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Posts Tagged ‘Rhode Island’

The nuisance comes from drinking and drunkenness, but no one is saying close the bars.  –  Brenda, Dutch sex worker

The Notorious Badge 

I wonder when Hollywood will catch up?

The brothels look brighter, the alleyways are cleaner, and a stirring soundtrack accompanies the protagonists, but a new Bollywood film set in Mumbai’s red-light district has struck a chord with India’s roughly one million sex workers.  Gangubai Kathiawadi is a biopic telling the story of a sex worker of the same name who went from being a [coerced underage sexworker] to fight[ing] for the rights of women working in the trade in the 1950s, a battle still being fought today…Many sex workers in Kamathipura…and across India say the film starring celebrated actress Alia Bhatt shows rare understanding of their everyday struggles…“There have been so many films on women like us, but none that raised these issues,” said Kiran Deshmukh, president of National Network of Sex Workers.  “People believe what they see in Bollywood films. And this film has shown that sex work is work…that…helps us live our lives and feed and raise our children”…

Guinea Pigs (#757) 

And it can find you just as easily:

Cher Scarlett, a software engineer…uploaded some images of her[self]…to PimEyes, a facial-recognition website meant to be used to find pictures of yourself from around the web — ostensibly to help stamp out issues such as revenge porn and identity theft…the results [included]…porn…[she was coerced into making as a 19-year-old] addict…in New York in 2005…She has since tried and failed to get all of the explicit photos removed from PimEyes’ search results, despite the site saying it would scrub images of Scarlett from results…Giorgi Gobronidze…the current owner and director of PimEyes…[deflected blame by saying] “The problem isn’t that there is a search engine that can find these photos; the problem is…people who actually uploaded [the photos] on purpose”…Scarlett’s saga starkly shows how easily facial-recognition technology, which is now available to anyone with internet access, can lead to unexpected harms that may be impossible to undo…

The Prudish Giant (#1104) 

Instagram and TikTok users, take note:

Digital studies and sexuality researcher Dr. Carolina Are is asking sex workers, adult performers and others who have experienced discrimination to participate in a study investigating Instagram and TikTok’s approach to malicious flagging or reporting of “gray area” content, including nudity.  Are is seeking participants over 18 years of age who have received negative comments and simultaneously had their accounts and/or content removed…Are plans to circulate an anonymous survey and then interview specific case studies.  Those wishing to share their experience with social media discrimination can fill out the survey here

Dutch Threat (#1136)

The Dutch scheme to Disnify De Wallen is no longer merely a scheme:

In November 2020, Mayor Femke Halsema announced plans to [forcibly] relocate sex workers to a purpose built “Erotic Center” on the city’s outskirts in hopes of luring bands of drunk men and general carnality away from residents to make space for new cafés, art galleries, and designer boutiques…according to the mayor’s office…“We want less dominance of cheap nightlife”…if built, it will be the most extreme measure taken to “clean up” De Wallen, which has, in recent years, already been subject to a raft of new regulations and s[urveillance]…Amsterdam’s sex workers are ambivalent about the city’s plans to relocate them.  Brenda, a sex worker…[who] met me at the Prostitution Information Center…said sex workers were soft targets in the city’s gentrification push…Iris, a coordinator at the center, said the “so-called nuisance and antisocial behavior” was just another excuse to get rid of sex workers and free up lucrative real estate in the sought-after inner city

Winding Down (#1148)

Over half of Americans now live in states with legal cannabis:

Rhode Island…became the 19th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use…[the] bill…immediately allows adults 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis in public and grow up to three plants at home.  State-licensed recreational sales are supposed to start on December 1, beginning with the state’s three existing medical marijuana dispensaries.  The law also requires automatic expungement of marijuana possession convictions…public consumption…will be legal in any place where cigarette smoking is allowed…The law caps the number of retailers at 33, which amounts to about one store per 32,000 people…Rhode Islanders may find it easier to buy pot from black-market dealers or from stores in Massachusetts or Connecticut, both of which have legalized recreational use.  Like California, Rhode Island will allow local governments to ban pot shops, but only through referendums and not in the three cities (Providence, Warwick, and Portsmouth) where medical marijuana is already being sold…

Opting Out (#1199)

French law provides some defense vs religious activism:

A Paris court of appeals rejected…the attempt by local War on Porn groups, led by an extremist Catholic organization, to use France’s media authority and the courts to block the most popular adult tube sites in the country…following months of…threats pressuring tube sites to implement vaguely defined age verification schemes, French media regulator ARCOM went to court…to demand that French ISPs block Pornhub…and [a number of similar sites, but]…the Council of State…issued a ruling rendering null all the activities taken up by…ARCOM in connection with the…block…the Council…specifically pointed out the role played by extremist Catholic organization Civitas in orchestrating the campaign…

Civitas is associated with the Society of Saint Pius X, the reactionary organization founded by Archbishop Lefebvre to fight modernization efforts such as performing the Mass in the vernacular rather than Latin.

The Mob Rules (#1231)

The number of laws empowering busybodies to harass victims with nuisance lawsuits will only keep growing until they’re ruled unconstitutional:

Shortly after the nation’s latest mass shooting…at an elementary school in Texas, the California Senate passed a bill…to allow private citizens to file suit for at least $10,000 — a bounty-hunter provision modeled on a Texas abortion law — against makers or sellers of [3-D printed firearms] or [rifles banned under California law]…

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[Your data is] pretty much all available to the government in one form or another.  –  Jennifer Lynch

License to Rape

Prohibition turns the body of every citizen into a “crime scene”, which can be violated by cops at will:

…the state of New Hampshire [is still trying to hide]…the disciplinary records of a [rapist cop who was] fired for misconduct…Haden Wilber…[pretend]ed [that]…a Maine woman…had drugs hidden inside her body [as a pretext for repeatedly sexually assaulting] her[, filing false criminal charges against her, abducting her and keeping her locked in a cage for] 13 days…The charges were ultimately dropped…Last year, the state paid the [victim] $212,500 to settle a lawsuit [over] Wilber[‘s gross] violat[ion of] her [person and] rights…A State Police internal investigation found Wilber had also illegally searched the woman’s phone without a warrant and [lied to cover his crimes]…

A Woman’s Point of View

In Rhode Island’s case, this would be re-decriminalization:

Rhode Island is the latest locale to mull decriminalizing prostitution, with two different bills…getting hearings in the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee…S2713, drafted by…COYOTE RI…[and sponsored by politicians] Cynthia Mendes…and Jeanine Calkin…would [actually] decriminalize selling sex, paying for sex, and a number of other [related] consensual activities…[meanwhile,] S2716…would [actually create somehing closer to legalization.  Buying and selling sex would be]…civil violation[s] punishable by…fine…and [forced subjection to]…”examin[ation]…for venereal disease”…

To Molest and Rape (#1138)

High union rank is another thing rapist cops often have in common:

The vice chairman of the D.C. Police Union is currently under investigation [for sexual assault] and has been stripped of his police powers…Medgar Webster…committed the crimes twice at a Southeast, D.C. Whole Foods…one of those a[ssaults]…took place on April 2…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#1185)

I’m sure THE CHILDREN!!!™ are safer now:

Former boxing champion Mike Tyson has been capitalizing off his notorious 1997 ear-biting incident, in which he chomped down on opponent Evander Holyfield’s ear, by selling THC-infused edibles shaped like ears with a bite chomped out of them.  His company, Tyson 2.0…plans to expand these “Mike Bites” to more states this year. But that won’t include Colorado [because] a 2016 state law prohibits marijuana edibles from being shaped like humans, animals, fruit or other objects that could attract children…

Because everybody knows that every person under 18 is so irresistibly drawn to any exposed body part, they will instantly run up and attempt to eat that part, and the only way to prevent it is for everyone over 18 to wear burqa-like garments that expose absolutely no flesh whatsoever.

Creepy Coppers

This one really was a “former” cop:

Andrew Vernon…a retired [cop], paid a 14 year old girl to pose in sexually explicit positions and uploaded these to a pornographic website…[other cops] found images on his laptop of teenage girls…[and] an adult woman who[m] he secretly recorded taking a shower…Vernon has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment…he…claim…to [the girl that he had] erased them all, when in reality, he had…uploaded some to an amateur porn…website…police recovered a total of 441 images from his laptop, USB and SD cards…

I Spy (#1206) 

In mass surveillance, fascism beats communism hands down:

It was revealed last week that hackers obtained the information of some Apple and [Facebook] users by forging an emergency legal request, one of several mechanisms by which [cop shops] can…demand that tech companies hand over data such as location and subscriber information…privacy advocates [explain]ed [that] the forgery was a warning sign that the system is in need of reform…An emergency legal request, like the one the hackers forged…doesn’t require a subpoena or warrant, [and judges tend to rubber-stamp the ones that do]…Here are some of the main ways [cops] can get hold of your data [without your consent]…

You Were Warned (#1224)

These attempts to destroy the internet are just going to keep getting worse:

…the Kids Online Safety Act of 2022 (KOSA)…would [invent]…a new legal duty for platforms to [censor]…a wide collection of content [and establish] that platforms can be sued…if young people encounter it…[the law would create] an elaborate age-verification system, likely run by a third-party provider…[and demands platforms create] parental controls, turned on and set to their highest settings [by default]…The parental controls would…require a vast number of online platforms to create systems for parents to spy on—and control—the conversations young people are able to have online, and…likely result in further tracking of all users…in order to avoid liability…nearly every online platform would [be forced to] hide or remove huge swaths of content…KOSA would apply to anyone under sixteen—an age group that child rights organizations agree have a greater need for privacy and independence than younger teens and kids…KOSA’s incredibly broad definition of a covered platform would include…everything from Apple’s iMessage and Signal to web browsers, email applications and VPN software, as well as platforms like Facebook and TikTok…

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Advocates of prohibition always claim good intentions.  –  Jacob Grier

Prudish Pedants

“The label ‘pornography’…represents an attempt by lawheads to pretend that their personal hang-ups about sex can be reduced to a rule”:

Adult content only becomes illegal when it veers into the realm of obscenity.  But for a work to be deemed legally obscene, it must meet the obscure Miller Test developed in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court…Numerous elements of this test are unworkable in modern times…most people do not know the definition of the word “prurient” and cannot use it correctly in a sentence.  Yet this consideration can determine whether someone is imprisoned for making a film.  The entire concept of “community standards” is meaningless in the digital age, when we have more in common with our social media groups spanning the globe than we do with our neighbors who happen to live in the same country…While it’s easy to understand what the “whole work” is when evaluating a magazine or film, what about a tube site or a social media site?…Despite these vagaries, the Miller obscenity test has been upheld over and over, in the face of numerous constitutional challenges…

A Moral Cancer (#1148)

Because obviously prohibition doesn’t ruin enough lives yet:

Sometime in the not-too-distant future…the first American will likely be sentenced to prison for selling flavored tobacco or e-cigarettes.  It might happen in Massachusetts, wh[ich]…announced charges last year against New Hampshire resident Samuel Habib…Or it might happen in New York…[where] the Auburn Police Department…raid[ed]…a…smoke shop owned by Mohamed Algamal…Or maybe it will happen in New Jersey or Rhode Island, which have banned flavored e-cigarettes statewide.  Or maybe it will be in one of the many cities that have passed flavor bans, such as Chicago…San Francisco…[or] Washington, D.C., or result from a federal prosecution if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) moves forward with plans to prohibit them nationwide…advocates of flavor bans [falsely] portray them as…mere product regulations and…[pretend] prohibitions will [not] lead to…criminal enforcement, especially…against racial minorities…[but] as the American Civil Liberties Union, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and other groups warned in 2021, this will create “a massive law enforcement problem for states, counties, and cities, since all states treat unlicensed sale of tobacco products as a crime—usually as a felony punishable by imprisonment”…

Creepy Coppers

Funny how it nearly always takes years to convict cops of anything:

Nearly four years after being arrested, a [typical and representative] Harris County [Texas cop pled] guilty for possession of child pornography…Donald Dehnert [was first arrested on March 29, 2018]…he…admitted to having child pornography on a flash drive that…had photos of nude children under two years old and a girl who appeared to be between six and eight years old.  One image showed the girl appearing to perform a sexual act…[Dehner had also] solicited sex with [a roleplaying cop’s imaginary] 5- and 11-year-old daughters…

Opting Out (#1214) 

“At least one person noted that the UK was at risk of looking like idiots”:

…the U.K. has finally unveiled its controversial “Online Safety Bill”…focus[ing] on “pornography” as the main supposed “online harm”…the Johnson government [belched out a number of catchphrases and buzzwords including]…“protect children”…and…”illegal content”, while…[absurdly bragging that] the proposed measures are…“the world-first online safety laws”…[misusing the popular moralist shibboleth] “hold…to account”…and…set[ting] up the [bureaucrats]…running Ofcom, the government’s communications regulatory agency, to become essentially a censorship body with “the power to fine companies failing to comply with the laws up to 10% of their annual global turnover…[and] force them to…block non-compliant sites”…The government’s statement boasts of literally “a raft of other new offenses [including]…obstructing the regulator when it [raids] company offices”…

Leaving the 20th Century

So how exactly are they defining “pimping”?

