British Shadow Chancellor at the Pussy Riot trial
August 2012 |
8th August 2012. See article from
The British Shadow Chancellor Kerry McCarthy attended the Pussy Riot trial on Monday to give a bit of extra attention to the three members of the all-female protest group who face up to seven years in prison for a church performance in which they
denounced President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill.
It seems strange to me that they have been charged with this offense, McCarthy told The Moscow Times during a break inside the courtroom at Moscow's Khamovnichesky District Court. In the U.K., they would have been charged with a breach of peace and told off or fined.
When McCarthy started following the trial, she saw that the defendants weren't able to call their witnesses and that other violations of their rights were taking place, she said.
Asked whether she saw the trial as politically
motivated, she replied, Everything I've read about it would lead me to think that.
Offsite Report: Inside the Pussy Riot Trial
10th August 2012. See
article from huffingtonpost.co.uk
by Kerry McCarthy
Pussy Riot's alleged crime was to have performed what they dubbed a punk prayer in the cathedral of Christ the Saviour in February, a 40 second performance of a song calling on the Virgin Mary to join
forces with them against Vladimir Putin.
The trial has in large part been about whether the band were demonstrating religious hatred by their actions, or whether - as the women maintain - it was a political protest. The
prosecuting lawyer somewhat bizarrely argued in his closing statement that it wasn't a political statement as no politicians were named, although the song is called Virgin Mary, Chase Putin Out.
The band argue, perhaps a little
facetiously, that the song isn't anti-religious because they're enlisting the Virgin Mary onto their side. The female lawyer representing the nine victims in court (that is, those who say they were insulted or traumatised by seeing the performance) was
outraged by the band's suggestion that Mary was a feminist, and said that feminism is a mortal sin .
There have, however, been many criticisms made of the trial process: the fact the defence weren't allowed to
call the witnesses they wanted to, and not allowed to examine the prosecution witnesses/victims properly either. I wasn't there for the victims' testimony but people have reported that the judge was very quick to shut down questions, and simply didn't
allow the sort of cross-examination that the defence wanted.
There have also been many concerns raised about the way the women are being treated: they say they are only getting a few hours sleep a night, they aren't being fed
during their 12 hour days at court, and Nadya and Masha have not been able to see their two small children. There has also been an order made barring Nadya's husband, Peter, from visiting her, after - I was told - he was seen to be too active in calling
for their release.
...Read the full article
Comment: The bit about
forgiving those who trespass against them
11th August 2012. Thanks to Alan
Kerry McCarthy's remarks on the trial are interesting, but I don't think she quite sees the point about Pussy Riot's claim that the Virgin Mary would agree with them. It isn't facetious . Whether or not they believe the doctrines of the opening
words of their prayer - Bogoroditse Devo ( Virgin Mother of God ) - or even in her historical existence, the fact is that in the longest speech attributed to her in the New Testament Mary talks of God putting down the mighty from their
thrones and raising up the humble, filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty . Looks like that's another Madonna they've got on their side.
Furthermore, Patriarch Kirill, his absurd spokesprat Fr
Chaplin - can't resist saying he's a right Charlie! - and the allegedly offended lay people in the cathedral ought to be well aware of this, since, like Anglicans and Catholics, they say or sing this text, called the Magnificat, daily in their services.
They also say that prayer by Mary's kid, but don't seem to have taken on board the bit about forgiving those who trespass against them.
When it comes to the lawyer calling feminism a sin , words almost fail me. Does this
idiot ever look in the robing room mirror? She's (1) a woman and (2) a lawyer. How does she think she manages to be both without the work of feminists?
Extract: Russian Orthodox Church defiant over Pussy Riot trial
11th August 2012. See
article from bbc.co.uk
Younger Orthodox Russians I spoke to, many of whom
support Pussy Riot, disagree. They feel that their Patriarch is not maintaining the neutrality expected of him and is in fact legitimising the activity of the state.
The Church connects people to God but now these two bodies - the Church and
the government - are linked and it should not be like this, says Nikolai Polozov, a committed Orthodox Christian and the lawyer acting for Pussy Riot.
And yet the Church feels someone is out there to get them. As it struggles to boost its low
attendances (fewer than 10% of Russians attend church regularly), it talks of a smear campaign being waged against the Patriarch.
...Raad the full Russian Orthodox Church defiant over Pussy Riot trial
|14th May |
Now TalkTalk proposes to force all customers to choose between a censored or uncensored internet feed
article from dailymail.co.uk
TalkTalk, which provides web access to 4million subscribers, already offers new customers the option of activating blocking for websites with adult themes. Now it has said it will be the first company to ask both new and existing subscribers whether they
want to block adult content.
TalkTalk's filter, HomeSafe, blocks sites categorised as unsuitable for under-18s, including those related to pornography, suicide, self harm, gambling, dating, drugs and weapons. But it also blocks websites for strong
language, references to sex and any sites that happen to contain a few words that trigger automated classification software.
It has been available to customers since May last year, but only if they requested it. From March this year, new
subscribers have been asked to choose whether or not they want the filter.
Now the company wants to force all of its customers to decide whether they want access to adult material, with a view to making them choose their settings once a year.
