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Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

This family…didn’t choose…to [allow] Jefferson Parish to look into their home and judge what happens there.  –  Chelsea Cusimano

The big news this week was the death of Eddie Van Halen; I wasn’t really a fan, but this song was recent enough when I was teaching that some of my students used to “innocently” sing it within earshot.  The links above it were provided by Nun YaStephen Lemons, Tim Cushing, Popehat, Scott Greenfield, Cop Crisis, and Thaddeus Russell, in that order.

From the Archives

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I can’t breathe.  –  Vanessa Peoples

I thought “I Am Woman” was vapid and silly even when I was very young and it was very popular.  I do like “Angie Baby”, but I already featured that one in Links #373, so I decided to give the video to an intentionally silly song by Mac Davis.  The links above it were provided by Radley Balko, Lenore Skenazy, Elizabeth N. Brown, Matt WelchWalter Olson, Popehat, and Radley again, in that order.

From the Archives

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The censor-morons are loose, and they’re attacking the small targets so their totalitarian masters can expend their energy on big ones like the internet.  –  “The Return of the Censor

Censorship, once condemned by all ethical people, has now become almost universally popular.  From the most totalitarian of governments down to the youngest of adults, it seems everybody without a functional moral compass (which is to say, the great majority) wants to impose their ideas of “right” thinking and “correct” speech on everyone else.  China, of course, is leading the way, with a new Maoist-type campaign to purge schools and libraries of books deemed insufficiently pure, but the West isn’t far behind.  In the UK, cops are knocking on doors to intimidate people who made statements online that the cops didn’t like, and early this month a woman in Melbourne was actually arrested for posting on Facebook about a protest against totalitarian “lockdown” orders imposed by the Victorian government.  In the US, the pandemic is only one of many popular excuses for censorship; others include “hate speech”, criticizing the police, and (for social media platforms) either engaging in censorship on their own or not censoring often enough for the tastes of censors.  I know that last is confusing, so let me state it a different way:  Some politicians and other control freaks want to censor Facebook, Twitter, et al for engaging in censorship themselves, while others want to censor the same entities for not censoring enough.  Yes, it’s complete lunacy, and it isn’t limited to the internet; culture warriors in academia, Hollywood, and even corporate America are firing,expelling, or otherwise ostracizing people for engaging in wrongthink, or even for failing to chant approved party slogans with sufficient enthusiasm.

When I was a librarian, Banned Books Week was little more than an academic exercise; censorship was an intermittent and generally impotent threat proceeding from small numbers of narrow-minded busybodies, which was easily defeated by librarians and other guardians of our shared cultural heritage.  But that was a generation ago, and would-be censors have become numerous, aggressive, well-organized and (most concerningly) popular.  Few of those under 30 even understand what free speech is or why it’s important, and the majority or those over that age imagine all sorts of exceptions that they believe should be reasons to violently suppress speech, ranging from “it hurt my feelings”, to “it was said or written by a dead person who did things considered normal then, but which are now mortal sins”, to “it contains ‘bad’ words”, to the ever-popular “But SEX!”  As I wrote last year, the censor-morons (a term coined by D.H. Lawrence, one of many writers now considered “problematic”) are loose; furthermore, they are multiplying like bacteria and have already infested all the centers of power.  For now, the courts are mostly still defending the rights of those with enough money, resources, and patience to fight “cancellation” through official channels.  But if you will take the time to read all of my essays for this occasion starting in 2012, and working your way up a year at a time to the present, I think you’ll see a very frightening trend.  We are watching the advent of a new dark age, and in such times no light is entirely safe from being snuffed out by zealots, speech-cops and bureaucrats whose ideal model for human society is the anthill.

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If a prisoner of war were treated this way, it would be a war crime.  –  Erik Heipt

I don’t recall being terribly impressed with this song when it was first out, but I recently stumbled across the video and now I keep thinking about it; maybe it’s the sort of thing one needs to be middle-aged to appreciate.  The links above it were provided by Tana Ganeva, Clarissa, Mark Draughn, Scott Greenfield, Cop Crisis, and Jesse Walker, in that order.

From the Archives

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I could have gotten shot in my face.  –  Sincere Goodman

If I’d play music more often while I worked, I probably wouldn’t have as many weird songs pop into my head, but then I couldn’t inflict them on y’all.  The links above the video were provided by Jesse Walker, Amy Alkon, Rick Horowitz, Thaddeus Russell, and Cop Crisis (x2), in that order.