Sex workers in Belgium will soon be able to claim state pensions and other benefits after the pandemic prompted reforms to decriminalise their profession.  Politicians approved plans to overhaul 19th-century legislation and offer prostitutes a legally recognised job title…While prostitution is decriminalised under Belgian law, there is a ban on pimping aimed at [placating “]sex trafficking[” fetishists]…

Science! (#1221)

A source heard it happened“:

[Wanking fantasies] have increased in Israel since the outbreak of war in Ukraine [about] claims…that some women refugees…were being exploited by human trafficking networks.  [Magical anti-pimp] leaflets…are expected to be [foisted upon] refugee women upon arrival at the airport as part of…moral[ity theater]…The [fantasies claim]…human trafficking and criminal networks lure Ukrainian refugees into prostitution upon their arrival to Israel, with the [tale] being used as an excuse for Israeli immigration officials to deny entry to dozens of refugees during the past two weeks…

The Cop Myth (#1221)

Sleeping with a cop is one of the most dangerous things a woman can do:

…Scottsboro [Alabama cop]…Stephen Miller shot his estranged wife, Amanda Miller, a[nd then shot himself]…Miller…was [an alcoholic]…and [Amanda] was filing for divorce.  Stephen was found dead…and Amanda is currently in critical condition…

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I feel like I’ll never get out of here.  –  17-year-old inmate of a US “shelter”

The End of the Beginning (#772) 

Perhaps we’re at last about to witness the beginning of the end of these evil laws:

On June 8, the American Law Institute…voted to approve the most recent draft [of its model penal code], which…state[s that] sex offender registries…should be limited to law enforcement access for law enforcement purposes, as is the case in virtually every other country besides the US…people [condemned to these] regist[ries]…can be searched on public online databases, along with a slew of other data including their home addresses…this…enables…exileextortion and vigilante violence a[gainst]…such [people] and…their family members.  T[he] Supreme Court…still [pretends] that public registries of this kind are not “punishment,” though lower courts are growing more skeptical…[indeed,] public registration is…such a thoroughly soul-crushing punishment that it disincentivizes following the law for people subject to it

Surplus Women (#931)

A classic case of NHI:

Since 2001, at least 55 women (and counting) have lost their lives at the hands of the Chicago Strangler, whom the police have denied even exists.  The…serial killer’s methods are brutal, cold, and repetitive, practically a calling card at this point…[yet] the police swear they see no connections [because]…the…victims are, without exception, women, killed on Chicago’s South and West sides…Three-quarters…are Black…47 had some history of sex work…the women were killed by strangulation, either by bare hands or with a ligature like a belt, rope, or the women’s bras.  Some were suffocated via plastic bags placed over their heads.  Most were at least partially undressed, if not completely naked, and many of them showed some signs of sexual assault.  The bodies were found in semi-public places, like back alleys, empty lots, snowbanks, or dumpsters — places where someone should have seen them placed and set on fire.  The Chicago Strangler barely attempts to hide his crimes, and that’s if he’s not outright gloating about them, knowing that the police do not take him seriously…

The Crumbling Dam (#1105)

The feds will try to stop this just as they did in Philadelphia:

[Rhode Island] Gov. Daniel McKee…signed into law a proposal to…establish…safe injection sites…The goal is to provide clean needles to curtail the spread of infectious diseases; test drugs; and provide a bridge to medical and substance abuse treatment.  The [new] law…requires the approval of a center by the city or town council in which it is proposed…[and] the funding would all come from foundations and private donors…Federal prosecutors successfully blocked a…safe…[injection site] in Philadelphia…[and] President Biden…is [a hypocrite and unrepentant drug warrior]…

Winding Down (#1121)

Much more of this worldwide, please:

The Mexican Supreme Court first ruled that marijuana prohibition was unconstitutional in 2015.  That decision became binding nationwide three years later, when the court gave the Mexican Congress 90 days to pass a legalization bill.  [Politicians ignor]ed that deadline and several others, and [finally] the court lost patience, ordering the federal government to issue permits that will allow cannabis consumers to possess and grow marijuana at home.  Similar permits have been available since 2015, but until now they were limited to [individuals] who had filed lawsuits and obtained injunctions.  Commercial cultivation and distribution remain illegal…

Guinea Pigs (#1136) 

Apparently, Psychology Today doesn’t bother to check whether its writers actually know anything about the subjects they write about:

Felipe Aros-Vera is an…assistant professor of industrial engineering at Ohio University…[who programmed] one of the world’s more powerful computers, the IBM Watson [with a lot of prohibitionist sexual fantasies about “]human trafficking[” in order to act out a puerile cops and robbers fantasy of]…caus[ing] the greatest damage to a human trafficking network.  He focuses on [the myth that sex workers are] victims…[who are] groom[ed]…acquir[ed]…[and] transport[ed by “pimps”] from place to place…and that…demand for…sex…is [not natural to humans, but artificially created by]…internet…advertising…

Despite the author’s panting nonsense, this is actually an example of the principle of garbage in, garbage out, and therefore unlikely to be as dangerous as systems such as Palantir and Memex.

