World News

2003: Jan-March

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16th March

  Chinese Nervous Breakdown

From Ananova

The Chinese government has ordered the Rolling Stones not to play some of their best-known songs during two shows in the country, because they contain sexual references.

The band will not be allowed to play Brown Sugar, Honky Tonk Women, Beast of Burden or Let’s Spend the Night Together . The Stones are due to perform in Shanghai on April 1 and in Beijing on April 4 - the first time they’ve played in China.

Concert organiser Chen Jixin says the four songs were also cut from the mainland release of the band’s 40 Licks album by China’s culture ministry. Chen said she didn’t know why the government had banned the four songs. The Chinese Ministry of Culture said no one was immediately available for comment.


16th March

  Six Million Dollar Blame

I wonder what TV George Bush watched as a kiddy. They surely must have cause of his conversion from being a mere nutter to being an arch war criminal.

From Reuters

Children who watch violent television shows, identify with the characters and believe they are realistic are more likely to be aggressive as adults, U.S. researchers recently reported.

But the researchers found the most violent shows did not have the strongest effects, the shows children liked the best did. These included shows that by today's standards would not be considered especially violent.

But if parents watch television with their children and discuss the differences with reality, they may be able to temper the effects of TV violence, the team of psychologists said.

They interviewed Chicago-area children aged 6 to 10, their teachers and parents, and analyzed their television viewing habits. They waited for 329 of them to grow up and marry, then interviewed them again, talked to their spouses and checked criminal records.

Fifteen years later, the men and women who had most watched, enjoyed and identified with violent television programs tended to be more aggressive, the team reported in this week's issue of the journal Developmental Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association. Psychologists Rowell Huesmann and colleagues at the University of Michigan caught up with children first interviewed in 1977 about which violent TV shows they watched.

The findings were the same even when a child's economic status, race, parents' personalities and occupations and other factors were taken into account. Some of the "violent" programs included Starsky and Hutch , The Six Million Dollar Man and Roadrunner cartoons.

Men who really liked such television shows as children were much more likely to have pushed, grabbed or shoved their spouses, shoved someone who insulted them, been ticketed for speeding or convicted of another crime.

Women who enjoyed violent shows, including Charlie's Angels , were four times more likely to have thrown something at their husbands, shoved or punched someone else, or been caught speeding or committing another crime.

The researchers did not believe that children predisposed to aggression or violence tended to watch such shows. It is more plausible that exposure to TV violence increases aggression than that aggression increases TV-violence viewing, Huesmann said in a statement. Also, the study suggests that being aggressive in early childhood has no effect on increasing males' exposure to media violence as adults and only a small effect for females.

The researchers were especially struck by their finding that it is a child's identification with characters rather than the degree of violence that predicts later aggression. Violent scenes that children are most likely to model their behavior after are ones in which they identify with the perpetrator of the violence, the perpetrator is rewarded for the violence and in which children perceive the scene as telling about life like it really is. Thus, a violent act by someone like Dirty Harry that results in a criminal being eliminated and brings glory to Harry is of more concern than a bloodier murder by a despicable criminal who is brought to justice.


16th March

  Explicit Artcore

Rocco Siffredi is starring opposite Chanel model Amira Casar in a new film by controversial French director Catherine Breillet. Anatomie de l'Enfer , which translates to "Anatomy of Hell", is based on Pornocratie , a sexually explicit novel written by Breillet. The story explores the world of pornography, and Breillet intends to push the boundaries of censors with the film version of her work. The film is being shot on a closed set in Portugal and is expected to wrap in mid-February. Anatomie de l'Enfer will debut at Cannes 2003. Siffredi has worked with Breillet before - he starred in her 1999 film Romance .


4th March   Beads Banned in Arizona

Haven't the Americans got anything better to do? Haven't they got bombs to make and innocent people to kill?

From The Arizona Republic

From New Orleans to Mill Avenue, the beads of Mardi Gras have become associated with women flashing their breasts. And although Tempe police want revelers to enjoy the fun this Tuesday, they've asked business owners not to provide the tempting baubles.

Our concern is that the combination of alcohol, a large crowd and females exposing themselves can create an unpredictable situation that is difficult for the police to manage, Tempe police Chief Ralph Tranter wrote in a letter to the downtown merchants.
The Mardi Gras beads are associated with giving beads out to ladies who bare their breasts.

The police said businesses complied with the request last year.


16th February   Daredevil Censors

From The Star

The film adaptation of the Marvel Comics character Daredevil, wont be hitting the big screens in Malaysia this month.  The Film Censorship Board has banned the film of the same name for its unhealthy elements and specifically for its violent content. 

The film’s distributor 20th Century Fox has submitted an appeal to the board to review its decision.  

The board gave five reasons for the ban, citing the first as the theme which focused on the dealings of a secret society. (like film censors maybe!). The ban also stated the film contained violence including fighting scenes using weapons and hands.  

