A few years ago, we wrote about the bizarre and quixotic effort by Florida businessman Christopher Comins to find any possible way to sue University of Florida student and blogger Matthew Frederick VanVoorhis for his blog post concerning a widely publicized event in which Comins shot two dogs in a field (video link). The story made lots of news at the time, but Comins didn’t go after any of the major media — instead targeting VanVoorhis for a defamation suit. The original blog post is “novelistic” but it’s difficult to see how it’s defamatory. Either way, Comins’ case was shot down on fairly specific procedural grounds: namely that Florida defamation law requires specific notice be given to media properties at least 5 days before a lawsuit is launched. Specifically, the law says: Continue reading »
“Now that the government has reopened and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do, and that’s grow this economy, create good jobs, strengthen the middle class, educate our kids, lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul.”
We will ignore the irony of a president talking about “profiting from conflict” when less than two months ago the world was on the verge of World War III over a fabricated, false flag-driven invasion “confirmed” by YouTube clips, and designed entirely by this administration to further (and profit) its Saudi and Qatari interests, and which was halted in the last minute thanks to none other than the Russian president, and ask: instead of stopping to “focus on bloggers” who merely do the math in a world in which math is long forgotten, let’s for one month, week or day, simply halt the Federal Reserve’s circular monetary authority which now purchases virtually all issued US Treasurys that carry any duration risk.
The search for more clues about Edward Snowden’s life and motivations inevitably led the mainstream media to his longtime girlfriend Lindsay Mills, 28, who until recently described herself as “world-traveling, pole-dancing super hero.” Why past tense? Because as of today, her blog, L’s Journey, no longer exists. Of course, this being the NSA-controlled internet, there is always a cached (we use the term loosely) version of everything somewhere, and the full blog can be found at the following link.
Internet free speech is under assault in America, and a dangerous new trend has surfaced that threatens to throw nutritional bloggers in jail for advocating healthy diets on their blogs or websites. As you read this, a blogger who wrote about using the Paleo diet to overcome diabetes is being threatened with jail time in North Carolina, where the state Board of Dietetics / Nutrition claims his nutritional advocacy is equivalent to the crime of “practicing nutrition without a license.”
He’s being targeted by state “dieticians” (which is another word for “nutritional moron” as you’ll see below) who say that Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes makes it a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition.” His website’s advocating of the Paleo diet for individuals who have health challenges is, they claim, a violation of law.
So they’ve threatened him with arrest if he does not take down his website… or at the very least stop advocating the Paleo diet to readers.
However, with that said, we are manipulating the silver futures market and playing a smaller (but still massively manipulative) role in manipulating the gold futures market. We have a little over a 25% (give or take a percentage) position in the short market for silver futures and by your definition this denotes a larger position than for speculative purposes or for hedging and is beyond the line of manipulation.
On a side note, I do not work directly with accounts that would have been directly impacted by the MF Global fiasco but I have heard through other colleagues that we have involvement in the hiding of client assets from MF Global. This is another fraudulent effort on our part and constitutes theft. I urge you to forward that part of the investigation on to the respective authorities.
In an article that is about three years overdue, “JPMorgan’s practices bring scrutiny” the FT finally takes aim at that other “vampire squid”, JP Morgan, which technically is incorrect: because if Goldman is a nimble and aggressive creature, with infinite tentacles in every governmental office, and unencumbered by massive liabilities, JPMorgan is just as connected, but unlike Goldman, it is a behemoth in every other possible capacity, and with its trillion in deposits, matched by tens of billions in bad loans, is a true Bank Holding Company. As such ‘Jabba the Hutt‘ would be a far more appropriate allegory to describe the the firm, whose reach, scope and scale lead the FT to classify it as “Three times a pallbearer, never a corpse.”
