Turkish authorities block access to news websites

Turkish authorities blocked access to at least eight news websites in Turkey on Saturday amid what the government called a counter-terrorism operation, according to news reports.

The move comes amid increased violence in Turkey as the country late last weekjoined the fight against the militant group Islamic State in Syria and northern Iraq, although some critics say that the government is using the opportunity to fight the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the leftist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), both of which have been classified as terrorist organizations, news reports said. The Turkish government and the PKK, which operates out of northern Iraq, have had a truce in place since 2013, the reports said.

Read more.

Image: Huseyin Aldemir

It doesn’t take an investigative report to get you in jail in Ethiopia. It just takes some criticism of the government.
—  Martin Schibbye, a Swedish journalist and the co-author of “438 Days: How Our Quest to Expose the Dirty Oil Business in the Horn of Africa Got Us Tortured, Sentenced as Terrorists and Put Away in Ethiopia’s Most Infamous Prison.” Watch his interview on

An orthodox priest baptizes a man in the Black Sea during a ceremony marking the 1,027th anniversary of the Christianisation of Kievan Rus’ in Yalta, Crimea, July 28, 2015. Orthodox believers mark on Tuesday the Christianisation of the country, which was known as Kievan Rus’ at the time, by its grand prince, Vladimir I (Vladimir the Great), in 988AD. 

Pavel Rebrov/Reuters

As of today, 622 people have been killed this year by police in the United States — 69 in July alone. 

Learn more about each of these cases in The Counted project. 

People like you have been helping Guardian journalists track these police killings. Click here to submit a tip. And to get daily updates and to join the discussion, please follow our Facebook community and @TheCounted on Twitter.

Goodbye to All That Gawking

To steal a tired line from an old dead writer: Gawker in 2013 was a very special time and place to be a part of. I think – hope – that I still have some good years of writing and reporting and editing ahead of me, but whatever form that future takes, it will be a far sight from sharing blog space with storytellers and solid human beings like Cord Jefferson, Adrian Chen, Camille Dodero, and Ken Layne. The place was an oasis for writers and thinkers who’d been around and paid a heavy load of dues, many heeding New York’s gravitational pull for a time, but not forever. Through years of experience in journalism, creative writing, and unrelated vocations, they knew well the rules and norms they chose to break. Their cynicism and affectations were borne out of a frustrated idealism for the world, for America, for New York, for the industry we worked in and covered. At their best, they used snark as a tool, an expedient means for entertaining and enlightening, rather than as a brand identity, a means in itself.

That was six or seven Gawkers ago. Those people are all gone now. Since then, there have been Kinja recruits, dozens of redesigns and side blogs born and dead, an editorial director born and dead, a Politburo, a slow-batch blogging experiment, a new office deal, a reorientation toward traffic goals, a legal and PR push… a host of little changes and spot corrections, each like a minor repair to Theseus’ ship. At some point, a crew member looks up at the vessel and realizes that no plank, no rib of the original ship remains; it is something different now.

For me, that’s been the last half-year or more at Gawker, culminating in last night’s publication of the David Geithner gay escort-and-solicitation-outing story. That, and some other little posts and stories to come out of the place lately, seem like something Gawker might have always done, but looser, less-well vetted and justified, a more cynical and malign simulacrum of the site’s past.

There is still more good than bad, an excess of talent and wonderfulness in the Gawker Media staff, from the folks known as the Politburo to Jezebel hitting on all cylinders to Deadspin’s delightful writing, especially Concourse and Adequate Man. Even on Gawker proper, old voices like Rich and Hamilton are doing what they’ve always done and new talents have consistent smile-making potential. To the extent that I know them – which is to say, mostly virtually – I like pretty much all of these people. But I worry that they won’t realize their potential. On the whole, this current Gawker is not an incarnation I can endorse and defend vigorously. It’s not a Gawker I’ve been comfortable contributing to for awhile. It’s not a Gawker I will work for.

But please don’t mistake this for some unambiguously courageous, principled stand on my part. I don’t work at Gawker now. I was fired late last month.

The way firing generally seems to work at Gawker is like this: It does the company, and the individual writer/editor, no real good to announce a parting in some public way, so they keep a person on payroll for some reasonable amount of time while the person keeps up appearances and lines up a new gig. As far as anyone knows, the parting happens on the employee’s terms. It’s a pretty cool arrangement, if you ignore the fact that that the company has no official severance policy and no set method of evaluating, warning, or terminating employees. And also the proposition that Gawker’s existence is ostensibly predicated on radical transparency and honesty. (Now think about how many people have left Gawker over the years, and knock yourself out wondering how many were actually fired!)

