NEW DELHI: Over 500 denizens of India have taken to the internet to personally post comments apologizing to travel blogger Lucy Hemmings after the British national was disturbingly harassed by a man who shamelessly masturbated while ravenously staring as she sat at a Mumbai bus stop.
“I was sitting at a bus stop in Mumbai when I noticed a man move closer to me. From the corner of my eye to my horror, I realized that he had pulled out his penis and was masturbating, staring intently at me. I felt sick,” she wrote on her blog.
Hemmings also related that although she made a point of trying to respect Indian culture by covering herself in loose clothes and following safety advice about conduct with strangers, it was dismayingly not the first time something similar had happened Eftcrop.
On a previous visit to India in 2012, she and a female friend spotted another man masturbating while watching them from behind a nearby bush. Hemmings and her friend laughed at the man and pointed him out to passers-by in an effort to take control of the situation and he eventually skulked away. When it happened to her second time as she waited for a train, she alerted fellow travelers and the offending stranger melted back into the surging crowd.
Speaking to The Hindustan Times, Hemmings remarked that despite the Indian nation making her feel welcome in every other regard, the most recent incident of public masturbation has certainly influenced her thoughts regarding the country. “The combination of being a woman, being harassed, and being in a foreign city without the same understanding of the law enforcement system as you may have at home is something that I found both daunting and difficult,” she said.
“Other than this man, I’ve been treated so kindly by both men and women … Indian hospitality is one of the warmest and most genuine [things] I’ve received throughout my travels,” Hemmings continued, before remarking that it has been ” heartening and refreshing to have received such an overwhelming response from Indian men apologizing on behalf of the revolting individuals who tormented her. “It is truly disheartening to know that you have had such an experience while you were in my country … I pray that you will have a safer environment from now on,” wrote one commenter.
However, their focus on Hemmings’ foreign nationality — especially when juxtaposed against the general domestic treatment of Indian women — should raise concern, wrote the Daily Dot: “… this problem isn’t endemic only to foreign visitors to the nation. The fact that it took a white non-Indian female reporting sexual assault to elicit hundreds of responses from Indian men is disturbing, to say the least.”
According to Bustle, a media disseminator based out of New York City, Hemmings still wishes to return to India several more times. Despite being forced to view the country with a significantly more cautious purview, she still harbors a deep-seated “love” for the Indian nation and fully intends to continue defending it “against racist colleagues who view the country as ‘dirty’ or the culture as ‘wrong.’”
“I know that it is a tiny minority who behave this way,” she told The Independent, a British newspaper “Good and bad people most certainly exist in every country, and India has an absolutely astonishing amount of good people.”
Kolkata. Sep 22: A blogger from West Bengal, Tarak Biswas was arrested by police for allegedly committing blasphemy against Islam. Tarak Biswas was arrested for writing the critical post on Islam on social media. The arrest of the freethinker blogger came after a local Trinamool Congress leader Sanaullah Khan registered a first information report with the Howrah Police against for mocking at Islam. Tarak Biswas was charged under sections 295 An (insulting religion), 298 (hurt religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code as well section 66, 67 and 67A of the Information Technology Act (posting and sending offensive messages). Tarak Biswas had written a critical post about Islam on social media after which TMC leader Sanaullah Khan registered a FIR against him for hurting religious sentiments. Police arrested Tarak Biswas from his residence in the wee hours of Thursday night. A local court later sent Biswas to seven days of police custody. “Sanaullah Khan had registered a FIR against Biswas for hurting religious sentiments. Based on the complaint filed, we arrested him. Presently he is in police custody,” a senior police officer of the Howrah Police Commissionerate told DNA E-Live Net. The arrest of Tarak Biswas triggered outrage in West Bengal with many taking it as an attack on freedom of speech. The human rights group Association For Protection of Democratic Rights condemned the arrest of Tarak Biswas and questioned the manner in which he was picked up by police. Our investigation today revealed a gross violation of human rights in Tarak Biswas’s arrest . Tarak was ‘kidnapped ‘ by police from Kallyani. His family was not informed of the arrest , nor any arrest memo issued. Mandatory notice prior to arrest was not issued. So, in addition to a violation of fundamental right of free speech police violated all mandatory supreme court orders regarding an arrest of a citizen,” Ranjit Sur of APDR said. People on social media also come out in support of Tarak Biswas and condemned his arrest. “Utter shame and outrage in Didir Shonar Bangla. An independent blogger Tarak Das was crusading against all kinds of blind faith, religious malpractice of all religions, for some time. Now police have arrested him! Within a short time, the administration will bring the situation where atheists and independent thinkers will be butchered at will by fundamentalists like they have been doing in Bangladesh,” wrote social media user Supriyo Lahiri. Tarak Biswas is a self-styled follower of muktomona, a rationalist Bengali philosophy that has earlier been targeted by Islamic fundamentalists in Bangladesh.
