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Backpage CEO Skipped Sex-Trafficking Hearing, May Face Criminal Contempt Charges

"Defiance of a congressional subpoena is rare, and it’s serious," says Sen. Rob Portman.

Phil RoederPhil RoederBackpage CEO Carl Ferrer is refusing to participate in the U.S. government witch-hunt against his company, and for that he may face criminal charges. Ferrer failed to show up on Capitol Hill last Thursday, despite a subpoena to testify before a Senate committee about Backpage's alleged involvement in sex trafficking. Now a bipartisan group of senators is calling for his head.

Leading the charge are Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), heads of a new subcommittee within in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that's been tasked with investigating human trafficking. Ferrer was ordered in early October to appear before the subcommittee last week.

On Wednesday, Ferrer's attorneys told legislators that he would be out of the country and unable to make the hearing. Were he to attend, they added, he would likely invoke his fifth amendment right not to self-incriminate.

Sen. Portman called this "a clear act of contempt" that "may justify a referral" to the Justice Department for criminal contempt charges, according to The Hill. "Defiance of a congressional subpoena is rare, and it's serious," he said.

Backpage.com is a website that—like its more well-known counterpart, Craigslist—allows users to post ads offering or seeking goods, services, jobs, companionship, events, and other things. A portion of the ads posted to Backpage are marked "adult," and contain enticements for strippers, web-cam shows, dominatrix services, and other forms of legal adult-entertainment, in addition to ads somewhat-discretely offering (illegal) sexual pay-for-play. And a small portion of these ads wind up posted by people under age 18 or featuring those forced into prostitution.

To counter this latter category of advertisement, Backpage claims to employ more than 100 people who screen adult ads after they're posted, and the company immediately reports any ads suspected of advertising a minor to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). In 2012, the company's general counsel estimated that it flagged about 400 ads per month for NCMEC. Even if all of these ads did in fact feature minors, this amounted to about 1/25th of 1 percent of Backpage's monthly ad volume at the time.

The site and others like it have been a blessing for sex workers, who find it much easier to find and screen clients, work independently, and avoid street-based sex work by using the site—all things that help reduce violence against them. And the fact that such a centralized repository of adult ads exists has been a major aid to law enforcement, too. It's allowed them to identify and pursue sex-trafficking victims much more easily than they would if victims were forced back on the streets or being advertised on a disparate network of smaller sites (or the deep web).

"Without the credit card records that Backpage.com provides to law enforcement as a matter of course... investigators will be hamstrung in preventing sex trafficking," cautioned the Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, and DKT Liberty Project in a recent brief in support of Backpage.

Yet after legislators convinced Craiglist to drop its "adult services" section in 2010 (a move that certainly didn't stop prostitution advertising on the site, just ushered it into the personals section), Backpage became the new bête noire for these misguided meddlers—a symbolic entity on which to project all their moral- and techno-panic concerning prostitution in the Internet era.

For the past several years, state and federal legislators have been attempting to shut Backpage down. The 2015 Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act targeted the site by setting a 10- to 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence from any entity that benefits financially from an ad featuring someone forced into prostitution or anyone under 18 involved in it. And Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff Tom Dart bullied credit card companies to stop accepting payments from the site, a move that Backpage is currently fighting back against in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (Backpage.com, LLC v. Thomas Dart).

The court last week granted a small victory to Backpage, ruling that Dart must immediately cease contact with the credit card companies while the case proceeds. A no-contact order stated that Dart is prohibited from "taking any actions to formally or informally request, direct, persuade, coerce, or threaten credit card companies" to get them to stop doing business with Backpage.

The demand for Backpage CEO Ferrer to appear before Congress isn't directly related to the Sherriff Dart case.

Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/Flickr

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  • d3x / dt3||

    It's super serious unless, say, Eric Holder does it. Then it's no big deal.

  • Ted S.||

    It's easier to demonize Ferrer than it is Holder.

    By the same token, the feds went after Roger Clemens because he's easier to dislike than, say Mark McGwire or especially a Sammy Sosa.

