Under The Dome

The Pollution Documentary China’s Government Doesn’t Want You To See [Stuff to Watch] On 13th March, 2015 Web Culture The film was watched more than 100 million times in the first 24 hours alone.Chinese authorities started removing the film from Chinese video … Continue reading

The Pollution Documentary China’s Government Doesn’t Want You To See [Stuff to Watch]

The film was watched more than 100 million times in the first 24 hours alone.Chinese authorities started removing the film from Chinese video hosting services, shortly before the full English translation landed on YouTube. A leaked directive from the Chinese government even orders the media not to report on the film. 

Under The Dome

Simply called Under The Dome — a reference to the cocoon of carcinogens that enshrines many of China’s largest urbanised environments — the documentary is the work of former China Central Television host and respected investigative reporter, Chai Jing.

The documentary was an entirely self-funded affair, and came to being once Chai discovered that her unborn child had a tumour (which was removed shortly after birth) — something she attributes to poor air quality. What follows is a brutally honest glimpse into how China is losing the war on pollution.


oil and gas in the Occupied Territories

‘Grievous Censorship’ By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed’s Blog IN ALERTS 2014 POST 08 DECEMBER 2014 LAST UPDATED ON 09 DECEMBER 2014 Why the Guardian axed Nafeez Ahmed’s blog 4 DECEMBER 2014 Nafeez Ahmed’s account … Continue reading

‘Grievous Censorship’ By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed’s Blog

Nafeez Ahmed’s account of the sudden termination of his short-lived contract to write an environment blog for the Guardian is depressingly instructive – and accords with my own experiences as a journalist at the paper.

– See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2014-12-04/why-the-guardian-axed-nafeez-ahmeds-blog/#sthash.PUeiYY4H.dpuf

In July, as Israel began its massive assault on Gaza, Ahmed published a post revealing a plausible motivation – Gaza’s natural gas reserves – for Israel’s endless belligerence towards the enclave’s Hamas government. (The story had until then been confined to minor and academic publications, including my own contribution here.) Israel wanted to keep control over large gas reserves in Gaza’s waters so that it could deny Hamas a resource that would have bought it influence with other major players in the region, not least Egypt.

Israel’s defence minister has confirmed that military plans to ‘uproot Hamas’ are about dominating Gaza’s gas reserves
A Palestinian boy plays in the rubble of a home wrecked in an Israeli air raid on Beit Hanoun, Gaza
A Palestinian boy plays in the rubble of a house destroyed in an Israeli air strike on Beit Hanoun, Gaza. Photograph: Khalil Hamra/AP

sedition

In law, sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to … Continue reading

In law, sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Seditious words in writing are seditious libel. A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interests of sedition.

Typically, sedition is considered a subversive act, and the overt acts that may be prosecutable under sedition laws vary from one legal code to another. Where the history of these legal codes has been traced, there is also a record of the change in the definition of the elements constituting sedition at certain points in history. This overview has served to develop a sociological definition of sedition as well, within the study of state persecution.

The term sedition in its modern meaning first appeared in the Elizabethan Era (c. 1590) as the “notion of inciting by words or writings disaffection towards the state or constituted authority”. “Sedition complements treason and martial law: while treason controls primarily the privileged, ecclesiastical opponents, priests, and Jesuits, as well as certain commoners; and martial law frightens commoners, sedition frightens intellectuals.”

In 1798, President John Adams signed into law the Alien and Sedition Acts, the fourth of which, the Sedition Act or “An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States” set out punishments of up to two years of imprisonment for “opposing or resisting any law of the United States” or writing or publishing “false, scandalous, and malicious writing” about the President or the U.S. Congress (though not the office of the Vice-President, then occupied by Adams’ political opponent Thomas Jefferson). This Act of Congress was allowed to expire in 1801 after Jefferson’s election to the Presidency.

Political cartoon by Art Young, The Masses, 1917.

In the Espionage Act of 1917, Section 3 made it a federal crime, punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000, to willfully spread false news of the American army and navy with an intent to disrupt their operations, to foment mutiny in their ranks, or to obstruct recruiting. This Act of Congress was amended Sedition Act of 1918, which expanded the scope of the Espionage Act to any statement criticizing the Government of the United States. These Acts were upheld in 1919 in the case of Schenck v. United States, but they were largely repealed in 1921, leaving laws forbidding foreign espionage in the United States and allowing military censorship of sensitive material.

In 1940, the Alien Registration Act, or “Smith Act“, was passed, which made it a federal crime to advocate or to teach the desirability of overthrowing the United States Government, or to be a member of any organization which does the same. It was often used against Communist Party organizations. This Act was invoked in three major cases, one of which against the Socialist Worker’s Party in Minneapolis in 1941, resulting in 23 convictions, and again in what became known as the Great Sedition Trial of 1944 in which a number of pro-Nazi figures were indicted but released when the prosecution ended in a mistrial. Also, a series of trials of 140 leaders of the Communist Party USA also relied upon the terms of the “Smith Act”—beginning in 1949—and lasting until 1957. Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the convictions of 11 CPUSA leaders in 1951 in Dennis v. United States, that same Court reversed itself in 1957 in the case of Yates v. United States, by ruling that teaching an ideal, no matter how harmful it may seem, does not equal advocating or planning its implementation. Although unused since at least 1961, the “Smith Act” remains a Federal law.

There was, however, a brief attempt to use the sedition laws against protesters of the Vietnam War. On October 17, 1967, two demonstrators, including then Marin County resident Al Wasserman, while engaged in a ‘sit in’ at the Army Induction Center in Oakland, Ca., were arrested and charged with sedition by deputy US. Marshall Richard St. Germain. U.S. Attorney Cecil Poole changed the charge to trespassing. Poole said, “three guys (according to Mr. Wasserman there were only 2) reaching up and touching the leg of an inductee, and that’s conspiracy to commit sedition? That’s ridiculous!” The inductees were in the process of physically stepping on the demonstrators as they attempted to enter the building, and the demonstrators were trying to protect themselves from the inductees’ feet. Attorney Poole later added, “We’ll decide what to prosecute, not marshals.”[25]

In 1981, Oscar López Rivera, a Puerto Rican Nationalist and Vietnam war veteran, was convicted and sentenced to 70 years in prison for seditious conspiracy and various other offenses. He was among the 16 Puerto Rican nationalists offered conditional clemency by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999, but he rejected the offer. His sister, Zenaida López, said he refused the offer because on parole, he would be in “prison outside prison.” López Rivera is said to be “among the longest held political prisoners in the history of Puerto Rico and in the world.” He has been jailed for 32 years, 8 months, and 24 days.[26]

In 1987 fourteen white supremacists were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against a seditious conspiracy between July 1983 and March 1985. Some alleged conspirators were serving time for overt acts, such as the crimes committed by The Order. Others such as Louis Beam and Richard Butler were charged for their speech seen as spurring on the overt acts by the others. In April 1988, a federal jury in Arkansas acquitted all the accused of charges of seditious conspiracy.[27]

On October 1, 1995, Omar Abdel-Rahman and nine others were convicted of seditious conspiracy.[28]

Laura Berg, a nurse at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in New Mexico was investigated for sedition in September 2005[29] after writing a letter[30][31] to the editor of a local newspaper, accusing several national leaders of criminal negligence. Though their action was later deemed unwarranted by the director of Veteran Affairs, local human resources personnel took it upon themselves to request an FBI investigation. Ms. Berg was represented by the ACLU.[32] Charges were dropped in 2006.[33]

On March 28, 2010, nine members of the Hutaree militia were arrested and charged with crimes including seditious conspiracy.

Sedition is a punishable offense under Article 94 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Volksverhetzung (“incitement of the people”) is a legal concept unique to Germany. It is sometimes loosely translated as sedition,[36] although the law bans the incitement of hatred against a segment of the population. Segment of the population meaning, for example, a race or religion.