From the Archives

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Scholars who pathologize sex workers in the classroom grant the state license to mete out gratuitous violence in the streets.  –  Rahsaan Mahadeo

Maggie in the Media

I was recently interviewed on an Australian sex worker radio show named Behind Closed Doors; it was originally supposed to be only one show, but Kitty, Dean & I were enjoying ourselves so much we just kept going and did a two-parter!  Here it is in podcast form (Part One & Part Two); I hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed talking!

The Course of a Disease

The Swedish rot has reached Eastern Europe:

Since July 1, in Latvia…[prostitution is technically not] illegal  as politicians have been unable to reach a compromise on this issue…The only [criminalization] proposal has been submitted by the party alliance Attīstībai/Par! (AP!) and its sets forth punishing only the buyer of the prostitution services and not the person providing them.  The proposal is to be reviewed in the Interior Ministry. Following this process, the ministry plans to bring the draft law for discussion in the government…

The Notorious Badge

Critics just can’t resist inserting their own dumb beliefs about whores into even good reviews:

Alice, the feature debut from Australian writer-director Josephine Mackerras, is…a leftfield take on female empowerment…Alice…discovers that her husband has cleaned out their accounts and stopped paying their mortgage; a bit of digging later and she discovers the money has been spent on prostitutes…With the bank threatening to foreclose on her home and a huge sum to pay…Alice agrees to work for the very escort agency her husband favoured; there is quite simply nothing else that will keep the roof over her head…Mackerras’s take on prostitution won’t be for everyone, and it does sugar-coat the profession somewhat, but it’s a sympathetic and often gutsy portrait of a woman doing what she must, and surviving, even thriving…

Acknowledging that selling sex is pragmatic and lucrative is “sugar-coating”.

Feminists and Other Puritans

An excerpt from The Feminist War on Crime by Aya Gruber

…The feminist penal regimes implemented in the 1980s and 1990s are now entrenched institutions overseen by prosecutors…administrators, and for-profit actors with vested interests in their continued survival.  Politicians are certainly not apologizing for VAWA…[and] plenty of feminists…remain committed not just to upholding the existing feminist crime control regimes and closing “loopholes” in them but also to creating new ones—new antitrafficking laws, revenge-porn laws, laws against hosting prostitution ads, [etc]…Campus antirape sentiments have proven a boon to prosecutors eager to implement strict versions of affirmative consent…and expand pro-prosecution trial rules…some of the most ardent prison critics…proceed as if there were a carve-out to the mass incarceration critique for sexual misconduct—including, or perhaps especially, intoxicated sex or sex without affirmative consent—even though there is no such carve-out for aggravated assault, drug dealing, or even murder…

Wise Investment (#1024)

In every country, sex workers, clients & everyone else harmed by “prostitution stings” needs to keep suing over them:

Liberal scholar [and long-time critic of the Chinese Communist Party] Xu Zhangrun has hired two lawyers to prepare legal action against police who accused him of soliciting prostitution…Xu was dismissed by Tsinghua University in Beijing…after he was taken away by police who [claimed] that the…scholar had solicited prostitutes in the southwestern city of Chengdu last year.  Xu, who had taught at Tsinghua for 20 years, was sacked because of “moral corruption”…The law professor…[hired] lawyers Mo Shaoping and Shang Baojun, and former human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang…to represent him…in an attempt to overturn an administrative ruling b[ased on a]…confession…police [pretend he made but]…Xu [denies]…

The Cop Myth (#1045)

Sociologists may at last be admitting their role in creating the police state:

Now is the time for sociology to reckon with its role…in the production of a criminal legal system subsidized by Black captivity, dispossession, debt and death…Any academic attempt to distinguish between “good policing” and “bad policing” or “overpolicing” and “underpolicing” makes policing itself not just theoretically possible, but legitimate…The University of Minnesota has already committed to cutting ties with the Minneapolis Police Department.  Now it and other sociology programs around the country must take the next step by canceling carceral curricula…According to an American Sociological Association report, “criminology/delinquency” was the highest-ranked specialization sought by employers…in 2019.  Courses like “Deviant Behavior,” “Criminal Behavior and Social Control”…and “Juvenile Delinquency” not only legitimize state violence, but also employ academics…sociologists fail to consider how “deviance,” “delinquency,” “criminal” and “terrorist” still conjure up racialized images that cops…and [spooks]…use…to…justify the killing of people of color…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#1060)