A freethinker blogger from Bengal, Tarak Biswas was arrested on Thursday for posting updates on the social media for criticizing Islam religion. On Thursday, minutes after Biswas posted a message on the social media, one Sanaullah Khan registered a complaint with the Cyber Police Station of the Howrah Police Commissionerate demanding his arrest. According to the locals, Khan is a local leader from the ruling- Trinamool Congress party.
Locals allege that the police picked up Biswas from his residence in the wee hours of Thursday night. According to the police, Tarak was arrested on charges of 295 A, 298 of the Indian Penal Code (hurting religious sentiments and hate speech), besides 66, 67 and 67A of the IT Act (posting, sending offensive messages through communication services). Later, he was produced before the local court, where he was remanded to seven days of police custody. “Sanaullah Khan had registered a FIR against Biswas for hurting religious sentiments. Based on the complaint filed, we arrested him. Presently he is in police custody,” said a senior police officer of the Howrah Police Commissionerate Fanz Live. Meanwhile, rights group APDR has demanded his immediate release and withdrawal of all cases against him. “We do not support the comments posted by him on the social media. But, at the same time, a person has every right to express himself. The sections imposed on him is nothing but blasphemous. We demand his immediate release and withdrawal of all sections slapped on him,” said vice president of the rights group, APDR, Ranjit Sur.
While the state government representatives refused a comment on this issue, rights activists took a dig at the government for allegedly putting him behind the bars for the hate speech on the social media. “The state government’s tendency has always remained to put freethinkers behind the bars. A few years back, a professor was jailed for circulating a cartoon of the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. We can’t expect the state government to allow its people the privileges of free speech,” added Sur.
On the other hand, protests are fast gathering in the cyber space to show solidarity with the victim after he was arrested on Thursday for allegedly hurting religious sentiments on social media. “Freedom of speech is of utmost importance… Someone can’t be arrested for criticising a religion… Be it whichever religion…. We demand Tarak Biswas’s release immediately,” said one Shreyasi Roy on social media.
Another user on the social media, Supriyo Lahiri wrote, “Utter shame and outrage in Didir Shonar Bangla. An independent blogger Tarak Das was crusading against all kinds of blind faith, religious malpractice of all religions, for some time. Now police have arrested him! Within a short time, the administration will bring the situation where atheists and independent thinkers will be butchered at will by fundamentalists, like they have been doing in Bangladesh.”
Alizay Jaffer, a 29-year-old “tree hugger” from Karachi, has emerged as an eloquent voice of reason, and an unlikely champion of peace, amidst the cacophony of war cries that have been dominating social media, following the Uri attacks. With her open letter, (see inset) where she confessed her strange “affinity with India…” Alizay won the hearts of millions of Indians, who’ve been hailing her for sending a thumping message of love. But she “never ever” imagined that her post would go viral. We spoke to Alizay, now based in Islamabad, on what moved her to write the post. Excerpts:
What provoked you to write that post? Did you ever imagine that it would garner so much response and go viral? I am neither a journalist nor an expert nor am I qualified in any manner to speak about politics and government decisions. I merely speak my mind — more my heart, actually, I’m one of those! The mindless war rhetoric on either side is what irked me to write this. I only write when I am deeply moved by something. It was beyond me why people on the other side of the border are being dehumanized. And no, I had never imagined it would garner such a response. I am glad that this was a piece of positive news, reaching out, as opposed to hate mongering. But we are not always so lucky. In response to your post, an Indian man, even proposed marriage… What has the response from Pakistan been? This piece has gone more viral in India than in Pakistan, so, I have received more responses from India. Almost 98% of the responses I have received have been extremely encouraging and positive. I have had several Indians message or write in to say that they never knew good people existed in Pakistan and that my post encouraged them to not pay attention to all the hate mongering, and simply be positive, or agree to disagree more civilly. How lovely is that thought! There is still hope when more than a few people on either side recognize that there are no winners in a war. You have been critical of your country’s policies in the past too. Have you faced any backlash?
