Censorship to be increased
The country is proposing to ban movie content that it says disturbs social stability and promotes religious fanaticism, the latest attempt by the authoritarian government to tighten control over what people see. According to a draft law posted on the Cabinet’s Web site yesterday, films must not harm national honor and interest, incite ethnic hatred, spread “evil cults” or superstition, or propagate obscenity, gambling, drug abuse, violence or terror. A total of 13 types of banned content are mentioned content are banned in the draft law, but no terms or phrases were defined. The proposal appears to be part of an overall tightening of cultural industries that are fueling more independent viewpoints, particularly social media and hugely popular microblogs, where citizens often vent anger and frustration. Yesterday’s draft law also bans content that harms national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, discloses state secrets and endangers national security, or jeopardizes social ethics.
‘Red Shirt’ jailed for slur
A court sentenced a “Red Shirt” political activist to 15 years in prison yesterday for insulting the monarchy, the latest in a series of convictions under the kingdom’s lese majeste laws. Daranee Charnchoengsilapakul, a hardcore supporter of ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was accused of defaming the royals during speeches at political rallies in 2008. “The Criminal Court convicted her on three counts as she committed offenses on three different occasions, and sentenced her to five years for each,” her lawyer Prawais Prapannugool said. “She said she will not appeal her sentence because she lost her faith in the judicial system and she is convinced that she will not receive a fair trial,” he added. The activist — better known as “Da Torpedo” because of her hard-hitting speeches — was sentenced to 18 years in jail in 2009, but an appeals court ordered a retrial because the hearings were held behind closed doors.
North Korean guards defect
Six armed North Korean border guards tasked with preventing defections have themselves fled across the frontier into China, sparking a security alert on the Chinese side of the border, a report said. Daily NK, a Seoul-based online newspaper run by North Korean defectors, said in a report posted late on Wednesday that the border patrol agents crossed the Yalu River marking the northwestern border on Nov. 20. Seoul’s intelligence agency is investigating whether the report is correct, its spokesman said. “Eight crossed the river at night, but two of them were shot dead by other [North Korean] border agents and only six managed to run away,” Daily NK quoted a source in the Chinese border city of Dandong as saying.
Chinese carrier photoed
A commercial satellite company said on Wednesday it has captured a photograph of China’s first aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea off the Chinese coast. The aircraft carrier has generated intense international interest because of what it might signal about China’s intentions as a military power. China has said the carrier is intended for research and training, which has led to speculation that it plans to build more. DigitalGlobe Inc said one of its satellites photographed the carrier on Dec. 8. A DigitalGlobe analyst found the image on Tuesday while searching through photos.
DNA tests prevent cancer
New DNA tests looking for the virus responsible for most cases of cervical cancer make sense for all women aged 30 or over, since they can prevent more cases of cancer than smear tests alone, Dutch researchers said yesterday. Results of a five-year study involving 45,000 women provided the strongest evidence yet in favor of using human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, Chris Meijer and colleagues from the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam reported in The Lancet Oncology. Most cases of infection with the sexually transmitted virus are cleared naturally by the immune system, but persistent infection with certain HPV strains can lead to cervical cancer. In recent years, tests for these “high-risk” strains have been developed by companies, including Roche and Qiagen. The new tests are known to work well in detecting HPV, but the Dutch study is the first to show they are better than Pap smears alone over two screening rounds set five years apart.
Facebook launches lifeline
Facebook is providing a new way for US or Canadian members of the leading online social network to summon help for friends who may be thinking of ending their lives. A tool rolled out by Facebook lets people report suicidal comments posted by friends, who will immediately be sent e-mail messages urging them to call a hotline or click on a link to start a chat session with a crisis counselor. A National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will provide free, confidential counseling at any time of day. “We’re proud to expand our partnership with Lifeline and to provide those in crisis with even more options to seek help,” Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan said in a release. “The Lifeline’s commitment to suicide prevention has enabled people on Facebook to get fast, meaningful help when they need it most and we look forward to continuing our work with them to help save lives.” Lifeline has partnered with California-based Facebook since 2006, the organization’s project director John Draper said. “Although the Lifeline on average handles 70,000 calls per month, we have heard from our Facebook fans and others that there are many people in crisis who don’t feel comfortable picking up the phone,” he said.
‘Time’ picks ‘The Protester’
“The Protester” has been named Time’s Person of the Year. The news magazine cited dissent across the Middle East that has spread to Europe and the US, and said the protesters are reshaping global politics. The selection was announced on Wednesday on NBC’s The Today Show. Time’s Person of the Year is the person or thing that the magazine feels has most influenced the culture and the news during the past year, for good or for ill. Time said it is recognizing protesters because they are “redefining people power” around the world. Last year, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg got the honor.
Men urged to discard ties
The government wants men to take off their ties to help fight global warming, hoping the campaign will save on air conditioning as summer starts in the southern hemisphere. “Let’s all take our ties off this summer to save energy,” Economy Minister Pablo Longueira says in a television spot. In the commercial, he undoes the knot of his pink and white tie, and whips it off with gusto, unbuttoning the top of his shirt and smiling. A tie-less energy minister and other government officials appear in the TV spot.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered