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Posts Tagged ‘prisons’

Why are you trying to avoid talking about Jeffrey Epstein?

What would you have me say?  Perhaps you missed “Overripe“, in which I wrote…

…when a powerful, wealthy, well-connected person is accused of a crime (especially a complex one), the result is invariably dueling volcanos of accusation & defense vomiting megatons of obfuscation into the atmosphere.  Moreover, when the crime “just happens” to fit into a moral panic in full eruption, the result is a firestorm that makes it very difficult to separate truth, lies, prevarications, opportunism, excuse-making, police-statery, and outright bullshit from one another…

Epstein, like many men, was attracted to women younger than the law allowed him to have.  And unlike most men, he had the means to get what he wanted and no moral compunctions against it.  Do you want my thoughts on why the government suddenly revisited the case a decade after it was over, even though Liz Brown’s analysis (synopsized and linked in the above-referenced column) covered it better than I could?  Perhaps you want me to explain the obvious, why a well-connected billionaire who hobnobbed with at least two US presidents and who-knows-how-many other powerful people, got a slap on the wrist for crimes a poor man would’ve been crucified for?  It’s possible you might want me to titillate you with pointless and lurid speculation about whether Bill Clinton or Donald Trump or whoever shared in Epstein’s predilections, in which case I would point you to my “Elephant in the Parlor” tag, tell you that I don’t write porn, and remind you that even if I did I wouldn’t do it for free.  Or maybe you’re asking me to virtue-signal about age of consent laws and infantilize young women, pretending that they are equivalent to six-year-olds because they haven’t yet reached Magic 18 and shouted “Shazam!”?  If so, you’re definitely barking up the wrong tree.  Of course, you could be asking for my speculation on whether Epstein really killed himself or was “suicided”; if that’s it I would observe that while his “friends” had both the means and the motivation to silence him, he also had extremely good reason to spare himself the ordeal and show-trial to come, and the US prison system has a long history of letting people die in cages, sometimes at the hands of sadistic cretins and sometimes by monumental incompetence.  At the end of the day, the one person who could’ve answered all of these questions is dead, and everyone else who could answer any of them is highly motivated to keep his mouth shut.  So even if you’re just dying to know the answers, I’m afraid you’re going to have to learn to live with disappointment.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Court[s]…allow…prosecutors to punish teens for the terrible things [others] have done to them.  –  Tim Cushing

Bad Girls

Why is “attractive” in scare quotes?

Men arriving at a [house in] Plant City [Florida] with the expectation of meeting a woman were instead beaten, robbed and even tortured…Hispanic [victims] were lured…under the guise of “socializing with an attractive female.”  The woman did indeed meet each victim in the driveway, but once they were inside…the men were “viciously tortured” while being beaten and robbed.  Then, they were forced to drive their own cars to ATMs around Plant City to withdraw money for the [gang], all under the threat that their families would be harmed if they did not cooperate…[the gang then] released the victims but kept their cars…two men and two women [have] been arrested on charges related to kidnapping, robbery, and battery: Thomas Nolasco, Joshua Rodriguez, Carina Bailon, and Melissa Long; a warrant is out for the arrest of James T. Smith…

Feminine Pragmatism 

It’s good to see that the media is beginning to grasp this:

When I saw an ad for topless waitresses at double the minimum wage plus tips, it seemed like a sign from the universe…The job was a vast improvement over motel housekeeping.  On the first night, I earned an entire month’s rent money and, more importantly, bouncers made sure no one touched the staff…years later, I looked back and realized, “Oh, that was sex work.”  Once I’d recognized that, I also understood what I’d been doing when I was earning groceries…The only difference between sex work and other work is that American culture continues to place a high moral value on amorphous concepts like…sexual purity.  I was supposed to be ashamed of my topless waitressing, because my hypothetical future husband wouldn’t like the idea of a hundred half-drunk soldiers staring at my breasts on a Saturday night.  My body was supposed to belong to a man I wouldn’t meet for another 10 years…sex work is not some great fall from respectability.  It’s often the net that catches people before they fall into destitution…Sex work has the power to lift people out of poverty, because you don’t need a college degree, and it almost always pays more than minimum wage…

Buried Truth

I think we have enough evidence to start calling this “McNeill’s Law”:

The founder of one of the nation’s largest conversion therapy programs, who spent decades leading the organization, now says he is gay, apologizing for his role in the practice.  McKrae Game, who founded and led Hope for Wholeness in South Carolina, publicly announced he was gay in early June, more than two years after the organization’s board of directors abruptly fired him…

Under Every Bed (#615)

Possibly the silliest “King of the Hill” claimant ever:

The FBI says human trafficking is the third largest criminal activity in the world.  Rockford ranks tenth in the United States and second in the state when it comes to trafficking victims.  According to advocates for Rockford’s Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, or RAASE, one reason why Rockford is high on those lists is because of its location in the Midwest, making it a central hub for human trafficking…

The idea that a declining industrial city could be a “sex tourism” destination is right up there with the claim that any serious adult calls Milwaukee “the Harvard of sex trafficking“.

Banishment (#802)

Few states are as sociopathic as Florida in maltreating people on a Sacred Government List:

…in Florida…people [condemned to] the [“sex offender”] registry were barred from shelters [during Hurricane Dorian]…if they attempted to stay with friends or relatives, they faced daunting residency and registration requirements…in Flagler [and Nassau] Count[ies, they]…were directed to…seek shelter in the county jail…Under Florida law, those who evacuate must register their temporary addresses, in person, at the sheriff’s office if they will be away from home for three or more days.  They are also required to [pay to change] their driver’s license or identification card with the temporary address within 48 hours of their departure date [and then pay again to change it back when they return home]…failing to comply with [these] requirements [could result in]…five years in prison…

I guess Florida “officials” enjoy getting sued over this, because they keep doing it.

Guinea Pigs (#884) 

Facebook policies prohibit the creation of fake accounts by law enforcement, but pigs make them anyway and Facebook does nothing about it:

Facebook said…that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would be violating the company’s rules if agents create fake profiles to monitor the social media of foreigners seeking to enter the country…Facebook spokeswoman Sarah Pollack…said the company has communicated its concerns and its policies on the use of fake accounts to DHS.  She said the company will shut down fake accounts, including those belonging to [duplicitous pigs and spooks], when they are reported…

But until they’re reported by others, you can bet Facebook won’t be looking very hard.

Saving Them From Themselves (#942)

Oink oink, she was on the wrong side of an imaginary line, so we have to destroy her life!  SHAZAM!

In 2016, a 16-year-old Maryland student known as S.K….sent a brief cellphone video to two friends…A few months later, S.K. had a falling-out with one recipient of the video, a 17-year-old boy known as K.S…[who] reported the video to the school [pig], Eugene CaballeroCaballero took [SK’s] statement and passed it on to state prosecutors [who of course did what prosecutors do]…S.K…was found guilty…as a distributor of child pornography…S.K. challenged the sentence, pointing out that the law does not provide for charging the subject of alleged child porn with child pornography production…The court looks at the law and decides the legislative intent was to treat minors as their own pornographers…The dissent says this is [clearly insane]…

Forward and Backward (#947)

Moral panics make it so easy for pathetic twits to gain a sense of importance; all they need to do is be willing to make up a lot of ridiculous and evidence-free lies about how they were “almost snatched by a pimp”, about “signs of sex trafficking”, about small cities being “sex trafficking hubs”,  about magic numbers and words that “end demand”, and naturally about how looking at pictures of naked people magically creates “slavery”.  And the hoi-polloi just gobble it up, no matter how deeply stupid it is to anyone who lives in the real world.

Torture Chamber (#966)

The government calls this “correction”:

A brutal beating by four guards inside Florida’s largest women’s prison has left a woman…paralyzed for life, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit…four [screws]…slammed her to the ground and began beating her.  At least one…elbowed the back of her neck…then [the four] dragged Weimar “like a rag doll” to an area not covered by surveillance cameras and continued beating her nearly to death…She is now a quadriplegic and…hospitalized with a breathing tube…the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) has blocked Weimar’s attorney and her husband from taking pictures of her injuries…

Pyrrhic Victory (#969)

Surely you didn’t think Amazon’s two nastiest privacy-violation schemes would stay separate for long?

…Amazon loooooves to play word-games…[it claims] cops only get access to Ring customers’ videos if the customers offer to share it; but what they never said is that 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…a[n anonymous] Ring spokesperson…[said] “Ring is not Rekognition and does not work with Rekognition”…[yet] there’s a dude at Ring Ukraine named Oleksandr Obiednikov whose title is “head of face recognition research” and who has given conference talks on how facial recognition can integrate with products like Ring.  The company’s filed multiple facial recognition patents, and its terms of service allow it to use the video from your doorbell to train facial recognition systems.  Oh, and they’ve recently advertised job openings for engineers with experience in facial recognition…

And remember, Amazon is trying to add “emotion detection” to its facial recognition.

