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Posts Tagged ‘surveillance’

Prosecutors are not allowed to just randomly tie defendants to heinous crimes they’re not on trial for…and yet here we are.  –  Elizabeth N. Brown

To Molest and Rape (#941)

Rapist cop is still a rapist cop:

A Border Patrol [cop named Steven Holmes] who was released from jail after being charged in multiple [violent rapes]…two years ago is…now being held without bond​ in [Tucson]…He is being [protected] from other inmates due to his [being a cop]…Holmes was p[reviously…released [on bond]…with a GPS tracking device…[but a woman he has been fucking] for the past 3 months…[reported that] on Aug. 26, they were having sex [when]…”something changed” and…Holmes…[suddenly started strangling her until she] los[t]…consciousness…Holmes [then] continued [raping]…her after she had asked him to stop…She managed to leave and…called the [local] police…the[y now admit the]re may be more potential victims out there…

Panopticon (#986)

Cops will continue to do this until there are criminal penalties for it:

…the Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission has [sued]…the Oakland Police Department…[for] violat[ing] the city’s surveillance technology vetting ordinance, the city charter and multiple state laws…[by] retaining data for two years [when they’re allowed only 6 months, and by]…giving the FBI “unfettered access” to the license plate data…the police department [has] fail[ed] to audit the use of its surveillance technology…and [refused to] provid[e] information…requested under the state’s public records act…the police department has [also] used surveillance technology such as drones without a search warrant or prior approval…

I Spy (#1098)

Encryption won’t protect you if providers are willing to hand metadata to the cops:

ProtonMail is a well-known and well-regarded mail service…[which] was recently forced to cooperate with Swiss authorities in providing user data (date of account creation), which was subsequently handed over to American security authorities…That ProtonMail made its home in Switzerland has previously been a point of praise for the mail service.  However…the country is by no means a bastion of digital privacy…due in no small part to new laws passed in response to the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris…

Dangerous Speech (#1159)

US “authorities” keep pretending “because sex” is an excuse for any tyranny:

[In] the federal trial of Backpage.com’s founders and former executives…prosecutor Reggie Jones misrepresented Backpage ads and the law, while harping on specific crimes of which the defendants aren’t even accused.  Defense lawyers are already calling for a mistrial…the…motion [states]…”The opening…consisted of inflammatory, unproven, and unprovable assertions that fail in any event to address what the government must prove to convict any defendant”…

I Spy (#1167)

“Delayed” isn’t good enough:

Apple has delayed plans to roll out its [new surveillance]…technology …citing [criticism] from customers and policy groups…The Electronic Frontier Foundation…amassed more than 25,000 signatures…[and] close to 100 policy and rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, also called on Apple to abandon plans to roll out the technology.  In…[reply], Apple [bloviated about how allowing governments to spy on everyone is]…”critically important”…Apple’s so-called NeuralHash technology…could [easily] be abused by…governments…to implicate innocent victims or [enforce criminalization of thought]…researchers…were [even] able to…trick…the system into thinking two entirely different images were the same…

A Broker in Pillage (#1170)

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

Ameal Woods was driving near Houston in May 2019 when he was pulled over by a Harris County [cop using the common pretext that he was suppos]edly…driving too close to a semi-truck.  The [cop used this an excuse to rob]…Woods’ and his wife’s life savings…$43,200 in cash…that Woods and Davis say they planned on using to…purchase a tractor-trailer for Woods’ trucking business…Now Woods and his wife, Jordan Davis, are the lead plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit…against Harris County…by the Institute for Justice…Harris County prosecutors have a pattern of seeking civil forfeitures based on boilerplate [fantasies] written by [cops] who were not…the[re]…at least 113 forfeiture petitions since 2016…used stock language and identical phrases…[which] led to errors…such as contradictory dates and incorrectly stating what property was s[tolen by the cops]…Harris County’s forfeiture practices fail to provide owners with prompt hearings to challenge property seizures, require owners to prove their own innocence, and create perverse profit incentives for law enforcement, all of which violates the Texas constitution…

To Molest and Rape (#1170)

Notice how often predatory cops’ victims are underage?

A Mohave County (Arizona) [cop] is facing a felony charge of s[tatutory rape]…after he was arrested on…Aug[ust 31]…when Kingman police…[discovered] Andrew Jacob Sundberg…[had intentionally gotten] a 15-year-old girl [drunk so as to seduce her]…

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For years now, I’ve been warning about the government’s intentional dismantling of every established safeguard in the criminal justice system.  The first step was to enact a host of laws turning ordinary, consensual, victimless acts into “crimes” and then slowly eroding civil rights so as to make it easier for the State to arrest, charge, and convict people for these imaginary “crimes”.  Once there were far too many “criminal” cases for the courts to possibly keep up with, the scene was set for transferring control of the courts from the judicial to the executive branch via “plea bargaining”; some 97% of federal cases and 94% of state cases are now never heard by a jury, and the US cages 5x as many people per capita as more civilized countries do.  But still that isn’t enough to satisfy the carceral lust of America’s ruling fascist establishment, so the process of eliminating the presumption of innocence began; when that proved too slow a process, politicians hit upon the idea of persecuting individuals they wish to destroy with civil suits rather than prosecuting them in criminal courts, because civil suits have a lower burden of proof and may even allow the persecutors to make a profit.  The people most often attacked by this sleazy, unconstitutional end-run around due process were of course sex workers, but the tactic still required too much attention from prosecutors and others of their morally-diseased ilk to create the level of carnage desired by authoritarians until some especially-psychopathic individual realized about 4 years ago that a law encouraging any random busybody to file suit for the supposed “offense” would truly open the floodgates.  The tactic was incorporated into the awful FOSTA, and the damage that has caused gave authoritarian monsters everywhere paroxysms of joy.  So naturally, politicians are already starting to widen the net, and still SCOTUS will do nothing to stop it:

In a 5–4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to block enforcement of an extreme new abortion restriction in Texas.  Notably, it did not rule on the law’s constitutionality.  If it had, we would likely not be seeing this ban take effect…[because] “S.B. 8 is plainly inconsistent with what the Court has said about constitutional limits on abortion regulations“…The reason the Court declined to temporarily block the law is complicated…[but basically boils down to, it’s] because it’s not the state tasked with enforcing the law but private citizens in civil court suits…The Court saying that it can’t stay a likely unconstitutional law if it’s to be enforced by private actors and civil lawsuits could pave the way for all sorts of nutty new legislation…

As I regularly point out, the greatest danger posed by evil laws is often their terrible precedent:

…According to Texas, this…scheme means that the state cannot be hauled into federal court to account for its own law because it has handed over the law’s enforcement to private parties…if the Texas scheme actually succeeds in the long run, what’s to stop an anti-gun state legislature from banning handguns in the home, in clear violation of SCOTUS precedent, and then placing state officials beyond the reach of federal judicial review by outsourcing the ban’s enforcement to an army of private-sector gun control activists?  Most gun shops would probably go bankrupt overnight when faced with the wave of private-sector civil suits that such a state law would unleash…

Of course, useful idiots are completely unable to comprehend this simple concept, which means that unless SCOTUS wakes up and does its damned job, we’re at the dawn of a surveil-and-snitch state that will make East Germany look like a model of privacy in comparison.

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Who will be the victims of the government’s next attack on legally protected speech that it wishes to silence? – Michael Lacey & Jim Larkin

Acting and Activism 

Why are so many “celebrities” such hypocritical trash?

[Comedian Bill] Maher [said] during Friday’s Real Time…“OnlyFans is staying in the porn business…because their fans would not take it…if there’s one thing millennials love more than canceling the patriarchy it’s women having sex for money”…So, in Maher’s mind, “women having sex for money” is anti-feminist and a product of the patriarchy.  Women couldn’t possibly be sex workers of their own volition…It’s…strange given how Maher has solicited the services of sex workers in the past…and dated a number of others—including Karine Steffans…who once said of him, “Bill wants someone he can put down in an argument, tell you how ghetto you are, how big your butt is and that you’re an idiot”…

A Whore in Church

Matthew 21:31 seems pretty straightforward to me:

A Christian OnlyFans star…has been [attacked by religious fanatics for] saying “Jesus would have loved sex workers”.  Nita Marie…believes her sexuality is a divine gift, and that God gave her permission to strip…after [she] ask[ed] him directly in prayer – but…so…[called “Christians” who seem poorly acquainted with the Gospels] are calling her a “grifter”, and [some are so] delusional [they imagine] that it “might be Satan”…answering her prayers…

The Puritan Recrudescence (#1124)

I have no sympathy for members of the dangerous “porn addiction” cult:

“BlockerX”, a porn [autocensor] application, has failed to protect its Amazon AWS instance…result[ing in]…exposure of its user[s’]…personal details…The owner of the app…Atmana Innovations, responded immediately…but the period of exposure remains unknown.  “BlockerX” is a subscription service that…cost[s] users $7.50 per month or $180 in a single lifetime payment…[and censors anything its algorithms register as] adult content…The…danger for…exposed users…is extortionists who could…threaten…to publish the fact that they [imagine their normal sexual behavior constitutes an “]addiction[“]…

I Spy (#1154) 

Fascism is rapidly making private communications a thing of the past:

A federal court ruled…that…drugs [stolen] by police from a package [th]at [did not belong to them were] not seized unconstitutionally [despite the lack of a warrant]…At the center of the decision is a little-known [fascist pact between FedEx and the cops, which] allow[s pigs to root through]…parcels at the shipping behemoth’s sorting centers…if [they claim] a…dog [gave them permission]…cops…[can then] dress up as FedEx delivery men…[to deceive the victim and] arrest…them…The court d[ecision is based in the legal fiction that an individual’s property no longer belongs to him while in the hands of a third party, such as] FedEx…[thus creating the] con[venient pretense that] it…own[s the packages]…and it can [give them to] the police [without warrant or permission of the actual owner]…The agreement evokes Apple’s recent announcement that it will scan people’s photos [in order to sell them down the river]…the relationship between FedEx and police…has quietly existed for some time, says John Wesley Hall, an expert in Fourth Amendment law…”FedEx…[has] always cooperated…with them—even loans them the truck”…

It’s OK for a company to sell out its customers, because drugs are bad.

Dangerous Speech (#1159)

Michael Lacey & Jim Larkin remind you of what their trial, which began Wednesday, is actually about:

On April 6, 2018, the federal government eradicated an entire classified ads website containing speech that was 100-percent legal…The publication of speech…by users is legally protected; so is “offensive” speech and speech the government does not like.  Numerous federal courts said just that, in cases involving Backpage…whenever any concern arose…our company voluntarily aided law enforcement and government entities such as the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  This is documented extensively by court records…and the government’s own reports…Since the FBI seized Backpage, adult advertising has, predictably, fled overseas to companies that do not respond to U.S. subpoenas…The culprits here are…self-serving politicians with historical vendettas and overzealous prosecutors who placed their own ambition above the safety and welfare of women…The prosecution has engaged in years of scurrilous tactics, such as destroying evidence, abusing the grand jury process, and seizing all the money we set aside for legal expenses…

If you haven’t been following this tag, I suggest you peruse it today; the various articles I’ve linked will show you exactly the kind of evil, completely-illegal shenanigans the government has pulled over the past three years in its crusade to crucify journalists who wouldn’t make obeisance to its censorious diktats.