Another reason given was the vigilante act of the comic book legend known as “Man Without Fear” who is a lawyer by day and “killer” by night.  It also stated the film focused on the mafia world and portrayed a character who is a hired killer.  

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung said each film, videotape, VCD or DVD for public viewing had to get approval from the ministry before screening. He said the films were usually banned if they went against the board’s guidelines for containing excessive violence and sexual material or elements which can create chaos in the community . (A little stronger than mere harm). Most of the time, censorship is adequate if only some portions of the film require censorship, but if too much censorship is required, making the film meaningless, it is best banned.


16th February   Make War Not Love

From Clean Sheets

President Bush's budget request for fiscal year 2003 includes $135 million for abstinence-only programs -- a 33% increase over 2002 funding.

In case you haven't heard, the Federal definition of Abstinence Education includes:

  1. has as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity
  2. teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school age children
  3. teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems
  4. teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity
  5. teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects
  6. teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child's parents, and society
  7. teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increases vulnerability to sexual advances; and
  8. teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.


12th February   Yaboo France

It is ludicrous to suppose that French law applies in the States. Everybody knows that only US law applies to all other countries. And if you don't like it they will send the boys round.


A French criminal court on Tuesday acquitted the former CEO of Yahoo of condoning war crimes by selling Nazi memorabilia. The court found that Timothy Koogle and Yahoo did not condone or praise Nazism and that they had not shed favorable light on the policies of Adolf Hitler by selling objects from the Third Reich.

Koogle, who left his post at Yahoo in 2001, had in theory faced up to five years in jail and a fine of $49,000 (45,700 euros) in a trial triggered by a complaint filed by three France-based Jewish and anti-Semitism groups in October 2001.

It is illegal under French law to exhibit or sell objects with racist overtones, and Yahoo's French site offered no Nazi auctions. But French surfers could still purchase the relics from the main Yahoo site based in the United States.

In November 2000, France ordered Yahoo to block French people from accessing the sites, but a U.S. federal judge ruled a year later that the Sunnyvale, California based company was not bound to tailor its non-French sites to French laws.

Yahoo has since banned the sale of most Nazi memorabilia, such as concentration camp uniforms and Nazi daggers. Current auctions feature only Third Reich stamps, transport tokens and coins. (No worries, collectors may now buy Al Quaeda manacles and interrogation devices straight from the Yahoo server at Guantanamo Bay )


30th January   Fat Restored

From the Toronto Star

Fat Girl, a film banned last year by the Ontario Film Review Board because of a lengthy sex scene between a 15-year-old girl and an adult man, was approved for release yesterday in a decision meant to signal the board's newly progressive policies.

We're trying to really look at our guidelines and decide if they really reflect society today, said Bill Moody, the board's chairman. This board is not a static board. We're changing and evolving every day, and looking at our policies, because people out there are changing every day.

Moody, who took the job at the end of November, said Fat Girl has been approved on the basis of new guidelines instituted at the board's Jan. 17 meeting: The panel considered the film in its entirety, and concluded the scenes in question are artistic and integral to the plot. None of the scenes were found to be prurient or exploitive

The decision ends a standoff between the board and the film's co-distributors, Cowboy Pictures in New York and Lions Gate Films in Canada. The distributors appealed the decision but the board reversed the ban yesterday before it could be challenged in court. Noah Cowan of Cowboy Films said: We have no idea what their internal discussions were, but they came back to us and said, `Please re-submit the film. Ultimately I think what happened was that the censor board, and ultimately the Attorney General's Office, realized that this was a case they didn't want to fight and that they'd made a mistake.

While the character in the film was 15, the actress who played her, Roxane Mesquida, was 18 at the time the film was made. However, in Ontario, policy guidelines stated that scenes in which characters under 18 appear nude or partially nude in a sexually suggestive context were unacceptable, and the board banned the film.

Fat Girl, by French director Catherine Breillat, was released in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec without challenge.


29th January   Censors with Jack Boots

From Bato of DVDINSIDE

On Jan 21st 2003, Oliver Krekel, Manager and Owner of the German Video/DVD-Label "Astro",  was sentenced to a 8 month imprisonment on probation and a fine of 2000 €. His offence: He published several classic Horror films like Evil Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Last House on the Left on video and dvd.  Krekel had also to promise, that he will never publish any films in the future, which are not  proofed and if necessary censored by the German State Board of Censors.

About 200 Horror-movies have been forbidden for many years in Germany. The trade and  production of these films is absolutely forbidden. The judgement against Krekel is a slap in the face from many German Horror-fans, who feel generally persecuted following up their hobby. This german law goes against the laws of the EU and because of this, many fans of such films  as those named above, are planning to prosecute Germany at the European Court of Law.


