EU Censorship News

 2009: Oct-Dec

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23rd December   

Updated: Italian Internet Censorship...

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Knee jerk response to Berlusconi assault
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Italy...Censorship affecting bloogers and the press in Italy

Italy flagThe Italian government has proposed introducing new restrictions on the Internet after a Facebook fan page for the man who allegedly attacked Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Sunday drew almost 100,000 users in under 48 hours.

But the planned clampdown on Internet hate speech sparked a heated debate over censorship and freedom of expression, leading Interior Minister Roberto Maroni to execute a partial U-turn Wednesday.

Maroni and Justice Minister Angelino Alfano promised swift action to punish those who instigate violence on the Web, suggesting the government might pass an emergency decree Thursday to create new sanctions for the offense. But Wednesday, Maroni was at pains to reassure the public that any new legislation would be fully debated in parliament and would not curtail freedom of expression.

The controversy followed the creation of several Facebook pages praising Massimo Tartaglia, the mentally disturbed man accused of hitting Berlusconi in the face with a statuette of Milan's gothic cathedral, sending the prime minister to the hospital with broken teeth and a broken nose.

Lawmakers from Berlusconi's People of Freedom party argued in parliament that the attack on the prime minister was the result of a climate of hate generated by virulent opposition criticism and expressed outrage that so many Italians could justify such a serious physical assault.

Maroni originally indicated the government was considering measures that would speed up the removal of offensive material -- by allowing police to appeal directly to a judge without passing through a prosecutor -- impose fines on hate crime offenders, and introduce filters to prevent access to sites that instigate violence.

Members of his own party, however, were quick to warn against any curtailment of Internet freedom, suggesting that current laws already provide sufficient protection against the criminal use of the Web.

Update: Government Back Off

23rd December 2009.  Based on article from nytimes.com

Italy has dropped plans to black out Internet hate sites despite a pledge for radical measures after fan pages emerged on the Internet last week praising an attack on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, who had proposed blocking such sites following the assault on the prime minister, said after meeting with executives from Facebook, Google, Microsoft and other Internet service providers he would seek a solution through a shared code of conduct rather than new legislation.

The road to follow is to find an agreement with all those involved and avoid forcing through new measures, Maroni told reporters: If this agreement is found, it would be the first of this kind in the world, he said, adding that more talks will be held in January.

 

2nd December   

Update: PC PC Games Bans...

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Germans ban versions of Modern Warfare 2 and Left For Dead 2
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Call Duty Modern Warfare DVD By authority of the BPjM ( Bundesprufstelle fur jugendgefahrdende Medien - A German censorship board basically), the PC editions of the US Modern Warfare 2 and the UK Left for Dead 2 were announced as banned titles in Germany. Related

As reported by PC Games Hardware, this decision was made in November and took effect 1 Dec, 2009. It seems likely that the US Modern Warfare 2 was nixed due to the controversial airport level, which apparently does not appear in the German edition.

Interestingly enough, the ban currently only affects the specific PC version of each title. Console and German versions can still be sold along with the UK Modern Warfare 2 and the US Left for Dead 2 .

 

29th November   

Update: Law Filtered Out...

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Germany is killing off state internet filtering bill
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany flag German President Horst Köhler has hammered another nail in the coffin of a controversial law to block child pornography on the internet by refusing to sign it, news magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

Köhler has asked for supplementary information, the Spiegel report said.

The law, which critics argue would block access to other, innocent sites and therefore amounted to censorship, could breach Germany's constitution, experts believe.

Merkel's party and their new partners in government, the pro-business Free Democrats – who opposed the measure – agreed during coalition negotiations last month not to put the law into practice. But because it had already been passed by both houses of the German parliament, it could not simply be dropped. Köhler refusal to sign it means it is now effectively stalled until the new government finds a constitutional way to kill it.

According to a Saturday report in business magazine Wirtschaftswoche, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger had agreed to kibosh the law by ordering the federal police not to act upon it. However, that would leave the law hanging in place.

 

29th November   

Diplomatic Incident...

