How a Strange Internet Glitch Turned This Kansas Farm into a Digital Hell — Discover


“But instead of being a place of respite, the people who live on Joyce Taylor’s land find themselves in a technological horror story.” At Fusion, Kashmir Hill uncovers what happens when IP mapping goes very wrong.

via How a Strange Internet Glitch Turned This Kansas Farm into a Digital Hell — Discover

Looking For a Killing: On the Ethics of Longform Reportage — Longreads Blog


Now, imagine you’re on a mission with a platoon of Afghan soldiers in a valley that you know to be under the control of insurgents, and imagine your task is to show that fact. On the one hand, you don’t want the soldiers to be ambushed—what kind of person would want that?—but on the other, […]

via Looking For a Killing: On the Ethics of Longform Reportage — Longreads Blog

Unlocking Swiss secrets


WatchDog Watcher

Secrecy is deeply embedded in Swiss political, bureaucratic and business culture. It’s of course not surprising that the world’s banking capital puts a premium on discretion and confidentiality. Switzerland is still a preferred location for companies and rich individuals around the world because it offers tax and other advantages, including political stability and a low level of transparency. Many journalists probing business, corruption, and even organized crime are bound to encounter either a Swiss bank account or a Swiss company in the course of their reporting. And getting information on them is not going to be easy.

But even in Switzerland, the walls of secrecy are slowly being breached. Banking secrecy there is no longer as ironclad as it used to be, after the U.S. began aggressively forcing Swiss banks to open their records as part of an effort to collect taxes from American citizens stashing their wealth overseas.

View original post 675 more words

How to investigate corruption in the courts 2


WatchDog Watcher

Just how prevalent is corruption in the courts? The closest approximation we can get is from a 2007 global survey by Transparency International. It found that 20% of African respondents who had interacted with the judiciary the previous year said they paid a bribe. For Latin America, the figure was 18%, and Asia, 15%.

These are rough estimates, but surveys are a safe and anonymous way to get revealing information about bribery in the judiciary. After all, few people openly admit to bribing judges. (A recent exception was Pakistan’s top real-estate developer, Malik Riaz Hussein. This past week, he provided journalists with evidence that, in order to curry favor with the Supreme Court, he had paid for lavish London vacations taken by the son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Hussein’s admission raised eyebrows in Pakistan: the charges, some journalists say, are part of a plot to discredit the independent-minded…

View original post 629 more words

The nonprofit news model is fragile


Other tracks to explore

WatchDog Watcher

Nonprofits have been touted as a possible alternative to the collapsing business models of for-profit news. But a study released this week by the the Pew Research Center points to the fragility of that model and also to the need for a more concerted effort to shore it up.

The study identified 172 nonprofit news outlets throughout the U.S. – two-thirds of these were launched only since the 2008 financial crisis. While the recession has accelerated the closure of newspapers and the downsizing of news staffs throughout the country, it has given rise to a boom in nonprofit news.  Today 41 states have at least one nonprofit news organization.

Nonprofits have attracted a lot of attention partly because of the innovative and high-impact reporting some of them have done. Pro Publica celebrated its fifth birthday this month, with two Pulitzers under its belt and an impressive track record of trailblazing investigative…

View original post 1,042 more words

8 Ways to Commit Grand Corruption (Part 1)


Another path to follow in tracking stolen wealth.

WatchDog Watcher

Frederick Chiluba, who was Zambia’s president for most of the 1990s. was convicted of corruption. Investigators seized his wardrobe, which included 100 pairs of handmade shoes. (Photo from Ghanian Chronicle)

Having grown up during the Marcos era, I have a morbid fascination with corruption that takes place on a grand scale. By the time their 20-year reign ended in 1986, Ferdinand Marcos and his glittering wife Imelda had amassed a fortune estimated at $10-$20 billion dollars and stashed in Swiss banks, artwork and real estate, including buildings in Manhattan.

The looting continues. Only now, for example, are we beginning to get an idea of the assets amassed by more recently fallen dictators. Muammar Gaddafi  is said to have $200 billion in bank accounts, real estate and corporate investments worldwide. Hosni Mubarak’s fortune is estimated at $70 billion, including investments in companies and real estate in London, Manhattan and Beverly Hills.

View original post 698 more words