It is believed other internet providers will introduce a system in October which will be more tailored to devices and individuals.
|31st March |
Bureaucrats north of the border seem to be on a mission to bleed all the spontaneity out of Scotland's thriving cultural scene. By Tiffany Jenkins of Spiked
article from spiked-online.com
|29th March |
See article from
Freedom of Expression Awards 2012
28th March 2012, London
Winner: Idrak Abbasov, journalist, Azerbaijan
Idrak Abbasov is an
Azerbaijani journalist whose investigative work has put his life in danger. Abbasov reports for newspaper Ayna-Zerkalo, contributes to the Institute for War & Peace Reporting website, and he is one of the founding members of Azerbaijan's Institute
for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) .
Han Han, blogger, China
The author of China's most widely read blog, 29-year-old Han Han has been called the world's most popular blogger . He is also famed
for being a cultural critic, race-car driver, actor and novelist. But despite his rock star status he has long been considered a thorn in the side of the Chinese government.
Lucia Escobar, journalist, Guatemala
Lucia Escobar's story highlights the state of press freedom in Guatemala, where journalists are regularly intimidated by paramilitary groups. Escobar is a freelance columnist for El Perio'dico, a publication based in Guatemala City, and also operates
an online radio station, Radio Ati.
Kayvan Samimi, journalist, Iran
Iranian journalist Kayvan Samimi has been instrumental in keeping dissent alive in the Islamic Republic.
Winner: Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, NGO, Bahrain
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) has played a crucial role in documenting human
rights violations, political repression and torture in the Gulf kingdom. Despite efforts to silence and discredit it, the BCHR has kept international attention on the brutal government crackdown that began last February. It has prevented the Bahrain
government from whitewashing its international image, and at times when news media were severely restricted and foreign journalists barred, it acted as a crucial news source.
Alaa Abd El Fattah, blogger, Egypt
Alaa Abd El Fattah is at the forefront of protests against Egypt's current military rule. Over the last 12 months, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has tried to silence dissent, crushing protests, restricting the media and questioning
and imprisoning activists who criticise its actions.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill, QC, UK
Anthony Lester is a British barrister and Liberal Democrat peer whose work in the field of human rights has transformed
the legal landscape. His support for the libel reform campaign has led to one of the greatest advances for free speech in recent years in the UK, potentially transforming the most infamous and enduring chill on freedom of expression in the country.
Following the introduction of Anthony Lester's private member's defamation bill in May 2010, the government then used it as the basis for its own bill a year later. If it becomes law this year, it will mark the end of London's notorious reputation as a town named sue
, the libel capital of the world, and fulfil Anthony Lester's personal aim of providing a catalyst for reform in an historic moment for free speech in the UK.
Winner: Freedom Fone by Kubatana, mobile phone technology NGO, Zimbabwe
Kubatana is an NGO based in Harare that uses a variety of new and traditional media to encourage ordinary Zimbabweans to be informed, inspired
and active about civic and human rights issues. As an organisation, it continuously seeks innovative fixes to the challenges of sharing independent information in Zimbabwe's restrictive media environment. Freedom Fone is one of Kubatana's solutions. An
open-source software, Freedom Fone helps organisations create interactive voice response (IVR) menus to enable them to share pre-recorded audio information in any language via mobile phones and landlines with their members or the general public. The
software is aimed at organisations or individuals wishing to set up interactive information services for users where the free flow of information may be denied for economic, political, technological or other reasons. Freedom Fone is one of the many ways
Kubatana reaches across the digital divide to inform and inspire the vast majority of Zimbabweans who do not have regular or affordable internet access.
ObscuraCam, smartphone app, USA
ObscuraCam is a free
smartphone application that uses facial recognition to blur individual faces automatically. Developed by WITNESS and the Guardian Project, it enables users to protect their personal security, privacy and anonymity. In 2011 and 2012, uprisings throughout
the Middle East have shown the power and danger of mobile video footage. ObscuraCam helps protect activists who fear reprisals but want to safely capture evidence of state brutality. Launched in June 2011 and based in the USA, ObscuraCam is the only
facial blurring or masking application that has responded to the concerns of human rights groups, citizen activists and journalists. In addition to obscuring faces, the application removes identifying data such as GPS location data and the phone make and
Visualising.org, data visualisation resource, international
Visualising.org was created to help make data visualisation more accessible to the general public. It calls itself a community of creative
people making sense of complex issues through data and design... and a shared space and free resource to help you achieve this goal .Data analysts and graphic designers have set themselves the challenge of sharing a constantly proliferating body of
public data in an accessible form. Raw data on its own might as well be censored; visualisation opens the door to open information that otherwise would be left languishing on hard disks or, if downloaded, unintelligible to the average citizen. The
project offers a place to showcase work, discover remarkable visualisations and visually explore some of today's most pressing global issues. Created by GE and Seed Media Group, Visualising.org promotes information literacy. The portal has had a
Telecomix, internet activists, across Europe
Telecomix is the collective name for a decentralised group of internet activists operating in Europe. Their focus is to expose threats to freedom
of speech online. During one operation, Telecomix activists published a huge package of data which proved that the Syrian government was carrying out mass surveillance of thousands of its citizens' internet usage. Telecomix's revelation that the
technology used was supplied by US firm Blue Coat Systems has prompted serious investigations into the involvement of western technology firms in helping repressive regimes spy on their people. In mid-August 2011, Telecomix's dispersed group of hackers
came together to target Syria's internet. Those attempting to access the internet though their normal browsers were confronted with a blank page bearing a warning: This is a deliberate, temporary internet breakdown. Please read carefully and spread
the following message. Your internet activity is monitored. Following this, a page flashed up describing how to take precautions to encrypt usage.