  • Ted S.||

    Or for an even better example of using unsympathetic defendants to push bad law, see U.S. v. Lori Drew.

  • Trigger Warning||

    It's easier to demonize Ferrer than it is Holder.

    Nobody demonizes Josè Ferrer!

    Bring me that floating fat man! The Baron.

    Seriously, though, the executive defies Congressional subpoenas as a matter of course. What do these stupid fuckers think they are accomplishing? Looking tough or something?

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Holder as the token daemon. Love it!

  • R C Dean||

    Exactly what I was thinking. Somehow, when apparatchiks blow off Congressional subpoenas, its just a scheduling thing, but when a prole does it, its super-cereal.

    God but these people disgust me. Even more so because I don't think they even realize what double-standard is hardwired into their thinking.

  • Ted S.||

    I don't think they have a double standard. Their standard is "Everything for the state; nothing against the state; nothing outside the state".

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    BTW, that sounds just as awful in the original Italian.

  • ||

    Fool. Failure to appear before congress is punishable by imprisonment for non-Cabinet-level proles.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Not precisely true. If he were a Republican cabinet official, he would stand a good chance of going to the klink.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Leading the charge are Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), heads of a new subcommittee within in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that's been tasked with investigating human trafficking.

    This committee has little else to do other than to go after Backpage, which would scare the dickens out of me if I was Ferrer.

    Backpage became the new bête noire for these misguided meddlers—a symbolic entity on which to project all their moral- and techno-panic concerning prostitution in the Internet era.

    I liked the way this was phrased.

  • Ted S.||

    Not misguided; evil.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I prefer alliterative descriptions.

  • d3x / dt3||

    "Malicious meddlers", then.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Your example is good, but I have mentally settled on "baneful buttinskies."

  • d3x / dt3||

    'ate-filled assholes?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Nefarious nincompoops.

  • Hank Ferrous||

    Entertaining, but does not allow for the potential damages their blinding combination of ignorance, stupidity, obtuseness, mendacity, arrogance, and sheer disdain for both 'rule of law' and individual rights are likely to bring about.

    Ignorant agenda-driven arrogant assholes maintains alliteration. Props to 'ate-filled. McCaskill is surely full of hate.

  • np||

    "Do-gooders"

  • R C Dean||

    Dipshit Do-gooders?

  • R C Dean||

    Nazi Nannies?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Statist cunts?

  • ||

    Wait, you pronounce it like "sunt"?

  • Rhywun||

    C'tatist... ph'nglui mglw'nafh...

  • Jerryskids||

    McCaskill was the one who invited Mattress Girl to the SOTU Address and is currently looking into Valeant and their "outrageous price-gouging" on prescription drugs (no doubt at the behest of Bill Ackman) so we know she's a media whore and a despicable loathsome creature.

  • d3x / dt3||

    I realize this trends off-topic, but I was reading about the Matress Girl stuff and found her latest "art" project, a voyeur video of her getting raped.

    She seems like a completely unhinged person. She claims to have been raped and traumatized, but she wants to recreate it in a video? And what dumbass would agree to be the guy starring in the video, given that she decided the first encounter was nonconsentual eight months after it happened?

  • Hank Ferrous||

    I'm pretty sure that was Gillibrand, the other busybody who can't be bothered with facts when there's an agenda.

  • Hank Ferrous||

    Shit, no no no, one of the many other busybodies who cannot be bothered with facts...

  • Ted S.||

    Google confirms. She's one of the two shitstains from my state. :-(

  • Ted S.||

    Legislators shouldn't even have the legal right to dragoon private citizens into appearing before committee hearings like this. Such hearings should only be for investigating the executive and judicial branches.

    The legislators are a bunch of fucking evil grandstanders.

  • Zeb||

    Good point. If they think he's done something wrong, put him on trial. Otherwise, leave people alone.

  • ||

    Naive question: where in the constitution are legislators empowered to do this?

