Rather Droll

Wikipedia once accused Trump’s new bible studies teacher Ralph Kim Drollinger of deleting unflattering information about himself using a sockpuppet account

This week it was reported by Breaking Christian News that about a dozen members of Trump’s cabinet, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are attending weekly bible studies in the White House.

The weekly sessions are taught by Ralph Kim Drollinger, a former NBA player who currently heads the evangelical group Capitol Ministries, which provides ministry to lawmakers and political leaders in Washington.

Ralph Drollinger (source)

Drollinger has in the past drawn criticism for his regressive views on religion, homosexuality, and the role of women in public life.

Via “Capitol Ministries state director leaves, joins new Christian group” by Capitol Weekly staff, Capitol Weekly, November 12, 2009:

In 2004, he wrote in his weekly newsletter that “Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.” In protest, 15 then senators, including now-Secretary of State Debra Bowen, held a protest where they carried toasters and wore aprons with a scarlet letter “M” on them, for mother.

In other instances, Drollinger reportedly called homosexuality “an abomination.” But he also criticized several Christian legislators for failing to attend his early-morning prayer sessions and for an alleged lack of piety.

In Feb. 2008, he angered many in the Capitol Community with an editorial in the Capitol Morning Report title “A Chaplains Worse Nightmare,” in which he declared that God was “disgusted” with many California legislators. “In the past several weeks I have visited with a Jewish legislator, a Catholic legislator and a liberal Protestant legislator – all of whom reject the Jesus of Scripture,” he wrote.

This prompted an ongoing back and forth between Drollinger, his supporters, and critics who called him “bigoted” and worse. Some questioned holding religious meetings in the Capitol, as well as the $120,000 annual salary Capitol Ministries reportedly paid to Drollinger.

Apparently, the Capitol Weekly article touched a nerve.

In 2010, Wikipedia administrators accused Drollinger of using multiple sockpuppets to remove links to the article. Evidence showed that a user named “RK Drollinger” had made several edits to Drollinger’s Wikipedia entry removing the links, and on three occasions had even referred to Drollinger in the first person on a Wikipedia discussion page:

source

Admins then wrote to RK Drollinger asking them to stop interfering:

You should wait for others to write an article about subjects in which you are personally involved, instead of writing it yourself, as you did at Ralph Drollinger. This applies to articles about you, your achievements, your band, your business, your publications, your website, your relatives, and any other possible conflict of interest.

RK Drollinger was later banned from Wikipedia after an investigation by admins.

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A Complicated Deal (Part II)

Four criminal convictions, one suicide, and one satisfied customer – Unravelling Donald Trump’s “complicated” 1993 Palm Beach real estate purchase from convicted fraudster Leslie Greyling

Earlier this month I blogged about Trump’s 1993 Palm Beach real estate deal with Leslie Greyling, a notorious fraudster who was later deported to his native South Africa after a string of illegal business ventures, including a mafia-linked “pump and dump” scheme.

According to a November 21, 1993 report by the Miami Herald, Trump paid Greyling $1.6 million – less than half the original sale price – for 1094 S. Ocean Blvd, a lavish 7,863 square-foot, marble-floored property adjacent Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

1094 S. Ocean Blvd (source)

The article left some nagging questions. For instance, why would Greyling – a professional con man – sell the property apparently at a substantial loss to himself?

Jeffrey A. Paine, a now-disbarred West Palm Beach attorney who helped arrange the deal, and who in 2001 was handed a five-year sentence and fined $80 million for conspiring to commit mail fraud, speculated that Trump might have had other deals with Greyling.

Trump’s local realtor at the time, Robert Weiner, who committed suicide in 2012 after Florida state regulators launched a probe into the disappearance of over $250,000 from his real estate Escrow accounts, also suggested that other deals had taken place, but didn’t say what they were.

