

Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party which campaigns for internet freedom and has MEPs, warned that there is “a clear majority in favour of this report, much because of its title and a belief that there’s nothing odd about it”.

“This horrendous attack on our fundamental freedoms of speech and expression needs action now,” he wrote on his blog.

“This isn’t the final vote in the legislative process; rather, it’s the first vote in the legislative sausage machine (‘what goes in, must come out’). Still, it is important to send a very clear message that this is unacceptable at first opportunity, or it will become a legislative proposal which is much harder to fight.”

The parliament has added insult to injury for the civil liberties campaigners by blocking a flood of protest emails that was sent to MEPs as news of the ban vote emerged.
“This is an absolute disgrace, in my opinion. A parliament that views input from citizens on a current issue as spam, has very little democratic legitimacy in my opinion,” said Christian Engstrom, a Pirate Party MEP.

A parliament offcial denied that protest emails had been deliberately blocked.

“In addition to its normal spam filters, the European Parliament has an alert system in case of an excessive influx of emails affecting the proper functioning of the email-system,” he said.

“This system was triggered because of an enormous influx of mails. The measures are automatic and technical and independent of any content or sender.”

A recent EU report urged tight press regulation and demanded that Brussels officials are given control of national media supervisors with new powers to enforce fines or the sacking of journalists.

The “high-level” recommendations, welcomed by the European Commission, backed the creation of EU supervised media regulators with “real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status.”

Iceland is currently debating radical proposals that would make it the first Western democracy to attempt censorship of the internet by blocking online pornography.

The Icelandic government is considering introducing internet filters, such as those used to block China off form the worldwide web, in order to stop people downloading or viewing pornography on the internet.

The unprecedented censorship is justified by fears about damaging effects of the internet on children and women.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/9917189/MEPs-to-vote-on-EU-ban-on-all-forms-of-pornography.html

Wal-Mart’s Nude Child Photo Policy Hits 9th : Lost Custody of daughters over photos developed at Wal Mart

By TIM HULL

(CN) – A couple who briefly lost custody of their children after developing bath-time photos told the 9th Circuit that Wal-Mart should have disclosed its “unsuitable print policy.”

Lisa and A.J. Demaree say they photographed their daughters, who were 5, 4 and 1 1/2 at the time, in the bathtub while on a family trip to San Diego in 2008. The couple then returned home to Arizona and dropped off the camera’s memory stick at a Wal-Mart in Peoria to have the photos developed.

Wal-Mart employees later reported the photos to the Peoria Police Department, which called in the Arizona Child Protective Services Agency (CPS). The Demarees ended up losing custody of the girls for more than a month while they fought to prove their innocence. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge eventually reunited the family after finding the photographs were not pornographic.

The Demarees sued Wal-Mart in 2009 for consumer fraud, alleging that it has a secret “unsuitable print policy” for handling nude photos of perceived minors, and that it should inform customers that it might turn over unsuitable photos to the police.

Their attorney, Richard Treon with Treon, Aguirre, Newman & Norris, said at the time that seven of the 150 photos on the memory stick showed the girls “with a towel around and in various portions of nudity.”

A federal judge in Phoenix ruled for Wal-Mart, finding that Arizona’s immunity statutes relieve employees of civil liability for reporting suspected child pornography. The Demarees appealed the case to the 9th Circuit, which held oral arguments on Wednesday during a special sitting at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson.

“These were innocent bathtime photos,” Treon said Wednesday.

Judge N. Randy Smith opened the hearing by asking Treon if the Demarees’ claims were not “akin to arguing that Wal-Mart failed to explain the law to your client?”

Smith was joined on the panel by Judge William Canby and U.S. District Judge Larry Burns, sitting by designation from the Southern District of California.

“Wal-Mart had the duty to tell the truth,” Treon said, adding that Wal-Mart had for decades warned its customers that it reserved the right to call the police over a photograph, but stopped doing so in 1989. That’s when a change in the law made the possessor of nude photographs potentially guilty of possessing contraband.

“Wal-Mart adopted this policy not because they are concerned about being the ‘police of the world,’ but rather because their employees did not want to print photographs that showed nudity, in addition to which Wal-Mart did not want to have on its premises photographs that could be held to be contraband,” Treon said.

Judge Burns asked Treon “what warning should Wal-Mart be giving?”

“The same one they gave 25 years ago,” Treon said. “We reserve the right to review your photographs as you provide them to us, and if they contain nudity, be warned that our clerks will review them and if they decide they are bothersome or troublesome, they will have the right to report them to police. That’s their policy. And they should tell the customer the truth about that.”

Treon added that Wal-Mart does provide such a warning on its website, but not in its stores.

For Wal-Mart’s attorney, Lawrence Kasten of Lewis and Roca, the case boils down to simple immunity.

Under Arizona statute, an employee who makes a report of child abuse without malice is immune from prosecution.

