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OnlyFans, a site built on sex, will ban ‘sexually explicit’ content

OnlyFans, a pioneering website that allows models and performers to charge fans for nude imagery, said Thursday it was phasing out “sexually explicit” content to appease banks and financial transaction services it uses.

The policy, which is set to start Oct. 1, follows a request from banks and financial transaction services to stop the explicit imagery, OnlyFans said in a statement.

Nude content consistent with its policies will be allowed, OnlyFans said. It wasn’t immediately clear where the site will draw the line between nudity and sexually explicit content.

The site didn’t respond to requests for comment Thursday.

OnlyFans is popular with some celebrities, adult performers and models who have used it to bolster their incomes and profiles. Adult performers, in particular, have gravitated to OnlyFans as the adult video industry has been geographically decentralized and taken over by free video sites.

OnlyFans says that it has 130 million users and 2 million creators and that it has paid out $5 billion to models and performers.

Some adult performers have hailed it as an industry savior, particularly during the pandemic lockdowns, that empowers them to make money on their own terms, in their own homes.

“This is devastating for a new generation of adult creators who have used the platform, and others like it, to build businesses, profit off of their own work and achieve independence,” Mike Stabile, spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition, an adult video trade group, said in a statement.

Stabile said banks, credit card companies and financial transaction services have been targeted by religious conservatives trying to limit the availability of adult content online. They are “enablers of these anti-porn, anti-LGBTQ, misogynist groups,” he said, calling them part of an “evangelical War on Porn.”

California state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, tweeted Thursday that the move could imperil sex workers who are using OnlyFans to stay off the street.

“Forcing sex work off of the internet doesn’t make it go away,” he said. “But it does make it less safe, as sex workers have no choice but to work on the streets, where they face increased risk of violence.”

OnlyFans isn’t the only site of its kind. And some performers are well enough known to provide content through their own websites.

“The removal of adult content from OnlyFans will not stop adult content,” Stabile said.

Dominic Ford, founder of competitor JustFor.fans, said OnlyFans’ abandonment of the kind of content that put it on the map exemplifies a familiar trajectory for businesses in the adult world.

“The adult industry is sadly used to companies cutting their teeth on the adult market and then abandoning them once they reach critical mass,” Ford said in a statement. “JustFor.fans was founded and built by and for sex workers. … We are a porn site. That will never change, and we have no interest in ‘mainstreaming.'”

Ford said content creators unhappy with OnlyFans’ new policy were welcome at his site.

Melrose Michaels, an OnlyFans creator who also advocates for sex worker empowerment, said by email, “I think a lot of us knew this was coming.”

She blamed financial concerns for being “anti-porn,” but said adult models and performers will find a way to get paid with or without OnlyFans.

“We’re the early adopters, we’re the innovators,” Michaels said. “Porn and adult is where nearly all new technologies launch and thrive. Yes, we will make another house a home.”

OnlyFans has had issues with how payments were processed. Nearly a year ago, some models and performers were angry over changes after the actor Bella Thorne was believed to have charged $200 per fan for a photo that was billed as nude but wasn’t.

Content creators said OnlyFans subsequently put a $50 cap on such pay-per-view posts and held payments to models and performers for up to 30 days, ostensibly to discourage fraudulent promises. Thorne, meanwhile, who was reported to have made $1 million on her offer, said she wasn’t the one who offered nudity, and she blamed fake social media posts.

She later posted a series of tweets saying that she apologized if she had affected sex workers’ ability to make money and that her intention had been to normalize sex work.

Last year, Forensic News reported that the entrepreneur Leonid Radvinsky bought OnlyFans from Tim Stokely, a former Barclays banker, in 2018. Radvinsky owns MyFreeCams, a similar site, the website reported.

Forensic News spoke to a number of content creators who said their OnlyFans and MyFreeCams accounts had been frozen, essentially locking them out of payments, including, in some cases, thousands of dollars they said they were owed.

Radvinsky didn’t respond to questions from Forensic News. OnlyFans didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday from NBC News.

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Minnesota wildfire doubles in size, creates its own weather

A wildfire in northeastern Minnesota more than doubled in size Tuesday, growing to more than 19,000 acres, after it produced pyrocumulous clouds that generated lightning and even raindrops, fire officials said.

The Greenwood Fire’s growth, most of which happened Monday afternoon, prompted firefighters to leave McDougal Lake, about 80 miles south-southwest of Duluth, officials said. Authorities fear that structures might have been destroyed or damaged.

“We had crews embedded, and as this fire took off, it was quite an effort to communicate with forces on the ground so they could get out,” said federal fire incident spokesman Clark McCreedy.

The pullout was a success, and no injuries were reported. However, downed trees and necessary cleanup mean crews have been unable to assess damage around the lake, McCreedy said.

In addition to the firefighter pullout, 159 dwellings were evacuated Monday, according to an update from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Cabins, homes and recreational sites remain under threat, the group said.

Patrick Prochaska, a Minneapolis resident who built a cabin near McDougal Lake in 2012, told NBC affiliate KARE that he watched via security camera as flames mostly bypassed his property Monday, causing minor damage.