 

political censorship

Our campaign in Wyoming to end the political censorship of world-class science standards that include climate science is gaining increasing national attention. More and more Wyomingites are speaking out for the right of our kids to have access to the highest quality science standards, free from political, economic and ideological censorship.
Those responsible for the anti-science legislation are on the defensive. They’ve been telling anyone who will listen that “outside interests” are stirring things up and that they speak for Wyoming parents and citizens, despite working hand in glove with a national group that has been campaigning against Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) across the country.
It’s time to tell Wyoming legislators and Governor Mead in clear terms that they weren’t speaking for us when they used a sneaky maneuver – a footnote amendment to the state budget bill — to stop the Board of Education from adopting the best science education available to Wyoming kids.
Please sign our letter to Wyoming legislators and Governor Mead today: 
http://act.engagementlab.org/sign/WYSci_letter/?source=change
Here’s the choice facing Wyoming. We can move forward with 21st-century science standards that have been developed and recommended by leading science educators from Wyoming and throughout the country. Or we can allow ideological groups who don’t accept the findings of science to hobble our kids’ educations.
Let’s show state legislators and Governor Mead there’s a groundswell of public support to repeal this offensive footnote that stifles science education in Wyoming. The future prospects for Wyoming students are on the line.
Two state legislators (Rep. Hutchings and Rep. Reeder) told the State Board of Education that the Legislature was representing the will of their constituents when they voted to prohibit the Board from even considering the NGSS. Yet, there was no public discussion when the footnote was passed in the 2014 Legislature. It’s time for that discussion now.
Let’s tell those who claim to represent Wyoming citizens that we want great science standards. If the anti-science groups and legislators are not speaking for you by denying Wyoming kids a world-class science education, please add your name to our letter, and share it with everyone you know.
Thank you for taking action!
Sincerely,
Cate Cabot, Mom and Climate Parents member 
Kelly, WY
Marguerite Herman, Mom and Climate Parents member 
Cheyenne, WY
Our campaign in Wyoming to end the political censorship of world-class science standards that include climate science is gaining increasing national attention. More and more Wyomingites are speaking out for the right of our kids to have access to the highest quality science standards, free from political, economic and ideological censorship.
Those responsible for the anti-science legislation are on the defensive. They’ve been telling anyone who will listen that “outside interests” are stirring things up and that they speak for Wyoming parents and citizens, despite working hand in glove with a national group that has been campaigning against Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) across the country.
It’s time to tell Wyoming legislators and Governor Mead in clear terms that they weren’t speaking for us when they used a sneaky maneuver – a footnote amendment to the state budget bill — to stop the Board of Education from adopting the best science education available to Wyoming kids.
Please sign our letter to Wyoming legislators and Governor Mead today: 
http://act.engagementlab.org/sign/WYSci_letter/?source=change
Here’s the choice facing Wyoming. We can move forward with 21st-century science standards that have been developed and recommended by leading science educators from Wyoming and throughout the country. Or we can allow ideological groups who don’t accept the findings of science to hobble our kids’ educations.
Let’s show state legislators and Governor Mead there’s a groundswell of public support to repeal this offensive footnote that stifles science education in Wyoming. The future prospects for Wyoming students are on the line.
Two state legislators (Rep. Hutchings and Rep. Reeder) told the State Board of Education that the Legislature was representing the will of their constituents when they voted to prohibit the Board from even considering the NGSS. Yet, there was no public discussion when the footnote was passed in the 2014 Legislature. It’s time for that discussion now.
Let’s tell those who claim to represent Wyoming citizens that we want great science standards. If the anti-science groups and legislators are not speaking for you by denying Wyoming kids a world-class science education, please add your name to our letter, and share it with everyone you know.
Thank you for taking action!
Sincerely,
Cate Cabot, Mom and Climate Parents member 
Kelly, WY
Marguerite Herman, Mom and Climate Parents member 
Cheyenne, WY

Censorship in China

7 January 2013 Last updated at 12:04 GMT

Journalists at a major Chinese paper, Southern Weekly, have gone on strike in a rare protest against censorship.

The row was sparked last week when the paper’s New Year message calling for reform was changed by propaganda officials.

Staff wrote two letters calling for the provincial propaganda chief to step down. Another row then erupted over control of the paper’s microblog.

Supporters of the paper have gathered outside its office, reports say.

Some of the protesters carried banners that read: “We want press freedom, constitutionalism and democracy”.

“The Nanfang [Southern] Media Group is relatively willing to speak the truth in China so we need to stand up for its courage and support it now,” Ao Jiayang, one of the protesters, told Reuters news agency.

Police were at the scene but “security wasn’t tight”, a former journalist of the Southern Media Group told the BBC.

“They tried to ask those holding placards to show their ID cards,” he said, adding that many had refused although “there wasn’t much argument”.

People were continuing to arrive by mid-afternoon when he left the scene, he added.

If the Southern Weekly strike continues for any length of time, this scandal will create a major headache for China’s new leader, Xi Jinping. Since he took the reins of power in Beijing, Mr Xi has generated kudos for his seemingly laid-back, open style of leadership. But the Southern Weekly uproar will force him to reveal his hand when it comes to censorship.

Will he support Tuo Zhen, the zealous propaganda chief who ignited the fracas at Southern Weekly by censoring its editorial message? The highly-popular newspaper has experienced run-ins with government censors in the past, but its stellar reputation has also allowed it to publish hard-hitting reports on a wide range of sensitive topics, from working conditions at Foxconn factories to the spread of HIV in China’s rural areas.

Other major Chinese media outlets have been forced to toe the government line in recent years, leaving Southern Weekly unrivalled in its pursuit of top-level investigative journalism. If Mr Xi allows Southern Weekly’s special status to be wiped away, he risks tarnishing his carefully cultivated reputation as a humble man of the people.


By Keith B. Richburg, Published: January 3

BEIJING – Several influential Chinese bloggers, activists and even a popular cartoonist have had their online microblogging accounts shut down in recent days, belying the hopes of many here that the country’s new Communist Party leaders might begin to relax strict controls over the Internet and free expression.

Instead, the latest moves against “weibo,” the wildly-popular Twitter-like microblogging sites, appear to suggest that the party’s new leaders, led by General Secretary Xi Jinping, may be more intent on reforming the country’s economy than opening up space in the political sphere.


  • Organisation of mass protests via social media forced officials to scrap environmentally-questionable projects in Shifang and Qidong
  • Shaanxi official Yang Daca sacked after internet campaign exposed his many expensive watches, deemed unaffordable on a provincial official’s salary
  • District-level Party boss Lei Zhengfu sacked after a video clip of him having sex with an 18-year-old girl appears on the internet


28 December 2012 Last updated at 12:58 GMT


China has tightened its rules on internet usage
to enforce a previous requirement that users fully identify themselves to service providers.

The move is part of a package of measures which state-run Xinhua news agency said would protect personal information.

But critics believe the government is trying to limit freedom of speech.

The announcement will be seen as evidence China’s new leadership views the internet as a threat.

The Chinese authorities closely monitor internet content that crosses its borders and regularly block sensitive stories through use of what is known as the Great Firewall of China.

However, it has not stopped hundreds of millions of Chinese using the internet, many of them using micro-blogging sites to expose, debate and campaign on issues of national interest.

In recent months, the internet and social media have been used to orchestrate mass protests and a number of corrupt Communist Party officials have been exposed by individuals posting criticisms on the internet.

China’s biggest internet firm, Sina Corp, warned earlier this year in a public document that such a move would “severely reduce” traffic to its hugely-successful micro-blogging site Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter with more than 300 million users.

Under the new rules, network service providers will also be required to “instantly stop the transmission of illegal information once it is spotted” by deleting the posts and saving the records “before reporting to supervisory authorities”.

The measures are designed to “ensure internet information security, safeguard the lawful rights and interests of citizens… and safeguard national security and social public interests”, and were approved by China’s top legislature at the closing session of a five-day meeting on Friday, Xinhua reports.

The calls for tighter controls of the internet have been led by state media, which said that rumours spread on the web could harm the public and sow chaos and confusion.

The government has said officially that it welcomes the exposure of official abuses, but a new generation of ever bolder bloggers and commentators pose a threat that the leadership seems determined to counter, the BBC’s Charles Scanlon reports.


BEIJING | Tue Dec 25, 2012 5:20am GMT
(Reuters) – China may require internet users to register with their real names when signing up to network providers, state media said on Tuesday, extending a policy already in force with microblogs in a bid to curb what officials call rumors and vulgarity.

A law being discussed this week would mean people would have to present their government-issued identity cards when signing contracts for fixed line and mobile internet access, state-run newspapers said.

“The law should escort the development of the internet to protect people’s interest,” Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily said in a front page commentary, echoing similar calls carried in state media over the past week.

Many users say the restrictions are clearly aimed at further muzzling the often scathing, raucous – and perhaps most significantly, anonymous – online chatter in a country where the Internet offers a rare opportunity for open debate.

It could also prevent people from exposing corruption online if they fear retribution from officials, said some users.

It was unclear how the rules would be different from existing regulations as state media has provided only vague details and in practice customers have long had to present identity papers when signing contracts with internet providers.

Earlier this year, the government began forcing users of Sina Corp’s wildly successful Weibo microblogging platform to register their real names.

The government says such a system is needed to prevent people making malicious and anonymous accusations online and that many other countries already have such rules.

“It would also be the biggest step backwards since 1989,” wrote one indignant Weibo user, in apparent reference to the 1989 pro-democracy protests bloodily suppressed by the army.

Chinese internet users have long had to cope with extensive censorship, especially over politically sensitive topics like human rights, and popular foreign sites Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube are blocked.

Despite periodic calls for political reform, the ruling Communist Party has shown no sign of loosening its grip on power and brooks no dissent to its authority.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Huang Yan; Editing by Michael Perry)


Media: Microblogging sites a source of concern for rumours

B3
Keith B. Richburg
The Washington Post

BEIJING – China has stepped up efforts in recent weeks to rein in the hugely popular microblogging sites that have become an alternative source of real-time news for millions while challenging the Communist Party’s traditional grip on information.

