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Category Archives: Censorship

Study: North Korea, China, and Russia top internet censorship charts – The Next Web

Posted: January 18, 2020 at 9:47 am

A new study published by, a site that compares privacy tools, ranks countries on how much they exercise internet censorship. The study says North Korea takes the crown, while China is on the second spot followed by Russia, Iran, andTurkmenistan.

The website has taken a total of 10 factors into account:

[Read:Internet partially restored in Kashmir after 165 days social media still blocked ]

North Korea scores a whopping 10 out of 10 on this scored card with China scoring 9. Russia, Turkmenistan, and Iran scored 7 in this survey. Internet censorship is a huge issue across the world as more and more countries are trying to stifle or control online content one way or another.

Governments are also recognizing that more and more users are using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to overcome the countrys internet restriction to access content or post on social media sites.

Unfortunately, the study doesnt include internet shutdowns, which is a major problem in countries like India with relatively lighter internet restrictions. However, legislators are trying to fight authority and minimize internet blocks. Recently, the countrys apex court ruled that the internet is a part of the basic right of freedom of speech.

You can check the study here and you can check out the full spreadsheet with data from all countries here.

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Aichi Triennale Exhibition Will Be Restaged in Taiwan Following Censorship Controversy – Artforum

Posted: at 9:47 am

More than six months after an exhibition organized as part of the Aichi Triennale in Japan was shuttered following political and violent threats, the Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art in Taiwan announced that it would host the show in its studio space in the spring.

Following the opening of the exhibition After Freedom of Expression?, which focused on the history of censorship in Japan, in August, the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art in Nagoya received numerous death threats by phone, email, and over fax over its inclusion of a comfort woman statuea monument that commemorates Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops during World War IItitled Statue of Peace.

While the organizers of the exhibition cited the safety of museum staff and visitors as the reason for the closure, the participating artists and others opposed to the decision condemned the move as censorshipthe topic of comfort women remains a sensitive issue for Japan. Many expressed concern over the number of local lawmakers, including Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura, who spoke out against the exhibition. The Cultural Affairs Agency which previously pledged to provide 78 million yen in financial support to the triennial later declared that it would not pay.

The controversy prompted more than a dozen artists, including Tania Bruguera, Pia Camil, Minouk Lim, Pedro Reyes, and Javier Tellez, to sign a letter addressed to the shows organizers, which read: We consider it an ethical obligation to stand by the exhibiting artists voices and their work being exhibited. Freedom of expression is an unalienable right that needs to be defended independently of any context.

While artistic director Daisuke Tsuda publicly apologized to the artists whose works were in the exhibition and for the strong sense of indignation and disappointment felt by the artists who ultimately withdrew works from the triennial in protest, he also defended the action and said that the exhibition drew threats beyond our expectations.

A government-appointed review board led by Toshio Yamanashi, director of the National Museum of Art, in Osaka later found that the closure and removal of the sculpture by Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung was justified. It concluded that Tsuda deviated from the concept of the show by incorporating several new works when it apparently was only supposed to feature pieces that had previously been censored by the state. It also stated that Tsuda failed to effectively communicate with curators, administrators, and others involved in the festival, which was held from August 1 to October 14.

While the exhibition briefly reopened in October, it was only on view for a few days and visitors had to enter a lottery in order to see it.

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Internet Censorship In Africa Is A Trend In Africa – What To Expect In 2020 – WeeTracker Media

Posted: at 9:47 am

In 2019, deliberate internet censorship cost African economies a collective USD 2.16 Bn. The shutdowns, mostly orchestrated by governments, have been on for many years.

Though such restrictions have been going on for many years, last year was the worst year in terms of amount of money foregone. So, for 2020, what should African businesses and individuals expect?

Internet shutdowns are becoming a trend in Africa. Period. The Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns in 2019 report finds that most internet shutdowns occur in response to protests or civil unrest surrounding elections.

Usually, these web and social media blackouts occur when governments want to restrict the spread of information and maintain their power grip. This does not not only toy with citizens freedom of expression, but also with their right to information.

The first major internet shutdown in Africa for last year is proof that the reports findings are correct. In Zimbabwe, the administration of Emmerson Mnangagwa executed a web blackout to quell protests arising from the ridiculous hike in fuel prices. It marked the first time for such to happen in the Southern African nation, which made Zimbabweans clamor for the return of their former leader Robert Mugabe.

A similar event occurred in Sudan, where the government shutdown the internet for weeks. The intention was to smother the protests against the generals who seized power after Omar al-Bashir was ousted by military forces in April.

These series of disturbing events occurred after Sudan-wide demonstrations against his rule. After shutting down the internet to curb malpractice during national exams in June 2019, Ethiopia went on to sustain the blackout due to failed military coup attempts.

The examples are endless, but the trend is certain. Whats more, the report by Top10VPN says that there is little to suggest that internet shutdowns will stop in 2020. This comes in spite of their negative impact on the global economy, human rights and the democratic processes.

Simon Migliano, Head of Research at Top10VPN, told WeeTracker that internet shutdowns have become a popular strategy across Africa during times of political unrest. This seems to be undeterred by condemnation by the United Nations and human rights organizations around the world.