To Molest and Rape (#1166)

Notice how often predatory cops’ victims are underage?

[Typical and representative Florida cop] Travis Ryan Pritchard [was sentenced] to 35 years in federal prison for [rap]ing…a 15-year-old [girl and filming it]…Pritchard was also [condemned to the]…sex offender [registry]…From December 2019 through May 2, 2020, Pritchard…had sexually abused [the victim] on a weekly basis…[but finally she had enough and reported him, and another cop role-played her to]…chat…with Pritchard using [a popular] app.  Late in the night of May 1, 2020, and into the early morning hours of the next day, Pritchard [harassed] the [cop he thought was his victim] to sneak out of her home to meet with him…Pritchard’s cellular telephone revealed many [such] conversations…[and a] folder containing numerous…child [porn pics, including one]…of the rape of a prepubescent [girl]…

The Next Target (#1166)

The sex worker rights movement is getting too loud to ignore“:

…It remains to be seen whether [OnlyFans] will be true to its word but to force the hand of such a giant corporation is no small feat…That a platform which built its fortune on the backs of sex workers might, at a moment’s notice, ditch us, is no surprise; it would be the latest in the slow but sure eradication of sex workers from online spaces…Throughout the fiasco, both MasterCard and OnlyFans were keen to separate themselves from the potential destitution of creators and to claim their credentials as non-haters of sex workers…multi-billion dollar companies fall[ing] over themselves to maintain the veneer of corporate virtue is grotesque…Still, in the conflicted responses there is hope…it’s clear that the sex worker rights movement is too loud to ignore…

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The only way to guarantee that such a powerful tool isn’t abused…is to never create it.  –  Apple in 2016

See No Evil

Moral panics really spin out of control as they age:

Spencer Elden, the man whose unusual baby portrait was used for…the…cover…of…Nirvana’s Nevermind, filed a lawsuit…[pretend]ing that the nude image constituted child pornography…[despite the fact that] non-sexualized nude photos of infants are…not considered child pornography under law.  [To circumvent this plain fact in order to cash in on “child porn” hysteria], Robert Y. Lewis, Elden’s [shyster, fantasizes]…that the inclusion of currency in the shot makes the baby appear “like a sex worker”…[Lewis demands] at least $150,000 from each of the defendants, who include…the…original Nirvana drummer…even though he had been replaced…before the album was recorded or the cover photography shot.  Elden has repeatedly recreated the pose as a teenager and adult, diving into pools to pose (with swim trunks on) on the occasion of the album’s 10th, 17th, 20th and 25th anniversaries…

“A sex worker”.  Seriously.  I reckon he’s supposed to be one of those hundreds of thousands of infant hookers needed to bring the average debut age down to 13.

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#648)

What “legal but heavily regulated” looks like in action:

On August 11, the Nagpur police put [up] a large number of barricades completely sealing the Ganga-Jamuna area….without any prior notice or reason [thu]s drastically affect[ing] the livelihood…of over a thousand sex workers who have been living and working for decades in the area…over 100 [cops] have been [sent to swagger around] the area at all times…Sex workers in India are one of the groups that are consistently at the receiving end of…state-sponsored police brutality…[even though] the profession is not illegal…brothel areas are repeatedly raided and their workers are harassed by the police…A petition by the National Network of Sex Workers, India (NNSW) demanding “Unseal Ganga Jamuna” has been put online and signed by more than 2700 people and organisations…

License to Rape (#720)

“Search” is the most common government euphemism for “molest”:

A Raleigh mother has filed a federal lawsuit against the TSA…a[fter] the[y]…violated her transgender teenager’s rights by [demanding] a strip-search at the airport.  Jamii Erway, 15 at the time, had a valid boarding pass [but] when [t]he [equipment regist]ered a “false positive”…a TSA [goon demanded]…to [leer at] her genitals…[and lied] “that she was not free to leave until she submitted to [the humiliation], in violation of TSA policy, the Fourth Amendment, and…the boundaries of civil and decent society”…the [goon further called the cops on the teenager]…and the[ir threatening] presence…[unsurprisingly] triggered…a…panic…[attack].  Rather than submit to the [molestation]…her mother, Kimberly Erway, rented a car and [they] drove 600 miles.  The Erways seek unspecified damages and an injunction preventing such a scenario from happening again…

Panopticon (#986)

Cops even get their equipment to lie for them:

Michael Williams…was [locked in a cage for almost a year], accused [by cops] of killing a young man from [his] neighborhood who asked him for a ride during a night of unrest over police brutality in May…the [supposed] evidence against Williams didn’t come from an eyewitness or [snitch, but rather]…from a clip of [silent] security video showing a car driving through an intersection, and a loud bang [separately] picked up by a network of surveillance microphones.  Prosecutors [pretende]d…a secret algorithm that analyzed noises detected by the sensors indicated Williams shot and killed the man…ShotSpotter [claims have] increasingly been admitted in court cases…[as evidence despite the fact that] it…can miss live gunfire right under its microphones, or misclassify the sounds of fireworks or cars backfiring as gunshots.  F[antasy stories written]…by ShotSpotter’s employees have been used in court to [lie] that a defendant shot at police, or provide [lies about] the number of shots allegedly fired by defendants…the…system…[i]s a…black box largely inscrutable to the public, jurors and police oversight boards…[but] the company…fully admits that]…employees can and do modify the location or number of shots fired [on their own whims or] at the request of police…in the past, city dispatchers or police themselves could also make some of these changes

Stalkers in Blue (#987)

Once in a while, there are witnesses to the way cops act toward women:

Florida [cop]…Naci Tuzcuoglu…approached a woman singing karaoke at…[a] sports bar…[and] put his hands on her hips.  The woman…t[old] him she was married and not interested [but he kep harassing her, so she]…went outside and spoke to her husband…Tuzcuoglu [followed her]…and punched the man in the face…multiple times…[while] taunt[ing him]…“I’m a cop…What are you gonna do about it?”…

Choke Point (#1150)

“Progressives” are finally deigning to notice financial discrimination vs some sex workers:

OnlyFans…has faced widespread backlash from sex workers after it announced…that it will ban sexually explicit content starting Oct. 1.  Some LGBTQ OnlyFans creators say the changes could jeopardize one of their primary sources of income during the Covid-19 pandemic…

OnlyFans reversed its position the day after this article appeared, but I still featured it because it illustrates a disturbing trend I’ve seen lately: some “progressives” only seem to think sex workers deserve rights if they’re queer (especially trans).  Now, since the majority of sex workers are some flavor of LGBT, fighting for their rights will still help straight, cisgender sex workers as well.  But I think it’s pretty sad that some people don’t think human rights are worth supporting unless they’re the “correct” people’s rights.

I Spy (#1161)

Straight from the horse’s mouth:

Apple’s own employees have been expressing alarm [about its plans to snoop in customers’ phones].  The company [pretend]s reservations about the system are rooted in “misunderstandings.”  We disagree.  We wrote the only peer-reviewed publication on how to build a system like Apple’s — and…we’re not concerned because we misunderstand how Apple’s system works.  The problem is, we understand exactly how it works…Our system could be easily repurposed for surveillance and censorship.  The design wasn’t restricted to a specific category of content; a service could simply swap in any content-matching database, and the person using that service would be none the wiser.  A…government could, for example, compel a service to out people sharing disfavored political speech…WeChat, the popular Chinese messaging app, already uses content matching to identify dissident material.  India enacted rules this year that could require pre-screening content critical of government policy.  Russia recently fined GoogleFacebook and Twitter for not removing pro-democracy protest materials[, and US politicians are pressuring social media companies to censor anything they declare “misinformation”]…We warned against our own system design…[an]d planned to discuss paths forward at an academic conference this month…[but] the week before our presentation, Apple announced it would deploy its nearly identical system…

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How do we know it won’t happen again?  –  Lacy Lennon

I Spy (#930)

When it comes to mass surveillance, fascism beats communism hands down:

Google received more than 20,000 geofence warrants in the US in the last three calendar years…[this fascist surveillance technique allows cops to] carve out a specific area and time period and [demand]…information about the devices that were present during that window.  The information is anonymous…[until cops demand more details, at which time]…Google [happily violates] those users’ [privacy]…In 2018, Google received 982 [such] warrants.  The following year, it rose to 8,396.  Last year, it jumped to 11,554.  In all, Google received 20,932 geofence warrants…since 201[8]…

Business As Usual (#1011)

The media are still downplaying the crimes of this psychopathic rapist-murderer cop:

A federal judge has set a new trial date for a [typical and representative] Columbus…vice [pig who murdered a sex worker when she wouldn’t submit to rape]…Andrew Mitchell is [only being] charged with…federal [conspiracy and perjury-type crimes even though]…he…had [a long history of raping] prostitutes…Mitchell also faces state charges [for shooting 100-pound] Donna Castleberry [eight times at point-blank range] after she [fought back] during an [attempted rape by] Mitchell, who has [described the wanton murder of a woman half his size]…as self-defense…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1012) 

How is this surprising when TikTok is owned by the Chinese?

TikTok has quietly expanded how much information it will collect from its more than 100 million users in the U.S. to include “faceprints and voiceprints.”  In response, [US politicians want a piece of the action]…The U.S. does not have a federal law regulating the tracking of biometric data by technology companies, but…TikTok…is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese [company owned in part by the Chinese government, which also controls 1/3 of its board]…Earlier this year, TikTok paid $92 million to settle dozens of lawsuits [in response to] the app[‘s]…harvesting personal data…including…facial recognition…without user consent.  That data…was [shaed with Beijing] and sold to advertisers in violation of state and federal law.  In 2019, TikTok was fined nearly $6 million by the Federal Trade Commission for [violating] the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires apps to receive parental permission before collecting a minor’s data.  The Trump administration[‘s attempt]…to ban the app was abandoned by the Biden administration in June

Policing for Profit (#1096)

No matter how little their victims have, cops will steal it and fuck up their lives in the process:

The city of Longmont [Colorado] has [finally] paid the $1,592.72…toll bill [the state tried to stick] a [disabled] woman [with after]…a [city cop named Stephen Schulz stole her] license plate…and put [it] on his [disguised pigmobile]…Debra Romero…[was] left…without the use of a vehicle…[because] the [state]…refused to waive the toll charges even after Romero filed a report…declaring her license plate as stolen…the state of Colorado [also] barred her from renewing her registration until the toll bill was paid…the city [didn’t care about Romero’s plight until]…the…situation [made the news]…

The Prudish Giant (#1104)

Facebook can’t even follow its own “standards”:

A poster for Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s new film Parallel Mothers…was [censored by Facebook-owned] Instagram for depicting a lactating nipple…[after public outcry] Instagram…reverse[d] its censorship…[but] given Instagram’s exception for artistic context, the rationale for the poster’s initial removal remains unclear…

To Molest and Rape (#1165)

Notice how often predatory cops’ victims are underage?

A [typical and representative] Massachusetts [cop] has been arrested on child pornography charges…Francis Hart…[was caught] upload[ing] a file with numerous images of child pornography…

I’m not sure what will happen here; Massachusetts cops who forcibly rape actual children get less than one year per victim, or no penalty at all plus being rewarded with a powerful cop gang position for repeatedly raping children of both sexes for decades.  But Massachuseets puritans are very uptight about porn, so who knows?

