For Prostitutes, the Discovery of Bodies on Long Island Is Stoking Fear / Safer sex work

Every time I hear a story of another trans-sex worker getting killed I am infuriated that no one makes the connection with the murders of assigned female at birth sex workers.

Maybe it isn’t being trans that is getting all these kids killed, maybe it is sex work and the devaluing of all sex workers.

From The New York Times:
Published: May 30, 2011

A chill has swept through the region’s underground sex trade.

New clients have grown skittish. Earnings have shrunk. In April, a prostitute visiting from Chicago arrived in New York City, unaware that a serial killer going after prostitutes appeared to be on the loose on Long Island. Upon hearing the news, she was so unnerved that she cut short her trip and booked a return flight the following day.

For prostitutes in the New York City area, the murders of four of their fellow workers, all of whom disappeared between 2007 to 2010, have intensified the fear and distrust that is always attendant to their still-criminalized line of work. That uneasiness has only increased this month, as the authorities disclosed the identify of a fifth victim left along Ocean Parkway on Jones Beach Island, and revealed that, like the other four, she had been a prostitute.

Pimps have exploited the terror to their advantage, using it to reinforce their control over their female workers. One 23-year-old prostitute recalled how her pimp warned her that the Long Island victims had made the mistake of working independently and “didn’t tell their daddy where they were.”

Meanwhile, that woman’s father was imploring her to leave the prostitution business and go back to school. He sent her a text message earlier this year saying, “I don’t want you to end up like those girls in Long Island,” the woman, who insisted on anonymity, recalled during a recent interview in a cafe in Lower Manhattan.

The discovery of bodies on Long Island has cast a light on the illicit sex trade, forcing many women to rethink what they do and broaden whatever precautions they may take. The killings have brought further changes to a field that has taken a traditional streetside transaction and expanded it to the point where it can now occur anywhere, and include anyone with an Internet connection.

Of the five prostitutes identified on Jones Beach Island, only one lived on Long Island. Four of them advertised on Web sites, arranging meetings from places as distant as Maine.

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From Briar Patch Magazine:

Safer sex work

The case for decriminalization

by Robyn Maynard
May 6, 2011

“In my view the law plays a sufficient contributory role in preventing a prostitute from taking steps that could reduce the risk of such violence.”

With these concluding remarks by Justice Susan Himel, the laws that kept sex work illegal in Ontario were struck down in the fall of 2010. The ruling, however, has been stayed, pending an appeal by the federal government that’s scheduled to begin in June, 2011.

If the appeal is unsuccessful and these laws do indeed fall in Ontario, it would likely set off a chain of challenges across the country, which would be a major victory for sex workers and those advocating for their rights.

Decriminalizing prostitution in Canada

Prostitution itself has never been illegal in Canada, but almost everything that makes sex work possible is: Section 210 of the Criminal Code regarding bawdy houses makes it illegal to run, work in, or be inside of any building where sexual services are exchanged for money; Section 212 (1)(j) outlaws living off the avails of prostitution, thus barring prostitutes and their dependants from living off of their earnings; and Section 213 (1)(c) outlaws communicating for the purposes of soliciting, thus criminalizing any negotiation about rates and time of sexual services.

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Rand Paul, Supposed Defender Of Civil Liberties, Calls For Jailing People Who Attend ‘Radical Political Speeches’

From Think Progress:

By Alex Seitz-Wald
May 31, 2011

Libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made headlines last week for single-handedly obstructing the renewal of the Patriot Act, calling the law an unconstitutional infringement on civil liberties. His demand to insert a series of amendments to weaken the law nearly allowed it to lapse and put the country at “risk,” but Paul said it was worth it to prevent the government from continuing to “blatantly ignor[e] the Constitution.” But when Paul went on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s radio show Friday to discuss his opposition to the national security law, he suggested implementing a far more serious infringement on civil liberties. While discussing profiling at airports, Paul called for the criminalization of speech:

PAUL: I’m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they’ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they’ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders. It wouldn’t be that they are Islamic. But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison.

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The Police & Rape

From Worker’s World:

By Monica Moorehead

Published Jun 1, 2011 5:13 PM

Consider these horrific facts provided by the National Organization for Women: Every year approximately 132,000 women report they have been violently violated by rape or attempted rape. More than half of that number knew their attackers. It’s estimated that two to six times that many women are raped, but do not report it. Every year 1.2 million women are raped by their current or former male partners, some more than once.

The United States has the highest rape rate among countries that report such statistics. It is four times higher than that of Germany, 13 times higher than that of Great Britain, and 20 times higher than that of Japan.

