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Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky’

It’s complete and utter bullshit.  –  former member of OUR

Choke Point (#593) 

Prohibitionists love victim-blaming sex workers:

On March 3rd…Scott Stedman and Aaron Parnas published a hit piece on Forensic News lobbing accusations of fraud, theft, and money laundering at several adult sites…Stedman is rehashing old, baseless accusations for attention…it’s the banks, not the adult sites, which are responsible for sex workers losing access to their funds…Sex workers certainly have their gripes with adult sites…But accusations that [they] are particularly rife with fraud, theft, and money laundering seem to be entirely without merit…the only evidence Stedman and Parnas can point to are Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs)…[which] anyone can file…without any proof or evidence.  Banks have claimed that certain adult sites “may be operating in areas where underage children…might be forced to provide services.”  Yet not only did no bank report a single instance of underage activity, their only evidence was the fact that MyFreeCams serves users in “high-risk” areas such as Colombia, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, the Philippines, and Russia…In fact, all evidence points to all of these “suspicious” transactions being from adult platforms to content creators abroad…

To Molest and Rape (#869)

The “sex offender” registration is the only serious consequence:

A third Louisville [cop]…has [received a slap on the wrist]…for sexually a[ssault]ing a minor [he groomed via]…the department’s youth Explorer program.  A U.S. District Court judge…[let typical and representative cop] Brad Schuhmann [walk with a mere] six months of home incarceration and two years on probation.  In addition, Schuhmann will have to pay a $2,000 fine and register as a sex offender…The [lenient treatment was in spite of the] victim…calling Schuhmann a “monster” and a “predator” who has ruined her life…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1045)

Far too little, far too late:

…four individual civil liberties activists and the groups Mijente and NorCal Resist [have filed suit against] Clearview AI [because it] “engages in the widespread collection of California residents’ images and biometric information without notice or consent”…The plaintiffs argue Clearview AI enhances [cop shops’] efforts to monitor…activists…and [marginalized people]…

Lack of Evidence (#1052) 

Removing excuses cops use to persecute people is always a good thing:

[New York’s] “walking while trans” law…was repealed…in [Februar]y…It could prompt other states and cities that have similar laws on the books to follow suit.  California could introduce a bill to repeal a prostitution loitering law this year, and activists in Chicago, Atlanta and New Orleans have organized to reverse similar ordinances.  Last summer, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to repeal drug trafficking and prostitution loitering laws…

Working From Home (#1052)

Another step toward a fully-independent demimonde:

…for many sex workers, corporate platforms aren’t revolutionary at all.  Censorship, technology failures and heavy-handed fees are just a few of the drawbacks of using social platforms for sex work.  Rather than rely solely on mainstream services such as OnlyFans, which keeps 20 percent of performers’ earnings, some sex workers use corporate networks only for advertising and conduct their real business on their own websites, which they build and control…

Served Cold (#1100) 

It took almost seven years, but the press has finally caught up with me:

…Operation Underground Railroad…had arrived in a remote village seeking a missing child, acting on what founder Tim Ballard had promised was a solid tip from a source…But the missing child was nowhere to be found. And then…Ballard produced his source: a psychic medium from Utah…Soon after…the villagers became suspicious and increasingly upset as he began circulating through the village with a camera crew…The villagers began to gather, some of them armed with old shotguns, and…elders soon asked the[m]…to leave.  Several cars followed them out of the village to make sure they’d gone…The day was…indicative of a larger pattern for OUR…People who participated in and witnessed OUR operations overseas recounted blundering missions…that seemed aimed mainly at generating exciting video footage…Experts and advocates for sex workers and trafficking survivors also questioned whether OUR’s ties to a corrupt Thai police agency could lead to repression of pro-democracy activists…one person with extensive experience working overseas with OUR…said…nothing OUR did seemed recognizably informed by professional military or intelligence practice…no meaningful surveillance or identification of targets; no development of assets; no validating that people they sought to rescue had in fact been trafficked, or that people they were targeting were indeed traffickers…“They’d go and just push for pimps to show up with girls.”  If presented with sex workers of legal age, OUR would insist on younger girls…“He was creating demand…They conflate sex work and trafficking…They’re making it worse”…