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We’re not trying to argue the morality of this. We’re trying to argue the reality of this.  –  Nicole Emma

Feminine Pragmatism 

One day, reporters will get that “People Work To Make Money” is not news:

Lao workers, many of them young and some still in their teens, have poured in growing numbers this year into neighboring Thailand, braving exploitation and unsafe work conditions in search of employment to help support families back home…nine Lao migrants [were] killed on Aug. 18 in a head-on collision while traveling to a border town to renew the tourist visas on which they had entered Thailand…an official…said…“They won’t [tell us their personal business [so]…we can’t stop them”…Many of those looking for work in Thailand voice concerns over family poverty as their reason for leaving home…Many young Laotians [are forced by arbitrary laws to] enter Thailand with the help of middle-men to work illegally…the…head of the anti-trafficking unit of the Thai-based Labor Rights Promotion Network…[said] “This is one of the loopholes in Thailand’s laws, and this is a problem [because we would rather force them to stay in Laos and die in poverty]”…

What kind of authoritarian mind thinks that “people killed in tragic accident while trying to comply with arbitrary government rules” is a less important point than where they were from or what they did for a living?

The New Victorianism

It’s about time Playboy started covering this topic more aggressively:

…Moral panic…and purity politics…interfere with our right to sexual safety, pleasure and free expression…civil policy-making has been supplanted by partisan uproar and triggered panic.  Sex is at the center of every one of these…sex…has become the enemy…Panic rejects nuance, debate and disagreement in favor of party lines and swift action.  Panic has resulted in the rise of cancel culture and the dismissal of due process…rational thinking has…been cast aside…In a sex panic, it becomes imprudent to question the extent to which sex-based discrimination exists.  It becomes dangerous to suggest that all sexual violations, and all experiences of sexual violence, are not equivalent.  As a consequence, we learn to shut up and sit down lest we face public condemnation and risk being attacked…moral panic is more about social control than ethical guidelines for how we should get along with one another…attempts to regulate morality only heighten panic by promoting, for example, sex-trafficking laws that ignore racist immigration policies and degrade sex workers as second-class citizens…Awkward sexual encounters continue to be conflated with the worst of accusations.  And then: If he’s accused, he must have done it…

Elephant in the Parlor

Too bad more politicians don’t hire the marginalized women cops are most likely to persecute:

West Virginia [politician] Mike Maroney has been charged with soliciting a prostitute…Maroney exchanged text messages to discuss prices and set up meetings with a woman who [was arrested]…Police [then snooped in her phone and started charging people for texting her]…

Micromanagement

The modern Fuhrer wants serial numbers tattooed on every cell of every prisoner of his concentration camps:

The Trump administration wants [the border Gestapo]…to collect DNA samples from undocumented immigrants in its [cages]…according to a draft policy…CBP officials would spend more than 20,000 additional work hours on such a policy in its first year of implementation.  Hundreds of thousands of individuals could have their DNA collected each year if the draft regulation, proposed by the Department of Justice, is fully implemented…

Choke Point (#593) 

We fucking told you so:

While sex-related businesses…have long faced draconian restrictions from banks, we’re living in a time when their position is more precarious than ever…If this continues, it will disproportionately impact small sex-focused businesses…further marginalize sex workers, and decrease access to positive information about sexual health…“To see [this] spreading to educators and activists is alarming,” said Lorrae Jo Bradbury, founder of Slutty Girl Problems, a sex-positive blog…these incidents have ramped up dramatically since…FOSTA…passed in the Senate…[creating] a more repressive era of the internet, one in which websites such as Tumblr have banned adult content, Patreon is kicking off adult performers, and financial institutions are clamping down on businesses even remotely connected to sex…

Safe Position

When this is happenening in Utah, you know we’re past the watershed:

The best way of protecting sex workers is to decriminalize their industry and allow them to come out of the shadows, a Salt Lake City nonprofit told Utah [politicians]…Nicole Emma…of the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP)…told members of the state’s Criminal Code Evaluation Task Force…[that] if these penalties were removed, sex workers could communicate more openly about their industry, check client backgrounds more easily and blacklist bad actors…