A man browses websites at an Internet bar in Beijing on Sept. 8. Beijing has moved to stem a tide of online criticism by tightening its grip on China’s hugely popular microblogs, but experts say it will struggle to control the country’s online masses.
Journalists, bloggers, media analysts and others said the new moves are part of an intensifying control of the media landscape ahead of next year’s crucial Communist Party Congress, which will bring the most sweeping leadership change in China in a decade. Although leadership shuffles here are routinely decided behind the scenes and carefully choreographed for the public, they are still often fraught with uncertainty – and jittery authorities typically want to take no chances.

The 2012 leadership change will be the first since the explosion here of Weibo, the microblogging sites that are like a Chinese version of Twitter with some of the visual elements of Facebook tossed in. There are more than 200 million Weibo users, and the number is growing.

Although the traditional media here remains largely controlled by government censors, Weibo has emerged as a freewheeling forum for breaking news, exposés and edgy opinion – often to the chagrin of government censors. For example, Weibo users first broke the news of the July 23 high-speed train collision in Wenzhou that killed 40 people – even using cellphones to post photos directly from the crash site – well before traditional government-controlled media reported the accident.

Also, although newspapers, television and radio are typically owned by the government or the Party, the Weibo sites are run by private companies, meaning the censors’ control had to be more indirect.

But that now seems to have changed.

Last Friday, a spokesman for the State Council Internet Office, which is under China’s State Council, or cabinet, issued a statement warning Internet users to “show self-discipline and refrain from spreading rumours.” The statement was carried by Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency.

A day before, Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Internet Office, told a conference here that social networking sites posed a problem for the government. “Many people are considering how to prevent the abuse of these networks following violent crimes that took place in some parts of the world this year,” Wang said, referring to rioting in Britain that was fuelled in part by youths using BlackBerry messaging and cellphones. “The Internet should not be used to jeopardize the national or public interest,” Wang said.

The companies that run the most popular microblogging sites seem to have gotten the message. Sina, whose Weibo site is the most commonly used, has stepped up efforts to remove what is calls unsubstantiated rumours from its site, and indefinitely freeze the accounts of users who spread rumours.

Sina’s move came after a visit to its head office in Beijing in August by the Beijing Party Secretary Liu Qi, who is also a member of the party’s powerful Politburo. After that visit, Sina in a statement said it would “put more effort into attacking all kinds of rumours.”

Sina also said it would monitor more closely the content of users with more than 50,000 followers.

But it seems not only rumourmongers are having their Weibo accounts suspended. In Shanghai, a Weibo microblogger using the online name “General Secretary of the Flower and Fruit Mountain” gained 20,000 followers by taking published photographs of government officials, zooming in on their luxury wristwatches and identifying their make and cost. Starting in July, “General Secretary” posted dozens of photos of officials and their watches.

The point was clear; officials on low government salaries were publicly sporting pricy Rolexes, Omegas and Piagets – the exact kind of corruption possibilities the party has said it wants to stamp put. But for his trouble, “General Secretary of the Flower and Fruit Mountain” got a call from Sina last month telling him his account was being shut down and all his previous posts deleted.

“I think the pressure on social media in China is intensifying, particularly given the strong role platforms like Sina microblog have played on recent news stories,” said David Bandurski, editor of the China Media Project website at the University of Hong Kong.

Bandurski said the moves to rein in Weibo were part of the “cyclical nature” of media control in China. “We generally do see press controls intensifying ahead of major political meetings, like the one next year, and ahead of other major national or international events,” he said.

Sina did not respond to questions about exactly how many user accounts it has suspended since the new government edict came down. According to media reports, Sina now has a large team, led by 10 editors, combing through the millions of daily Weibo posts trying to confirm if news circulating online is true.

The efforts to rein in the microblogs come as the authorities have made other recent moves against traditional media.

Two local papers, the Beijing News – known for its aggressive reporting and investigations – and the Beijing Times were in September both placed under the control of the Beijing municipal propaganda department. Newspapers in China must have a “supervising authority,” and the two papers had previously been indirectly under the control of the central government.

The Beijing News specifically had been known for what is called here “cross-regional” reporting, meaning a newspaper in one province had broader leeway to report about corruption or other problems in another province – just not the province in which it was based. Because the Beijing News was under central authority, provinces subject to its investigations could not complain.

Reporters and editors for the two papers declined to be interviewed, saying the situation was “too sensitive.”

But some journalists and media advocates who did speak openly said the situation was murky and unpredictable because competing power centers are all vying for position before next year’s leadership changes.

“Each official is worrying that the media will be the tool of their enemies to attack them at this moment, which will be harmful to their political life,” said one Chinese investigative reporter, who asked to speak anonymously for fear of facing reprisals for discussing sensitive issues with the foreign media. “For example, if a newspaper of Hubei province reported a scandal out of Henan province, then the Henan officials will be really embarrassed.”

Investigative reporters and columnists writing analysis pieces on newspaper opinion pages have also been targets of the media tightening; many of them have lost their jobs.

Deng Fei, an investigative reporter for Phoenix Weekly, said, “The circle of Chinese investigative reporters is shrinking now. Many of them want to change jobs.”

He added, “This is really discouraging. I have been working in this field for 10 years. I also switched to working for a charity organization this year. I can’t see a future on this road.”

7 January 2013 Last updated at 12:04 GMT

Journalists at a major Chinese paper, Southern Weekly, have gone on strike in a rare protest against censorship.

The row was sparked last week when the paper’s New Year message calling for reform was changed by propaganda officials.

Staff wrote two letters calling for the provincial propaganda chief to step down. Another row then erupted over control of the paper’s microblog.

Supporters of the paper have gathered outside its office, reports say.

Some of the protesters carried banners that read: “We want press freedom, constitutionalism and democracy”.

“The Nanfang [Southern] Media Group is relatively willing to speak the truth in China so we need to stand up for its courage and support it now,” Ao Jiayang, one of the protesters, told Reuters news agency.

Police were at the scene but “security wasn’t tight”, a former journalist of the Southern Media Group told the BBC.

“They tried to ask those holding placards to show their ID cards,” he said, adding that many had refused although “there wasn’t much argument”.

People were continuing to arrive by mid-afternoon when he left the scene, he added.

If the Southern Weekly strike continues for any length of time, this scandal will create a major headache for China’s new leader, Xi Jinping. Since he took the reins of power in Beijing, Mr Xi has generated kudos for his seemingly laid-back, open style of leadership. But the Southern Weekly uproar will force him to reveal his hand when it comes to censorship.

Will he support Tuo Zhen, the zealous propaganda chief who ignited the fracas at Southern Weekly by censoring its editorial message? The highly-popular newspaper has experienced run-ins with government censors in the past, but its stellar reputation has also allowed it to publish hard-hitting reports on a wide range of sensitive topics, from working conditions at Foxconn factories to the spread of HIV in China’s rural areas.

Other major Chinese media outlets have been forced to toe the government line in recent years, leaving Southern Weekly unrivalled in its pursuit of top-level investigative journalism. If Mr Xi allows Southern Weekly’s special status to be wiped away, he risks tarnishing his carefully cultivated reputation as a humble man of the people.


By Keith B. Richburg, Published: January 3

BEIJING – Several influential Chinese bloggers, activists and even a popular cartoonist have had their online microblogging accounts shut down in recent days, belying the hopes of many here that the country’s new Communist Party leaders might begin to relax strict controls over the Internet and free expression.

Instead, the latest moves against “weibo,” the wildly-popular Twitter-like microblogging sites, appear to suggest that the party’s new leaders, led by General Secretary Xi Jinping, may be more intent on reforming the country’s economy than opening up space in the political sphere.


  • Organisation of mass protests via social media forced officials to scrap environmentally-questionable projects in Shifang and Qidong
  • Shaanxi official Yang Daca sacked after internet campaign exposed his many expensive watches, deemed unaffordable on a provincial official’s salary
  • District-level Party boss Lei Zhengfu sacked after a video clip of him having sex with an 18-year-old girl appears on the internet


28 December 2012 Last updated at 12:58 GMT


China has tightened its rules on internet usage
to enforce a previous requirement that users fully identify themselves to service providers.

The move is part of a package of measures which state-run Xinhua news agency said would protect personal information.

But critics believe the government is trying to limit freedom of speech.

The announcement will be seen as evidence China’s new leadership views the internet as a threat.

The Chinese authorities closely monitor internet content that crosses its borders and regularly block sensitive stories through use of what is known as the Great Firewall of China.

However, it has not stopped hundreds of millions of Chinese using the internet, many of them using micro-blogging sites to expose, debate and campaign on issues of national interest.