  • ||

    I found the answer. It's the FYTW Clause.

    Legislative Subpoenas

  • Adans smith||

    Next up,hearings on oil companies on global,er,climate change and 'big' food on sugar and fat in their products.Oh ,and tec companieson encryption.'Why do they hate the children?'

  • Ted S.||

    Yes, why do the Congresscritters hate children?

    Roman Polanski could only rape one girl at a time. Congress can harm an entire generation in one go by removing their liberties.

  • ||

    Big Sugar ? Ha Shirely you jest.

    Big Sugar good. Just look at the subsidies.

    Big Sugar is a proud America !

  • d3x / dt3||

    Big Sugar got a heavy hand
    Big Sugar take control
    Big Sugar got a mean streak
    Big Sugar got no soul

  • Mike M.||

    It's appropriate that this guy is in the sex business, because he just fucked himself.

    You don't show that kind of contempt for congress unless you're someone extremely well-connected, like Hillary Clinton for example.

  • ||

    I don't think the guy is in the sex business.

  • MarkLastname||

    He is of course no more in the sex business (or human trafficking business) than Jack Daniels is in the car accident business, but on;y non-retards can figure that out, and that therefore excludes Portman and McCaskill.

  • ||

    I would have no problem with congress compelling people to show up and testify if they treated everyone the same way.

  • d3x / dt3||

    I do sort-of like that it keeps them from doing something else, like passing awful legislation.

  • np||

    Just the fact that they criminalize contempt proves that Congress and the laws it creates deserves contempt.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    Speaking of problematics, I saw a recent South Park episode (the Ninja one), and they used the word problematic at least twice, so the writers have to be reading this site/comments.

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    "Problematic" has become very, very common to describe something that hurts one's feels. It certainly didn't come from here.

  • MarkLastname||

    It's actually something of an 'academic' term. It's sort of a euphemism for thought crime. Political positions, theories, ideas, statements, etc. are called 'problematic.' Or, one can take completely innocuous ideas or ones that are at least not remotely bigoted (e.g., opposing affirmative action in college admissions or supporting lowering commercial taxes) and "problematize" them, which is to basically make up a convoluted bullshit 'explanation' for how such beliefs are actually surreptitiously racist/sexist/classist, etc.

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    I'm sure they spent a lot of time reading tumblr and gender studies essays. A few lines in the following episode were probably ripped from tumblr.

  • Suell||

    I remember my most uber lefty prof at Berkeley used "problematic" back in the late 90's. Probably the first I had heard the term. He was also fond of using "fellow travelers". Commie scum.

  • Jerry on the rocks||

    So a subcommittee on human trafficking is using force to compel someone to be somewhere at some time doing something specific. It's like they're running a sweatshop themselves.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    This just in: Dumb Polacks nervous as Hamtranck, MI gets its first majority-Muslim city council.

    Start off with a Polish-American shopkeeper who thinks her fellow Poles regard recent developments as worrisome after what the article neutrally describes as "the arrival of thousands of immigrants from Yemen, Bangladesh and Bosnia over a decade." The shopkeeper says her fellow-Poles regard the Muslims as "the other," though she (the shopkeeper) admits she's nervous about what the article describes as the call to prayer "that echos through the city’s streets five times each day."

    Cut to Saad Almasmari, a Muslim businessman and one of the new city-council members: "I don’t know why people keep putting religion into politics." Non-Muslim Americans are introducing religion into politics of the blue!

    Then a discussion of how the Muslim businesspeople are revitalizing the impoverished city.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    "Most of the women strolling Joseph Campau Avenue wear hijabs, or headscarves, and niqabs, veils that leave only the area around the eyes open. Many of the markets advertise their wares in Arabic or Bengali, and some display signs telling customers that owners will return shortly — gone to pray, much in the same way Polish businesses once signaled that employees had gone to Mass." See, everyone's basically the same, why can't we just get along!