Well, a lot of people have written to me, extremely concerned about my safety. I was born and brought up in Pakistan. I have lived abroad for my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and subsequently worked there for about two years or so, but I did come back! There are radical elements in every society. But we have all bought this idea that it’s a horrible world out here. I am safe. I am fine. It’s really not even one-tenth as bad as anyone thinks it is. I’ll give you an example — someone wrote in and asked if it would be safe for them to visit Pakistan. ‘We will welcome you with open arms’ I said because I know I will, and I know thousands of others who will. He immediately responded with a Wikipedia page about the Blasphemy Law. His concerns are valid of course. That is one hell of a scary law. Then he asked me whether I had visited India. I told him I had, but that I was slightly concerned because I had heard a lot about rape cases in Delhi… but that didn’t stop me! Perceptions can and will only change once people learn to think for themselves, experience things for themselves, and not allow a corporate or government agenda to dictate their thoughts! That would be an ideal world… Yes, I’d like to wake up in a world where we don’t pass on our suspicions and disdain from one generation to the next. because even if one generation has a rationale for something, for the next generation it is simply accepted it as fact. What could possibly be worse than that? We have been conditioned from the word go, to view each other with this suspicion. I’d like to wake up in a world where politicians didn’t use war to distract the public from things that actually matter — food, water, safety, housing. Hopefully, if positive messages like these go viral more often, perhaps we can suppress all the hate doing the rounds.
Remember the open letter written to Pakistani heartthrob Fawad Khan by a Bollywood journalist? The open letter titled ‘Dear Fawad Khan. It’s time. Go back to Pakistan’ sparked a rather controversial debate on whether the Pakistani artists should leave Bollywood and go back, in the wake of the Uri attack.
The content and tone of the letter claimed that India has “given you (Fawad Khan and other Pakistani artists) more money in two years than what you could have possibly earned in Pakistan in 10 years. We have given you the recognition that you would have never been able to earn sitting in Karachi. We made you act in great movies, we helped you endorse brands. And hey, we also made you a bigger star in Pakistan,” among Now, a Pakistani blogger has hit out in reply to the Indian journalist with an open letter titled, “Dear India, our actors don’t need Bollywood to become stars” in an attempt to discuss the “blatant misconceptions” of the said journalist. Excerpts from the letter: “I don’t know whether it’s a tragedy or a comedy that you are intent on portraying Bollywood as a resort for all unemployed Pakistan artists. Heck, you make it sound like a charity that would have put the late Abdul Sattar Edhi to shame.”
“…it’s convenient to pin-point a successful Fawad Khan…but, not a failed Veena Malik or a Meera; who ran out of work in Bollywood as soon as they started since they couldn’t impress your audiences.”
Sushant Singh Rajput, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), MS Dhoni – The Untold Story, Nadira Zaheer Babbar, raj Babbar, Anupam k ” Bollywood takes what sells. It isn’t doing any great service to the artists of my nation by hiring them out of pure sympathy. Just see the comments on the trailer of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil on YouTube, the people of your country are swooning over Fawad Khan so much that at places they even seem to over-shadow the lead of the movie.”
“You take the credit for making a superstar out of Fawad Khan ever so smoothly. But there’s a hitch: Fawad Khan was a superstar in Pakistan right when Humsafar aired in our country. All his subsequent serials were TRPs smashing” “Deepika Padukone didn’t become a superstar after landing a role opposite Vin Diesel; it was her credentials as a superstar that got her there. And I see no way how you can take the credit of his stardom for something as forgettable as Khoobsurat, a flick that was duly bashed by all your critics (“great films” you say, I reserve my comments).”
“India didn’t make Fawad Khan a superstar, it roped him in because he was one already, and marketed the product where the demand was brewing already. Mahira Khan is another sweetheart of Pakistan. These are the highest paid celebrities in Pakistan, and the latter’s film in India hasn’t even released yet. The last point was just for your notice in case you try to claim Mahira Khan’s stardom in the future too.”
“Can you please tell me how many Pakistani films have graced the screens of your country lately? While we have seen almost every Indian film playing in our country, if one of our films is lucky enough to be given the green signal by your country, it lands in trouble.”
“Expect us to screen a Phantom in our country only if you agree to show a Waar in yours. We also know that all Pakistani channels are banned in India, despite you agreeing that Pakistani serials are way better than Indian ones.”
“We have even had Indian singers on our Coke Studio, which is the rage all over the sub-continent. Kareena Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri, Sidharth Malhotra, Amrita Arora, Arjun Kapoor and many others have been a part of our advertisement campaigns, and you know better, those things pay quite well”
” You play the higher ground by narrating how Pakistani artists have been showered with love in India. You might not have gotten to see that, but every single Indian celebrity who has ever come to Pakistan has gone back waxing lyrical about the sheer amount of adulation and admiration they’ve received in Pakistan.”
“And now, the most important point, you charge Fawad Khan for not denouncing his own country, but getting away with the charming smile of his every-time. Except that, that isn’t his job. How would you feel if Hollywood starts seeking an apology from Priyanka Chopra every time an Indian is lynched for eating beef in your country? It’s not the job of artists to do what politicians are supposed to do.”
“Fawad Khan doesn’t have to carry the baggage of his nationality this way, just as you don’t hold your celebrities accountable for the actions of your state.”
“When your celebrities don’t take it upon themselves to apologize for something their state is doing, why should Fawad Khan take the responsibility of something his state isn’t even directly involved in? You try to be a humanist, but all you end up becoming is a hyper-nationalist jingoist.”
A Belarussian court started on Friday a closed trial of a blogger – known for his fierce criticism of Russia – who is accused of inciting hatred and distributing pornography in a case activists say is politically motivated.
Edward Palchis, the creator of a Belarussian nationalist website, was arrested earlier this year in Russia and extradited to Belarus where he could face up to four years in prison.
Human rights campaigners say he is being targeted for criticizing Russian foreign policy, its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and role in the east Ukrainian separatist conflict.
“We believe the case is politically motivated. We think its main motive is to clamp down on the political activities of Palchis,” Belarussian activist Valentin Stefanovich told Reuters.
As the trial started, some activists were outside the courthouse, which was guarded by several dozen police.
The charges against Palchis relate to an online article he wrote in April 2015 in which he reposted xenophobic, lewd and violent memes about Belarus from a Russian social media website to illustrate his argument against Russian internet policy.
Russia and Belarus are long-term allies, but Palchis’s prosecution is at odds with authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko’s recent softer policy towards political activists in Belarus.
Seeking to improve ties with the West, Lukashenko last year pardoned several political prisoners, prompting the European Union to lift five years of sanctions against the country once called ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’ by the United States.
Belarus, which is seeking up to $3.4 billion in loans from the International Monetary Fund and EU investment, has also tried to stick to the neutral ground over the Ukraine crisis. It has not recognized the annexation of Crimea and regularly hosts peace talks.
For most people struggling to lose weight, dropping 100 pounds would be a major feat. But Brazilian blogger Raina Trindade still feels mentally “obese.”
The 29-year-old battled her weight for years after being bullied at school. She often took dangerous measures in an attempt to shed pounds, experimenting with diet pills. It wasn’t until doctors told her she was at risk for a heart attack that she decided to try bariatric (or gastric bypass) surgery. The surgery was a success and Trindade was able to drop the equivalent of about 103 pounds, completely transforming her body. But in her mind, she still feels like her old self.
“The bariatric is not a miracle cure,” she told the Daily Mail. “I realized that it is down to me to make sure the surgery actually worked. This is like a fight for me. I am at war with my body because even though I’ve had the operation on my stomach I haven’t had the operation on my mind.” Trinidad’s reaction is not uncommon and is sometimes referred to as feeling like you’re lugging around “phantom fat” — a reference to the internal perception people still carry with them. A recent Reddit post tackled the topic, with someone posting this question: “People who have lost a fair bit of weight, when did you stop seeing yourself as fat or even when were you happy with how you looked? I’ve lost 40 odd pounds over the past year, but still feel like I look the same, even though people tell me I look completely different.” Many people agreed, with one noting, “I’ve lost over 100 pounds down from 300lbs to 180ish in less than a year. I look in the mirror and see the same exact fat guy looking back,” and another, after noting she had lost 100 pounds, said, “I still instinctively suck in my gut whenever I’m passing through anywhere, like between parked cars or getting into a restaurant booth.”