Does the sexual assault of women by male police officers factor anywhere into these statistics? Putting aside individual cases here and there, the answer is “no.” So it is within this general context that the egregious May 26 acquittal of two New York Police Department officers on rape charges should be viewed.

Officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata were called to help an intoxicated woman out of a taxi and escort her safely to her apartment. They were videotaped entering the East Village apartment of the woman, not once, not twice, but three times on Dec. 7, 2008. Moreno was charged with actually sexually assaulting the woman as Mata stood guard while this violence took place.

Both officers were found guilty of three counts of “official misconduct” — all misdemeanors — followed by termination of their jobs. In other words, they only got a slap on the wrist. The officers face up to one year on each charge of misconduct and will be sentenced in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on June 28.

People throughout the city became outraged with the verdict. A protest organized by women’s groups was held on May 27 in front of the courthouse where the trial took place.

Cops are no heroes

This latest incident holds important lessons. From the earliest days of childhood, it is drummed into our heads that the “policeman” is our “friend” and “protector.” This indoctrination continues throughout adulthood with an endless, nauseating parade of TV dramas and Hollywood movies, all glorifying the dangerous “job” of being a police officer. But this is not the reality.

Under capitalist society, the police are a deadly force of men and women trained to keep “order” for the small class of multimillionaires and billionaires whose corporations and banks control all the wealth created by the global working class. This “order” has created entrenched poverty, massive unemployment, slave wages, racial profiling, the incarceration of millions, and unprecedented objectification of women.

Bourgeois laws that are enforced with such harshness, degradation and insensitivity by the courts exist not only to protect the interest of the haves versus the have-nots, but also to protect the repressive force — the police. In fact, the police are above any laws that are meant to keep the masses in check. When has anyone ever heard of a police officer receiving a death sentence for killing an unarmed African American, Latino/a or working-class youth? Yet these senseless killings are almost an everyday occurrence, especially in large urban areas where there are no jobs and dire poverty.

If a woman dares to try to bring an accused rapist to justice, in many instances her character is actually put on trial by defense attorneys and their witnesses, who try to blame her for the violence brought upon her. Women in numerous rape cases are accused of “asking for it” based on how they are dressed or for being intoxicated.

Women should have the right to feel safe and be safe. Period. The police are not the answer. It will take a socialist revolution to usher in a humane, cooperative society to guarantee full equality for all women and ensure women’s rights and safety.

Articles copyright 1995-2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Former world leaders say decriminalizing marijuana worth trying

From Raw Story:

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

NEW YORK — A group of prominent former world leaders said Wednesday the so-called war on drugs has “failed” and that decriminalizing marijuana may help curb drug-related violence and social ills.

“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world,” the members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy say in a report.

“Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President (Richard) Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”

And saying that restrictions on marijuana should be loosened, the report urged governments to “end the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.”

The commission includes former Brazilian president Fernando Cardoso, former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria, Mexico’s former president Ernesto Zedillo and the ex-UN chief Kofi Annan. It presents its report officially on Thursday in New York.

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Stop Fishing for and Eating Bluefin Tuna

There are some fisheries where we just have to stop fishing.  There are some fish we have to stop eating.

Otherwise we will eat  and fish them into extinction while destroying the habitat for all forms of marine life.

Having Blue Fin Tuna sushi is a luxury not a necessity.  Eating an endangered species is not the act of an enlightened sentient human being.  It is the act of a worthless scum sucking arrogant pig.

I am a supporter of Sea Shepherd and its mission whether that mission is saving whales and dolphins or seals and endangered species of fish.

Some forms of fishing need to be banned including drift nets and long line.

Earth First…  Stand for What you Stand on…

From Sea Shepherd:

The Beast Transforms into a Beauty as Godzilla Becomes the Brigitte Bardot

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s fast interceptor and scout vessel the Gojira (Godzilla) helped chase the entire Japanese whaling fleet out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary earlier this year. It was quite funny to have the Japanese media report that the whaling fleet was fleeing from Godzilla. But as frightening as Godzilla may be, there is one thing far more terrifying – Godzilla’s lawyers.

Sea Shepherd was served with a notice to remove the name from our vessel. This is not really a problem since the Gojira served its purpose in routing the Japanese fleet so they can quite willingly retire the name. In the meantime, Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson, made a proposal to the Brigitte Bardot Foundation to rename the vessel the Brigitte Bardot after the dedicated animal rights activist. The relationship between Brigitte and Paul goes way back to 1977 when Captain Watson took Bardot to the ice off the coast of Labrador to pose cheek to cheek with a baby seal.