Given that the rate of internet shutdowns has been increasing over the last three years, we have every reason to expect that there will be more in Africa this year, particularly in regions like Ethiopia and Sudan where elections are on the horizon, he said.

Simons predictions are not implausible, because truly, there are a couple of elections to be held in Africa this year. Also, some of these polls are being held in countries where internet censorship has occurred in the past. These include Chad, Mauritius, Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Egypt and Liberia.

Peaceful and fair elections are encouraged across the continent, but theres a likeliness that internet censorship will occur in these countries. Togo is likely to join the crop, as it prepares to hold the first African presidential election of the year on February 22nd. Factors that will make for an internet censorship in the West African country are numerous.

The current president, Faure Gnassingb, has been in power since 2005, after the death of his father. His regime is to be extended as hes to be the only candidate on the ballot. Faures father seized control of the small country in 1967. Protests upon protests have registered displeasure over the seemingly dynastic rule of the Gnassingbs.

The internet may ultimately not shutdown in Togo, but the other promising crop of countries on the continent make us beg to differ. The nations aforementioned are known for civil unrest, long-ruling presidents and military shakedowns. Take Sudan for instance, where their last internet censorship led and resulted in to military open-fire on the nations citizens.

African businesses are actually better off expecting internet censorship this year and put things in place to enable them cope. Businesses that only exist online or on social media wont be able to operate at all during a shutdown.

According to Simon, those that have physical locations or provide services should be aware of alternative ways to communicate with suppliers, employees and existing or future customers.

On the signs of an internet shutdown, Simon said that any election or authority-related protest or form of unrest can be seen as a precursor to an internet shutdown. The reality is that unless a business operates completely offline, an internet shutdown will undoubtedly have some negative impact on their ability to successfully function, he says.

All businesses can really do is ensure that they have a means of staying connected and, where possible, find alternative methods of carrying out activities that would usually be done online.

A 2017 report by CIPESA on internet censorship revealed that the impact of being dumped offline is not a binary issue. The survey titled Calculating The Economic Impact Of Internet Disruptions In Sub-Saharan Africa, said that even after internet access is restored, the impact of a cut-off continues to resonate.

Economic losses caused by an internet disruption persist far beyond the days on which the shutdown occurs, because network disruptions unsettle supply chains and have systemic effects that harm efficiency throughout the economy, the report noted.

Internet disruptions, however short-lived, undermine economic growth, disrupt the delivery of critical services, erode business confidence, and raise a countrys risk profile.

Theres not exactly many options available when a business is disrupted by internet censorship. Simon explains: For many people, its just the old-fashioned way: telephone or fax! If an affected business is close to a region where internet remains available, then its a case of travelling there to conduct the most urgent matters via laptop and mobile internet before returning home. Of course, thats not an option for many. This is why internet shutdowns are so damaging.

Featured Image: New York Times

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Israel’s ‘censor in chief’: The activist who manages to silence the left – Haaretz

Posted: at 9:47 am

With the click of a computer mouse, Shai Glick has managed to bring about the censorship of films, boycotts of organizations and the closure of institutions that he finds unpatriotically left-wing. Is he a vigorous censor, an ardent informant or a hyperactive troll? Its difficult to decide.

For the past five years, this right-wing activist has been frantically running around behind the scenes of Israels cultural community. Hes the person behind many of the headlines that Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev has made during her four years on the job. He has taken aim at events that have too overt a whiff of being left-wing in his view, and has handed them to Regev on a silver platter. She in turn has then been able to take her own aim at them, threatening them with government budget cuts and nurturing her image as the warrior cabinet minister who is forced to defend Israels trampled honor.

Those who believe that much of what is produced by the Israeli art scene is insufficiently patriotic left-wing propaganda would presumably have high regard for what Glick does, even if they arent aware of his involvement. But his list of his achievements might horrify those who value human rights and freedom of expression.

The list includes breaking up the Acre Fringe Theater Festival over a performance that purportedly glorified terrorists; cutting funding to the Al-Midan Theater in Haifa for staging A Parallel Time, the plot of which was inspired by the life of a convicted terrorist; and getting the Knesset to vote in favor of cultural loyalty legislation that was ultimately not enacted into law, but would have authorized the culture minister to slash government funding to groups that run afoul of its provisions.

Then there was the performance at the Tmu-na community theater in Tel Aviv that was cancelled because it included a poem by Israeli-Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour; and Glicks attack on the Mifal Hapayis national lottery for partially funding the Docaviv International Documentary Film Festival prize for best Israeli film, after it was awarded to Advocate, a film about lawyer Lea Tsemel and her work on behalf of clients charged with politically motivated security offenses. Thats in addition to the Barbur Gallery in Jerusalem, which faces imminent eviction after hosting a meeting of the left-wing Breaking the Silence veterans group. And this is just a partial list.

Glick has fine-tuned his approach. When he spots an event that riles him, he sends alerts to a broad distribution list that includes cabinet ministers, Knesset members, legal advisers and municipal officials, and also contacts journalists with statements labeled breaking news, exclusive or Want a scoop?

When a politician decides to act on the information and things get rolling, Glick keeps the media informed. Websites pick up the story and the tumult grows. Politicians are pleased with the coverage, and Glick looks on in satisfaction.