Safe Position (#1110)

Even columns like this one by Steve Chapman are no longer rare:

Eliza Orlins…could be remembered for…moving the nation toward decriminalizing sex work…If elected, she says, she will “advocate for the full decriminalization of consensual sex work. This will begin with declining to prosecute all cases of consensual sex work.”  She is finding plenty of allies.  Five other candidates in the eight-person field have taken the same position…Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez is not in favor of full decriminalization, but he has stopped prosecuting sex workers on prostitution charges and recently vacated more than 1,000 warrants…A poll last year found that 52% of Americans think we should “remove criminal penalties for adults to sell and pay for consensual sex”…Among Democrats and voters aged 18 to 44, 2 out of 3 take th[at] view…

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I can’t breathe.  –  Eleanor Northington

Grace got some new glasses this week, which means I’ve heard her singing this all week.  And I’m therefore going to share it with you!  The links above it were provided by Radley Balko, Elizabeth N. Brown, Desiree Alliance, Cop Crisis, Jesse Walker, and Clarissa, in that order.

From the Archives

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 [A Biden victory] is not a victory for sex workers.  –  Penelope Saunders

A False Dichotomy 

Cathy Reisenwitz on the dogma that sex without “enthusiastic consent” is rape:

…most of our choices in life…[a]re not straightforwardly coercive or cooperative, but somewhere in-between…This leads me to the inevitable conclusion that consent versus coercion isn’t a binary.  It’s a spectrum…On one end of the spectrum you have slavery and rape.  On the opposite end you have enthusiastic consent.  But most choices fall somewhere in the middle…When we say we are “forced” to make a choice, we mean that there’s no acceptable alternative.  We say we’ve been forced to do something if the alternative is death or jail.  When we say we’re “pressured” to make a choice, what we mean is there’s no appealing alternative.  We say we’ve been pressured to do something if the alternative is unpleasant or inconvenient.  The difference then between force and pressure is a difference of scope, not kind.  They’re both coercion, but are different levels of coercion…

Don’t Take My Word For It (#873)

While it’s not surprising to see male sex work increase during the pandemic, I’m extremely skeptical of claims, such as those in this story, that the clients are predominantly female.  Anti-queer stigma is much higher in India than in the US, so naturally male sex workers there are going to claim – as some did for decades in the US – that most of their clients are female in order to save face.  But as usual, the claims in this story don’t ring true, and the quotes from the interviewees only serve to underscore that.

Pyrrhic Victory (#992) 

Seattle cops have a positive fetish for illegal surveillance:

…a…Seattle Police…detective…signed up for and used facial recognition app Clearview AI, which…i[s a] violation of the City of Seattle’s Surveillance Ordinance…Nick Kartes…signed up for Clearview in September 2019 using his “@seattle.gov” work email address…he logged into the service over 30 times, as recently as April 22…the devices used to log into Detective Kartes’ account were connected to the City of Seattle network…This follows an established pattern, highlighted this summer, where Seattle police regularly flaunt the law…

But don’t worry, toothless local laws will definitely stop this!

Panopticon (#993)

Amazon’s fascist collaboration with cops just keeps getting worse:

…While people buy Ring cameras and put them on their front door to keep their packages safe, police use them to build comprehensive CCTV camera networks blanketing whole neighborhoods.  This…allows police departments to [shift] the cost of buying surveillance equipment…onto consumers by convincing them they need cameras to keep their property safe…[and] evades the natural reaction of fear and distrust that many people would have if they learned police were putting up dozens of cameras on their block…Now…police in Jackson, Mississippi, have started a pilot program t[o convince]…Ring owners to patch the camera streams from their front doors directly to…police…footage [of] your…coming and going…your neighbors taking out the trash, and the dog walkers and delivery people who do their jobs in your street…can now be live streamed directly onto a dozen monitors scrutinized by police around the clock.  Even if you refuse to allow your footage to be used that way, your neighbor’s camera pointed at your house may still be transmitting directly to the police[, plus all cops need do is ask and Amazon will grant warrantless access to your camera without your consent]…