Blaming bad behavior on an imaginary “addiction” is the opposite of accepting responsibility:

[Pennsylvania politician] Mike Folmer [was convicted on child pornography charges despite]…pleas [that the]…judge [should let him skate because Jesus]…Folmer [was]…sentence[d to 2 years in prison]…8 years on probation…[and] sex offender [registration] for 15 years…[his] defense attorney [also made the bizarre argument that he should be let off easy because he is a career sociopath]…“He had an addiction to pornography,” [attorney Brian] Perry said…Folmer [demonstrated his megalomania]…to the judge…[by comparing himself to] King David…

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When “decriminalisation” was formulated we were smoking indoors.  –  Cheryl Overs

Think of the Children! (Updates Galore)

In some parts of the Anglosphere, male teachers who do sex work can manage to keep their jobs:

…Gordon Parsons will still be allowed to teach at Queensland’s Ipswich State High despite allegedly making graphic sexual videos with his porn star girlfriend…Luci Power…Parsons was moved from Corinda State High last year after the Education Department discovered his extra-curricular activities…[and] now teaches under the name of James Parsons after allegedly agreeing to remove any sexual content he was involved in.  But…he…was reportedly spotted [by a deeply hypocritical parent while] at[tending] the Brisbane Sexpo with [his porn star girlfriend. Luci Power]…who was [making a paid appearance] at the exhibition…the [shockingly two-faced slimeball] wrote…a [poison pen] letter…to the school [to try to get Parsons fired despite the fact that he was at the same event]…

Apparently, hypocrisy rays are far less dangerous than sex rays.

So Close and Yet So Far

This could’ve been a decent article about why Filipino sex workers are afraid of cops and refuse to participate in their witch hunts and morality plays.  But instead the reporter insists on smearing them with the agency-denying prohibitionist slur “protituted women”; uncritically labels a prison with the authoritarian euphemism “safe house”; claims prohibitionists really want to help sex workers; and even used the insulting phrase “so-called ‘clients'”.  Not worth wasting your time on.

The Widening Gyre (#697) 

The NY Times is still pretending “Pizzagate” is about cranks, when actually it was a natural & predictable outgrowth of the “sex trafficking” hysteria they’ve aggressively promoted for two decades:

Four minutes into a video that was posted on Instagram last month, Justin Bieber leaned into the camera and adjusted the front of his black knit beanie…someone had posted a comment asking Mr. Bieber to touch his hat if he had been a victim of a child-trafficking ring known as PizzaGate…there [i]s no evidence…Bieber [saw] that message.  But…[fetishists] quickly uploaded hundreds of videos online analyzing…Bieber’s [casual] action.  The videos were translated into Spanish, Portuguese and other languages, amassing millions of views.  Fans then left thousands of comments on…Bieber’s social media posts asking him if he was safe.  Within days…the hashtag #savebieber started trending.  Four years ago…the [fantasy] that Hillary Clinton and Democratic elites were running a child sex-trafficking ring out of a Washington pizzeria spread across the internet, illustrating [the damage done by the] crackpot idea [called “sex trafficking”] with no truth to it [which was irresponsibly spread by mainstream] media — and how dangerous it could be…Facebook, Twitter and YouTube managed to largely [censor] PizzaGate.  But now, just months before the next presidential election, the conspiracy theory is making a comeback on these platforms — and on new ones such as [the Chinese-developed] TikTok — underlining the limits of their efforts to [censor] speech online…PizzaGate no longer focuses on…Clinton…its new targets…includ[e]…Bieber, Bill Gates, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey and Chrissy Teigen…

I Swear To God (#712)

US courts are happy to allow US censorship of non-Americans:

Foreign groups that receive American funding to fight HIV and AIDS must still pledge to oppose sex work…[even though] a similar requirement for U.S. nonprofits was struck down as unconstitutional in 2013…U.S. groups whose international affiliates must still abide by the rule sought to have it overturned, too, arguing that compelling anti-prostitution speech from these foreign affiliates was attributed to the American groups and therefore violated their First Amendment rights.  But in a 5-3 decision, the Court [said]…”plaintiffs…[get what’s coming to them for] affiliating] with [dirty] foreign[ers]”…

To Molest and Rape (#835)

Imagine how many others like him are still free:

Four decades after he started sneaking into homes, tying up victims, raping women and murdering couples, [typical and representative cop] Joseph DeAngelo pleaded guilty…to 26 charges, admitting…he was the sadistic Golden State Killer…He only stopped…when he got old and was no longer spry enough to overpower victims…he was responsible for more than 60 rapes…in…[all], but the statute of limitations expired on those crimes…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#995) 

Cheryl Overs on the erosion of the line between legalization and decriminalization in Australia:

…the Australian state of Victoria…is about decriminalise sex work after thirty years of disastrous legalisation…so I…[tried] to identify exactly which “ordinary business regulations” should apply to a decriminalised sex industry here.  Big mistake…In 2020 the regulatory framework of a wealthy country like Australia requires every business and service provider to apply for a dizzying number of permits and permissions; to pay various fees and taxes; to register their names in various places and to comply with a web of regulations including allowing access to authorities to inspect and enforce those regulations.  No one gets out this.  Some combination of these rules apply whether you are a large engineering plant or a self employed hairdresser working from home…most require the legal name of a “natural person”…When “decriminalisation” was formulated…we could walk into banks and open an account in whatever name we wanted…There were always regulations and records and cross checking of course, but analogue data collection and retention was expensive and limited…So I’m quite thrown by discovering that history has narrowed the gap between “legalisation” and “decriminalisation” in this way.  As Maggie McNeill says, “what we’re seeing here is less a sex-work-specific issue and more just government’s ever-expanding intrusion into all people’s lives and private affairs.  But that’s cold comfort to those who are targeted first as tyrants expand their reach”…

Quiet Genocide (#1002)

There are still some in the West who insist China isn’t trying to exterminate the Uighurs:

The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities…even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children…an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with…ex-detainees…[demonstrate that China] is [carrying out] what some experts are calling…“demographic genocide”.  The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands…The…measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply.  Having too many children is a major [excuse Beijing uses] to [condemn people to concentration] camps…with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines.  Police raid homes…[to] search for hidden children…

Loose Cannons (#1005)

Apparently, Florida prosecutors don’t know when to stop digging:

Judges from the 4th District Court of Appeal heard arguments…on whether they should allow [illegal] surveillance video captured by [masturbating pigs]…to be…the evidence in the prostitution case against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and others.  The controversial “sneak and peek” warrants [were illegally used by] Jupiter police to install hidden cameras that recorded all activities at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa…similar warrants and tactics were also used at spas in Martin and Indian River counties…[after cops lied, spouting] human trafficking [sex fantasies to judges]…there [was of course] no…human trafficking…[several] judge[s]…suppressed the videos…[but the state] argued…that the videos should be allowed…because [sex]…

Social Distancing (#1034)

A “No shit, Sherlock” headline from the ever-confused Vice:

In Spain, sex work employs an estimated 100,000 women and…like many other countries…legalis[ation includes a host of ridiculous laws which essentially treat sex orkers as tolrated criminals who must]…pay taxes, but aren’t recognised as employees.  When the country went into lockdown in March, sex work was not considered an essential service, and [was] therefore banned…after initially leaving sex workers completely in the lurch, on the 21st of April the Spanish government announced emergency measures [pre]tended to help [the minuscule number of] women forced into sex work…To qualify, workers had to [pretend] they were victims of exploitation by [lying to] social services, or [have an arrest record]…It’s a policy that excludes [the great majority of sex workers]…

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I think it’s extremely important that sex workers have resources inside our own community, because far too many companies are happy to use the demimonde to boost their growth, then suddenly become all pious and kick us out when they decide they don’t need us any more.  Regular readers know that I’ve featured sex worker-owned web businesses before, so when I saw Estelle talking about her company online, I invited her to introduce her service to y’all.

Before I tell you about Red Cloud Hosting, let me tell you about me.  I’m a Muslim who’s been a sex worker for 11 years; I predominantly work as a private escort in Melbourne, Australia, but I’ve toured many countries and worked in an agency in Europe.  From the beginning of my career, technology captured my interest and my curiosity led me to investigate its influences and how it can enhance our work.  Sex workers have the right to practical, reliable, dependable and simple technology to build, organise, advertise and work safely online, so four years ago I created Red Files Inc, a digital space that allows sex workers to share resources and information safely and securely.  I created this project as part of my wider sex work activism, and it’s a registered non-profit charity.