Hes not shy about asking journalists for appropriate credit in their stories or about bragging to them about his accomplishments. Hes not discouraged when they fail to pick up on a item, and is back in touch a short time later with a new pitch. Sometimes the pitch is about further developments on the same subject and sometimes its about a newer issue.

As Voltaire said

After years of contact with him via the WhatsApp messaging service, I recently met Glick in person for the first time at a Jerusalem caf, on a particularly stormy winter day. He was waiting for me when I arrived and looked more pleasant than I had expected.

I left the horns at home, he quipped, and referring to the caf, added: I havent shut this place down yet.

He had even offered to meet me on the Temple Mount, which he called a great place.

Glick knows what makes leftists tick and is good at joking with reporters, but I remind myself that he has another side.

I dont know how this article is going to turn out, but as far as Im concerned, it should say one thing: that its the left that is silencing people, he said for openers. Everything you would write about events that I have censored has already been written in dozens of places. But do you know how many places have invited me to talk about these issues? Guess, he asked. Zero, he answered.

Left-wingers only want to hear themselves, he insisted, rather than hearing opinions that differ from their own. In support of his case, he mentioned the cancellation by the city government in the Tel Aviv suburb of Raanana of a lecture by Prof. Mordechai Kedar after Kedar unleashed a storm of controversy by claiming that Yigal Amir did not kill Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

They said that was incitement, but what he said was nonsense, not incitement. No one filed a police complaint against him. [Meretz Knesset member] Tamar Zandberg didnt say a word. Haaretz didnt write about it. There was nothing from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber refused to get involved. Its crazy, he said. He was silenced simply because hes right-wing.

In fact, Haaretz published an editorial on the matter and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel contacted Bar-Ilan University, where Kedar is on the faculty, urging that he not be subject to disciplinary proceedings over his comments.

Glick was so worked up when we met that he spoke in a loud voice that an elderly man at the next table asked him to moderate. Glick apologized and lowered the volume, but not for long.

Im the only person in Israel whos not a hypocrite, he said emphatically, adding that he is also the only person who has put a stop to events sponsored by left-wing groups such as Breaking the Silence and right-wing organizations such as Lehava, which opposes Arab-Jewish miscegenation.

In all of Israel, you wont find anyone like me. As Voltaire said, I dont agree with your views, but I will fight to the death for your right to express them. Give me even one instance in which someone from the left has fought for freedom of expression on the right.

Glick showed me a social media post in which Lehava leader Benzi Gopstein called him a traitor following the cancellation of a Lehava event in Beer Sheva, which Gopstein ultimate funded at his own expense.

Sounds wonderful, but in practice 95 percent of your activity is aimed at events identified with the left.

True, of course, and you know why. Because the right is a lot weaker. Someone like Benzi Gopstein has no access anywhere at the moment.

Come on. How can you claim the right wing is weaker when it has already been in power for a decade and leftists are going around labeled as traitors and have become a persecuted minority?

Thats an appropriate question. Yesterday I was at a wedding, where I met Amir Peretz [of the Labor Party]. Glick went on to describe how he told Peretz about his efforts to make the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank town of Hebron accessible to the disabled. Glick said it was the most important project that he was working on.

Glick said Peretz agreed that the tomb should be made accessible, added that Peretz, whose party is not in government, replied: Obviously, but when Glick asked him to write to Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on the issue, he said Peretz replied. No way. Have you no shame? You [meaning the right] are in power and you want me to write a letter for you?

I told him he was right, Glick admitted with a chuckle.

On the subject of the cancellation of the Barbur Gallerys lease in Jerusalem, he recounted: When I asked the Barbur Gallery why they were hosting Breaking the Silence, they told me they host anything thats legal, and if I think its illegal I should file a complaint with the police We dont muzzle people. So I ask. Are you willing to host Lehava? And they say no. In other words, they are the censor, not me.

So what bothers you is not that they host Breaking the Silence but that they wont host Lehava?

Im a liberal. If an institution tells me,were fighting for freedom of expression for everyone, I would take my hat off to them. But if they host one and not the other, I will not accept that.

Thats not the campaign youre pursuing. Youre complaining because they hosted Breaking the Silence.

Yes, because that harms Israel. But if they gave freedom of expression to everyone, I would accept that. I dont get on peoples cases just like that. Im not about muzzling people.

Glick said he has helped out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on several occasions. I am in touch with his family and with people in his office, and if I think its legitimate, I fight for him.

Glick said when Channel 12 television journalists Oded Ben Ami and Amnon Abramovich made reference to the Kaddish prayer, the traditional prayer for the dead, in proclaiming the end of the Netanyahu era, the prime ministers son Yair Netanyahu asked him to file a complaint. The truth is that I would have done it even without him. I help anyone who I think deserves help, including Arabs.

Glick said he had worked to have shelters opened for Arab women victims of domestic violence and supported special accommodations for Muslim students in taking exams during the Muslim fast of Ramadan.

Enlightenment in Petah Tikva

Glick, who is 32, was born into an ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem. As a boy, he linked up with supporters of the racist leader of the Kach movement, Rabbi Meir Kahane. I never beat anyone up, Glick noted.

Now married and the father of three, he lives with his family in Beit Shemesh. He wears a black skullcap but prefers to leave the traditional dark suit at home. His father is a rabbi who teaches at an American yeshiva in the city, and his uncle is Yehudah Glick, the former Likud Knesset member who gained prominence for his efforts to lift restrictions on the Jewish presence on Jerusalems Temple Mount.