The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1033) 

Censors’ fixation on Pornhub spreads to Thailand:

Thailand’s government said…it had banned Pornhub and 190 other websites showing pornography, prompting social media anger over censorship…many Thai users trended the #SavePornhub hashtag on Twitter and criticised the shutting of a site in a country…which has a globally-known sex industry…A few dozen activists protested the block outside the digital ministry, holding banners saying “free Pornhub” and “reclaim Pornhub”…Internet research firm Top10VPN said it saw a spike in searches from Thailand for Virtual Private Networks (VPN), which help circumvent censorship, by 640%…after Pornhub was [censored]…

And India:

The Cyber Police agency of the Indian state of Maharashtra — the region that includes populous Mumbai — has formally accused several platforms of “transmitting sexually explicit and obscene content online”…[the sites include] Xvideos and Pornhub.  Inspector General of Police Yashasvi Yadav [made furtive movements in his pants while sharing his fantasy that]…”the actresses in these videos have been exploited, lured or compelled to perform the obscene acts. We will be treating the actresses as ‘victims’ and not ‘accused persons’”…

To Molest and Rape (#1048)

Since costumed rapists are essentially immune to criminal law, civil law has to do:

A new lawsuit [has been] filed against [typical and representative] Louisville [cop] Brett Hankison…a…sexual predator…who…[has] willfully, intentionally, painfully and violently…[raped at least 10 women over the years and achieved recent notoriety for the murder] of…Breonna Taylor…LMPD has…fired Hankison for his role in the [murder, but ignored all the rape complaints]…nine o[f the] women who…Hankison [raped have made statements in the lawsuit, filed by Margo Borders, a lawyer he raped in 2018]…

(State) Violence Against Women

Two hardline prohibitionists at the top do not bode well for sex workers:

…Phoenix Calida…[of] SWOP-USA…says of a Biden win, “I see things getting worse for sex workers, actually.”  Calida’s assessment is due in part to Biden’s sponsorship of the 1994 crime bill…“‘Tough on crime,’ which Biden has really promoted his entire career, is really not helpful at all to sex workers…Biden is like, ‘Let’s not defund the police, let’s give them more money!’”  Advocates’ concerns around…Kamala Harris, are both more numerous and concrete.  “You couldn’t get a candidate with a worse record on sex work,” says [Penelope] Saunders of [Best Practices Policy Project].  In 2008, Harris called San Francisco’s Proposition K—an attempt at halting the enforcement of laws against prostitution—“completely ridiculous.”  Harris also infamously pursued the shutdown of Backpage and the prosecution of the site’s owners despite warnings that shuttering the site would put sex workers in greater danger and make it harder to investigate sex trafficking cases. (It did.)  She also helped develop the devastating SESTA/FOSTA, specifically as a means of targeting Backpage…[and supports]…the EARN IT Act, a bill…which threatens sex workers’ ability to use encrypted messaging services…as well as free speech online…opponents of the bill…are calling it “SESTA/FOSTA 2.0.”…

Elephant in the Parlor (#1078)

Compare the ugly, racist, agency-negating whore stigma used by Democrats in this article to attack someone closely associated with Trump, to the ugly, racist, agency-negating whore stigma used by Republicans just a month earlier to attack someone closely associated with Biden, and then tell me again how they’re so different and why sex workers should trust either pack of fanatics:  “President Trump’s top campaign strategist, Jason Miller…admitted to hiring prostitutes and receiving sexual favors at multiple ‘Asian themed’ massage parlors, an industry known to have connections to sex trafficking rings…”  “Progressives” want sex workers to believe they’re on our side, but they go straight for the anti-whore slurs the second they think it will win them cheap points on the “other team”.

Social Distancing (#1084)

Prohibitionists don’t care who has to suffer to advance their twisted agenda:

India’s sex workers suffered a setback…following a U-turn by the country’s human rights body, which said [sex workers] should not be registered as workers or guaranteed financial aid from the government amid the fallout of COVID-19.  The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) last month asked state governments to recognise sex workers as informal workers, which would have entitled them to benefits and aid from a $23 billion fund for India’s poor during the coronavirus pandemic…the watchdog’s non-binding advisory was hailed by [human rights experts]… as a boon for the rights of an estimated 800,000 sex workers across India, [but prohibitionists, led by the evil and deeply-deranged Sunitha Krishnan, worked to intimidate the commission by issuing veiled threats of expensive and troublesome legal complaints based in bad “]sex trafficking[” laws.  In response to these threats]…The NHRC…issued a new statement that said sex workers could not be registered officially or categorised as informal workers….[but] should instead be given help on “humanitarian grounds” during the pandemic…

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He’s mine now.  –  “Officer” Michael Fattaleh

It’s only been two months since animation great Joe Ruby died, and now he’s been followed by his partner Ken Spears.  The duo created many cartoons, but their most famous and enduring creation was Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, and since it hasn’t been long since Halloween I decided to pay tribute with this 1999 parody of The Blair Witch Project which Cartoon Network created as bumpers for a Scooby Doo marathon.  The links above it were provided by Jesse Walker, Cop Crisis (x2), Brooke Magnanti, Franklin HarrisWalter Olson, and Kendra Holliday, in that order.

From the Archives

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The very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence.  –  Adolf Hitler, via the Kentucky State Police

Sean Connery died on Halloween, but I wasn’t about to stack his obit on top of The Amazing Randi’s.  I’ve also grown tired of dead YouTube links, so I picked a tribute from a channel that in my experience doesn’t often get censored.  The links above it were provided by Kevin Wilson, Mike Siegel, Radley Balko, Jesse Walker, Tim Cushing, and Cop Crisis (x2), in that order.

From the Archives

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Vote, vote, vote
Vote, vote, vote
Unless you are a candied yam
‘Cause candied yams can’t vote.
  –  Charlotte

Since we’re getting close to both Halloween and the real horror of the US presidential election, I figured a horror cartoon about an election would be appropriate; any resemblance between the ending of the cartoon and one possible outcome of the real election is strictly intentional.  The links above it were provided by David Ley, Cop Crisis (x2), Radley Balko, Mark Draughn, Lenore Skenazy, and Jesse Walker, in that order.

From the Archives

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I’m always happy when journalists investigate the wild fantasies promoted by politicians, cops, and “rescue” profiteers via the mainstream media.  First of all, they have much better investigational tools and resources than I do, plus paid time to do the job; second, they have a far larger platform, and can thus inform many more people of the truth even if their coverage of the topic trails mine by years; and third, given the central role played by the news media in disseminating the lies and propagating the hysteria, it is the moral responsibility of ethical journalists to at least attempt to counteract the massive damage done by their unethical, incompetent and lazy brethren.  So I was very pleased indeed to see Michael Hobbes (whom I’ve corresponded with before) publish in Huffington Post (which for a while was as happy as any other site to spread anti-sex tall tales) a thorough debunking of that “brave hero cops rescue dozens of ‘sex trafficked children’ in Georgia” masturbatory fantasy from a couple of weeks ago.  So much information is intentionally omitted from the “official” press releases in such stories that I’m often forced to surmise the real meaning of semantically-opaque terms like “rescued”; I’m gratified to see that the details Hobbes uncovered are close to my educated guesses:

…“U.S. Marshals Find 39 Missing Children in Georgia”…proclaimed the government’s official press release.  Federal agents and local law enforcement, it said, had rescued 26 children, “safely located” 13 more and arrested nine perpetrators, some of whom were charged with sex trafficking.  The facts of the operation weren’t clear (what does “safely located” mean, exactly?), but it didn’t stop media outlets from taking up the story…the vast majority…were little more than rewritten versions of the U.S. Marshals Service’s press release.  Within hours, social media users continued the game of telephone. “39 kids were just recovered from traffickers in Georgia,” Charlie Kirk, the founder of the right-wing student group Turning Point USA, wrote in a tweet…More than 150,000 people shared a single-sentence tweet from someone named King Randall, I: “How is finding 39 missing children in a double wide trailer here in Georgia NOT the biggest news story in America?”  Well, to answer a one-sentence question with a one-sentence answer, 39 kids being rescued from a trailer in Georgia is not the biggest news story in America because 39 kids were not rescued from a trailer in Georgia… 