In recent months, the internet and social media have been used to orchestrate mass protests and a number of corrupt Communist Party officials have been exposed by individuals posting criticisms on the internet.

China’s biggest internet firm, Sina Corp, warned earlier this year in a public document that such a move would “severely reduce” traffic to its hugely-successful micro-blogging site Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter with more than 300 million users.

Under the new rules, network service providers will also be required to “instantly stop the transmission of illegal information once it is spotted” by deleting the posts and saving the records “before reporting to supervisory authorities”.

The measures are designed to “ensure internet information security, safeguard the lawful rights and interests of citizens… and safeguard national security and social public interests”, and were approved by China’s top legislature at the closing session of a five-day meeting on Friday, Xinhua reports.

The calls for tighter controls of the internet have been led by state media, which said that rumours spread on the web could harm the public and sow chaos and confusion.

The government has said officially that it welcomes the exposure of official abuses, but a new generation of ever bolder bloggers and commentators pose a threat that the leadership seems determined to counter, the BBC’s Charles Scanlon reports.


BEIJING | Tue Dec 25, 2012 5:20am GMT
(Reuters) – China may require internet users to register with their real names when signing up to network providers, state media said on Tuesday, extending a policy already in force with microblogs in a bid to curb what officials call rumors and vulgarity.

A law being discussed this week would mean people would have to present their government-issued identity cards when signing contracts for fixed line and mobile internet access, state-run newspapers said.

“The law should escort the development of the internet to protect people’s interest,” Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily said in a front page commentary, echoing similar calls carried in state media over the past week.

Many users say the restrictions are clearly aimed at further muzzling the often scathing, raucous – and perhaps most significantly, anonymous – online chatter in a country where the Internet offers a rare opportunity for open debate.

It could also prevent people from exposing corruption online if they fear retribution from officials, said some users.

It was unclear how the rules would be different from existing regulations as state media has provided only vague details and in practice customers have long had to present identity papers when signing contracts with internet providers.

Earlier this year, the government began forcing users of Sina Corp’s wildly successful Weibo microblogging platform to register their real names.

The government says such a system is needed to prevent people making malicious and anonymous accusations online and that many other countries already have such rules.

“It would also be the biggest step backwards since 1989,” wrote one indignant Weibo user, in apparent reference to the 1989 pro-democracy protests bloodily suppressed by the army.

Chinese internet users have long had to cope with extensive censorship, especially over politically sensitive topics like human rights, and popular foreign sites Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube are blocked.

Despite periodic calls for political reform, the ruling Communist Party has shown no sign of loosening its grip on power and brooks no dissent to its authority.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Huang Yan; Editing by Michael Perry)


Media: Microblogging sites a source of concern for rumours

B3

BEIJING – China has stepped up efforts in recent weeks to rein in the hugely popular microblogging sites that have become an alternative source of real-time news for millions while challenging the Communist Party’s traditional grip on information.

A man browses websites at an Internet bar in Beijing on Sept. 8. Beijing has moved to stem a tide of online criticism by tightening its grip on China’s hugely popular microblogs, but experts say it will struggle to control the country’s online masses.
Journalists, bloggers, media analysts and others said the new moves are part of an intensifying control of the media landscape ahead of next year’s crucial Communist Party Congress, which will bring the most sweeping leadership change in China in a decade. Although leadership shuffles here are routinely decided behind the scenes and carefully choreographed for the public, they are still often fraught with uncertainty – and jittery authorities typically want to take no chances.

The 2012 leadership change will be the first since the explosion here of Weibo, the microblogging sites that are like a Chinese version of Twitter with some of the visual elements of Facebook tossed in. There are more than 200 million Weibo users, and the number is growing.

Although the traditional media here remains largely controlled by government censors, Weibo has emerged as a freewheeling forum for breaking news, exposés and edgy opinion – often to the chagrin of government censors. For example, Weibo users first broke the news of the July 23 high-speed train collision in Wenzhou that killed 40 people – even using cellphones to post photos directly from the crash site – well before traditional government-controlled media reported the accident.

Also, although newspapers, television and radio are typically owned by the government or the Party, the Weibo sites are run by private companies, meaning the censors’ control had to be more indirect.

But that now seems to have changed.

Last Friday, a spokesman for the State Council Internet Office, which is under China’s State Council, or cabinet, issued a statement warning Internet users to “show self-discipline and refrain from spreading rumours.” The statement was carried by Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency.

A day before, Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Internet Office, told a conference here that social networking sites posed a problem for the government. “Many people are considering how to prevent the abuse of these networks following violent crimes that took place in some parts of the world this year,” Wang said, referring to rioting in Britain that was fuelled in part by youths using BlackBerry messaging and cellphones. “The Internet should not be used to jeopardize the national or public interest,” Wang said.

The companies that run the most popular microblogging sites seem to have gotten the message. Sina, whose Weibo site is the most commonly used, has stepped up efforts to remove what is calls unsubstantiated rumours from its site, and indefinitely freeze the accounts of users who spread rumours.

Sina’s move came after a visit to its head office in Beijing in August by the Beijing Party Secretary Liu Qi, who is also a member of the party’s powerful Politburo. After that visit, Sina in a statement said it would “put more effort into attacking all kinds of rumours.”

Sina also said it would monitor more closely the content of users with more than 50,000 followers.

But it seems not only rumourmongers are having their Weibo accounts suspended. In Shanghai, a Weibo microblogger using the online name “General Secretary of the Flower and Fruit Mountain” gained 20,000 followers by taking published photographs of government officials, zooming in on their luxury wristwatches and identifying their make and cost. Starting in July, “General Secretary” posted dozens of photos of officials and their watches.

The point was clear; officials on low government salaries were publicly sporting pricy Rolexes, Omegas and Piagets – the exact kind of corruption possibilities the party has said it wants to stamp put. But for his trouble, “General Secretary of the Flower and Fruit Mountain” got a call from Sina last month telling him his account was being shut down and all his previous posts deleted.

“I think the pressure on social media in China is intensifying, particularly given the strong role platforms like Sina microblog have played on recent news stories,” said David Bandurski, editor of the China Media Project website at the University of Hong Kong.

Bandurski said the moves to rein in Weibo were part of the “cyclical nature” of media control in China. “We generally do see press controls intensifying ahead of major political meetings, like the one next year, and ahead of other major national or international events,” he said.

Sina did not respond to questions about exactly how many user accounts it has suspended since the new government edict came down. According to media reports, Sina now has a large team, led by 10 editors, combing through the millions of daily Weibo posts trying to confirm if news circulating online is true.

The efforts to rein in the microblogs come as the authorities have made other recent moves against traditional media.

Two local papers, the Beijing News – known for its aggressive reporting and investigations – and the Beijing Times were in September both placed under the control of the Beijing municipal propaganda department. Newspapers in China must have a “supervising authority,” and the two papers had previously been indirectly under the control of the central government.

The Beijing News specifically had been known for what is called here “cross-regional” reporting, meaning a newspaper in one province had broader leeway to report about corruption or other problems in another province – just not the province in which it was based. Because the Beijing News was under central authority, provinces subject to its investigations could not complain.

Reporters and editors for the two papers declined to be interviewed, saying the situation was “too sensitive.”

But some journalists and media advocates who did speak openly said the situation was murky and unpredictable because competing power centers are all vying for position before next year’s leadership changes.

“Each official is worrying that the media will be the tool of their enemies to attack them at this moment, which will be harmful to their political life,” said one Chinese investigative reporter, who asked to speak anonymously for fear of facing reprisals for discussing sensitive issues with the foreign media. “For example, if a newspaper of Hubei province reported a scandal out of Henan province, then the Henan officials will be really embarrassed.”

Investigative reporters and columnists writing analysis pieces on newspaper opinion pages have also been targets of the media tightening; many of them have lost their jobs.

Deng Fei, an investigative reporter for Phoenix Weekly, said, “The circle of Chinese investigative reporters is shrinking now. Many of them want to change jobs.”

He added, “This is really discouraging. I have been working in this field for 10 years. I also switched to working for a charity organization this year. I can’t see a future on this road.”

the WikiLeaks threat

ReutersBy Mohammed Abbas and Alessandra Prentice | Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Thursday that any decision by Ecuador to give Julian Assange political asylum wouldn’t change a thing and that it might still revoke the diplomatic status of Quito’s embassy in London to allow the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder.

The high-profile Australian former hacker has been holed up inside the red-brick embassy in central London for eight weeks since he lost a legal battle to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over rape allegations.
Britain’s tough talk on the issue takes what has become an international soap opera to new heights since Assange angered the United States by publishing secret U.S. diplomatic cables on his WikiLeaks website. It may also raise difficult questions for London about the sanctity of embassies’ diplomatic status.

The Ecuadorean government, which said it would announce whether it had granted Assange’s asylum request on Thursday at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT), has said any attempt by Britain to remove the diplomatic status of its embassy would be a “hostile and intolerable act”.