    The head of one of the mosques offers up some reassuring words that everything is going to be nice and multicultural: "“The Polish people think we were invading them,” “We were a big threat to their religion and culture. Now their days are gone.” I'm sure he meant to say that the days of interreligious cooperation are just begun!

    More placatory words after the election: "“Today, we show the Polish and everybody else,” said ["community activist"] Ibrahim Algahim in an address to fellow Muslims that was captured on video."

    A more conciliatory activist "encourages other Muslims to watch their language, because it can seem threatening.

    “"It sends the wrong message. If I were white, I would feel scared,” he said."

    But then it's back to the good cops - the nice City Councilperson and the multicultural Polish merchant.

    Everything's going to be all right!

  • Notorious UGCC||

    And wouldn't you know it, the Islamophobes are already picking up on that activist's innocent remark:

    "One of those with rising tensions was one of the defeated -- and Polish -- city council candidates, Cathie Lisinki-Gordon:

    "I’m shocked that [the activist] said that. I’m a very good friend of his. I cannot believe that he would ever profile any select group. Especially when his community has felt ostracized and profiled for many years."

    But one of the local non-Muslims puts this in context: "What Algahim was saying at the time was he was meaning that the Yemeni and Bangladeshi communities worked together to go forward with a successful election. ... The ultimate goal is to work together. We’ve got a great possibility of showing the world how great people can work together, ethnic groups can work together, to solve problems."

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Time for Ms. Dalmia to get out those 19th century Nativist cartoons and the photos of dead children!

  • R C Dean||

    We’ve got a great possibility of showing the world how great people can work together, ethnic groups can work together, to solve problems.

    This is true. Let's give this particular laboratory-of-democracy experiment time to play out.

  • Agammamon||

    I know, its just fucking horrible that all these violent Muslims are . . . peacefully integrating into a democratic republic and putting up candidates for election instead of burning down the churches.

  • Zeb||

    Hmm. Sounds boring.

  • ||

    There was one older lady interviewed in the article.

    She complained about the 6 am loudspeakers blaring the call to prayer and waking her up.

    Why would anyone be allowed to broadcast a loud noise city wide that wakes people up at 6 am. What if the person was a night shift worker ?

    Where is the atheist outrage at this ? This speaks louder than a manger display at Christmas or the Ten Commandants tacked on the wall.

  • Not okay||

    Call to prayer, not sure what to think. What's the general opinion on that? Not sure it's much different than nativity scenes in front of city hall except it's more annoying.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

  • Not okay||

    In what way do you see this applying? I don't think prohibiting a call to prayer on a loudspeaker prohibits praying.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    It's an exercise of religion. If it originates from private property, they shouldn't be able to do anything about it.

    And even if it's on public property I'm not sure it constitutes an establishment of religion (despite the court's rulings, but I can see both sides.

    Oh, but it's annoying, for sure...trust me.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    (despite the court's rulings)

  • Not okay||

    Fair enough, I was just wondering what people thought. It seems to me the religious part isn't all that relevant in this case and it comes down to noise. But public nuisance laws are a bit tricky in libertarianism IMO.

    Of course even if it annoyed the hell out of everyone if it was popular enough then what can you do? I don't see it as a violation of an inherent right so it's just a democratic decision.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Nuisance laws take you down a rabbit hole.

    When I was a kid the local fire departments used to blow their whistles at noon, as a public service, to let everyone know it was lunchtime.

    I'd imagine the lady who lives next door, who just put her child down for a nap, thought it was a nuisance...

    Not sure how you address this without some kind of reasonableness standard (and all the badness that comes with it) OR a "be more tolerant or move" philosophy.

  • Tejicano||

    Tell them this isn't the 12th century - send your congregation a mass e-mail or an SMS

  • bassjoe||

    Free exercise doesn't mean a religious institution is automatically exempt from generally applicable ordinances, for example nuisance laws. Being woken up at 6 am for whatever reason could arguably be considered a nuisance. I agree that it's a rabbit hole of philosophical hand wringing but I don't think it should be settled merely on "free exercise".

  • MSimon||

    So really loud music at parties is no longer an actionable offense?