The Monsters Are Due (#867) 

The ugliest part of a peak moral panic: lynch mobs:

The recent spate of mob attacks in Uttar Pradesh has caught the state police on the back foot.  Incidents of hapless people…being brutally beaten up on suspicion of being child lifters are surfacing with alarming frequency…UP director general of police…OP Singh said…“A total of 46 incidents were reported in which one person was killed and 29 injured”…In…Ghaziabad, a middle-aged woman was…thrashed by a mob…[when] she went with her grandson for shopping…people have been attacked simply for being seen with a child…two siblings — Ramautar and Raju — were thrashed mercilessly…when…taking their nephew Ravi to a hospital for treatment…Ramautar [died and]…Raju [is] still battling for his life in the hospital…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#886)

The pigs are starting their annual fearmongering early this year:

[Cops] in Massachusetts want to [spread yet another stupid panic]…about…ecstasy [pills]…in the shape of “SpongeBob SquarePants” cartoon characters…The National Institute on Drug Abuse…warns that MDMA use can “promote trust and closeness,” potentially encouraging unsafe sexual behavior…“Parents, guardians, and caretakers should be on the lookout for these as school starts and Halloween is fast approaching,” [pigs oinked]…

Yeah, because people are going to hand free samples of a drug that costs $100 a gram to anonymous brats.  And you’ve gotta love that the only “warning” these drug warriors can come up with is that stupid amateurs taking MDMA might do the same kind of stupid shit they do when sober.

Pyrrhic Victory (#960)

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

[Amazon’s] doorbell-camera company Ring has quietly forged [fascist] partnerships with more than 400 police forces across the United States, granting them access to homeowners’ camera footage…The number of police deals, which has not previously been reported, will likely fuel [belated] questions about privacy, surveillance and the expanding reach of [fascist surveillance]…The rapid growth of the program, which launched last spring, surprised [insufficiently-cynical] civil-liberties advocates…

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We…help…people…learn to integrate their sexuality into their whole self, rather than separating it from the rest of their life.  –  David Ley

Part of the Picture (#23)

Dr. David Ley vs. the childish belief that pictures of sex are magic:

Max Bennet…[of] Stripchat…and Dr David Ley…teamed up to give the customers of the camming website help on sexual struggles and shame…Max [said]…“Nearly 40% of our users experience a deep connection with the models, or are able to access a fantasy that may not be available in reality.  By bringing doctors like Dr David Ley on to speak with users, it alleviates some of that shame and conflict, and offers them a way to integrate this…with their relationships”…Dr David [has] discovered that…“many users worry…that it is infidelity and could negatively affect their relationships…Sexual shame is the real enemy to intimacy, and that’s what these sessions are trying to address”…

Scrambled Eggs (#311)

Oh look, another man says women shouldn’t be compensated for services men can’t perform because we’re too stupid to make decisions about our own bodies:

Proponents of a proposed law allowing women to be paid to donate their eggs for research [point out that]…research subjects in other fields can get paid…men can get paid for donating sperm….[and] it’s legal for women to be paid for eggs to assist couples undertaking fertility treatments.  But it’s illegal for researchers to compensate women for their eggs…[politician] Autumn Burke…[revived] this idea…[after] Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill by former [politician] Susan Bonilla…in 2013, [bloviat]ing [misogynistically and self-righteously]…“Not everything in life is for sale, nor should it be“…Burke’s bill, Assembly Bill 922, passed the Assembly without a single “no” vote in May…so it’s likely to pass the Senate handily.  Gov. Gavin Newsom thus may be the only person standing in the way of its becoming law…[Like sex work,] this…would [give] California women, especially low-income women who may [welcome]…the compensation, [a way to make money that isn’t dependent on subjugation to men, so] he should kill it…

Though he hastens to distance himself from them, this writer’s arguments were mostly formulated by an anti-abortion group which opposes the bill for predictable reasons.