Stephen Fry called to explain Channel 4 News comments to Polish ambassador
Link Here

Channel 4 logo Stephen Fry has been summoned to the Polish embassy in London on Monday to provide the ambassador with an explanation of his supposedly offensive comments last month about about Auschwitz.

Yes, he is having lunch at the embassy, confirms a spokesman for the Polish ambassador, Barbara Tuge-Erecinska. This meeting is connected to Mr Fry's remarks on Channel 4. They will discuss a range of issues.

In a debate about the Conservatives' links with Poland's Law and Justice party, Fry appeared to accuse Polish Catholics of being complicit in the Final Solution . Remember which side of the border Auschwitz was on, he said.

The Polish embassy had accused Stephen Fry of slander after he suggested Poles had played a role in the Holocaust.

He made the comments on Channel 4 news while talking about the Conservative Party's links with Poland's Law and Justice party. The party has members that have faced accusations of anti-Semitism and homophobia, and Fry appeared to hint that Poland may hold some responsibility for the mass murder of European Jews.

Let's face it, there has been a history in Poland of right-wing Catholicism, which has been deeply disturbing for those of us who know a little history, and remember which side of the border Auschwitz was on, he said.

 

28th November   

Offsite: The director who didn't say 'cut'...

An interview with the retiring Irish film censor
Link Here

9 Songs An interview with the outgoing Irish film censor, John Kelleher

What about the 9 Songs business? Many see actual sex as the final taboo for a censor (before the next one comes along). It was a borderline one, he remembers. But I thought: this is a film, however poor, with characters and story. It is not pornography. It would be wrong to stop consenting adults from watching it. I was also aware that the British were agonising over it at that very time. I wanted to get our decision in first because I knew it might have influence. If tiny Ireland said it was okay then Perfidious Albion could hardly refuse.

One controversial ban did stand during his reign. In 2007, acting in his role as video game monitor, Kelleher banned a hugely violent action-adventure title named Manhunt 2 . (The notion of the softly spoken, urbane Kelleher hunched over a console trying to butcher virtual bystanders is a delicious one). There seems to be a contradiction here. He has always maintained he does not feel that films corrupt the viewer, but this decision suggests that he thinks differently about these modern video game thingummies.

I can fully understand that there is an implied contradiction, he says. You can have a principle and stick to it, but still reach a point where that principle is challenged. I received about 500 email hits after that from outraged gamers. 'F*** you!' 'What are you, a priest?' 'Are you a communist Nazi?' They really were very disappointed.

 

24th November   

Update: Romania Easily Offended...

Romania whinges at top gear for Borat and gypsies reference
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Top Gear Great Adventures Collection Jeremy Clarkson is in trouble again, this time with Romanian government

The production team of the BBC two hit series Top Gear have been asked by the Romanian government to remove supposedly offensive remarks made about the country. The Romanian ambassador Dr Ion Jinag was surprised and disappointed by the references to Borat and gypsies.

When Clarkson and his co-presenters Hammond and May visited the Romanian countryside, Jeremy put on a pork pie style hat and talked of entering Borat country. Clarkson said: I'm wearing this hat so the gypsies think I am one. I'm told they can be violent if they don't like the look of you.

The presenter was also seen washing his face before he said 'cool, refreshing communist water'. The Romanian embassy said: We anticipate a positive response to our request for changes.

 

21st November   

Manhunt for Another Censor...

Irish film censor retires
Link Here

Spun DVD Jason Schwartzman He's seen nearly 2,000 films personally and supervised the watching of 55,000 others, yet the film censor John Kelleher only banned one film.

Kelleher, the director of the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO), has stepped down just short of his 65th birthday.

He was appointed censor over six years ago. Shortly after taking office, he banned the film Spun on the basis that it showed an unacceptable level of gratuitous violence and obscenity , but that decision was overturned on appeal.

He also banned Manhunt 2 a violent video game, the only one of 8,000 video games banned by his office.

I don't believe in film censoring for adults, I believe in film classification for minors. I hope that people realised that I was trying to ensure that adults could look after themselves, that it was the welfare of children which was paramount, he said. [ ...BUT... this freedom for adults somehow didn't extend to hardcore porn].

His successor has not yet been appointed and IFCO will be headed up in the meantime by his deputy Ger Connelly.