  • Agammamon||

    I think there's a huge difference between someone blaring the call to prayer from their mosque and blaring it from the top of city hall.

    There are reasonable time and place restrictions that could be imposed for this - and if its framed as a *courtesy* issue (ie, maybe turn down the loudspeaker for the 6AM call as this is America, we all have alarm clocks and cell phones, so this is primarily ceremonial anyway) rather than a us-against-them issue they should be able to reach a compromise.

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    I think the five-times-per-day broadcast over the entire city would be tiresome. But Christians and Jews could pray five times per day, too. Only Atheists and marginal believers should be annoyed. Nonetheless, since the Muslims have the majority in Council, all complaints will be ignored or denied. The Polish should have been more fertile.

  • Zeb||

    What does the local noise ordinance say?

  • Gray Ghost||

    Not mentioned yet is the bit in the article that said you couldn't get a liquor license for a property within 500 feet of a mosque, and there are now four mosques in Hamtranck. That might be another reason that people are pissed at the changing demographics, especially if the mosques' location prevents setting an entertainment district.

    It'll be interesting to see how civic governance changes, if at all, with new people on the council.

  • Mike M.||

    It's called the "fundamental transformation of America".

    ""If the political winds turn ugly, I will side with the Muslims."
    -Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope

    We won't even be able to say it was some big secret. He has always been completely right out in the open, for anyone who truly paid close attention.

  • CZmacure||

    I googled, and this quote comes up... well... where you would think it does. But where it doesn't come up is anything that looks like an actual citation, so I am forced to say... : [citation needed]

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    "To counter this latter category of advertisement, Backpage claims to employ more than 100 people who screen adult ads after they're posted...."

    Hmmmmmmm

    Me: Hi, I'm calling about the add for $200 an hour in service by Destiny.
    Destiny: Hi Sweetie! I'm available between 8 and 4 tonight!
    Me: Are you 18 or over?
    Destiny: Yes! I'm 19!
    Me: Well look, I'm a screener for backpage and I can make your life a living a hell with a simple phone call, so about that $200?....

  • Rhywun||

    OT: Oh look, another city-run cartel is driving out businesses who can't afford the black market:

    Despite the explosion in food trucks over the last few years, the number of mobile food vending permits issued by the city remains the same as it has since 1981, when the once-unlimited permits were capped at 3,000.
  • np||

    The War on Sex is one of few areas to always get bipartisan support, especially if it's for the young adults children.

    If it isn't Backpage, then the JVTA / SAVE Act will sooner or later claim its first victim. It took a few years for the PROTECT Act to do so, but once enshrined into law, it never stops: Two Federal Prisoners Face Additional Time for Possession of Comics
    While the case involves completely unsympathetic characters, it's a good reminder that even though offensive speech that's violent is protected, offensive speech that's sexual will get you 5 years in federal prison.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Morality-panicking demon-chasing politicians who've somehow been slathered with far too much authority butter by inept populaces will just as easily and quickly shred the pillars of open society over the whims of 'decency' as any Middle-eastern serial killer with a granite chip on his or her shoulder.

    The only difference between the politician and terrorist is civilized 'decency' goes about its crusades from shadows of churches and academia while its prisons and enforcement tactics are painted with mystical sparkling veneers of justice, reform, and lovely discipline rarely decried by inattentive and distracted squares and clovers and the scribes they read who more than often vindicate their subtle brutalities.

  • R C Dean||

    He should have shown up, and after giving name rank and serial number, should have just robotically repeated:

    "On advice of counsel, etc." taken verbatim from Lois Lerner's "testimony". I'd have to think about whether to make a statement, like Lerner did, attempting to absolve herself but accidentally waiving the Fifth.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDevz5uBd5o

  • ||

    She may have waved the 5th or not, I'm not a lawyer nor constitutional scholar, but even if she did she paid no price for it.

    She is comfortably retired on a government pension and is probably held as a hero among proggie circles.