Torture Chamber (#1141)

A prison doesn’t magically become a “shelter” just because those confined there are minors:

[Legal minors] inside the Biden administration’s largest [concentration camp] for unaccompanied migrant youth were subjected to filthy living conditions and medical neglect under the watch of unqualified government contractors…said…Laurie Elkin and Justin Mulaire, two federal employees who were detailed to the Fort Bliss [concentration camp]…near El Paso, Texas…they were repeatedly ignored or discouraged by [bureaucrats]…when they tried to report the…unsanitary conditions and poor care…Elkin recounts three instances where she discovered girls in distress, only to encounter resistance from contractors wh[o apparently think]…medical care [consists of shouting “Stop faking!” at sick prisoners]…contractors used loudspeakers to play music at intolerable volumes throughout the day, starting in the morning…at around 6 a.m. or 7 a.m…One contractor…used a bullhorn to wake [inmates] up in the morning…

Simple rule of thumb for reporters: if those confined there can’t come and go as they please, it isn’t a “shelter”, “center”, or “school”; it is a prison.

To Molest and Rape (#1142)

Another specimen of the garbage the state pays to violate kids:

A [typical and representative cop paid by the state to stalk, harass, and spy on students], Neil Dolan, a[greed to a]…plea…[bargain in which he confessed] to two…sexual [assault]…charge[s in order to escape more serious rape charges]…The hearing was held…via Zoom with Dolan appearing from [a cage where] he’s [locked for] two years for another…[plea-bargained-down] sexual [assault charge]…[the prosecutor thought it was very important] that Dolan wore [his magic clown suit while being a dangerous pervert]…Dolan groomed students at Bagley High School [by literally offering them candy] and…sending [his targets dick pics since at least]…2011 or 2012…he…also [hunted]…victims…as a…Boy Scout camp program director…

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I cross the void beyond the mind
The empty space that circles time
I see where others stumble blind
To seek a truth they never find
Eternal wisdom is my guide
I am the Doctor.
  –  Jon Pertwee

Here’s another specimen of the subgenre of novelty songs recorded by the stars of hit TV shows, this one about one of my all-time favorites.  The links above it were provided by Jesse Walker, Franklin Harris, Jesse Walker again, Desiree Alliance, Wendy Lyon, Lucy Steigerwald, and Cop Crisis, in that order.

From the Archives

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There’s no public safety value in prosecuting these low-level offenses.  –  Marilyn Mosby

Policing Womanhood

Scratch a SWERF, find a TERF:

In a t[oxic] essay for the [carceral] feminist website 4W, Donna M Hughes wrote that the “belief” that a person could change their gender was a “trans-sex fantasy”.  She went on to equate followers of QAnon, [the latest form of the “sex trafficking”] web of lies that [Hughes vigorously supports]…to people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were given at birth…Her inflammatory comments were called “beyond the pale” by Annie Russell, the director of the [University of Rhode Island]’s Gender and Sexuality Center…Russell said the diatribe had also angered students at the university, which [also employs Hughes as a tenured professor]…The University…put out a statement distancing itself from Hughes’s comments…In response Hughes said her right to free speech was being trampled [even though she was neither fired, nor censored, nor arrested as she wants others to be]…

For those who don’t recall: Hughes considers herself a political conservative and was the architect of recriminalizing sex work in Rhode Island in 2009.

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (#845) 

I haven’t seen this once-popular fantasy since 2018:

A recent 60 Minutes+ episode cites a dubious claim that “up to 100,000” children are sex-trafficked in the U.S. each year…the inimitable Maggie McNeill once wrote that there are “lies, damn lies and sex trafficking statistics.” Now 60 Minutes+, a streaming version of the venerable news program, is helping to make McNeill’s point by highlighting an oft-debunked sex trafficking factoid…in the show’s March 21 episode, “Taking Facebook to Court”…

Social Distancing (#1025)

When this was announced a year ago, prohibitionists claimed it would be a disaster:

…[When] the coronavirus pandemic hit…State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced that [Baltimore] would no longer prosecute drug possession, prostitution, trespassing and other minor charges, to keep people out of jail and limit the spread of the deadly virus.  And then crime went down in Baltimore.  A lot…This happened while 39 percent fewer people entered the city’s criminal justice system in the one-year period, and 20 percent fewer people landed in jail after Mosby’s office dismissed more than 1,400 pending cases and tossed out more than 1,400 warrants…So…Mosby is making her temporary steps permanent …Baltimore…will continue to decline prosecution of all drug possession, prostitution, minor traffic and misdemeanor cases, and will partner with a local behavioral health service to aggressively reach out to drug users, sex workers and people in psychiatric crisis to direct them into treatment rather than the back of a patrol car…

Let’s hope this “aggressively reaching out” doesn’t involve surveillance or “diversion”, which is just another form of state control.  But in any case, this is becoming a trend.

Welcome to the Future (#1107)

Everything I read about modern corporate work makes me happier I became a whore:

Amazon delivery drivers nationwide have to sign a “biometric consent” form…that grants the tech behemoth permission to [monitor]…drivers’ location, movement, and biometric data.  If the…drivers…refuse to sign these forms, they lose their jobs.  The…[surveillance includ]es…facial recognition…The company [claims the surveillance is] being used to improve “safety” and the “quality of the delivery experience.”  But…some drivers are quitting their jobs…because…the [surveillance device even records]…when a driver yawns, appears distracted, or isn’t wearing a seatbelt…and monitor[s] drivers’ body and facial movements…

Torture Chamber (#1122)

If only there were a concise word for “systematically forced to have sex”:

The [murder] of a 19-year-old woman [by] Venezuela[n] police [in a] holding cell has revealed that women in the jail were being systematically forced to have sex with [cops]…On March 13, Daniela Geraldine Figueredo Salazar died from [being]…shot [in] the face…by [a cop]…several of her fellow [prisoners] reported [to investigating officials] that they were being [systematically raped]…the…abuse was being coordinated by a [typical and representative cop] who is also currently jailed…This is not the first [time news] of sexual violence [has leaked out of] the country’s [filthy cage stacks]…In 2018, it was reported that women in Venezuelan prisons were being forced to [submit to rape] in order to be released for court hearings…in 2019, a report by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights pointed to…various forms of sexual violence [committed by cops, screws and spooks]…

You Were Warned (#1124)

Cathy Reisenwitz examines a power-hungry politician’s lies about the internet:

…The SAFE TECH Act would…hold companies liable for their users’ behavior…[an]d force small websites to spend $1 million or more…to prove to courts that users aren’t causing any one of nine new types of broad, ill-defined harm…Only the wealthiest, most powerful companies would be able to afford setting their own content moderation policies.  Everyone else would run the real risk of being sued into oblivion by wealthy people who don’t like what people are saying about them online…Like SESTA/FOSTA, the SAFE TECH Act would make it easier for those in power to stifle unpopular speech across the web.  It would strip away Section 230 protections for any web service that “has accepted payment to make the speech available.”  While many believe the law applies only to paid advertising, it’s written so broadly that it would apply to all content on any platform where money changes hands, including…all paid web hosting and even nonprofits or activist groups that sell merch or accept donations…

Predictable Consequences (#1124)

My friend Kate Zen, cofounder of Red Canary Song:

While it’s easy to repudiate th[e Atlanta shooter]’s actions as that of a monster, he isn’t alone in his views.  Many Americans feel only disdain toward these businesses, and have little respect for the women who work there…On Piedmont Road in Atlanta, where Long shot customers and workers at Gold Spa and Aroma Therapy Spa, church groups previously gathered to protest this so-called red-light district, demanding the shutdown of the sex shop across the street…many Asian street-based sex workers…in [Red Canary Song’s] outreach said some of the religious anti-trafficking groups…can be even more hurtful than the pedestrians who call them names…[besides] collaborat[ing] with police…[one said] they were “nagging her and wasting her time” when she needed to work…Long’s extreme actions are a consequence of the way we treat all sexuality in society…and…the people who are tasked with undoing the harms are often infected by the same dangerous ideas…

Dr. Elena Shih also works with Red Canary Song:

…anti-trafficking organizations…have [repeatedly] called for the increased surveillance and policing of massage businesses, and the result has been hundreds of raids across the country which have terrorized and criminalized massage workers.  These systemic forms of violence cannot be divorced from the brutal killings of massage parlor workers in the Atlanta area on March 16…When my colleagues and I talk to Asian massage workers, they often share stories of [cops] entering their workplaces at random under the guise of stopping sex trafficking.  When they don’t find any evidence of wrongdoing, they demand to see massage licenses.  Workers tell us they are frequently arrested if they don’t produce a license, or are hit with building code or public health violations.  Those who are arrested are often funneled through special courts and programs where workers, seen as morally flawed and traumatized victims, are offered programming framed as rehabilitation…[including] everything from religious proselytization to “recovery-focused yoga” to unpaid labor, when what they really need is economic security…

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You would think that an organization…that spent weeks…agonizing over a decision to block literal Nazis from its platform…would be more considerate when getting into the censorship game.  –  Sarah Jamie Lewis

A Moral Cancer (#404)

Pat Robertson is back to bat-shit crazy again:

Many Evangelical preachers have been looking for a scapegoat for COVID-19.  They’ve already blamed it on gays and claimed it was a sign of the end of the world.  Some Evangelicals don’t even believe the disease is real…But now fundie fossil Pat Robertson has weighed in with an even more ridiculous theory….“Some of these young uns are doing all kinds of unnatural things with their sex organs…When people do that, they transfer all kinds of chemicals from ladies’ private parts and that’s where I think the virus came from.  We never had this kind of thing when I was coming up.  But no one was committing oral sex back then”…preacher Rick Wiles…recently…claimed…that COVID-19 was punishment from God

Opting Out (#815)

“Filtered” is a euphemism for “censored”, and this will continue until the media acknowledge that:

Cloudflare, known for free speech advocacy, rolled out a self-styled family-friendly variation of its DNS service to [censor] adult content – and ended up [censoring] LGBTQ websites and sex education resources [as is typical for such automated censorship software]…the service is called 1.1.1.1 for Families…

Panopticon (#980)

Nothing to see here; just US cops using spy devices designed and built by a totalitarian state:

Police in Chula Vista, Calif. plan to use Chinese-made aerial drones to surveil [their subjects in order to] enforce the [police] state’s…“stay at home” [diktats]…the…drones…[will] be outfitted with night-vision and loudspeakers…Chula Vista [pigs] may also use…drones to [harass]…the city’s homeless…the coronavirus outbreak has rapidly [given]…Chula Vista…[“authorities” the excuse to do something they’ve been wanting to do for years]…Chinese-manufactured drones pose a risk of opening the U.S. up to Chinese spying efforts.  In 2017, the U.S. Army ordered its soldiers to stop using DJI drones [for that reason, and] the U.S. Department of the Interior also decided in October to ground its entire drone fleet

The End of the Beginning (#1015) 

While most Americans are losing civil liberties, one oppressed group is finally regaining a few:

[The] federal judge [who found Michigan’s overbroad and draconian “sex offender” law unconstitutional] is commanding state authorities to stop enforcing [it]…during the coronavirus pandemic…Judge Robert Cleland…[wrote that] officials are “preliminarily enjoined from enforcing registration, verification, school zone, and fee violations of (the act) that occurred or may occur from February 14, 2020, until the current crisis has ended, and thereafter until registrants are notified of what duties they have…going forward”…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1020)

Because obviously this would’ve been OK if it had been invented by a “far left” extremist:

Clearview AI…is the most powerful form of facial recognition technology ever created…with more than 3 billion photos scraped surreptitiously from social media profiles and websites…Its mobile app can match names to faces with a tap of a touchscreen.  The technology is already being integrated into augmented reality glasses so [cops] can identify almost anyone they look at…Clearview’s CEO and co-founder, Cam-Hoan Ton-That, and his associates chose to [emulate government actors by] mass-violat[ing] social media policies against scraping accounts…Ton-That, as well as several people who have done work for the company, have deep, longstanding ties to far-right extremists…includ[ing]…Andrew “weev” Auernheimer…webmaster for The Daily Stormer; and…Peter Thiel, a Facebook board member…Trump adviser…and [owner of]…Palantir, his [the fascist surveillance] behemoth [that started as a tool in the War on Whores]…Every time p[igs root into people’s business] us[ing] Clearview, they upload images of people they’re trying to identify…to Ton-That’s unregulated and ever-expanding database, where they are stored indefinitely [for other pigs, spooks and bureaucrats to root in without any kind of supervision]…

Working From Home

I’ve never used this site because they discriminate against escorts:

…The Stokely family had already been sort of financially struggling…long before Onlyfans…Users often are struggling to get paid; some [sic] shortchanged all together [sic]…the Stokely’s [sic] and the execs have struggled to find payment processors that can or would…deal with a website that isn’t fully registered the way it should be…The processors…we do have aren’t actually full payment processors because we are in trouble with processors over a number of violations…Performers are being used and duped while execs/Stokely’s [sic] are making off with huge sums of money…Go somewhere else.  There are plenty of other platforms out there…Performers should run for the hills…

Like Houses (#1027)

Don’t worry, this is OK because it’s about safety, not expanding the police state!