With that one iconic photo alone, Bardot brought the cause and need to protect harp seals to the world’s attention, a pivotal point in the fight to stop this annual Canadian obscenity of cruelty and mass slaughter.

Sea Shepherd and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation have worked together in partnership for many years, recently teaming up in an effort to end the barbaric slaughter of pilot whales in the Danish Faeroe Islands.

And thus, the newly painted Brigitte Bardot is now part of the Sea Shepherd fleet joining the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker in our ongoing campaigns to defend life in our oceans from illegal exploitation by high seas poachers.

Captain Albert Falco, the legendary oceanographer of the Cousteau Society, broke a bottle of champagne on the bow of the Brigitte Bardot to officially launch the vessel under her new name. The ceremony was attended by Sea Shepherd crew and staff, along with members of the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, and the media.

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‘Brigitte Bardot’ takes activists to tuna war off Libya

Sea Shepherd ship to act as ‘interceptor’ for any illegal fishing staff and news service reports
updated 6/1/2011 4:52:02 PM ET

Activists with the group Sea Shepherd set sail from France on Wednesday with an unlikely destination: the waters off war-torn Libya. Their mission: stop any fishing for endangered bluefin tuna since it’s illegal in those waters.

“Any tuna fishing vessel we find off the Libyan coast will be operating illegally,” Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson said in a statement. “We will cut their nets, free the fish, and document and report their operations” to international officials.

“We have no need to worry about Libyan planes or naval vessels,” added Locky MacLean, captain of the flagship “Steve Irwin”.

“We will keep NATO forces aware of our activities,” he added. “We can’t allow the poachers to profit from the war by taking these magnificent endangered fish.”

Sea Shepherd, a group best known for taking on Japan’s whaling fleet, said 46 crew are aboard the “Steve Irwin,” named after the late Australian conservationist, and a faster “interceptor” vessel, which was recently renamed the “Brigitte Bardot” to honor the French actress known for her animal activism.

The two ships left before their scheduled sailing, Sea Shepherd said, because they feared some French fishermen who trawl off Libya might try to sabotage their departure from the port of Toulon.

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From Sea Shepherd:

Operation Blue Rage 2011 Commences: Sea Shepherd Departs for Hostile Libyan Waters to Save Tuna

June 1, 2011

Operation Blue Rage, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s bluefin tuna defense campaign, kicked off today with the departure of two of their ships from the port of Toulon, France. The Dutch flagged Steve Irwin and the Australian flagged Brigitte Bardotdeparted from the port of Toulon, France today bound for the waters of war-torn Libya. Sea Shepherd’s mission is to search out and intercept bluefin tuna poaching operations of vessels taking advantage of the war to illegally catch this highly endangered fish.

The two ships departed from Toulon ahead of their 1500 hour scheduled departure in order to avoid the threat of an attack by angry French fishermen, attempting to prevent the departure of the Sea Shepherd ships.

Forty-six volunteer crewmembers make up the Sea Shepherd crew, including 18 women and 28 men, all of whom are prepared to undertake action despite the risks of confronting poachers in hostile Libyan waters. The crew represents 17 nationalities, including 10 European Union member nations. The represented nations onboard are: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Operation Blue Rage 2011 is focused on intervening against any bluefin fishing operations taking place in the area off the Libyan coast, a region closed to the exploitation of bluefin tuna by the International Commission on the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) and the European Union fishing commission.

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From Alternet:

The Wild War to Protect Bluefin Tuna In Libyan Waters, and Obama’s Troubling Role

The waters off Libya are a NATO no-fly zone, which is good news to poachers: No inspectors. No surveillance.

By Anneli Rufus
June 1, 2011

A war is raging in Libya, but it’s not the one in the news.

Its battles are set in the dazzling Mediterranean offshore. Its warriors are foreign, their motives mostly mercenary.

Their casualties? Atlantic bluefin tuna. Although it’s not an officially endangered species — with help from the Obama administration — overfishing has reduced bluefin populations by 80 percent since 1970. A single bluefin typically sells for $75,000, and that’s what will happen to those caught off Libya, unless Captain Paul Watson, armed with international law and big serrated knives, wins this war.

Two ships from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a nonprofit Watson founded in 1978, nine years after cofounding Greenpeace, are now speeding toward Libyan seas. French, Spanish, German, Italian and Maltese poachers ply these waters with impunity, although the EU has outlawed all fishing here due to Libya’s civil war. It’s a NATO no-fly zone, which is good news to poachers: No inspectors. No surveillance.

Except, that is, for the Sea Shepherd’s 60-foot helicopter-mounted flagship Steve Irwin and its small, swift scout vessel.