…“This was not a designated anti-trafficking operation,” [said] Darby Kirby, a U.S. Marshals Service inspector…the…effort…was a collaboration between state and federal authorities to locate 78 “critically missing” children…they…found all but 13…39 were “recovered,” meaning they were removed from whatever situation they were in — which could be anything from living on the streets to crashing on a friend’s couch to staying with a parent who didn’t have custody rights.  The other 26 cases were closed without the child being “recovered”…[which] could [either] mean that another agency…found them — or that they had been home all along…authorities said they suspected [emphasis Maggie’s] that 15…were [so-called] victims of trafficking (meaning [only that] they were engaging in commercial sex) but confirmed only six cases…The operation netted only one new charge of sex trafficking…Of the seven men and two women arrested, three were charged with probation violations, one was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and two were accused of violating custody arrangements.  One…was arrested on a warrant for a previous sex trafficking charge, and two more were arrested on warrants for sex crimes in other states…agents did not rescue a large number of children from a single location — or even a single jurisdiction…only two…were recovered together.  The other kids were found individually across 15 Georgia counties and six other states:  South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, Kentucky and Michigan.  The operation took place over two weeks, not one night…the agency did not conduct any raids…

…It’s also worth noting that the operation was also set up to arrest [legal minors], not just rescue [children]…two…were [arested as] suspects in homicide cases, and one was a person of interest in another…11…had…“some kind of gang affiliation”…seven warrants [in all] were issued for underage offenders…54 of the 78…had been in foster care before they went missing…most…were…runaways…

There’s a lot more, but I think you get the picture.  Between some reporters waking up, some outlets at last letting skeptical journalists publish stories like this, and some (like the New York Times) being forced to recant their own propaganda for fear of being associated with QAnon, I think it’s safe to say we’ve at last entered the period of skeptical journalism that always precedes the collapse of a moral panic.

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America’s founding generation…knew their fair share of unwelcome constables.  –  Judge Justin Walker

Elephant in the Parlor (#832)

Remember this scandal?

A California Superior Court judge has ordered President Donald Trump to pay $44,100 to…Stormy Daniels, to reimburse her attorneys’ fees in the legal battle surrounding her nondisclosure agreement…[the suit ended when] Trump and his legal team agreed outside of court not to sue or otherwise enforce the NDA.  The…claim…[was] ruled moot, as the NDA had been rendered unenforceable…Judge Robert Broadbelt III ruled that [Daniels] was entitled to legal fees, finding her the “prevailing party” under California law…

License to Rape (#940)

Let’s hope this means it’s going to get harder for cops to molest kids under the pretext of a “search”:

Holly Curry sued [a] cop and [a busybody bureaucrat who threatened their way into her home without a warrant and molested her children under the pretext of] investigat[ing her] for child abuse…[she argued] their behavior was so egregious, they had to take responsibility for it.  The judge agreed…and…[denied] them…[qualified] immunity.[because]… it was clear the government used an improper threat to enter the home, lacked any evidence that might have justified a strip search, and violated the children’s rights to bodily integrity…The investigator in the case testified that they “automatically strip search every child when they go into a home”…

I Spy (#966)

Any internet-connected device can be used to spy on you:

Amazon…received more than 3,000 requests for smart speaker user data from police…this year…[and] complied with…more than 2,000 occasions, forking over recordings and data that [let pigs eavesdrop on private conversations]…This number marks a 72% increase in these types of requests from the same period in 2016…Google’s Nest unit has also seen a similar spike in police demands for data from its [microphones]…Voice clips are…only the beginning…Police can also [ob]tain time-stamped logs of user activity…

Torture Chamber (#987)

This isn’t nearly enough, unless it’s drawn from the screws’ pension fund:

The [citizens] of Florida will [be forced by the state to] pay…$4.65 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit filed by Cheryl Weimar, a…prison[er] who was paralyzed from the neck down after a brutal beating by [screws] last September…the payout…[is slightly] large[r]…[than] the…$4.5 million [given] to the family of Darren Rainey…who[m sadistic screws intentionally and maliciously] boiled to death in a rigged shower [in 2012]…Keith Turner, one of the [screws who maimed her]…was later arrested [for] molesting two minors and fired from the FDOC…[his accomplice Ryan Dionne was arrested in 2013 for domestic battery, yet] remains employed at the department…

All-Purpose Excuse (#1063)

Trumpists and anti-Trumpists continue to fight for control of the “sex trafficking” narrative:

A new report from the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence offers a damning portrait of the people Donald Trump chose as his partners for potential projects in Russia.  They include…Tevfik Arif…[whom] the…committee…accus[ed of being…“involved in Russian…human trafficking…[because] he…brought ‘thousands’ of women into the United States, primarily from Ukraine”…and…Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov and his pop-singer son, Emin…who…“have been closely affiliated with individuals involved in…prostitution…and other significant criminal enterprises”…

The Implosion Begins

This is getting sweeter by the day:

Supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory…marched in downtown Miami on [August 22nd] as part of a series of rallies stretching across Florida…some demonstrators held vague signs asking to “save our children,” [and] others hinted [th]at…the…underground human trafficking ring [of the myths so beloved by yellow journalists and anti-sex profiteers is actually] run by the country’s elite class…

The Implosion Begins (#1067)

Moral panics never end until they start harming those who weren’t their intended targets:

A Waco, Texas, woman [named Cecilia Fulbright]…motivated by the QAnon [branch of the popular “sex trafficking” delusion]…got behind the wheel of her car just after 9 a.m.​ [on August 19th] with the intent to “[save] a child” from “pedophiles”.  Fulbright…chased two strangers’ vehicles in an apparent attempt to ​hit them…the first vehicle was a catering truck driven by a woman with her ​minor daughter in the passenger’s seat.  They successfully evaded Fulbright…[who] then ​targeted a second unrelated ​vehicle, a Dodge Caravan ​driven by a 19-year-old college student​.  Fulbright chased ​the student into a parking lot​ where she cornered​ and repeatedly rammed ​the..van​…[cops] found Fulbright “crying hysterically” and yelling that the driver of the vehicle she attacked “was a pedophile and had kidnapped a girl for human trafficking”…her blood alcohol content was recorded as 0.21​ percent…

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She’s an adult as much as any fictional slime insect bug monster can be.  –  Slugbox

The Prudish Giant (#853)

Once Patreon started following in the footsteps of Facebook, this was inevitable:

Whether by choice or force, Patreon’s NSFW creators are increasingly ditching the site over its 18+ rules.  The latest casualties include a gay hypnosis erotica site and an adult anime artist [over whom] Patreon tried to “exercise a scary amount of financial and public control.”  On July 15, Gay Spiral Stories owner Martin announced that the site would no longer be available for funding on Patreon…when…Patreon [demanded he]…remove…fictional, fantastical stories around mind control…Patreon was attempting to control what content Gay Spiral Stories could host off-site, regardless of Gay Spiral Stories’ Patreon presence…Patreon is [also] increasingly forcing adult artists to surrender their portfolios to the site’s control.  In June, adult anime artist Slugbox…decided to leave Patreon for good…[because] under the site’s contemporary terms of service…“‘Slugbox’ becomes a ‘project’ that belongs to Patreon…[which can] dictate where Slugbox can operate, where Slugbox can make money, and how [Slugbox can] make money, and then hold my success here as a hostage”…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#855)

