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Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta Resigns Amid Jeffrey Epstein Sex Trafficking Case

Acosta infamously cut Epstein a non-prosecution plea deal in 2007 for charges relating to the sexual exploitation of underage girls.

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(TMU) — U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta said on Friday he will resign his position amid fallout from the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case.

Speaking to reporters, Acosta made the announcement while standing outside of the White House while and next to President Donald Trump.

Trump said that Acosta called him Friday morning with his decision, and added that it was the Labor Secretary’s idea to step down.

As the former U.S. attorney in Miami, Acosta infamously cut Epstein a non-prosecution plea deal in 2007 for charges relating to the sexual exploitation of underage girls.

Under the agreement agreed to by Acosta, Epstein did not face federal criminal charges and put an immediate stop to a separate federal investigation. The deal also sealed the indictment records.

As the Mind Unleashed reported on Thursday, after being asked if the Epstein case would cause a problem in his confirmation hearings for Labor Secretary, Acosta reportedly responded that he only ever had one meeting about the case, having “been told” to back off the case and that Epstein was above his pay grade.

“I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,” Acosta allegedly told his interviewers.

By S.M. Gibson | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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California city begins Guaranteed Basic Income program

Elias Marat

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The Southern California city of Compton is launching a pilot program that aims to provide a basic income to 800 of its low-income residents, with zero strings attached.

Dubbed the Compton Pledge, the guaranteed income program will begin distributing free cash to 800 residents of the city in Los Angeles County for a period of two years. Compton Mayor Aja Brown has said that the ambitious program is the largest of its kind in for any city in the U.S.

The majority Black and Latino city is just the latest in a growing list of cities across the country, and the world, that is experimenting with new ways to put money in residents’ hands give the grave economic calamity caused by the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I recognized that there’s a need for additional income, especially with the pandemic resulting in record high numbers of unemployment throughout the entire country,” the mayor told the Los Angeles Times. “This is a great opportunity to address inequalities for Black and brown people and also additional opportunities for upward mobility.”

The guaranteed income program is also meant to “challenge the racial and economic injustice plaguing both welfare programs and economic systems,” according to a statement released by the Compton Pledge on Monday.

“People in our community are going through tough times, and I know that guaranteed income could give people a moment to navigate their situation, and have some breathing room to go back to school, explore a new career path, spend time with their children, or improve their mental and emotional wellbeing,” Brown said in the statement. “Ensuring all people are able to live with dignity is something we should all strive for in America.”

Roughly 1 in 5 residents of Compton live below the poverty line – roughly double that of the national average – according to census data. The plight of Compton residents has only been compounded by the ongoing health emergency, which has raised the city’s unemployment rate to 21.9 percent.

The Compton Pledge has already raised over $2.5 million in private donations through the Fund for Guaranteed Income, a charity headed by the family of L.A. Times owner and billionaire bioscientist and transplant surgeon Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong.

Under the program, randomly selected families from a vetted group of low-income residents will receive at least a few hundred dollars on a recurring basis along with tools helping to advise them on their finances. Parents and guardians may receive more, while anonymous researchers will track the spending habits and well-being of participants.

A representative board including nonprofit organizations like My Brother’s Keeper and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) will also advise the Compton Pledge on how best to reach communities on the margins.

The program is aiming to include a representative sample of 68 percent of Latino and 30 percent of Black residents in Compton, along with those typically left out of federal and state welfare programs, such as formerly incarcerated residents and undocumented immigrants.

The program isn’t the first of its kind in the Golden State, where opulent displays of wealth often exist side-by-side with extreme poverty.

In 2019, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs launched the first guaranteed income program in the country, known as the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, which gave 125 Stockton residents a $500 payment for 18 months.

The concept of distributing free money to citizens without strings attached has gained popularity in recent times, due in no small part to the economic impact of the pandemic.

Political parties and figures both on the traditional left and the right have raised the demand for guaranteed income or Universal Basic Income (UBI), with some of its strongest proponents include tech oligarchs and venture capitalists like Peter Thiel, Marc Andreesen, and Jack Dorsey.

Supporters of the plan argue that inequality would be reduced by basic income and it would provide an added layer of financial security for certain people. Supporters of the plan, such as former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, also suggest that with jobs in myriad industries slated to be rendered obsolete by automation and computerization, a universal basic income is required to prevent a deeper humanitarian and financial crisis.