Now that you understand my background, it’s obvious why I created Red Cloud Hosting in May 2018, a digital solutions company with a strong focus on sex workers which started as a safe web hosting platform.  As my activism primarily focused on local or national laws in Australia, I didn’t notice the sinister nature of FOSTA/SESTA until it was too late; I also could not have anticipated how pervasive these laws were, and how they threatened sex work advocacy efforts globally.  While any laws or regulations that punish sex workers are horrible in of themselves, this law seemed particularly far-reaching and conniving.  For example, I operate my business in the legalised state of Victoria in Australia, yet American laws continually curtail and hinder my ability to work safely.  So I put my utilitarian mind to work and concocted a solution.  One year after launch, Red Cloud evolved to provide further reliable digital and web solutions for sex workers.  Through the course of my work I found too often workers kicked off web creation platforms, or swindled by self-proclaimed webmasters that overpromise, overcharge, and under-deliver; others are completely boggled by the complicated process of setting up a website for themselves. Red Cloud now offers simple, affordable web and technology solutions for sex workers wanting more personalised, secure and friendly services.

As I believe in self-determination, Red Cloud Hosting focuses on empowering workers to learn how to manage their websites in a clean, simple and supported manner.  If I’m the brains of Red Cloud, then my work colleague and Webmistress Kim Cums is the brawn.  There’s not much you can’t do with a website when you have Kim on your team; she’s a jill of all trades who learned how to set up shop online from the ground up.  Her personal sex working website offer a variety of engagements from videos, images, member signup sections, a forum, mailing lists, sex worker friendly payment processes and more; she launched the sex worker focused Bumbershoot Creative and now offers her technological expertise to others.  While Kim’s skills lay in website creation, I specialise in copywriting and editing.  In my muggle life I’m a writer, and with my experience, I know exactly what content attracts clients.  Much of my work with Red Cloud is writing up new, fresh copy for sex workers, because we all know how cumbersome it can be to write about yourself in a sexy light.  I’m also socially aware of the sex work laws in different countries and can use language to circumvent legal issues.  I have another sex worker colleague, Chelsea who is in charge of SEO Audits.  In her other life she’s an SEO whiz and that’s all I’ll say about the mysterious woman to protect her identity.  She goes over your website with a fine comb and teaches you on how to improve your SEO traffic.  I haven’t been able to showcase much of our work in the area of image editing just yet but my little worker bee Finnley is well-versed in the area and I will be sharing some photos soon.  While the rest of our services don’t have much to do with FOSTA/SESTA, I have found in my two years of running Red Cloud, that most people want everything setup in one spot.  That’s why I added additional services such as Kim’s photography and videography for those in Sydney. When she resumes travelling interstate, I’m sure this will be applicable for the rest of Australia, although I’m sad to say you Americans might miss out until the pandemic fades out.

Our websites come in the form of Packages that are customised for the level of investment a sex worker is wanting to put into their business. They start from $490AUD setup fee, with an ongoing $30 monthly fee for maintenance, security plugins, updates and so on.  All websites are FOSTA/SESTA consequence free. For every Package purchased with Red Cloud, a donation is made to Red Files Inc or to a sex worker organisation of your choice. Red Cloud can now offer sex workers in Australia and internationally:

  • Dedicated and trusted servers for website hosting based in Australia.
  • Hundreds of website templates specifically tailored and curated to appeal to the sex industry.
  • Personalised domain (for example www.myescortwebsite.com).
  • Domain email setup (for example professionalescort@me.com).
  • Complete and customisable website creation and build-up on WordPress.
  • Migration or replication of past website onto Red Cloud.
  • A variety of website packages aimed at sex workers at any stage of their business.
  • Add-ons to provide your website a personal touch such as mailing lists, blog, screening forms or tours page.
  • Content creation, copywriting and editing that suit the legality of your country.
  • General website tweaks and must-have plugin, security and SSL updates.
  • Professional videography for escorts, porn performers and webcam models.
  • Professional photography geared for content creation, escort portfolios, brand building.
  • Professional editing of images including colour correction, blemishes, body modification, lighting, facial blurring, tattoo removal and airbrushing.
  • Dedicated sex working support team to help and guide you with quick responses.
  • Individual, one-on-one website creation coaching and training.
  • SEO audits and analytics setup.