“It would be a significant hole in the immunity statutes if they left out consumer fraud,” Kasten said.

He said that there is no evidence of malice in the record, and that the three employees involved in reporting the photographs had all testified that they did so out of concern for the children,.

“My reaction is different from saying they were simple bathtime photos,” he said.

Kasten warned that a reversal in this case could upset the clear intention of the immunity statutes, which is to prevent employees from ignoring red flags out fear of legal action.

“I fear that what may happen after this case is [that the] employee will sit there and say, boy, if I turn these over my employer is going to spend millions of dollars in legal fees, and I’m going to get hauled in front of a deposition for eight hours, [so] maybe I’ll just stick them back in the envelope and not worry about them,” he said.

“Immunity is supposed to prevent exactly that from happening.”

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/03/07/55525.htm

Foreigners arrested for trying to spread Christianity in Libya: ” We are a 100 percent Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security”

Feb 17, 2013 01:43 Moscow Time

ливия флаг ливия повстанцы ливия

Photo: EPA

Four foreigners have been arrested in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on suspicion of being Christian missionaries and printing books about Christianity, a security official said on Saturday.

“They were arrested on Tuesday at a publishing house where they were printing thousands of books that called for conversion to Christianity,” security official Hussein Bin Hmeid said.

“Proselytising is forbidden in Libya. We are a 100 percent Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security.”

Hmeid said the government-affiliated security apparatus called the Preventative Security, for which he is a spokesman, had arrested an Egyptian, a South African, a Korean and a Swede who was travelling on a U.S. passport.

“We are still holding interrogations and will hand them over to the Libyan intelligence authorities in a couple of days,” Hmeid said, without giving further details.

Voice of Russia, Reuters

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_02_17/Foreigners-arrested-for-trying-to-spread-Christianity-in-Libya/

Egypt bans YouTube over Innocence of Muslims video

Published: 9 February, 2013, 20:01 Edited: 9 February, 2013, 20:01

 

An Egyptian court has ruled to ban video sharing portal YouTube for one month among the other websites hosting the controversial film trailer that mocked Islam and Prophet Mohammed.

­Egypt’s administrative court on Saturday ordered the authorities to block access to YouTube and other websites that have not removed the anti-Islamic trailer. The 14-minute clip made in the US was posted to YouTube in July 2012.

After having been translated into Arabic and partly broadcasted in Egypt last September, this low-budget film sparked a wave of outrage worldwide and anti-American protests in the Middle East that killed more than 70 people and injured hundreds.

The lawsuit against YouTube was filed by Egyptian attorney Hamed Salem amid accusations of the video-sharing service being a “threat to social peace.” Salem demanded YouTube and social media sites linking to the “insulting” video to be banned until all the anti-Islamic content is removed from them.

Egyptian protest movements have condemned the ban, calling YouTube a “vital resource for disseminating information about Human Rights abuses by the security forces,” Cairo-based journalist Bel Trew told RT on Saturday.

The Google-owned service had decided to temporarily block access to The Innocence of Muslims in specific countries, including Egypt and Libya. However, Google refused to remove the video, saying it didn’t violate YouTube’s community guidelines. YouTube still does not consider the film as hate speech towards Muslims, despite the Obama administration’s request to “reconsider” its status.

Recently, an Egyptian court upheld its decision that sentenced seven alleged makers of the film with death, and American pastor Terry Jones with jail term in absentia. Other countries such as Pakistan have taken legal action to suspend a list of Google services until the anti-Islamic video is removed.

Following the violent reaction to the film, to which the Benghazi attack that killed US ambassador in Libya was also initially attributed, a 55-year old US resident identified as a key filmmaker was arrested and sentenced to jail by an American court.

Egypt-born Coptic Christian Mark Bassely Youssef was sentenced to a year in prison and four years of supervised release after pleading guilty to four of the eight charges against him. A US-based Christian charity is said to have funded The Innocence of Muslims, which also portrayed the persecution of Copts in Egypt.

 

http://rt.com/news/egypt-court-bans-youtube-821/print/

University of Michigan ‘Catfished’ its own players to teach them dangers of social media (and, guess what, they received ‘wholly inappropriate’ replies)

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 14:20 EST, 1  February 2013 |  UPDATED: 16:51 EST, 1 February 2013

The University of Michigan has revealed it  ‘catfished’ its own athletes to teach them the dangers of social  media.

Michigan athletics director David Brandon  admitted this morning that the college hired an attractive woman to contact  players over the internet to test how they’d respond to her  advances.

He said several athletes’ replies were  ‘wholly inappropriate’ but refused to name and shame the players in  question.

News of Michigan’s secret social media lesson comes after the Manti Te’o saga, where the Notre Dame linebacker  was duped  into having a fake online relationship with a woman who never  existed.