So while Trindade is happy to show off her new figure, she admits that she still has a long way to go towards changing her mental outlook.
“I still think that I am fat and still think every day about eating the rubbish I used to love. I look slim and I look healthy and fit but in my mind, I am still fat and still greedy for the all the bad food that will kill me,” she said. “I still have the mind of a fat person.”
The name Devin Faraci may not be a household one, but the mere mention of it is enough to send Damon Lindelof into a full-blown anxiety attack.
Lindelof, one of Hollywood’s most successful film and television writer-producers, admitted in a 2015 podcast that Faraci, a 42-year-old film blogger, “has been trolling me incessantly for the majority of my career. This guy owes me, like $40,000 in therapy bills.”
Lindelof was not exaggerating. In fact, it was Faraci’s relentless criticism of the Lost creator (“Devin. I get it. Please stop,” Lindelof once pleaded on Twitter) that eventually pushed the once-enthusiastic tweeter off of the social-media platform.
But now it’s Faraci’s turn to step away from the keyboard.
The influential blogger — whose highly opinionated essays on fanboy culture frequently go viral and whose pugilistic relationship to other film writers and filmmakers is so extreme, director Joe Swanberg once literally challenged him to a boxing match (which Faraci soundly lost) — announced on Tuesday that he is resigning immediately as editor-in-chief of Birth.Movies.Death.
The film site is owned by Alamo Drafthouse, the influential movie chain behind major fanboy gatherings like Fantastic Fest and Drafthouse Films, a growing distribution label specializing in the niche, genre fare.
The move comes amid startling claims of sexual assault leveled Sunday against Faraci by Twitter user space crane.
After Faraci tweeted about a leaked video in which Donald Trump brags of being able to “grab” women “by the pussy” — “[Trump] wasn’t talking with his best friends. He was boasting to a TV host,” he noted — space crane responded with a devastating accusation.
“Quick question,” she wrote. “Do you remember grabbing me by the pussy and bragging to our friends about it, telling them to smell your fingers?” (The tweet was eventually deleted, not because “it didn’t happen” but because “it’s become a focal point for some really vile stuff,” she later explained.)
Faraci did not deny the incident had occurred, tweeting back, “I do not remember this. I can only believe you and beg forgiveness for having been so vile.” He has not tweeted since.
News of Faraci’s resignation broke Tuesday morning, with this statement to his readers: “This weekend, allegations were made about my past behavior. Because I take these types of claims seriously, I feel my only honorable course of action is to step down from my position as Editor-in-Chief of Birth.Movies.Death.”
He continues, “I will use the coming weeks and months to work on becoming a better person who is, I hope, worthy of the trust and loyalty of my friends and readers.”
For space crane — whose real name is Caroline (she asked that The Hollywood Reporter not reveals her last name) — the move is a step in the right direction. Alamo Drafthouse owner Tim League called her personally to discuss the company’s response.
“We had a really good conversation about it that left me feeling like he understood the situation and was interested in helping Devin,” says Caroline, 33, a non-profit worker living in New York City.
“I’m really happy that Tim League took this seriously and that Devin is interested in getting treatment. I’ve let them know that I’m available for any accountability processing that might be part of his rehabilitation,” she adds. The incident dates back to 2004, when Caroline and Faraci, who grew up in New York, were part of the same group of friends living and socializing in the East Village.
They met on a music message board (“I can’t remember which. There were so many in the early aughts,” she says), a group of about a dozen men and women in their 20s and 30s who shared similar pop-culture tastes.
Friday night was when they would get together at a dive bar to dance to a jukebox and let off some steam. On the night in question, it was an early-evening gathering for happy-hour drinks.
Faraci was tipsy, Caroline says, but far from obliterated. “I liked him and thought he was funny,” she recalls, adding that he was well aware that she was a lesbian and was “not interested” sexually in men.
“We were dancing and he stuck his hands down my pants, very blatantly on the dance floor. I said stop. He did it again. I kind of didn’t know what to do. I stopped him again and pushed him away,” she says. “There was no penetration. He just kept sticking his hands down my pants and into my crotch. Then he came in to do it again.”
“I think I moved away from the dance floor at that point,” she continues. “I had to get away from him. I was just so shocked that it had happened and kind of grossed out. I felt mortified for him. That was the palpable memory I had. I felt sad for him.”