In 2014, Yehudah Glick was shot and wounded by a Palestinian as Glick was leaving a meeting of Temple Mount activists.

With my own eyes, I saw that incitement kills, Shai Glick said. An Arab tried to kill my uncle, someone who never hurt a fly. [His assailant] told him: I apologize, but you are harming the Al-Aqsa [mosque]. In other words, I dont know you personally, but I was incited against you, Shai Glick continued. So I understood that incitement kills.

It was that year that Shai Glick launched his efforts in opposition to cultural events with a political agenda that he disagreed with. During Israels 2014 war against Hamas and its allies in Gaza, Glick was doing reserve duty at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv and saw a video about an exhibition at Yad Labanim in Petah Tikva, a public facility that is in memory of soldiers killed in Israels wars.

In the exhibition, artist Arkadi Zaides made use of images collected by BTselem, which monitors human rights in the territories. I didnt understand how it was possible, he said. Today I understand that its simply money. They rent the place out, but at the time, it looked off the wall to me.

At the end of that day I rushed over there and saw an exhibition based on BTselem images showing stones being thrown at soldiers. It wasnt incitement, but it certainly wasnt appropriate for Yad Labanim, he said.

Glick said that when he returned home that day, he found the names and email addresses on the internet of the members of Petah Tikva city council and copied all of them into an email protesting the use of Yad Labanim for the exhibit.

The whole thing, including the Google search, took me less than five minutes. It was late at night. By morning, I had already received emails from all of them stating that they were against it, and the exhibition was taken down that same day. That motivated me. I understood that with one email, I had shut down the exhibition.

Lea Tsemel

Glick targets work or events that he believes feature content with incitement to murder. In recent months, he made quite a fuss over the documentary Advocate, about the Israeli human-rights lawyer Lea Tsemel. First he contacted parents of children killed in anti-Israeli hostilities and suggested that they lodge a protest with Regev over the fact that the film was awarded the prize for best Israeli film at last years Docaviv International Documentary Film Festival, held annually in Tel Aviv. (The culture minister issued a condemnation).

That was followed by a demonstration (that he did not organize) by parents, outside the offices of Mifal Hapayis the Israel Lottery Council For Culture & Arts is one of the sponsors of the prize and a revolt by lottery subscribers which he did organize. Mifal Hapayis said it would no longer sponsor a prize for the festival, but it reversed the decision after receiving numerous protests and after a number of cultural figures resigned. It did cancel a scheduled screening of Advocate at a film festival in the northern Israeli town of Maalot, prompting one of the states deputy attorneys general to intervene and declare the cancelation illegal. The film is on the respected longlist of 12 films, from which five will be chosen to compete for the Oscar for best documentary next month. Glick hasnt yet reached Hollywood.

On the day after our interview, he sends me a few frames from Advocate to prove that it contains incitement. In one of them, Tsemel says she represents people who would be called freedom fighters elsewhere. (That is incitement plus a gross lie, Glick says.) In another, she states, There is an occupation and its necessary to respond to that occupation, and everyone responds according to his strength and his ability. That, he says, is incitement to murder. At the same time, he takes pride in being in contact with Tsemel via WhatsApp, as he is with other people whose activity he has attacked.

I take life in a good way. Ask all the people and you wont find one who hates me. I dont go to demonstrations, because demonstrations are gratuitous hatred, and my struggle is from love, not hate.

How from love?

You just spoke with me. Do you hate me? Are you angry with me?

Youre very nice, but you do things that are, how to put it gently, problematic.

Its professional, not personal. I am in touch with Lea Tsemel and also with the director of the Al-Midan Theater, with everyone. I dont hate them, I dont fight them, I dont publish Traitor! posts. I dont allow one word of incitement to appear on my Facebook page.

Atmosphere of censorship

Over the years Glick has managed to bring about the closure of a few institutions and prevent a few screenings, but most of all he has made noise. His fruitful cooperation with Regev has made many headlines, because she demanded repeatedly that the finance minister invoke the so-called Nakba law to reduce or cancel state funding for institutions that in her view were acting against the states interests. According to the Finance Ministry, 98 requests were received in 2018 concerning enforcement of the Nakba law, of which 17 came from Regev and no fewer than 60 from Glick. All were rejected.

The question really is whether I am winning or losing, he says. On the one hand, I filed a hundred complaints and all were rejected, so you could say I lost. On the other hand, thats not accurate. You know, today the legal adviser of the Finance Ministry no longer tells [Regev] its off the wall. He replies only to me.

Glick has appeared in court several times to pursue defamation suits against Breaking the Silence (which called him a troll who spread groundless lies about us); the director Udi Aloni (who claimed he had a distorted brain), the blogger Yossi Gurvitz (who termed him vermin) and Anat Matar, a university philosophy lecturer who is the chair of the Israeli Committee for the Palestinian Prisoners (who termed him an archfascist). He has won some cases and lost others.

Of late hes been active under an organization he established, called BTsalmo, in a play on BTselem. It receives donations from private individuals, he says, but he himself does not draw a salary, only reimbursement for expenses. The only salaried officials, he says, are a lawyer and a spokesman. His income derives from a job in a computer company, he explains, but refuses to say which one. The people there know my views, but I dont argue with anyone at work, he says.

