Google told to block Mosley orgy pictures

In a landmark ruling, a French court has ordered Google to prevent its search engine from providing links to images of a sadomasochistic orgy involving former Formula One boss Max Mosley.

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Google, which had strongly opposed Mosley’s request, immediately announced that it would appeal a decision it fears will set a dangerous legal precedent for costly and heavy-handed automated censorship of the internet.

“This decision should worry all those who defend freedom of expression on the internet,” said Daphne Keller, Google’s legal representative in the case.

The appeal does not suspend the ruling, which Google now has two months to comply with. The court also fined Google a symbolic one euro and ordered the company to pay 5000 euros ($A7000) in court costs.

Wednesday’s ruling relates to nine images taken from a video of the orgy that was filmed by Britain’s now defunct News of the World (NoW) tabloid. Mosley’s legal team failed to secure a broader ruling which would have also forced Google to block access to any further extracts from the video which may emerge in the future.

Mosley has won a string of legal battles related to the publication of the video, starting with a libel case against the NoW over its claim, in March 2008, that the orgy was Nazi-themed.

In 2011, a French court fined NoW’s owner, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, 10,000 euros after ruling that Mosley’s right to privacy had been infringed by the publication of the images in editions of the newspaper sold in France, which has one of the world’s toughest privacy laws.

Those rulings, however, have failed to stop images from the orgy being widely circulated on the web and Mosley believes search engines have a duty to prevent users from accessing material deemed to have breached the law.

Google had argued that the construction of search result filters of the type requested by Mosley would threaten users’ freedom of access to information while failing to remove the offending images from the internet.


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U.N. urges Olympic social inclusion amid Russian gay rights storm

The 193-member General Assembly approved by consensus a resolution calling for an end to fighting around the world from seven days before the Winter Olympics start in Sochi in February until seven days after the Paralympics end in March.

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For the first time, according to the United States, the resolution – which has been adopted regularly by the General Assembly for 20 years – called “upon host countries to promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind.”

Russia triggered angry criticism and even calls to boycott the Sochi games when it adopted in June a ban on homosexual “propaganda” among minors. Critics denounced the law as discriminatory and a curb on rights to free speech and assembly.

“Sport embraces all segments of society and is instrumental in empowering people with diverse backgrounds, while fostering tolerance and respect for all people no matter what they look like, where they come from, where they worship or whom they love,” U.S. delegate Elizabeth Cousens told the United Nations.

Sochi Games chief Dmitry Chernyshenko said that everyone was welcome at the games at Russia’s Black Sea resort.

“During the games we guarantee that there will be no discrimination whether by religious or sexual or gender,” he told reporters at the United Nations. “The president of the country three times repeated there will be no discrimination.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that everything was being done “so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi, regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation.

IOC OPPOSED TO BOYCOTTS

Putin says there is no gay discrimination in Russia, which decriminalized homosexuality in 1993.

But gay people are often blamed for the country’s low birth rates and face ostracism from the resurgent Orthodox Church, which has fostered increasingly close ties with the Kremlin during Putin’s 13-year rule.

Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), appealed for the autonomy of sport to be protected and strengthened. He said responsible autonomy meant respecting national laws that do not target sport.

He also said the IOC was opposed to boycotts of any kind.

“Boycotts are a fundamental contradiction to the spirit of sport, depriving it of the means to continue working for peace, mutual understanding and solidarity,” Bach said.

“This is even more true if sport is the sole instrument misused for the boycott, while political, economic and cultural relations continue as normal,” he said.

Andre Banks, executive director of global gay rights group All Out, demanded Russia repeal its anti-gay propaganda law.

“If the IOC and Russian officials were serious about making the Games open to all, they would take action before Sochi to reject laws that are leading to a dramatic spiral of brutal violence against gays and lesbians,” said Banks in a statement.

Australian delegate Tanisha Hewanpola told the U.N. General Assembly that the Olympics had an important role to play in promoting social inclusion by educating people “on such traditional values as respect, diversity, tolerance and fairness and combating all forms of discrimination including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Jackie Frank)


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Finance News Update, what you need to know

WORLD FINANCE UPDATE:

The Australian dollar is higher, boosted by recent positive economic data.

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At 0630 AEDT on Thursday, the local unit was trading at 95.24 US cents, up from 95.18 cents on Wednesday.

And the Australian share market looks set to open higher following gains on international markets with sentiment buoyed by strong German and British industrial sectors data.

At 0645 AEDT on Thursday, the December share price index futures contract was up nine points at 5,427.

ELSEWHERE:

PARIS – Inflation in advanced countries slowed to 1.5 per cent in September from 1.7 per cent the previous month, the OECD says.

LONDON – British industrial output rebounded by more than expected in September, official data shows.

NEW YORK – Twitter is on the verge of revealing the price of its stock offering, giving the popular messaging platform a value of around $US15 billion ($A15.8 billion), media reports say.