“It is too early to say when or if Britain will revoke the Ecuadorean embassy’s diplomatic status,” a Foreign Office spokesman said. “Giving asylum doesn’t fundamentally change anything.”
“We have a legal duty to extradite Mr Assange. There is a law that says we have to extradite him to Sweden. We are going to have to fulfill that law.”
Outside the embassy, British police tussled with protesters chanting slogans in support of Assange and at least three supporters were detained.
Quito bristled at Britain’s warning.

“We want to be very clear, we’re not a British colony. The colonial times are over,” Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said in an angry statement after a meeting with President Rafael Correa.
Britain’s threat to withdraw diplomatic status from the Ecuadorean embassy drew criticism from some former diplomats who said it could lead to similar moves against British embassies.

“I think the Foreign Office have slightly overreached themselves here,” Britain’s former ambassador to Moscow, Tony Brenton, told the BBC.
“If we live in a world where governments can arbitrarily revoke immunity and go into embassies then the life of our diplomats and their ability to conduct normal business in places like Moscow where I was and North Korea becomes close to impossible.”

LONDON EMBASSY

Ecuador’s embassy, near London’s famed Harrods department store, has been under tight surveillance, with police officers manning the entrance and patrolling its perimeter.

A group of pro-Assange protesters gathered outside the building overnight in response to a rallying call by his supporters on social media websites.
Wearing trademark Guy Fawkes masks – to evoke the spirit of the 17th century English plotter – they held banners and blasted out songs by punk group The Jam from a portable speaker.

A Reuters reporter saw at least three protesters being dragged away by police. About 20 officers were outside the embassy trying to push away the crowd of about 15 supporters.

“I am upset that the British government is willing to go in there and take him by force,” said Liliana Calle, 24, an Ecuadorean student waving her country’s flag outside the embassy. “It makes me think they don’t believe in human rights.”
In what appeared to be prank, taxis lined up outside the embassy asking for Julian Assange.

“I’ve lived, worked and traveled in places with proper dictatorships and nowhere have I seen violations of the Vienna convention to this extent,” said Farhan Rasheed, 42, a historian wearing an “I love Occupy” badge, outside the embassy.
“Here we have a government which claims to be a government of law and justice, stretching and possibly about to break a serious binding international agreement.”
Swedish prosecutors have not yet charged Assange, but they believe they have a case to take to trial.

Assange fears Sweden could send him on to the United States, where he believes authorities want to punish him for publishing thousands of diplomatic cables in a major embarrassment for Washington.

Even if he were granted asylum, Assange has little chance of leaving the Ecuadorean embassy in London without being arrested.

There has been speculation he could travel to an airport in a diplomatic car, be smuggled out in a diplomatic bag, or even be appointed an Ecuadorean diplomat to give him immunity.

But lawyers and diplomats see those scenarios as practically unworkable.
Ecuador’s leader Correa is a self-declared enemy of “corrupt” media and U.S. “imperialism”, and apparently hit it off with Assange during a TV interview the Australian did with him in May. Correa joked then with Assange that he had joined “the club of the persecuted”.

The Ecuadorean government has said it wants to avoid Assange’s extradition to Sweden, but if it did decide to grant him asylum it would offer no legal protection in Britain where police will arrest him as soon as they get a chance.
(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas and Alessandra Prentice; Writing by Maria Golovnina and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Andrew Osborn)


Wikileaks a threat to our soldiers

Published September 8, 2010 

DEBATE. John Daniels, head of the military intelligence Must, warn of attacks by the Taliban and criminals after Wikileaks publishing secret documents. He calls for a “dual” to secure the military’s IT systems with large amounts of secret material.

When Wikileaks publishes secret documents from Afghanistan revealed not only that there are shortcomings in the protection around the secret data, the publication can also create an immediate danger to life of individuals.

Information relating to the Armed Forces’ operations give an opponent a basis for adapting tactics and countermeasures. For protection of personnel to operate and be effective in many cases remain confidential. Divulged our protection and our plans, we become vulnerable to attacks from the Taliban and criminals, who have a different agenda for Afghanistan over the international community.

Especially serious and devastating to the mission in Afghanistan is about secret personal data of persons who are reporting to and cooperating with the international force is running out. In the event that these people’s identities from being disclosed is an obvious risk of deadly reprisals.

If the claim is true that Wikileaks informant is a single person, the men think. Military IT systems that contain large amounts of information requires a special security protection. These systems should be designed so that an individual not on your own can collect large amounts of information. By creating a system of “dual control” prevented this and the risk of large information leakage. A sloppy comparison would be the principle to fire nuclear weapons, which requires two independent persons keys to perform a firing.

In order to obtain the documents that have so far been published on Wikileaks had, before the modern information technology, demanded that a wide range of safes broken open. I? Days is enough to hack an IT system or as an authorized user fill out the entire database.

It previously came across classified documents and wanted to publish them, were first forced to find an interested journalist and then a chief who was willing to take the risk of revealing secret information. With the Internet, the individual has become his own editor with the ability to publish in real time.

Wikileaks disclosure also shows the need for thorough background checks of personnel handling classified information. This would hopefully reveal a disgruntled employee and the leak could have been avoided.

The military intelligence is constantly working to develop methods and mechanisms for the protection of the Armed Forces information and personnel. Security threats are very much alive, especially in operational areas such as Afghanistan. In recent years we have found that social media is used for intelligence gathering and targeting of staff. In 2009, there are also a number of cases in which soldiers in Afghanistan, or closely associated with them, have been subjected to threats, which have been found to be linked to the Swedish troop contribution to Afghanistan.

The incidents have mainly been linked to the employee’s erroneous use of mobile phones and social media. These incidents have in some cases affected the personal safety and in other cases, led to loss of information.

No matter how technically secure IT systems we build, stands or falls on the safety of the individual employee’s safety awareness and behavior. The solution to the problem of leaks can never be reduced to a technical question, but must also be a matter of how well trained our staff are and how we ensure that only persons who are trustworthy and loyal may have access to secret information.

John Daniels

Chief of Military Security


Informal discussions have already taken place between US and Swedish officials over the possibility of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being delivered into American custody, according to diplomatic sources.

Mr Assange is in a British jail awaiting extradition proceedings to Sweden after being refused bail at Westminster Magistrates’ Court despite a number of prominent public figures offering to stand as surety.

His arrest in north London yesterday was described by the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates as “good news”, and may pave the way for extradition to America and a possible lengthy jail sentence.

The US Justice Department is considering charging Mr Assange with espionage offences over his website’s unprecedented release of classified US diplomatic files. Several right-wing American politicians are pressing for his prosecution and even execution, with Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential candidate, saying he should be pursued the same as al-Qa’ida and Taliban leaders.

Mr Assange’s appearance in the London court, the focus of massive international media attention, puts Britain in the centre of the controversy and recrimination over the publishing of thousands of diplomatic cables which have caused acute embarrassment to the administration in Washington. If the man responsible for putting them in the public domain is to be silenced, his supporters say, the process started here.

The Swedish government seeks Mr Assange’s extradition for alleged sexual offences against two women.

Sources stressed that no extradition request would be submitted until and unless the US government laid charges against Mr Assange, and that attempts to take him to America would only take place after legal proceedings are concluded in Sweden.

Mr Assange, 39, had voluntarily gone to a police station accompanied by solicitors after the issuing of an international warrant.

The court heard that Jemima Khan, the sister of the Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, the film director Ken Loach and journalist John Pilger were among those who had offered to stand bail to the sum of £180,000. But District Judge Howard Rule remanded him in custody on the grounds that there was a risk the WikiLeaks founder would fail to surrender.

Mr Loach, who offered £20,000, explained that he did not know Mr Assange other than by reputation, but he said: “I think the work he has done has been a public service. I think we are entitled to know the dealings of those that govern us.” Mr Pilger, who also offered £20,000, said he knew Mr Assange as a journalist and personal friend and had a “very high regard for him”.

“I am aware of the offences and I am also aware of quite a lot of the detail around the offences,” said Mr Pilger. “I am here today because the charges against him in Sweden are absurd and were judged as absurd by the chief prosecutor there when she threw the whole thing out until a senior political figure intervened.” Ms Khan offered a further £20,000 “or more if need be”, although she said she did not know Assange.

Gemma Lindfield, appearing for the Swedish authorities, successfully opposed bail being granted because there was a risk he would fail to surrender – and also for his own protection, she said. She outlined five reasons why there was a risk: his “nomadic” lifestyle, reports that he intended to seek asylum in Switzerland, access to money from donors, his network of international contacts and his Australian nationality.

Mrs Lindfield added: “Any number of people could take it upon themselves to cause him harm. This is someone for whom, simply put, there is no condition, even the most stringent, that would ensure he would surrender to the jurisdiction of this court.”

Ms Lindfield told the court that Mr Assange was wanted in connection with four allegations of sexual offences.She said the first complainant, Miss A, said she was victim of “unlawful coercion” on the night of 14 August in Stockholm. The court heard Mr Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner.

