Archive for the ‘media’ Tag

The Met’s attack on photographers

The Met’s attack on photographers

Today the Metropolitan police service (MPS) issued advice to the public and the media on photography in public places. It details the Met’s interpretation of anti-terrorism legislation, and how these laws should be used against photographers. Professional photographers such as myself view it as part of an ongoing campaign to create a hostile environment for photography in the public sphere.

The advice covers section 44, section 43 and section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000 (58a is more commonly known as section 76). On sections 44 and 43, the MPS say that “officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched”.

Hickman & Rose’s Anna Mazzola argues this advice is highly questionable as it “does not take into account the fact that such images may be protected journalistic material – for example, special procedure material.”

Did the MPS seek legal guidance before they distributed this “advice”? Because rather than clarifying the Met’s position, it looks set to cause yet more confusion. As Mazzola says: “If the police truly want to convince journalists that they are committed to allowing freedom of expression and to enabling members of the press to do their jobs, then they should engage with these issues rather than issuing guidance which is likely to hamper them.”

Britain: Third autopsy into G20 victim Ian Tomlinson’s death

Britain: Third autopsy into G20 victim Ian Tomlinson’s death

A third autopsy has been held to establish the cause of the death of Ian Tomlinson, the 47-year-old father of nine who collapsed and died after police attacked protesters at the G20 summit of world leaders in London earlier this month.

It comes after a second autopsy, held at the request of his family, found that Tomlinson died of internal bleeding. That finding contradicted the outcome of the original autopsy, which found that Tomlinson had died of a heart attack.

Tomlinson, a newspaper vendor, was attempting to make his way home after work, when he was caught in a police “kettling” operation—the forcible detention of protestors behind police cordons for up to seven hours.

It was initially claimed that no physical contact had taken place between the police and Tomlinson before his death. But video footage and photographic stills showed that Tomlinson was brutally assaulted from behind by a masked officer, who had struck him across the legs with his asp—an extending steel baton—causing him to fall and hit his head.

In the last days, more evidence has come to light to indicate that this was only the last of three separate police assaults on Tomlinson before he collapsed and died.

IPCC Channel 4 injunction fails

IPCC Channel 4 injunction fails

An attempt to block Channel 4 News from broadcasting a report about the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protest in London has failed.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission – which is questioning a police officer in connection with the death of Mr Tomlinson – sought an injunction preventing fresh pictures of events preceeding Mr Tomlinson’s death from being broadcast.

Tonight a judge refused to grant an injunction, and Channel 4 News and More 4 News intend to broadcast the item tomorrow.

The report from our home affairs correspondent, Simon Israel, includes a frame-by-frame analysis of events leading up to the moment when Mr Tomlinson was struck at by a police officer and fell to the ground.

In its attempt to secure a court order preventing the broadcast of this report, the IPCC argued that the material could be prejudicial to its investigation.

ITN, which produces Channel 4 News, said tonight that “this is a responsible piece of journalism that brings important new information into the public domain”.

(Guardian report.)

When all video all

When all video all

Footage of police officers hitting out at the G20 protests has dominated the news for the past fortnight. But what impact has the proliferation of cameras had on policing?

If there is one recurrent theme in the images of the recent G20 protests, it is what’s held in the hands raised in the air.

Hundreds of cameras rise out of every sea of protests. In the foreground are the digital SLRs and full-size video cameras of the professional media. But in the background there is a profusion of smaller devices.

They are in the background of shots of Nicola Fisher, struck in the leg with a baton, and of Alex Kinnane, hit in the face with a riot shield.

In a time of complaints about the surveillance society, cameras are being used by ordinary people to monitor the activities of those in authority. And the kernel of the idea goes back some years.

“It has been a topic among criminologists ever since the Rodney King incident,” says Prof Philip Stenning, a criminologist at Keele University. “It’s the first obvious example of how the police were brought to book as a result of a camera in the hands of a private citizen.”