Red Cloud is entirely sex worker-led and I aim to educate sex workers on technological literacy while I build their websites. If you want to transfer the hosting for your website to a sex worker owned company that’s FOSTA/SESTA proof, then I’m your girl.  There are a few limitations:  if you’re transferring from Wix or Squarespace their technology locks you into their services, and if you host pornographic material, Australian federal laws prevents me from hosting it.  However, I have other solutions if you need.  Red Cloud is also a great company to engage with if you want to rejig or refresh your brand with a new name or if you’ve just entered the industry.  Our Add-Ons means that anything you want can be added on top of your Package so it suits your needs.  I am not here to make big bucks off sex workers; I want to contribute to the growth and profit of sex worker businesses.  I understand not everyone has a casual $500 to invest and that is why I often create flexible financial arrangements; monthly payments instead of once-offs. I would much rather see you maximising your earnings when you are ready and not have to wait for that initial investment to come in.

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[US police] violence appears so widespread and consistent that you could…think…it’s coordinated at a national level.  –  T.C. Sottek

The Widening Gyre (#864)

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the “scrap paper” variant of the “sex traffickers marking cars” scary tale:

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety said…post-it notes left on various cars throughout Lubbock were…not sex trafficking ploys…Lubbock Police…looked into the matter and found that the numbers were, in fact, from a legitimate hail damage repair company…three Facebook posts claiming the notes were sex trafficking ploys…had been shared over 3,000 times…

Hail causes sex trafficking!

You Were Warned (#926)

Australian politicians are just as invested in demolishing the internet as US ones:

…The Court of Appeal for New South Wales has just dismissed an attempt by several Australian media outlets to overturn a 2019 ruling that they could be held liable for Facebook comments about [the state torture of a young man named] Dylan Voller…Voller…sued some of the media outlets that covered him—not because the news reports defamed him, but because other people writing on the outlets’ Facebook pages were accusing him of having committed various crimes.  Australian courts have not yet ruled on whether these comments defamed Voller.  This fight is about whether media outlets could even be sued for Facebook comments.  The outlets argue that…Facebook does not let them preemptively stop individual readers from posting comments on their page.  They do have the option to delete, hide, or report individual comments, but only after they’ve been posted…But the fact that these outlets have the ability to delete comments after the fact was enough for Judge John Basten to declare them publishers…Another judge suggested that a potential solution would be…censor[ing] content…If this ruling stands, it’s going to force Australian media outlets to monitor all comments and beef up their social media teams at a time when they’re having to lay off staff and even shut down newspapers

Censor Chic (#948)

It’s so convenient to outsource tyranny to computers:

…certain combinations of Chinese characters have been immediately removed from [YouTube] within a few short seconds…[without] warning or reason…The Hanzi Which Shall Not Be Named were merely 共匪  (“communist bandit”) and 五毛 (“fifty cents”)…the term 共匪…was used by Nationalist partisans led by…Chiang Kai-shek against…Mao Zedong and the reds.  Today, it is considered a slur against the CCP…五毛 is a cleverer anti-CCP troll.  It’s basically calling a pro-CCP commenter a paid shill, albeit a cheap one.  The joke is that human CCP NPCs get paid fifty cents for each pro-CCP post; ergo, the “fifty-cent army” or 五毛党…those terms would not disappear from YouTube comments if you typed them out in English or in Pinyin…only…in the original Hanzi…YouTube is already banned in China and can be a pain to access without a good VPN and strong desire to do so…We are asked to believe that YouTube’s pesky algorithm just happened to accidentally disappear these very particular Chinese anti-government phrases since at least October of 2019…Perhaps the fifty-cent army flagged these phrases enough to become automatic triggers that the algorithm would automatically pull.  But it is also possible that someone at YouTube manually added these terms to a blocklist…Pressure from politicians of both parties contributed to Google winding down its proposed “Dragonfly” Chinese search engine that would have been compliant with CCP censorship demands…

Panopticon (#1007)

FWIW, the DEA mostly conducts old-fashioned Stasi-type surveillance:

The Drug Enforcement Administration has been granted sweeping new authority to “conduct covert surveillance” and collect intelligence on people participating in protests over the police killing of George Floyd…Attorney General William Barr issued a statement…blam[ing the protests on]…“anarchistic and far left extremists, using Antifa-like tactics”…He said the FBI, DEA, US Marshals, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be “deployed to support local efforts to enforce federal law.”  Barr did not say what those agencies would do, however…

Panopticon (#1030)

Pigs now routinely use spy drones for surveillance :

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is regularly flying Predator drones…above American cities for surveillance.  This includes cities farther than 100 miles from the border…In two instances last month, CBP…flew [a drone] either close to or directly above Minneapolis…[another] recently flew around half a dozen times above or near San Antonio, Texas, which is also outside the 100 mile border region.  In some cases the Predator drones circled above the cities for an extended period of time…