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

A former west Kentucky teacher and track coach, Mark Boggess was sentenced to ten years in prison…for setting up a video recording device in the bathroom of the nurse’s station in the high school…[so he c]ould…watch people change in and out of clothes…The defense claimed Boggess has a porn addiction…

Lack of Evidence (#945) 

Alas, these lawsuits usually end in “settlements” that simply force cops to find a different excuse for harassing women:

A woman is suing San Jose police in federal court…[after] she was targeted, arrested, and jailed because [cops claimed]…transgender [women are all]…sex worker[s]…She is being represented by Bruce Nickerson, a prominent LGBTQ-rights attorney who is pursuing class-action status for the suit…Nickerson successfully sued San Jose police over undercover decoy stings…that…unlawfully targeted gay men…San Jose police declined to comment on the lawsuit…But [claimed stalking and harassing people for supposed bad thoughts was really FOR THE CHILDREN™!!!]…and [that]…street prostitution [magically attracts unspecified but scary]…harmful activity…from…other cities

Pyrrhic Victory (#985) 

Another (very) slight setback for universal facial recognition in the US:

Over about eight years, the American drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp quietly added facial recognition systems to 200 stores across the United States…in largely lower-income, non-white neighborhoods…after Reuters sent…findings [from its investigation] to the retailer, Rite Aid [claimed] it had quit using its facial recognition software….[and] all the cameras had been turned off…Rite Aid [also claimed]…that customers had been apprised of the technology through “signage”…[but] reporters found no notice of the surveillance in more than a third of the stores…with the facial recognition cameras…and [further claimed]…the rollout was…based on stores’ theft histories, local and national crime data and site infrastructure…Among the systems used…was one from DeepCam LLC, which…[is lin]ked with a firm in China whose largest…investor is [the] Chinese government…The Home Depot Inc said it had been testing facial recognition to reduce shoplifting in at least one of its stores but stopped the trial this year…Walmart…has also tried out facial recognition in a handful of stores…

You Were Warned (#1031)

Torture Chamber (#1041)

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

…conditions at the Indiana Women’s Prison are being [recognized as] “inhumane” by some [politicians.  Chief screws deny it, but a whistleblower sided with prisoners in telling the truth.  Bureaucrats claim that prisoners]…can go to the restroom every 30 minutes and are allowed to leave their cell every two hours to roam the common areas.  [But in reality the women are locked in cages and told to “stop faking” if they need to use the toilet]…Before the pandemic, the [screws] would keep the cell doors open so [prisoners] could go into the common areas and the air would easily flow through the facility.  However, the[y now use the pandemic as an excuse to keep]…cell doors [locked at all times]…“They are passing out from heat exhaustion as well as experiencing seizures,” said [politician J.D.] Ford…“I have seen vomiting, I have not personally seen seizures, but I frequently see reports of them,” said the…whistleblower…

To Molest and Rape (#1057)

Notice how often rapist cops’ victims are underage?

A San Diego [cop was finally] arrested…on criminal charges of child molestation, pandering and luring a child into a sex act, among other offenses…Jaylen Devon Fleer…is being held without bail…[after being on paid vacation since] May…[other pigs from the same cop shop who have been] charged with sexual misconduct…in recent years [include molester] Richard Fischer…[molester] Timothy Wilson…[rapist] Juan Andrade…[and sexual harasser] Assistant Sheriff Rich Miller…

If you can stomach it, read down to the part where the reporter tries to build up sympathy for a molester by telling us how good he was at playing kids’ games in high school.

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Fundamental[ly]…policing [is]…a state institution that’s predicated on the use of violence to fix problems.  –  Alex Vitale

What Were You All Waiting For? 

Is the ACLU finally beginning to do the right thing, at long last?