The best film he saw, he says, was The Lives of Others ( Das Leben der Anderen ); worst were the series of Saw horror movies. I personally hate the extreme violence of the Saw franchise and the horror film Hostel , but I think younger people see it as an illusion that is created to scare, he said.

 

21st November   

Update: Ages of the Moon...

Swedish court overrules censors and lowers New Moon rating from 15 to 11
Link Here

New Moon Theatrical Release The fans of New Moon have won over the Swedish film censors.

On Friday, the same day as the highly anticipated Twilight sequel was to open, the Chamber Court in Stockholm, after an appeal by distrib Nordisk Film, overruled the censor's decision to ban everyone under 15 from seeing the vampire film.

The court decided that the rating was to be lowered to 11, which also means that anyone between the ages of 7 and 11 can see the film if accompanied by an adult.

The previous decision to rate the film 15 caused an uproar among the many Twilight fans, many of whom are under that age.

New Moon is rated as 12A in the UK.

 

12th November   

Historical Censorship...

Convicted murderer takes legal action against Wikipedia for publishing his name
Link Here

Wikipedia logo Wolfgang Werlé served 15 years for the gruesome murder of a famous German actor is taking legal action against Wikipedia for reporting the conviction.

Attorneys took the action on behalf of Wolfgang Werlé, one of two men to receive a life sentence for the 1990 murder of Walter Sedlmayr. In a letter sent late last month to Wikipedia officials, they didn't dispute their client was found guilty, but they nonetheless demanded Wikipedia's English language biography of the Bavarian star suppress the convicted murder's name because he is considered a private individual under German law.

Werlé's rehabilitation and his future life outside the prison system is severely impacted by your unwillingness to anonymize any articles dealing with the murder of Mr. Walter Sedlmayr with regard to our client's involvement, they wrote. As your article deals with a local German public figure, we expect you are aware that you have to comply with applicable German law.

They go on to say they are currently taking legal action against Wikipedia in the trial court of Hamburg. And according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Werlé's attorneys have also gone after an Austrian internet service provider that published the names of the convicted.

EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Granick said: At stake is the integrity of history itself. If all publications have to abide by the censorship laws of any and every jurisdiction just because they are accessible over the global internet, then we will not be able to believe what we read, whether about Falun Gong (censored by China), the Thai king (censored under lese majesté) or German murders.

Update: Still Published

10th January 2010. See article from ncacblog.wordpress.com

Last month, for instance, lawyers for the convicted murderers of German actor Walter Sedlmayr sent Wikimedia, an Internet content provider located in the United States that runs Wikipedia, a cease and desist letter demanding that Wikimedia remove from its Wikipedia article the names of Seldmayr's killers in compliance with the German law that protects the privacy of individuals.

German courts have reasoned that criminals are no longer public figures nearly 20 years after being convicted, and thus should be afforded privacy by not having their names published.

Thus far, Wikipedia has asserted its right to free expression and not removed the names of Sedlmayr's murderers from its English article.

 

9th November   

Update: Under the Counter Culture...

German chart topping Rammstein album indexed
Link Here

Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da Rammstein's latest album, Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da has been indexed as it is commonly referred to in Germany, meaning that the album cannot be sold to minors and cannot be displayed on store shelves. The album will now only be made available for purchase behind the counter at shops that still carry the album.  The ban is not proving too detrimental though, as the album is currently topping the album charts.

Word is that the tracks Ich Tu Dir Weh and Pussy along with some promotional imagery featuring guitarist Richard Kruspe spanking a female were cause for the BPjM ( Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons ) to act.

With the songs being indexed, the band will not be allowed to perform them live.

Rammstein commented on the matter via Facebook, stating that German fans should specifically ask for the album, and be sure to have their ID with them to prove that they can buy the CD.

The album is also taking flak in Switzerland. The Evangelical People's Party (EPP) has stated that they will file a parliamentary request to block the sale of the album to protect the youth from the album.

EPP President Heiner Studer said the cover shows sadomasochistic practices. In addition, the single Pussy promotes unprotected sex.