Winner: Ali Ferzat,
Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat has been called an icon of freedom in the Arab world . He has spent decades ridiculing dictators in more than 15,000 caricatures. His depictions of President
Assad and the police state have helped galvanise revolt in Syria.
Voina, performance artists, Russia
Voina, meaning War , is a collective of radical Russian anarchist artists who combine political
protest and performance art.
Ai Weiwei, artist, China
AiWeiwei is a Chinese artist and activist whose work incorporates social and political activism. He has investigated corruption and cover-ups and openly
criticised the Chinese government's record on human rights.
Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, poet, Burma
Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, a poet, filmmaker and screenwriter, co-founded Burma's inaugural Arts of Freedom Film Festival,
which took place in early January 2012.
Index 40th Anniversary award
Index singles out The Research and Information Centre Memorial, which logs
the brutal repression suffered by millions in former Soviet countries, for their continued dedication to guaranteeing freedom of information. The centre has demonstrated a fierce commitment to protecting human rights. It not only chronicles the crimes of
the Stalinist period, but monitors current threats against those who speak out against injustice. Memorial's remarkable archive includes letters, diaries, transcripts, photographs, and sound files. Individuals with first-hand experience of Stalin's
terror and the Soviet gulag have donated documentation they had hidden during this brutal period.
|28th March |
Robin Cooke talks about 100 years of film censorship at the BBFC
See article from
As the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) celebrates its 100th year, its director David Cooke reflects on some of the films that have challenged the censor over the decades.
One of the best examples is 1932's Island
of Lost Souls, the first non-silent screen adaptation of HG Wells' Island of Dr Moreau, starring Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi. Scene from Island of Lost Souls Island of Lost Souls was first rejected by the British censor in the 1930s
Originally rejected in 1933 - and again in 1957 - the film was eventually classified with an X certificate with cuts in 1958. In 1996 these cuts were restored and the film gained a 12 certificate.
In 2011, it
was resubmitted for a new DVD/Blu-ray release and was passed as a PG - making it viewable by children, though it carries the warning: Contains mild violence and scary scenes .
When we had to classify it again last year,
we went for PG on the basis of the comparison with the Doctor Whos and the Harry Potters, explains BBFC director David Cooke.
...Read the full article
|21st March |
London Book Fair is highlighting Chinese authors, but somehow only those that are state approved
See article from
The London Book Fair is facing claims it has bowed to pressure from Chinese authorities by failing to invite dissident and exiled writers to next month's event and choosing only state-approved authors.
Bei Ling, an exiled poet and essayist, has
written to the British Council, the organisers of the cultural programme of the fair, which is one of the biggest international publishing events in the world, expressing his surprise over its plans to host Chinese state-approved writers and
I was amazed that no independent voice, no exiled or dissident writer from China is being represented at the London Book Fair, he told the Guardian, accusing the fair, which is focusing on China this year, of self-censorship
to keep Chinese authorities on board.
It is shocking enough that the book fair has worked with Gapp (General Administration of Press and Publication, the agency responsible for regulating publications in China). In order to ensure that their
guest country was happy they exercised self-censorship and didn't push for other, non-state-approved writers, although without them you don't get a full picture of literary China, he said.
...Read the full
|21st March |
Facebook poster of angry rant charged with 'sending a message that was grossly offensive'
See article from
Police have dropped charges of racial aggravation against teenager Azhar Ahmed for comments he posted on Facebook last week.
He is now being charged under the Communications Act 2003 with sending a message that was grossly offensive on
He has denied the charge, according to The Yorkshire Post.
So that means if you say anything the police deem grossly offensive on social media you can be hauled up in court.
16th March 2012 See article from
Comments about the army on a Yorkshire teenager's Facebook page seem to be too much for the new total policing state. By Richard Seymour.
Update: Court Adjourned
2012. See article from dailymail.co.uk
Azhar Ahmed appeared in court charged with making offensive comments on Facebook about the deaths of six British soldiers. He has been accused of committing an offence under the Communications Act of sending a grossly offensive message.
The District Judge heard no evidence and adjourned the trial until 14 September due to an unexpected legal problem.
Around 20-30 far right protesters appeared at Huddersfield Magistrates Court for the hearing and packed out the public
|20th March |
Confusing as to whether it is open to under 12's when accompanied by their parents
press release from
Following unprecedented feedback from a testing panel during its beta phase, Alton Towers Resort has been compelled to seek advice from esteemed film classification body the BBFC, to help assess its new psychologically terrifying underground attraction,
Nemesis Sub-Terra , which opens to the general public on 24th March 2012.
For the first time in history for a theme park attraction, the BBFC agreed to assess Nemesis Sub-Terra, so that Alton Towers Resort could protect its younger visitors
from the intense and disturbing effects of the new attraction and consider appropriate restrictions.