As some may recall, back in October 2009, Zero Hedge did an exhaustive expose on the relationship between JPMorgan and the then version of MF Global, Lehman Brothers, whose perfectly functioning division, its North American Brokerage, ended up being scooped up by Barclays for pennies on the dollar. In the meantime, however, JPMorgan, with the backing of the Fed, proceeded to demand as much extra collateral for Lehman repo positions on hold with JP Morgan and the Tri-Party repo system, of which JPM is one of only two custodians, simply because it could, and because this is the easiest way for the bank that is even closer to the Fed than Goldman Sachs, to procure liquidity during times of broad distress. Such as when the money market is about to freeze to death. Since then, the topic of just how much JPMorgan may have ripped off the Lehman estate has escalated, and is set to be an epic showdown in the form of a lawsuit which “accuses JPMorgan of using its “life and death power as the brokerage firm’s primary clearing bank” to put a “financial gun” to its head and demand excess collateral.” And here is the kicker: “It claims JPMorgan abused its access to US government officials and then “accelerated Lehman’s free fall into bankruptcy”, hoovering up collateral to protect itself to the detriment of the firm and other eventual creditors.”
And therein lies the rub: because of all TBTF banks, JPMorgan is literally at the nexus of the entire $16 trillion shadow banking system, the very system that the Fed, much more than traditional liabilities, knows and uses constantly to hypothecate and rehypothecate assets, in essence creating money out of nothing, and which in conjunction with the other Tri-Party repo dealer, Bank of New York, as well as State Street, provides the US financial system with over $30 trillion in shadow credit money in the form of custodial assets – liquidity the bulk of which is not accounted for in any conventional monetary textbook or in any modern theory of money as it is such a novel development, yet which is still 100% fungible, and is by far the biggest secret of the American monetary system. It can be seen as summarized in the following graphic, first created by Citi’s Matt King back in the week before Lehman failed (full report can be read here, and should be by anyone who wishes to understand just what is truly going on behind the scenes in modern finance).
Keep in mind, these are the same custody assets which, as explained previously in the case of MF Global, can be rehypothecated in serial fashion, creating a virtually infinite amount of “money” as long as everyone who is in on the fraud agrees to maintain the ponzi. Of course, if and when someone demands delivery of an underlying assets, the whole thing falls apart, which is what happened with AIG, with Lehman, and to a smaller degree, MF Global.
So what does all of this have to do with Blythe Masters?
At the end of the day, and as the Lehman lawsuit alleges, JPMorgan has intimate access to US government officials, and particularly the Federal Reserve, who will in turn take advantage of all JPM facilities, including its trading desk, to preserve the sanctity and foundations of the $30+ trillion in custodial assets and rehypothecation system, which further means that any potential implication that fiat money is impaired has to be wiped out. As it so happens, soaring prices of gold and silver are the primary if not only means left to express rising doubts in the future viability of the dollar, but in the viability of the fiat system in the first place. Which means that the Fed is, without a doubt, one of the biggest “clients” of the Fed in a symbiotic crosshold, where what the Fed wants, JPM has to execute and vice versa.
This brings us to the transcript of Blythe’s interview on CNBC, in which a primary topic, ironically, was whether or not Jamie Dimon’s firm manipulates the prices of precious metals, and particularly silver. What followed was the usual avalanche of platitudes that only a muppet can love:
“JPM’s commodities business is not about betting on commodity prices but about assisting clients”… “it’s about assisting clients in executing, managing, their risks and ensuring access to capital so they can make the kind of large long-term investments that are needed in the long run to expand the supply of commodities”…
“There’s been a tremendous amount of speculation particularly in the blogosphere on this topic. I think the challenge is it represents a misunderstanding as the nature of our business. As i mentioned earlier, our business is a client-driven business where we execute on behalf of clients to achieve their financial and risk management objectives. The challenge is that commentators don’t see that. So to give you a specific example, we store significant amount of commodities, for example, silver, on behalf of customers we operate vaults in New York City, Singapore and in London. And often when customers have that metal stored in our facilities, they hedge it on a forward basis through JPMorgan who in turn hedges itself in the commodity markets. If you see only the hedges and our activity in the futures market, but you aren’t aware of the underlying client position that we’re hedging, that would suggest inaccurately that we’re running a large directional position. In fact that’s not the case at all.
“We have offsetting positions. We have no stake in whether prices rise or decline. Rather we’re running a flat or relatively flat matched book.
“What is commonly out there is that JPMorgan is manipulating the metals market. It’s not part of our business model. it would be wrong and we don’t do it.”
