Archive for the ‘world’ Category

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canada cannabis flag The Canadian government is seeking a company that will scour social media and the dark web for data on Canadians’ use of cannabis. The request comes a few weeks before recreational pot use becomes legalized on October 17.

According to a tender posted by Public Safety Canada this week, the government wants a company to algorithmically scan Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and other relevant microblogging platforms for information on Canadians’ attitudes towards legal pot and their behaviours.

The initiative will look for self-reported usage patterns (how much, what kind, and where) and activities such as buying and selling weed. The government will also be scanning social media for criminal activities associated with cannabis use–driving under the influence, for example. The initiative will also capture metadata, such as self-reported location and demographics, but according to the tender the data must exclude individual unique identifiers.

Motherboard asked Public Safety Canada spokesperson Karine Martel about the project but she did not comment on whether information on cannabis-related crimes collected from social media will be shared with law enforcement, but noted that the work will be conducted in compliance with the Tri-Council Policy Statement which notes that: research focusing on topics that include illegal activities depends on promises of strong confidentiality to participants.

According to a second tender the feds are also looking to keep track of Canadians buying and selling weed on so-called dark web markets. Both projects are slated to conclude on April 30, 2019.

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rafiki Rafiki is a 2018 Kenya / South Africa drama by Wanuri Kahiu.
Starring Patricia Amira, Muthoni Gathecha and Jimmy Gathu. IMDb

Banned by the Kenya Film Classification Board in April 2018. The KFCB claimed the film seeks to legitimize lesbian romance.

Rafiki, which means friend in Swahili,  is adapted from the 2007 Caine Prize-winning short story, Jambula Tree, by Ugandan writer Monica Arac Nyeko. It follows two close friends, Kena and Ziki, who eventually fall in love despite their families being on opposing sides of the political divide.

Wanuri Kahiu, the director of the banned film Rafiki is Suing Kenya’s film censors to unblock the way for the film to qualify as contender for the Oscars. The suit demands that the local ban be lifted in time for her to submit the film to be considered for an Oscar. It’s also pushing to change the law that has been used to ban popular films like The Wolf of Wall Street.

For Rafiki to be eligible for a Best Foreign Language award, it needs to be shown in Kenya before September 30, The Hollywood Reporter adds . If the selection committee is given permission to screen the film to submit it to the Academy, Rafiki could be the first Kenyan film to be nominated in that category

Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki has received its due praise on the film festival circuit since her film was selected to make its world premiere at Cannes earlier this year– making it the first Kenyan feature film to do so. However, the Kenya Film Classification Board banned the film, claiming that it seeks to legitimize lesbian romance.

Update: Make love not war, court organises a 7 day truce

22nd September 2018. See article from bbc.com

A Kenyan judge has lifted a ban on a film about a lesbian relationship – for a week. Judge Wilfrida Okwany decided to allow the screening of the film for seven days so that it could be submitted for the Oscars.

In order to be submitted to the Academy Awards, the film must have been publicly exhibited for at least seven consecutive days at a commercial motion picture venue.

In her ruling on Friday, Ms Okwany gave permission for the film to be shown to willing adults. She said she was not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that its moral foundation will be shaken by seeing such a film.

But the head of the Kenya Film Classification Board, Ezekiel Mutua, was unhappy about the decision, claiming homosexuality is not our way of life.

The film’s director Wanuri Kahiu, who appealed against the ban, was overjoyed with the latest decision.

The film’s Twitter account announced that it will hold screenings in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi

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Poster Christopher Robin 2018 Marc Forster Christopher Robin is a 2018 USA children’s musical by Marc Forster.
Starring Hayley Atwell, Ewan McGregor and Chris O’Dowd. IMDb The Children’s film Christopher Robin has been banned by Chinese film censors. No reason was given for the denial, but a source pinned the blame on China’s crusade against images of the Winnie the Pooh character, which is widely used as a mocking representation of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Last summer, authorities began blocking pictures of Winnie the Pooh on social media when bloggers drew comparisons between the pudgy bear and Xi, which has put the country’s censors in overdrive. In June, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after Last Week Tonight host John Oliver mocked Xi’s sensitivity over being compared to Winnie the Pooh.

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Google China logoGoogle is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest, The Intercept can reveal.The project, code-named Dragonfly, has been underway since spring of last year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official, according to internal Google documents and people familiar with the plans.

Teams of programmers and engineers at Google have created a custom Android app, different versions of which have been named Maotai and Longfei. The app has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government; the finalized version could be launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from Chinese officials.

