Chinese censor prosecuted for taking bribes to censor remarks companies and government officials disliked
Censorship invites abuse. In China, the widespread practice of Internet censorship means that lots of people are authorized to hand down censorship orders and lots more people naturally turn to censorship when something on the Internet bugs them. This week, Chinese authorities prosecuted an "Internet policeman" who took payments from companies in return for censoring unfavorable remarks about them on social media. He's accused of censoring more than 2,500 posts in return for over $300K in payments. He also collaborated with another official to censor critical remarks about government officials. It seems unlikely that Gu, the Internet policeman who was arrested, and Liu, his collaborator, were the only two censors-for-hire in the Chinese system.
Lest you think that this problem is uniquely Chinese, consider that when Wikileaks leaked the Great Firewall of Australia's blacklist, we learned that more the half the sites on the list didn't meet the censorship criteria. And when the Danish and Swedish blacklists were analyzed, it emerged that more than 98 percent of the sites blocked did not meet the official criteria for censorship. And in the UK, the national firewall once blocked all of Wikipedia.
Spies Travels, a Danish travel agency, have conceived of a promotion to help reverse Denmark's plummeting birthrate. They're offering a discount for couples who travel during one partner's ovulation period, and if you can subsequently prove that you conceived a child on the trip, they'll give you three years' worth of baby-stuff and a family holiday.
Do it for Denmark! (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
Hey, Danes! There's a limited-edition Danish-language translation of Little Brother that's just come out from Science Fiction Cirklen! Tell your friends!
Four mayors of Danish towns have been targeted by Universal Music and threatened with lawsuits unless they pay the media giant $42,000 within 24 hours -- because they made a Gangnam Style parody and posted it to YouTube. The video features the mayors dancing and illustrating the difficulties faced by entrepreneurs in their cities. Universal says that the mayors' use of the actual soundtrack in the video was a step too far.
The argument appears to stem from the use of the track. While the mayors believe their contribution to the Psy phenomenon was entirely for parody purposes and therefore fair use, Universal sees things very differently. They insist that the mayors were actually attempting to increase their own profiles and used the video – and Universals copyrights – in order to boost their political careers.
“It is clear that we have in mind that there are local elections in a minute,” said Universal’s Dennis Ploug in a statement.
As a result, Universal say that the mayors will have to pay a bill of almost $42,000 ($10,500 each) to obtain a license to use the music in the video – and they have just 24 hours to stump up the cash.
“We have given them a payment deadline of Friday, but if they do not pay before then it becomes a real action for infringement, and so the amount will be completely different,” Ploug concludes.
Universal Music Tells Gangnam Parody Mayors: Pay $42,000 By Tomorrow, Or Else [Andy/TorrentFreak]
Here's a follow up to Dumt and Farligt's 2012 video in which Danish show (its name translates as "Stupid and Dangerous") enacts a series of improbable, destructive stunts while recording at 2500 fps. The resulting slomos are dreamlike bullet-time sequences of devastation and absurdity, and really rather good. Exploding camper at 3:02 FTW, and 60,000 matches right afterward? Perfecto!
These two house-topped silver skulls are 2011 pieces by Danish sculptor Frodo Mikkelsen, whose online galleries have many more fine examples of this sort of work, going all the way back to 2007. Each one is a perfect bit of grim whimsy, frozen moments of urban planning in a village of miniature grave-robbers.
(Images: Bergen Kunstmuseum, Frodo Mikkelsen)
UPDATE: Dell has issued an apology.
Christiane Vejlø writes about attending a Dell corporate event in Denmark which was hosted by Mads Christensen, a "lifestyle speaker" who sounds like Copenhagen's answer to Rush Limbaugh: a troll known for doing routines about how women don't belong in the workplace (and worse).
From Vejlø's account of the evening:
“The IT business is one of the last frontiers that manages to keep women out. The quota of women to men in your business is sound and healthy” he says.
“What are you actually doing here?” he adds to the few women who are actually present in the room.
Dell’s moderator continues talking about his two Rolex watches and he then presents the next speaker from Intel. After the break Mads Christensen shares with us his whole “show” about the bitchy women who want to steal the power in politics, boards and the home.
“Science” he calls it and mentions that all the great inventions come from men. “We can thank women for the rolling pin,” he adds.