Now in its 100th year of operation, until now the BBFC has only rated content in the form of film releases, DVDs/Blu-Ray, digital downloads and
video games. The BBFC considered carefully the feedback and unique nature of the attraction (which is neither a ride, performance nor a maze) and agreed to lend their advice.
Murray Perkins, Senior Examiner at the BBFC commented:
The BBFC is seeing a real blur of the old boundaries of visual content and physical experience in both 3D and 4D cinema, and at theme parks. Applying our experience of the public's acceptability of moments of threat on screen, to more physical
experiences, is something we have begun to do as cinema and other theatrical experiences evolve.
After experiencing the attraction first-hand, based on 100 years of experience and line with British public opinion, we would recommend that Alton
Towers Resort classify the new Nemesis Sub-Terra a '12A'. The BBFC's Guidelines at '12A'/'12 allow moderate physical and psychological threat, provided that the disturbing sequences are not frequent or sustained. Nemesis Sub-Terra contains some intense
moments, in some respects comparable with scary scenes which may be experienced in horror or science fiction films at '12A'/'12. But while some people will no doubt find this a frightening experience, the personnel monitoring the site are soon on hand to
guide the public to safety.
Katherine Duckworth from Alton Towers Resort commented:
The classification advice from the BBFC is important for the Resort to ensure the wellbeing of our guests. We are aware the
enforcements that will now be implemented will mean that many of our younger visitors are unable to experience Nemesis Sub-Terra, which we are obviously concerned about. However, the Alton Towers Resort prides itself on offering a variety of rides for
all ages and we hope that those under the age of 12 will continue to enjoy our other attractions.
|19th March |
Iran blocks another UK embassy website
See article from
Tehran has blocked another UK Foreign Office website in Iran as part of its ever-tightening stranglehold of censorship , the foreign secretary has said.
William Hague said UK for Iranians was launched on March 14 to reach out
to its citizens but access from the country was blocked on March 17. Iran had already blocked the main British embassy website in December 2011.
Britain last year closed its embassy in Tehran and expelled Iran's diplomats. It followed an
attack on the embassy building, which Iran described unacceptable behaviour by a small number of protesters . However, British diplomats said they believed it was likely the attack had state backing.
In a statement Hague said the UK for
Iranians website had been established to explain UK policy and engage with Iranians and that the blocking of the site was only a very small part of what Iranians endure daily . He said Iran's government had jammed international television
channels, closed film and theatre productions, rewritten traditional Persian literature and banned the publication of some books and newspapers.
|11th March |
Libel tourism case as former New Zealand Cricketer sues in the UK over a dispute with an Indian tweeter primarily affecting his reputation in India
On the other hand, libel tourism must be good for Britain's balance of payments. Legal costs don't come cheap.
article from telegraph.co.uk
Ex-New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns, who is suing a former Indian Premier League boss over a Twitter posting, has his case heard by the UK High Court in the latest example of libel tourism.
Chris Cairns is taking legal action over a
January 2010 tweet by Lalit Modi alleging that he was involved in match fixing.
The action is taking place in London despite claims by Modi's lawyers that there were only 35 readers of the tweet in England and Wales. Evidence for Cairns put the
figure at around 100.
Padraig Reidy of Index on Censorshop said:
The Cairns case is one of the most clear-cut cases of libel tourism we have seen.
While cricket is an international game,
the alleged libel took place in India, concerned conduct in India, and primarily affects Cairns's reputation in India.
Plans to prevent libel tourism were put forward by the Government last year. The proposed new rules would block
celebrities and businessman from bringing such actions in this country unless it could be proved that publication caused them substantial harm in England and Wales.
|10th March |
BBFC provide interesting archive material about their clash with the distributors of the 1981 fantasy film by Desmond Davis
Clash of the Titans is a 1981 US fantasy by Desmond Davis. With Laurence Olivier, Harry Hamlin and Claire Bloom. See IMDb
Back in 1981 it was passed A (PG)
after 9s of BBFC cuts for category for:
From cuts details on IMDb :
- Removed the close up of Calabos stabbing a man's back with a trident
- shortened the scene where Calabos is stabbed in the stomach by Perseus to remove sight of Calabos in agony.
Since then it was passed 15 uncut for:
And passed 12 uncut for moderate fantasy violence for:
...Read the full article in which the BBFC publish several letters and documents about how they decided on the
|10th March |
BBFC infomercial about consumer advice and the always useful extended classification information. By David Cooke
article from huffingtonpost.co.uk
|9th March |
Ofcom's Project Apple is considering whether News International is fit and proper to hold the broadcasting licence for Sky TV
article from bloomberg.com
News International's involvement in the U.K. phone-hacking and bribery scandal has drawn attention from regulators, who are examining the company's fitness to hold a broadcasting license through its stake in Sky.
The ramifications of the scandal
are being scrutinized by a special team, dubbed Project Apple, at TV censor Ofcom, according to minutes released under a Freedom of Information Act request published on Ofcom's website.