Ah yes, because JPMorgan never engages in “wrong” activites…
And while we admire JPM’s naive statement that it can triple its commodities revenues to $2.8 billion in 2011, while everyone else was losing money in the space, without taking prop bets, we just don’t buy it. Just as we didn’t buy Goldman’s explanation that its prop desk only accounted for 12% of that firm’s revenue, as Goldman told us directly (coupled with our challenge of prop trading in 2009, a pursuit taken on by Paul Volcker a few weeks later, resulting in the Volcker Rule). Needless to say, once the firm did break out its prop trading, it became quite clear just how huge of a factor prop trading truly was for Goldman. Because taken at face value, it would mean that all else equal, JPMorgan transacted at least 3 times more in flow in 2011 than in 2010. Yet, everyone knows that trading volumes in 2011 slumped relative to 2010. So no, Blythe, we appreciate your explanation, but we would appreciate the truth even more.
And yet there is one simple explanation that would make Blythe’s story 100% correct: would JPMorgan consider the Fed, whose interests in keeping the price of precious metals as low as possible, and are aligned with those of JPM for the reasons listed above, its client?
Because if so, then absolutely everything falls into place, as JPMorgan is merely the overt conduit by which the Fed, and specifically the New York Fed, conducts monetary policy in the commodities space, just as Brian Sack would conduct open market operations in the bond arena, and as the FRBNY uses, on occasion, Citadel, and its HFT expertise, to execute its discretionary stock trades (yes, we know about those too).
We would welcome Blythe’s comments on any and all of the topics listed above.
In the meantime, for those who missed it, here’s Blythe.
Google has quietly announced changes to its Blogger free-blogging platform that will enable the blocking of content only in countries where censorship is required.
Twitter announced technology last week addressing the same topic. It said it had acquired the ability to censor tweets in the countries only where it was ordered removed, instead of on an internet-wide basis.
In 2011, we have witnessed the incredible power of bloggers and social media users capturing the world’s attention through their activism. At the same time, regimes appear to be quickening the pace of their cat-and-mouse game with netizens, cracking down on speech through the use of surveillance, censorship, and the persecution and detention of bloggers. The increasingly the tech-savvy Syrian regime has been reported to demand login credentials from detainees, for example, while the use of torture in some of the region’s prisons continues.
Official Chinese media say that rumours spread on popular microblogging sites are damaging to society
Online rumours are drugs that damage users and harm society, the Chinese state media have claimed, as officials step up attempts to rein in the country’s hugely popular microblogs.
One commentary, published by the official Xinhua news agency, warns that while heroin and cocaine damage health, internet rumours are worse because they “poison the social environment and affect social order”.
Another, on People’s Daily Online, is titled: “Internet rumours are drugs: please resist and stay away from them.” It calls for zero tolerance, suggests they “damage people and society” as narcotics do, and accuses rumour-mongers of having ulterior motives and “kidnapping public opinion”.
Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has taken a few hits over the years in technology circles. The Democratic Party’s nominee for VP in 2000 is most recently remembered for having proposed an “internet kill switch.” Well, that wasn’t exactly what he proposed at all, but it didn’t earn him any fans in the tech community, that’s for sure.
Well, Joe’s at it again, and this time, it really is as embarrassing as it sounds. The Senator has taken pen to paper and written a letter to Google asking that its blogging platform Blogger be equipped with a flagging feature… for terrorists. This is largely because Jose Pimental, a man suspected of attempting to build a pipe bomb to attack the US military hosted his blog on Blogger. Now, there are a lot of terrible Blogger blogs to be sure, but is this really the best way to deal with such a problem?
Talking Points Memo acquired the letter and published it earlier today. “Pimentel’s Internet activity — both his spreading of bomb-making instructions links and his hate-filled writings — were hosted by Google” writes Lieberman, going on to add that, unlike YouTube, “Blogger’s Content Policy does not expressly ban terrorist content nor does it provide a ‘flag’ feature for such content.”
Google has not yet responded to Senator Lieberman’s request for the Blogger kill switch.