And then the moderator of the day finishes of by asking all (men) in the room to promise him that they will go home and say, “shut up bitch!”.
Here's his website. I do understand that some argue that schtick is self-parody in the vein of Stephen Colbert, but hey, this guy is no Stephen Colbert. And showcasing that sort of comedy material at a corporate event is a strange choice for Dell to make—unless they're in the business of alienating customers.
Dell has since apologized:
A related analysis is here.
This impressive slow-motion video was submitted to the Danish TV show "Dumt & Farligt." The video was captured with a 2500fps Phantom Flex camera, and the filmmakers really racked their brains for the most absurd, dangerous and weird destructive acts to record under extreme conditions, including running over a milkshake with a lawnmower, exploding a sealed bottle of red wine with a microwave, and overfilling a waterbed until it ruptured.
Here's a diagram that shows the relative size of a great grey owl's body to its feathers. It's hosted on Wikimedia commons, labelled "Cross sectioned taxidermied Great Grey Owl, Strix nebulosa, showing the extent of the body plumage, Zoological Museum, Copenhagen."
Here's a clip of a Danish TV show discussing ACTA, which Denmark has fiercely advocated in favor of. It starts with the head of a rightsholder society and the Danish trade minister quoting dodgy statistics about the extent and cost of piracy, and then demonstrates that these statistics are patently false, and finally, brings out those responsible for quoting them and gets them to admit their errors. Priceless.
You can see both the Danish Trade Minister and the head of a Danish music rights organization (and famous Danish musician) Ivan Pedersen appear on a TV show below (with English subtitles). On the show, a well-informed presenter focuses on how both of these ACTA defenders claimed that 95% of music downloaded in Denmark was unauthorized, and carefully shows how that's simply false -- and then gets both of the ACTA defenders to admit that the numbers were wrong.
The Danish band Qu'est-ce Que fuck? claims that they were prevented from playing an anti-ACTA gig by KODA, a Danish rights-management society. They claim that KODA deliberately put a number of bureaucratic hurdles in their path, with the final straw being a demand that the band be paid 4,000 Kroner for their appearance (which was beyond the means of the organisers), despite the band's assurance that they would only perform their own material.
Our so-called guild KODA and the Aarhus police have done everything they could to prevent our performance today, and they succeeded.
The requirement of KODA's hand to the organizers of the demonstration was that we should have at least 4000 dollars for appearing today. 4000 crowns as organizers of today's demonstration obviously have not had time to travel when a claim was made yesterday, and as you know, not exactly make money by organizing popular protests.
We have tried to explain KODA that we want to play our own compositions free to support the event, but we had not.
We suggested them so that we could improvise the entire concert, avoiding rights issues at the event. This was not an option.
We do not feel that it is in our best interest to deny us the chance to play our music to the public!
We are not artists because of the pursuit of profit and regelrytteri. We simply can not help but create music.
Naturally, we believe that all people are entitled to payment for their work and musicians, we know that the problem lies in the piracy of our music or sharing our videos on youtube.
This undated photo from an unattributed newspaper shows the facade of a Danish clothier that advertised its overstock coats by covering the building from top to bottom with over a thousand coats. The display was so successful the police had to come and clear the crowd, but the merchant still cleared out his overstock.
Danish company helped Iran with surveillance program that identified journalist who was arrested and tortured
RanTek, a Danish company, is reportedly supplying Iran with censor/spyware technology, which was part of a larger effort that was used to identify a dissident journalist who was arrested and tortured.
Eksperter: Dansk firma hjælper med iransk overvågning (Danish)
Until he was arrested, he worked for Mehr, the official Iranian news agency. He received information from all over the country about protests and demonstrations, information too controversial to be used in the news agent's official work. Instead he published it through other channels, e.g. Facebook. However, after the elections in June 2009, when people took to the streets in protest against Ahmadinejad's election victory, it was clear to the Iranians that the Internet is in no way safe.
Nearly 4000 people were arrested solely on the basis of monitoring of their private internet traffic«, says Farahani.
Now it seems that the Danish company RanTek helps the Iranian regime with the monitoring of the Iranian population. The day before Christmas the Bloomberg news agency reported that the Danish IT company re-packages and sells surveillance equipment to Iran. Ironically, the equipment originally comes from the Israeli manufacturer Allot Communications, which means that the Israelis through a Danish intermediary have helped their mortal enemies.