While Faraci never apologized or even acknowledged the alleged incident, the group dynamic was forever altered that night. Caroline, who never spoke of the incident to the others, began to withdraw from the group. Faraci, meanwhile, “would get in fights and have fallings-out” with the other friends, she says.
Two years later, in 2006, Caroline confronted Faraci about the assault on an internet message board. Just as in this week’s Twitter exchange, Faraci claimed not to recall the incident. “He kind of disappeared after that,” she says.
But one of the friends at the bar that night saw the message-board exchange and later confided in Caroline that it was highly unlikely that Faraci would have had no memory of what happened, as he had bragged to her about the incident at the time, encouraging the group to “smell his fingers.”
“That was not something I knew about at the time,” Caroline says. “And it made me really angry.” Caroline did her best to avoid Faraci in the ensuing years — but as his profile and audience grew, that became increasingly difficult.
“There was the Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary that I was really excited about seeing — and then I saw he [appears in it as an expert], and I was like, ‘Well, f—, I can’t see it.’ Or he’d be in a trailer giving a blurb for some horror movie. I would get so angry every time. It kept coming back that he’s an influential person in leftist film criticism or whatever.”
Caroline characterizes herself as a woman who is “good at letting things go,” but amid the current cultural climate and political rise of Donald Trump — culminating in the leak of the Access Hollywood video and Sunday night’s ugly presidential debate — she could not remain silent.
The reactions have been mostly supportive. “I’ve largely had people thanking me, DMing me, saying in their own lives they’ve encountered similar things in different industries,” she says.
But Faraci’s peers in the film criticism world, meanwhile, have suddenly found themselves in an awkward position.
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association, of which Faraci is a member, has reached out to him and is currently considering what action to take, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Then there is the question of the fate of his weekly podcast, The Canon, which Faraci co-hosts with film critic Amy Nicholson of MTV News. Owned by the Earwolf podcast network, the show is regularly one of the top-rated film podcasts on iTunes charts. Nicholson did not respond to a request for comment.
Caroline says several friends and acquaintances of Faraci’s have reached out to her, saying they are feeling conflicted about the situation and looking for guidance. She finds herself at a loss.
“I’m not going to tell anybody that they should not be friends with him,” she says. “I want people to maybe use this opportunity as a time to explore why women feel this way and feel like they can’t talk about it.
“What happens when we give people a certain amount of control or a label that allows them to be above reproach or have their behavior dismissed? Why does that happen?”
Both Faraci and League declined to comment for this story.
Like a Broadway critic deciding to write a play, a blogger who complained about fund fees decided to start an exchange-traded fund. He discovered that keeping expenses low isn’t as easy as it seems.
Eddy Elfenbein decided last year to launch a fund based on the stock picks from his more than decade-old Crossing Wall Street blog, written from Washington, D.C. Mr. Elfenbein recommends 20 stocks on his buy list and then sticks with them through the next 12 months. Each year, he changes just five of the holdings for the next year.
Because of the success of his choices—he posts returns on his blog—he built up a Twitter following of around 25,000, many of whom asked over the years if he managed money.
His fund, AdvisorShares Focused Equity ETF, launched Sept. 21, 2016, under the ticker CWS, for Crossing Wall Street. It isn’t just the Twitter-led impetus that makes the fund unusual; the fee structure is as well. Mr. Elfenbein has to beat the benchmark index or else give back part of his fee. If he exceeds it, he gets more.
He spoke with The Wall Street Journal about his experience setting up the fund. Edited excerpts of the conversation follow:
WSJ: When and why did you decide to do this?
MR. ELFENBEIN: I built a following based on what I recommended. If Twitter wasn’t around, I don’t know if this could have happened.
As the years passed, I had more people asking if I managed money, which I didn’t. So late last year I met with AdvisorShares [an actively managed ETF sponsor] to see if it was possible to develop a product that tracked the buy list.
WSJ: What surprised you about the process of starting an ETF?
MR. ELFENBEIN: I always complain about the fees for ETFs and mutual funds. But when you are on the other end of the process creating a fund—with so many fees, lawyer fees, exchange fees, etc.—the question is how can we get them so low. [Currently, the fund has annual expenses of 0.75%. That compares with an average expense ratio of 0.86% for actively managed U.S. stock ETFs, according to Morningstar Inc. data.]