Note:

BPjM, Bundesprfstelle fr jugendge fäh rdende Medien ( Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons )

A board of 12 representatives consisting of 8 different social organizations (e.g. artistic and literary community, entertainment industry, youth welfare, teachers, religious groups), 3 representatives of the federal states as well as the chairwoman of the BPjM, examines the respective object. If the board, with a majority of 2/3 of the members, decides that the object has a content dangerous for young people, it enters its name into the list of youth-endangering media, generally referred to as the index.

Distributors of that medium are then no longer permitted to sell, rent out or even display this object in public or to broadcast it. The same goes for advertising for this object.

 

7th November   

Update: New for Old...

Support for Netherlands move to repeal blasphemy laws
Link Here

Netherlands Opposition MPs have submitted draft legislation to the Council of State advisory body to repeal the ban on blasphemy, the Volkskrant reported.

The ruling Labour party PvdA has already said it supports the change in the law, giving the proposal majority support in parliament.

Earlier this year justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin agreed to suspend the blasphemy laws and amend the discrimination legislation (article 137c) to make it a criminal offence to insult groups of people instead.

That plan followed a high court ruling earlier this year, in which a man was found not guilty of insulting an entire group of people on the grounds of their religion. He had hung up a poster with the text stop the tumour that is Islam ,

But MPs are still unhappy with the minister's proposals and have now drawn up their own legislation, the paper says.

 

5th November   

Looking to Change the Law...

Sweden to extend ban on child porn from possession to viewing
Link Here

Sweden flag Sweden's government is meeting to bring forward new legislation that will prohibit the viewing of child pornography.

Currently, only possession of pornographic material featuring children is illegal in Sweden. In practice, this means that anybody who looks at pictures or videos of child pornography can escape punishment by taking care not to download any files. The government hopes pass this change in a new law that will come in effect on July 1st 2010.

It is also proposed that pornographic images of children under the age of eighteen will be classified as child pornography. However this requires a constitutional amendment, it must be approved by two consecutive governments. The government hopes that the second phase will be completed shortly after next September's general election, enabling the new age limit to come into force on January 1st 2011.

 

29th October   

Update: Comedy Bomb Attack...

Dieudonne M'bala M'bala fined for allegedly anti-semitic gag
Link Here  full story: Dieudonne Mbala Mbala...Comedian winds up with near anti-semitic humour

Dieudonne poster A court in Paris has fined the French stand-up comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala €20,000 (US$ 30,000) over an allegedly anti-Semitic stunt during a show in which he invited a notorious Holocaust denier onto stage.

Dieudonné was ordered to pay €10,000 for his public anti-Semitic insults and a further €10,000 in damages and legal fees to organizations that sued him. He was prosecuted after he invited Robert Faurisson, a convicted Holocaust denier, onto stage during a comedy show to receive a satirical award from an actor dressed as a Jewish deportee. The comedian admitted at the hearing that the show had been a comedy bomb attack but defended his right to free expression.

Dieudonné, a former anti-racism campaigner whose father originated from Cameroon, often courts controversy and earlier this year tried to enter politics by standing for the European parliament as head of an anti-Zionist party.

In September 2007, Dieudonné was fined after he accused Jews of exploiting memorial pornography and attacked a Zionist lobby which cultivates the idea of their unique suffering ... and has declared war on the black world. Two months later, he was back in court and was fined €5,000 for having compared Jews to slave-traders .

 

25th October   

Update: Hacked Off...

Saw VI release called off in Spain
Link Here  full story: Saw VI...Saw VI in the news

Saw VI Theatrical Release Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (WDSMPI) International's Spanish arm has had to postpone the release of its horror film Saw VI nationwide in Spain because the film was given an X rating for extreme violence by the Spanish government's film institute, the ICAA.

This is the first time a non-pornographic Spanish film has been given such a rating which means that the film can only be released in eight Spanish cinemas normally dedicated to pornography.

WDSMPI had planned to release the film with 300 prints in commercial Spanish cinemas nationwide yesterday but has instead been forced to appeal the decision made by the ICAA and postpone the film's release.

All five of the previous Saw films had been given an 18 certificate in Spain and enjoyed success at the local box office, but the ICAA ruled that the sixth instalment was too violent and therefore warranted the X rating.

