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Over Easy: WA Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Online Child Sex Trade Case

By: Crane-Station Wednesday October 22, 2014 4:52 am

In March 2012, 15-year-old “S” was sold in the metro D.C. area as a 19-year-old “Judy.” In June 2012, a 16-year-old from Maryland, was trafficked by a pimp who posted her on for a series of days with the subject line “My hour glass body is waiting for you. Apple booty a?? ..” These are examples of underage girls being advertised on Backpage. Three victims have sued, in Washington state. Is Backpage immune from liability for ads placed on its website advertising sex with minors? Yesterday, the WA Supreme Court heard oral arguments on this question.

When Congress passed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, they intended to encourage freedom of expression on the internet rather than limit it. Toward that end, they passed the law to shield from liability providers and users of an “interactive computer service” who publish information provided by others:

In analyzing the availability of the immunity offered by this provision, courts generally apply a three-prong test. A defendant must satisfy each of the three prongs to gain the benefit of the immunity:

1. The defendant must be a “provider or user” of an “interactive computer service.”

2. The cause of action asserted by the plaintiff must “treat” the defendant “as the publisher or speaker” of the harmful information at issue.

3. The information must be “provided by another information content provider,” i.e., the defendant must not be the “information content provider” of the harmful information at issue.

If people could sue a site owner every time they felt like they were mischaracterized, it would create a chilling effect on the free-flow of information on the internet. That makes sense as long as everybody is acting in good faith. The problem is that the owners of Backpage, while they may not have penned the ads themselves, know what is going on, and they are encouraging it, by promoting their “escort” ads. They are the online go-to for prostitution. President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, John D. Ryan writes:

Backpage’s business model makes it easy to sell children for sex on the Internet, enabling traffickers to remain anonymous. They can buy an ad with prepaid credit cards or even bitcoin. They don’t have to provide a phone number. Backpage doesn’t verify identities or ages of customers buying ads or children depicted in ads. Traffickers buy ads to sell children, and Backpage pulls in millions in ad revenue each month. No one has been able to stop it.

Now the stage is set for a classic David-and-Goliath conflict at the state Supreme Court. Three children who were sold for sex on Backpage have sued for damages. On Tuesday, Backpage will ask the justices to throw out the case.

Backpage argues that the federal law shields them from liability. Because they did not write the ads on the site, they have asked the high court to throw out the lawsuit.

Procedurally, the victims filed a lawsuit alleging that Backpage is in the business of promoting not just prostitution but prostitution of children. They claim that the immunity in Section 230 does not apply to Backpage because the site is not an innocent bystander. Rather, it knowingly promotes the exploitation of children for sexual purposes through its escort ads, doing little to report suspected offenders.

Rules of civil procedure have a provision under civil rule 12(b)(6) where a defendant can move to dismiss on the ground that even if every allegation the plaintiff made is true they would not be entitled to favorable judgment. This is a screening tool, prior to discovery, that weeds out frivolous suits. Backpage moved to dismiss under 12(b)(6) in the trial court, but the judge denied the motion, agreeing with the plaintiff that Section 230 was not enacted by Congress to pimp out underage girls for sex. Backpage appealed. Oral arguments were presented in the WA Supreme Court yesterday.

The victims’ lawyer said that Backpage is the largest website linked to human trafficking in history, and that it’s easy for pimps to post their victims on the site, to which one Justice said, “Your whole case rises and falls on whether Backpage is responsible for development of content.”

Is ‘encouragement’ enough to qualify for “development of content,” or is development of content strictly limited to the people who write the ads? Backpage knowingly makes money from its escort section, which isn’t interpreted as something else, most of the time. As the victims’ lawyer pointed out, it isn’t taken to mean “having an interesting conversation with a seventh grader in her underwear.” Is it enough remedy to tell victims to sue their pimps, and shield the site from liability under the free speech assured by Section 230, when it comes to exploitation of children? The court may rule in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, a similar suit has been filed in Massachusetts.

Oral arguments: J.S., S.L., & L.C. v. Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC, et al.