Test: Michigan athletics director David Brandon, pictured, revealed the college hired an attractive woman to contact players online 

Test: Michigan athletics director David Brandon,  pictured, revealed the college hired an attractive woman to contact players  online

Eleven Warriors reporter Kyle Rowland  tweeted Brandon’s cunning tactic this morning.

‘Brandon said the athletic department  catfished several athletes to teach them the dangers of social networking. Very  interesting,’ Rowland wrote.

He then tweeted that Brandon confessed the  ploy during a meeting with players.

‘Brandon had meeting with players,  and the  girl walked in. Athletes were shocked, but it was valuable  lesson in dangers of  social media,’ Rowland tweeted.

Some Ohio State University fans have been  slamming the exercise.

Footballers: The college said it hired the medial consulting company to test athletes in its football team, pictured, and basketball teams 

Footballers: The college said it hired the medial  consulting company to test athletes in its football team, pictured, and  basketball teams

 

But Rowland defended the move: ‘There was no  public shaming. I see many OSU fans bashing Michigan and  Brandon, but I think  it’s smart to educate players,’ he wrote, adding in a follow up tweet: ‘I’d say  the Manti Te’o saga illustrates that point  big time.’

UM associate athletic director David Ablauf  revealed to CrainsDetroit.com  that the department hired a media consulting  company to instruct players on the perils of social networking.

 

Ablauf said a female staffer ‘friended’  athletes on Facebook and followed them on Twitter.

She also searching through their profiles for  embarrassing pictures or information.

But he said the woman wasn’t ‘catfishing’ as  such, because she only had  limited or in some cases no real interaction with  the athletes.

Catfishing generally refers to when  someone  lures another person into an online relationship by posting  false information  and generally another person’s pictures on social  media sites to create the  illusion they’re someone else.

 

Te'o: 

Te’o: News of Michigan’s secret social media lesson  comes after the Manti Te’o saga, where the Notre Dame linebacker was duped into  having a fake online relationship with a woman who never existed.

Ablauf told the news website: ‘She  would go through their accounts and find stuff that was either in inappropriate  for the public or could be misconstrued.’

‘As part of their presentation, they  introduce her. A lot of our student athletes couldn’t believe it because they  knew her,’ he said.

‘We would explain to them how what they put  out there could do damage to them personally and the Michigan  brand.’

UM initially did the exercise in 2011 with  the football team and both basketball teams but did it again with all 900  athletes in the fall.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2272115/University-Michigan-Catfished-players-teach-dangers-social-media.html#ixzz2JljgIupU Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Two million government employees will take to Weibo and other websites in an effort to drown out dissenting voices with party-approved propaganda.

January 28, 2013 06:00

Party Trolls: Meet China’s answer to the internet

 

 

Weibo propaganda 2013 1 25

A woman views the Chinese social media website Weibo at a cafe in Beijing on Apr. 2, 2012. In an effort to minimize the influence of dissenting voices on the microblogging site, the Chinese government will employ millions of workers to post pro-party messages. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
What do you think?

HONG KONG — China’s censors have a favorite new tactic: If you don’t like what people are saying online, shout louder.

Faced with the unprecedented explosion of information available to citizens over social media — some of it exposing corruption — officials have realized that simply deleting posts is not enough. They need to push positive propaganda as well.

At a closed-door meeting this week, Beijing’s propaganda chiefs rolled out a new plan to have 2 million propaganda workers spread the Party line on microblogs, according to the Beijing News.

The instructions issue orders for all workers to “read Weibo, open a Weibo account, write Weibo posts, and study Weibo.” (Weibo is the Chinese term for Twitter-like social media.)

Beijing propaganda boss Lu Wei told attendees that all government offices should open an account, with the goal of inundating the Chinese internet with positive tweets about anything the Communist Party deems sensitive: inequality, food prices, economic hardship, unemployment, the runaway real-estate market.

“The strategy has always been to make sure that the voices that are approved by the government are the loudest and clearest and easiest to hear — on all platforms,” says Jeremy Goldkorn, a Chinese media expert in Beijing. “That’s Leninist media strategy adapted to the modern age.”

In its ceaseless campaign to control dissent in China, officials have made clear they are no longer content with simply trying to censor and police online writings; they want to guide the debate as well.

In 2008, Party secretary Hu Jintao laid the groundwork for this policy, stressing the importance of “building new media, creating a new pattern of public opinion guidance” and telling cadres, “We must conscientiously take hold of the building of [propaganda/editorial] teams, enhancing our cohesiveness and fighting strength.”

But the true wake-up moment for Chinese officials came in 2011, when a newly built high-speed train crashed in Wenzhou, killing 40 and injuring 191. Within minutes, survivors were on Weibo sharing photos of the disaster. The government tried to enforce a media blackout, but was overwhelmed by the public backlash online.

Since then, Beijing has introduced more measures trying to counter the power of Weibo.