Torture Chamber 

Our government refers to this as “correction”:

A [prisoner of the state of] Florida…with a history of epilepsy says he was beaten and thrown in solitary confinement for seven months after he involuntarily bit a [screw]…while having a seizure…Dean Higgins…suffered a grand mal seizure last September…[and] while the guards tried to restrain Higgins—an improper way to handle someone having a seizure—he bit one of the[m] on the arm…he was then beaten and…[locked] in…a tiny cell….[where] raw sewage would seep in…at times a number of inches deep…in addition to having epilepsy, Higgins is also on the autism spectrum…

Pyrrhic Victory (#922)

The dystopian future of Minority Report has arrived:

…In early July, the FBI posted a solicitation notice for a “Social Media Alerting Subscription,” which would “acquire the services of a company to proactively identify and reactively monitor threats to the United States and its interests through a means of online sources.”  The request singles out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram “and other social media platforms” for snooping.  Essentially, the FBI is looking for companies to build a tool to comb through…social media posts and pinpoint possible threats ahead of time.  Think of it like a meme-illiterate Facebook-stalking precog from Minority Report…this system could empower the Red Flag law ideas that have since gained prominence.  This kind of “proactive identification” could allow [cops] to target and even disenfranchise social media users whose posts may have been [intentionally or not] misinterpreted…

You Were Warned

Yes, I’m going to say “I told you so”, because I’ve been telling you so for nine years now:

FOSTA [turned] the internet…into a more exclusionary place almost overnightInternet companies became significantly more restrictive in their treatment of sexual speech…The law also threw important harm reduction activities into a legal gray area…Congress failed to listen to the people it was removing from the internet, and put them in more danger as a result…The entire history of censorship shows that it magnifies existing imbalances in society, sometimes intentionally…there are many, many stories of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter taking down important work to document human rights violations under their anti-extremism policies.  Politicians…routinely treat Section 230 as a handout to tech companies — or a “gift,” as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently put it…Let’s not forget that Facebook and other big internet companies actively lobbied for FOSTA, a law that made it considerably more difficult for a startup ever to unseat Facebook…Section 230 isn’t a gift to big internet companies.  It’s a gift to rural LGBTQ teenagers who depend every day on the safety of their online communities.  It’s a gift to activists around the world using the internet to document human rights abuses.  It’s a gift to women who rely on dating apps to meet people more safely

Think of the Children! (#936)

Obviously this sex-ray contaminated money would have “sexualized” their patients!

Mount Sinai Health System said on Friday that it will make a charitable contribution equivalent to the money it received from…Jeffrey Epstein.  The money will go to an organization focused on p[ersecu]ting [sex workers]…and toward the health system’s own program Sexual Assault and Violence intervention program, which provides immediate treatment and counseling to sexual assault survivors.  The hospital did not say how much money was donated by the disgraced financier…

Loose Cannons (#949)

If this is happening to this rich, prominent man, with access to the best lawyers…what happens to the rest of us?

One of the women arrested in the [Robert Kraft massage parlor] case…pleaded no contest…to misdemeanor charges, leaving only one of the women arrested yet to take a plea in the case.  Qing Hua Zhang…pleaded no contest to engaging in prostitution and use of a structure or conveyance for prostitution.  The most serious charge — racketeering — was dropped…

Yellow Fever (#956) 

Another hodgepodge of idiotic lies, myths, wild exaggerations, wanking fantasies and long-debunked propaganda was shoveled into a column by Business Insider and represented as “journalism”; apparently they’re tying to go in the clickbait direction taken by The Hill.  This one uses the term “trafficking” no fewer than 21 times in a not-very-long article and presents a misogynistic weltanschauung in which women can be either passive “victims” or malevolent “perpetrators” but never anything else, making the Shazam-style leap without passing through any of the complex human behavior between due to “weaponization” and “normalization” by powerful, Svengali-like men.  A by-no-means-exhaustive list of dysphemisms from this trash includes “offenders”, “ring”, “traffickers”, “cult”, “slaves”, “lifestyle”, “abusers”, “groomed”, and my favorite, “sexual pyramid scheme”.  If you want an article on this topic written by an actual adult who understands concepts like “facts” and “agency”, here you go.

Across the Pond (#964)

UK cops are increasingly using the jolly, kumbaya word “team” to mean “vice squad”:

Police are [raid]ing residential properties believed to be used for sex work…to [spy on] what is happening behind closed doors…potential [targets are determined by snitching]…from local residents…[chief swine] Paul Whitehouse [oinked that intimidating people and violating their privacy is a means of]…”gaining their trust and confidence…We [don’t find enough women to harass on the street anymore]…so now we can pick [on] the off-street work[ers]…We do not want to criminalise the females.  We are looking at [pinning] criminality on a[ny available] third party”…

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Politicians are going to act like they’re supporting us, and learn to mouth the right rhetoric.  –  Kristen DiAngelo

Real People

Why are amateurs so obsessed with sex workers’ taxes?