The second charge alleged Mr Assange “sexually molested” Miss A by having sex with her without a condom when it was her “express wish” one should be used. The third charge claimed Mr Assange “deliberately molested” Miss A on August 18 “in a way designed to violate her sexual integrity”.

The fourth charge accused Mr Assange of having sex with a second woman, Miss W, on 17 August without a condom while she was asleep at her Stockholm home.

District Judge Riddle said: “This case is not, on the face of it, about WikiLeaks. It is an allegation in another European country of serious sexual offences alleged to have occurred on three separate occasions and involving two separate victims. These are extremely serious allegations. From that, it seems to me that if these allegations are true, then no one could argue the defendant should be granted bail.”

However he added: “If they are false, he suffers a great injustice if he is remanded in custody. At this stage in these proceedings, the nature and strength of the allegations is not known.”

Mr Assange’s solicitor, John Jones, said he agreed the case was not about WikiLeaks but was a “simple accusation” case with the right to bail.

He said: “In relation to the state of play in Sweden, it is important for the court to be aware of the background to this. Mr Assange has made repeated requests that the allegations against him be communicated to him in a language he understands. That has been ignored by the Swedish prosecutor. Another Swedish prosecutor dropped this case early on for lack of evidence and it was resurrected in Gothenburg rather than Stockholm.”

Another of Mr Assange’s lawyers, Mark Stephens, said he believed British authorities would go to extreme lengths to ensure his client was “perfectly comfortable” during his time in jail. While he is confident Mr Assange’s time behind bars will be brief, he said he did not want to appear to be “too cocky”.

“I think a lot of people, including the police, thought that he would get bail today. They were very surprised he didn’t,” he said.

Praising District Judge Howard Riddle’s assessment of the case, Mr Stephens said: “We are incredibly grateful to the judge for making it clear to the prosecutor that he thinks he wants to have a look at the evidence, to make assessments as to whether there is a real risk of conviction or not, because that will make a difference as to whether or not he wants to put him out on bail, or not, on the next occasion.”

Criticising Swedish authorities involved with the case, Mr Stephens said: “It’s a persecution, not a prosecution.”.

He maintained that while Mr Assange was not prepared to go to Sweden to face alleged sexual assault claims, his client was prepared to meet the Swedish prosecutor in England.

“That, I think, is a reasonable approach,” he said.

The pressure on WikiLeaks, which relies on online donations from a worldwide network of supporters to fund its work, continued after Visa and Mastercard suspended all payments to the website.

A spokesman for Visa E said: “Visa Europe has taken action to suspend Visa payment acceptance on WikiLeaks’ website pending further investigation into the nature of its business and whether it contravenes Visa operating rules.” A MasterCard spokesman said: “MasterCard is currently in the process of working to suspend the acceptance of MasterCard cards on WikiLeaks until the situation is resolved.”

Kristinn Hrafnsson, a WikiLeaks spokesperson, said: “WikiLeaks is operational. We are continuing on the same track as laid out before. Any development with regards to Julian Assange will not change the plans we have with regards to the releases today and in the coming days.”

The legal proceedings

Q Why is Mr Assange, an Australian citizen, facing legal proceedings in the UK when the allegations against him relate to events in Sweden?

A Under the European arrest warrant procedure any EU state can request the legal assistance of another EU country in the detention of a suspect wanted for an offence committed abroad.

Q Mr Assange’s lawyers say he is not on the run and has voluntarily surrendered to police. So why is he being held in prison?

A District Judge Howard Riddle, sitting at the City of Westminster magistrates’ court, refused Mr Assange’s application for bail because he decided there was a danger he might abscond.

Q What happens next?

A First his lawyers will return to court next week to try to secure his release on conditional bail. Eventually there will be an extradition hearing at which the Swedish prosecution authorities will present prima facie evidence to show there is case for Mr Assange to answer.

Q How long will the proceedings last?

A Mr Assange’s legal team are already preparing to challenge the extradition in the High Court in London. If they lose the case there, they can take it all the way to the Supreme Court, a process which could last many months.

Conservative propaganda machine calls for the assassination of the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

What Does it Cost to Change the World? from WikiLeaks on Vimeo.

Companies such as PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and Western Union have not let their customers use their services to donate money to the Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks. Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur discuss on The Young Turks. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/world/europe/blocks-on-wikileaks-donations-… Cenk’s interview with Julian Assange: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL8g3vye4xo

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Thursday that any decision by Ecuador to give Julian Assange political asylum wouldn’t change a thing and that it might still revoke the diplomatic status of Quito’s embassy in London to allow the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder.

The high-profile Australian former hacker has been holed up inside the red-brick embassy in central London for eight weeks since he lost a legal battle to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over rape allegations.
Britain’s tough talk on the issue takes what has become an international soap opera to new heights since Assange angered the United States by publishing secret U.S. diplomatic cables on his WikiLeaks website. It may also raise difficult questions for London about the sanctity of embassies’ diplomatic status.

The Ecuadorean government, which said it would announce whether it had granted Assange’s asylum request on Thursday at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT), has said any attempt by Britain to remove the diplomatic status of its embassy would be a “hostile and intolerable act”.

“It is too early to say when or if Britain will revoke the Ecuadorean embassy’s diplomatic status,” a Foreign Office spokesman said. “Giving asylum doesn’t fundamentally change anything.”
“We have a legal duty to extradite Mr Assange. There is a law that says we have to extradite him to Sweden. We are going to have to fulfill that law.”
Outside the embassy, British police tussled with protesters chanting slogans in support of Assange and at least three supporters were detained.
Quito bristled at Britain’s warning.

“We want to be very clear, we’re not a British colony. The colonial times are over,” Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said in an angry statement after a meeting with President Rafael Correa.
Britain’s threat to withdraw diplomatic status from the Ecuadorean embassy drew criticism from some former diplomats who said it could lead to similar moves against British embassies.

“I think the Foreign Office have slightly overreached themselves here,” Britain’s former ambassador to Moscow, Tony Brenton, told the BBC.
“If we live in a world where governments can arbitrarily revoke immunity and go into embassies then the life of our diplomats and their ability to conduct normal business in places like Moscow where I was and North Korea becomes close to impossible.”

LONDON EMBASSY

Ecuador’s embassy, near London’s famed Harrods department store, has been under tight surveillance, with police officers manning the entrance and patrolling its perimeter.

A group of pro-Assange protesters gathered outside the building overnight in response to a rallying call by his supporters on social media websites.
Wearing trademark Guy Fawkes masks – to evoke the spirit of the 17th century English plotter – they held banners and blasted out songs by punk group The Jam from a portable speaker.

A Reuters reporter saw at least three protesters being dragged away by police. About 20 officers were outside the embassy trying to push away the crowd of about 15 supporters.

“I am upset that the British government is willing to go in there and take him by force,” said Liliana Calle, 24, an Ecuadorean student waving her country’s flag outside the embassy. “It makes me think they don’t believe in human rights.”
In what appeared to be prank, taxis lined up outside the embassy asking for Julian Assange.

“I’ve lived, worked and traveled in places with proper dictatorships and nowhere have I seen violations of the Vienna convention to this extent,” said Farhan Rasheed, 42, a historian wearing an “I love Occupy” badge, outside the embassy.
“Here we have a government which claims to be a government of law and justice, stretching and possibly about to break a serious binding international agreement.”
Swedish prosecutors have not yet charged Assange, but they believe they have a case to take to trial.

Assange fears Sweden could send him on to the United States, where he believes authorities want to punish him for publishing thousands of diplomatic cables in a major embarrassment for Washington.

Even if he were granted asylum, Assange has little chance of leaving the Ecuadorean embassy in London without being arrested.

There has been speculation he could travel to an airport in a diplomatic car, be smuggled out in a diplomatic bag, or even be appointed an Ecuadorean diplomat to give him immunity.

But lawyers and diplomats see those scenarios as practically unworkable.
Ecuador’s leader Correa is a self-declared enemy of “corrupt” media and U.S. “imperialism”, and apparently hit it off with Assange during a TV interview the Australian did with him in May. Correa joked then with Assange that he had joined “the club of the persecuted”.

The Ecuadorean government has said it wants to avoid Assange’s extradition to Sweden, but if it did decide to grant him asylum it would offer no legal protection in Britain where police will arrest him as soon as they get a chance.
(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas and Alessandra Prentice; Writing by Maria Golovnina and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Andrew Osborn)


Wikileaks a threat to our soldiers

Published September 8, 2010 

DEBATE. John Daniels, head of the military intelligence Must, warn of attacks by the Taliban and criminals after Wikileaks publishing secret documents. He calls for a “dual” to secure the military’s IT systems with large amounts of secret material.

When Wikileaks publishes secret documents from Afghanistan revealed not only that there are shortcomings in the protection around the secret data, the publication can also create an immediate danger to life of individuals.