Ofcom, which has the ability to revoke a broadcaster's
license, will determine whether the scandal has compromised News Corp.'s ability to manage the U.K.'s biggest pay-TV company.
|8th March |
Press Complaints Commission to undergo a rapid reformation before Leveson makes his report
See PCC chairman promises 'robust,
independent regulator with teeth' from guardian.co.uk
Ofcom should oversee new PCC, if newspapers cannot agree own reforms from
The Press Complaints Commission is to close itself down in a fast-tracked programme that will kill off the name of the PCC, abandon its current structures and governance, and establish a new regulatory body that will be in place well before Lord Justice
Leveson delivers his report on the press at the end of this year.
The accelerated close down was formally discussed at a full meeting of the commission chaired by Lord Hunt in London. Details of the formal close-down date and the potential names
of the new body are expected to be revealed in six weeks when the full minutes of the meeting are approved and published shortly afterwards.
Earlier this week Hunt is understood to have told some of his close Westminster colleagues of the imminent
demise of the PCC. Hunt discussed the urgent need to have a new authority in place and functioning well ahead of the first draft and any early recommendations from Lord Justice Leveson.
Simply stealing a march on anything Leveson might say was how one MP described the
goodbye to the PCC.
|8th March |
BBC World News restored in Pakistan
See article from
BBC World News television has been restored in Pakistan after being taken off air in November 2011.
Welcoming the move, the BBC said it hoped there would be no further disruption to its services.
Pakistani cable operators had blocked the
channel after it broadcast a documentary called Secret Pakistan . The documentary questioned the country's commitment to tackling Taliban militancy, arguing that some in Pakistan were playing a double game.
Last month, Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani told the BBC he wanted to see the channel back on air.
|28th February |
BBC boss confirms that christianity is treated with less sensitivity than 'other' religions
article from dailymail.co.uk
BBC director-general Mark Thompson has claimed Christianity is treated with far less sensitivity than other religions because it is pretty broad shouldered .
He suggested other faiths have a very close identity with
ethnic minorities , and were therefore covered in a far more careful way by broadcasters.
But he also revealed that producers had to consider the possibilities of violent threats instead of polite complaints if they
pushed ahead with certain types of satire.
...Read the full article
|26th February ||
Iran's news channel was just part of a broad spectrum of satellite propaganda that ranges from Russia Today to Fox. By Peter Preston
article from guardian.co.uk
|17th February |
Did a six second cut to The Woman In Black attract an audience that simply wasn't up to the task of watching it in a cinema? By Mark Harrison
article from denofgeek.com
|16th February |
Scottish publicans ask government to clarify exactly what songs, chants and banter is banned by the new football and
See article from
Rangers' historic day is marred by songs of 'hate and ignorance' from
Pubs across Scotland could close unless the Government spells out to landlords what constitutes an offence under new laws designed to tackle football-related bigotry, trade lobbyists have warned. inShare2 Custom byline text: GERRY BRAIDEN
arrest rates for sectarian behaviour expected to accelerate after the Offensive Behaviour Act receives Royal Assent, the country's largest licensed trade group fears hundreds of bar and pub owners could become collateral damage.
The Scottish Beer
and Pub Association (SBPA) has joined a long list of other parties asking for clarification on matters such as what songs and slogans are in and out and has asked for ministers and the police to provide real-life scenarios of situations which could
unfold in licensed premises.
The Government has said the police's football co-ordination unit was already setting up meetings with licensing authorities to discuss the implementation of the legislation.
In his letter to Community Safety
Minister Roseanna Cunningham, SBPA chief executive Patrick Browne said that as long as it was unclear how the laws would impact on the trade there was a high risk a licensed premise could find itself being reported to the local licensing board which
could then sanction their premises licence, with implications for the business .
He added: Given the new and very specific nature of the offences under the new Act relating to licensed premises, it would be helpful for my members and
licensees more generally to have further guidance from the Government as to which types of behaviour on their premises would be unacceptable under the terms of legislation. This would assist them in fulfilling the expectations of licensing boards and the
police more generally.
|8th February |
Ofcom censure muslim channel programme for giving a one sided view of US foreign policy in Afghanistan and the Middle East
See complaints Bulletin
Ahlulbayt TV, 27 September 2011, 18:30
Ahlulbayt TV is a satellite television channel serving the Shia Muslim community in the UK. The licence for Ahlulbayt TV.
Eyewitness is a current affairs programme that contains
lengthy interviews about topics of political interest.
A viewer alerted Ofcom to a programme featuring Agha Murtaza Poya, a Pakistani politician and journalist. In this programme, Agha Murtaza Poya talked about various geo-political issues, and
his contribution included a critique of US foreign policy in relation to, for example, Afghanistan, Iran and Israel/Palestine. The viewer considered that the programme:
- incited hatred towards countries such as the USA; and
- presented no alternative point of view to that expressed by Agha Murtaza Poya.
Ofcom noted that the programme featured Agha Murtaza Poya speaking at length about his views on the conflicts in the Middle East, the US presence there, the spread of Islam and the future of Israel. The programme consisted of Agha Murtaza Poya giving
answers to a range of questions. The programme did not include the voice of the interviewer. Instead the questions asked in the interview were included in voiceover as part of the programme commentary.
We noted that the programme included a range
of statements from Agha Murtaza Poya, including the following, which could be interpreted as being highly critical, in particular, of: the foreign policies of the USA Eg:
I would certainly want all these regimes to
start showing a more human face - whether it is an Assad or a Gaddafi or anybody - but the crimes being committed by the so-called international community - that is worse than anything else.