    There is a State Dept. bureaucrat who has done something similar over Benghazi and to date he also has paid no price for thumbing his nose at Congress.

    But you let a baseball player inject a steroid i his butt and we must spend millions and threaten his freedom as long as the camers are running.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    or "I'm not here to talk about the past." or "There is no controlling legal authority." or he could just try "Boooosh."

  • d3x / dt3||

    "Look forward, not backward"

  • DEG||

    OT: (It's Sunday): Volunteer firefighters arrested on arson charges

    The first fire was allegedly started by Columbia Fire Company volunteer Justin Varner, 23, of Osceola Mills. Police said he started a fire at 12:30 a.m. Sept. 30 at an unoccupied building at 500 Lingle St. in the borough and also said he confessed to setting it.

    According to the criminal complaint, Varner said he was walking home from the Columbia Fire Company the evening of the fire and thought it had been a while since there was a fire call. He also said he thought the Hertlein building was an “eyesore in the community.”

    No, no, you're supposed to have the government take the property as "blighted" through eminent domain, not set it on fire.

    The second fire, police say, was caused by Hope Fire Company volunteers Hunter Harris, 21, of Philipsburg, Kenneth Lee Moore, 20, of Lanse, and Samuel Conner, 19, of Howard. Police said the three men also confessed to starting a fire, this one at 4 a.m. Oct. 9 at 309 Ida St., Chester Hill in Clearfield County. The building was unoccupied.

    According to the criminal complaint, Harris, Moore and Conner explained they were at the Hope Fire Company in the early morning hours of Oct. 9 when they collectively discussed setting fire to the vacant house on Ida Street so they could respond with the company and extinguish the fire.

    There are better ways to deal with boredom.

  • R C Dean||

    This isn't the first story like this that I have heard. Can't recall specifics, but I wouldn't be surprised if people with a touch of pyromania wound up as firefighters, and then, well . . . sounds like that building was wearing metaphorical short skirt and fishnet stockings.

  • Zeb||

    I think it's not unusual to find firebugs who are firefighters. Makes a lot of sense. If you get off on seeing things burn, it's a good place to be.

  • DEG||

    I knew some volunteer fire fighters when I was still living in Pennsylvania. One told me that, yes, there were more than a few pyros in the local companies and some local fires were those pyros at work. The guys in the story I linked just got caught.

  • Not okay||

    Are there people not amazed by fire?

  • Mrs. Lemuel Struthers||

    Meh, we have tons of volunteer fire companies in suburban/rural Jersey and very few fires. Mostly they want to spend their time getting drunk and bbq'ing at the firehouse - also, pancake breakfasts.

  • d3x / dt3||

    John Leonard Orr is one of the more famous examples.

  • Mike M.||

    Keynesian job creation.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I turned on Meet the Press in time to hear them huffing and puffing about our impending "Paris".

    They asked Bratton what needs to be done, and he said, "Congress needs to close the terror watchlist loophole." Thousands and thousands of guns are bought by terrorists each year, yet we do nothing! The New York Post said so.

    What a heaping helping of idiotic nonsense.

  • simplybe||

    What really needs to happen in the Middle East is that we pull all troops and advisors. Stop the CIA from sponsering regime change, close all our embassies, stop buying their oil and trading with them all together. Tell Saudi Arabia and Yemen when they stop sponsering terroism to give us a call. And put out a very public notice that the next time this country is attacked if it is Muslin sponsered we will blow up one of their holy sites starting with the Mosque in Isreal. They actually follow through.

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • ant1sthenes||

    ISIS aren't just terrorists, they want political power, and they draw as much from the Nazi playbook as the Muslim one. They'll initially leverage terror to silence opponents, but they'll also work on building up legitimate sources of political power. Every terror attack strengthens the state that they eventually hope to seize control of.

    I think what we'll be seeing more and more of is a jihadi infiltration and subversion of the SJW movement; they also hate Western civilization, and long to show that they are more holy than those around them, but their ideology itself is weak and internally contradictory. A true religion will be able to peel off quite a few of them. A little bit of ultraviolence will bring the rest in line. Once they control the progtards, they also control the campuses, and from there they can begin a campaign to get legitimate control of the government.

