BANGKOK (AP) — When the Thai military says cadets can’t bring phones to training, they mean it.
A video clip that has ignited social media in Thailand this week shows what happened to some officers-in-training who broke that rule.
The video, dubbed “Soldiers Must Endure,” shows a row of uniformed naval cadets with their iPhones and Samsung smart phones on the ground, each one beside a concrete block.
“You just bought this, right? Expensive, eh?” says the voice of a commanding officer who asks each trainee to state the make of his phone and then orders them to bend down and — “Smash it!”
The video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook, YouTube and popular Thai social media forums in the past few days, drawing mostly criticism that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Many comments posted online suggested the military confiscate the pricey phones from rule breakers and return them at the end of the term, rather than destroying them.
Others half-jokingly called it a form of torture in Thailand, where people are extremely attached to their smart phones. The Southeast Asian country is one of the world’s biggest users of social media and has repeatedly claimed top spots on annual lists of the world’s most Instagramed places.
It was not clear who took the video, which was filmed vertically, apparently using a phone.
The Thai navy issued a statement to “clarify” what happened at its Communications and Information Technology School, which has a rule forbidding students from carrying cellphones on school grounds but which is frequently violated.
Teachers at the school came up with an “honor system” whereby those who break the rule “destroy their phones voluntarily,” said the statement posted on the website of the navy’s radio station, Voice of Navy.
“This ‘honor system’ was not recognized by the school and it was not school policy. Therefore, the school has ordered this form of punishment to stop,” the statement said.
Wednesday’s Bangkok Post newspaper ran a commentary suggesting the video clip highlighted a larger problem of the Thai military’s need to modernize its thinking.
“That a military school focusing on communications and information technology does not view mobile phones as learning tools, but obstacles that must be banned, says a lot about how much the military has to do to catch up with the world,” the commentary said.
This story has been corrected to show that the radio station is called Voice of Navy.
Associated Press writer Jocelyn Gecker contributed to this report.
CHIBA, Japan (AP) — Japan’s annual video game show opened Thursday with a record number of exhibitors, including independent companies and newcomers, a positive sign for an industry that has faced tough competition from games on social media and mobile devices.
The Tokyo Game Show, which continues through Sunday, at Makuhari Messe convention center in the Tokyo suburb of Chiba, features more than 2,000 booths from 480 exhibitors.
Although Japanese game machine makers such as Sony Corp. and Nintendo Co. have been leaders in the industry for decades, the Tokyo show underlined its increasingly global makeup, with more than half of the exhibitors coming from abroad.
A special section was set up for independent game designers from Asia.
Alwyn Lee, chief executive of Daylight Studios, a small independent game company from Singapore, was showing a PC and Mac version of his game that starred potato-shaped characters.
He acknowledged the market was bigger in the U.S. than in Japan, but his company has invested in adapting the game to the Japanese language, set to launch in a couple of months here.
“We are getting feedback to adapt to the Japanese market,” he said. “Japan is very famous for the mobile market, but this is the first time we are trying the desktop market.”
YouTube and online retailer Amazon with its Twitch game service, both brands not typically associated with games, were also first-time exhibitors at the Tokyo show.
The event also had the perennial favorites, such as the latest versions of the “Street Fighter” combat game from Capcom and the “Metal Gear Solid” action adventure game from Konami Digital Entertainment.
It also highlighted offerings from lesser known companies.
One was “Oyaji Girly,” which means “girlish old man,” designed by female high school students, billed as an action game in which an old man is targeted to take on female traits.
Earlier this week, Sony Computer Entertainment, the game division of the Japanese electronics and entertainment company, announced a 5,000 yen ($41) price cut in Japan for the Play Station 4 home console, another move designed to woo fans. The console will now sell for 34,980 yen ($289) starting Oct. 1.
There were long lines at Sony’s booth for its VR headset, which offers virtual reality games, promised for next year.
Follow Yuri Kageyama: http://twitter.com/yurikageyama
WASHINGTON (AP) — Shirley Sherrod, the former Agriculture Department official whose supposed racist remarks on video ignited a firestorm in 2010, has reached a tentative settlement with the widow of a conservative blogger who posted the edited images, a federal judge said Tuesday.
