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indianapolis metro police logoSupporters of the US internet censorship law FOSTA were supposedly attempting to target pimps and traffickers, but of course their target was the wider sex work industry. Hence they weren’t really interested in the warning that the law would make it harder to target pimps and sex traffickers as their activity would be driven off radar.Anyway it seems that the police at least have started to realise that the warning is coming true, but I don’t suppose this will bother the politicians much.

Over in Indianapolis, the police have just arrested their first pimp in 2018, and it involved an undercover cop being approached by the pimp. The reporter asks why there have been so few such arrests, and the police point the finger right at the shutdown of Backpage:

The cases, according to Sgt. John Daggy, an undercover officer with IMPD’s vice unit, have just dried up. The reason for that is pretty simple: the feds closed police’s best source of leads, the online personals site Backpage, earlier this year. Daggy explained:

We’ve been a little bit blinded lately because they shut Backpage down. I get the reasoning behind it, and the ethics behind it, however, it has blinded us. We used to look at Backpage as a trap for human traffickers and pimps.

With Backpage, we would subpoena the ads and it would tell a lot of the story. Also, with the ads we would catch our victim at a hotel room, which would give us a crime scene. There’s a ton of evidence at a crime scene. Now, since [Backpage] has gone down, we’re getting late reports of them and we don’t have much to go by.

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sky virgin logoSky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media would back the creation of an internet censor to set out a framework for internet companies in the UK, the House of Lords Communications Committee was told.The three major UK ISPs were reporting to a House of Lords’ ongoing inquiry into internet censorship. The companies’ policy heads pushed for a new censor, or the expansion of the responsibility of a current censor, to set the rules for content censorship and to better equip children using the internet amid safety concerns .

At the moment Information Commissioner’s Office has responsibility for data protection and privacy; Ofcom censors internet TV; the Advertising Standards Authority censors adverts; and the BBFC censors adult porn.

Citing a report by consultancy Communications Chambers, Sky’s Adam Kinsley said that websites and internet providers are making decisions but in a non structured way. Speaking about the current state of internet regulation, Kinsley said:

Companies are already policing their own platforms. There is no accountability of what they are doing and how they are doing it. The only bit of transparency is when they decide to do it on a global basis and at a time of their choosing. Policy makers need to understand what is happening, and at the moment they don’t have that.

The 13-strong House of Lords committee, chaired by Lord Gilbert of Panteg, launched an inquiry earlier this year to explore how the censorship of the internet should be improved. The committee will consider whether there is a need for new laws to govern internet companies. This inquiry will consider whether websites are sufficiently accountable and transparent, and whether they have adequate governance and provide behavioural standards for users.

The committee is hearing evidence from April to September 2018 and will launch a report at the end of the year.

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Books sample trigger warning labelSensitive snowflake students will soon need trigger warnings for some of the world’s most famous literature, an award winning author has claimed.

Julian Barnes was stunned to learn young university pupils had been critical of the behaviour of book character’s like Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.

Students in the US called the protagonist, Emma Bovary, a bad mother based on her affairs, her lifestyle longing to escape dull, provincial life.

The 72-year-old told those gathered at the celebration of the Booker’s half-century on Sunday:

I don’t know where to begin to unpick that.

As for students asking to hear in advance the bad things that happen in Titus Andronicus.

We might as well have a trigger warning on all great works of literature.

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declaration of independenceOne moment Facebook’s algorithms are expected to be able to automatically distinguish terrorism support from news reporting or satire, the next moment, it demonstrates exactly how crap it is by failing to distinguish hate speech from a profound, and nation establishing, statement of citizens rights.

Facebook’s algorithms removed parts of the US Declaration of Independence from the social media site after determining they represented hate speech.

The issue came to light when a local paper in Texas began posting excerpts of the historic text on its Facebook page each day in the run up to the country’s Independence Day celebrations on July 4.

However when The Liberty County Vindicator attempted to post its tenth extract, which refers to merciless Indian savages, on its Facebook page the paper received a notice saying the post went against its standards on hate speech.

Facebook later ‘apologised’ as it has done countless times before and allowed the posting.