Information relating to the Armed Forces’ operations give an opponent a basis for adapting tactics and countermeasures. For protection of personnel to operate and be effective in many cases remain confidential. Divulged our protection and our plans, we become vulnerable to attacks from the Taliban and criminals, who have a different agenda for Afghanistan over the international community.

Especially serious and devastating to the mission in Afghanistan is about secret personal data of persons who are reporting to and cooperating with the international force is running out. In the event that these people’s identities from being disclosed is an obvious risk of deadly reprisals.

If the claim is true that Wikileaks informant is a single person, the men think. Military IT systems that contain large amounts of information requires a special security protection. These systems should be designed so that an individual not on your own can collect large amounts of information. By creating a system of “dual control” prevented this and the risk of large information leakage. A sloppy comparison would be the principle to fire nuclear weapons, which requires two independent persons keys to perform a firing.

In order to obtain the documents that have so far been published on Wikileaks had, before the modern information technology, demanded that a wide range of safes broken open. I? Days is enough to hack an IT system or as an authorized user fill out the entire database.

It previously came across classified documents and wanted to publish them, were first forced to find an interested journalist and then a chief who was willing to take the risk of revealing secret information. With the Internet, the individual has become his own editor with the ability to publish in real time.

Wikileaks disclosure also shows the need for thorough background checks of personnel handling classified information. This would hopefully reveal a disgruntled employee and the leak could have been avoided.

The military intelligence is constantly working to develop methods and mechanisms for the protection of the Armed Forces information and personnel. Security threats are very much alive, especially in operational areas such as Afghanistan. In recent years we have found that social media is used for intelligence gathering and targeting of staff. In 2009, there are also a number of cases in which soldiers in Afghanistan, or closely associated with them, have been subjected to threats, which have been found to be linked to the Swedish troop contribution to Afghanistan.

The incidents have mainly been linked to the employee’s erroneous use of mobile phones and social media. These incidents have in some cases affected the personal safety and in other cases, led to loss of information.

No matter how technically secure IT systems we build, stands or falls on the safety of the individual employee’s safety awareness and behavior. The solution to the problem of leaks can never be reduced to a technical question, but must also be a matter of how well trained our staff are and how we ensure that only persons who are trustworthy and loyal may have access to secret information.

John Daniels

Chief of Military Security


Informal discussions have already taken place between US and Swedish officials over the possibility of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being delivered into American custody, according to diplomatic sources.

Mr Assange is in a British jail awaiting extradition proceedings to Sweden after being refused bail at Westminster Magistrates’ Court despite a number of prominent public figures offering to stand as surety.

His arrest in north London yesterday was described by the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates as “good news”, and may pave the way for extradition to America and a possible lengthy jail sentence.

The US Justice Department is considering charging Mr Assange with espionage offences over his website’s unprecedented release of classified US diplomatic files. Several right-wing American politicians are pressing for his prosecution and even execution, with Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential candidate, saying he should be pursued the same as al-Qa’ida and Taliban leaders.

Mr Assange’s appearance in the London court, the focus of massive international media attention, puts Britain in the centre of the controversy and recrimination over the publishing of thousands of diplomatic cables which have caused acute embarrassment to the administration in Washington. If the man responsible for putting them in the public domain is to be silenced, his supporters say, the process started here.

The Swedish government seeks Mr Assange’s extradition for alleged sexual offences against two women.

Sources stressed that no extradition request would be submitted until and unless the US government laid charges against Mr Assange, and that attempts to take him to America would only take place after legal proceedings are concluded in Sweden.

Mr Assange, 39, had voluntarily gone to a police station accompanied by solicitors after the issuing of an international warrant.

The court heard that Jemima Khan, the sister of the Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, the film director Ken Loach and journalist John Pilger were among those who had offered to stand bail to the sum of £180,000. But District Judge Howard Rule remanded him in custody on the grounds that there was a risk the WikiLeaks founder would fail to surrender.

Mr Loach, who offered £20,000, explained that he did not know Mr Assange other than by reputation, but he said: “I think the work he has done has been a public service. I think we are entitled to know the dealings of those that govern us.” Mr Pilger, who also offered £20,000, said he knew Mr Assange as a journalist and personal friend and had a “very high regard for him”.

“I am aware of the offences and I am also aware of quite a lot of the detail around the offences,” said Mr Pilger. “I am here today because the charges against him in Sweden are absurd and were judged as absurd by the chief prosecutor there when she threw the whole thing out until a senior political figure intervened.” Ms Khan offered a further £20,000 “or more if need be”, although she said she did not know Assange.

Gemma Lindfield, appearing for the Swedish authorities, successfully opposed bail being granted because there was a risk he would fail to surrender – and also for his own protection, she said. She outlined five reasons why there was a risk: his “nomadic” lifestyle, reports that he intended to seek asylum in Switzerland, access to money from donors, his network of international contacts and his Australian nationality.

Mrs Lindfield added: “Any number of people could take it upon themselves to cause him harm. This is someone for whom, simply put, there is no condition, even the most stringent, that would ensure he would surrender to the jurisdiction of this court.”

Ms Lindfield told the court that Mr Assange was wanted in connection with four allegations of sexual offences.She said the first complainant, Miss A, said she was victim of “unlawful coercion” on the night of 14 August in Stockholm. The court heard Mr Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner.

The second charge alleged Mr Assange “sexually molested” Miss A by having sex with her without a condom when it was her “express wish” one should be used. The third charge claimed Mr Assange “deliberately molested” Miss A on August 18 “in a way designed to violate her sexual integrity”.

The fourth charge accused Mr Assange of having sex with a second woman, Miss W, on 17 August without a condom while she was asleep at her Stockholm home.

District Judge Riddle said: “This case is not, on the face of it, about WikiLeaks. It is an allegation in another European country of serious sexual offences alleged to have occurred on three separate occasions and involving two separate victims. These are extremely serious allegations. From that, it seems to me that if these allegations are true, then no one could argue the defendant should be granted bail.”

However he added: “If they are false, he suffers a great injustice if he is remanded in custody. At this stage in these proceedings, the nature and strength of the allegations is not known.”

Mr Assange’s solicitor, John Jones, said he agreed the case was not about WikiLeaks but was a “simple accusation” case with the right to bail.

He said: “In relation to the state of play in Sweden, it is important for the court to be aware of the background to this. Mr Assange has made repeated requests that the allegations against him be communicated to him in a language he understands. That has been ignored by the Swedish prosecutor. Another Swedish prosecutor dropped this case early on for lack of evidence and it was resurrected in Gothenburg rather than Stockholm.”

Another of Mr Assange’s lawyers, Mark Stephens, said he believed British authorities would go to extreme lengths to ensure his client was “perfectly comfortable” during his time in jail. While he is confident Mr Assange’s time behind bars will be brief, he said he did not want to appear to be “too cocky”.

“I think a lot of people, including the police, thought that he would get bail today. They were very surprised he didn’t,” he said.

Praising District Judge Howard Riddle’s assessment of the case, Mr Stephens said: “We are incredibly grateful to the judge for making it clear to the prosecutor that he thinks he wants to have a look at the evidence, to make assessments as to whether there is a real risk of conviction or not, because that will make a difference as to whether or not he wants to put him out on bail, or not, on the next occasion.”

Criticising Swedish authorities involved with the case, Mr Stephens said: “It’s a persecution, not a prosecution.”.

He maintained that while Mr Assange was not prepared to go to Sweden to face alleged sexual assault claims, his client was prepared to meet the Swedish prosecutor in England.

“That, I think, is a reasonable approach,” he said.

The pressure on WikiLeaks, which relies on online donations from a worldwide network of supporters to fund its work, continued after Visa and Mastercard suspended all payments to the website.

A spokesman for Visa E said: “Visa Europe has taken action to suspend Visa payment acceptance on WikiLeaks’ website pending further investigation into the nature of its business and whether it contravenes Visa operating rules.” A MasterCard spokesman said: “MasterCard is currently in the process of working to suspend the acceptance of MasterCard cards on WikiLeaks until the situation is resolved.”

Kristinn Hrafnsson, a WikiLeaks spokesperson, said: “WikiLeaks is operational. We are continuing on the same track as laid out before. Any development with regards to Julian Assange will not change the plans we have with regards to the releases today and in the coming days.”

The legal proceedings

Q Why is Mr Assange, an Australian citizen, facing legal proceedings in the UK when the allegations against him relate to events in Sweden?

A Under the European arrest warrant procedure any EU state can request the legal assistance of another EU country in the detention of a suspect wanted for an offence committed abroad.

Q Mr Assange’s lawyers say he is not on the run and has voluntarily surrendered to police. So why is he being held in prison?

A District Judge Howard Riddle, sitting at the City of Westminster magistrates’ court, refused Mr Assange’s application for bail because he decided there was a danger he might abscond.