His activity as a self-appointed censor is a side gig. I call it a total hobby, he says. I dont make a living from it and it doesnt take up too much of my time. Over the years, he relates, some theater artists who saw the headlines that works he attacks get, asked him at their initiative to assail them. I told them to give me a cut, he smiles, refusing to name names. But I do it happily. If I can make someone happy, why not?

It seems to me that your biggest success is in having created, together with Regev, an atmosphere of censorship. Creative artists are afraid to touch certain subjects today.

True, and I am proud of it. I dont call it censorship. Calcalist [a financial newspaper] once did an article about me and took me to the Monster [a huge slide for children in Jerusalem in the shape of a monster] to be photographed. Maybe they wanted me to look like that, I dont know. It was a good picture. They tried to paint me as an extremist, because the media and the public like extreme things, but I am not extreme.

On the one hand, you are pleased with the censorship atmosphere, on the other hand you claim you are in favor of human rights. How does that go together?

My message is human rights, because the first right is the right to life. When I silence Dareen Tatour, I prevent incitement and thereby prevent murder. To me, that is a struggle for human rights. Its simple math.

Your activity is dangerous. When you got a screening of Advocate canceled in Maalot, there was a violent demonstration by right-wing activists.

That is exactly the reason I dont go to demonstrations.

But you are creating an atmosphere that encourages this.

I do not create demonstrations. I am against demonstrations, against hatred, against incitement. I believe that my activity prevents incitement.

In your activity against Advocate, you mobilized bereaved parents. That was cynical and manipulative.

Its complicated, and therefore I dont mobilize them for everything. If there is a bereaved family and the murderer of their son was represented by Lea Tsemel, its legitimate for them to be against a film about her. Life is complicated, not everything I say is true, its impossible to censor the whole country and impossible to fire Lea Tsemel despite my attempts. I am financing her, and as long as she supports the murder of settlers I dont want to finance her.

Your activity is perilous. In the case of Breaking the Silence, for example, it contributes to a public atmosphere that perceives them as a dangerous organization, extra-legal, and leads to people attacking them.

What you say is true, and I think about it all the time. Still, if I die someone else will do it, people who will be far more inclined to incite, who attack more fiercely than I do. I am very considerate of every persons dignity. I dont call people terrorists, for example. With the exception of Dareen Tatour, but thats because a court found that she incited to terrorism.

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Berkley Library Cautions against Censorship after God Crossed Out of Mystery Novel Oakland County Times – Oakland County 115 News

Posted: at 9:47 am

Berkley Library Cautions against Censorship after God Crossed Out of Mystery Novel

Berkley Library Cautions against Censorship after God Crossed Out of Mystery Novel

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 16, 2020)

Berkley, MI- A patron of the Berkley Public Library was concerned to find that throughout the book The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle, someone had scribbled out the word God in every occurrence, at one point adding the word goodness at the end of an arrow below the word.

The novel is a best-selling psychological thriller from 2016 that fellow author Kaite Moretti described as the definition of a page-turner. Moretti wrote. Every chapter ends perfectly hooked, every emotion is laid bare to experience along with Iris. We feel every one of Wills carefully crafted lies. We dont know who to trust, who to root for, who is dangerous, and the effect is dizzying. A pulse-pounding good book.

While the mystery of the crossed-out words may not be as riveting, it does bring up some important issues about censorship, and about not damaging library materials.

In the Berkley Library copy, only the word God was censored. Even the swear words were left unmarked. No other defaced books have been found as of yet, but if patrons do find books with writing or censorship they are encouraged to let the library staff know.

Library Director Matt Church does not know who did the marking, and hes not planning to investigate further unless it becomes an ongoing issue. But it is an opportunity for education about censorship, he said.

This isnt the first time a visitor has tried to serve as un-appointed censor. In 2018 copies of the DVD 50 Shades of Gray and other films with sexual content were removed from the shelves and hidden.

We have lots of stuff that probably offends people, Church said. But we respect different opinions and we respect different authors Its not our job to modify authors words or decide what other people should or should not read.

Its nice, at least, Church said, that its done in pencil.

The book is still on loan to a patron, but upon its return the marks will be erased.

Berkley Library Cautions against Censorship after God Crossed Out of Mystery Novel Oakland County Times - Oakland County 115 News

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Facts and Facebook: It shouldn’t censor political ads – The Union Leader

Posted: at 9:47 am

Facebook is in the doghouse with certain liberal constituencies because it declines to edit or censor political advertisements that may contain false statements or misleading claims. We side with Facebook on this one.

Among other things, attempting to tease truth from political claims is often as challenging today as it was when Hamilton and Burr went at it a few years ago. We arent suggesting that todays politicians settle their disputes in similar fashion, in a field with pistols. But ... never mind.

While some political assertions are demonstrably false, others are not; and some fact-checking outfits allow their own political biases to affect their true or false verdicts.

Facebook says it is adding features that will allow its users some measure of control over the number of political and social issue ads they want to see. But it says it operates from the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all.

It is up to the people to decide whether they buy what some politician or group is selling. Facebook is one platform and while it is huge, we dont think imposing some government censorship on it is a good thing.