“I was feeling very scared,” he said. “At the same time, I could see that it was not doing anything to the house, and it was kind of reassuring.”

The fire in and north of Superior National Forest has mostly performed according to the weather, fire officials said. On Monday, with dry fuel on the ground and temperatures in the high 80s, it was an expanding inferno punctuated by strobes of lightning.

“The winds were drawn into the fire from all directions,” the incident’s fire behavior analyst, Michael Locke, said in a video update Tuesday. “It created what we call pyrocumulous clouds. And really high in the atmosphere … you’d see a thunderstorm, and in fact they went high enough to produce a few sprinkles of rain and even some lightning.”

Temperatures dipped into the mid-70s Tuesday, and the blaze mellowed. “The real story was cloud cover and cooler temperatures,” McCreedy said.

More of the same, and possibly rain, was in the forecast, giving officials hope that they might be able to close the book on an unusually active and dry fire season in Minnesota.

Experts have said climate change has set the stage for extreme weather, including an increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere.

Firefighters — 426 were assigned to the Greenwood event — have been confronted with “prolonged, severe drought,” making parts of Minnesota look like the fire-prone West this summer, McCreedy said.

The Greenwood Fire, which was detected Aug. 15, is believed to have been sparked by lightning.

So far, firefighters have scored no containment, and areas including McDougal Lake, Sand Lake and the Highway 2 corridor have been under mandatory evacuation orders. The federal Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was closed Saturday “due to active and increasing fire activity, extreme drought, limited resources,” the National Forest Service said in a notice.

Officials set a goal of Sept. 1 for full containment.

“We’re probably going to get more of that moderating weather for the rest of the week,” McCreedy said. “That opens the door for fire crews to make progress on the ground.”

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Hiker survives grizzly bear attack at Denali National Park

A tourist from Indiana was attacked and injured by a grizzly bear at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska on Monday night, park officials said.

The 55-year-old tourist, whose name was not released, was hiking alone in dense fog in the Thoroughfare Pass area when a mother bear and multiple cubs charged him from nearby bushes, the National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday.

He had puncture wounds to a calf, his left ribs and his left shoulder, the agency said.

The victim used bear spray that might have cut the attack short, the park service indicated. He walked 1.5 miles to a visitor’s center where “medical personnel” vacationing at Denali treated him as a park bus driver called 911, it said.

The hiker was taken to a medical center near the park before he was transferred to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, about 120 miles away, park officials said. He was stabilized at the Fairbanks hospital, they said.

“Due to the apparent defensive nature of this attack, there are no plans to locate the bear involved,” the park service said. “Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous.”

Grizzly bears are federally protected as a threatened species in the lower 48 states. According to the National Wildlife Federation, fewer than 1,500 grizzlies are left in the lower 48, but they thrive, comparatively, in Alaska, where they have a population of about 31,000.

The backcountry area of the attack is closed for one week as a precaution, the park service said.

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House passes John Lewis voting rights bill, sends measure to Senate for tougher fight

House Democrats on Tuesday passed a sweeping voting rights bill named after Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the late civil rights icon.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act was approved 219-212. All Republicans voted against the legislation.

The bill is part of congressional Democrats’ broader campaign to strengthen voting laws at the federal level to fight restrictive voting laws passed in Republican-led states, such as Texas and Georgia. However, it faces steep opposition in the Senate, where Democrats hold a wafer-thin majority.

The House returned from its recess this week to take up the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a resolution for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget package, which includes funding for much of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda. The procedural motion used to pass the multitrillion-dollar resolution paved the way for the House to vote on the voting rights bill, which was re-introduced last week by Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala.

The legislation would require states with recent histories of discrimination to get federal “preclearance” to change their voting laws, which directly addresses the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder. The ruling gutted the preclearance system in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which civil rights advocates argue was successful in blocking proposed voting restrictions in states and localities with histories of racial discrimination.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement last week that Congress had “not only an ironclad Constitutional mandate, but a moral responsibility” to pass the bill.

Shortly before its passage, Pelosi said on the House floor that the bill would honor Lewis’ legacy.

“We should have the right to vote and shouldn’t be diminished by anyone. It is unpatriotic to undermine the ability of people who have a right to vote, who have access to the polls,” she said. “As John knew, this precious pillar of our democracy is under attack from one of the worst voter suppression campaigns since Jim Crow.”

It isn’t the first time House Democrats have tackled election law. In March, House Democrats passed the For the People Act, a sweeping bill that seeks to change campaign finance, voting and ethics laws.

The bill would expand access to the ballot box by creating automatic voter registration across the country by registering eligible voters whenever they interact with government agencies, restoring the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated, expanding early voting and modernizing the country’s voting systems.

However, Senate Republicans filibustered the voting rights legislation in June, and the vote to advance an amended version of the For the People Act split along party lines 50-50, short of the 60 votes needed. All Democratic-aligned senators voted to begin debate, and Republicans unanimously voted to block the bill.

Passage of the voting measure was the final vote of the week for the House, whose members are leaving Washington and won’t return until Sept. 20.

Haley Talbot contributed.

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