Social Distancing (#1041)

Australian sex workers are challenging crypto-moralism:

Sex workers in Australia could operate under a COVID-19-safe framework…according to the adults-only industry association.  The industry has been crippled by bans in all states and territories during the…pandemic.  As other industries are included in road maps for restarting, only the Northern Territory has given clear advice to sex workers on when they can return to work.  In a letter to Health Minister Greg Hunt…the Eros Association expressed concern that shutting down the sex industry was being “motivated by moral judgments…rather than any justified concerns regarding public health…strip clubs, escort agencies and brothels should be allowed to operate (with appropriate restrictions) at the same stage as other body work practitioners such as massage therapists…Attached to the letter were proposed guidelines for restarting the industry…

But for Video

Just a few choice selections of police brutality from the past week:

…A New York City [cop] tore a protective mask off of a young black man and assaulted him with pepper spray…New York City [cops]…rammed a crowd in a street…[cops] in Minneapolis marched down a quiet residential street and shot paint canisters at residents who were watching from their private porch…Police in Louisville raided a public square, [stealing] and destroying water and milk…used to counter irritants like pepper spray…Atlanta police [shot] two black people…with tasers and t[ore] them out of their car…A New York City [cop] used two hands to throw a woman to the ground…San Antonio Police used tear gas against people. So did Dallas policeSo did Los Angeles policeSo did DC police. The list goes on…A freelance photographer in Minneapolis…went permanently blind in her left eye after being [intentionally] shot [in the face with a rubber bullet at close range]…

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The government has adopted a win-at-all-costs approach and [an attitude] that the ends justify the means.  –  Michael Piccarreta

Elephant in the Parlor

Politician takes bribes, hires whores.  Yawn.

…federal [documents]…suggest…a years-long trail of bribery between City Councilmember Jose Huizar and a Chinese development firm with a megaproject slated for downtown Los Angeles…[real estate broker] George Chiang…started a real estate consulting company in 2014…that directed money, consulting fees, casino chips, flights on private jets, luxury hotel stays, prostitutes and escort services between developers…[politicians] and [bureaucrats]…in exchange for approval of an 80,000-square foot commercial project and other downtown developments…

Dangerous Speech (#958)

The government keeps demonstrating that it doesn’t really care that its war on thought is wholly and incontrovertibly unconstitutional:

fiery motion to dismiss filed in the Lacey/Larkin case on May 1…accuses the U.S. Department of Justice of “outrageous government misconduct,” claiming federal pettifoggers and government agents repeatedly trampled upon the defendants’ attorney-client privileges…despite repeated warnings from defense counsel…and two [court] orders…the government continued to question former Backpage CEO and owner Carl Ferrer concerning confidential legal advice that was subject to joint defense and representation agreements with other defendants…the government grilled Ferrer repeatedly through “seven successive interviews” over the course of 13 months, beginning the day of his plea deal…In doing so…the government engaged in “outrageous” and “unconstitutional” misconduct.  Prosecutors “willfully invaded” Lacey and Larkin’s attorney-client privileges in order to “gain a tactical advantage in the case,” thereby violating the defendants’ Fifth Amendment right to due process of law and their Sixth Amendment right to counsel…Barring outright dismissal, the motion asks for an evidentiary hearing to determine the extent of the harm done to the defendants and possible sanctions against the government, such as the exclusion of Ferrer as a witness, the suppression of other evidence, or the disqualification of the entire prosecution team…

Negative Secondary Effects (#974)

The human cost of a prohibitionist crusade:

In March 2019 my life was turned upside down…by feminist groups who said I needed saving…Becoming a dancer at Sheffield’s Spearmint Rhino was the best thing I’d ever done.  It gave me the confidence I desperately lacked…[but then] Not Buying It sent private [dicks] into our club to buy lap dances and secretly film the women dancing.  They did this to “prove” to Sheffield Council that Spearmint Rhino was in breach of its own code of conduct and should have its licence revoked.  They filmed women naked and without their consent, and this was only the beginning…it traumatised the women …[and] hurt their families, their friends and their children…the ensuing campaign to close our club left me extremely anxious and scared to go to work…I was paranoid that every person who came into the club was another undercover investigator trying to take my job away.  I was always on edge, watching people, checking buttons for cameras, looking in people’s ears to see if they were wearing earpieces.  I was hyper-aware of customers who used their mobile phones and frightened that they were secretly recording me.  It was torture.  Work went from being the place I felt safest to a place I felt judged and under attack…

