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Backpage operators in court on pimping charges




THE operators of an international website that advertises escort services said Wednesday that they will challenge charges of trafficking prostitutes and pimping on First Amendment grounds.

Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer, 55, and two others will contest the charges at a hearing next month, defence lawyer Cristina Claypoole Arguedas told Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman as the three men made their first brief court appearances.

The complaint and the theory of prosecution is flatly barred by the First Amendment and federal law, Arguedas said outside the courtroom, referring to a federal law that blocks state actions against websites that distribute content created by others.

Ferrer is charged with pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping.

The former owners of the Village Voice in New York City, Michael Lacey, 68, and James Larkin, 67, are charged with conspiracy to commit pimping. The Arizona men, who also once owned the Phoenix New Times alternative weekly, are Backpage.coms controlling shareholders, said California Attorney General Kamala Harris, whose office filed the charges.

The three briefly appeared in a courtroom cage, dressed in orange jail uniforms. A bail hearing was set for Thursday.

The site advertises a wide range of services, but Harris charged that more than 90 per cent of its revenue amounting to millions of dollars each month comes from adult escort ads that use coded language and nearly nude photos to offer sex for money.

Court documents say affiliated sites including EvilEmpire.com and BigCity.com expanded Backpage.coms share of online sex marketing. By charging for the ads, Harris alleges the three men violated the states law against pimping, defined as making money off prostitutes or soliciting customers for prostitution.

Court documents say some of the ads involve children under the age of 18. Four courts have held theyre protected by the First Amendment. Weve won that issue over and over again, another defence lawyer, Jim Grant, said in an interview.

The three men will make that argument against the California charges at a hearing November 16.

The California complaint alleges that rather than simply being a conduit for ads created by others, Backpage.coms rules and screening process essentially coached advertisers in how to advertise commercial sex.

The Washington state Supreme Court similarly ruled last year that the company didnt just host the ads, but helped develop the content. That ruling allowed a civil lawsuit to continue by three minors who attorneys said were in the seventh and ninth grades when adult professional sex traffickers used Backpage to sell them as prostitutes.

Larkin and Lacey face a maximum of six years if convicted, while the charges against Ferrer could bring him nearly 22 years in prison.

Ferrer was arrested last week after arriving in Houston on a flight from Amsterdam. Backpage.com is a Dutch-owned limited liability corporation. The Dallas headquarters for Backpage was raided by authorities at the same time, and Texas lawyer general added money laundering to the list of alleged crimes.

WARNING - Graphic Content: Award winning mini-series that exposes the underworld of human sex trafficking. Viewer discretion is advised.

Bill shorten and tony abbott unite in middle east




BILL Shorten and Tony Abbott have formed a foreign affairs accord with a unity they have not displayed back home.

Their joint front was highlighted by a brief session of tension-releasing humour in a Jerusalem restaurant on Sunday. The pair had held discussions with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and were pleased to be able to relax over lunch back in Israel.

I didnt ask what their view was on renewable energy, Mr Abbott said, starting a lighthearted pile-on of Australian domestic issues that were never headlines in the Palestinian territory.

And they werent sure what a plebiscite was either,’ Mr Shorten said after someone at the table mentioned gay marriage.

According to protocol, the highest-ranking Australian in the nine-member group meeting Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was Trade Minister Stephen Ciobo. But the former Australian prime minister and Labors alternative prime minister were clearly the strongest voices among the visitors.

As they reviewed the discussion for news.com.au, Mr Abbott and Mr Shorten spoke as one with the Liberal at one point asking: Correct me if you think Im wrong Bill, why would they [the Palestinians] think this was a delegation of Australians wanting to argue among themselves?

In terms of the two-state solution, thats been settled bipartisan Australian policy for 30 years now.

There were slight differences in tone. I think some of the delegation smiled when I raised the issue of a minimum wage, Mr Shorten said.

But the enormity of the Israel-Palestinian impasse was much too serious for domestic political grandstanding.

And a positive both men took from the talks was Mr Hamdallahs condemnation of Islamic State, or Daesh even when he insisted only three or four of his men had joined the terrorists. Mr Shorten said he was encouraged by the Palestinians comment that Daesh members were terrorists using religion as a pretext for crime.

I thought that was well put, he recalled. What it showed me was there was not a homogeneity, there is not one Islam.

Mr Abbott said of the engagement: It was at its most interesting, as Bill said, talking about Daesh.

I think he was probably at his most evasive when talking about the real prospects for a genuine accommodation between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Nevertheless he certainly appeared on the basis of todays discussion to be thoughtful and reasonable.

I guess the challenge is, its one thing to be thoughtful and reasonable in a private discussion in English, another thing to be thoughtful and reasonable in a public discussion in Arabic.

I think thats always been the difficulty.

However, there were warnings from the talks, directed at President-elect Donald Trump. Mr Hamdallah said tension would escalate if Mr Trump carried out plans to move his embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

He hoped Mr Trumps actions prove different to his words, Mr Shorten recalled.

Mr Shorten, Mr Abbott and this reporter are being hosted in Israel by the Australia Israel UK Leadership Dialogue

British schoolgirl earns 84000 helping chinese parents choose english baby names




A BRITISH schoolgirl has amassed a fortune — just by helping Chinese parents choose English names for their children.

Beau Jessup, 16, created a website called Special Name which allows families to choose culturally appropriate names that mean something to them.

Six months on, Jessup has earned over 48,000 ($84,000) by helping name more than 200,000 Chinese babies.

The entrepreneurial teen said she was inspired after hearing some of the embarrassing English names Chinese parents had chosen including Gandalf and Cinderella.

Beau told the UK Telegraph: When I went to China I kept being asked to name babies for my parents friends. They explained an English name is vital because you cant use a Chinese name on email or a university application to the UK.

But I also heard lots of examples where people had chosen culturally inappropriate English names theyd heard from films or read online and realised there was an opportunity to help Chinese people get it right from the start.

She said some of the confusion arises because people in China are blocked from using standard baby-naming websites.

Being exposed to luxury items and things like Harry Potter, Disney films and Lord of the Rings means they use those for reference. I once heard of someone called Gandalf and another called Cinderella, Beau said.

Users are charged 60 pence ($1) to use the five-minute service. It asks users to pick five of 12 personality traits which they hope their baby will display, before it presents a shortlist of three names. It also provides examples of famous people with the same name.

Upon selecting a name, parents are given a certificate with the moniker and its meaning.

A growing number of Chinese parents are choosing English names for their children to help them gain study or work opportunities abroad.

Its nice to be a part of such a happy experience and be a part of those young stages in a babys life, Beau told The Telegraph.

Zooey Deschanel just revealed her 3 month old baby girl?s name - Elise Otter. And while Otter seems like an odd choice for a name, animals are not exactly on trend with celebrity baby names. But we?ve got you covered on what is on trend!