WA Supreme Court briefs asks high court to throw out lawsuit

Washington Backpage Lawsuit from NCMEC on Vimeo.


Boston Bombing News: More McPhee Maxim

By: pbszebra Tuesday October 21, 2014 11:07 pm

In a previous BBN post, “What’s Up Michele McPhee” by woodybox, we learned a of new piece written by Michele McPhee about the Tsarnaev family.  When I first opened the Newsweek site, I was unable to read the article.  I couldn’t get past the first few words, it was so repulsive and ridiculous.  I have since been able to scan over the article just to see if there was anything new in her words.  No new knowledge to be had, same old MM trash.  This article reminds me of another.  Did MM write The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev?  Seems eerily similar.  No, I guess that was Patricia Wen.

It appears MM thinks herself to be a great writer.  It appears that she wants us to see her work and speak of her “great” ability to tell a story. So I’d like to revisit MM’s writing and continue our previous conversations.

From her website, MM’s bio it reads, She was also a witness to the carnage unleashed by two homegrown terrorists who detonated two pressure cooker bombs secreted in backpacks placed in the crowd along the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 and is currently at work on a book about the FBI’s involvement with accused bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  Wow.  That IS dramatic MM!  “A witness to the carnage.”  I believe there were hundreds, if not thousands, of “witnesses” as you describe yourself.  But most of them don’t brag this fact, they are actually humbled and wish they hadn’t been such a witness.

The MM website also says she was the first reporter in the country to obtain a picture of accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s anti-American missive scribbled on the side of a Watertown boat where he hid for hours during a massive police manhunt.  Yes she was.  It was an exclusive.  MM and ABC were also exclusive in the release of Todashev’s handwritten “confession” just before he was killed.  Exclusive aka leak tool?

Another one of McPhee’s dramatic headlines, FEDS WANT ACCUSED MARATHON BOMBER IN COURT AT NEXT HEARING.  This came from the September status conference in which AUSA Weinreb asked the judge to compel Tsarnaev to appear at a scheduled status conference (October 20th).  Judge O’Toole said, “the decision belongs to the defendant.”  Well there’s something Tool did right and by the law.  Make note of this one!  In addition, bombing victim Marc Fucarile said he wants to see Tsarnaev in court. “I’d like to see him have to face us and see us. …. So he has to face what he did.  He’s a coward,’’ Fucarile said, adding that after the bombs exploded, killing an 8-year-old boy and two young women, Tsarnaev allegedly fled the carnage. “He walked away. If he was a real man he would have stayed there.”  Nice Mr. Fucarile.  Now don’t get me wrong, I completely sympathize with the victims and their families.  They have been wronged.  But Mr. Fucarile’s attitude and words here to the press only show his ignorance and thirst for revenge.  He, like so many others, appears to believe what he has been told and has latched on to the idea that Dzhokhar is already guilty.  Be patient, Mr. Fucarile, you and all the others will have what you desire soon enough when the trial starts and Dzhokhar actually appears in court.  You will be able to sneer at him and watch for his “smirks” all afternoon.

On a more pleasant note, how about those protesters at the 8th status conference?  I believe that was pretty brave of them, all seven of them!  In particular, I understand it was Elena Teyer who organized the protest.  According to reports, she held a placard with photos of son-in-law Ibragim Todashev which read, “I am dead because I knew Tsarnaevs.  I knew the truth.”  This protest was reported by multiple news agencies including CBS Boston, Reuters, The Huffington Post and more.  These protests are a good thing, in my opinion.  It feels like they tip the scales back towards level, even if just a little.

Mining The Earth: 21 Oct 2014

By: KateCA Tuesday October 21, 2014 2:18 pm

Mining The Earth:

*Everywhere.  So, Peabody Energy is going to the G20 meeting with its “Advanced Energy for Life” message, an attempt to tie coal to “benevolence, altruism and empathy for the world’s poor.”  Burson-Marsteller is reportedly doing the pr work; they did the same for the tobacco industry until 2010.  Peabody is already holding meetings and workshops in Australia, touting the new message.