They [the US] didn't fail, they didn't
go in for anything else. They didn't fail in Iraq. They beat the daylights out of the Iraqi society, and fractured it, gave it multiple fractures, so therefore... but it's bought Israel ten years, and that was the purpose of going in.
Ofcom considered Rule 5.5 (due impartiality) of the Code, which states that:
Due impartiality on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy must be preserved on the
part of any person providing a service…. This may be achieved within a programme or over a series of programmes taken as a whole.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 5.5
This programme consisted entirely
of an interview with Agha Murtaza Poya. We noted that ATNL argued that any particular view points presented by the guest were challenged through questions included in the voiceover to the programme.
We considered that the questions included
in the voiceover did, to some limited extent, clarify or add context to the viewpoints being expressed by Agha Murtaza Poya. In our view however these questions served principally to highlight geo-political issues relating to various nations, such as
Palestine, Pakistan and Afghanistan; and served as a means of punctuating the points being made by the interviewee. None of the questions included in the voiceover could reasonably be said to reflect the viewpoint of the US Government in relation to its
foreign policy in the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In our view, taken overall this programme contained a range of statements that were highly critical of various aspects of US foreign policy, but did not include any views that could
reasonably be said to reflect the viewpoint of the US Government in relation to its foreign policy and that countered the points being made by Agha Murtaza Poya.
The programme gave a one-sided view on this matter of political controversy. Further,
the broadcaster did not provide any evidence of views of the US Government on this issue being included in a series of programmes taken as a whole (i.e. more than one programme in the same service, editorially linked, dealing with the same or related
issues within an appropriate period and aimed at a like audience). Ofcom therefore considered the programme to be in breach of Rule 5.5 of the Code.
Ofcom is concerned that this breach of Rule 5.5 comes only a few months after a similar breach by
the Licensee of the due impartiality requirements of the Code4 . Ofcom is therefore requiring the Licensee to attend a meeting to explain its compliance procedures in this area. The Licensee is put on notice that any further similar contraventions of the
Code will be considered for further regulatory action by Ofcom.
Breach of Rule 5.5
|7th February |
Ofcom fine Believe TV over nonsense religious healing claims
Sanctions Decision [pdf] from stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk
Ofcom have fined Light Academy Ltd £ 25,000 in respect of claims made by its Believe TV channel.
Ofcom decided that the programmes on Believe TV:
- Paul Lewis Ministries, December 2010
- Pastor Alex Omokudu Healing Ministry Testimonies, December 2010 - February 2011
- Bishop Climate Irungu Ministries, January 2011
- Rule 2.1: Generally accepted standards must be applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material .
- Rule 4.6: Religious programmes must not improperly exploit any susceptibilities of the audience .
Ofcom considered only the breaches of Rules 2.1 and 4.6 to be so serious as to warrant consideration of a statutory sanction. In addition, Ofcom considered the Code Breaches to be repeated because they happened repeatedly over a period of several
Ofcom have previously highlighted a number of examples of broadcast material which had the potential for harm in breach of Rule 2.1, because some viewers with serious illnesses, especially more vulnerable ones, may not seek, or abandon
existing, conventional medical treatment on the basis of what they have seen on Believe TV.
For example, Ofcom noted examples:
- Paul Lewis, in the programmes Paul Lewis Ministries broadcast on 21 December 2010 and 22 December 2010, preaching directly to camera and providing 'healing' direct to individuals through the use of his 'Miracle Olive Oil Soap'; and
- Bishop Climate Irungu, in the programmes Bishop Climate Irungu Ministries, broadcast on 4 January 2011, providing testimony of 'healing' direct to camera; and
- 'testimonies' of congregation members (supported by statements by
Pastor Alex Omokudu), which clearly encouraged viewers to believe that the healing or treatment of very serious illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, and heart problems could be achieved exclusively through healing provided by being anointed with a
product such as olive oil soap, Ribena or oil.
Ofcom also considered whether to revoke the licence for believe TV but decided that this would not be proportionate.
|7th February |
Easily offended shadow equalities minister 'disturbed' by bunny girl image on beer pump
See article from
A beer called Top Totty, by the Stafford-based brewer Slater's, has been banned from a parliamentary bar because its pump plate featured a bikini clad bunny girl.
The easily offended shadow equalities minister, Kate Green, was left disturbed
after seeing the ale's advertising in Parliament's Strangers' Bar. Green told the Commons:
I was disturbed last night to learn that the guest beer in the Strangers' Bar is called Top Totty and there is a picture of
a nearly naked woman on the tap.
She called for a debate on dignity at work in parliament and asked Young to back her demands for Top Totty to be withdrawn immediately.
Sir George Young, told MPs: Action will be
taken. And within 90 minutes, House authorities ordered the beer to be withdrawn.
Top Totty's Stafford-based brewer, Slater's, describes the ale as a stunning blonde beer, full-bodied with a voluptuous hop aroma .
|5th February |
Brighton and Hove bus drivers told not to refer to passengers as babe, love or darling
article from bbc.co.uk
|5th February |
Students learn the essential modern life skills of how to be miserably politically correct, and how to whinge at bad taste jokes
article from huffingtonpost.co.uk
|31st January |
Open Rights Group reveal media industry proposals to hobble internet searches that reveal copyright infringing material
See article from
We wrote last year, many times, about the discussions being hosted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport between rights holders and various intermediaries - which to normal people means companies like Internet Service Providers and
search engines. One of the most recent roundtables saw the group of rights holders present search engines with a paper on how they should help tackle copyright infringement.