Google’s current search engine is blocked in China.

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We Happy Few Australia’s Classification Review Board has unanimously overturned the ban on the video game, We Happy Few by the main Classification Board. The appeals boards has now passed the game with the adults-only R18+ for Fantasy violence and interactive drug use. The game’s developer, Compulsion Games, has expressed sympathy for the censor board saying it wasn’t sure the Board could have ruled any other way.

In an email with Kotaku Australia, Compulsion Games chief operating officer and producer Sam Abbott said he wasn’t sure that the Classification Board had any room to move, given the constraints of the rating guidelines:

I think originally the board made the best decision they could given (a) the guidelines they work within, and (b) the information we provided them, Abbott said. I’m not sure I’d make a different original decision given those constraints.

Abbott went on to explain that Compulsion Games could have outlined more information about Joy — the drug that is a centrepiece of the dystopian society in which We Happy Few is set — including the positive and negative aspects of its consumption.

The censor board  banned the game for its use of drugs in-game, under the clause about incentivised drug use including:

New skills or attribute increases, extra points, unlocking achievements, plot animations, scenes and rewards, rare or exclusive loot, or making tasks easier to accomplish,

The latter of which was the reason We Happy Few originally fell foul of in the rule. In the Board’s opinion:

The game’s drug-use mechanic making game progression less difficult constitutes an incentive or reward for drug-use and therefore, the game exceeds the R 18+ classification that states, drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted. Therefore, the game warrants being Refused Classification.

The Classification Review Board will issue details reasons for its decision in due course.

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Uganda flagUganda has just introduced a significant tax on social media usage. It is set at 200 shillings a day which adds up to about 3% of the average annual income if used daily.Use of a long list of websites including Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Tinder triggers the daily taxed through billing by ISPs.

And as you may expect Uganda internet users are turning to VPNs so that ISPs can’t detect access to taxed apps and websites.

In response, the government says it has ordered local ISPs to begin blocking VPNs. In a statement, Uganda Communications Commission Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi said that Internet service providers would be ordered to block VPNs to prevent citizens from avoiding the social media tax.

Mutabazi told Dispatch that ISPs are already taking action to prevent VPNs from being accessible but since there are so many, it won’t be possible to block them all. In the meantime, the government is trying to portray VPNs as more expensive to use than the tax. In a post on Facebook this morning, Mutabazi promoted the tax as the sensible economic option.

it appears that many Ugandans are outraged at the prospect of yet another tax and see VPN use as a protest, despite any additional cost. Opposition figures have already called for a boycott with support coming in from all corners of society. The government appears unmoved, however. Frank Tumwebaze, Minister of Information Technology and Communications said:

If we tax essentials like water, why not social media?

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armstrongs war posterNew theatre audience advisories in Canada are warning about specific plot points that could trigger emotional trauma for those of a snowflake disposition.

This spring, Western Canada Theatre attached a warning to Children of God, a musical about residential schools, that indicates the production’s mature and potentially triggering scenes involving residential schools and sexual abuse.

A subsequent production, Armstrong’s War , a play about an Afghan War vet, came with the following advisory:

This hard-hitting yet inspiring drama about bravery and survival contains some potentially triggering content about the horrors of war and mental illness.

And unsurprisingly the trigger warnings have sparked a bit of a debate.

James MacDonald, artistic director of Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops, B.C., is in favour of using trigger warnings where the material justifies it.

I think if we inform the audience beforehand, and they’re not blindsided by it, then they don’t have a negative reaction to it.

MacDonald said he saw a need for trigger warnings after his company staged a play that featured a scene of a daughter being sexually abused by her father. He said:

Even though we had put a content warning on the play to say that there was adult content and scenes which may disturb people, that particular scene evoked many reactions and responses from the audience, and they felt like they were blindsided by it.

For other theatre professionals, trigger warnings are the very antithesis of what theatre is designed to do: provoke reactions.

Montreal’s Imago Theatre specializes in English-language plays written from women’s perspectives and often features plays about challenging subject matter, like rape and violence against women. But there isn’t a trigger warning anywhere in sight. Imago’s artistic director Micheline Chevrier explains:

I think we have to be careful with trigger warnings. I’m not a fan of wanting to tell somebody exactly everything they’re about to experience.

She worries trigger warnings are the first step toward avoidance of difficult material altogether, a slide into self-censorship by playwrights and directors afraid of offending patrons.