One of their most powerful tools is a mostly invisible, widely reviled group of online vigilantes called the “50 Cent Party.” Paid by the government to masquerade as ordinary internet users, this mass of private citizens writes posts on internet forums to subtly — or not so subtly — manipulate the conversation toward the Party line. (Their name refers to their rumored pay per post: 50 mao, or 8 US cents.)

Estimated to number from 280,000 to perhaps double that, the 50 Centers play an increasingly important role in the media strategies of local officials. Videos and training documents leaked online reveal some of their priorities. In 2011, a group of 50 Centers received this list of instructions on how to steer conversation:

(1) To the extent possible make America the target of criticism. Play down the existence of Taiwan.

(2) Do not directly confront [the idea of] democracy; rather, frame the argument in terms of “what kind of system can truly implement democracy.”

(3) To the extent possible, choose various examples in Western countries of violence and unreasonable circumstances to explain how democracy is not well-suited to capitalism.

(4) Use America’s and other countries’ interference in international affairs to explain how Western democracy is actually an invasion of other countries and [how the West] is forcibly pushing [on other countries] Western values.

(5) Use the bloody and tear-stained history of a [once] weak people [i.e., China] to stir up pro-Party and patriotic emotions.

But how does it work? Practically speaking, 50 Centers do what Americans think of as “astroturfing”: they write hundreds of posts — often working together — designed to persuade people toward the government’s perspective.

Often the 50 Centers are hit-you-over-the-head obvious; but the most successful ones can be exceptionally crafty. One such commenter explained his skills in a fascinating interview with dissident artist Ai Weiwei last October.

A 26-year-old university graduate, the 50 Center explained that for some assignments — such as softening the blow of news about rising food prices — he plays the troll, distracting people’s anger onto himself. In other situations, he assumes multiple personas, debating himself with two usernames to attract attention, then letting the “correct” view win. For his part-time labor, he makes $8 per 100 posts, he said, for a total of $100 a month.

Asked whether 50 Centers play a big role in shaping public opinion in China, he said yes.

“Truthfully speaking, I think the role is quite big,” he told Ai Weiwei. “The majority of netizens in China are actually very stupid. Sometimes, if you don’t guide them, they really will believe in rumors.”

He estimated that 10 to 20 percent of postings on the Chinese web are from the 50 Cent Party.

And that’s not counting the people working on behalf of private clients. Called the Internet Water Army — because they “flood” target websites — these companies post fake comments, phony news or damaging rumors on a client’s behalf.

Thanks to its online propaganda strategy, some experts say the government is already succeeding to some extent in drowning out dissent. While exposés of corrupt officials continue to leak every day, the debates around them are now carefully monitored and manipulated.

“I think the government has now completely caught up with the Weibo age,” says Goldkorn. “They’ve succeeded in dominating Weibo just like they do every other type of media, or at least having enough control so that it doesn’t get out of hand.”

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/130125/chinese-propaganda-social-media-weibo

California Declares War on Freedom of the Press

 

 

 Press Groups Attack Public Access Shell Game by Court Bureaucrats

 

By BILL GIRDNER

 

California court administrators are trying to create a new definition for public documents that appears aimed at limiting press access. News and First Amendment groups submitted comments Friday calling the change a semantic “sleight of hand” that undermines fundamental press and public freedoms.

The new definition, slipped into proposed rules for electronic filing, appears intended to deny press access to newly filed controversies until after a series of bureaucratic tasks are completed, a process that can take days or weeks.

Press and First Amendment groups have delivered a lengthy comment to the Judicial Council, the policy-making body for California’s courts, attacking the administrators’ gambit. Those joining in the comment include the powerful California Newspaper Publishers Association, that counts the Los Angeles Times as a member, in addition to Californians Aware, the First Amendment Coalition and Courthouse News Service.

“It appears the true purpose of introducing the concept of an ‘officially filed’ document into the Rules of Court is to provide the administrators with justification for denying public access to records that have been ‘filed,’ under the long-understood meaning of that term, until after they have been “officially filed,” wrote Rachel Matteo-Boehm, Roger Myers and Katherine Keating with Bryan Cave on behalf of the press and First Amendment groups.

An officially filed document, according to the proposed rules, is one that has been “processed and reviewed,” in other words, worked on by civil servants who create a computer record and run through a host of additional procedures.

In Sacramento’s courthouse, those procedures take about six weeks.

“The proposed rule change would thus give court administrators unbridled discretion to delay press and public access to fundamentally public records until administrators decide such access is appropriate — even if it is days or weeks after the ‘filed’ date,” said the Bryan Cave lawyers.

“The Judicial Council should not countenance the definitional sleight of hand when the public’s access to court records — a right that is fundamental to the transparency of the judicial branch of our government — is at issue,” they said.