16th January
A Country with 200 Million Law Breakers

From CNN

The Georgia Supreme Court has struck down a 170-year-old law that made it a crime for unmarried people to have sex. The ruling Monday came in the case of a 16-year-old boy discovered having sex with his girlfriend in the bedroom of her home. The young woman's mother made the discovery. Under Georgia law, the age of consent is 16.

Following his conviction, Jesse McClure, now 17, was ordered to pay a fine and write an essay explaining why he should not have had sex. He wrote that it wasn't the court's business. Invading personal privacy just isn't right.

Chief Justice Norman Fletcher wrote: Our opinion simply affirms that ... the government may not reach into the bedroom of a private residence and criminalize the private, non commercial, consensual sexual acts of two persons legally capable of consenting to those acts,

Fornication laws remain on the books in about 10 states and the District of Columbia. Courts have struck down such statutes in Florida, Virginia and New Jersey. In 1998, the state Supreme Court overturned an anti-sodomy law, ruling it violated the Georgia Constitution's guarantee of a right to privacy.


8th January
Australian Censorship Sell Out


To protest against Australia's film censorship regime, Tony Pitman (Freedom International) organised to sell banned videos outside the offices of the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

There was not a huge crowd. The event was planned thinking the OFLC was still in Elizabeth St, which would have been rather busy on a Monday lunchtime, but the Surry Hills backstreet which hosts the OFLC's new headquarters was rather quiet.

Still, people from several radio stations turned up; they took turns interviewing Tony before the actual sale commenced.

Then he opened his tray of videos for sale and started handing out flyers to the few passers by. These included workers coming in and out of the building, among whom there must have been a fair few OFLC employees, but none of them said anything.

The seven videos being sold were Salo , I Spit on Your Grave , Hustler White , Baise-Moi , and Pink Flamingos - all Refused Classification and hence banned in Australia - and two X-rated videos - illegal to sell or screen except in the Australian Capital Territory (but sold openly in adult shops across Sydney). All of them found buyers - I'd wanted a copy of Salo , but he was asking $50 for that and I didn't have enough money on me, so I ended up buying one of the X-rated videos for $5 instead.

In the absence of television cameras, Tony opted out of calling the police and being arrested. Given he was facing a potential fine of $7000, that seemed sensible to me.

This was obviously not a major event, but there should be a few stories on radio about it, which will help to raise awareness of the issue. I also gave one interview about Net censorship, using the ridiculous application of film classification guidelines to all Internet content as the starting point.

The reason this is an issue that attracts so little attention is that censorship law is so poorly enforced - adult shops just pay protection money to the police

banned videos

banned videos


8th January
Fair Trial for Fair Use

From The Guardian

Hollywood's biggest film studios were defeated yesterday in their effort to punish a Norwegian teenage computer hacker for DVD piracy.

The case has made a cult figure of Jon Lech Johansen, who is now 19. Johansen - dubbed "DVD Jon" by the international hacker community - created a computer program in his bedroom which cracked all the codes protecting DVD films from illegal copying.

The codes also prevent DVDs being watched on many personal computers, which was why Johansen set out to break them. He infuriated US film studios by posting his program, called DeCSS, on the internet.

His bedroom was then raided by Norway's white-collar crime unit, his computer was confiscated and he was charged with unauthorised data tampering. Johansen maintained that he had merely devised a way of watching his favourite films on his own computer.

But Hollywood disagreed. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which represents such leading studios as Walt Disney, Universal and Warner Brothers, lodged a complaint, as did the US DVD Copy Control Association.

Yesterday the Oslo city court ruled in Johansen's favour, clearing him of all the charges. In a unanimous ruling it said that nobody could be punished for breaking into his own property - he had legally bought the DVDs whose codes he subsequently cracked. Nor was there any evidence that he or anyone else had used his program to produce or watch pirated copies of films.

I'm happy but not surprised, a beaming Johansen said after his acquittal. This is about consumers' rights. All over the world copyright holders are trying to limit consumers' rights. We cannot have that. Today it's been clarified that consumers have certain rights that the film industry can't take away from us."

In Washington Phuong Yokitis, a spokeswoman for the MPAA, said the group had decided not to issue a statement and would have no comment. Film studios had hoped that the case would send a signal to hackers that the complex codes protecting DVDs against illegal copying must not be tampered with. They had wanted an example made of Mr Johansen. The prosecuters sought a 90-day suspended sentence, the permanent confiscation of his computer, and the payment of costs.

They were refused on all counts.

This is a very solid ruling, said Halvor Manshaus, Johansen's lawyer. It is saying that when you have bought a film legally, you have access to its content. It is irrelevant how you get that access. You have bought the movie, after all.

The prosecutors have two weeks to appeal .

Programs such as Mr Johansen's have multiplied since he was charged, and are easily obtained on the internet. The case has turned him into an international celebrity with hackers, especially in the US, where a battle is raging over a 1998 copyright law which bans software such as DeCSS.


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