Just hours after a Swiss bank froze access today to a legal defense fund established for WikiLeaks provocateur Julian Assange, a group of hackers have shut down the bank's Web site in an escalating "infowar."
A group calling itself Operation Payback took responsibility for the Internet attack on the Swiss bank, PostFinance, via its Twitter account. "We will fire at anyone that tries to censor WikiLeaks," the group said in its announcement.
Congressman Steve Chabot could give Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci a few pointers about doing quick backflips.
Less than three days after Chabot prohibited the use of cameras at a supposed “town hall” meeting in North Avondale and used the services of a Cincinnati police officer to stop offenders, the congressman is rescinding the rule for future sessions.
Never piss off the proletariat.
Upset about his low pay and dismal working conditions, a worker at one of Facebook’s Third World contractors has leaked the social media site’s ultra-secret document about what type of content it censors.
Amine Derkaoui, a 21-year-old Moroccan man, worked for an outsourcing firm last year that scanned Facebook members’ pages for banned content. Given Facebook’s profitability, Derkaoui became angry about its stinginess with workers.
As a result, Derkaoui gave a copy of Facebook’s internal guidelines about what content it will delete to Gawker, a top Internet gossip site.
Some of the forbidden items are obvious like racial slurs, depictions of human or animal mutilation, photographs or cartoons of sexual activity, violent speech and content that organizes or promotes illegal activity.
But some of the other verboten items are more unusual, if not downright strange.
For example, naked “private parts” including female nipple bulges and butt cracks are forbidden, but male nipples are allowed. The list specifically mentions “mothers breastfeeding” as unacceptable.
Also, most depictions of bodily fluids are unacceptable, but not all. It lists “urine, feces, vomit, semen, pus and ear wax" as unacceptable (yes, ear wax). But, it helpfully notes, “cartoon feces, urine and spit are OK; real and cartoon snot is OK.” Well, that's good to know.
Other items subject to deletion include cartoon nudity, images of internal organs, bones, muscles, tendons and “deep flesh wounds,” along with “blatant (obvious) depiction of camel toes and moose knuckles.” (Confession: I had to Google “moose knuckle” to know what that meant.)
Images of “crushed heads, limbs, etc. are OK,” however, as long as “no insides are showing” and the person posting them doesn’t express delight or gratification.
Moreover, all criticism of Ataturk, the founder of the nation of Turkey, along with images depicting the burning of Turkish flags are forbidden. It’s believed this restriction is due to certain European laws that, if violated, could cause the site to be blocked in Turkey.
The 17-page manual includes a one-page “cheat sheet” so workers can quickly reference it when making decisions about what to delete.
Gawker said Derkaoui found his job through the outsourcing firm oDesk, which provides content moderation services for Facebook and Google. About 50 people across the globe — mostly in Turkey, the Philippines, Mexico and India — work to moderate Facebook content. They work from home in four-hour shifts and earn $1 per hour plus commissions.
"It's humiliating. They are just exploiting the Third World," Derkaoui told Gawker.
Almost every year, the Super Bowl is the most-watched television program and it's not just football fans who are responsible for the massive viewership. The annual game has become a social event replete with parties and non-football fans who tune in to see highly publicized halftime shows, inventive commercials and episodes of promising new TV shows afterward.
If you need to do some research, post on Facebook or look at online porn (c’mon, we know you do it), you had better get it done before March 31.
That’s when the global computer hacking group known as Anonymous — or someone claiming to represent it — allegedly plans to launch “Operation Global Blackout.” To protest efforts by corporations and governments to restrict access to some material on the internet, the hacktivists plan to shut the web down, maybe just for an hour or perhaps much longer.
Some people might call it the “Case of the Conveniently Disappearing Blog Item.”
In an instance of revising history to suit changing political circumstances that would make old Soviet-style bureaucrats proud, a conservative anti-tax group has deleted a nasty blog item attacking a local official now that the person has agreed to help a fundraiser for the group.
Censorship is one of the major reasons we have a constitution and the form of government everyone points to as the best in the world. But that doesn’t stop individuals and groups from claiming objectionable materials must be removed from libraries and other institutions.
The Nazis used book burning to censor reading, but we’re more “enlightened” here in the U.S. Instead we create what might appear to be reasonable arguments for saving people from themselves and their ignorance about the perils, usually moral in nature, such writing creates.
To call attention to those people who think the First Amendment applies to others, we celebrate the 26th Banned Book Week this week. “Observed since 1982 during the last week of September each year, Banned Books Week celebrates the Freedom to Read,” according to Kristin Fahrenholz, an ACLU law clerk. “Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose and the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular. It also stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.”
Sponsored by rabble such as the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers and National Association of College Stores, Banned Book Week is also endorsed by that most subversive of all groups, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. In a press release about this important week, Fahrenholz and the ACLU provide some interesting information:
“What is Censorship?
“Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons -- individuals, groups or government officials -- find objectionable or dangerous. Censors try to use the power of the state to impose their view of what is truthful and appropriate, or offensive and objectionable, on everyone else. Censors pressure public institutions, like libraries, to suppress and remove from public access information they judge inappropriate or dangerous, so that no one else has the chance to read or view the material and make up their own minds about it. The censor wants to prejudge materials for everyone.
“Who Attempts Censorship?
“In most instances, a censor is a sincerely concerned individual who believes that censorship can improve society, protect children, and restore what the censor sees as lost moral values. But under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, each of us has the right to read, view, listen to, and disseminate constitutionally protected ideas, even if a censor finds those ideas offensive.
“Often challenges to books are motivated by a desire to protect children from 'inappropriate' sexual content or 'offensive' language. Although this is a commendable motivation, the Library Bill of Rights states that 'Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents -- and only parents -- have the right and the responsibility to restrict access of their children and only their children to library resources.' Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.
“What Is the Difference Between a Challenge and a Banning?
“A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.”
Challenging the ban on a book is simple: Go to your local public library and check out a copy of one of the most frequently banned books of 2007:
1) And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
2) The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence
3) Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language
4) The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint
5) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language
7) TTYL by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
8) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit
9) It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit
10) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
Off the list this year are two books by author Toni Morrison: The Bluest Eye and Beloved. Both have been challenged for sexual content and offensive language.
If these books aren’t in your library, demand an explanation, write a letter of protest and encourage others to do the same. If the books are there, happy reading!
— Margo Pierce
After WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange voluntarily turned himself into British authorities today, he was denied bail and remains in custody until at least Dec. 14, according to The Guardian newspaper in London.
Assange, 39, was told by London Metropolitan police about new charges he faces in connection with two sexual encounters he had in Sweden. "He is accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape, all alleged to have been committed in August 2010," the newspaper reported.
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