The quiet attempt to work a new definition of court records into e-filing rules is consistent with past policy of the Administrative Office of the Courts, whose former director William Vickrey attempted a similar semantic shell game by referring to filed documents as “pre-filed,” in order to oppose prompt access by the media.

“In the proposed rules, the dubious notion of a ‘pre-filed’ document has been replaced with the equally dubious notion of an ‘officially filed’ document,” said the comment from the press corps.

Vickrey and his office came under fire from the Legislature and trial court judges around the state on issues that ranged from financial mismanagement to perceived arrogance.

He retired in 2011, his longtime lobbyist Curt Child was appointed head of operations last year, and the office was said to be reformed.

But the effort to create a new definition for court documents shows little tendency toward reform and instead continues the office’s old, restrictive view on public access.

Federal and state court rulings establish that timely access to public documents is part of the overriding First Amendment right. News loses interest to readers as time goes by and news outlets report new matters on the day they happen rather than a day, a week or six weeks later.

“It appears the primary — and perhaps sole — purpose of the ‘officially filed’ concept is to justify arguments by court administrators that the public has no right to access a court record until court staff deem it fit for public viewing,” said the press comments. “The access delays that would inevitably result would violate the federal constitutional right of timely access to court records and be contrary to the practices of state and federal courts around the nation.”

As an example of hot news tied to a court filing, football player Junior Seau’s family sued the NFL on Wednesday in San Diego and the news was reported by national sports pages that same day. But reporters could not get the document from the court because San Diego Superior Court denies access to court documents until they are processed.

That delay is contrary to courthouse traditions. Courts throughout the nation traditionally give journalists access to new filings, such as the Junior Seau matter, on the day they are filed, when the news is hot.

But that tradition has been under attack in local California courts that fell in line with the central administrative office and adopted its financially disastrous software for processing cases at a cost of a half-billion dollars in public money.

Orange County and San Diego are two of the California courts that adopted that cumbersome and now-defunct software, and both courts are now pushing electronic filing of court documents. Orange County, in particular, now requires that lawyers file electronically but nevertheless denies public access for a substantial amount of time while new matters are processed into that old software, called the Court Case Management System.

 

Rush to Rules

The mandatory e-filing policy in Orange County is the direct result of a bill passed by the California Legislature last summer that OK’d a pilot program and said the experience from the pilot program should shape statewide rules on e-filing.

But the new statewide rules were written and proposed before the pilot program had even started, and now administrators are trying to push them through the courts’ policy-making body, the Judicial Council, when the pilot program is less than a month old.

“Assembly Bill 2073 explicitly requires the Judicial Council to adopt mandatory e-filing rules that are ‘informed’ by a study of the Orange County pilot program,” said the press comments. “But instead of following this mandate, the proposed rules were drafted and circulated before the Orange County pilot program even began.”

“The prospect of precipitously adopting mandatory e-filing rules is especially troubling in light of the recent debacle over the California Case Management System,” the comments continued. “Given the enormous amount of public funds spent on that failed project, caution is essential to ensure that the delays and inconsistencies in public access associated with CCMS do not carry over into the expansion of e-filing.”

In obtaining passage of the pilot program legislation, with the help of the central administrative office, Orange County court officials told the legislators that “E-filing makes the court records available faster and sooner to everyone, including the public.”

However, reporters who cover Orange County have found that not to be true.

In December, a two-day spot check of paper-filed complaints compared with e-filed complaints showed that the paper cases were actually processed more quickly by a day or two than the e-filed cases, a result that mirrors earlier surveys on the delays in access to e-filed, complex cases, that are often the most important and newsworthy cases.

“After that court implemented e-filing for certain categories of cases, e-filed documents were not typically available until a day or two after their paper-based counterparts were accessible,” said the press comments.

When that discrepancy was reported in a news article late last year, Orange County court officials appeared to accelerate the processing of e-filed complaints and the delays went down. But by mid-January, the delay had again increased to two and three days between the time a case is actually “filed” and the time it is “officially filed.”

In one of the many aberrations that take place when administrators control press access, the most minor cases, referred to as limited cases, are processed first and appear more quickly for public view than the more important, or unlimited cases, that take much longer.

The press comments by the Bryan Cave lawyers noted that members of the Legislature were told e-filing would be “facilitating public access,” while court administrators were instead using the legislation “as a hook to undermine public access.”

 

Courthouse Tradition

Press access in the CCMS and now e-filing courts contrasts sharply with traditional press access in California and the nation.

Roughly a decade ago, news reporters in Orange County reviewed newly filed civil cases on the day they were filed at the end of the day, in a wooden box in the records room that was connected to the intake windows for new filings.

A survey of press and public access in courts around the nation, attached to Friday’s press group comments, shows that traditional, same-day press access remains the norm in most federal and state courts in the nation. The exceptions, as the survey demonstrates, are precisely those California courts that are rushing to implement electronic filing.