Kirie Redfield…runs her own limited company and…pays VAT every quarter.  Every week she sends her books to her accountant to make sure all her tax affairs are in order…she’s a[n]…escort…plying her trade from a motor home in which she travels all over the country…Kirie…was unwittingly caught up in a blackmail scam when a [disgusting pig]…attempted to extort money from one of the punters who had visited her van…in Luton.  The first Kirie knew of it was when a [different pig tried to pin it on]…her…

Sex Work is Work

One day, simply listing a job on a job list will not be controversial:

Universal Credit chiefs have made a humiliating U-turn after [correctly including]…“dances in adult entertainment establishments” as one option for jobseekers with “no formal academic” skills…it has since been taken offline, hours after [a chorus of puritans bleated idiocy about a lucrative, flexible job being]…“inappropriate”…”unacceptable”…”insecure” [etc]…

Against Their Will (#831)

Journalists never question why women are willing to risk death to escape “rescue” by cops:

A woman is expected to survive after she was hit by two vehicles on the Gulf Freeway service road in southeast Houston…[while fleeing rape and brutalization by disguised pigs who deceived her]…the woman unknowingly got into a [pigmobile, but when she realized she was going to be raped and abducted]…she decided to run away…

Safe Position (#851)

If the Democratic Party were run by people who care about human rights, this would be its official position:

…sex workers and their allies are feeling left behind by…Bernie Sanders and…Elizabeth Warren, who have both unveiled wide-reaching policy platforms on criminal justice reform…that don’t include a single mention of decriminalizing sex work…

The article quotes several sex worker rights activists, but like so many stories of this ilk incorrectly states that arch-prohibitionist Kamala Harris is in favor of decriminalization, which she absolutely is not; she supports the misogynistic, authoritarian, agency-negating Swedish model.

Torture Chamber (#866) 

The State wants us to call this a “correctional institution” and the torturers “correctional officers”:

A Florida prison guard on [August 21st] [intentionally] broke the neck of a female inmate who suffered from both mental and physical disabilities…Cheryl A. Weimar…was unable to clean a toilet due to a pre-existing hip condition.  A [screw tried to force her to do it anyway while shouting “Stop faking!” at her, triggering]…Weimar to…[have a panic attack]…the guard became angry and…slammed [his helpless victim] to the ground…then dragged to a wheelchair, “with her head bouncing along the ground.”  She was eventually taken to the hospital where she was placed in intensive care…[with] a…broken neck…

Here are a few more choice tidbits from the past year at Lowell:

Florida officials [initially tried to cover up an incident in which a crazed screw intentionally broke a woman’s neck]…at [the notorious] Lowell [Cage Stack]…A year ago, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division met with…victims [of rape by screws and their] families and loved ones…to [pretend something would be done, but]…the next month, Nicholas Seaborn Jefferson, a [rookie screw], was arrested [for raping]…an inmate…Five months later, Adrian Victor Matthew Puckett was charged with [beating the living shit out of a woman] and falsifying records [to cover it up], and Kurtis Kyle Mitchell was charged [as his accomplice]…Puckett [beat her so severely]…that her two upper central incisors and one upper lateral incisor were knocked out at the root….her lower lip [was sliced] in half…The injuries caused permanent disfigurement…

Rooted in Racism (#953)

The racism of European “anti-trafficking” schemes is getting harder to disguise:

…many European countries and the EU itself are trying to restrict [rescue of human beings from sinking vessels], even as the death toll in the Mediterranean rises.  The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, appears to have come up with an ingenious solution: use drones.  The legal obligation to aid a vessel in distress does not apply to an unmanned aerial vehicle…You can avoid the politically fraught argument about who should take care of rescued migrants if you never rescue them in the first place…If we are obliged to rescue those who ask us for help, the solution seems to be to ensure we cannot hear their request…in the self-serving morality of European border policy if there were no traffickers there would be no migrants.  But traffickers do not manufacture migrants in their garages.  If the official routes are blocked, people will seek out unofficial routes.  The demand for smugglers is increased, not stopped, by making migration more difficult.  Rather than breaking their business model, these policies create it…The obsession with border security is running up against some of the oldest obligations western societies have.  Look after the vulnerable, do unto others as we would have them do unto us, help those we can…But our governments have decided it is not what Europeans do.  In perverse defiance of ingrained moral instincts thousands of years old, in modern Europe a sailor who rescues a drowning refugee must be punished…