The Next Target (#1165)

Those who shift with the wind can be counted on to continue doing so:

OnlyFans says it has suspended a plan to ban sexually explicit content following an outcry from its creators and advocates for sex workers…the planned ban was “no longer required due to banking partners’ assurances that OnlyFans can support all genres of creators”…[however, an authoritarian circle-jerk made up] of over 100…[politicians are still howling for sex workers’ blood, cit]ing the[ir own disgusting fantasies about]…sex…with children

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The myth of sex addiction is a pathological view of male sexuality, sexual diversity, non-monogamy, and non-normative sexual desire.  –  David Ley

Here We Go Again 

Prohibitionism never, ever changes:

…in the early 20th century…prostitution became seen [by busybodies] as a social evil that concerned a wide range of [people who were completely univolved in it]…evangelical Christians, feminists, business leaders and medical experts demanded immediate and unrelenting repression of [sex work]…self-styled “abolitionists” in both the United States and the United Kingdom gained public support for their efforts by [spreading propaganda about a fantasized epidemic] of “white slavery”…the legislation they produced was antithetical to prostitutes’ interests…policies that sanctioned state control and punishment of prostitutes flourished…[but] rather than eliminating prostitution, the anti-prostitution movement simply changed the nature of the sex trade…and…subjected [all women] to increased state control.  During World War I, the “American Plan” authorized the arrest, inspection and detention of women suspected of carrying venereal disease…surveillance of women in the name of public health increasingly committed the U.S. to a “neo-regulationist” prostitution policy that controlled women’s bodies…

The article has some interesting information, but if you notice the faint reek of Swedish thinking (as if some cretin had stuffed used toilet paper down between the sofa cushions), it’s not your imagination.

Traffic Jam (#619)

You may remember that I called this as bullshit ten years ago:

St. Paul [Minnesota sow] Heather Weyker…[fabricated] an interstate sex trafficking ring run by Somali refugees…result[ing] in 30 indictments, 9 trials, and 0 convictions.  Hamdi Mohamud, then a 16-year-old refugee from Somalia, found herself caught up in that scheme in 2011, when one of Weyker’s witnesses, Muna Abdulkadir, tried to attack her and her friends at knifepoint.  Mohamud called the police…Weyker…arrested Mohamud and her friends for allegedly tampering with a federal witness, and Mohamud subsequently spent two years in jail before the trumped-up charges were dismissed…but…since [Weyker framed all those victims]…as part of a federal task force, she is entitled to absolute immunity and cannot be sued…Mohamud hopes to change that…by asking the Supreme Court to hear her case, which she made official last week…

No Difference (#888) 

American puritanism is a pox on the entire world:

One of the world’s most restrictive “anti-pornography” laws, the indecency statute passed by Uganda in 2014, has been struck by the nation’s Constitutional Court as unconstitutional…the law was “quashed” following pressure from women’s rights groups, with a panel of five judges unanimously ruling “that sections of the law that defined pornographic offenses, including a ban on ‘indecent’ clothing, were unconstitutional”…the…law…was [typically]…used for morality policing and led to…song lyrics and music videos…be[ing] labeled pornographic…[with] the…artists criminally liable…the [censorship law and an anti-LGBT law were passed due to lobbying by]…American evangelicals…[especially] the…International House of Prayer…the parent ministry of Exodus Cry

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#1033) 

It’s always a pleasure to watch experts trash harmful sex myths:

…it’s important to recognize that the concept of sex addiction was introduced…in the 1980’s during the HIV/AIDS crisis.  As…a society, we were terrified of sexual excess, of non-monogamy, of casual sex, of sex outside relationships, and of gay male sex…It is not by accident…that gay men get diagnosed as sex addicts…around three times more than anybody else.  The second very large group…are people struggling with a moral conflict over their sexual desires…[due to growing] up in religious household or communities where they were taught that any sex other than hetero sex within marriage is a sin…the third group…[consists of] men who get in trouble for sexual behavior…who self-identify as sex addicts to avoid responsibility for those behaviors…going to sex workers is…literally a diagnostic criterion in the sex addiction screening test that many therapists use…sex workers are [therefore] framed as analogous to either a drug or a drug dealer…self-destructive things that help people destroy their lives…

Welcome to the Future (#1052)

Prohibition by human idiots is bad enough:

Over the past two decades, the US…has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into developing and maintaining state-level prescription drug databases…In the past few years…a single [fascist collusion] called Appriss has…merg[ed] the[se] into…a…national prescription drug registry…[managed by] algorithms to generate “data insights” and…[accessing] huge reservoirs of data outside state drug registries to arrive at them.  NarxCare…is Appriss’…“analytics tool”…that purports to instantly and automatically identify a patient’s risk of misusing opioids…the software mines state registries for [so-called] red flags indicating that she has engaged in “drug shopping” behavior…the[n]…assigns each patient a unique, comprehensive Overdose Risk Score…Appriss is adamant that a NarxCare score is not meant to supplant a doctor’s diagnosis.  But physicians ignore these numbers at their peril.  Nearly every state now uses Appriss software…and most legally require physicians and pharmacists to consult them…on penalty of losing their license.  In some states, p[igs]…can also [root in this database]…without a warrant…to prosecute both doctors and patients…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1096)

Sex workers and allies speak out about Nick Kristof’s latest anti-sex crusade:

Kristof’s “The Children of Pornhub” — a…[propaganda screed] dropped as 2020 was winding to a close…triggered the removal of millions of videos from Pornhub and led to both Mastercard and Visa cutting ties with the adult industry giant…protecting…l[egal minor]s [ca]n’t  [be accomplished with] sweeping legislation and widespread content moderation, which endanger the safety and income of sex workers [and the civil liberties of everyone]…“Treating child sexual abuse as a moral failing is the wrong approach and is harmful to sex workers,” [says] Jeremy Malcolm, director of the child protection organization Prostasia Foundation…“dealing with [child sexual abuse] through a harm reduction lens is far more effective and less likely to [be used to cloak]…intended [attacks] on marginalized communities”…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#1151) 

It looks like Victoria is about to become the world’s fourth jurisdiction to achieve decriminalization:

Victoria will join a growing number of states by decriminalising sex work…the…government announced it would begin a two-year legislative overhaul, starting with the removal of offences and criminal penalties for consensual sex work, with the aim of having it passed by Parliament by the end of the year…sex work will be regulated through existing government agencies and…laws will be updated to support a decriminalised system…Victoria will join New Zealand, the Northern Territory and NSW…

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[Tit censorship laws] sexually objectify women rather than treating them as people in their own right.  –  Judge Roger Gregory

To Molest and Rape

Cops constantly demonstrate exactly what they are:

A [typical and representative Pennsylavania cop]…was [riding around] in his p[igmobile] on Aug. 1, 2019, when he signaled to a woman he knew and when she walked over, he exposed himself to her and then grabbed her arm and put her hand on his penis…after the 22-year-old woman pulled away from [him] in [disgust and shock]…he told her, “You better not fucking tell anyone”…[but unfortunately for molester cop William Lance] there was a witness in the victim’s car…[the complaint was buried until June, when a social media post entitled “Officer Lance is a PERV” asked other victims to come forward]…Lance…[w]as [then rewarded with a paid vacation and]…charge[d with]…official misconduct…

Little Boxes (#748)

Puritans claim a law that only applies to women is “non-discriminatory”:

A federal appeals court…refused to strike down an ordinance banning women but not men from going topless on public beaches in Ocean City, Maryland, [prete]nding that the law does not violate the Equal Protections Clause of the Constitution [by belching out the magic words]…“protection of public sensibilities” [and claiming that a gland specifically activated during motherhood is somehow anti-family]…

Not for Any Reason Whatsoever

Do I really have to add, “Not because you saw a man house-shopping”?

[Out-of-control cops assaulted] a Black man, his teen son and his real estate agent as they were touring a home for sale in a Michigan neighborhood after a white resident falsely accused them of breaking into the house.  Roy Thorne…and his 15-year-old son, Samuel…[were] with Eric Brown, a Realtor who is also Black…Samuel was the first to notice…[cops playing soldier a]round…the ho[use with guns drawn]…Thorne, an Army veteran, told his son and Brown to get down and stay away from the windows…the [cops threatened the]…three…with [loaded weapons and demanded they perform acts of obeisance.  Fortunately]…the [cops weren’t as paranoid as many are]…and…subsequently released [their victims after] about 10 minutes…The [Cop Excuse-making] Department [claimed it was perfectly reasonable for armed thugs to go around threatening to murder ordinary people doing mundane things] and [absurdly claimed] race “played no role” in their [deranged] response…

Panopticon (#1078)

Tell me again how my work is degrading?

…As many workers have shifted to performing their duties at home, some companies are pushing for increasing levels of…staff [surveillance] in an effort to [magnify] the oversight of the office at home…[law professor] Veena Dubal [said]…“the reality is that it’s much more intrusive than surveillance conducted by a boss.”  [Customer service company] Teleperformance spokesman Mark Pfeiffer said…“We are committed to [excusing our dehumanizing practices with a lot of buzzwords]”…However…in March, members of Teleperformance’s global workforce…were sent an eight-page addendum to their existing employment contracts that asked them to agree to new home surveillance rules…[which include] having video cameras installed in their home…pointing at their workspace, to record and monitor [them] in real time…They must also agree to sharing data and images related to any children they have…and to sharing biometric data including fingerprints and photos…Pfeiffer…said that cameras were used for spot checks of the company’s clean desk policy and [belched out the word “]security[” multiple times]…

“Clean desk policy” sounds like the kind of rule nuns imposed on us in grammar school.

End Demand (#1122)

Another good argument against criminalization from my friend Savannah Sly:

…criminalization efforts are like when you’re going after sharks:  You’re going to catch a lot of dolphins in your net…we are the dolphins, and we don’t want to suffer from the laws that should punish only the sharks…We want to stop all traffickers, but we want people who freely choose this work to be treated with respect and not criminalized.  Likewise, we don’t think our clients should be criminalized, because we as sex workers are adults who consent to seeing them.  Criminalizing our clients puts us under economic stress…

Unsafe for Human Consumption (#1141)

Cops want everyone to share their hysteria:

San Diego [cop]…David Faiivae [had a panic attack]…seconds after [another cop] finished testing a white powder he’d [found while rooting in someone else’s property] was…fentanyl.  The [hysterical cop’s panic attack]…was the subject of a 4-minute video…th[at]…became part of the latest [copaganda campaign against] fentanyl, a [life-saving] drug [that is not an aerosol and is so difficult to absorb through the skin that fentanyl patches for pain treatment rely on patented technology that took years to develop, but]…which [cops keep pretending can] kill [by casual exposure]…the body camera video [of Faiivae’s hysterical reaction] prompted internal discussions about…how [the video] could be used in a p[ropaganda] campaign to [spread] d[isinformation about] fentanyl…

The Next Target (#1142)

Pro-censorship sleazebags are embracing nuisance lawsuits as their latest weapon:

Leading [pro-censorship] crusader Laila Mickelwait — until last year a mouthpiece for the religious ministry Exodus Cry — has completed her rebranding with the full launch of a website called “Justice Defense Fund,” promoting “civil litigation and legislation” against adult content websites…late last year she incorporated herself as “Justice Defense Fund” through a PO Box in a Colorado strip mall…Mickelwait [is] us[ing] her personal Twitter account to direct people who have had issues with online billing to the new website for information on a class action suit…

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A number of readers have asked me why most of the links on my blog now lead to archived copies of web pages rather than the originals.  One reason is that many news sites are now paywalled, and archive sites circumvent 90% of paywalls; another is that so many sites now demand readers agree to be spied upon (“please approve our tracking cookies”) and archives circumvent that as well.  Many sites also feature adblocker-blockers, and since my brain can’t handle being bombarded with ads that blink, flash, jump, drift, pop up, and otherwise assault my vertigo and aggravate my anxiety, an adblocker is non-negotiable for me if I’m to use the internet at all.  But the most important reason of all is the title of this column: link rot, the phenomenon by which once-functional links now lead to nothing because the original page has been abandoned, deleted, censored, subjected to DMCA “takedown”, or memory-holed.  The problem has always existed, but it’s getting worse thanks to many factors including increasingly-aggressive puritanism, fascist systems that increasingly favor big corporations over the small sites that once made up most of the virtual landscape, and the growing popularity of censorship.  Worst of all, not all rotted links are completely dead; some lead to articles which have been bowdlerized, edited to hide inconvenient facts, or otherwise altered from the original.  Embedded YouTube videos have their own special kinds of rot:  videos can be removed, accounts can be cancelled because some corporate bully claimed “copyright violation“, and in the past few months YouTube has suddenly started enlarging embedded videos so they no longer fit properly on the screen (the better to lure the viewer to the main site, where they can be more effectively tracked and bombarded with ads); the only way to fix this is to go into the HTML code of every single stretched video, one at a time, and manually reset the height and width to their original dimensions.  It’s bad enough having to do that with videos; on a blog as extensive as this one, repairing other rotted links is quite impossible.  So the best I can do is to ensure that going forward, readers clicking on the links I embed will be able to see the article I linked to, in the same form as when I linked it.

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Th[is is] not a slippery slope; [i]t’s a fully built system just waiting for…pressure to make the slightest change.  –  India McKinney & Erica Portnoy

Monkey Business

Higher primates understand the concept of “value”:

The long-tailed macaques who roam the [the Uluwatu temple in Bali] are infamous for brazenly robbing unsuspecting tourists and clinging on to their possessions until food is offered as ransom payment.  Researchers have found they are also skilled at judging which items their victims value the most and using this information to maximise their profit…Mobile phones, wallets and prescription glasses are among the high-value possessions the monkeys aim to steal…and…demand better rewards…for higher-valued items…

If Men Were Angels

“Pastors” are as bad as cops:

[Australian] pastor Brian Houston has been charged for allegedly concealing child sexual abuse by his late father Frank Houston…in the 1970s…Frank Houston, who died in 2004, has been accused of abusing nine boys while a Pentecostal preacher…

A Broker in Pillage (#897)

Yet another government scam to steal Philadelphia citizens’ property:

…relocation towing…is when the police…or a private tow company moves legally parked vehicles to make room for a special event, utility work, or some other [pretext]…they are supposed to relay the new location of each vehicle to police headquarters, so when an owner finds their car missing and call 911, police can tell them where it is.  I[n reality]…drivers have reported spending days or weeks searching for their cars…because neither the [Philadelphia Parking Authority] nor police have any information about the tow.  Many…are recorded…with a pre-Internet system that relies mostly on handwritten notes and fax machines…The PPA [claims] tows from temporary no-parking zones are primarily a police function.  Police [claim] tow companies could be to blame for missing vehicles.  The tow companies [claim] police sometimes lose the information they provide.  Drivers who get sucked into the bureaucratic vortex describe it as city-sanctioned auto theft, often followed up by a shakedown by the PPA if the car was moved to an illegal parking space, then ticketed, towed or booted.  The resulting fees can be difficult or impossible to fight…

To Molest and Rape (#995)

Serial rapist rapes another vulnerable woman:

A [typical and representative] Spokane [cop out on bail]…for…[rap]ing a victim of domestic violence was arrested…[again] after another woman reported he raped her [before he was fired for the previously-reported rape]…Nathan Nash[‘s MO was the same]…in…both [cases; he]…responded to their calls for police assistance and later [raped them during pretended]…“follow-ups”…In the [new] case, Nash [displayed] his gun…then pushed the victim onto the couch, to[re] her clothes off, and raped her…he…[then forc]ed her in[to] the shower…[to wash away evidence]…the victim is disabled and has an apparent minor cognitive disability…

The Widening Gyre (#1057)

Observation: fools waste money.  Conclusion: “sex trafficking”!