I should have seen my end coming. There’s no question that for most of 2015, I underperformed expectations. The editor who brought me on had departed, and with him went the site’s minute-to-minute alt-weekly feel; his replacement had a different aesthetic, one that was sharper geographically and demographically and somewhat inscrutable to me; he was never really sure what to do with me, and I cast about trying to find ways to be useful, until I was exhausted and empty.

I was one of the first writers last year to volunteer for the great Kinja experiment, leaving the safety of the front page to start Fortress America, with complete freedom – and complete disinterest from the bosses; as a remote worker with specialties in the not-always-SEO-friendly areas of politics and conflict, I was pretty much left to my own devices, so much so that I had no clue if anyone other than my commenters really cared how I was spending my work day.

Somewhere in there, as I was dealing with a divorce, a move, health issues, and a parenting plan, the new editorial leadership began to express preferences for Gawker writers. These were almost always expressed in negative rather than affirmative terms: Stop using these words. Don’t write these headlines. Don’t write those stories. Your tone should not be like this. You shouldn’t really do “beats.” Some of which is par for the course in newsrooms, although it’s usually accompanied by exhortations to do write this, do expand that format or area of coverage. Once-weekly editorial meetings, checkins where every member of the team went around the horn and talked about what we were working on, were canceled. Our internal chats became much snippier and gossipier and more us-against-the-world and less focused on writing and reporting. Staff who weren’t around in Soho to do rooftop drinks with the bosses were left to guess what the site leadership really wanted.

If I’m being honest, it wasn’t really hard to guess; I just didn’t want to confront the answer. I’d expressed a desire to edit and was told there was no budget for it; then a handful of senior editors (a few of them really nice and really good) were hired. A bunch of younger writers (all of them good) were hired or imported from other Gawker sites to write about things I had previously written about. A lot of my chats and emails to bosses went unanswered. I had to remind my boss to give me the same phone and email reviews, goal-setting conversations, and checkins other staff writers got. The most insubstantial of my posts was suddenly sent through rigorous vetting by the site lead, and multiple stories were put on hold, spiked, or watered down in ways that made obvious my news nose and style were not what he wanted on his site.

A few months ago, amid all this, I was told with great fanfare that I’d spend the next year working on a side blog with a national security expert who – without divulging too much – had access to an enlightening and largely unknown trove of sensitive government information. That turned out to be a colossal oversell; the expert was embittered, obsessed with more than a few red herrings, occasionally unreliable, and singularly unwilling to share his still-undisclosed trove for stories. He preferred instead to write bombastic score-settling rants and conspiratorial suppositions – precisely the sort of unwarranted jeremiads I’d assured readers and friends in the national security space that we wouldn’t be doing. At a certain point, I sort of gave up on the experiment, unable to associate with factually shaky posts that claimed the Charleston killings weren’t terrorism and that portrayed a former defense secretary (whom I don’t particularly like) sucking and rubbing off the Washington Monument.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was fired June 19. We had just voted to unionize, and on our Slack chat group for all the site’s writers, a solicitation went out for volunteers to serve on the union’s bargaining committee. I expressed my interest and mere seconds later, the site editor came on, rapping off a couple reasons why it would be a good idea for me not to volunteer, and to let someone else in the office take our spot on the committee. I couldn’t understand why a supervisor would call out an employee, in front of the staff, and dissuade him from organizing the workplace. A few hours later, he called me to tell me things weren’t working out.

It was a tone thing. There’d been “plenty of come to Jesus moments,” he’d said. The phone call, I think, was more difficult than he anticipated. He didn’t realize that I was closing on my first house in six days. They’d pay me through July, he said. I’d gotten offers before, I’d land on my feet, he said. Indeed, I’d turned down three very good offers in the previous year out of a desire to leave my imprint on Gawker. Those offers had now exploded. I told him his timing sucked and negotiated for pay through August. I haven’t kept up appearances especially well on this end. I have a house and debts and half-time custody of a toddler son and frankly no inclination to write anymore for a site that doesn’t want me. Best if I stay out of the way.

How does this long, blubbery personal story bear on the publication last night of that Geithner story? I tell you all of that background to stress that 1) I’m only speaking for myself here, and 2) I’m not impartial, omniscient or especially courageous in speaking out now. But 3) I definitely feel that the latest incarnation of Gawker is short of grownups in the room to exercise some kind of non-holistic, non-shitty editorial and tonal judgment. The drawback of Gawker’s flat, wide-open editorial structure – what Nick Denton has recently called a “writer’s collective” – is that it’s only as good as the writers who run it. And my personal view is Gawker’s usual surplus of talent and insight is being undermined by a couple of people running things who’ve made it very small, very mean, and very jerkily gossipy without an intermediate process of reflection.