Unable to play golf in their own state due to the…[government shutting down courses us]ing [the] pandemic [as an excuse], three Massachusetts men…crossed into Rhode Island…[and] were arrested after returning to their cars in a McDonald’s parking lot [because a bootlicker snitched on them]…after noticing two cars with Massachusetts license plates load golf clubs into a car with a Rhode Island license plate…the course will begin checking IDs [to ensure undersirables from the other side of an imaginary line can’t]…play…

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Right now we have a pinpointed risk…called New York City.  –  politician Gina Raimondo

In this very funny Godzilla fan film provided by Franklin Harris, one guy plays all the parts (in the same suit).  The links above it were contributed by Brooke Magnanti, Jesse Walker, Mistress Matisse, Stephen Lemons, Jesse Walker again, Mama Tush, and Thaddeus Russell, in that order.

From the Archives

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The government failed in its attempt to criminalize basic human kindness.  –  Scott Warren

The Monsters Are Due 

At peak hysteria, all it takes is this:

A [contractor] who has been harassed because of the van he drives wants people to know he is not involved with human trafficking.  Marcel Jackson said the harassment started after a video of a woman claiming she saw a young girl being forced into the back of a van at a Detroit gas station went viral on Facebook.  “A lot of people have been following me, trying to pull me over, trying to look inside the van and stuff,” Jackson said….[one] woman followed him for miles…[then claimed] she was an undercover cop…and asked, “Are there any children in your van?”…Other white van owners have experienced similar harassment over the vehicles they drive.

“Are there any children in your van?”.  What is this, a game of Go Fish?.

Sex Rays (#694)

Our descendants will be confused about why we thought this sort of thing was noteworthy:

Cheetah Gentlemen’s Clubs once again…g[a]ve away 3,000 turkeys to families in need for Thanksgiving.  The annual giveaway of frozen birds [was] held at 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 25, in club parking lots…in Hallandale Beach…and…West Palm Beach…

Saving Them From Themselves (#846)

Another bad law giving prosecutors more ways to charge teen sexters rather than simply leaving them alone:

An Ohio [politician] has proposed banning sexting for those 18 and under…Nathan Manning…said his proposed law is meant to prevent minors from [expressing their sexuality without prosecutors] facing [public criticism for completely destroying the lives of young people doing ordinary, mundane things]…Qualifying first time-offenders could be [sentenced] to…[re-]education…in lieu of [prison]…The new bill is similar to…one that [failed to] clear…the Ohio…Senate…before the legislative session expired…That version of the bill faced formal opposition from the Ohio Prosecuting Attorney’s [sic] Association, which argued that [they should be able to destroy anyone’s life at will]…and from the ACLU of Ohio, which [recognizes that] there already are too many criminal laws on the books…

Choke Point (#850) 

It always starts with a politically-unpopular group like sex workers or gun owners, but never stops there:

A new gun control bill calls for banks and credit card companies to [snoop] and [snitch] to the feds on…firearm purchases as a way of tracking people…[using the excuse of] prevent[ing] mass shootings…the…bill [pretends] it’s possible to tell who is a threat based on tracking credit card activity….[but] government’s past attempts to identify “red flags” by [by spying on financial] transaction[s]…has resulted in, as…Elizabeth Nolan Brown puts it, banks “cast[ing] as wide a net as possible”…[to avoid] the consequences of being accused of not doing enough to comply with [fascism]…banks’ attempts to [spy on] customers…to identify human traffickers for the government have resulted in the creation of an extremely broad definition of what constitutes suspicious activity, including things like running up large grocery bills…

Held Together With Lies (#916)

This fantasy number now exceeds 1.3% of the entire population of the world:

Never in human history have [fetishists imagined] so many slaves…there could be more than a hundred million adults and children enslaved across the world today.  It is a vast, [disgusting], perpetually evolving [sexual fantasy], and it is a [profitable] issue [about] which to [spread bogus] data.  In 2017, statistics from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation put the number of slaves at 40.3 million…This figure…is [already based in nothing other than fantasy], but most [fetishists are unsatisfied with that absurdity and so claim] that the number is actually far higher…[many fantasists pretend] that 30 per cent of slaves are trafficked for sex and 70 per cent are in forced labour, although of course the ratio varies from [propaganda source to propaganda source]…

In case you find math hard, they’re claiming that 0.44% of all living humans are held as “sex slaves”; in reality, only about 0.33% of women are full-service sex workers of any kind.  In other words, their fantasy of “slaves” is about three times the number of actual whores, or one “sex slave” for every 85 adult men on the planet (remember that trafficking fan “estimates” of clients per day range from 15 to 100).  So this idiotic propaganda is now in line with Kristof’s claims about US men:  for these fantasies to resemble reality, every single adult man in every single country in the entire world would need to be raping a “trafficked sex slave” at least once or twice a week.

A Broker in Pillage (#935)

Burying government in lawsuits is the only way to slow its depredations:

Critics of civil forfeiture, the system of legalized theft that allows law enforcement agencies to seize people’s property by [pretending] it is connected to criminal activity, often focus on the burden of proof the government faces when owners try to recover their assets….[but] nearly nine out of 10 federal forfeiture cases never make it to court, largely because mounting a challenge often costs more than the property is worth.  And while the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA) allows owners who win in court to recover “reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs,” prosecutors can defeat that safeguard by dragging out cases and then dropping them before a judge decides whether forfeiture is legally justified.  In the meantime, desperate owners may decide to let the government keep some of their property, even when they are completely innocent.  From the government’s perspective, there is no downside…Institute for Justice…is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a case that takes aim at such sneaky tactics…”The threat of paying attorneys’ fees is a critical check on government abuse…Otherwise, there is no disincentive to stop prosecutors from filing frivolous civil forfeitures”…

Profound Ignorance (#939) 

For those who still think the decriminalization of sex work in Rhode Island was “accidental”:

COYOTE sued the state of Rhode Island in 1976 alleging that their anti-prostitution laws were far too broad…the case was…dismissed as moot…[after] the Rhode Island General Assembly changed the prostitution laws in an attempt to make them more specific…the…legislative loophole…lasted almost 30 years…[it] outlawed street prostitution but…the penalty…was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.  In 1998, the Rhode Island State Supreme Court ruled in State v DeMagistris that the law criminalizing prostitution was “primarily to bar prostitutes from hawking their wares in public,” and that someone who engages in sex work privately could not be prosecuted under this law.  In 2003 a court case was dropped after the judge realized…[this] and soon began the re-criminalization campaign in the state.  After many unsuccessful attempts…beginning in 2005…[sex work] was [re-criminalized] in 2009…

Unchristian Nation (#945)

A jury slaps down your government’s crusade against Christian charity:

Jurors found humanitarian aid volunteer Scott Warren not guilty…of intentionally harboring and concealing two undocumented migrants from the Border Patrol in the remote Arizona desert…Warren, a longtime volunteer with the aid group No More Deaths, faced up to 20 years in prison.  It was his second trial this year stemming from his January 2018 arrest…The 12-person jury in Tucson took just more than two hours to reach a not guilty verdict, striking a blow to prosecutors…who [illegally subjected Warren to double jeopardy using the excuse of] a hung jury in [their first crucifiction attempt]…

Panopticon (#970)

The more we discover about Amazon’s fascist collaboration with cops, the worse it gets:

[Cops] who download videos captured by…Ring doorbell cameras can keep them forever and share them with whomever they’d like without providing evidence of a crime…More than 600 [cop shops]…have [already taken advantage of the surveillance network]…allowing them to quickly…download video recorded by Ring’s motion-detecting, Internet-connected cameras inside and around Americans’ homes [without the permission of the owner.  Amazon claims]…that homeowners are free to decline the requests…but [if a customer turns down a police demand, Amazon instructs the cops to make an “official request” to the company and then they grant warrantless access to the footage]…

The Cop Myth (#990)

Tell me again how the US isn’t a police state:

Imperial County [screw] Richard Edward Sotelo [attacked and attempted to rape] his [estranged] wife…[in] November 2012…and [she only escaped because one]…of their three children [walked in on them]…Sotelo was charged…with misdemeanor domestic battery [rather than assault and attempted rape, and] was allowed to keep his job…[until] he…groped the [penis] of a[nother pig]…multiple times at work.  It was only after…he…[was] charge[d for that]…in December 2013 that he [was forced to resign]…Sotelo pleaded no contest…was given probation…[and] the charges [were] taken off his record…the co[p] Sotelo groped filed his own legal claim against the county…[which] has [hidden the details of]…the claim and any subsequent settlement…after DUI…domestic violence [i]s the most common charge filed against [cops]…

Attempting to rape a mere peasant wasn’t a big deal; he didn’t get in trouble until he dared touch a fellow member of the ruling caste.

A Moral Cancer (#991)

Your “leaders” don’t like it when they’re caught with their hands in your till:

The Massachusetts Senate…stripped from a bill banning flavored tobacco and taxing e-cigarettes a provision that would have allowed the police to [steal] the car of anyone [they claimed they caught] driving with untaxed vaping products in the car.  Massachusetts law already lets [cops steal] the vehicle of anyone [they decide to accuse of having]…untaxed…tobacco products…the bill would have extended that to…vaping…[but politicians] worried that [it might affect them or their relatives]…

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Kraft’s…case punctured some of the overheated rhetoric surrounding coerced sex work.  –  Matt Ford

Rough Trade 

A rare case where a rapist of sex workers is actually convicted:

A San Francisco jury…found a man guilty of several felonies in connection with the sexual assault of two female sex workers more than five years ago in the city’s Mission District…Edwin Rodriguez [was found]…guilty of multiple counts of forcible rape as well as aggravated kidnapping, assault and criminal threats.  Rodriguez now faces multiple life sentences…

Unclean Situation (#330)

These are also some of the nuns behind Ruhama:

A religious order which ran some of the Magdalene laundries, but has refused to pay into the redress scheme for survivors, is to sell its retreat centre in north Dublin.  The Religious Sisters of Charity announced it will sell the €3m Stella Maris Retreat Centre in Howth…A spokesman for the Department of Justice said no contributions have been made by any of the four religious congregations involved in respect of the implementation of the Magdalen Restorative Justice Ex-Gratia Scheme…[which has paid] a total of €27.8m…so far to 732 applicants…

Catastrophic Consequences (#576)

This sleazy tactic started in Canada, then spread to the UK:

[In the UK] “anti-trafficking”…raids [are] known officially as “welfare visits”…[cops pretend] that “the welfare and safety of the women…is…the number one priority”…[but in truth] “prostitute cautions“…are…handed out at high rates, and the…Proceeds of Crime Act not only allows them to [steal] sex workers’ earnings, it actively making it easier for them by reversing the burden of proof…the [stolen] cash is given to the Home Office, which then [gives it right back] to the police force without regulating how it’s spent.  The official line is that [cops] have no incentive to raid, but the truth is that the police force does stand to profit…

BDSM (#583)

A “cult”.  Because mentioning their sex practices wasn’t quite lurid enough:

Torsten Weiss…[the owner of a] medieval fetish shop in Hachenburg, Germany…was found dead with crossbow bolts protruding from his neck and skull…[in] a…B&B in Passau…By his side was 33-year-old Kerstin Enders who had succumbed to similar fatal injuries.  On the floor in front of them in a pool of blood was 30-year-old Farina Caspari, suspected of honoring Weiss’s…command to first kill him and Enders, and then take her own life…Weiss and Enders left wills at their sides…”Investigators suspect they were all members of a kind of sex circle with a focus on the Middle Ages,” according to RTL news…[at] Caspari[‘s]…house [cops]…found two more female victims.  One, identified only as Gertrud C., was her lover…friends of the four female victims interviewed by police say the women had all been under Weiss’s hypnotic control.  They reportedly engaged in extreme sexual acts, often involving BDSM, under his direction.  But what police don’t yet know is what led the fivesome to their deaths rather than just continuing their fantastical life…The two women found dead in [Caspari’s] apartment have no obvious wounds or signs of violence. Toxicology reports will show if they were poisoned…

Other than what I’ve quoted above, most of the rest is lurid speculation by cops and the neighbors, friends, and family members of the victims, mostly of the same level of popular ignorance as the myth that a person can be “hypnotized” to do things against their will.