Last May, the K-pop…group BTS entered into a partnership with McDonald’s to release a limited-edition promo meal that…almost immediately sold out, and enterprising individuals on social media decided to take advantage of the group’s enormous popularity by selling certain items from the meal online.  One item in particular, a chicken nugget shaped like a “crewmate” from the multiplayer online game Among Us, was auctioned off on eBay for nearly $100,000…[then] last month, [a TikTok idiot] posted a video accusing various eBay sellers peddling the BTS chicken nuggets of…“human trafficking”…The idea that a chicken nugget eBay listing would serve as a front for child trafficking was clearly ridiculous on its face.  Yet many of the commenters appeared to be…[just that ridiculous]…

I Spy (#1155)

The beginning of the end for private communication:

Apple has announced…new “protections for children”…in iCloud and iMessage…this means…Apple is planning to build a backdoor into its…system[s]…Apple’s…appease[ment of] government agencies…is a shocking about-face for users who have relied on the company’s leadership in privacy and security.  There are two main [spyware apps] the company is planning to install in every Apple device.  One…will scan all photos as they get uploaded into iCloud Photos to see if they match a photo in the database…maintained by…NCMEC…the other…scans all iMessage images sent or received by…accounts designated as owned by a minor…and…notifies the parent when…images [an algorithm decides are “sexual”] are sent or received.  All it would take to widen th[is]…backdoor…is an expansion of the…parameters to look for additional types of content…The abuse cases are easy to imagine: governments that outlaw homosexuality might require…[calling the cops on] apparent LGBTQ+ content, or an authoritarian regime might demand the classifier be able to spot popular satirical images or protest flyers…

I Spy (#1158)

Still think this djinni is ever going back into its bottle?

…several high-profile female journalists and activists…have…been targeted and harassed by authoritarian regimes in the Middle East through hack-and-leak attacks using the Pegasus spyware, created by Israeli surveillance technology company NSO Group.  The spyware transforms a phone into a surveillance device, activating microphones and cameras and exporting files without a user knowing…a key part of the harassment…is the use of private photos…[which would be] tame by Western standards…[but] are considered scandalous in…societies like Saudi Arabia and were…used to publicly shame these women and smear their reputations…Pegasus spyware is linked to human rights violations around the world…including the [murder] of Jamal Khashoggi…by Saudi agents…

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[Surveillance] is not what makes people or communities more safe.  –  Lauren Johnson

Unintentional Hilarity

Vancouver, Washington is a “hotspot” for “sex trafficking” hysteria:

Sex trafficking is a growing problem across Washington…[blah blah bogus statistics] as close as your child’s school, your neighborhood, or even the internet in your home.  It’s time we double-down on our efforts to put an end to it…Clark County’s…position between Seattle and Portland with Interstate 5 as one of our main corridors makes us part of the sex trafficking circuit in the West.  We need to protect our children…with [propaganda sourced from]…Shared Hope International…

Remember the imbecile who gave a strange man all her savings, then claimed she had “escaped sex trafficking” because he told her strippers make more money than waitresses?  She was encouraged & enabled by this same bunch.

The Punitive Mindset (#880) 

If there’s anything narrower and meaner than the mind of a prison official, I’m not sure what it might be:

The Prison Policy Initiative has campaigned for years to protect incarcerated people’s letters from home…We’ve been concerned for some time that private companies — which already make it costly for incarcerated people to make phone calls and video calls — would someday partner up with prisons to block people from sending physical mail, too.  Now…the telecom company Smart Communications is trying to sell prisons its “MailGuard” service — where the company scans incarcerated people’s letters from home and gives them…digital copies instead — and the federal Bureau of Prisons is piloting the service…Pennsylvania has been using MailGuard in its prisons since 2018…but if the federal system starts replacing letters from home with scanned copies, more states will follow…the Florida Department of [Torturing Caged Humans] is planning not only to convert incoming mail to scans, but to start charging incarcerated people to access their own mail…

Welcome to the Future (#1124)

Pasco County is already being sued and federally investigated over this:

It starts like an offer of admission from a prestigious university.  “We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected”…But the four-page letter from the Pasco [County, Florida] Sheriff’s Office goes on to tell recipients they will be facing enhanced police scrutiny under the agency’s controversial intelligence program…the Sheriff’s Office creates lists of people it [pretends are more] likely to break the law based on criminal histories, social networks and…[a lot of “AI” bullshit, then harasses them merciless]ly…without…warrant or [even the slightest shred of] probable cause…four [victims of these civil rights violations] are now suing the Sheriff’s Office in federal court…and…policing experts drew comparisons to child abuse and surveillance that could be expected under a…[more] authoritarian regime [than is allowed even in Florida]…the agency has a separate program that uses schoolchildren’s grades, attendance records and abuse histories to label them potential future criminals

The Course of a Disease (#1130)

Our recent Freedom Fest panel:

Dangerous Speech (#1146)

US “authorities” keep pretending “because sex” is an excuse for any tyranny:

The mendacity of the federal government’s prosecution of award-winning journalists Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin knows no bounds.  With less than a month before…trial…the government claims it had no duty to correctly define “prostitution” to the grand jury in the case.  And so far, prosecutors have dodged defining prostitution for the pending trial…Instead, the prosecution has taken a free-wheeling “it’s whatever we want it to be” approach…

Choke Point (#1150)

PayPal is becoming an active threat to civil liberties:

PayPal announced Monday a new initiative against [free speech] online…it…will track and shut down financial networks that…”profit…from all forms of hate and bigotry against any community [except sex workers]”…PayPal threatens to limit the ability of individuals or organizations that it deems intolerable to engage in private financial transactions.  Even worse, the judgment about what language or opinions stand beyond the limits of toleration will be outsourced to activists with their own…definition[s] of extremism [that are] not limited to terrorism, organized crime, or other direct threats to constitutional government…The goal is to make it as difficult as possible to organize [for groups popularly deemed]…offensive[, including sex workers]…

To Molest and Rape (#1154)

Rapists are attracted to police work for obvious reasons:

A [typical and representative] Greeneville [Tennessee cop]…was pushed out by his department after an internal affairs investigation concluded he sexually assaulted a woman onboard a Caribbean cruise in 2019…A group of three women [reported that] Alan Dotson…proposition[ed] them and [w]hen [they refused]…he…push[ed] his hand over [one of  the women’s] dress into her genitals…He continues to deny the allegations [on the grounds that cops virtually]…never face…criminal charges [when they rape]…

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