 

23rd October   

Update: Trapped in a Porn Cinema...

Saw VI gets a rare X rating in Spain
Link Here  full story: Saw VI...Saw VI in the news

Saw VI Theatrical Release If you plan on seeing SAW 6 in Spain you will be seeing it in a porn cinema since the film just got an X rating limiting where it will play.

Aullidos.com is reporting the film got an X rating and that its the first time it has happened in 20 years for a wide release theatrical horror movie.

It really begs the question what's in the movie that makes it so bad? I am sure Lionsgate will be proud of this and start putting it in their commercials.

 

23rd October   

Update: Losing Face...

Facebook group winds up Berlusconi's government
Link Here  full story: Media Control in Italy...Silvio Berlusconi's media empire under fire

Facebook logo The 20,000 members of a Facebook group called Let's Kill Berlusconi face an investigation after Rome magistrates said that the group could prompt an assassination attempt against the Italian Prime Minister.

But new members were continuing to join the group ( Uccidiamo Berlusconi in Italian) yesterday after prosecutor Nello Rossi announced the move, following government pressure for action against the Facebook users.

Angelino Alfano, the Justice minister, said: I'm waiting for the magistrates to do their duty and investigate, pursue and find the ones, who by encouraging hatred and murder against Silvio Berlusconi, are committing a punishable offence.

A third of the group's members have joined in the past 48 hours after criticism by the Berlusconi family newspaper Il Giornale raised its profile. Nonetheless, ministers said they were alarmed that some members of Uccidiamo Berlusconi, listed in Facebook's just for fun section, said they were willing to kill the Prime Minister.

Interior minister Roberto Maroni has pledged to shut down the group and publicly denounce its participants. I don't think that there's a country in the world in which someone would be able to write on a website 'Let's kill the Prime Minister', he told Corriere della Sera. It would be a good thing if this demonisation of political adversaries stopped. I'm extremely concerned there's a risk things could get out of control.

 

23rd October   

Right Too Far...

Rightwing Swedish politician charged with hate speech
Link Here

Sweden flag Swedish politician Jimmie Åkesson has been charged with hate speech for writing an opinion piece in which he calls Islam the biggest threat to his country since World War II.

In piece published in Swedish daily Aftonbladet, the leader of the far right Sweden Democrats writes that his country has the most rapes per capita in Europe, and most of the perpetrators are Muslim. Åkesson also claims that ten Muslim terrorist groups have established cells in Sweden.

According to Åkesson, today's multicultural Swedish power-elite are totally blind to the dangers of Islam. As a Sweden Democrat, I see this as our greatest external threat since World War II and I promise to use all my power to change the trend during next year's election, he writes.

 

17th October   

Update: Brought to Book...

Chinese book censors and publishers not impressed by criticism at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Link Here  full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

Frankfurt Bookfair 09 Li Pengyi, vice president of China Publishing Group Corporation (CPGC) was pleased with business at the Frankfurt Book Fair. But was not so impressed at the criticism of China's censorship.

We don't feel we've been hospitably treated, he said. China sent more than 2,000 people to Frankfurt. And now this barrage of criticism.

The German media, intellectuals and politicians have been pummelling China all week, attacking it for jailing writers, for refusing to include dissident authors in the official party and for trying to paint a false image of Chinese harmony.

The delegation from China, which arrived so proudly in Frankfurt, is clearly hurt by the hostile public reaction in Germany.

We were not expecting to be treated like this, said Zhao Haiyun, spokesman for the state-run General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). He said China had put on an impressive exhibition and arrived with a well-thought-out cultural programme. But instead of dwelling on Chinese literature, the German media had focussed on human rights policy.

GAPP is China's principal censorship body, since it decides what may be published in China and what not. Zhao's colleagues supervised the Chinese programme at the fair.

There should be no taboos in the debate, and I am sure there won't be any, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a speech at the opening of the fair.

It was a clear riposte to listening Vice-President Xi Jinping, who had just uttered an appeal to the same audience for understanding and respect from the German hosts. Li, of publishing house CPGC, fumed about the remark. If Germany or Merkel had been playing the guest role in China, we would never dream of addressing them in such a way, he said.