Business As Usual (#1001)

Every so often one of these sadly-typical stories gets more media attention:

Agents with…DHS…in Arizona have been “fighting” human trafficking by sending federal immigration agents to [rape women they claim to be]…victims…[then] seizing their assets, and telling the press it was these women who were the real predators.  Federal agents [raped] at least 17…”Asian females” working in massage parlors around Mohave County, Arizona, over a five-month period in 2018…the years-long operation yielded three misdemeanor charges…[the] scenario…is far from an isolated incidentnational and mainstream media have been discovering and disapproving of “Operation Asian Touch.”  This is great—so long as nobody mistakes what happened in Mohave County for an atypical investigation.  If you track initial claims about massage parlor-based human trafficking through to their actual conclusions, you’ll almost always find law enforcement simply targeting sex workers, small-business owners, immigrants, and the people who patronize them with harassment, assault, arrest, property seizure, prosecution, detainment, and deportation. And the “victims” they allegedly set out to save frequently wind up facing criminal charges.  There are only two roles women can play in this Homeland Security-led charade: helpless sex slave or conniving human trafficker.  (Both types…are invited to stroke ICE agent penises)…

I Spy (#1006)

But please, tell me more about “wings” and “blue states” and “democracy”:

The U.S. Senate comfortably approved a 2-1/2-year extension of parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)…by 80-16, far more than the 60 votes needed for passage.  The measure must be approved…by the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the White House for President Donald Trump to veto or sign into law…

Like Houses (#1031)

All they were waiting for was a strong enough excuse:

In India, the COVID-19 crisis is turning out to be the perfect excuse for the government to consolidate its pre-pandemic surveillance ambitions.  Since May 4, as restrictions began to ease, the government has mandated the installation of its contact-tracing smartphone app for anyone who works…or uses public transport.  Failing to do so is criminal…Unsurprisingly, digital rights and civil society organizations are pushing back on the new di[ktat]…

Reawakening

A high-profile example of the quiet rebellion that’s already started everywhere in the US:

Alameda County [bureaucrats] backed down in their conflict with Elon Musk, reversing their shutdown order and granting provisional approval for Tesla’s Fremont, California plant to reopen.  Musk had already reopened the plant for business in defiance of the lockdown order, tweeting …”If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me“…Musk’s civil disobedience against the COVID lockdown regime is a high-profile instance of a wider trend…

Social Distancing (#1036)

At its core, Australia is still prohibitionist:

…as Australia eases itself out of COVID-19 restrictions…in [a] three-stage framework…strip clubs and brothels were specifically listed “to remain closed” even in stage three…other businesses with…skin-to-skin contact – like waxing, massages, tattoos, bathhouses and saunas – are allowed to open in stage three.  Scarlet Alliance CEO Jules Kim [said]…”We hoped this…outbreak wouldn’t be used as an excuse to turn back…gains made in sex worker legislation, but it’s hard to see this as anything but discrimination, considering similar businesses are allowed”…federal [bureaucrats] recommended brothels and strip club venues should stay shut [indefinitely]…sole operator sex workers…are banned after being classed as “non-essential”

Meanwhile, over in New Zealand:

The national lift to COVID-19 alert level 2 means it’s business as usual for many Kiwis, including sex workers…The New Zealand Prostitute’s Collective (NZPC) released guidelines for sex workers on their website…with a checklist of hygiene practices and safety measures workers, brothels and massage parlours should be implementing…

Torture Chamber (#1038)

No human is truly free while governments claim the “right” to lock people in filthy, disease-ridden cages:

In the vast majority of the world’s overcrowded and underfunded prisons…physical distancing is simply not an option.  In situations where close confinement, shared facilities and spaces and poor hygiene are commonplace…prison[ers]…are living in constant fear of the ticking COVID-19 time bomb…UNAIDS, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the World Health Organization and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are calling on leaders to make detention a last resort, to close drug rehabilitation detention centres and to decriminalize sex work, same-sex sexual relations and drug use.  They are urging countries to release the people who can be released…The Government of Ethiopia…has released more than 30,000 prisoners and has heightened sanitation measures.  Indonesia is releasing more than 50,000…Iran is releasing 40% of its total prison population, 100,000 people, while Chile is set to release around 50,000 people…

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