  • ||

    The problem with that is that while we can do without their oil the rest of the world cannot and the world, hence our, economy depends on it.

    Doing that would be cutting our own economic throat.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    Yes. And they stop using the dollar to trade in oil and we sink into the biggest depression in our history.
    They have us over a barrel.

  • Agammamon||

    It wouldn't.

    But not buying ME oil would do nothing to stop the influx of money to those countries.

    Oil is basically fungible. So, we buy from Venezuela and Russia instead and the people that were going to buy that oil then just buy it from the ME countries.

    I suppose its still a slight improvement - as *we* no longer have any marked interest in the ME, but dozens of other countries will now be vying for their favor.

  • Zeb||

    Don't we already get most of our imported oil from Canada and Mexico anyway?

  • Tejicano||

    Yup. Basically all the oil we need is produced on this side of the globe. Nobody is going to pay to move a supertanker halfway around the world if that market already has all the local supply their demand requires.

  • simplybe||

    So the crooks in DC are upset that someone does not care to listen to their crap. Is this a slow news day.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Team porpoise armed with outrage chirps stalks the fields of creativity for souls to crush in yet another soulless and misguided fucking morality jihad.

    Jesus fucking Mohammed in the mouth with his shit gun Christ! I will guarantee you bitches that no orbiting mass of warmed over molecular couplings anywhere past earth shield has ever had to deal with 'advanced' intelligence and its constant toxic cancer of morality.

    Give space morality and space will die just like this goddamn earth.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    The 2015 Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act targeted the site by setting a 10- to 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence from any entity that benefits financially from an ad featuring someone forced into prostitution or anyone under 18 involved in it.

    So, an enterprising sex trafficker could do the country a tremendous favor by donating a small amount of the money he made, as result of an ad, to each member of Congress.

    Ugh, sorry ladies and gentlemen...our hands are tied...

    (Yeah, I know)

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    "entity" and "someone forced into prostitution" can pretty much mean anything. So an A+ in fascism to the people who came up with this.

  • MarkLastname||

    Gut who owns the coffee shop where the john, err, I mean "human trafficker", meets the prostitute/slave; the department store that sold the perp the hat that helped him disguise himself.Pretty much everyone is guilty.

    What's most ironic is that these self-same retarded progs will tell you that they believe America is 'overincarcerated' and support justice system reforms to fix that, but the only reforms they ever seem to come up with seem to have the end goal of putting 2/3 of the male population behind bars.

  • Dixon Sider Woodchipper||

    I'd respect them a little more if they'd just go ahead and make having a penis illegal. At least then they'd be honest. Fucking scum.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    “JUDGE: Are you trying to show contempt for this court?

    MAE WEST: I was doin' my best to hide it.”

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Enough! The next man that speaks out will be fined $25 contempt of court.

    Your Honor, $25 wouldn't pay for half the contempt I got for this court.

    Bailiff, collect $50 from Curly Bill Brocius.

  • ||

    Defiance of a congressional subpoena is rare, and it’s serious

    Unless you're a high ranking bureaucrat, then it's routine and no problem at all. Let me fix that:

    Defiance of a congressional subpoena is rare, and it’s serious for you peasants.

  • Mrs. Lemuel Struthers||

    This is not the Onion.

    Student leaders have pulled the mat out from 60 University of Ottawa students, ending a free on-campus yoga class over fears the teachings could be seen as a form of "cultural appropriation."

    In other news, stop eating Indian, Chinese, and Thai food. Stick to burgers and fries you culture appropriators.

  • ||

    Yoga is really good for you. These people are... there isn't even a word in the English language for describing their level of stupid.

  • Rhywun||

    I bet there's a French word.

  • CZmacure||

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I, once, was discussing P90X with a Jesus Freak who informed me he wouldn't do the yoga disk because of God and stuff.