 

16th October   

Updated: Worthy of Censorship...

German novel cancelled over fear of muslim sensitivities
Link Here

Wem Ehre Gebuhrt book A German publisher has cancelled plans to publish a mass-market novel out of fears that it might face violent protests due to a reference to the Koran, Der Spiegel magazine reported Saturday.

The crime novel, Wem Ehre Gebhrt - about the honour killing of a Muslim woman - had been scheduled for September publication, but the Droste publishing company of Dusseldorf decided not to print it after all.

Der Spiegel said the publisher had first asked the author writing under the pen name WW Domsky, to tone down dialogue in To Those Worthy of Honour which might be construed as offensive, but she had refused.

Spiegel reported that the offensive phrase in question was a character saying: You can shove your Koran up ... Publisher Felix Droste had asked an expert on Islamic society to study whether the crime story's text could compromise the safety of his firm or his family, and the expert suggested the phrase be modified. But the author refused to alter it to You can shove your honour up ... Droste wrote back that riots over Danish cartoons that poked fun at the Prophet Mohammed in 2005 showed that anyone publishing insults to Islam was putting their safety at risk, Spiegel said.

Update: Honour to Leda-verlag Publishers

16th October 2009. Based on article from mediawatchwatch.org.uk

Der Spiegel reports the good news that the crime novel recently cancelled by a Dusseldorf publisher for fear of violent Muslim reaction has found another publisher. Leda-Verlag plans to present the re-titled Ehre, wem ehre… at the Frankfurt book fair this week.

Publisher Heike Gerdes conceded that the book might provoke some, but insisted that it did not single out the Turks or Islam for criticism, focusing instead on traditional misogynic attitudes. We believe that everyone should form their own impression. We have found nothing in the text which would deter us from publication, and will bring out the book in full. But as a precaution, the police have been informed.

A%age of the book's profits will be donated to the charity Solidarity With Women in Need.

 

16th October   

Updated: Extreme in Sweden...

DVD sellers fined for extreme BDSM
Link Here

Sweden flag Two porn sellers from northwestern Sweden have been convicted for selling pornographic films with exceedingly violent content.

It makes you feel sick, said prosecutor Peter Larsson to the TT news agency when discussing the films, which contained scenes in which women are whipped, and their breasts and genitals are burned with cigarettes or dripping wax.

Police raided three pornography shops in Charlottenberg near the Norwegian border, in the autumn of 2005. The shop owners had been the subject of a two-year investigation during which 235 DVDs and videos were confiscated.

Approximately one hundred of the films were returned before the indictment, but the remaining films were considered too risqué for approval by Sweden's state film censorship agency. All the films were produced in other countries, and many had German titles.

The censorship agency accused the shops of selling pornographic films which depicted violence that violated the country's censorship regulations. Under Sweden's rules on censorship, it is a crime to show or distribute films which include depictions of sexual violence or coercion, or explicit or protracted scenes of severe violence, unless this is justified in view of the particular circumstances.

The Vämland District Court issued its judgments against two of the men implicated in the case. According to the ruling, one man received a suspended sentence and was fined the equivalent of 120 days' pay for having sold 14 illegal films. Four additional films sold by the man were found not to violate censorship laws. The other man, who sold one illegal film, was fined the equivalent of 50 days' pay.

A third store owner accused in the case, a 45-year-old man, is charged with distributing around 140 films featuring extremely violent pornography, but his trial has been delayed due to uncertainty about who should be held responsible for the films. The films also show women being stabbed with needles, receiving electric shocks on their genital region, and having weights clipped to their nipples and genitals.

 

16th October   

Cult-Like Practices...

Amway expose remains banned in Poland after 12 years
Link Here

Amway logo The Warsaw International Film Festival has bowed under pressure from the Amway direct sale retailer and withdrawn a critical documentary on the controversial company.

The film, directed by Polish film maker Henryk Dederko, reveals a number of the Amway corporation's secrets - including obvious violations of Polish law, claims the Warsaw Film Festival web site.