After digging around online, I found this February 3, 1994 New York Times report, which holds some clues:

source

The Times article states that Trump “had purchased an option to buy a St. Charles, Mo., casino site from the Members Service Corporation,” a failed Winter Park holding company involved in gambling and real estate. Although Trump didn’t say how much he paid for the option, he told the Times it would be good for a “fairly long term.”

Here’s the scoop: Members Service was headed by none other than – you guessed it – Leslie Greyling, who along with two other executives, Arthur S. Feher Jr. and Daniel M. Boyar, was indicted in March 1996 for charges including conspiracy, stock fraud, and money laundering.

Greyling was sentenced to one year in prison and was later deported to South Africa.

Feher was convicted of unregistered securities fraud in what was said to be “the first criminal case involving a scheme to avoid registering securities under a regulation governing sales to foreigners.” Facing a 25-year sentence, he fled to Mexico where in late 1996 he died of a heart attack.

In 2015, Boyar was handed a seven-year sentence for tax evasion stemming from his activities with Greyling and Feher.

All in all, that’s – count ’em – two real estate deals, four criminal convictions, one suicide, and one satisfied customer.

source

It’s unclear what came of Trump’s 1994 Missouri deal with Members Service, but public records show Trump still owns 1094 S. Ocean Blvd.

The property is currently valued at over $8 million.

Alt-Medicated in Beverly Hills

• Founder of “cult-like” alt-med cancer charity Johannes Fisslinger took donations from Clint Eastwood and other celebrities to fund breast cancer research, but now Fisslinger says the money wasn’t used to research breast cancer

• Another celebrity says Fisslinger used her name and image without her consent to promote a high-profile breast cancer research fundraising gala in LA – If someone misleads once, they will do it again. We won’t be used.

According to an e-mail Fisslinger sent subscribers of his Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation – recently the subject of a report by BuzzFeed UK (click here to read) – actor Clint Eastwood once sent Fisslinger a donation towards Fisslinger’s breast cancer research charity, the Heal Breast Cancer Foundation (HBCF).

source

What Fisslinger doesn’t mention in his e-mail is that money supposedly given to him by Eastwood and other celebrities wasn’t used to research breast cancer, and might even have been used to fund a “cult-like” alternative medicine programme whose members were later blamed for causing the deaths of three cancer patients.

He also doesn’t mention that another celebrity, whom it was claimed had a major role in a high-profile charity fundraising gala, now says Fisslinger misrepresented her involvement and used her name and image without her consent.

Johannes Fisslinger (source)

HBCF was founded in 2004 as the research arm of the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA), a California-based alternative medicine non-profit that teaches the discredited theories of the late German doctor and virulent anti-Semite Ryke Geerd Hamer, who lost his medical licence in 1986 after a number of patients in his care died.

Hamer claimed that all diseases are caused by sudden or prolonged emotional trauma, and argued that conventional medicine, which he believed was a Jewish conspiracy, should be rejected in favour of non-pharmacological – or “natural” – treatment methods, including talking therapy.

Ryke Geerd Hamer (source)

In 2007, IMMA held a high-profile charity fundraising and awards gala in Beverly Hills to raise money “to research the cause and natural healing mechanism of cancer” and “to honor six of the leading proponents in integrative medicine.”

The gala, which was promoted by the TODAY show and lampooned by the Washington Post, featured an all-star cast of big names and famous faces, some of whom paid up to $30,000 to attend.

RSVP Card - Heal Breast Cancer Awards Gala

source

The money was supposed to fund the following research projects:

• Brain Relay Diagnostics – confirming the Organ-Brain Connection
• Traumatic Life Events causing breast cancer
• Pre-tumor breast cancer diagnosis and prevention

source

However, Fisslinger now says he did not carry out any research with the funds raised at the gala, except for a small study that was never published in any medical journal.

“Our intention was to do research,” said Fisslinger. “But then we found out quickly that it is very, very difficult to do preventive research into breast cancer and that the needed funds are very difficult to get.”