Part of the trouble here is that some anti-Trumpers still refuse to believe that rational people voted for this guy of their own free will. They must have been duped, the theory goes, by Facebook and other means.

Continuing to believe that is not going to win elections. Stating facts and offering sensible solutions to the nations problems may do so.

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‘Push back against those who abuse the law to silence the media’ Index on Censorship – The Shift News

Posted: at 9:47 am

In March last year, hundreds of journalists took the streets in Croatia. But they werent covering a news story, they were creating one: staging a rally to protest against the more than 1,000 lawsuits that have been brought against journalists in the country.

The Croatian Journalists Association, which organised the march, identified an astonishing 1,100 cases against news outlets and reporters filed by politicians and other public figures. But Croatia is far from being alone. Across the European Union, powerful and wealthy individuals and big business are tangling journalists up in legal knots to stifle public interest reporting.

Often starting with a letter from a law firm that forbids the journalist or media organisation in question from even disclosing the receipt of the letter, news organisations are told to halt publication, correct or withdraw stories or face the possibility of a long, drawn-out legal battle, as experienced by The Shift.

Index on Censorship itself, which publishes a quarterlymagazineon censorship, has been in receipt of such letters. They are written in terse, formal language that can make even the hardiest of reporters doubt themselves even when they know with absolute certainty their story is true. We have heard from other news outlets that some letters request news outlets not just to delete or correct a story or face legal action but tell a reporter they can never report on a particular individual again.

The Shift knows the format well, having been on the receiving end of countless such letters. ThoughThe Shift reports such threats, others do not or cannot.

Robert Mihaljevic, editor in chief of Croatian regional newspaper Podravski, told news outlet DW last year that political strongmen were trying to silence every critical voice using the threat of legal action as their weapon of choice.

Thats why you can feel the need to self-censor in our newsroom, he said. I dont even write my column anymore, because if I write it the way I want, lawsuits and compensation claims would endanger our jobs.

This is the dark heart of the problem of such legal threats. Faced with the choice of dropping an important public interest story or heading into a legal battle that could bankrupt the organisation or the individual, and would suck up huge amounts of time (one Italian editor has estimated he spends three months out of every 12 fighting libel actions), news outlets often make the difficult decision to quietly pull a story or investigation.

A number of Maltese media organisations, for example, who were in receipt of the same threat of legal action as those received by murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, admitted they had pulled stories. And this is repeated across the region. One editor at a senior European newspaper an organisation that has the good fortune to have its own legal counsel and funds for expensive court cases told Index on Censorship that even their newspaper needs to pick its battles.

Fighting such threats can be exhausting, and isolating. Caruana Galizia was facing more than 40 suits at the time of her death, a pattern repeated in other countries where individual journalists might be fending off several law suits at a time. Thats a tough burden for a well-resourced news outlet, it is an impossible burden one for a freelance reporter.

Index on Censorship has heard anecdotally that insurance companies in some countries are now refusing to insure media organisations because of the rising number of so-called SLAPP law suits those deliberately intended to frustrate public interest reporting through vexatious legal claims.

This has to stop. A free and independent media is the lifeblood of democracy. We need reporters to have the time and resources to investigate corruption and abuse of power in our societies. If they are tied up in lengthy, expensive legal cases brought by the powerful they cannot perform this crucial function.

That is why Index on Censorship has launched anew research projectthat aims to understand the extent of the problem. We know that one of the major problems is that journalists and media houses often feel unable to talk about these threats. Cases are settled and stories quietly dropped so that the media house can go on reporting.

We want to end that culture of silence. Our project will seek to gain as much information as possible about the law firms issuing legal threats, the laws being used to justify such actions increasingly this involves the use of data protection and privacy laws rather than the traditional claim of defamation and the actions taken by journalists and journalism organisations as a result.

Over the next few months we will be interviewing as many people as possible to get to the bottom of this problem and propose solutions, working with all those already doing fantastic work to combat such threats including the likes of Greenpeace, Committee to Protect Journalists, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Reporters Without Borders and Scottish PEN.

Anyone who has ever received a letter from a lawyer over a story they know to have been accurate should get in touch and together we can push back against those who abuse the law to silence the media.

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SPLC Pushes Big Tech Censorship in the Name of Fighting White Supremacy – PJ Media

Posted: at 9:47 am

In congressional testimony on Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) demanded that big tech, donor-advised funds, and government take action against mainstream conservative and Christian organizations in the name of fighting against white supremacy and the "global terrorist threat" of white nationalism. This testimony may bolster legal claims that the SPLC engages in routine defamation by accusing its ideological opponents of being "hate groups" on par with the Ku Klux Klan.

In the testimony, Lecia Brooks, the SPLC's chief workplace transformation officer, made three points: she warned about a "surging white nationalist movement in the United States" linked to a "global terrorist threat"; she rooted that movement in "toxic, anti-democratic white supremacist ideology that is metastasizing on social media networks and other websites that traffic in hate"; and she recommended that tech companies"disrupt the funding, organizing and recruiting efforts of hate groups and bad actors who seek to normalize racism, antisemitism, and anti-immigrant ideologies as well as sexism and anti-LGBTQ animus."