To prevent these seeing the light of day, Amway obtained a court ban [in 1998] on the film, preventing its release. Director Henryk Dederko and producer Jacek Gwizda ł a were sued by Amway several times on various counts. This was the first case of preventive censorship in the history of Polish cinema after 1989, the web site continues as part of the original blurb on the film, enticing cinema goers to see this as yet unseen documentary in Poland.

Showing the film as part of the festival would have been the first time that a Polish audience could decide for themselves about Amway's alleged cult-like practices and pyramid selling structures .

But TVP, which holds rights to the documentary, has withdrawn viewing rights from the Warsaw Film Festival - now in its 25th year - after the public broadcaster received legal threats from the US based corporation.

Amway said it would take TVP to court if Welcome to Life ( Witajcie w z.yciu ) originally made back in 1997, ever appears on the cinema screen. Organizers and sponsors of the Warsaw film festival also received warnings from Amway.

For twelve years, those who are depicted in the film have tried hard not to let anyone watch it, said Stefan Laudyn, Warsaw Film Festival director.

 

15th October   

Update: Good News!...

Berlusconi to bombard the world with propaganda
Link Here  full story: Media Control in Italy...Silvio Berlusconi's media empire under fire

Propaganda Unsatisfied with his direct and indirect control over most of Italy's media, Silvio Berlusconi has devised a campaign to stop the world's press sniping at him over his sex life and legal woes.

An emergency taskforce is to be established within a month to monitor airwaves and news-stands the world over for coverage of Italy and bombard foreign newsrooms with good news about the country.

The plan was announced by the tourism minister, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, who said a crack team of young journalists and communications experts would be assembled to stamp out bad news.

Their first job will be to monitor all the foreign press, including dailies, periodicals and TV in every latitude, from Japan to Peru, she told Corriere della Sera today.

The second task will be to bombard those newsrooms with truthful and positive news , and reveal to the world a generous, truthful and audacious Italy - the Italy of entrepreneurs, art, cultural events and our products .

Brambilla said that Italian exports were suffering as a result of the country's bad press. Exporters are worried because it is only news of the shameful attacks on Berlusconi that reach abroad. This affects national appeal and we cannot allow that.

 

14th October   

Update: Fitna for Travel to Britain...

Wilders wins appeal against Home Office ban on visiting Britain
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Home Offie logo Geert Wilders, the Dutch far-right politician, has won his appeal against the Government's refusal to let him enter Britain.

Wilders challenged the decision by then home secretary Jacqui Smith which led to him being turned back at Heathrow Airport.

The ruling by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal means the head of the Freedom Party, who is accused of Islamophobia, could now be allowed into the country.

He was due to show his short film Fitna , which criticises the Koran as a fascist book , at the House of Lords in February. But Smith said his presence had the potential to threaten community harmony and therefore public safety .

A Home Office spokesman said the Government was disappointed by the ruling: The decision to refuse Wilders admission was taken on the basis that his presence could have inflamed tensions between our communities and have led to inter-faith violence. We still maintain this view.'

 

14th October   

Update: Not Pandering to Chinese Censors...

Frankfurt Book Fair organiser criticises Chinese censorship
Link Here  full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

Frankfurt Bookfair 09 The chief organizer of the Frankfurt Book Fair condemned censorship in China just before the biggest annual meeting of world book publishers was to open in Germany.

Human rights groups had previously accused the organizers of pandering to China, which is this year's guest of honour, a status that allows it to stage a cultural exhibition at the fairgrounds and win special attention from the German arts media.

We strongly condemn the human rights breaches and the restrictions on freedom of opinion and the press in the People's Republic of China, said chief organizer Juergen Boos.

But he insisted China had been an excellent choice as this year's focus nation, saying, You can marvel at China, fear it or criticize it, but you can't ignore it. He said dialogue with China was likely to bring change, but a book fair was not the United Nations.The subject here is literature. We can describe conflicts, but we can't solve them here.

 

12th October   

Update: Fair Protest...

Chinese at Frankfurt Book Fair see themselves as state censors
Link Here  full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

Frankfurt Bookfair 09 The Frankfurt Book Fair's 61st edition opens on Wednesday with a bust up over censorship with guest of honour China overshadowing preparations.

In mid-September, a symposium organised ahead of the world's biggest book fair generated fireworks with two dissident Chinese intellectuals initially invited and subsequently de-programmed owing to protests from Beijing.