While Fisslinger didn’t say how much money was raised at the gala, public records show that for the financial year 2006-2007, IMMA grossed over $135,000 – significantly more than the organisation has made in any one year before or since.

source

So where did the money go? According to Fisslinger: “We did a small research project with Prof. Reiff from Cairo University but it was actually never published in a medical journal – then we basically decided to focus on teaching/training and helping clients.”

That’s when the bodies began to pile up.

In 2009, a Norwegian television station reported that at least three cancer patients died after they were advised by high-ranking members of IMMA’s Advisory Council, Dagfrid Kolås and Bent Madsen, to stop conventional treatments.

TV 2 headline, April 17, 2009 (source)

Last year another prominent IMMA practitioner from Mumbai, Anu Mehta, wrote that a severely ill cancer patient she had treated for depression using “crayon drawing analysis” committed suicide by jumping in front of a train.

Fisslinger insists that IMMA practitioners follow a strict code of practice, but was unable to provide any research to verify Hamer’s theory that diseases are caused by emotional trauma.

“At this point we just don’t have double-blind studies and research to verify that specific life experiences, emotions, stresses affect specific organs,” said Fisslinger.

He added: “The reality is that over 1,000 health professionals [use] this knowledge daily in their work with clients. They wouldn’t do that if it [didn’t] help them in their analysis and in helping clients heal.”

I also spoke with some of those who were said to have been involved in the 2007 gala.

Dr. Dean Ornish, best-selling author/former White House public health advisor under the Clinton and Obama administrations, said he had “no relationship” with HBCF or IMMA.

Centre: Dr. Dean Ornish at the HBCF Awards & Gala (source)

Dr. Robert M. Goodman, professor of Applied Science at Indiana-Bloomington University, said he had “very limited contact from the Foundation and did not contact them” or do any breast cancer research while on HBCF’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Dr. Robert M. Goodman (source)

Marc Neveu, PhD, an honorary fellow at the T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health, said he only had “a minor role on the advisory board and was not able to attend the event.”

Mark Neveu, PhD (source)

One famous actress whom it was claimed had a major role in the gala and whose name I’ve agreed to withhold, said Fisslinger misrepresented her involvement and later used her name and image, without her consent, in a 2015 promotional video for an event in Hawaii.

Here’s what her agent told me:

[Fisslinger] misstated and admitted to [redacted] NOT being involved with the breast cancer event.

He used her name in the Hawaii conference without approval in order to generate business.

He used her name/image (unauthorized) for the video.

I’ve told him that if he removes [redacted]’s name from any and all references to him, his company, mission, etc, I will be still.

He said he would do it.

I don’t like misrepresentations at all.

Clearly those who do it use [redacted] to enrich themselves and in so doing, they are misrepresenting her name, goal, intents, etc.

I don’t want to be further involved and will never have anything to do with this man/org. moving forward.

I know many of those with whom he deals.

If someone misleads once, they will do it again. We won’t be used.

Fisslinger didn’t reply when asked to clarify if he used other celebrities’ names and images without their consent, but here’s a list of those who were said to have been involved:

Benefit Committee
Ben Stiller
Geena Davis
Tommy Lee Jones
Sir Ben Kingsley
Rosie O’Donnell
Kathy Griffin
Paula Abdul
Teri Polo
Lisa Vidall
Shaun Toub
Mario Lopez
Alfre Woodard
Harold Perrineau
Kendall Payne
Allison Janney
Tyler Hilton
Lourdes Benedicto
Antonio Sabbato Jr.
Laura Innes

Honorees
Dr. Dean Ornish
Eckhart Tolle
Susan Ryan Jordan
William Arntz
Dr. Christian Northrup
Dr. O. Carl Simonton

Celebrity Guests
Laura Dern
Ben Harper
Seane Corn
Ron Moss
Jon Seda
Lili Haydn
Caitlin Crosby
Elaine Hendrix
Kelly McCarthy
Dr. Raj Kanodia