While Brooks blamed President Donald Trump for having "undoubtedly energized the white nationalist movement," she attributed the rise in "far-right radicalization" to the internet. "Long before Donald Trump entered office, white supremacists around the world began constructing a robust, online ecosystem that indoctrinates people especially young white men into the world of hate." Brooks went on to note thatterrorist shooters inspired by white nationalism did find inspiration on the internet.

Yet the SPLC staffer did not limit her warnings to white nationalism or the terrorism it has inspired. She also warned about other kinds of "hate groups," including a broad swath of conservative and Christian organizations. The SPLC has falsely accused organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Family Research Council (FRC), ACT for America, the Center for Security Policy (CSP), the Ruth Institute, D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM), and more of being "hate groups" comparable to the KKK by placing them on the same list.

Throughout the testimony, Brooks used the term "hate group" interchangeably with "white supremacy" and the white nationalist terror movement. Worse, she rightly condemned white nationalist terrorists in vivid detail, but then urged action against vague "hate groups," suggesting that such action would counter the spread of white supremacist terrorism.

"For decades, the SPLC has been fighting hate and exposing how hate groups use the internet. We have lobbied internet companies, one by one, to comply with their own rules to prohibit their services from being used to foster hate or discrimination. A key part of this strategy has been to target these organizations funding," Brooks testified.

"The first targets of our attack against hate group funding online were PayPal, Apples iTunes and Amazon. The SPLC found that at least 69 hate groups were using PayPal, the worlds largest online payment processor, to collect money from merchandise sales and donations. PayPal was earning a fee from each transaction, and essentially served as the banking system for white nationalism," she added.

That list of 69 "hate groups" included JihadWatch and ACT for America, and likely included other organizations that have absolutely nothing to do with white nationalism. Yet Brooks insisted that by allowing "hate groups" to participate, PayPal "served as the banking system for white nationalism."

Big Tech has moved against virulent white nationalists, and many Americans likely welcome these moves. Facebook banned open white supremacy, for example. Yet the SPLC seeks to shut down conservative and Christian groups by equating them with this kind of evil rhetoric. In her testimony, Brooks boasted about the SPLC's Orwellian "Change the Terms" coalition, which uses the threat of white supremacy to push Big Tech companies to silence "hate" on their platforms.

Yet Brooks was not content with Big Tech censorship. "Charities also have a role to play in fighting hate online by blocking donations to hate groups. Charitable gift funds including the largest charity in the United States are helping dozens of hate groups raise millions of dollars by allowing their donors not to reveal their identities," she warned.

The SPLC staffer pointed at Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Schwab Charitable Fund, and others for allowing individual donors to "funnel nearly $11 million to 34 organizations that we have identified as hate groups." Ironically, only one of the identified "hate groups" was white nationalist, while the other 33 were "anti-LGBT," "anti-Muslim," "anti-immigrant," and "radical traditionalist Catholic." The union-backed Amalgamated Bank led a campaign to pressure charitable funds to cut off "hate groups" last March.

Brooks ended her remarks with suggestions for government. she chided the FBI's Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit for its investigation into a "black identity movement" involving terrorism inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Brooks claimed that "no such movement exists." She also faulted federal law enforcement for "viewing anti-fascist protesters as just as problematic as the deadly white supremacist movement."

Summing up, the SPLC staffer warned that "internet companies must do far more to combat extremism and hate. To stem the rise of hate and domestic terrorism, we are encouraging tech companies to respect people over profits."

This testimony reveals the SPLC's demonization strategy and should bolster the many defamation lawsuits that have been filed against the far-left smear group. In 2018, the SPLC paid $3.375 million to settle a defamation lawsuit from Maajid Nawaz, a Muslim anti-terror reformer whom it had branded an "anti-Muslim extremist." Liberty Counsel, D. James Kennedy Ministries, the Center for Immigration Studies, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, and the American Freedom Law Center have sued over the "hate group" accusation.

According to Megan L. Meier, a partner at Clare Locke, the law firm that represented Nawaz in his lawsuit, The SPLCs hate group accusation is a financial and reputational death sentence, effectively equating organizations to the KKK. No right-thinking person wants to be associated with the KKK, so the SPLCs hate group accusation is incredibly effective at shaming organizations and causing them to be shunned by donors, fundraising platforms, service providers, the media and others."

Last March, the SPLC fired its co-founder amid a racism and sexism scandal that also involved former employees coming forward admitting they were "part of the con" exaggerating hate in order to raise money.

While the SPLC presents its "hate group" accusations as unvarnished fact in media interviews and congressional testimony, it argues in court that the "hate group" accusation is a mere matter of opinion, protected under the First Amendment. Yet congressional testimony like this gives the lie to that idea.

"This is more of the same scam the SPLC has been running for years now," John Rabe, director of creative production DJKM, told PJ Media on Thursday, referring to Brooks' testimony. "While arguing before Congress that Bible-believing groups who oppose same-sex marriage and the transgender agenda ought to be lumped together with white nationalist terrorist groups, they argue behind the scenes in federal court that their 'hate' designations are actually meaninglessa mere matter of personal opinion."

"The disingenuousness of this is staggering," Rabe explained. "They want groups to be censored and banned in social media based on their designations while insisting to the courts that the designations are 'not provable as false.'"