LONDON – British defence contractor BAE Systems has announced plans to cut some 1775 jobs at three shipyards, ending the building of warships in England for the first time in hundreds of years.

JOHANNESBURG – One of the world’s biggest bullion producers AngloGold Ashanti says it has edged back into profit in the third quarter, thanks to ramped-up output and lower production costs.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Embattled Brazilian magnate Eike Batista’s OSX oil services and ship-building unit says it reached agreement with state-run Caixa Economic Federal to refinance a $US210 million ($A221.76 million) loan for another year.

FRANKFURT – German engineering giant Siemens says it is selling off parts of its water technology business to a US private equity group, AEA Investors, for 640 million euros ($A914.87 million).

NEW YORK – Wells Fargo & Co will pay $US335 million ($A353.77 million) to resolve claims that it misled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about risky mortgage securities that it sold them prior to the housing collapse.

NEW YORK – Time Warner says its third-quarter net income is up 44 per cent, helped by strong results at its cable networks.

MILAN – Italian tyre maker Pirelli says it will invest up to 1.6 billion euros ($A2.29 billion)

over four years to refocus its activities on the high end of the market.


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End of traffic jams? Dutch test new system

Researchers in the Netherlands will next year test a GPS navigation system aimed at preventing the international curse of motorway traffic jams by telling drivers which lane to move to.

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Tests will be carried out as early as April on a 75km stretch of motorway passing through the Netherlands, from Germany to Belgium, which is popular with trucks.

“Traffic jams can be caused by a line of trucks,” Paul van Koningsbruggen from Dutch IT firm Technolution told AFP.

“It’s a chain reaction: when a car drives up behind a truck, it brakes, then the car behind brakes, this time a bit more, and so on, until a car some distance away has to almost come to a standstill, and that’s when you get a traffic jam,” he said.

By letting drivers know in time that they should change lanes and drive at a certain speed, researchers hope they can prevent traffic jams forming.

Dutch GPS navigation equipment specialist TomTom and Delft University are also involved in the research.

“The idea is that around 1000 drivers take part in the tests,” said TomTom’s Peter Krootjes.

“We don’t yet know when it will be a marketable product; that depends on how successful the tests are,” said Krootjes.

Volunteers taking part in the project will download an app to their smartphones, while some volunteers’ cars will be equipped with additional sensors and cameras to get more data.

The system will, however, only work if at least 30-40 per cent of drivers on a certain stretch of motorway are using it.

“If only one driver changes lane or speed, that’s not going to prevent a traffic jam forming,” Van Koningsbruggen said.

“It seems ambitious to say the system will mean the end of traffic jams,” said Krootjes.

“What’s for sure is that a driver who is well informed about road traffic will get home much more quickly, but this will also diminish the number of traffic jams for everybody,” he said.


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Nadal downs Wawrinka to seal top ranking

Rafael Nadal has guaranteed he will finish 2013 on top of the world rankings with a 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8/6) victory over Stanislas Wawrinka at the ATP World Tour Finals.

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Nadal arrived for the prestigious season-ending event knowing two Group A victories at London’s O2 Arena would be enough to ensure he couldn’t be caught by second-placed Novak Djokovic in the race for the number one ranking.

The Spaniard achieved that aim on Wednesday in typically dominant fashion, beating Swiss seventh seed Wawrinka 24 hours after opening the tournament with a straight-sets win over David Ferrer.

It is the third time Nadal has finished a calendar year in pole position in the rankings – and the first since 2010 – and he celebrated with a jubilant jig around the court.

He is the first player to end a year at number one three years after his last season-ending top spot.

The 27-year-old’s straight-sets victory over Wawrinka also booked his place in the semi-finals of the Tour Finals, with one group match against Tomas Berdych still to come.

Nadal’s return to the top is a remarkable achievement given he only came back in February after seven months out with severe knee tendonitis that threatened to cut short his career.

“I had a lot of emotions today, it’s the perfect scenario to be the year-end number one,” Nadal said.

“After missing this tournament last year, it’s been an unbelievable comeback.

“Being number one at the end of the season is something really difficult as there are some unbelievable competitors out there.

“But without my team behind me, it would be hard to think about achieving this, especially after what happened last year.

“Stan played really great. He had chances at the end and I was a bit lucky, but I’m happy to be through to the semi-finals in the last tournament of the year.”

Since his return from injury, Nadal has won the French and US Open titles, as well as eight other tournaments, and a maiden triumph at the Tour Finals would be a fitting end to such a memorable campaign.

Wawrinka has enjoyed the best season of his life, qualifying for the Tour Finals for the first time and winning his career-best 50th match of the year with a three-set victory over world number five Berdych on Monday.

But Nadal had won all 11 of his previous meetings with the 28-year-old, who had never even taken a set off the Spaniard.

Wawrinka played well for long periods here, hitting twice as many winners as Nadal, but he could never deliver the knock-out blow and 45 unforced errors proved his downfall.