*North America. Grandmothers for the environment:  Charmaine White Face (Oglala), coordinator of Defenders of the Black Hills, addressing  “dangerous abandoned uranium mines” and the grass-roots effort to clean them up;  Sharon Day (Ojibwe) holds annual water walks, this year “near the headwaters of the St. Louis River in northern Minnesota”, where sulfide poisoning from an iron mine has created a 140-mile long dead zone:  Josephine Mandamin (Anishinabe) of Thunder Bay, Ontario, who “has walked more than 10,000 miles . . . circumnavigating each of the Great Lakes.”

*CA.  Robertson’s Ready Mix owns the only mine at Banning where there’s a measure on the November 4th ballot to “approve a general tax on rock, sand and gravel mining” in Banning. Robertson’s Ready Mix is accusing the city of financially promoting the measure, which is against the law, and has sued.

*IA. The Iowa Policy Project is providing a series of presentations “on the potential impacts of frac-sand mining on communities”, working with the Winneshiek County Protectors and the Allamakee County Protectors.  Winneshiek County now has a moratorium on frac sand mining through Oct 15, 2015, and Allamakee County has imposed restrictions.

*MN.  Frac sand mining is a hot election issue in Houston County, MN this year, with the two candidates for County Commissioner in District 4 arguing over which one will issue tougher regulations governing frac sand mining, if elected.   They point to the negative impacts of frac sand mining on MN communities.

*MN.  Ray “Skip” Sandman (Ojibwe), Green candidate for MN’s 8th Congressional District (here and here), is opposed to copper sulfide mining, including Polymet Sulfide’s plans for an open-pit copper, nickel and other metals mine.  He also opposes the Enbridge pipeline extension.

*OH.  Good grief:  “About 40 percent of Ohio’s natural treasures—its state parks, forests and wildlife and nature preserves—could be undermined in the quest to remove valuable coal, oil, natural gas and other minerals . . . from 18 state forests, 24 state parks and 53 natural areas”.  A recent Ohio Supreme Court ruling also opens the door for strip mining coal, too.

*WI.  Native wild rice might have been lost if the Crandon mine (copper, zinc and other sulfides) had not been stopped by a coalition of environmentalists, Sokaogon Ojibwe and other indigenous peoples on downstream (Menominee and Mohican), leading ultimately to the 2003 purchase  of the mine and its assets for $16.5 million using Mole Lake Ojibwe-Forest County Potowatomi casino revenue.

*WI.  The Independence City Council has postponed a permit for the Superior Silica Sands  to mine frac-sand at the Guza Pit mine since they’ve discovered “that contaminated waste water from the sand washing process was going into retention ponds that lacked the proper lining.”   Independence also tried   to annex “a long-narrow strip of land to extend its boundary to a large mining site miles away . . . in connection with” Superior Silica Sands’ project.  Such annexation attempts have gotten some townships riled up, perhaps enough for court action.

*WI.  Frac sand mining’s impacts on the communities of Tunnel City in Monroe County, Blair in Trempealeau County, Pepin and Stockholm in Pepin County, and Howard in Chippewa County: for some, a bust as hills morph into piles of sand and property values decrease, while others enjoy some benefits.

Mary Poppins, Elizabeth Warren & the American banking system

By: Jane Stillwater Tuesday October 21, 2014 10:39 am

When I saw the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” during one of my interminably-long plane rides back from Syria (, I liked it so much that I actually went out and bought a copy of the 1964 “Mary Poppins” Disney classic it was based on — the one with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke frolicking across the rooftops of London.

And much to my surprise, I discovered that Mary Poppins might have been one of the world’s first hippies.  Who woulda thought!  And what was even more amazing is that Mary Poppins was one of the first people to warn us about the dangers and perfidy of big bankers and big banks.

And fortunately for those of us living here in America one hundred years later, Elizabeth Warren has now become the new Mary Poppins — also warning us about the dangers and perfidy of big bankers and big banks.

If only Americans would start paying attention to Elizabeth Warren as much as they paid attention to Julie Andrews!

“Hey, Elizabeth!” I also want to shout on the rooftops like Dick VanDyke, “voters aren’t listening to you!”  Maybe if Disney studios made a movie about you too?  Then maybe voters would finally start to listen.