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slave montreal festival posterThe Montreal International Jazz Festival has explained its decision to censor a show featuring a white woman singing songs composed by black slaves.Festival CEO Jacques-Andre Dupont said the decision to abruptly cancel SLAV partway through its run was made for a mix of technical and human reasons, including security concerns raised by the escalating vitriol surrounding the show. He also said that the show’s star, Betty Bonifassi, had broken her ankle and indicated she was no longer able to continue.

He said that while many protesters were peaceful, the festival and the theatre where the show was performed were concerned by the aggression of some protesters and the rising division and anger surrounding the show. He said Bonifassi’s decision to not continue was prompted both by her injury and the criticism.

Dupont said the festival and the production company would absorb what he said would be hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses associated with cancelling the show, including paying the performers.

SLAV, one of the hottest tickets at this year’s jazz festival, was the subject of protests claiming ‘cultural appropriation’ of black culture and history. It was described as a theatrical odyssey based on slave songs and a journey through traditional Afro-American songs, from cotton fields to construction sites, railroads, from slave songs to prison songs.

Black activists denounced the show and its mostly-white cast, and U.S. musician Moses Sumney cancelled a gig at the festival in protest.

Amid a storm of international media attention, the festival announced Wednesday it was cancelling the remaining performances and apologizing to anybody who had been hurt.

The renowned Quebec playwright Robert Lepage who directed the show criticized the decision to cancel it, calling it a direct blow to artistic freedom. He said in a statement that actors pretending to be someone else is at the very heart of theatre:

When we are no longer allowed to step into someone else’s shoes, when it is forbidden to identify with someone else, theatre is denied its very nature, it is prevented from performing its primary function and is thus rendered meaningless.

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walkaway video A shock poll by Reuters/Ipsos reveals that the Democrats are shedding millennial votes, with support dropping by 9% since 2016. This shift is most pronounced among white millennial men, who now favour Republicans over Democrats by 11%.The Democratic Party seems to have adopted a rather toxic mix of identity politics and political correctness that blatantly sneers at white folk, especially men. So perhaps it is hardly surprising that the party has been losing support from white millennial men. But the party’s malaise seems more widespread than that, plenty from the minority communities are voicing their disquiet at being presented in a permanent state of victimhood, especially as the previous administration didn’t actually do anything to help them break out from such a state.

Anyway a passionate and eloquent YouTube video by Brandon Straka seems to have inspired a movement to #WalkAway from the Democratic Party. Straka notes of his original reason for aligning with the Democratic Party was his belief in free speech and equality for all. And then insightfully notes that as the party lurches towards identity politics and authoritarianism, then he cites exactly the same reason for walking away.

I suspect that Donald Trump has changed politics around the world for a few years yet to come. You may, or may not, agree with his policies, but he has been seen to be going out on a limb to do something positive for his electors. Maybe it is no longer enough for other parties just to utter fine words, and do little more. People now expect their representatives to do something that actually helps.

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king and i 2018 posterThe King and I is back in the West End, 67 years on from its Broadway debut.But its portrait of a white woman being both fascinated and repelled by a society depicted as both backward and barbarous is winding up a few PC critics.

The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish whinges The King and I one of the most problematic musicals of the 20th Century American canon. Michael Billington expresses similar sentiments in The Guardian , saying it seems to endorse the idea of the civilising influence of the west on the barbaric east.

The Independent’s Paul Taylor detects a smack of imperial condescension to this story of a widowed, well-bred Victorian governess who… gives a funny foreign despot… a stiff dose of Western values.

Time Out’s Andrzej Lukowski, meanwhile, calls the musical kind of racist … like an elderly relative who you make allowances for on grounds of age.

Director Bartlet Sher responds that the show remains resonant, powerful and extremely well-conceived. He also dismisses suggestions the piece has dated, saying its views on colonialism, gender equality and the conflict between modernity and tradition make it as timely and powerful as ever.

I wonder if these PC critics would have banned British cave rescuers from helping out in Thailand lest heroically saving children’s lives affirms ‘white saviour’ stereotypes.