After two Freedom of Information requests, we have
received the proposals [pdf] . Here's the summary of what the rights holders were asking for:
Assign lower rankings to sites that repeatedly make available unlicensed content in breach of copyright.
Prioritise websites that obtain certification as a licensed site under a recognised scheme
Stop indexing websites that are subject to court orders while establishing suitable procedures to de-index substantially infringing sites
Continue to improve the operation of the notice and takedown
system and ensure that search engines do not encourage consumers towards illegal sites via suggested searches; related searches and suggested sites
Ensure that they do not support illegal sites by advertising them or
placing advertising on them, or profit from infringement by selling key words associated with piracy or selling mobile applications which facilitate infringement.
The minutes from the meeting suggest that the search engines were not impressed, and promised to write their own proposals to be discussed at a future meeting.
...Read the full
Offsite: Google grilled by parliamentary committee
31st January 2012. From
Google was dragged over the coals by a British parliamentary committee, as the technology company's approach to removing illegal content from its search results again came under scrutiny.
Several members of the joint committee on privacy and
injunctions, chaired by John Whittingdale MP, repeatedly attacked Google's representatives as they set out how the search engine seeks to balance legal challenges with freedom of expression.
Ben Bradshaw, Nadim Zahawi, and Lord Mawhinney, all
criticised Google for what they saw as its failure to help victims of invasion of privacy, by removing all links to content which a judge has ruled to be illegal in the UK.
|19th January |
Why libel tourists love London
See article from guardian.co.uk
|18th January |
University debate about sharia cancelled after blatant threat of violence from a man who turned up at the event
A talk on sharia and human rights by NSS Council Member Anne Marie Waters' at Queen Mary College, London was cancelled at the last moment because of an Islamist who made serious threats against everyone there.
The talk was due to take place on 16
January but before it started, a man entered the lecture theatre, stood at the front with a camera and filmed the audience. He then said that he knew who everyone was, where they lived and if he heard anything negative about the Prophet, he would track
The man also filmed students in the foyer and threatened to murder them and their families. On leaving the building, he joined a large group of men, apparently there to support him. Students were told by security to stay in the lecture
theatre for their own safety.
Jennifer Hardy, President of Queen Mary Atheism Society, who organised the event said:
This event was supposed to be an opportunity for people of different religions and
perspectives to debate, at a university that is supposed to be a beacon of free speech and debate.
Only two complaints had been made to the Union prior to the event, and the majority of the Muslim students at the event were
incredibly supportive of it going ahead. These threats were an aggressive assault on freedom of speech and the fact that they led to the cancellation of our talk was severely disappointing for all of the religious and non-religious students in the room
who wanted to engage in debate.
The police were contacted about the incident.
Update: Pitiful Security
25th January 2012. See
article from freethoughtblogs.com by Maryam Namazie
My One Law for All Co-Spokesperson Anne Marie Waters was to speak at a meeting on Sharia Law and Human Rights at the University of London last night.
It was cancelled by the Queen Mary Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society organisers
after police had to be called in due to Islamist threats. One Islamist filmed everyone at the meeting and announced he would hunt down those who said anything negative about Islam's prophet. Outside the hall, he threatened to kill anyone who defamed the
prophet. Reference was made to the Jesus and Mo cartoon saga at UCL.
The University's security guard -- a real gem --arrived first only to blame the speaker and organisers rather than those issuing death threats. He said: If you will have these
discussions, what do you expect? Err, to speak without being threatened with death maybe?
|18th January |
Councillor suspended for 20 weeks for trivial insult in tweet
Perhaps the electors had chosen the councillor as someone not enslaved to the PC cause
A Tory Councillor has been suspended from his job for 20 weeks and will be forced to undertake diversity training, after he called members of the public retards .
Hull City Council received two complaints after Councillor John Fareham used
Twitter to insult people who had protested against public spending cuts. He tweeted:
15 hours in Council today very hard hitting day and the usual collection of retards in the public gallery spoiling it for real
The council's PC standards committee claimed that his actions breached its code of conduct. Chair of the sub-committee Sheelagh Strawbridge said:
The committee concluded that Councillor
Fareham may have caused the authority to breach equality enactments and had brought his office and the Council into disrepute.
|17th January |
Turkey seeks to imprison Fergie over expose of horrific children's homes citing bollox about privacy
See article from
The Duchess of York, who faces charges in Turkey for going undercover and secretly filming children at a state-run home for a 2008 documentary, canceled a recent trip to the United States because of the case, a source and her spokesman said.
United States and Turkey have an extradition treaty and the cancellation raised the question of whether Sarah Ferguson is avoiding the United States because she fears being sent to Turkey.
The duchess was accompanied by one of her two daughters,
Princess Eugenie, to film the ITV Tonight program in Turkey. An ITV press statement at the time of the film's broadcast in 2008 said the duchess, as part of a reporting team, had gone undercover in one of Turkey's worst institutions -- capturing
images that will shock and horrify. The hard-hitting program was intended to help investigate the treatment of mentally and physically disabled children, ITV said.
