Brave new words? Britain ponders libel law changes Associated Press
Britain has long been a balmy destination site for libel tourism — sought out by litigants ranging from a Rwandan genocide suspect to a Saudi businessman to multinational corporations like McDonald’s and General Electric. All that could change, however, under new libel reforms proposed Tuesday. Britain has been embarrassed for years about its popularity as a libel tourism destination. American celebrities started flocking here 20 years ago to sue fellow Americans — led by none other than California’s current governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The practice has been used extensively ever since by other foreign plaintiffs, with the genocide suspect suing a human rights group and corporations targeting private citizens in costly legal battles. Critics say Britain’s current libel law stifles free expression and hampers investigative journalism as well as research into public interest issues such as corruption or health risks.
No joke, as Brazil fines Google Big Pond
A Brazilian court has fined US internet giant Google for not blocking pages of dirty jokes on its social networking site Orkut. The court in the northern state of Rondonia ordered Google to pay $US2,700 ($A2,942.78) for each day that the pages remained up, and told it to stop similar material being posted. It rejected Google’s argument that the company did not have the technical means or employees needed to police Orkut, a Facebook-like community that has its biggest following in Brazil. The court noted that Google already implemented such curbs on its pages in China – but did not address the major Google-China dispute over censorship that saw the US company direct Chinese users of its search engine to its freer Hong Kong service.
Chinese Internet firm TOM Online stops using Google services Associated Press
An Internet company run by one of Asia’s richest men said Tuesday it has ended its affiliation with Google as the Mountain View search giant stopped censoring the Internet in violation of Chinese regulations. Making good on threats made more than two months ago, Google began shifting its Chinese-based search functions to Hong Kong, a Chinese territory where companies are not legally required to censor Internet search results. TOM Online, a mainland Chinese Internet firm controlled by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, said Tuesday it was stopping use of Google’s search services after “the expiry of agreement.” “TOM reiterated that as a Chinese company, we adhere to rules and regulations in China where we operate our businesses,” the company’s parent, Hong Kong-based TOM Group, said in a statement Tuesday. TOM Online, which runs online and mobile Internet services in mainland China, did not say when it stopped using Google or provide any details of its agreement with the company.
Want to Use My Suit? Then Throw Me Something New York Times
Last Friday, at a St. Joseph’s Night parade in New Orleans, Santana Montana of the Monogram Hunters tribe went to greet his father, David Montana of the Yellow Pocahontas tribe. He was concerned about being robbed, but not by the neighborhood teenagers who trotted out in the street to join him. The real potential for theft, as Mr. Yancy sees it, came from the strangers darting around him and his well-appointed colleagues in a hectic orbit: photographers. Mr. Yancy, 44, is a nursing assistant by profession. His calling, however, is as one of the Mardi Gras Indians — a member of the Yellow Pocahontas tribe, to be exact — the largely working-class black New Orleanians who create and wear ornate, enormous feathered costumes and come out three times a year to show them off. He is also one of a number of Indians who have become fed up with seeing their photographs on calendars, posters and expensive prints, without getting anything in return. Knowing that there are few legal protections for a person who is photographed in public — particularly one who stops and poses every few feet — some Mardi Gras Indians have begun filing for copyright protection for their suits, which account for thousands of dollars in glass beads, rhinestones, feathers and velvet, and hundreds of hours of late-night sewing.
Council chops down 6,000 trees at beauty spot to stop ‘doggers’ Daily Mail
More than 6,000 trees have been chopped down by a council at a stunning beauty spot – to stop couples having sex in public. The conifers were felled on the 12 hectare site after it became a hotspot for ‘dogging’ – where people have sex with strangers while being watched. A huge expanse of forest that runs for kilometres alongside the busy A666 was axed after a health and safety survey. It claimed some of the trees, planted after the Second World War, were in danger of falling down. But police and councillors have confirmed the cull was also ordered to discourage doggers. Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It’s awful that a public green space, an asset to the local community, has been destroyed mindlessly.
Swedish prisoner warned over ‘fart attacks’ The Local
An inmate at Malmö prison has been warned over his persistent flatulence, with staff suspecting that the prisoner deployed the malodorous method to voice his discontent towards the system, the Metro newspaper reports. The gas-prone inmate is reported to have resorted to passing wind on repeated occasions in what staff began to realize was a series of concerted attacks, according to Anders Eriksson at the Kirseberg prison in Malmö. “I have worked within the prisons and probation service since 1986 and I have never experienced a situation where behaviour of this sort has led to punishment,” Eriksson said to the newspaper. The apparent clandestine motive for the man’s ill-scented and noisome habit came to light a couple of weeks ago when he was playing cards with fellow inmates.
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