Protesters have turned the tables on Big Brother state

Protesters have turned the tables on Big Brother state

Critics of the spread of closed-circuit television, government databases and intercept techniques have long been complaining about the surveillance society. The Big Brother state has, we have been told, encroached on every aspect of our private lives — criminalising us for putting the wrong rubbish in the wrong bin, spying on what school we send our children to and collating details of our e-mails.

We are becoming a “police state”, or so the people protesting during the G20 summit would have us believe. But those protesters do not appear to have realised that they have turned the tables on the prying state.

Violent demonstrators were caught on camera, but the images of criminality allegedly perpetrated by police officers are causing more of a stir. Journalists, protesters and passers-by photographed and filmed what appear to be acts of police violence against people who posed little threat. Police officers have been suspended and face possible criminal charges.

Around the City of London, investigators are harvesting CCTV from street and shop cameras to trace Ian Tomlinson’s contact with police before he died.

The Met has ordered a minute-by-minute trawl through its own footage and promised to act if it discovers misconduct by its officers.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has a unit investigating the alleged assault on Nicky Thomson, which goes under the name “G20 YouTube investigation team”.

At any demonstration these days you will find members of FITwatch — activists dedicated to filming the police’s own camera units, or Forward Intelligence Teams.

Pirate Bay guilty

Pirate Bay guilty

The four men connected with The Pirate Bay were found guilty of being accessories to copyright infringement by a Swedish court on Friday, delivering a symbolic victory in the entertainment industry’s efforts to put a stop to the sharing of copyrighted material on the internet.

The four defendants in the case, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström, were each sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay 30 million kronor ($3.56 million) in damages.

The trial attracted wide international attention, with file sharers and copyright holders around the world wondering what sort or precedent may be set by the Stockholm court as it assessed arguments by the entertainment industry that the four men behind The Pirate Bay had been accessories to copyright infringement.

The Stockholm District Court printed up 250 copies of the judgment to meet the expected interest from media outlets.

“By providing a website with … well-developed search functions, easy uploading and storage possibilities, and with a tracker linked to the website, the accused have incited the crimes that the filesharers have committed,” the court said in a statement to the media.

Solidarity protest:

London stab murder rate entirely normal, says top stats prof

London stab murder rate entirely normal, says top stats prof

A top statistician has thrown a bucket of cold water on the stab murder media hysteria which has gripped the UK – and especially London – during the past year.

Professor David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, has just published a study on the subject in Significance – the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society.

He has harsh words for comments like that of BBC correspondent Andy Tighe on July 10 last year, following four knife killings that day. Tighe said: “To have four fatal stabbings in one day could be a statistical freak.”

Au contraire, says the prof. It was a normal event, to be expected in London at regular intervals.

“Four murders on the same day in London would be expected to occur about once every three years, and it has done,” says Spiegelhalter. “Seven days without a murder should occur about six times a year, and it does.”

“Milk”: Another People’s Temple Political Strongman Gets The Whitewash

“Milk”: Another People’s Temple Political Strongman Gets The Whitewash

“Milk,” of course, is a very interesting part of history, dealing with the very first openly gay man to be elected to office in California. It is a poignant story, and worth telling, no question. The big problem, however, comes with this “original screenplay” and “editing.” And for that, all the rest of the awards should go out the door, just to teach these fabricators a lesson about telling THE WHOLE TRUTH.

The “whole truth”? What whole truth? What, pray tell, is MISSING from our Oscar-nominated film, that has such a spectacular performance, as is almost always the case, by lead actor Sean Penn.

Well, how about this little tidbit for starters.
It’s a letter written to President Jimmy Carter, in February, 1978, by none other than St. Harvey himself. He wrote it just nine months away from the slaughter, but LONG after all the long-overdue 1977 exposes had finally told him, his fellow Temple boosters such as George Moscone, Willie Brown, and the rest of their degenerate San Francisco political cronies about Jim Jones’s reign of terror, his extortion, fraud, torture of children, and all the rest.

Happy Rushdie Day!