“Any boat we find will be an illegal boat,” warns Watson, who says he liberated 800 tuna off Libya last year.

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No Time to Be Timid: Regarding Automobile Mileage Standards

From the Sierra Club:

By Michael Brune
June 2, 2011

Ending America’s dependence on oil is one of our nation’s greatest challenges — for our economy, our environment, and our national security. We consume a breathtaking 19 million barrels a day, and 70 percent of it is used for transportation.

Adding urgency, the latest report from the International Energy Agency says that global CO2 emissions last year were the highest they’ve ever been — and much worse than expected. If we don’t want to see a catastrophic disruption of global climate, we need to start acting with urgency right now.

This is no time to be timid. Of the many options the U.S. has for taking action, enacting strong fuel-economy and greenhouse-gas emission standards is one of the simplest and most effective. And it will benefit Americans immediately.

Most obviously, a strong fuel-economy standard saves people money because they don’t have to buy as much gas. By 2030, a strong standard (at least 60 mpg by 2025) will have saved Americans $370 billion at the pump more than the weakest standard that the Obama administration is considering (and that’s at $3.50/gallon — does anyone really believe we’ll be paying $3.50 per gallon two decades from now?). Already, today’s consumers are showing that they value fuel economy. The recovery of American automakers is based on their newfound ability to build great cars and trucks with smart technology that get superior gas mileage.  (There’s nothing like a near-death experience to encourage rethinking your priorities.)

The technology to actually exceed 60 mpg already exists today. Setting a strong standard will increase the rate of adoption and drive further innovation. That innovation can happen right here in the U.S., whether it’s designing more efficient engines, battery technologies, or creating new infrastructure to support electric vehicles. That means more jobs.

Breaking our dependence on oil is principled and patriotic, and it will bring greater prosperity to American consumers and workers. Not only will consumers save money over the life of a vehicle but also the auto industry will gain jobs. The Department of Energy forecasts that the number of auto industry jobs would increase by 21 percent with a standard of 62 mpg by 2025.

Let’s hope American automakers don’t get amnesia and attempt to put the brakes on a clean-energy transition. Rather than cling to a destructive dependence on Big Oil, the American auto industry can continue its revival and harness the ingenuity and engineering talent that is one of our nation’s greatest strengths. By doing so, they can go from being a big part of the problem to a key part of the solution.

If you’d like to see our cars and trucks get the best mileage possible, then let the Obama administration know.

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Emma Lazarus “The New Colossus” and Sarah Palin’s Desecration of Ellis Island

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Wikipedia:  Emma Lazarus:  She is best known for “The New Colossus“, a sonnet written in 1883; its lines appear on a bronze plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty[1] in 1912. The sonnet was solicited by William Maxwell Evarts as a donation to an auction, conducted by the “Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty” to raise funds to build the pedestal.[2][3]
In the early 20th century my grandfather and grandmother on my father’s side of the family came to America from Poland.  they went through Ellis Island along with millions and millions of other European immigrants who helped make America the diversely wonderful tapestry of many influences that reflect who we are and where we came from.

There was a reason why the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France in recognition of the once wonderful role played by this nation, stands in New York’s harbor with a welcoming torch rather than with a gun.

Sarah, the Ignorant, Visits Ellis Island and uses the Occasion to Defame American Tradition and Dishonor Our Heritage

From Raw Story:

Palin slams DREAM Act during Ellis Island visit

By David Edwards
Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin celebrated her visit to Ellis Island Wednesday by attacking legislation that would give undocumented children a chance to stay in the country.

Ellis Island is “one of the symbols of course of our country, and it’s a reminder too that immigrants built this country,” Politico quoted Palin as saying. “So we want to make sure that we’re highlighting that on our bus tour, maybe so that the present day immigrants know how much we appreciate them and their work ethic, and their love of country and freedom.”

But the Fox News employee, who has hinted at a 2012 presidential run, suggested that her appreciation for immigrants didn’t extend to the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. That legislation would allow for young immigrants who graduate from U.S. high schools to stay in the country if they serve two years in the military or acquire a four-year college degree.

“The immigrants of the past, they had to literally and figuratively stand in line to become U.S. citizens. I’d like to see that continue,” Palin said. “And unfortunately, the DREAM Act kind of usurps that-the system that is a legal system to make sure that immigrants who want to be here legally, working hard, producing and supplying revenue and resources for their families, that they’re able to do that right and legally. Unfortunately, the DREAM Act doesn’t accomplish that.”

Perhaps Palin didn’t realize that the path to becoming a citizen was much simpler during the 62 years that Ellis Island was in operation.

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