Scientific Advisory Board
Robert M. Goodman, PhD, MPH, MA
Friedemann Schaub MD, PhD
Andrew S. Baum, PhD
Bruce Lipton, PhD
John C. Pan, MD
John Gray, PhD
Gerhard Schwenk, MD
Richard Flook, PhD
Ruediger Dahlke, MD
Mark Neveu, PhD
Nicki Monti, PhD
HP Christa Uricher

Board of Directors
Erich Haeffner
Anton Bader, MD
Johannes R. Fisslinger, PhD
Danijela Haric, MA
HP Jutta M. Fisslinger

Arif Gets Streisanded

The Daily Beast picks up my story about Turkish court-ordered takedown requests by Trump’s Bayrock business partner Tevfik Arif re: his 2010 arrest in prostitution sting

source

Via “Trump’s Business Partner Tries to Erase his Prostitution Bust From Web” by Lachlan Markay, The Daily Beast, July 21, 2007:

A former Russian government official – and business partner of Donald Trump’s – is gaining new notoriety, as the federal investigation into alleged election meddling widens.

Meanwhile, this Kazakh-born real estate mogul, Tevfik Arif, is doing his best to clean up his past, trying to purge the web of references to his arrest in an underage prostitution bust. He was later acquitted in the matter.

Arif, a former Soviet trade minister whose company once prospected for the Trump Organization in Russia and Eastern Europe, has demanded the removal of allegedly defamatory information about that arrest from websites that have investigated or recapped controversies involving some of President Donald Trump’s past business associates.

Some of those associates are now of keen interest to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators probing Russian influence in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s knowledge of it. According to a Thursday report from Bloomberg, Mueller is examining the finances of a Trump project involving the investment firm Arif founded.

[…]

Since May, [Arif] has sent four takedown requests to Google and one to Automattic, the owner of popular web publishing platform WordPress, demanding that they remove content from websites hosted by their respective companies that Arif claims is defamatory. Each complaint contained documents from Turkish court orders requiring the removal of similar web content. The takedown requests were first reported by the blog Shooting the Messenger.

A January 2016 post on one of the WordPress-hosted websites at issue claims that Arif was “charged with smuggling underage girls into the country for prostitution” and “accused of being the organizer of an international ring involving young girls.” It does not note that the charges were dropped.

Automattic partially complied with the request and blocked access to the website in Turkey, the company told The Daily Beast. Paul Sieminski, Automattic’s general counsel, said it risked the country’s government blocking access to all Wordpress-hosted sites if it failed to comply.

“This is not a decision we take lightly, but in our experience, failing to comply with a court order of this kind results in the blocking of all of WordPress.com, in Turkey—which removes the site in question, plus the millions of other sites that we host,” Sieminski wrote in an emailed statement.

Google did not respond to requests for comment on the takedown notices, though the websites listed in Arif’s complaint are still accessible from a US IP address. Efforts to reach Arif were unsuccessful, and Bayrock did not respond to questions.

Read my original posts by clicking here and here.

The Trump Network: Caveat Emptor

A quick look at Trump’s failed new-age pyramid scheme

“At no time in recent history has our economy been in the state that is today. It’s a mess. The economic meltdown, greed, and ineptitude of the financial industry have sabotaged the dreams of millions of people. Americans need a new plan. They need a new dream” – Donald Trump, POTUS

No, that’s not Trump’s election pitch to the American people, but the pitch he gave to participants of The Trump Network, a new-age pyramid scheme that offered “millions of people new hope with an exciting plan to opt-out of the recession” and “develop your own financial independence.”

The Trump Network was born in 2009 when Trump licensed his name to Ideal Health, a multi-level marketing business founded in 1997 by Lou DeCaprio and brothers Scott and Todd Stanwood. Ideal Health invited independent salespeople to do their own marketing to sell a customised vitamin supplement package, which was determined by conducting urine hormone tests using the company’s signature product, the PrivaTest.