According to Warren, the American middle class has been absolutely decimated by the banking and credit-card lobbies.

And yet voters still keep falling for all those glossy ads and happy lies that still keep getting pro-big-bank candidates elected to the White House and Congress even though voters can clearly see that they themselves are losing their jobs, having their homes repossessed, becoming slaves to their student loans and getting ripped off bigtime by credit-card debt.  But then I guess that those syrupy ads actually do prove that “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” after all.

In the heroic country of Iceland, their well-informed voters have vigorously fought back against bankster greed and have even re-written their constitution in order to make lending-bubbles and bank fraud illegal.

But in America, the opposite happens.  Here in America our very own government, the very one that bank lobbyists have chosen for us to elect, is handing over billions of our very own hard-earned dollars to big banks just as fast as it can.  And Congress is always writing new bankruptcy laws that favor banksters over the middle class every time.  Mary Poppins would be livid, of course, but nobody else seems to even notice these days — except for Elizabeth Warren.

And even the Federal Reserve is dancing over the rooftops in glee as it too gives away our money to the banksters just as fast as it possibly can, singing “Step in Time” as gleefully hands over giant bags of taxpayers’ money to Chase, Bank of America, CitiBank and Goldman Sachs.

And the Federal Reserve’s chim chem cher-ee chummy coverups are going through the roof too.

Plus the Senate just vetoed a bill that would have given students a break from paying up to 12% interest on their college loans too.  According to Warren, “This isn’t complicated.  It’s a choice – a choice that raises a fundamental question about who the United States Senate works for.  Does it work for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to protect tax loopholes for billionaires and profits for the big banks?  Or does it work for those who work hard, play by the rules, and are trying to build a future for themselves and their families?”

Not to mention the hidden (and not-so-hidden) fees that banks gleefully charge us customers for no reason at all.

To try to completely understand how banksters and their toadies in Congress and the Department of Justice are robbing the rest of us blind, you just gotta watch this video of Bill Moyers interviewing bank-fraud expert Thomas K. Black.  Seriously.   You really should watch this:

In this video, Black describes how Obama was elected by the banking industry and how Obama has totally paid back his debt to the banksters by handing them all “get out of jail free” cards.  Is being elected president really worth selling us Americans out to the banksters?  Apparently so.

“There’s no threat to capitalism like capitalists,” continues Black.  “They are destroying its underpinnings.  And when dishonest people gain an advantage in the marketplace, bad ethics drive good ethics out.  This is why we need the rule of law.”  Doesn’t Thomas K. Black sound just like Dick VanDyke, er, I mean Burt the Chimney Sweep here — as Black proposes that it’s high time to sweep clean our banks.

And now let’s talk about America’s ratings on the so-called “Misery Index”  Apparently America rates higher on the misery charts now than it ever has, even back in the Great Depression — and probably even as high as did Mary Poppins’s 1910 London.  Thanks a lot, banksters.

Isn’t it time that American voters finally join up with Elizabeth Warren and Mary Poppins — and tell big banks and banksters to go “fly a kite!”

PS:  Speaking of money, look how much of it is being spent in the Middle East — and not here at home where it is needed!

According to a recent blog-post at, the first official estimates of the ISIS price tag from the Pentagon showed that, “the costs of intervention between mid-June and late-August was $7.5 million per day.  At that rate, the U.S. has spent $850 million on operations against ISIS as of October 8, adding up to about $2.74 billion per year.  The Pentagon has since revised the estimate up to as high as $10 million per day, or $3.65 billion per year.  In reality, both of those numbers are quite likely to be underestimates of what’s to come.”

Looks like the US military is just as bad as the US banksters when it comes to cleaning out America’s pocketbooks — after they both have put us to sleep with false promises and false news

What we Americans really need to do these days is to once again take Mary Poppins’s advice and “Stay Awake”!