Twenty years ago today, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie. Rushdie’s offence had been to write a book, The Satanic Verses, which contained an unflattering depiction of the Islamic prophet Mohammed.

The novel’s title derives from a story, incorporated as a subplot, dating to the earliest years of Islam. The claim is that Mohammed was given a revelation that the people of Mecca could worship three of their pagan goddesses provided they recognised the supremacy of Allah. These verses were later rescinded and replaced by new verses confirming a belief in one god alone, while the originals were described as the work of the devil – hence, the “Satanic Verses.”

The book contained a number of other allusions to Islam and Muslim history which some readers found offensive. Complaints began to mount, with angry callers bombarding publishers and retailers with complaints, and bombings of bookshops taking place in several countries.

Then came the fatwa:

In the name of God the Almighty. We belong to God and to Him we shall return. I would like to inform all intrepid Muslims in the world that the author of the book Satanic Verses, which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur’an, and those publishers who were aware of its contents, are sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, where they find them, so that no one will dare to insult the Islamic sanctity. Whoever is killed on this path will be regarded as a martyr, God-willing. In addition, if anyone has access to the author of the book but does not possess the power to execute him, he should point him out to the people so that he may be punished for his actions. May God’s blessing be on you all. Rullah Musavi al-Khomeini.

While Rushdie himself managed to avoid death, violence resulting from opposition to the book resulted in several murders and assaults. Most notorious of these was the Sivas massacre in which 40 people were killed in an arson attack on a hotel due to the presence of a translator of the Satanic Verses.

The word “over-reaction” springs to mind.

To celebrate this anniversary, here’s a few other works of fiction which managed to get peoples’ pants in a tangle.

The Profit

The Profit is, as IMDB puts it, the story of “a cult leader’s rise to power and his subsequent descent into isolation and paranoia. More specifically, it is a satire on the life of Lafayette Ron Hubbard, sci-fi author, drug fiend, occultist and founder of the Church of Scientology. Better known to one and all as the Commodore, or simply LRH.

The film satirises a number of instances from Hubbard’s life, including a notorious incident early in the development of Dianetics. In it, a woman was presented by Hubbard as the world’s first “Clear” – a person who has freed themselves from the damaging effects of engrams and is endowed with a variety of abilities including improved mathematical skills, immunity to a range of diseases – and an infallible memory. The latter became something of a problem when it turned out she could not remember when asked the colour of Hubbard’s tie.

The film depicts a number of other instances from the development of Scientology, including the creation of the Sea Org, the “elite” group within Scientology. As a consequence, the cult went to work trying to disrupt filming and smear the film before it had been released:

Filmed in eight weeks last summer amid the backdrop of Fort De Soto Park and the bustle of Ybor City, the production was the target of constant harassment from Scientologists, Alexander said.

At one point, he said, members of the Foundation for Religious Tolerance of Florida handed out fliers denouncing the film’s backers at the film site and followed crew members home to press them for information about the content of the film.

Mary DeMoss of Clearwater, a Scientologist and founder of the Foundation for Religious Tolerance of Florida, calls the movie a “hate propaganda film.” She denies anyone from her organization followed anyone home and says the fliers were intended to “let the people know who was behind this.”

Eventually, the film was barred from release worldwide as the result of a court order in April 2002 claiming that it could influence the jury in the Lisa McPherson case. In November of that year, as the result of a great deal of legal wrangling involving the producers, the cult, and a number of Scientology critics, the film’s release was put on indefinite hold.

In March 2008, the film was leaked onto the internet and may now be downloaded and enjoyed in its entirety. Preferably while scoffing psych drugs out of a bowl shaped like the head of Freud.

Verismilitude

Harry Nicolaides is an Australian Greek author who spent several years living in Thailand. His 2005 novel Verisimilitude, describing life in Thailand, led to his being sentenced to three years imprisonment for the offence of “lese majeste” – insulting the monarchy.