In a 2008 review article for Alternative Medicine Review, the test’s inventor, J. Alexander Bralley, claimed that urinary biomarkers “provide insight into diseases possibly caused or complicated by toxin accumulation and detoxification responses.”

But experts questioned the test’s medical value.

“Urine tests do not provide a legitimate basis for recommending that people take dietary supplements,” wrote Quackwatch founder and retired psychiatrist Stephen Barrett in 2003. Barrett later speculated that Ideal Health had acted illegally by falsely claiming that the PrivaTest could “improve” and “support” physical and mental health.

That didn’t stop Trump hawking branded PrivaTests on the now-defunct Trump Network website, where they sold for a whopping $139.95 per box.

source

Speaking to STAT in 2016, executive president of The Trump Organization Alan Garten said that Trump “was endorsing the idea behind the business” but that his role “did not amount to an endorsement of the products” themselves.

However, in a “personal letter” published on the Trump Network site, Trump appeared to give his stamp of approval.

source

To promote the company’s “cutting-edge,” “revolutionary” products and multi-level marketing concept, Trump even had planned an all-out publicity tour that was set to be “the biggest media campaign in the history of network marketing,” and “the legacy he leaves with all Americans.”

Trump would be seen “on the likes of Oprah, the Tonight Show, Larry King, the Today show, numerous press releases, online news broadcasts, major business magazines, and every daily newspaper in America – as well as newspaper business sections.”

source

In reality, the job of promoting the company was largely left to independent marketers via “personal self-replicating” sites and other, more innovative methods.

Results varied.

In one misplaced attempt at viral marketing, a Trump Network recruit issued a press release as a Google Books review under items specifically relating to Trump.

source

Curiously, the author of the release gave only modest ratings of Trump’s own books. One book, Trump: Think Like a Billionaire, received a meagre two stars.

And the fun doesn’t stop there.

In August 2009, Wikipedia deleted a page that was created for The Trump Network after it fell foul of the site’s abuse guidelines. The page, authored by a user named “Trumpwellness” and signed-off by “Donald J. Trump,” was deleted by admins because it contained “obvious advertising or promotional material.”

Rejected Trump Network Wikipedia entry (source)

Another innovative way marketers sought to enlist new recruits was by speaking to them directly using online forums. Going by some of the responses, this approach might have worked. But as the company fell into decline, pending lawsuits and accompanying PR disasters, it too failed to take.

In 2011, Trump’s licencing deal with Ideal Health expired and was not renewed. The assets were then sold to a “health and wellness” company named Bioceutica, which still sells the now-rebranded Trump Network vitamin packages and urine tests.

Last year it was revealed that between 1999-2004, the Federal Trade Commission received 56 complaints against Ideal Health. Marketing recruits complained that the company “made money off of marketers by misrepresenting what their marketing system can do” and placing “pressure on marketers to purchase all the companies tools in order to succeed.”

source

 

A Complicated Deal

What were the details of Trump’s “complicated” real estate deal with South African fraudster Leslie Greyling?

In November 1993, Trump paid $1.6 million for 1094 S. Ocean Blvd, a 7,863 square-foot, marble-floored house adjacent his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

source

Trump purchased the house for less than half the original sale price from Leslie Greyling, a real estate investor who in 1995 was convicted and later deported to his native South Africa for his involvement in a string of illegal business ventures, including a mafia-linked “pump and dump” scheme.

Leslie Greyling (source)

However, the details of Trump’s deal with Greyling leave some nagging questions. For instance, why did Greyling – a professional con man – sell the house apparently at a substantial loss to himself?

It’s “complicated” – that’s according to Jeffrey A. Paine, a now-disbarred West Palm Beach attorney who represented 1094’s former owners, and who in 2001 was handed a five-year sentence and fined $80 million for conspiring to commit mail fraud.