Sherrod sued blogger Andrew Breitbart and his colleague Larry O’Connor in 2011, a year after Breitbart posted the video of Sherrod, who is black. She sued Breitbart and O’Connor for defamation and emotional distress after USDA officials asked her to resign from her post as a rural development official in Georgia and the video ignited a racial firestorm.
Breitbart died unexpectedly in 2012, but his wife, Susannah, was substituted as a defendant.
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon on Tuesday ordered the case halted “in light of the parties’ representations that a settlement has been reached” and the agreement circulated for signatures.
The terms of the settlement have so far remained confidential. Lawyers for Sherrod and Susannah Breitbart did not respond to a request for comment on the settlement; an attorney for O’Connor declined to comment.
When Sherrod’s full speech later came to light after the bloggers’ original post, it became clear that Sherrod’s words were about racial reconciliation. She was speaking about overcoming her initial reluctance to help a white farmer decades ago.
Once that was obvious, Sherrod received public apologies from the administration — even from President Barack Obama himself — and an offer to return to the Agriculture Department, which she declined.
Sherrod’s lawsuit says the incident affected her sleep and caused her back pain. It contends that she was damaged by having her “integrity, impartiality and motivations questioned, making it difficult (if not impossible) for her to continue her life’s work assisting poor farmers in rural areas,” even though she was invited to return to the department.
Lawyers for the bloggers argue the blog post was opinion and did not defame Sherrod.
Dismissal of the case will be a relief for USDA and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who has taken responsibility for Sherrod’s ouster. Vilsack potentially could have been called to testify in a trial.
The case also would have been one of the first high-profile federal lawsuits to test bloggers’ freedom of speech rights. Large news organizations including The New York Times Co., The Washington Post Co. and Dow Jones & Company filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the suit.
Follow Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MCJalonick
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court Monday cleared the way for a trial in a copyright lawsuit over a YouTube video showing a baby dancing to the Prince song, “Let’s Go Crazy.”
The lawsuit was filed by the baby’s mother, Stephanie Lenz, after Universal Music sent a notice to YouTube demanding the video be taken down for violating the song’s copyright. Lenz posted the 29-second video in February 2007. It was taken down a few months later, but went back up weeks later and remains on the site. It has been viewed more than a million times.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said copyright holders can’t demand videos and other content that uses their material be taken down without determining whether they constitute “fair use.” It’s the first circuit court to issue such a ruling, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the civil liberties group that represented Lenz in her lawsuit.
Fair use allows segments of copyrighted works to be used for purposes of criticism, comment, research or in other limited circumstances without a license from the copyright holder.
Lenz said the video is fair use and Universal had failed to consider that before ordering the video taken down.
Universal said it considered fair use and still determined the use of Prince’s song in the video was unauthorized.
The 9th Circuit said a jury would have to decide whether Universal had done enough to form a good faith belief that the video violated fair use. The court agreed with a lower court that rejected Universal’s and Lenz’s motions to grant pre-trial judgments in their favor. The 9th Circuit also said Lenz could seek damages.
When asked for comment, a spokesman for Universal Music Group deferred to a statement from the Recording Industry Association of America, which said it disagreed with the “burden the court places upon copyright holders before sending takedown notices.” Universal had argued that considering whether material is fair use could slow its response to stamping out pirated versions of its work.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the ruling has ramifications beyond Lenz’s case.
“Today’s ruling sends a strong message that copyright law does not authorize thoughtless censorship of lawful speech,” EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry said in a statement.
In the video, Lenz’s two young children are in the family’s kitchen while “Let’s Go Crazy” plays in the background. Her 13-month-old son bounces up and down after she asks him what he thinks of the music.
An assistant in the legal department at Universal tasked with patrolling YouTube for Prince’s songs determined “Let’s Go Crazy” was the focus of the video, according to the 9th Circuit. The assistant decided it should be included in a notice that asked YouTube to take down more than 200 videos that Universal believed were making unauthorized use of Prince’s songs.