Between the Ears (#959)

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

Contractors working for Microsoft have listened to audio of Xbox users speaking in their homes…human contractors [also] listen…to…Skype calls as well as audio recorded by Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri-like virtual assistant…The purpose of contractors [eavesdropping]…was [supposedly]…to improve the products…Apple, Google, and Facebook suspended their own use of contractors after swelling media coverage around the widespread practice; Amazon said it will let users opt-out…Microsoft [merely] updated its privacy documents to…say that humans may [listen to users without their consent]…

All-Purpose Excuse (#959)

Hey prohibitionists, are you proud of your accomplishments?

The Trump Administration…will now seek to terminate the Flores Settlement Agreement, a [compromise authoritarians call a] loophole that results in most alien families being released into the country after 20 days…The Flores loophole essentially gives a free pass into the interior of the United States to many aliens who arrive at the border with a minor…Smugglers have even fraudulently presented aliens arriving at the border as fake families to take advantage of the Flores loophole…[which] acts as a [giant cartoon] magnet, [magically] drawing more and more alien families to make the dangerous journey to our border…

To Molest and Rape (#961)

Cops show you what they are every day; why don’t you believe them?

A [typical and representative] Cleveland [cop]…attempt[ed] to kidnap [and rape] a 12-year-old girl who was waiting for a school bus in Euclid…Solomon Nhiwatiwa…asked the girl if she wanted a ride to school and after she [wisely] refused, he…[whipped out his dick] and urinated on her while filming the incident with his cell phone.  Afterwards, he got back in his car and drove away…He has been [arrested and] charged with [numerous offenses]…

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This was not a good idea.  –  Jamie Bisceglia

If you’re British and over 40, or an American of that age who loved Captain Kangaroo, you probably remember the adventures of Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings.  I recently remembered them and discovered this YouTube channel, and if you’ve never seen them before I think you’ll enjoy them.  And if you’re American and remember them too, you may remember that the song was slightly different when they aired here.  The links above the video are from Emma Evans, Skye, Dave Krueger, Mike Siegel (x2), and Tim Cushing, in that order.

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I’ve been seeing a number of articles lately like this one; the tl;dr version is that only a smallish fraction (around 15%) of people the US locks up in its filthy cage stacks are there for drug crimes.  In this particular example, the author even implies that the number is deceptively high because of plea bargains and such, thus implying that ending prohibition is not really the most important part of ending the abomination of mass incarceration.  And while I cannot fault the facts as stated, in actuality these people are using true statistics as a clever sidestep to admitting that prohibition, especially the wars on drugs and sex, accounts for most of the bloated US prison population.  In other words, they’re using highly-spun data to lie about the centrality of prohibition to the US incarceration machine.  First and foremost, prohibition of anything creates a huge black market in that thing (drugs, sex, guns, etc), and black markets beget crime.  It’s all well & fine to say “most prisoners are there for violent crimes”, but many of those violent crimes were spawned directly or indirectly by prohibition.  Also: the feds & many states magically turn non-violent “offenses” into “violent crimes” with the wave of a legislative wand, such as by classifying uncoerced underage sex work as violent “trafficking”; or criminalizing the mere possession of a firearm by someone also in possession of plant leaves, then defining all “gun crimes” as violent.  And then there’s the fact that obscene amounts of money have been given to police departments so they can hire more thugs, buy more war equipment and pay for more overtime patrolling largely poor and minority neighborhoods in the name of “fighting” drugs, sex work, “terrorism”, weapons, avoidance of confiscatory taxes (“smuggling” in Bureaucratese), etc; this is important because the greater the number of excuses cops can use to harass, detain, search and otherwise force interaction with peaceful citizens going about their business, the larger the number of those citizens will end up beaten, charged with violent crimes like “assault on a police officer” for defending themselves, or just plain framed by racist cops.  And the asset forfeiture that actually inspires a lot of bogus criminal charges?  Justified by the drug war.  Again and again it comes back to that.  So please, wonks and pundits and would-be social engineers, stop claiming that only people directly killed by bullets on the battlefield count as victims of war; a far larger number die of bombs, disease, starvation, accidents, post-injury trauma or infection, or any of a number of other reasons which are the unavoidable results of the glorious adventure you’re trying to cover up for.

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