“I don’t know whether he intends to make up some money in another deal or what,” Paine told the Miami Herald in 1993. “All I can say is that we sold our shares (to Greyling) for substantially more than $1.6 million.”

Greyling’s signed warranty deed form (source)

According to Trump’s local realtor at the time, Robert Weiner, who committed suicide in 2012 after Florida state regulators launched a probe into the disappearance of $250,000 from Weiner’s real estate Escrow accounts, Trump was “involved with a ‘South African company’ in some deals,” but didn’t elaborate about what they were.

It’s unclear if Trump had any other deals with Greyling, but public records show Trump still owns 1094. The house is currently valued at around $8,000,000.

The Felix Sater Files

Read the deleted websites of Trump’s racketeering Russian-American former business partner and senior advisor

Yesterday I blogged about Felix Sater, a Russian-American real estate mogul and convicted fraudster who was at one time a senior advisor to Trump.

Trump with Felix Sater (source)

Sater found fame during the 2016 election when Trump’s Russia connections became a focus for journalists. It was around this time that Sater, whose busy online presence rivalled Trump himself, deleted all of his sites and some of his social media accounts.

But as they say, nothing is ever truly deleted from the Internet.

Via the Wayback Machine, which archives the web, here’s a sample of Sater’s deleted sites and social media accounts, including:

• This site dedicated to Sater’s involvement in the development of one of his “most prized projects,” the Trump SoHo hotel in Lower Manhattan – recently the subject of a criminal investigation and a lawsuit.

www.felixsater.net

• This site consisting entirely of lengthy statements by Sater’s lawyer, Michael Beys, Esq., in response to news stories about Sater’s 1998 conviction for his involvement in a $40 million “pump and dump” scheme.

www.lawsuitinfo.net

• This site dedicated to Sater’s professed philanthropic endeavours.

felixsater.org

• Plus a whole bunch of social media accounts.

Twitter/myspace/Pinterest

If that didn’t sate your appetite, here’s an exhaustive list of Sater’s sites and social media accounts:

Websites and blogs

felixsater.com
www.felixsater.net

www.lawsuitinfo.net
felixsater.org
felixsater.info
www.felixsaterweb.com
felixsateronline.brandyourself.com
felixsaterweb.wordpress.com
• felixsater.weebly.com

Social media accounts

• Facebook
Twitter
• myspace
LinkedIn
• Reddit
Tumblr
Pinterest
Google Plus

Hub Pages
Behance
Gravatar
• Git Hub
Quora
Manta
• 500px
Roojoom
AngelList
• StockTwits


See also: Sater the Sockpuppeteer: Did Sater delete info about his criminal history from Trump’s Wikipedia page using a sockpuppet account?

Sater the Sockpuppeteer

Did former Trump advisor/Russian-American real estate mogul Felix Sater delete info about his criminal history from Trump’s Wikipedia page using a sockpuppet account? READ UPDATE HERE

When Trump’s Russia connections became a focus for journalists during the 2016 election, Felix Sater, a convicted racketeer and former government informant, was a key figure.

Felix Sater with Trump (source)

The Russian-born real estate mogul collaborated with Trump on a number of high-profile projects, and until recently was one of Trump’s senior advisors.

source

In January this year, Sater even met with Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to discuss a plan to lift sanctions against Russia.

Trump has denied having a close relationship with Sater. In 2013, he testified in a video deposition for a civil lawsuit that “if [Sater] were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”

Apparently, the feeling is mutual.

In 2016, it appears Sater was banned from Wikipedia for deleting unflattering facts about himself from Trump’s Wikipedia entry using a sockpuppet account.

Here’s the rundown.

In late 2015, a Wikipedia user named “591J” deleted from the site information about “Sater’s mafia and Russian criminal ties, as well as a 1998 racketeering conviction.”