Q What happens next?

A First his lawyers will return to court next week to try to secure his release on conditional bail. Eventually there will be an extradition hearing at which the Swedish prosecution authorities will present prima facie evidence to show there is case for Mr Assange to answer.

Q How long will the proceedings last?

A Mr Assange’s legal team are already preparing to challenge the extradition in the High Court in London. If they lose the case there, they can take it all the way to the Supreme Court, a process which could last many months.

Conservative propaganda machine calls for the assassination of the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

What Does it Cost to Change the World? from WikiLeaks on Vimeo.

Companies such as PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and Western Union have not let their customers use their services to donate money to the Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks. Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur discuss on The Young Turks. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/world/europe/blocks-on-wikileaks-donations-… Cenk’s interview with Julian Assange: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL8g3vye4xo

strange and absurd

Russian anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny has been charged with embezzlement in a case he describes as “strange and absurd”.Federal investigators in Moscow brought charges over a timber deal in the Kirov region in which he was involved as an un…

Russian anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny has been charged with embezzlement in a case he describes as “strange and absurd“.

Federal investigators in Moscow brought charges over a timber deal in the Kirov region in which he was involved as an unofficial adviser three years ago.

The case was previously investigated and dropped by regional prosecutors.

Mr Navalny, who was also ordered not to leave the country, suggested the new charges were aimed at discrediting him.

Supporters of the anti-corruption lawyer, who led mass protests in Moscow against Russian leader Vladimir Putin this winter, demonstrated outside the offices of the Investigative Committee in Moscow, where he was charged on Tuesday.

Under Article 160 of the Russian criminal code on “misappropriation or embezzlement”, Mr Navalny faces between five and 10 years in prison if convicted.

wikileaks at Amazon

Under pressure from Sen. Joe Lieberman, Amazon.com kicked WikiLeaks.org off its servers. But why stop there? There’s all kinds of controversial customers the cowardly but remarkably convenient e-tailer can flee from. Take Hillary Clinton. Wikileaks rev…

Under pressure from Sen. Joe Lieberman, Amazon.com kicked WikiLeaks.org off its servers. But why stop there? There’s all kinds of controversial customers the cowardly but remarkably convenient e-tailer can flee from.


Take Hillary Clinton. Wikileaks revealed the Secretary of State to have “illegally” spied on the United Nations, but she remains welcome in Amazon’s books section.

Of course, Clinton didn’t disseminate thousands of secret diplomatic cables. Or actually, wait, she did, but through incompetence rather than intention. So maybe she doesn’t make Amazon cower quite like Wikileaks does.

What about the New York Times? The high-minded newspaper, whose editorial page considers itself a First Amendment champion, is a partner on Amazon.com’s Kindle; publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. even appeared on stage with Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos to introduce a new model of the e-reader.

And yet the newspaper went out of its way to get early access to the confidential diplomatic cables obtained by its sometime partner Wikileaks, and published much of the information they contained. The newspaper almost certainly violated the ridiculous Espionage Act in the process. Will Amazon evict the New York Times from the Kindle then? Or perhaps wipe the offending information remotely, George Orwell style, as Amazon has shown itself perfectly capable of doing?

Then there’s the Guardian, which also published Wikileaks data. The newspaper is listed as a customer of the same Amazon.com online services division that ejected Wikileaks. As is the Washington Post, which is also an Amazon partner delivering Kindle content, and which is no stranger to publishing controversial stories. In fact, it’s no stranger to the sort of State Department leaks Wikileaks is now trafficking. The Post, you’ll recall, revealed the existence of secret overseas CIA torture sites; a CIA analyst was later fired for purportedly leaking the data to the newspaper.

All of which is to say that Amazon’s unclear content standards will create a lot of confusion among its customers, clients and partners. As a private sector corporation, the company is of course free to pick and choose what it wants to sell and what bits it wants to serve. But the parties that do business with Amazon don’t want the uncertainty that comes from dealing with a weak-willed, unpredictable retailer. And avid readers with diverse tastes and a healthy appetite for controversy are unlikely to enjoy doing business with Amazon if they think the company is censorious. It’s bad enough that it’s in competition with adorable local booksellers.

Which is why it’s a big strike against the company that the criteria for getting kicked off Amazon is now totally unclear. Wikileaks, for example, is far from a clear cut case; the group is facing heat in Congress and from the State Department, as is Amazon, but no one has been convicted of any crimes in connection with this new data dump, or even formally charged.
Meanwhile, until the internet noticed and got upset, Amazon was content to sell “A Pedophile’s Guide.” Here’s how the company defended that title, before backing down and yanking the e-book:

Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable

Indeed it is. It’s also amazing how quickly those high-minded ideals have been discarded, not just for pedophilia books but for actual relevant information about government wrongdoing: Amazon issued the above quoted statement less than a month ago. Now it’s busy handling the holiday shopping crush. Don’t forget to take advantage of the Free Super Saver Shipping — or the McCarthyite repression, delivered faster than ever before.

an alarming trend

Google Bombarded with Requests to Suppress Information“Google has received more than 1,000 requests from authorities to take down content from its search results or YouTube video in the last six months of 2011, the company said on Monday, denoun…

Google Bombarded with Requests to Suppress Information

“Google has received more than 1,000 requests from authorities to take down content from its search results or YouTube video in the last six months of 2011, the company said on Monday, denouncing what it said was an alarming trend. In its twice-yearly Transparency Report, the world’s largest web search engine said the requests were aimed at having some 12,000 items overall removed, about a quarter more than during the first half of last year.” (Reuters)




(bbc) Google has revealed it removed about 640 videos from YouTube that allegedly promoted terrorism over the second half of 2011 after complaints from the UK’s Association of Chief Police Officers.

The news was contained in its latest Transparency Report which discloses requests by international authorities to remove or hand over material.

The firm said it terminated five accounts linked to the suspect videos.

However, the firm said it had rejected many other state’s requests for action.

Canada’s Passport Office was among the organizations rebuffed. It had asked for a video of a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and then flushing it down the toilet be removed.

Google also refused to delete six YouTube videos that satirized Pakistan’s army and senior politicians. The order had come from the government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology.
Free speech

But Google did act in hundreds of cases, including:

  • requests to block more than 100 YouTube videos in Thailand that allegedly insulted its monarchy – a crime in the country
  • the removal of a YouTube video that contained hate speech that had been posted in Turkey
  • the termination of four YouTube accounts responsible for videos that allegedly contained threatening and harassing content after complaints by different US law enforcement agencies.

Overall, the firm said it had received 461 court orders covering a total of 6,989 items between July and December 2011. It said it had complied with 68% of the orders.

It added that it had received a further 546 informal requests covering 4,925 items, of which it had agreed to 43% of the cases.

Google’s senior policy analyst, Dorothy Chou, said the company was concerned by the amount of requests that had been linked to political speech.

“It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect – Western democracies not typically associated with censorship,” she said.

“For example, in the second half of last year, Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors.

“In Poland, we received a request from the Agency for Enterprise Development to remove links to a site that criticized it.

“We didn’t comply with either of these requests.”

Chinese censorship

China’s ban on puns may sound like just another ridiculous rule imposed by a Big Brother regime, but there’s more too it than meets the eye. Find out what on this episode of China Uncensored! Published on Nov 25, 2015 … Continue reading

China’s ban on puns may sound like just another ridiculous rule imposed by a Big Brother regime, but there’s more too it than meets the eye. Find out what on this episode of China Uncensored!



Published on Nov 25, 2015
Why is China afraid of Anastasia Lin, the “beauty with a purpose?” The answer could turn this year’s Miss World pageant on its head. Watch this episode of China Uncensored to find out how Miss World Canada has become one of the most pressing concerns for the Chinese government.


Users from all over the world have been plagued by micro-bloggging spam accounts. But, Newt Gingrich and several other high-profile users have utilized these account to boost their follower numbers.

Twitter boasts that it has 175 million “users,” 65 million of which are American. But the appropriate term is accounts, not users, as a Pew’s study makes clear: 6% of adults in the U.S. use Twitter regularly (8% of Internet users, which make up 74% of U.S. adults), which translates to about 15 million people. Minors were not included in the survey.

While some tweeters have multiple accounts, Pew’s numbers suggest that the zombie population — accounts run by bots or straightforward news feeds — is staggeringly high. So who is actually on Twitter? To use a zombie-movie favorite, is there anybody out there still alive?

Well, some, and they do have demographics. Seven percent of male and 10% of female Internet users are active tweeters. Fourteen percent of Internet users ages 18 to 29 are regular users; 7% for ages 30 to 49; 6% for 50 to 64; and 4% of those over 65. Five percent of white (non-Hispanic), 13% of black (non-Hispanic) and 18% of Hispanic Internet users are tweeters.

The Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo has launched a new set of rules in an effort to curb spamming and the growing prevalence of online rumours.

Continuar leyendo “Chinese censorship”