The Federal Reserve wants to know what you are saying about it. In fact, the Federal Reserve has announced plans to identify “key bloggers” and to monitor “billions of conversations” about the Fed on Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs. This is yet another sign that the alternative media is having a dramatic impact. As first reported on Zero Hedge, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has issued a “Request for Proposal” to suppliers who may be interested in participating in the development of a “Sentiment Analysis And Social Media Monitoring Solution”. In other words, the Federal Reserve wants to develop a highly sophisticated system that will gather everything that you and I say about the Federal Reserve on the Internet and that will analyze what our feelings about the Fed are. Obviously, any “positive” feelings about the Fed would not be a problem. What they really want to do is to gather information on everyone that views the Federal Reserve negatively. It is unclear how they plan to use this information once they have it, but considering how many alternative media sources have been shut down lately, this is obviously a very troubling sign.
You can read this “Request for Proposal” right here. Posted below are some of the key quotes from the document (in bold) with some of my own commentary in between the quotes….
“The intent is to establish a fair and equitable partnership with a market leader who will who gather data from various social media outlets and news sources and provide applicable reporting to FRBNY. This Request for Proposal (“RFP”) was created in an effort to support FRBNY’s Social Media Listening Platforms initiative.”
A system like this is not cheap. Apparently the Federal Reserve Bank of New York believes that gathering all of this information is very important. In recent years, criticism of the Federal Reserve has become very intense, and most of this criticism has been coming from the Internet. It has gotten to the point where the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has decided that it had better listen to what is being said and find out who is saying it.
“Social media listening platforms are solutions that gather data from various social media outlets and news sources. They monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria. They can also determine the sentiment of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document.”
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York intends to listen in on “billions of conversations” and to actually determine the “sentiment” of those that are participating in those conversations.
Of course it will be those conversations that are “negative” about the Federal Reserve that will be setting off the alarm bells.
“Identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers”
Uh oh. So they plan to “identify” key bloggers and influencers?
What exactly do they plan to do once they “identify” them?
“The solution must be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms –Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube.”
Two weeks ago, the media’s heart went aflutter when it learned that the president had borrowed a page right out of ole’ Joe McCarthy’s communist witch hunt book with the launch of Attack Watch. The response by everyone, even fans of Obama, was immediate and brutal. Yet where Obama took about 24 hours to crash and burn, someone else has stepped in with a far stealthier method of ferreting out the traitors amongst us: none other than our old friends, the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, which in a Request for Proposals filed to companies that are Fed vendors, is requesting the creation of a “Social Listening Platform” whose function is to “gather data from various social media outlets and news sources.” It will “monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria.” The Fed’s desired product should be able to “determine the sentiment [ED:LOL] of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document”… “The solution must be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube. It should also be able to aggregate data from various media outlets such as: CNN, WSJ, Factiva etc.” Most importantly, the “Listening Platform” should be able to “Handle crisis situations, Continuously monitor conversations, and Identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers.“ Said otherwise, the Fed has just entered the counterespionage era and will be monitoring everything written about it anywhere in the world. After all, why ask others to snitch for you and anger everyone as Obama found out the hard way, when you can pay others to create the supreme FIATtack WatchTM using money you yourself can print in unlimited amounts. And once the Internet is completely “transparent”, the Fed will next focus on telephone conversations, and finally will simply bug each and every otherwise “private” location in the world. Because very soon saying that “printing money is treason” will be treason, and such terrorist thoughts must be pre-crimed before they even occur.
All we can say is we welcome our new Chairsatan Voldemort overlord. For it is truly he who must not be named henceforth.
(Reuters) – BNP Paribas said on Tuesday that it had asked French market regulator AMF to open an enquiry about a Wall Street Journal opinion piece claiming that France’s largest bank could face a dollar funding crunch.
BNP Paribas, whose shares slumped more than 10 percent in early trading but later rebounded to gain 7.2 percent, said it had requested the enquiry earlier in the day after what it called the “false” report.
PARIS (Dow Jones)–BNP Paribas SA (BNP.FR, BNPQY) on Tuesday said it had asked the French stock-market watchdog to open a probe following the publication of an opinion column in The Wall Street Journal that contained “erroneous information.”
The Autorite des Marches Financiers, or AMF, the stock-market watchdog, wasn’t immediately available to comment.
Attacking the TSA for its privacy-invasive screening procedures has become a favorite activity for many journalists, especially Matt Drudge. TSA horror stories are often featured prominently on The Drudge Report and he has taken to calling Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (of which the TSA is a part) “Big Sis.”