    I unchecked my atheist privilege and laughed in his face.

  • d3x / dt3||

    I have heard the Christian pants-wetting over yoga too. I just don't understand; is your faith so fragile that doing meditation and a series of movements would wreck it?

  • Mrs. Lemuel Struthers||

    My husband has been practicing Aikido for 25 years. Recently, they had a Muslim student who refused to the traditional bow to the founder before getting on the mat. The religious part of Aikido is nonexistent, even for the Japanese practicing in Japan. They didn't make a big deal about his refusal but he dropped out soon after. The reason he dropped could have been the bow or it could have been the ex-mossad guy who teaches.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    HAHAHA! I guess I'm a hypocrite.

    Wife and I started taking a Taekwondo class, years ago. I had heartburn with the bow thing too and told my wife as much. Not because of anything religious. I just don't like giving unearned fealty to anyone, and I decide if you've earned it, not anyone else. Same with saluting in the military. I've saluted a lot of shitbags.

    Although, I didn't quit because of it. Just didn't like it.

  • Agammamon||

    His studio, he's the guy you're paying to teach you, what makes you think he might not deserve the courtesy?

  • Rhywun||

    He bows to NO MAN, Ag. Except on his terms.

  • Tejicano||

    My salutes to the shitbags are extra crisp as a way of saying "this is how it's supposed to be done".

  • Rhywun||

    This is the first I'm hearing any complaints over yoga.

    I love how they tried walk back the derp by saying it's not "inclusive" enough and got called out on it.

    The whole article is really worth a read. My God:

    The concept of cultural appropriation is normally applied when a dominant culture borrows symbols of a marginalized culture for dubious reasons -- such as the fad of hipsters donning indigenous headdresses as a fashion statement, without any regard to cultural significance or stereotype.

    Can't they just wear ironic eyeglasses, like our hipsters?

  • Zeb||

    And while India was colonized for some time, I'm not sure "marginalized culture" really applies. Of course, to those people not-white is probably what it really means.

  • Zeb||

    And the Yoga classes that most Americans take really aren't religious at all.

  • Rhywun||

    And therefore, they are disrespectful.... You can't win this one.

  • Gene||

    We're pretty deep into November to be worrying about outdoor yoga in Ottawa.

  • d3x / dt3||

    Let's talk about shrinkage, shall we?

  • Zeb||

    You mean "Hamburgers" and "French Fries"? That doesn't sound American enough.

  • TimothyZ||

    The real concern here was that the site name "backpage" might draw attention to what congressmen have been doing to their pages in the back rooms.

  • DenverJ||

  • Aloysious||

    Question for the lawyers: Is it possible to stand mute in front of one of these committees? Is that an actual legal position, or an invention of authors of fiction?

  • Aloysious||

    I understand standing mute in criminal law, just not before one of these committees.

  • Agammamon||

    Not really - the SC has made it abundantly clear that you can only exercise your 5th amendments rights *affirmatively*, meaning remaining silent isn't enough, you have to break that silence to state that you're remaining silent.

    And, in a *non-criminal* investigation, the 5th amendment *only* covers the right to not self-incriminate. Meaning you can be compelled to testify on things the judge does not think will incriminate you.

  • MarkLastname||

    And as I understand it, there's some rule that, once they start a certain line of questioning, and you answer instead of pleading the fifth, then if they ask you another question related to that one, you have to answer, and if you try to plead the fifth you're in contempt. Is that right?

    It basically seems like the rules are designed to trip people up and force them to answer on threat of imprisonment, while still maintaining the veneer of having the right not to self-incriminate.

  • MSimon||

    If the Congressional investigation is serious a grant of immunity is normally provided.

  • Tejicano||

    Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?

    Some politicians investigating human trafficking want to compel somebody to cross state lines so they can fuck with him.

    Even if it isn't in the literal sense I'd say it's a bit rich.

  • MarkLastname||

    Good thing we live in a 'post-ironic' world, I'm told.

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