Archive for the ‘US News’ Category

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dreamhost logoThe US internet company DreamHost is fighting government demands for it to hand over details of millions of activists.The Department of Justice (DoJ) wants all visitors’ IP addresses – some 1.3 million – to a website that helped organise a protest on the day of President Trump’s inauguration. In addition to the IP addresses, DreamHost said that the DoJ requested the contact information, email content and photos of thousands of visitors.

DreamHost is currently refusing to comply with the request and is due in court on 18th August,

In a blog post on the issue, DreamHost said that, like many other online service providers, it was regularly approached by law enforcement about customers who may be the subject of criminal investigations. But, it added, it took issue with this particular search warrant for being a highly untargeted demand.

Civil liberties group The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is helping DreamHost fight its case, said: No plausible explanation exists for a search warrant of this breadth, other than to cast a digital dragnet as broadly as possible.

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sony clean versionSony have been regularly ‘sanitizing’ their movies but cutting down the violence and strong language so as to make them suitable for children. These versions are targeted at airlines and daytime TV but earlier this month Sony decided to make these sanitised versions available to download at home, choosing 24 titles:

50 First Dates, Battle Of The Year, Big Daddy, Captain Phillips, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Easy A, Elysium, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Goosebumps, Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2Hancock, Inferno, Moneyball, Pixels, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2Step Brothers, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, White House Down

The censorship cuts are typically very extreme. For example, the clean version of Will Ferrell comedy Step Brothers – originally given an R rating for crude and sexual content according to Sony – has had 23 instances of violence taken out, 152 of bad language and 91 of sexual content.

The Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler romcom 50 First Dates had a PG13 for crude sexual humour and drug references. Its clean version has 10 violent moments taken out, 34 uses of bad language and 34 instances of sexual content.

Matt Damon sci-fi film Elysium , which also had an R rating for bloody violence, had 18 of those violent moments taken out, 63 uses of bad language and one instance of sexual content.

Horror comedy Goosebumps was a PG when it came out – so could be described as family-friendly already. But its clean version had four fewer incidences of violence, with five uses of bad language and five examples of nudity taken out too.

But now they’ve had to backtrack after filmmakers complained about the vandalisation of their works. After an outcry, the president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Man Jit Singh, said their directors were of paramount importance to us and they wanted to respect those relationships to the utmost:

We believed we had obtained approvals from the film-makers involved, for use of their previously supervised television versions as a value-added extra on sales of the full version. But if any of them are unhappy or have reconsidered, we will discontinue it for their films.

Seth Rogen was one of the first to react when news of Clean Version emerged. He pleaded, adding a swear word for emphasis, please don’t do this to our movies.

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has said the hard-fought-for rights that protect a director’s work and vision are at the very heart of our craft and a thriving film industry.

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beauty and the beast 2017Russian officials are coming under pressure to check if Disney’s new film Beauty and the Beast breaches the country’s discriminatory law against gay propaganda .Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said action would be taken after the checks while an MP described the film as shameless propaganda of sin .

The live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast features Disney’s first ever gay character and love scene. Director Bill Condon has spoken of an exclusively gay moment in Beauty and the Beast.  It involves LeFou, who is a sidekick of the film’s main antagonist Gaston. LeFou, played by US actor Josh Gad, tries to come to terms with feelings for Gaston that swing between lust and admiration, as a side-plot to the main story.

In another groundbreaking moment, the film is to feature the first interracial kiss in a Disney live-action film.

Vitaly Milonov, an MP of the governing United Russia party, urged the culture minister to hold a screening of the film before it was released to see if it complied with the law and to take measures to totally ban it if he found elements of propaganda of homosexuality . Vitaly Milonov is one of the main supporter of the Russian law of 2013

But don’t think that Russia is singularly homophobic country who is whingeing at the film. A cinema in the USA is also refusing to show the films for homophobic reasons. The owners of the Henagar Drive-In in Alabama explained:

It is with great sorrow that I have to tell our customers that we will not be showing ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at the Henagar Drive-In when it comes out, When companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine.

For those that do not know ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is ‘premiering’ their first homosexual character 206 If we can not take our 11 year old grand daughter and 8 year old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.

I know there will be some that do not agree with this decision. That’s fine. We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches.

US police seem to think so and are trying to demand that Amazon hands over the recordings

Amazon Echo, Black Police in the US believe an Amazon Echo overheard the murder of a man found dead in a hot tub. They want a copy of any audio recorded by the Echo personal assistant, conveniently stored in Amazon’s cloud.The cops think the Alexa-powered Echo, which was found in the kitchen, may have recorded what went on that night, even though you supposedly need to say a wake up word to activate Alexa.

Presumably worried about sales, Amazon is refusing to hand over said recordings, and has gone to court to fight their corner.

Amazon refused to fully comply with the search warrant, and has now filed a motion to the Circuit Court of Benton County, Arkansas, to quash the order. The tech giant says any conversation a customer has with their Echo is covered by the First Amendment. Amazon argued:

Given the important First Amendment and privacy implications at stake, the warrant should be quashed unless the Court finds that the State has met its heightened burden for compelled production of such materials.

Leaving aside the legal arguments, Amazon is keen to ensure that the police can’t use its devices as perpetual bugs in the homes of their owners. If legal precedent is established for that, sales will go off the side of a cliff.

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facebook loginSecretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told Congress this week that the Department of Homeland Security is exploring the possibility of asking visa applicants not only for an accounting of what they do online, but for full access to their online accounts. In a hearing in the House of Representatives, Kelly said:

We want to say for instance, What sites do you visit? And give us your passwords. So that we can see what they do on the internet. And this might be a week, might be a month. They may wait some time for us to vet. If they don’t want to give us that information then they don’t come. We may look at their204we want to get on their social media with passwords. What do you do? What do you say? If they don’t want to cooperate, then they don’t come in.

TechCrunch’ s Devin Coldewey pointed out, asking people to surrender passwords would raise “obvious” privacy and security problems. But beyond privacy and security, the proposed probing of online accounts204including social media and other communications platforms204would, if implemented, be a major threat to free expression.

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The Walking Dead The Walking Dead producers toned down some of the violence in the first half of season seven after a backlash to a gruesome killing scene in the season opener.Executive producer Gale Anne Hurd acknowledged that the negative response to the bludgeon slayings of two key characters in the premiere prompted producers to make adjustments in episodes that were still in production. She said:

We were able to look at the feedback on the level of violence. We did tone it down for episodes we were still filming for later on in the season.

Hurd made it clear that the response made an impact on the production team. This is not a show that is torture porn, she said. After the response to the finale, she said they gave strong consideration to making sure we don’t cross that line.

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todd weilerUtah’s most prominent anti-porn lawmaker wants to give people the ability to sue pornographers in the hope that someone, somewhere will be able to prove that watching their product causes emotional and psychological damage.State Senator Todd Weiler received national attention for penning a 2016 resolution declaring a public health crisis caused by pornography. He not only wants to limit access to sexually explicit material to children and teens, but he believes pornographers should be held liable for the impacts their products have on adults. He said:

Right now porn is available without any warnings and labeling, without any protections online. This would just open the valve for a cause of action. Let these attorneys go after these cases.

If the Legislature passes his proposal, he said, he expects courts to initially reject claims that pornography causes real harm: But I think, eventually, the tide will turn.

Weiler is pinning his hopes on some sort of ludicrous analogy with tobacco use, where court challenges broke through big business defence of their deadly trade. But of course there simply aren’t millions of porn users dropping dead, and even anti porn campaigners haven’t really come up with many harms beyond instilling bad attitudes to women.