To Molest and Rape 

Just 1500 isolated incidents:

Nearly 1,500 accusations of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, [rape, sexual assault] and child [molestation], have been made against [cops] in England and Wales over six years…Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that 1,491 complaints were filed against [various kinds of cops]…across 33 forces in England and Wales between 2012 and 2017, or 2018 in the case of the Metropolitan Police in London, which took a year to respond…Of these cases, 371 were upheld, resulting in the sacking or resignation of 197 [rapists]…Ten police forces [refused to] provide data…

Girls, Girls, Girls! (#679)

Clubs need to learn that the bad old days of exploiting dancers are over:

A federal jury has awarded five black dancers more than $3 million in their discrimination lawsuit against Danny’s strip club…Danny’s Downtown Cabaret…limit[ed] the number of shifts black dancers could work, and subject[ed] them to racially offensive epithets…”Danny’s also forced the dancers to work at a related club, Black Diamonds, even though they were subject to arrest there because they were not licensed to work at that club,” according to the EEOC.  “The pay and working conditions at Black Diamonds were inferior to those at Danny’s, and there was less security there.  The dancers who refused to work at Black Diamonds were fined and sent home, and not allowed to work at Danny’s”…

Profound Ignorance (#800) 

Scott Cunningham has finally set the record straight on the history of decriminalization in Rhode Island:

…In 1980, the Rhode Island General Assembly legalized indoor sex work.  The surviving members of that assembly have [pretended] that legalizing indoor sex work happened accidentally while trying to strengthen laws prohibiting street prostitution…the police and local prosecutors [eventually forgot]…as indoor sex workers were arrested and prosecuted regularly…throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s.  Then in 2003, a Rhode Island District Court judge reminded everyone what the law said…For six years the state was running a “natural experiment” that would teach us more about decriminalized indoor sex work than we’d ever known in history…what we found surprised us and everyone else…Rhode Island rapes and sexually transmitted infections both substantially declined…several other articles in economics have found similar effects but in other countries and cities…in light of these studies, organizations such as the World Health Organization and the ACLU have begun calling for reconsideration of our commercial sex laws…

Unfortunately, he’s still making silly claims like “everyone was surprised” (no, prohibitionists feigned surprise; it has been known since at least the 1920s that criminalization of a market always increases violence and health issues).  But at least he’s admitting that Rhode Island was neither a “mistake” nor a merely six-year phenomenon, and I’ve noticed his studies have been getting much better.  We may make a good ally out of him yet.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#830)

Even Reuters is starting to listen to what sex workers have to say about “rescue”:

Sex workers in Thailand are rejecting the “raid and rescue” model used by authorities to crack down on…sex workers…[by labeling them] victims of trafficking.  Many of the women arrested are then [forced] to learn [menial] skills like sewing and baking.  “People say we should stop doing what we do, and sew or bake cookies instead – but why are only those jobs considered appropriate?” said Mai Chanta, who has been a sex worker for about eight years.  “This is what we choose to do, and we feel a sense of pride and satisfaction that we are just like other workers”…

That Old Black Magic (#884)

Click on the subtitle for the truth about Nigerian juju (not “voodoo”) rituals:

Spanish Police have busted a network of Nigerian voodoo sex traffickers who use illegal migration routes to smuggle young girls into Europe…the sex slaves are being groomed in Benin City, Edo state by mafia-style gangs promising them a better life in Spain…They were submitted to voodoo rituals threatening terrible consequences to them and their families if they disobeyed the organisation, police [fantasized, groaning and making furtive movements in their pants while describing how]…parts of their bodies were smothered in animal blood before they were threatened with death or infertility if they failed to obey the traffickers…

Pyrrhic Victory (#899)

Welcome to the future:

A UK pedestrian was arrested and fined £90 ($115 US) after attempting to cover his face while passing a controversial facial recognition camera van on an East London street.  The notorious London police vans scan the faces of passers-by and compare them to a database of wanted criminals.  One man wasn’t having any of it, and was seen covering his face with his hat and jacket before London police stopped him and [forcibly] took his picture anyway…The ticketing comes in the wake of another similar incident in February, in which another man refused to be scanned by one of the facial recognition vans and was also fined £90…the technology is terribly inaccurate – wrongly matching over 2,000 people to criminal…[at] the Champions League Final in Cardiff in 2017

First They Came for the Hookers… (#903) 

Most “prostitution” cases come apart like wet toilet paper if actually taken to trial:

A former Foxy Lady dancer…was found not guilty…of offering sex for money.  Lindsay Hoffmann…one of three dancers arrested at the club on Dec. 11, was cleared after a trial…lasting less than an hour…[a cop claimed] Hoffmann told him…he could get “anything” he wanted for $300 in the downstairs VIP room…But Judge Melissa DuBose said “anything” could have been anything…

End Demand (#910)

Mar Brettmann is a sleazy opportunist who will use any story about petty crime to sell her anti-whore snake oil:

…According to Mar Brettmann…“We know that 300-to-500 kids are prostituted at any given time in King County.”  Brettmann is executive director of B.E.S.T. – Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking – in Seattle…[which profits by indoctrinating] businesses and employees in King County to [harass] sex [workers], especially in hotels and motels…

In other words, she claims that there are about twice as many “teen sex slaves” in Seattle as adult escorts, a number so absurd prominent Seattle sex workers have actually been asked by cops where all those supposed “sex slaves” are hiding, because they sure can’t find them.

Loose Cannons (#938)

Another good anti-prohibition article at New Republic:

…The…charges against Kraft came as part of a sweeping, dramatic raid on Asian massage parlors across Florida…prosecutors [pretended]…they had smashed a international sex-trafficking ring…the narrative changed just as the public’s attention turned elsewhere…law enforcement agencies…often use [the claim] to describe and justify crackdowns on consensual sex work…prosecutors regularly use the threat of additional charges and a prolonged trial to induce defendants to accept a guilty plea…This warps the criminal justice system, such that…between 90 and 95 percent of federal and state cases are now resolved through plea deals instead of a trial with one’s peers…

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