Federal courts, for example, have moved toward electronic filing but at the same time they put in place a host of local variations that preserve traditional, same-day press access.

Some of the federal courts send new filings directly onto public terminals at the courthouse without any processing from court officials, providing nearly instantaneous public access.

Other federal courts provide an electronic in-box that allows the press to review newly filed cases before they are processed, in other words when they are “filed” and before they are “officially filed” in the parlance of the new rules proposed for California.

Along that line, Courthouse News has repeatedly asked officials in Orange County Superior Court to provide the press with access to the electronic in-box for new filings, in order to preserve the old status quo of same-day access for the press. The vendor for the e-filing service in Orange County has said such access is completely feasible, that it is simply a matter of the court’s discretion.

But that request has repeatedly been turned down by the Orange County clerk.

Instead, the court’s pilot program for e-filing has come accompanied by pre-written rules that, according to the comments from the press groups, appear aimed at justifying the ongoing denial of press access.

“Rights fundamental to the democratic process — like the right to know what goes on in the courts — are meaningless if they can be disregarded when they become inconvenient,” the press comment concluded. “As history has taught us, rushing forward without taking the time to assess how these systems will actually work for all concerned is quite likely to result in a system that is worse rather than better.”

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/01/25/54290.htm

Press Groups Attack Public Access Shell Game by Court Bureaucrats ” No more freedom of the press? “

By BILL GIRDNER

California court administrators are trying to create a new definition for public documents that appears aimed at limiting press access. News groups submitted comments Friday calling the change a “semantic sleight of hand” that undermines fundamental press and public freedoms.

“It appears the true purpose of introducing the concept of an ‘officially filed’ document into the Rules of Court is to provide the administrators with justification for denying public access to records that have been ‘filed,’ under the long-understood meaning of that term, until after they have been “officially filed,” wrote Rachel Matteo-Boehm, Roger Myers and Katherine Keating with Bryan Cave.

An officially filed document, according to the proposed rules, is one that has been “processed and reviewed,” in other words, worked on by civil servants who create a computer record and run through a host of additional procedures.

In Sacramento’s courthouse, those procedures take about six weeks.

The change in definition, slipped into proposed rules for electronic filing, appears intended to give officials an excuse to deny press access to newly filed controversies, until after all the bureaucratic tasks are done.

“The proposed rule change would thus give court administrators unbridled discretion to delay press and public access to fundamentally public records until administrators decide such access is appropriate — even if it is days or weeks after the ‘filed’ date,” said the Bryan Cave lawyers.

Their comments were made on behalf of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, Californians-Aware, The First Amendment Coalition and Courthouse News Service.

“The Judicial Council should not countenance the definitional sleight of hand when the public’s access to court records — a right that is fundamental to the transparency of the judicial branch of our government — is at issue,” they said.

The quiet attempt to work a new definition of court records into e-filing rules is consistent with past policy of the Administrative Office of the Courts, whose former director William Vickrey attempted a similar semantic shell game by referring to filed documents as “pre-filed,” in order to support his argument against prompt access by the media.

“In the proposed rules, the dubious notion of a ‘pre-filed’ document has been replaced with the equally dubious notion of an ‘officially filed’ document,” said the comment from the press corps.

Vickrey and his office came under fire from the Legislature and trial court judges around the state on issues that ranged from financial mismanagement to perceived arrogance.

He retired in 2011, his longtime lobbyist Curt Child was appointed head of operations last year, and the office was said to be reformed.

But the effort to create a new definition for court documents shows little tendency toward reform and instead continues the office’s old, restrictive view on public access.

Federal and state court rulings establish that timely access to public documents is part of the overriding First Amendment right. News loses interest to readers as time goes by and news outlets report new matters on the day they happen rather than a day, a week or six weeks later.

“It appears the primary — and perhaps sole — purpose of the ‘officially filed’ concept is to justify arguments by court administrators that the public has no right to access a court record until court staff deem it fit for public viewing,” said the press comments. “The access delays that would inevitably result would violate the federal constitutional right of timely access to court records and be contrary to the practices of state and federal courts around the nation.”

As an example of hot news tied to a court filing, football player Junior Seau’s family sued the NFL on Wednesday in San Diego and the news was reported by national sports pages that same day. But reporters could not get the document from the court because San Diego Superior Court delays access to court documents until they are processed.

That delay is contrary to courthouse traditions. Courts throughout the nation traditionally give journalists access to new filings, such as the Junior Seau matter, on the day they are filed, when the news is hot.

But that tradition has been under attack in local California courts that fell in line with the central administrative office and adopted its financially disastrous software for processing cases at a cost of a half-billion dollars in public money.

Orange County and San Diego are two of the California courts that adopted that cumbersome and now-defunct software, and both courts are now pushing electronic filing of court documents. Orange County, in particular, now requires that lawyers file electronically but nevertheless delays public access for a substantial amount of time while new matters are processed into that old software, called the Court Case Management System.

