Today on the net: online currency transfer business Liberty Reserve is accused of money laundering; a "rapped" news broadcast in Senegal is proving highly popular online; and a video illustrates what happens on the Internet in 60 seconds.
Liberty Reserve website at centre of money-laundering scheme
The US justice system has described it as the biggest international money laundering investigation ever. The founder of the site Liberty Reserve and six other employees were arrested last week in Spain, Costa Rica and the US and have since been charged.
People use this online currency transfer business to send and receive money; it is not a regulated financial system and uses a digital currency. So users can remain anonymous and it is impossible to trace transactions; federal prosecutors in New York have described the company as a global hub for cybercrime.
Liberty Reserve, which has been in operation for 7 year, is accused of running a 6 billion dollar money laundering operation online, with users trafficking in anything from stolen credit card identities, to child pornography and also drugs.
The case is being closely followed by the growing number of users of other electronic cash systems, like Bitcoin for example, a digital currency that works on a similar premise, handling money outside the control of any national government. The US authorities have also raised concerns about Bitcoin: it has become a safe haven for many, keen to protect their savings, but it’s system is also somewhat opaque.
Rapping the news in Senegal
Senegalese hip hop artists, Xuman and Keyti, are keeping their fellow citizens abreast of current affairs, doing what they do best: rapping. They joined forces last month to create the “Journal Rappé”, a weekly four-minute news broadcast rapped in both French and Wolof, its aired on YouTube, has won them a spot on national TV, and is enjoying growing success in Senegal.
A new form of citizen journalism, each episode deals with political developments both at home and abroad and has racked up tens of thousands of hits from Senegalese web users. Netizens that have praised the quality of journalism from the hip hop stars, saying this new way of presenting the news could be a good way of making current affairs accessible to all, the younger generation in particular.
And as the rappers explained in an interview with Global Voices Online, they are indeed targeting the younger generation. They also say the success of the project is most likely down to the fact they overcome barriers, speak freely, and address all manner of subjects, from and independent viewpoint, which in their opinion is in stark contrast to traditional media outlets in Senegal that simply look out for number one.
The artists, who are not afraid to speak out against the government, are seen by many as something of an authority on political matters as this is not the first time they have turned their attention to political commentary. Xuman and Keyti are in fact founding members of the “Y’en a marre”, meaning “fed up” collective launched last year to denounce corruption within the political class and campaign for a true democracy. A combat they now also promote on the television and the web.
MindDrive, a social media powered electric car
This car is a very unusual; in fact it’s a first. With the help of non-profit group MindDrive, a group of Kansas City teens in the US have transformed a vintage car into an electric vehicle. A vehicle that is powered by every tweet, like and social media share by web users with a MindShare account. And so the students will soon be using the world’s first social media powered electric car to take them from Kansas City to Washington.
Now trending on social networks
According to the UEFA website, Saturday’s Champion’s League Final won by Bayern Munich has been one of the most popular trending topics so far this year. The Union of European Football Association states that over 4,8 million match-related tweets were posted, peaking at 117,000 posts per minute after the final whistle. Web users have heaped praise on Arjen Robben in particular, who led the team to victory and whose name was mentioned over 1 million times on the micro blogging site during and after the match.
Video of the day
What happens on the Internet in 60 seconds? Well the site Buzzfeed is trying to answer that very question in this video recently posted online. A very educational clip – we learn for example that every minute there are : 2 million searches on Google, 278,000 tweets posted, 204 million emails sent and 100 hours of videos uploaded to YouTube: impressive figures that illustrate the omnipresence of the Internet in our everyday lives.