Everything Wrong With Liberalism in One Image Found on FaceBook

By: David Swanson Tuesday October 21, 2014 9:20 am

 Here’s a fairly typical image of a sort that constantly clogs up my FaceBook page. I take it to be the full and open expression of someone or some group’s honest outlook. I don’t think they’d identify themselves at the bottom as “Jesus, Republicans & Other Bullshit” if they were self-censoring.

And I certainly appreciate the cursing and the criticism of religion.

Here are my concerns:

“We’ve been at war now for over 12 years.”

No, we haven’t. The U.S. government and the U.S. military have, and it’s been for over two centuries now. This latest installment has been actively opposed by many of us and opposed in many ways in opinion polls by a majority of the U.S. population for years. It’s OK to take responsibility and blame for insufficient resistance, but not to identify with the criminals. If “we” are at war, we want “us” to win or to “redeploy responsibly,” but certainly not to face prosecution or to make restitution — as basic morality requires.

“Experts put the total cost at $4 – $6 trillion dollars.” That’s a sum of direct and indirect costs of war spending. The direct spending on the wars that is included in it is much smaller. It’s certainly right to include the indirect damage. But we should start from the right place. The Pentagon and the media, and everyone who sees or reads the media, separate war costs from routine basic military spending. The latter is spending preparing for wars and provoking wars. It is justified by the existence of the wars. The wars are fought using the weapons and bases not counted as “war spending.” That basic war preparations cost is now over $1 trillion each year. That’s over $10 trillion each decade. Then add some extra hundreds of billions in “war costs.” And then calculate the indirect damages and lost opportunities, which are enormous. The $4 – $6 trillion figure is ridiculously low, subservient to propaganda, and builds in the notion that possessing the sort of massive military that guarantees eternal wars is perfectly acceptable.

“Imagine if we had invested that in our own country and people.” The war on Iraq was not an investment in the people of Iraq. It killed a million, injured millions, made millions into refugees, and absolutely destroyed a society, leaving behind the disaster now being addressed with another war. Yes, of course, we should have invested many trillions of dollars in people’s needs rather than in mass murder. But anyone who’s really tried to figure out how to spend many trillions of dollars would know that it’s almost impossible to do. One will be obliged to let the other 95% of humanity have some of it for sheer lack of ways to spend it in the United States. And anyone who’s given any thought to global suffering would be sickened by the idea of 5% of humanity hoarding such unfathomable wealth, just as many of us are sickened by the military using it to kill — and to kill many more by taking that money away from where it’s needed than the military ever kills using weapons.

Moving away from militarism requires identifing with humanity, not a nation. “We” must begin to mean humanity. Our graphics should not push nationalism, falsify numbers to make militarism seem normal, pretend war is something new to the United States — which was born out of war and for the sake of war. Moving away from militarism requires dumping the Democratic Party along with the Republican, and along with both great mountains of bullshit. In certain of his comments, Jesus was actually closer to where we need to go than FaceBook posters are.

Karen Greenberg: Will the U.S. Go to “War” Against Ebola?

By: Tom Engelhardt Tuesday October 21, 2014 8:48 am

This article originally appeared at To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.


Sometimes, if you want to catch the essence of a moment, however, grim, you need to turn to humor. Recently, the New Yorker’s resident satirist Andy Borowitz produced one of his patented fake news stories that began this way: “The president of CNN Worldwide, Jeff Zucker, attempted on Wednesday to defuse the brewing controversy over his decision to change the network’s official slogan from ‘The Most Trusted Name in News’ to ‘Holy Crap, We’re All Gonna Die.’”

Can there be any question that a pandemic disease, which may, by December, be spreading at the rate of 10,000 cases per week in West Africa and, in a deeply interconnected world, can head anywhere is worthy of attention, preparation, and planning?  Can there be any question that a major global humanitarian effort to stem Ebola’s course in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea is imperative? Still, you have to wonder whether the second-by-second coverage of the two cases so far transmitted in this country, including the quarantining of a dog, isn’t just the usual media overkill.  It’s a story that, like massive storms and extreme weather, has so many upsides for a media world that feels itself up against the wall: it’s easy to write (or film); there’s no need for “balance”; it’s guaranteed to instantly glue eyeballs at a time when your audience can be elsewhere in no-seconds flat; and it breeds overreaction and the sort of hysteria that brings in yet larger audiences, the sort that Borowitz captured so well.  On the other hand, it makes reality almost impossible to grasp by denying context or perspective.  Think of Ebola as the disease version of ISIS beheading videos. 