Following a German uproar, the pair were finally asked again to attend, causing part of the official Chinese delegation to storm out.

China's ambassador to Germany, Wu Hongbo, called the action by the fair's hosts unacceptable , and said it was not an expression of respect for their Chinese partners .

But Herbert Wiesner, head of the German chapter of the writer's defence organisation PEN, said that Chinese organisers have mistaken themselves for state censors. It's frightening.

In Berlin last week, fair director Jrgen Boos said organisers had known there would be protests: There is no doubt there is censorship in China. We are far from a democracy. But when the contract was signed with Beijing three years ago, we stipulated there would be complete freedom of expressio .

Boos stressed that our role is not political, it is meant as a platform for the freedom of expression: We will authorise all forms of demonstration allowed in Germany.

 

3rd October   

Should be Locked Up...

Swedish reality TV show offends the welfare board
Link Here

TV4 logo A new TV4 reality show featuring youths doing time in an adult prison has been slammed by the Swedish Welfare Board (Socialstyrelsen) for encouraging criminal careers.

The TV show entitled Inlåt (Locked up), premiered on Thursday and places a group of troubled youths in an adult prison, exposing them to the grim reality of incarceration.

The aim is for the group to be scared straight - a method applied in the USA to frighten young offenders from a life of crime.

But the Welfare Board argues that TV4 have not done their homework and cite a raft of international studies which indicate that the experience is more likely to have the opposite effect.

Against better judgement TV4 are using a damaging method which increases the risk that the young people will destroy their futures. Will TV4 take responsibility if this occurs? Knut Sundell, Mari Forslund and Kristin Marklund at the board write in an opinion article in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper on Friday.

 

3rd October   

Offsite: The People vs Berlusconi...

Italians are marching against the prime minister's stranglehold on their country's media
Link Here  full story: Media Control in Italy...Silvio Berlusconi's media empire under fire

L'Unita logo Italians will stage a huge demonstration for free speech in Rome on 3 October, in protest of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's new efforts to stifle media criticism. Protesters will also demonstrate in other cities such as London, where the Italian community and friends will gather in front of BBC World Service headquarters.

The idea of organising a demonstration to support freedom of expression came after Berlusconi's lawyers launched defamation suits against two leading newspapers, La Repubblica and L'Unità at the end of August. The move marked an unprecedented change in Berlusconi's usual (and usually successful) strategy. Previously he portrayed himself as a victim of communist and judicial conspiracies, instead of taking legal actions against those accusing him of wrongdoings.

According to Berlusconi's lawyers, La Repubblica is guilty of asking offensive questions to the prime minister. Notably, these include the 10 questions that the newspaper has published daily since May concerning Berlusconi's friendship with young women and the state of his health. L'Unità the main opposition party's daily, is charged reporting comments by the foreign press which are harmful to the prime minister, even though these comments were reported by most of the Italian press.

Following this legal action, Berlusconi received an open letter from three eminent Italian jurists, now supported by 445,000 people and counting. The letter tells Berlusconi that the only way to prove the questions are offensive is not to silence the questioner, but to answer them. The international media have also grown concerned about the current state of affairs, with The Economist suggesting that the PM's move are similar to those undertaken by an earlier Italian politician, Benito Mussolini.

...read full article

Update: Berlusconi Loses Immunity from Prosecution

8th October 2009. See article from dailymail.co.uk

Silvio Berlusconi was defiant after Italy's top court stripped him of his immunity from prosecution.

Berlusconi pushed through the law giving him immunity last year, meaning that he did not have to stand trial in a corruption case alongside British company lawyer David Mills. Berlusconi may now have to stand trial in a corruption case which saw David Mills, the estranged husband of Tessa Jowells, jailed

The Constitutional Court ruled that the legislation, pushed through by Berlusconi soon after he returned for a third term in power, violates the principle that all citizens are equal before the law.

The fallout is likely to prove even more damaging to centre-Right leader Mr Berlusconi's 17-month-old government than the sex scandals that have seen his popularity plummet, including the revelation that prostitutes had attended a party at the married premier's home.

 

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