Napolitano, who doesn’t think Drudge “means [the nickname] kindly” said at a recent Politico event that Drudge is wrong in describing DHS programs as Orwellian and that “the privacy impact of new airport screening technology and similar programs are thoroughly vetted before they are implemented,” in Josh Gerstein’s words.
“We want to be conscious of civil liberties and civil rights protections—and we are,” Napolitano said, as reported by Politico.
On the same day as this piece came out, TechDirt reports on a passenger who would likely disagree with the Secretary. After a particularly aggressive patdown in March that might be better termed a feel-up, advice blogger Amy Alkon graphically described how she sobbed loudly while a TSA agent put her hands “into” her — four times. She screamed “You raped me” after the LAX patdown and took the agent’s name with plans to file charges of sexual assault. Those plans fell through after consulting an attorney, but she did blog about it and included the agent’s name, thereby inflicting her own assault — on the agent’s Google search results.
The TSA agent then hired a lawyer who contacted Alkon asking her to remove the post, threatening her with a defamation lawsuit, and asking for a settlement of $500,000. “Rape is a very serious charge,” writes lawyer Vicki Roberts on Thedala Magee’s behalf. She also says that Alkon, on a return trip to the airport in May called her client “a bad person” who had “sexually molested” her.
Free speech lawyer Marc Randazza has stepped in to assert Alkon’s right to post about her patdown experience, and to defend both her definition of the patdown as rape and, regardless of that, her right to rhetorical hyperbole. Techdirt has a copy of the letter Randazza drafted in response to the defamation threat.
“After [the agent Thedala] Magee’s assault on Ms. Alkon’s vagina and dignity, Ms. Alkon exercised her First Amendment right to recount this incident to others in person and through her blog,” writes Randazza. “This was not only her right — it was her responsibility.”
The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy said tweets on Twitter and postings to blogs will be monitored for groundless and inaccurate information that could inflame and mislead the public (=Waking the people up).
“The agency said it is trying to “track down inaccurate information (=Truth) and to provide correct ones (=More disinformation, lies and cover-ups) instead.”
‘Accurate’ information below the following article.
While the government defends its new monitoring program of online postings concerning the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to stem the spread of “inaccurate” information, critics say it harkens back to Big Brother.
The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy said tweets on Twitter and postings to blogs will be monitored for groundless and inaccurate information that could inflame and mislead the public.
The agency said it is trying to “track down inaccurate information and to provide correct ones instead.”
Friday, July 15, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (METI) – Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, opened a call for bids (tender) regarding the “Nuclear Power Safety Regulation Publicity Project”, for contractors to monitor blogs and tweets posted about nuclear power and radiation.
In another direct stab at the last remnant of truly independent (if often times quite incompetent) media, the New Jersey Supreme Court has just found that people posting opinions online don’t have the same protections for sources as mainstream journalists.
According to our secret sources at the AP, (also known as Copy and Paste), “The court ruled Tuesday that New Jersey’s shield law for journalists does not apply to online message boards. The case involved a New Jersey-based software company named Too Much Media. It sued a Washington state blogger for defamation and wanted her to reveal sources she cited on message board posts.”
It is sad that the legislative has decided to invoke a tiering in the media world, which will most certainly backfire and bring even more eyeballs to the blogosphere, where while the bulk of the information comes in the form of CTRL+V information exchange, it does serve a critical role of being a non-conflicted (corporate advertising) source of much needed information.
In the meantime, ever more blogs will find it necessary to offshore their operations (Iceland and Sweden are quite friendly in that regard) in order to avoid the encroaching US police state.
Egyptian anti-government bloggers work on their laptops from Cairo’s Tahrir Square
CAIRO (AFP) — A military court has jailed a blogger for three years for criticising the armed forces that have ruled Egypt since president Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in February, in a decision slammed by rights groups on Monday.
“Regrettably, the Nasr City military court sentenced Maikel Nabil to three years in prison,” the blogger’s lawyer Gamal Eid told AFP.
“The lawyers were not present, the verdict was handed out almost in secret.”
The decision had initially been set for Wednesday and was postponed to Sunday. The lawyers went on Sunday but were told to leave because there would be no verdict, Eid said.
“We were then very surprised to hear that he (Nabil) was sentenced to three years,” said Eid, who heads the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).