Add into the mix an election year in which Republicans are ready to tar Democrats with any kind of prospective disaster (and Democrats eager to blame Republican cost-cutting for the imagined pandemic-to-come).  The result: a growing mood that couldn’t be uglier or less amenable to thinking clearly about the actual dangers we face and what is to be done. 

As TomDispatch regular Karen Greenberg points out today, given an administration already on the ropes over its new war in the Middle East, it would be all too easy for U.S. officials, amid the usual panic, to fall back on that comfortable template of the post-9/11 years, the war on terror, when it comes to Ebola.  After all, it’s already enscribed in the DNA of a national security state that is, effectively, a shadow government.  So no one should be surprised that Washington’s first response to the Ebola crisis was to militarize it.  U.S. boots are already on the ground in West Africa and preparations are underway for a possible future call-up of the reserves and the National Guard.  In other words, in his initial move to contain Ebola, President Obama sent in the U.S. military, an organization as ill equipped to deal with a pandemic disease as it was to deal with “nation-building” in Afghanistan or Iraq.  He also called for the formation of medical “SWAT teams” to fight Ebola in this country — not perhaps your typical image for responding to a disease, but one that fits this American moment to a T.  And the Pentagon has already responded by organizing “a 30-person rapid-response team that could provide quick medical support to civilian healthcare workers if additional cases of the Ebola virus are diagnosed in the United States.”

Since we already live in the United States of Hysteria, TomDispatch sets out on a tour today of possible future front lines as Greenberg explores how, in our strange land, a disease could end up being treated as the latest terror operation against this country.  Tom

Fighting the Last War
Will the War on Terror Be the Template for the Ebola Crisis?
By Karen J. Greenberg

These days, two “wars” are in the headlines: one against the marauding Islamic State and its new caliphate of terror carved out of parts of Iraq and Syria, the other against a marauding disease and potential pandemic, Ebola, spreading across West Africa, with the first cases already reaching the United States and Europe.  Both wars seemed to come out of the blue; both were unpredicted by our vast national security apparatus; both have induced fears bordering on hysteria and, in both cases, those fears have been quickly stirred into the political stew of an American election year. 

The pundits and experts are already pontificating about the threat of 9/11-like attacks on the homeland, fretting about how they might be countered, and in the case of Ebola, raising analogies to the anthrax attacks of 2001. As the medical authorities weigh in, the precedent of 9/11 seems not far from their minds. Meanwhile, Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has tried to calm the country down while openly welcoming “new ideas” in the struggle against the disease.  Given the almost instinctive way references and comparisons to terrorism are arising, it’s hard not to worry that any new ideas will turn out to be eerily similar to those that, in the post-9/11 period, defined the war on terror.

Public Says No to Silencing Prisoners’ Speech

By: David Swanson Tuesday October 21, 2014 8:29 am

I would not have guessed that people cared so much and so well about U.S. prisoners. The Governor of Pennsylvania is expected to sign into law a dangerous precedent that we all need to speak out against and put a quick stop to. In the first day since posting the following petition, over 10,000 people have signed it and added quite eloquent reasons why. It can be signed here.

We stand against the passage, in Pennsylvania, of the so-called “Revictimization Relief Act,” which affords virtually unlimited discretion to District Attorneys and the state Attorney General to silence prisoner speech, by claiming that such speech causes victims’ families “mental anguish.” Politicians are claiming a power that if granted to them will be difficult if not impossible for citizens to check.

In seeking to silence the legally protected speech of prisoners, the state also damages citizens’ right and freedom to know — in this case, to better understand an area of U.S. life physically removed from public scrutiny.

This legislation emerged following the failure of the Fraternal Order of Police and its allies to stop prisoner and radio journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal from delivering an October 5, 2014, commencement address. This bill sacrifices the rights of all prisoners in Pennsylvania in order to silence Abu-Jamal — an unethical deployment of collective punishment by those in power.