Sex workers aren’t always a part of [amateurs’] conversation about police brutality, but they should be.  Police regularly target, harass, and assault sex workers or people they think are sex workers…[and] usually get away with the abuse because sex workers fear being arrested if they report. If we lived in a world that didn’t criminalize sex work, sex workers could better protect themselves and seek justice when they are harmed.  Protecting sex workers from police violence is just one of the reasons we need to decriminalize sex work…

To Molest and Rape

A murderer is also a rapist.  Gee, what a surprise:

…one of three white officers accused in the death of Breonna Taylor…[also molested at least] two women [in the past.  Brett Hankinson]…is…a dirty cop [who has also carried out] vendetta[s by] arrest[ing people he dislikes on trumped-up charges]…the more recent sexual assault…[was] against…a woman [named]…Margo Borders w[ho reported that Hankinson] …”drove me home [from a bar] in uniform, in his marked car, invited himself into my apartment and sexually assaulted me while I was unconscious”…In the second instance…Emily Terry…”began walking home from a bar intoxicated.  A [cop] pulled up next to me and offered me a ride home…He began making sexual advances towards me…As soon as he pulled up to my apartment building, I got out of the car and ran to the back”…

Pyrrhic Victory (#903) 

Amazon wants to have its cake and eat it too:

We’re implementing a one-year moratorium on police use of Amazon’s facial recognition technology.  We will continue to allow organizations like Thorn, the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Marinus Analytics to use Amazon Rekognition to [persecute sex workers] and [pass the information on to the cops]…

In other words, Amazon is adopting a cosmetic ban in order to take advantage of the anti-cop zeitgeist while simultaneously profiting from helping notorious fascist anti-sex organizations to persecute sex workers and pass the information along to their pig buddies.

Silver Lining

Another sign that the moral panic may be dying:

For the second year in a row, the number of federal human trafficking cases…has dropped after almost two decades of increases…Overall, federal p[er]secutions of [people using the excuse of] human traffick[ing] have dropped by about a third since 2017…The decrease came entirely from a drop in prosecutions of sex trafficking…which has consistently made up the majority of federal human trafficking prosecutions since the TVPA was enacted.  The number of labor trafficking cases has remained roughly the same, [because unike “sex trafficking” they are based in reality]…The number of new sex trafficking cases, meanwhile, dropped from 207 in 2017 to just 136 filed in 2019…

Working From Home (#1045)

Moloch (#1047) 

Contrast with Oregon and other states which are finally moving to protect students from police violence:

…thousands of small children who are led out of schools in handcuffs every year around the country.  Juvenile arrests in Florida have been steadily declining over the last decade, as they have been more generally across the U.S., but…the state embarked on an aggressive plan to “harden” its…[treatment of students], including putting at least one [armed, dangerous thug] in every K-12 school in the state…[the result is that] students, especially minorities and those with disabilities, are now bearing the brunt of new zero tolerance policies and heavy-handed discipline…In Minneapolis…the school board recently voted in favor of…ending a $1 million [cash cow for]…city police.  Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, Oregon, announced…that he would disband the city’s school [pig herd]…Other states and cities appear to be considering similar measures.  [But] in Florida [police violence against students] increased…20%…[and] there’s been a spike in the use of involuntary psychiatric commitments against kids…thanks to an existing Florida…that gives police authority to temporarily lock up both children and adults against their will…

The Cop Myth (#1047)

Alex Vitale on what abolishing police would actually look like:

Five years ago, in the wake of the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, we were told, “Don’t worry, we’re going to fix it. We’re going to give the police implicit bias training.  We’re going to hold some community police encounter sessions.  We’re gonna buy some body cameras”…what we often refer to as “procedural reforms”…[were] going to magically fix the problem.  But…the problem of overpolicing remains…Procedural justice folks…want to restore the public’s trust in the police…But this ignores the question of what they are policing, and whether they should be policing it.  We have [millions of] low-level arrests in the United States every year and most of them are completely pointless.  It is just a huge level of harassment meted out almost exclusively on the poorest and most marginal communities in our society…[true police reform must] go…hand in hand with decriminalizing sex work, drugs, homelessness, mental illness.  We don’t really need a vice unit, we need a system of legalized sex work that’s regulated just like any other business.  We don’t need school police, we need counselors and restorative justice programs.  We don’t need police homeless outreach units, we need supportive housing, community based drop-in centers, social workers…

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