On Friday, a Minnesota jury found that a blogger must pay $60,000 in damages because of statements he published in his blog about a public figure who was subsequently fired from his job. Internet publishers and free speech advocates should pay close attention to this case if it is appealed because the blogger was found liable even though the jury did not find that the blogger’s statements were false.
This decision is the latest example of the law’s apparent struggle to apply basic constitutional protections to internet publishers. If the Minnesota ruling holds up, it will mean that bloggers will have to worry they will be forced to pay for true statements that they publish that cause a person damages.
A local blogger who was critical of Rep. Billy Long during last year’s congressional campaign has been interviewed by the FBI about his encounters with the congressman.
Clay Bowler, who lives in Christian County, says he was shocked to find an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation at his doorstep. Accompanying the agent was Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.
The agent asked Bowler if he was a threat to Long, a notion Bowler finds laughable.
“I’m not a threat to Billy Long,” Bowler said Thursday. “I find the whole thought very funny, because I’m such an advocate for constitutional rights that I would never do anything that would put in jeopardy those constitutional rights like the Second Amendment.”
Bowler published a blog in 2010 — Long Is Wrong — and said he campaigned against Long because he didn’t think the Springfield businessman would be a good representative for southwest Missouri. Bowler took down the site after the November election, when Long defeated Democrat Scott Eckersley to replace outgoing Rep. Roy Blunt.
Bowler acknowledges confronting Long as some campaign events, but says he did not threaten Long.
Bowler was puzzled why Arnott accompanied the FBI agent. Arnott is sheriff of Greene County. Bowler lives several miles into Christian County.
“Our first information was that he lived in Republic,” in Greene County, Arnott said.
Christian County Sheriff Joey Kyle was apparently unaware the FBI was in his county, interviewing a person who’d been flagged as a potential problem to a sitting U.S. congressman.
Bowler isn’t the only local person under federal investigation. Arnott confirmed to KSPR News that Bowler isn’t the only local person who’s been scrutinized in the wake oflast weekend’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D-AZ) during a meet-and-greet with constituents in Tucson, Ariz.
Arnott said U.S. Capitol police canvassed members of Congress to come up with a list of people across the country who might be considered potential threats to members of Congress. It’s up to local law enforcement to protect members of Congress when they return to their home districts.
Police force suspension of website that offered advice to students involved in last week’s rioting
Riot police and student demonstrators outside Millbank in London. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
Scotland Yard has forced the closure of an anti-police blog which was being used to disseminate advice to protesters pictured at the student fees demonstration.
The website Fitwatch was suspended after the its hosting company received contact from C011, the Metropolitan’s public order branch, stating that the blog was “being used to undertake criminal activities”.
The move appears to have taken place after a blog posted on the website gave guidance to students who feared they might be arrested for their involvement in the occupation of the Millbank office complex, which houses the Tory party headquarters.
A largely peaceful march against the proposed increase in tuition fees turned violent on Wednesday when a minority of the 50,000 students targeted Millbank.
Around 200 entered the building and some accessed the roof. During a period of rioting, windows and furniture were smashed and, in the most serious act of violence, a fire extinguisher was thrown towards police from the roof.
The Fitwatch blogpost, which last night had reappeared on several other websites, recommended that students “get rid” of clothes they wore at the demonstration and change their appearance.
“Perhaps now is a good time for a makeover,” said the post. “Get a haircut and colour, grow a beard, wear glasses. It isn’t a guarantee, but may help throw them off the scent.”
Hours later, the Met’s “e-crime unit” informed Fitwatch’s website hosting service – JustHost.com – that the blog was being used to attempt to pervert the course of justice by providing guidance to “offenders”.
“We hereby request [you] de-host this website for a minimum period of 12 months,” it said in a letter seen by the Guardian. “The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in central London.
“The demonstration was marred by violence and several subjects have already been arrested, with a major police operation under way to identify and arrest further offenders.”
The letter stated that authority to close “the website and IP address” had been given by Will Hodgeson, an acting detective inspector at C011.
The Telegraph and the rightwing blogger Guido Fawkes both launched campaigns last week to identify student protesters, posting photographs of activists they suggested had been involved in criminal activity.