Victim relief is not served by denying fundamental rights to those convicted, especially because prisoner freedom of speech is crucial for redressing wrongful convictions and the current crisis of harsh sentencing that is often disproportionate to alleged crimes. Our society is currently engaged in a full-scale debate on the problems of mass incarceration that could not have developed without prisoners’ voices.

Here’s a PDF of the names and comments of the first 10,000 plus people to sign this. Flipping through the first few pages, these comments jump out at me:

Lawrence       Fine     NY       This is an ill-conceived bill.

Christopher   Scerbo            ME      Democracy is never served by silence.

Robert            Post     NJ        The only proper answer to bad speech is good speech!

Ellen   Kirshbaum     NY       Why does speech frighten these corrupt politicians?  Let all prisoners SPEAK!

Jenefer           Ellingston       DC       Why is our local or national gov’t afraid of Free Speech?

Allan   Carlson           NJ        This is a FASCIST law. It represents that antithesis of the intent of the Founding Fathers who penned the U.S. Constitution.

Jesse   Reyes  NJ        This bill only makes sense if it is known, beyond all shadow of doubt, that the incarcerated person is actually “guilty.”  The Innocence Project and several other high profile cases (“The Central Park Jogger” case) has proven that far too many incarcerated people are not guilty of the crimes they were sent to prison for.  I would not want to deny anyone their rights on that basis alone.  This bill is wrong and should not be signed by anyone who actually cares about our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.

Jan      Clausen          NY       This bill threatens to make Pennsylvania a poster child for the unconstitutional curtailment of the free speech rights that are known around the world as one of the great strengths of U.S. system. Pennsylvanians and all U.S. citizens need to wake up and soundly reject this ill-conceived measure that threatens the freedoms of all.

Dallas C.          GalvinNY       Censorship for the state that promotes itself as the site of the U.S. Constitution and home of Benjamin Franklin and William Penn? Deeply troubling behavior.  Rethink, then reject.  Mr. Jamal (let’s be clear about motivation here) has been able to show the corruption and disingenuousness of the D.A., the state senate, and police.  Clean up your own acts, then you need no longer fear free and unfettered speech.

David  Drukaroff       NJ        I have tried to win exoneration for a wrongfully convicted inmate for the last 25 years. People have a right to know how this inmate feels.

Chad   Sell      PA       Does anyone care about the constitution anymore?

Katharine       Rylaarsdam    MD      Public officials are servants of the law, not demigods who should be granted unlimited arbitrary power.

Edward          Costello           CA       This is outrageous.

Julimar           CastroMN      Wrongful and disproportionate convictions exist. To prevent these people from speaking is outrageous. I suspect those proposing this law care more about silencing convicts and preventing them from telling the truth regarding the system, than about the families themselves.

Robert            Belknap          NC       This is theft of rights, pure and simple.

Paul    Palla    PA       Have you heard of the Constitution?  You know, that thing that guarantees everybody FREEDOM OF SPEECH??!?

NancyNorton            NY       I used to visit prisoners in our local jail.  It is too easy to forget these people, members of our community and citizens of our county.  The right of free speech should not be abridged because a person is serving a sentence in prison or jail.  We need to remember these people and not dismiss them as a group we can ignore.

J. R.      Jarvis  WA      I believe in justice, human rights and the constitution – this ain’t it!

ralph   Calabrese       NY       Too many of our freedoms are being taken from us.

Sean    Murphy          FL        These abuses of power must be stopped and we must resist the 1% from using criminals and other hot topics to pass laws that ultimately will affect us all.

Sharyn            Diaz     OR       prisons have replaced the poorhouses in America and now you want to silence the common folk…shame on you…all of you who support just another try at control.

r.          tippens           MA      This is a law straight from Stalin’s text book.  Please…do not embarrass this democracy.

BetseyPiette  PA       Once again Corbett & Co. will waste millions of tax dollars to defend their criminal violation of citizens’ Constitutional Rights but can’t find money for public education?