He summarized the SPLC's strategy as "marginalizing and silencing conservative Christians by lumping them together with genuine terror groups. They specialize in guilt-by-association, and a gullible media--as well as all too many government agenciesunquestioningly accept their tendentious conclusions."

"The terrible irony, of course, is that the SPLCs defamatory 'hate map' actually inspired in a terror attack at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., making the SPLC more demonstrably dangerous than many of the groups they purport to expose," Rabe argued, referring to a shooter who told the FBI that he targeted FRC because of the SPLC's "hate group" accusation.

"They darkly warn that the rhetoric used by the groups they target could lead to violencewhile employing rhetoric that literally inspired a terror attack. If the SPLC were truly concerned about rhetoric resulting in violence, theyd shut down their own 'hate map' and stop their campaign against Bible-believing Christians," he concluded.

ACT for America Communications Director R.C. Maxwell slammed Brooks as an "aristocrat," a reference to the SPLC's wealth millions of it held in offshore accounts.

"An aristocrat lobbying for Congress to pressure tech companies to remove the voice of Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese woman who migrated to this country, is merely further proof that the SPLC will never return to being a civil rights stalwart. Shame on Congress for pretending the SPLC has credibility," Maxwell said.

Craig Parshall, founding director at the John Milton Project for Digital Free Speech at National Religious Broadcasters, told PJ Media, "The SPLC has a track record of irresponsibly labeling legitimate conservative advocacy groups and Christian ministries as 'hate groups' because their values are deemed to be politically incorrect. Its recent testimony in Congress shows that the SPLC is not only unapologetic for this trend, even worse, it wants to spread its ideological slander to Silicon Valley."

"Big Tech does not need any more incentive to suppress conservative and Christian viewpoints. As our work through the John Milton Project for Digital Free Speech has proven, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google already have an unhealthy appetite for suppressing opinions they dont like," Parshall concluded.

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, who has told PJ Media that more than 60 organizations are considering separate defamation lawsuits against the SPLC, said the recent testimony is one more piece of evidence that "the SPLC has no credibility."

"The mission of the SPLC is to destroy those with whom they disagree by falsely lumping them in with violent groups," he added.

While Lecia Brooks likely intended her testimony to support the SPLC's efforts to silence "hate groups," the testimony may provide crucial evidence in efforts to hold the far-left group accountable for its malicious smears.

Tyler O'Neil is the author ofMaking Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at@Tyler2ONeil.

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Is Hulu censoring the Iran episode of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Parts Unknown’? – The Daily Dot

Posted: at 9:47 am

Claims have been circulating online this week that video streaming service Hulu has removed an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown centered on Iran.

A viral tweet alleged on Friday that Hulu users in the United States could no longer view the episode.

Hulu has blocked the Iran episode of Anthony Bourdains Parts Unknown from being viewed in the US, Twitter user @panarin_misha wrote.

Hulu has blocked the Iran episode of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown from being viewed in the US

Users blamed the episodes alleged disappearance on everything from Hulus parent company Disney to the U.S. government, which is currently embroiled in tensions with Iran.

Hulu is owned by Disney, and Disney has a very specific history of doing stuff like this, Twitter user @film4brains added. Knew it was coming, effed up that theyre already allowed to do this

Hulu is owned by Disney, and Disney has a very specific history of doing stuff like this. Knew it was coming, effed up that they're already allowed to do this...

But it turns out that the claims arent exactly true. The episode, which originally aired in 2014 on CNN, was never offered on Hulus main service to begin with.

In a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, a Hulu spokesperson pointed to licensing rules as the reason why the episodes unavailable.

Hulu does not license Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown directlywe only receive the on-demand episodes that are provided by the network, the spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter. This particular episode has never been made available to Hulu, but we would welcome it on our service if provided.

So where can the episode be watched? The show currently airs on Amazon and CNNgo and will soon be made available on HBO Max. Clips of the show can also be found on CNNs YouTube page as well.

Bourdain, who died in 2018 at the age of 61, described the Iranian people as overwhelmingly friendly following his visit.

This is not a black-and-white world, as much as people would like to portray it as such, Bourdain wrote at the time. Thats not an apology for anything. Im just saying that the brief, narrow slice of Iran we give you in this episode of Parts Unknown is only one part of a much deeper, multihued, very old and very complicated story.

And for those without access to the show, theres always Rick Steves Iran to provide a glimpse into Iranian life for free on YouTube.


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Iran censors internet on the eve of new protests – New York Post

Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:48 pm

Irans hardline authorities on Wednesday prepared for another round of protests by shutting down mobile Internet access to overseas sites in several restive provinces, an Iranian news agency reported.

Relatives of people killed last month during unrest over gasoline price hikes have called for renewed protests and commemoration ceremonies for the dead on Thursday.

The semi-official news agency ILNA quoted a source at the Communications and Information Technology Ministry as saying the shutdown was ordered by security authorities and covered the Alborz, Kurdestan and Zanjan provinces in central and western Iran and Fars in the south.

According to this source, it is possible that more provinces will be affected by the shutdown of mobile international connectivity, ILNA said.

In November, Iran shut down the Internet for about a week to help stifle the fuel protests which turned political, sparking the bloodiest crackdown in the 40-year history of the Islamic Republic.

The Internet censorship made it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media to generate support and also to obtain reliable reports on the extent of the unrest and government violence.

With Post wires

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