August 25, 2015 edit of Trump’s Wikipedia entry by user 591J (source)

When that information was later restored by a different user, 591J deleted Sater’s name and substituted it for “ex-convict.”

December 6, 2015 edit of Trump’s Wikipedia entry by user 591J (source)

In February 2016, 591J created Sater’s current Wikipedia entry, which was originally flagged by admins because they suspected 591J of having “a close connection” with Sater.

April 2016 draft of Felix Sater Wikipedia entry (source)

In April 2016, 591J was “blocked indefinitely” after an investigation by admins determined 591J had “abusively used” multiple accounts to promote Sater and delete information about which 591J had an undisclosed conflict of interest.

source

After conducting a mini investigation of my own I found this promotional photo of Sater that 591J had uploaded to Wikipedia:

source

Under the now-deleted photo I found the following copyright information:

source

Note that:

1. The source information says that the photo of Sater is their “Own work”;
2. The author of the photo is “591J.”

The Higher Education Police

UK’s Northumbria police department accuses me of abusing its complaints system for enquiring about student’s allegation of officer overreach

Last week I asked the department to comment on a threatening e-mail allegedly sent by one of its officers, PC Mohammed Khan, to Newcastle University student Jonaya English.

source

According to screenshots published by English, Khan told English that he would ask the university to withdraw its offer of acceptance if she did not respond to his e-mails.

source

The department at first denied my attempts to verify the authenticity of the e-mails. I then received a letter from Force Assessor Jon Keenan, who said he’d assessed my enquiries and considered them “to be an abuse of the complaints system, in that you have not been directly affected by the incident and have no right as a complainant.”

Why did Keenan accuse me of abusing his department’s complaints system when:

1. I did not file a complaint;
2. I merely asked a question via the section of the department’s website that invites members of the public to leave leave feedback and make enquiries?

I’ve asked the department for an explanation.

Arif Trumps WordPress

WordPress blocks critical blog about Trump’s inner circle after Turkish court order from Trump’s Bayrock business partner Tevfik Arif

Earlier this week I blogged about Bayrock Group CEO Tevfik Arif’s attempts to get news reports about his 2010 arrest for human trafficking removed from the Internet.

Arif, a former Soviet commerce official, is best known for his business partnership with Donald Trump: the two were partners on the troubled Trump SoHo hotel in Manhattan, recently the subject of a criminal investigation and a lawsuit; and the doomed Trump International Hotel & Tower in Fort Lauderdale, which was sold in 2012 after the developer defaulted on a $139 million construction loan.

Tevfik Arif (centre) with Trump and former Bayrock director Felix Sater at the launch of Trump SoHo (source)

According to the Lumen Database, which collects takedown requests of online content, Arif sent multiple Turkish court orders to Google and Automattic (WordPress’ parent company) demanding the removal of sites and blogs that reported about his arrest aboard Turkey’s presidential yacht, where he was attending a private party.

During a raid of the $57 million yacht, Turkish police reportedly found “nine young girls” from Russia and the Ukraine, “a huge amount of contraceptives and a file with escort girls’ pictures and hotel receipts.”

source

Arif was charged and later acquitted of human trafficking, although four lesser-known businessmen were convicted.

While Google doesn’t appear to have honoured Arif’s demand, Automattic told Lumen it has taken “partial” action against a critical WordPress blog that reported about Trump’s dubious friendships and business relationships, including his partnership with Arif.

source

When I asked Automattic to confirm and clarify what action it had taken against the offending blog, I received the following reply from Community Guardian Francis:

Hey Dean,

Thanks for reaching out. The site has been blocked in Turkey as a result of a decision of the Turkish Access Providers’ Union. We were forced to take that step in order to avoid WordPress.com (as a whole) from being blocked in the region.

Best,

Francis
Community Guardian
WordPress.com | Automattic

 

As I reported in October last year, WordPress recently updated its takedown policy to comply with Turkish censorship demands.