Dave   JeckerTX       Being a prisoner is bad enough and their punishment is that given to them for their actions.  Words should never be silenced and that is a human right.  We have seen how governments silent individuals and groups and it leads to nothing except rebellion.  Right to speech is everyone’s human right, it is not something you can take away.

Samuel           Perry  NJ        Prisoners are on the front line of our civil liberties battles. The rights that oppressive governments first strip from prisoners are the rights the same regimes will later strip from “non-citizens” and finally “citizens” themselves. Free speech doesn’t come from Government and cannot be taken away by government. Philadelphia should know that.

DonnaFriedman       FL        So many in prison for drug use, mental illness and even falsely accused.  They should have the right to say what goes on there.

Joanne            Snyder            CA       No lessons learned about corrupt Pennsylvania judges who sentence juvenile offenders in exchange for money?  Who is paying for this?

Rev. Jake         Harrison         TX       Freedom of speechdoes not exclude inmates – and some of the most poignant voices in history were those of inmates.

Casey  Lyon    VT       Let us not forget the insightful words of Dostoyevsky: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

JG        Tentler           NY       This dangerous precedent must not be allowed to be established.It’s implications are chilling and are clearly designed to muzzle the free speech of one Political Prisoner,at the expense of every wrongly incarcerated petitioner who is stifled by it.

Carol   Stanton           NC       We must not become a gulag state.

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Delay in Revenue Transfer Makes Wisconsin Budget Balance Appear Larger

By: WI Budget Project Tuesday October 21, 2014 6:48 am

A close look at Wisconsin’s annual fiscal report released last week reveals that state officials delayed a $27.5 million transfer, which made the budget balance larger than it otherwise would have been at the end of fiscal year 2013-14. However, that’s a cosmetic and deceptive improvement in the budget balance, since the payment will still be made during the current biennium. And because the Department of Administration (DOA) report buries mention of the delay in a footnote, that document presents a somewhat misleading picture of the difficulty of avoiding a budget shortfall in the current fiscal year.

According to the DOA’s fiscal report released on Oct. 15, the General Fund balance at the end of the last fiscal year was about $517 million, which was $207.5 million lower than what state lawmakers were anticipating when they passed a tax cut bill early this year. But when one accounts for a delayed transfer of $27.5 million from the General Fund to the Transportation Fund, the drop-off in the state’s fiscal health is $233 million.

Thanks to the latest round of tax cuts, net appropriations for the current fiscal year exceed the budgeted revenue level by $569 million, and lawmakers had expected that difference to reduce the net balance to only $100 million at the end of the biennium. But that was before tax collections fell $281 million short of projections in FY 2014 and before the balance at the end of that fiscal year fell by $233 million. Those developments mean that the budget could be well in the red in the second half of this biennium, necessitating a budget repair bill early next year – if spending isn’t substantially below the appropriated level and revenue doesn’t surge.

The hopes for avoiding a budget repair bill would have been buoyed if the spending numbers for 2013-14 had been far below the budgeted level, and some lawmakers contend that’s what the annual fiscal report suggests. At first blush, that report appears to indicate that net spending – including lapses and transfers – was $68 million less than budgeted in 2013-14; however, after accounting for the delayed transfer, the net drop in spending is $42.6 million. That’s a start, but doesn’t make much of a dent in the potential revenue shortfall, especially since most of the reduction in spending comes from short-term lapses.

When I first reviewed the DOA document, I missed the footnote about the delayed transfer, and I later read about it in a blog post on Jake’s Economic TA Funhouse. Jake’s blog post goes on to make the case that the newest numbers suggest that the shortfall in the current biennium could exceed $400 million. (Of course, estimates of the shortfall will change as new revenue projections become available.)

The timing of the transfer to the Transportation Fund makes no substantive difference in the state’s fiscal health, but understanding how that timing compares to the previously assumed timetable does make a significant difference in accurately gauging how actual spending and reserves compared to the budgeted levels.

Failing to clearly reveal the delay in the annual fiscal report makes the state’s fiscal picture appear to be stronger than it really is. That omission obscures the transparency of an important fiscal document.