The offending passage reads as follows:

From King Rama to the Crown Prince, the nobility was renowned for their romantic entanglements and intrigues. The Crown Prince had many wives major and minor with a coterie of concubines for entertainment. One of his recent wives was exiled with her entire family, including a son they conceived together, for an undisclosed indiscretion. He subsequently remarried with another woman and fathered another child. It was rumoured that if the prince fell in love with one of his minor wives and she betrayed him, she and her family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all vestiges of their existence expunged forever.

The book can be downloaded in its entirety via wikileaks.

Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin

Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin is a children’s book released in 1983 in English (1981 in Danish). Like many children’s books, it features a little girl and her parents. Perhaps unlike many children’s books, those parents happen to have matching genitals.

Moral conservatives, while puportedly opposed to homosexuality, do seem to have an overwhelming fixation with it. And so, when the Daily Fail made it known that a school in London stocked the book in its library, the atmosphere for a good old-fashioned moral panic was set.

It could only have been worse if Jenny, Eric and Martin were in fact asylum-seeking Muslims with the psychic ability to lower house prices.

For a children’s book it did, however, manage to have a significant impact on the adult world. In particular, it contributed to the passing of Section 28 for its apparent attempts to push the “gay agenda” (silly me, I thought it was about helping kids with unusual family structures).

Baronness Knight, in a 1999 debate on section 28, referenced the book:

I was keen to get rid of the books but I know they still exist because they were produced to me by parents. I was shown what the children were being taught and told why the parents objected so much.

Another book, which I should have thought everyone would remember, was called Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin. It depicted, on its cover, a little girl of about six years old sitting up in bed with her naked father on one side and his naked lover on the other. I shall quote the exact words used in the book because that, more than anything else, shows the age for which it was intended. It stated:

“Jenny is a little girl. Martin is Jenny’s dad and Eric is Martin’s lover. They all live happily together”.

The book went on to state that Eric, the father, drew Jenny a series of cartoons of two men who were saying:

“I love you Fred”
“I love you too, Bill. Why don’t we move in together?”
“That’s a good idea”.

[…]

I do not know what could cause more grave harm than to try to promote, as does the book Jenny lives with Eric and Martin, marriage as being outdated; that we should not have a mummy and daddy and can just as well have a daddy and a homosexual lover.

How atrocious. I can practically feel society crumbling as we speak.

This one, unfortunately, you’ll have to pay for.

Amanda Palmer on abortion, rape, art and humor

From the blog of Amanda Palmer:

my label in the UK has been gearing up to promote “oasis” as a radio and video single.
a few days before i left for london i got this email from someone at roadrunner:

”Hi Emily/Amanda,

Hope you are both well,
I just thought I’d let you know that we have been met by fierce opposition on the Oasis track.
Which is disheartening, as combined with the video, we all felt it was a great promotional tool and track.
All our TV outlets have refused to play the video due to it “making light of rape, religion and abortion”. This is the audio as well as visual.
Many of the stations like the track, and even the video but are bound by strict broadcasting rules. I personally find this quite ridiculous.”

dude.
wasn’t this the UK, land of black humor blacker than blackest black itself?

i emailed back and asked which outlets. the reply:

”NME tv, Scuzz, kerrang, MTV, Q, the box … to name a few. There is only a few networks: bauer, chartshow and MTV. They control all stations and they all had the same issue….”

and i sat there thinking, wow. here we go again.
why can’t ANYTHING just be effing EASY this year?

it isn’t a simple issue, obviously. but the fundamentals seem clear to me.

i sat down one day in or around 2002 and wrote a tongue-in-cheek, ironic up-tempo pop song.
a song about a girl who got drunk, was date raped, and had an abortion.
she sings about these things lightly and joyfully and says that she doesn’t care that these things have happened to her because oasis, (her favorite band) has sent her an autographed photo in the mail. and to make things even better (!!), her bitchy friend melissa, who told the whole school about the abortion, is really jealous.

if you cannot sense the irony in this song, you’re about two intelligence points above a kumquat.

The video and song in question:

Amanda Palmer – both solo and as part of the Dresden Dolls – is like an awesomeburger coated in win. Listen to her, for she is correct in all things.