• Death threats and murders silence traditional reports
• Catalogue of horror posted by bloggers and on Twitter
Soldiers carry the coffin of one of 72 migrants killed by drug traffickers in Tamaulipas, Mexico, last month. Photograph: Reuters
A small army of bloggers and tweeters is filling the gaps left by traditional media in Mexico that are increasingly limiting their coverage of the country’s drug wars because of pressure from the cartels.
“Shots fired by the river, unknown number of dead,” read one recent tweet on a busy feed from the northern border city of Reynosa, #Reynosafollow. “Organized crime blockade on San Fernando road lifted,” said another. “Just saw police officers telling a group of narcos about the positions of navy checkpoints,” ran a third.
Nothing of this kind appeared in the city’s papers which, along with most media outlets in the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas, have become better known for what they do not publish than for what they do.
Tamaulipas is one of the most intense battlegrounds of the drug wars being fought in Mexico between the federal forces and at least seven cartels.
Gun fights lasting hours, grenade attacks in shopping streets, military swoops on suspected kingpins – all ignored. Six local journalists in one city disappeared in two days, and there was hardly a word from their terrified colleagues.
One editor on a regional paper – who does not want to be named for security reasons – has meticulously followed directives from the dominant local traffickers ever since a story she published about a shoot-out, based on an official report, earned her a death threat a couple of months ago.
She does not even dare complain too openly about this to colleagues, in case they are in the pay of the gang. But every now and then she cannot resist tweeting. “Sometimes the emotion of a story gets to me and I put it on Twitter,” she says. “Especially when I know it won’t get out otherwise.”
Earlier this month, she revealed the kidnapping of a former local mayor who is also a cousin of Mexico’s biggest media magnate.
Philly wages a $300 “business privilege tax” on bloggers, even if they make no profit
Taking a step closer to an eerie Orwellian state where creativity is crushed in the name of “the greater good,” the city of Philadelphia is demanding that bloggers pay $300 for the privilege of writing on the Internet.
This $300 “business privilege license” is for all local bloggers – even the ones that make no money off their words.
The city doesn’t stop there. In addition to the $300 for the license to write on the World Wide Web, bloggers must pay city wage taxes, business privilege taxes and taxes on any net profits — on top of state and federal taxes — even if the blogger only made $11 over two years, reports the City Paper.
Blogger Marilyn Bess, whose Ms. Philly Organic Blog has made her a whopping $50 over the past few years, went to the city’s tax amnesty program to explain that she makes pennies on her hobby. They told her to hire an accountant, she told the City Paper.
In an economy where jobs are sparse and people try to make ends meet with part-time jobs, taxing the independent, scrappy freelancers and bloggers seems counterproductive.
But the emptying of bloggers’ wallets may not be the worst result of these taxes. With the city’s charge being more than what most bloggers make, their voices could be silenced, as the extra expense is enough to discourage many from even having a blog.
Russian blogger Alexander Malyutin as he speaks in his office in Moscow in 2009
MOSCOW — It started with a golden bed and African drummers and led to Russia’s latest, surprising, political duel pitting tenacious bloggers against bureaucrats whose excesses went a step too far.
Russians typically shrug their shoulders at the lavish lifestyles of government officials, assuming nothing can be done about bureaucrats who take bribes and pocket state funds.
But when Russia’s interior ministry announced plans to buy a golden bed, it raised an outcry — and revealed the potential of the Internet for stirring up outrage against entrenched corruption.
While the docile, state-dominated media looks the other way, a small but determined group of Russian bloggers is challenging corrupt bureaucrats, rallying public opinion and goading prosecutors into action.
Their blogs have attracted unanticipated popularity, reflecting deep-seated anger at the high-handed behavior of officials in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s government.
“I didn’t expect the blog to become so popular,” said Alexander Malyutin, who runs a blog devoted to exposing suspicious government tenders, including the interior ministry’s infamous golden bed purchase.
Last August, the ministry announced plans to buy 24 million rubles (800,000 dollars) worth of furniture, including a bed “covered with a thin layer of 24-carat gold,” according to the official tender documents.
The documents were posted deep within a website where all the government’s purchases must be published, under a law passed in 2005 during one of the Kremlin’s periodic efforts to root out corruption.
After bloggers and journalists exposed the plans, the ministry defended itself from ridicule by saying the bed was needed for a special VIP guesthouse in Moscow where it hosts foreign officials. Continue reading »