So my view on what happened last night is that it was a symptom of that deficit. Having checked out of the staff’s chat system, my first look at the story was when it published. Even if I had known it was in the works, I’d have had absolutely no control over it. But I wish I did.

My concerns were, first, that we’d be doing the work of either an unstable or unsavory escort, and second, that we hadn’t established the newsworthiness of the story or Geithner, its subject. I’ve written stories outing cads before; but one was a moralizing congressman, and one was an NSA-defending electronic-privacy hypocrite and war-college professor who was engaging in the sort of behavior for which his pupils – prospective admirals and captains – could be prosecuted. Gawker has written about the sexual orientation of public people before, but those cases have been, to my mind, more defensible: You can make an argument for the newsworthiness of a Fox News broadcaster, already branded as qualitatively different from most of his coworkers, reportedly having to play down his sexual identity for a conservative employer. I might not have made the call to publish that myself, but I was not ashamed to work someplace that did publish it.

Even the much-ballyhooed Hulk Hogan sex-video case is clearly different: Hogan is a bonafide public person, whose family life was purportedly an open book on a reality program; he was having sex with the wife of another public person, and he has made facts about his sexual proclivities public matters in his media appearances. He can seize on the case as a solution to his financial and personal woes, and he can possibly score a short-term gain here in this bizarre state I call home, but he can’t change facts.

That’s a sight different from this Geithner story. I’m not aware of any effort that was made to link David Geithner’s alleged behavior to his work, or his famous brother, or any public statements he’d made about marriage, or sex, or sexual orientation; to me, any of these would have been have necessary (but not necessarily sufficient) factors in deeming his outing newsworthy. I’m not sure why he should have been outed but his accuser should enjoy anonymity. I’m not sure his accuser is reliable. Without acquiring some certainty on these points, I wouldn’t have published the piece. And I saw no reason I shouldn’t say so publicly.

A quick caveat: This is an editing problem, not a writing problem. The story author, Jordan Sargent, is young and smart and talented and energetic, as are virtually all of the content producers I meet today – at Gawker, at the New York Times, at even the handful of sites I have major issues with. We all need editors to push us to report better, to write better, to exercise better judgment. As former Gawkerer Richard Lawson explained here and here last night, our bloggy world doesn’t incentivize that kind of editorial oversight. But that oversight is what makes the difference between good writers and writers who are also good but make very bad calls, and have to live with those calls, and also have to live with your smarmy abusive online threats. (Stop the abuse. Don’t answer childishness with more childishness.)

Relatedly, none of this vindicates any of the psychotic, hateful, performatively sanctimonious self-marketing of Christina Hoff Sommers, Milo Yianawhatever, “gamergaters,” and the bevy of cold, craven, retrograde pre-fab apartment-dwelling souls who are waging an inane jihad against Gawker Media, feminism, and cultural justice. They are wrong. They are twisted. They are abusive. And I could give three hot farts about their crocodile tears for David Geithner and his family. What pisses me off the most about this lapse in editorial judgment is that it’s (again) enabled this barely coherent rabble of internet bullies to signal boost their dumb assertions about Gawker en masse, and to get them taken seriously for a dumb nanosecond. Gawker is not that bad, and those critics are not that smart.

But Gawker does have a problem. Last night, when I tweeted what I tweeted – a short, fact-based distancing of myself from the Geithner story – I only heard from one erstwhile coworker, an editor that I have always loved and respected and would walk through fires for.

“Cmon that tweet dude,” the editor texted me. “Seriously?”

“That story was not defensible, and isn’t to the credit of good ppl there,” I replied.

“You didn’t have to tweet,” the response came.

I didn’t really know how to reply to that, any more than I’ve known how to be a good Gawkerer these past few months. We worked together and supported each other on a site whose ethos is grounded in total transparency, in shining a light on media’s internal guts. When good editors at a site like that, with a name like Gawker, start reproving old comrades for inward-looking critiques, what are you supposed to do?

Newspaper publishes gun permit database online, people go insane
  • cause In the wake of the Newtown, CT shooting earlier this month, a Gannett-owned New York state newspaper published a series of interactive maps showing all of the gun permits in the region, according to public records.
  • reaction Rage. Lots and lots of rage. Gun owners and many others are extremely angry about the exposure and have retaliated against the newspaper, with one blogger publishing the editor’s address and phone number. source
Watch on

Latest In the News video piece on the proposed bill to raise New York State’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.00.






A Deeper Look Into the Discovery of the Franklin Ships.

Submitted by betweenwindandsnow

I was ordered six weeks ago yesterday to stop reporting on what I believe is a story of significant public interest. 

It basically deals with complaints from federal workers and others - experts in their field - who were looking for these lost Franklin ships, Erebus and Terror, which sank in the Arctic when Sir John Franklin and 128 men were trying to find the Northwest Passage way back in the middle of the 19th century. 