That mandatory e-filing program is the direct result of a bill passed by the California Legislature last summer that OK’d a pilot program in Orange County and said the experience from the program should shape statewide rules on e-filing.

But those new rules were written and proposed before the pilot program had even started, and now administrators are trying to push them through the courts’ policy-making body, the Judicial Council, when the pilot program is less than a month old.

“Assembly Bill 2073 explicitly requires the Judicial Council to adopt mandatory e-filing rules that are ‘informed’ by a study of the Orange County pilot program,” said the press comments. “But instead of following this mandate, the proposed rules were drafted and circulated before the Orange County pilot program even began.”

“The prospect of precipitously adopting mandatory e-filing rules is especially troubling in light of the recent debacle over the California Case Management System,” the comments continued. “Given the enormous amount of public funds spent on that failed project, caution is essential to ensure that the delays and inconsistencies in public access associated with CCMS do not carry over into the expansion of e-filing.”

In obtaining passage of the pilot program legislation, with the help of the central administrative office, Orange County court officials told the legislators that “E-filing makes the court records available faster and sooner to everyone, including the public.”

However, reporters who cover Orange County have found that not to be true.

In December, a two-day spot check of paper-filed complaints compared with e-filed complaints showed that the paper cases were actually processed more quickly by a day or two than the e-filed cases, a result that mirrors earlier surveys on the delays in access to e-filed, complex cases, often the most important and newsworthy cases in the court.

“After that court implemented e-filing for certain categories of cases, e-filed documents were not typically available until a day or two after their paper-based counterparts were accessible,” said the press comments.

When that discrepancy was reported in a news article late last year, Orange County court officials appeared to accelerate the processing of e-filed complaints and the delays went down. But by mid-January, the delay had again increased to two and three days between the time a case is actually “filed” and the time it is “officially filed.”

In one of the many aberrations that take place when administrators control press access, the most minor cases, referred to as limited cases, are processed first and appear more quickly for public view than the more important, or unlimited cases, that take much longer.

The press comments noted that while legislators were told e-filing would be “facilitating public access,” court administrators were instead using the legislation “as a hook to undermine public access.”

Press access under CCMS and now e-filing contrasts sharply with traditional press access in California and the nation.

Roughly a decade ago, news reporters in Orange County reviewed newly filed civil cases on the day they were filed at the end of the day, in a wooden box in the records room that was connected to the intake windows for new filings.

A survey of press and public access in courts around the nation, attached to Friday’s comments from press groups, shows that traditional, same-day press access remains the norm in most federal and state courts in the nation. The exceptions, as the survey demonstrates, are precisely those California courts that are rushing to implement electronic filing.

By contrast, federal courts have moved toward electronic filing while putting in place a host of local variations that preserve traditional, same-day press access.

Some of the federal courts send new filings directly onto public terminals at the courthouse without any processing from court officials, providing nearly instantaneous public access. Other federal courts provide an electronic in-box that allows the press to review newly filed cases before they are processed, in other words when they are “filed” and before they are “officially filed” in the parlance of the new rules proposed for California.

Courthouse News has repeatedly asked officials in Orange County Superior Court to provide the press with access to the electronic in-box for new filings, in order to preserve the old status quo of same-day access for the press. The vendor for the e-filing service in Orange County has said such access is completely feasible, that it is simply a matter of the court’s discretion.

But that request has repeatedly been turned down by the Orange County clerk. Instead, the court’s pilot program has come accompanied by pre-written rules that, according to the comments from the press groups, appear aimed at justifying the ongoing delays in press access.

“Rights fundamental to the democratic process — like the right to know what goes on in the courts — are meaningless if they can be disregarded when they become inconvenient,” the press comment concluded. “As history has taught us, rushing forward without taking the time to assess how these systems will actually work for all concerned is quite likely to result in a system that is worse rather than better.”

 

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/01/25/54290.htm

Plans for the Privy Council to regulate Britain’s newspapers

It was set up in 1231 by Henry III. It met every day under Elizabeth I. But under Elizabeth II it hasn’t been convened for 25 years. So why does David Cameron think this centuries-old club can regulate the press?

Andy McSmith

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

It is one of Britain’s most secretive, elite organisations, almost as old as the Magna Carta and with many members in their 80s and 90s. These men, appointed by the Queen – and they are almost all men – form the Privy Council, a solid, authoritative-sounding body. But it is nothing of the sort. And, at the very moment the Government is looking to this centuries-old club to help with the regulation of Britain’s newspapers, its owns members question its credibility. One privy counsellor of more than 15 years’ standing calls it “a myth that needs exposing”.

