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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Google tackles Aussie censors

The head of Google in in Asia, Ross LaJeunesse, is joining Australian journalists in opposing the Rudd regime's plan to clean up the internet with mandatory filtering, reports the Sydney Morning Herald (search LaJeunesse).

LaJeunesse favors "patrol and prosecute" versus control, we are told. The Communist Chinese regime isn't the only government that seeks to "protect" the public from harmful content but uses the power to screen sites for political reasons, Aussie critics assert. There is no evidence that Chinese censorship has cut down on such criminal uses of the internet as trafficking in child porn, critics say.

A Christian lobbying group is behind the "clean up the internet" measure, which seems to have been promoted as part of an election campaign strategy.

AIM columnist Cliff Kincaid insists that hedge fund short sellers openly trade in human suffering and that their amoral methods are aggravating the Greek financial crisis and are behind last week's bizarre market plunge. He cites a boosterish Barron's article to show that these traders are Machiavellian manipulators.

The issue here is whether major media are being restrained in examining this issue.

Again, as for the market plunge, I'd say that mathematics tends to support the notion that massive machine trading makes sudden, virtually random "catastrophes" unavoidable.

I checked the New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post and Washington Post for coverage of the Ameer Makhoul story, which had been censored by Israel's Shin Bet.

Search engines for all but the Times return null results. The Times had a brief item today reporting the arrest of the activist and another Israeli Arab on spy charges. It search engine showed no previous Makhoul story. The censorship was mentioned after it had been largely lifted.

Now, I suppose we could suspect that the whole matter was arranged in order for the Shin Bet and Israel's zealous supporters in the U.S. media to recover from the Anat Kamm embarrasment and demonstrate that the U.S. press would kowtow to Israeli gag orders.

However, the reality may be a bit more prosaic. U.S. editors could well have determined that the news value of the Kamm story was high because of her being Jewish, because of the outrage sparked in Israeli media and because of Judith Miller's involvement in the embroglio. U.S. editors might have thought their many Jewish readers would have had much less emotional involvement in the Makhoul matter.

All this doesn't mean that Shin Bet didn't calculate the likelihood of such a response in order to make it appear that it could control U.S. media for Israeli state purposes.

AP correction: An AP story on Thai censorship mentioned below had wrong suffixes for several streaming video sites. The correct suffix is dot-com, not dot-tv, the news agency said.

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