Now, I realize that on the surface that doesn’t sound like much, but I came to realize it’s part of a broader problem. And you’ve spoken about it at length on your program and others are starting to speak about it. People are sick and tired of a government that is destroying our democracy by intimidating experts into silence so that the politically connected and the powerful can fill that information vacuum.

The people who’ve been looking for these ships, they’re really hardworking federal civil servants, archaeologists and others who know the truth of how those ships were found and had every right to tell that truth themselves. But because of the country we live in, and because of the government we live under, that message could only come from Prime Minister Stephen Harper himself. 

So there was a [media] blackout [after the discovery] of roughly two days, could’ve been three. Remember, I was on the lead vessel in this successful search last September, the Coast Guard icebreaker. I was living with and working beside the experts who were searching for these ships. And because of that blackout, a person who’s the CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) - a former Globe and Mail Editorial Board Chief - a journalist - was able to step into that power vacuum and answer journalists’ questions in a way that I immediately saw people [involved with the effort] react to in a way that made them deeply angry because they believed that he was distorting facts, stating untruths and ruining the historical record that they were working so hard to create. And that was just a moment way back in September.”

Being a good journalist means learning how to keep a secret

THE ROLE OF JOURNALISTS is to make information public. The irony is that in order to do so, they need to keep lots of things secrets.

They do that in all sorts of ways. Sometimes journalists promise anonymity in order to get officials to divulge what they’re not supposed to reveal. Sometimes they cloak the exchange of sensitive documents. Sometimes they conceal the nature of their stories so that governments can’t censor their work preemptively.

What news organizations don’t worry enough about is keeping the identity of their readers secret. In an era when electronic spycraft is rampant, people who go to a website looking for news can unwittingly endanger themselves just by clicking on a story or video. Governments that know who is accessing specific information can intrude in a variety of ways—by blocking or censoring the story or by targeting individuals who access prohibited information for harassment or even legal action.

As elemental as it is to keep Web-based communication secure, it’s been a largely overlooked subject by many news outlets. That’s beginning to change, thanks to aggressive efforts by advocacy groups to strengthen and reinfforce safety barriers around the Web.

Read more at CJR for story by CPJ director Joel Simon.

Image:  Edgard Garrido

An Insider’s Glossary of the Left Wing

Anarchism: A movement where people say “fuck” a lot

Black Lives Matter: Well duh

Cisgender: For some reason cisgender people get offended by this word

Discourse: Top-quality political conversation and premium content for all, prepared by this chef.

Environmentalism: That thing everyone cares about but nobody does anything about

Feminism: We used to think it meant “equality for all genders” or something like that, but according to Taylor Swift, it now means “not pitting women against each other”–never saying something that could offend another woman, ever, especially not if it calls them out on their privilege.

Gender: Something everyone wants to police based on body parts they can’t see

Hoxhaism: An ideology that is named after a Stalin-esque Albanian dictator and is completely unpronounceable

Imperialism: It’s okay if companies do it as long as they have a rainbow logo

Jerk: See meninist.

KKK: Still not listed as a terrorist group for some reason

Luxemburg, Rosa: Everyone’s unproblematic fave

Meninist: Of course it’s an abbreviation for Marxist-Leninist and not some crappy reactionary “movement” saying that feminism is bad, why would you think that?

Neurodiversity: Autistic people or people with other learning or developmental disorders who want to be accepted rather than cured, whose concerns must not be valid because they can write a blog post and therefore they have no problems

Organizing: Folding the proletariat neatly and putting it into a drawer, and sorting it into file folders. Okay, no, this is talking about organizing protests. Which some people expect you to be doing all the time, every single moment of your life, even if you don’t really know anyone to organize a protest with or you have a job getting in the way of this mysterious, vaguely defined “revolutionary work.” Honestly, we don’t even know what this is supposed to entail.

Pansexual: Someone who’s sick of hearing all those pan puns, they’re really not funny any more

Quality Journalism: This glossary, as well as all other writing by The Fence Post, is a perfect example

Radical feminism: Unfortunately a lot of these people are TERFS (transgender-exclusionary radical feminists), so keep them off your turf

Socialist: Hopefully you

Trotskyists: Everyone hates them and they write lots of newspapers

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: The only example of communism or socialism or even liberalism, ever, which failed so therefore you must be wrong

Violence: Never the answer, so calm down and be quiet

Women: Do not want to see your dick pics

X: You started dating them but then they said they didn’t support feminism, so you shoved some breadsticks into your purse and left. Now they’re your X.

You: Are almost done reading this

Zapatistas: Mentioning them is guaranteed to shock anyone who tells you that capitalism is the only economic system that has ever worked