I was also surprised by how little capital the fund needs to be viable. Advisor Shares points out that the patient is alive on the table if you have $20 million in the fund. Ideally, you would want to have more. With $50 million under management, then you’d have something that is chugging along.
WSJ: Will having an ETF get in the way of the blog?
MR. ELFENBEIN: No. I can write about the stocks I recommend, but I have to steer clear of anything that smacks of marketing the fund.
The ETF is going to track the buy list as closely as possible, with the picks equally weighted as much as SEC regulations allow. The positions will be rebalanced once a year. We have to keep a small cash position due to the mechanics of the fund; we’ll start with 2%.
WSJ: You’ve done something different in terms of the way you are going to be paid. Please explain.
MR. ELFENBEIN: There will be a fulcrum fee for me. My pay will be based on performance relative to the S&P 500. If the fund beats the benchmark, I get a bonus; if not, then I get a penalty. The size of the penalty is a based on a sliding scale and would result from a reduction in the fund’s expenses.
The hedge funds just get bonuses. If they miss their benchmark they don’t get penalized.
WSJ: Why an ETF instead of a mutual fund?
MR. ELFENBEIN: It just seems that investors are voting with their dollars. We are moving from the world of mutual funds to ETFs. There are tax benefits with the ETFs. [They are less subject to capital-gains taxes than mutual funds, for example.] I also like the fact that you can track the value during the day, whereas you can’t with a mutual fund.
Plus, a lot of funds are very secretive about what they own. I’m the opposite. My buy list is completely free. So you get the complete transparency that you get with ETFs.
Here’s an odd comparison: Years ago bands were trying to clamp down on bootleg tapes of concerts. The one group that was the opposite was the Grateful Dead, who reserved spaces for the people taping.
HONG KONG — The authorities in Vietnam said on Tuesday that they had arrested a popular blogger who has criticized the country’s one-party government over politically delicate topics, including a dump of toxic chemicals that devastated fishing communities and set off protests.
The blogger, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 37, was detained on Monday in Khanh Hoa, a south-central province. She was accused on Tuesday of distorting the truth and spreading propaganda against the state, according to the Vietnamese news media. The charges carry a maximum prison term of 12 years. No trial date was given.
Ms. Quynh, who writes under the pen name Mother Mushroom, is a co-founder of the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers, one of the few independent writers’ associations in Vietnam. The country’s news media and publishing industry are heavily controlled by the governing Communist Party and writers who stray outside the system and challenge the party are frequently imprisoned under vague national security laws.
Pham Doan Trang, a dissident writer in Hanoi and a member of the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers, said that the authorities might have arrested Ms. Quynh to intimidate younger bloggers who have been inspired by her online crusades — via Facebook and independent blogs — against corruption, social injustice, and police brutality. But Ms. Trang predicted that the tactic would fail.
“She has a lot of supporters,” Ms. Trang said of Ms. Quynh in an interview via Facebook Messenger on Tuesday. “Many of them will replace her or follow her path.”
Citing a news broadcast, Ms. Trang added that investigators had found materials in Ms. Quynh’s home that criticized the government’s handling of a chemical dump in April at a Taiwanese-owned steel plant in central Vietnam that caused mass fish deaths. It is believed to be among the worst environmental disasters in Vietnam’s modern history.
Although the company, Formosa Steel, has agreed to pay $500 million in damages, much Vietnamese have criticized the government for initially remaining silent about the cause of the spill and then refusing to release full details on the likely health or environmental impacts. Outrage over the scandal has festered for months and continues to set off protests in central Vietnam.
In 2009, Ms. Quynh was detained for more than a week after writing about a bauxite mining project in Vietnam’s restive Central Highlands, in which investors included a state-owned Chinese company. Chinese economic influence is a politically delicate topic that the government has tried to play down. She was not charged with a crime at that time.
“It was ugly what was happening in our society,” Ms. Quynh said in a 2014 interview with the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based advocacy group. “My blog asked: Why must we agree with the government on everything? Why can’t we have different opinions?”
In 2015, Ms. Quynh was named civil rights defender of the year by Civil Rights Defenders, an advocacy group based in Stockholm. The group’s executive director, Robert Hardh, said on Tuesday that he was saddened by her arrest.
“People very often have a picture of Vietnam as one of the ‘tiger economies’ and a tourist country,” Mr. Hardh said in a telephone interview. “But in reality, the situation is really dire for human rights defenders.”