This year will bring the appointment of the first independent regulator with the power to keep British newspapers under control. Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet Office minister, is credited with coming up with an idea that the body that would oversee the press regulator should be governed by royal charter. The attraction of this idea, to which all three of the main political parties now appear to be signed up, is that the great and the good who make sure the regulator is sticking to its brief will be more than a committee: they will be an institution. It seems that the question of who will regulate the regulator is solved.

Except that it throws up a new question: if the regulator is governed by royal charter, who governs the charter? To whom would the regulator turn if, for instance, its charter is not working out in practice and needs amending?

There is a readymade answer, because there is nothing new about royal charters. There are 996 currently in force, the oldest being the one that governs Cambridge University, which was signed by King Henry III in 1231. The most recent charters were granted on 30 May 2012, to the Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants and the Worshipful Company of Lightmongers. All royal charters are governed by the Privy Council, so it is to the Privy Council that Cambridge University or the Lightmongers must turn if they want their charters amended. But this is where Mr Letwin’s scheme runs into a problem that still needs sorting out, urgently.

The Privy Council is a façade. One privy counsellor confesses to having attended just one working Privy Council meeting, from which he came away with no real idea of what they had decided.

On the rare occasions that something crops up that requires a Privy Council decision, the Lord President – currently Nick Clegg – contacts the Palace, and turns up with a quorum, which can be as few as three other privy counsellors, who can all be serving politicians from the governing party, and together they go through the ritual of signing the necessary documents.

To be a privy counsellor is an honour that entitles the holder to put the words Right Honourable in front of his or her name. It is not a job. There are, by my count, 606 of them, many of whom will not have been to a Privy Council meetings for decades. The one who has been a privy counsellor longest is the Duke of Edinburgh, a member since 1951. Next in seniority is 93-year-old Lord Carrington, who became a privy counsellor when Harold Macmillan appointed him First Lord of the Admiralty in 1959. The doyen of the Commonwealth politicians on the Privy Council is 84-year-old Sir Toaripi Lauti, who was the first Prime Minister of Tuvalu. The first woman member from a former colony was Helen Clark, from New Zealand.

Like a peerage, privy counsellorship is for life – with rare exception. After the former Labour MP Elliott Morley was sent to prison for fiddling his expenses, he suffered the additional penalty of being the first person in 90 years to be expelled from the Privy Council.

There is an induction process for new members, vividly described in Tony Benn’s diaries. He did not want to go through it, in 1964, but was told that unless he did, he would never be allowed to see Cabinet papers.

“We were summoned one by one in the Queen’s drawing room. She shook us by the hand, then we stood in a row as the oath was administered,” he wrote. “We then went up to the Queen, one after another, kneeling and picking up her hand and kissing it, and then bowing…I left the Palace boiling with indignation and feeling that this was an attempt to impose tribal magic.”

One of the most recent members said that he has been to two meetings in six years. One was his induction; the other involved decision making. “It was when a university wanted to change its name, and I think there might have been some other piece of business,” he said. “I’m not sure I really understood what we were signing: it was very uncontroversial. There were six of us, all Labour, and the Queen. We all stood, but the meeting did not last long enough to tire out any of our ageing legs.”

Another privy counsellor, of 15 years’ standing, said: “It’s a myth that needs exposing. I get letters about it. It’s a device that lets civil servants take decisions and say that they are taken by the Privy Council. It hasn’t met for at least 25 years. They only keep our phone numbers because the council will have to meet when the Queen dies. I’ll go to that one because it’ll be something to tell the grandchildren. They’ll have to wheel some of the older members in.”

The system has worked because all 996 royal charters currently in force are uncontroversial – unlike a royal charter governing a press regulator. The idea that the charter can be administered by a body with more than 600 members, some in their 90s, is absurd; while the current practice of allowing the Lord President to summon a handful of his party colleagues and call that a Privy Council meeting, with the authority to change the rules for regulating the press, would be an outrage. Consequently, 2013 could be the year when the centuries-old Privy Couwncil opens its doors to a cold blast of change.

Queen’s advisers: Members of the Privy Council

Prince Philip, 90

Appointed to the Privy Council by King George VI on 4 November 1951, the Duke of Edinburgh has been a member longer than anyone else alive.

Lord Carrington, 93

Appointed by Harold Macmillan in 1959, he is the only other living member to have completed a half century.

Geoff Hoon, 59

A lobbying scandal means the former Defence Secretary can’t hold a Commons pass until December 2015. That does not stop him being a privy councillor.

Sir Toaripi Lauti, 84

The oldest of the New Commonwealth privy councillors, appointed in 1979, when he was Prime Minister of the newly independent Tuvalu.

Margaret Thatcher, 87

The Privy Council was almost an all-male body when she joined in 1970. She is the senior woman member, though too frail to attend.

Tony Benn, 87

The former Labour MP did not want to join the Privy Council in 1964, but was told he had no choice and is still officially a member.

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/plans-for-the-privy-council-to-regulate-britains-newspapers-8436096.html?printService=print