Ferguson feels the work she did in Turkey was completely valid
and consistent with her ongoing support for humanitarian causes, spokesman James Henderson told CNN. Ferguson is consulting rights lawyers as well as attorneys in Turkey as she decides what to do next, he said.
The Ankara prosecutor's office in
Turkey accused the duchess of violating the private lives and rights of five children while filming a program for Britain's ITV network, Turkey's semiofficial Anatolian news agency reported last week. Discussing the case, the Ankara chief prosecutor
asked for a prison term of up to 22 years, six months, Turkish state TV reported.
What Ferguson is accused of in Turkey would not constitute a crime in Britain.
The Home Office confirmed that it has received a formal request for mutual
legal assistance concerning Sarah, Duchess of York.
|17th January |
Ceop call for moderation of twitter feeds
article from dailymail.co.uk
Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) centre said more can be done to safeguard children who use the Twitter website.
Apparently social networking sites Facebook and Bebo both report far more incidents of illegal
activity to Ceop than Twitter does. Perhaps the 140 character tweets are not the most likely communication method for grooming and the like.
Peter Davies, head of Ceop, said:
Providers of online services have a
responsibility to safeguard their environment in order to minimise the risk to children and close down opportunities for offenders.
Many companies work closely with us to enhance their ability to do this, including Facebook and
The centre does receive reports relating to material on Twitter but it's important to say these amount to a very small proportion of 1,000 reports a month relating to a wide range of online environments.
Twitter have removed illegal images and other content on our request.
We believe more can be done around the moderation of Twitter feeds and the strengthening of Twitter's reporting mechanisms.
It's important that all providers have in place robust and effective reporting mechanisms so that when illegal, offensive or inappropriate material is posted it is quickly removed and reported to law enforcement as necessary.
|16th January |
High Court finds that government were unlawful in preventing the BBC from interviewing a man that has been held in detention for 7 years without charge or trial
article from ukhumanrightsblog.com
|14th January |
Man extradited to the US over copyright claims about a website that linked to infringing TV content
Thanks to Nick
A British student can be extradited to the United States to face charges of copyright infringement over a website he ran offering links to pirated films online, a court has ruled.
Richard O'Dwyer, whose site TV Shack made more than
£ 150,000 in advertising revenues, according to US prosecutors, is thought to be the first person extradited to America on such charges. If convicted in New York, he faces jail.
Speaking after the hearing at
City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, the 23-year-old said he felt like a guinea pig for the US justice system. His lawyer argued that his site hosted no illegal content, but merely directed users to where it was held online, and said that his
client would appeal the ruling.
|11th January |
J. Edgar rated 15 for infrequent strong language
Thanks to goatboy
See article from
The BBFC have rated Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar as 17 for infrequent strong language.
The decision is explained in the Extended Classification Information:
J. EDGAR is a biopic of J.Edgar Hoover, the
founder and head of the FBI. It was classified 15 for infrequent strong language.
The BBFC's Guidelines at 12A/12 state The use of strong language (for example, 'fuck') must be infrequent. The film contains only one use of
'f***ing', which would have been permissible at 12A. However, it also contains two uses of cruder language (in this case 'c***sucker') that were more appropriately classified at 15 where the Guidelines state There may be frequent use of strong language.
None of the language is personally directed or accompanied by violence, but is spoken in a derogatory manner about political opponents who are not present at the time.
The film also contains some moderate violence during shootouts
between police and mobsters. However, the violence is almost always bloodless and lacking in injury detail.
The film also contains some mild bad language, such as damn and Jesus Christ .
There are a couple of uses of the term negro , although the term is not used in a pejorative sense, simply reflecting the common terminology of the period in which the film is set. The historical nature of the term and the lack of intent to offend
is reinforced by sight of Martin Luther King using it himself in a televised speech.
Seems a bit harsh, but the US film censors seemed to agree that J. Edgar went beyond PG-13 and rated the film as R.
Interesting to note the
inconsistent use of asterisks in the BBFC piece. It let one 'fuck' through but censored the next. Is this the BBFC keeping the page itself down to a 12 rating?
|8th January |
Chinese Embassy accuses Jeremy Clarkson of woeful disrespect of decency and moral standards
Jeremy Clarkson, the TV presenter, has been ludicrously criticised for making trivial tasteless comments about the Morecambe Bay cockle picking tragedy in which 23 Chinese migrant workers died.
In a column for The Sun newspaper, Clarkson
mocked the sport of synchronised swimming as Chinese women in hats, upside down, in a bit of water , adding: You can see that sort of thing on Morecambe Beach. For free.
Hardly worthy of mention but Tracy Brown, a Morecambe town
councillor had a little whinge. She said:
I choose to ignore such comments and treat them with the contempt they deserve. In fact, this is beneath contempt. He is just trying to make himself look big at other people's
expense. Many people around here were deeply affected by the tragedy.
But then the tiff escalated to international levels: Ms Dai Qingli, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Embassy, went well overboard. She said:
We deplore and oppose Mr Clarkson's comments, which are insulting and show a woeful disrespect of decency and moral standards. We regret that The Sun has publicised such remarks.