Critics on the left have suggested that basic income is a Trojan horse that would be a vehicle for dismantling what little remains of the welfare state, offering the “paying people for being alive” stipend in exchange for austerity and the destruction of social safety nets that protect the most vulnerable members of society and offer a small barrier to extreme inequality.

On the right, however, opponents have claimed that the idea is far too expensive and would dis-incentivize people from seeking work and would be tantamount to subsidizing poor people’s substance abuse habits or reckless spending on “temptation goods.”

However, decades of research has shown that most people on such programs continue to work after receiving the transfers, while those who work less spend more with their families.

With many countries experiencing a free fall in jobs numbers – as well as sharply declining consumer demand and household spending – the idea of guaranteed basic income has gained popularity unseen since the idea saw a surge of interest following the 2008 financial crash.

In the South American nation of Colombia, politicians across the political spectrum have urged the government to introduce an Emergency Basic Income to mitigate the damage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The municipal government of Bogota under Green Party Mayor Claudia Lopez was the first city in the South American nation to offer basic income to vulnerable households struggling to feed themselves amid the lockdown. The plan also included integrating 581,000 poor households into the banking system, according to a press release from the City of Bogota.

While the Compton Pledge is beginning as a far more modest program, community advocates are hopeful that the program can be a success.

“Guaranteed income is an urgent and necessary strategy for addressing the economic realities of racial injustice,” said Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors.

Proponents also hope that this can become a trend that sparks a nationwide system of direct, recurring payments to vulnerable families.

“Guaranteed income will afford people the dignity of an income floor and agency to make choices for themselves,” said Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs.

Poverty stems from a lack of cash, not a lack of character,” he added.

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7 Arrested In Florida For Trafficking Flying Squirrels

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At least seven people are facing numerous criminal charges after they were caught trafficking flying squirrels. According to investigators, their operation was worth an estimated $1 million.

In a statement on Monday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said that the suspects have been charged with racketeering, money laundering, scheming to defraud, and other organized criminal laws involving “an elaborate organized enterprise to smuggle Florida’s wildlife to interstate and international buyers.”

The agency says that in January of 2019, they received a complaint from a concerned citizen about flying squirrels being illegally trapped in a rural part of Marion County. Flying squirrels are considered a protected wild animal in Florida, but they are illegally sold internationally because their rarity fetches such high prices.

After receiving the initial complaints, the FWC began a 19-month investigation where they tracked the hunters and monitored their international operation. The investigators found that once the poachers captured the squirrels, they sold the animals to a wildlife dealer in Bushnell and were laundered through the licensed business of the dealer, who claimed they were captive-bred, which would have made them legal to sell.

The poachers set out an estimated 10,000 squirrel traps throughout central Florida and investigators tracked as many as 3,600 flying squirrels being captured by the group in less than three years.

It is not clear how the agency estimated the operation to be worth $1 million, because the dealer involved in the scheme only received an estimated $213,800 in gross sales in the three years that he was being monitored.

The wildlife dealer was selling the animals to buyers from South Korea who traveled to the United States specifically for the squirrels. The buyers would then take the animals to Chicago, where they were sent to Asia by a wildlife exporter who was unaware of the plot. The investigation into the flying squirrels revealed that the same group was trafficking a variety of other poached animals, including protected freshwater turtles and alligators. There were also dealers and traffickers in Florida and Georgia dealing with the group. However, the operation was meticulous and careful, and many of the people involved with the scheme did not even know each other.

Maj. Grant Burton, FWC Investigation’s section leader, said that the poachers were a danger to the state’s wildlife.

“Wildlife conservation laws protect Florida’s precious natural resources from abuse. The concerned citizen who initially reported this activity started an investigation that uncovered a major smuggling operation. These poachers could have severely damaged Florida’s wildlife populations,” said Maj. Burton.

The life expectancy of flying squirrels in the wild is about six years, but flying squirrels can live up to fifteen years in zoos. The mortality rate in young flying squirrels is high because of predators and diseases. Predators of flying squirrels include tree snakes, raccoons, owls, martens, fishers, coyotes, bobcats, and feral cats. In the Pacific Northwest of North America, the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis) is a common predator of flying squirrels. Obviously, poachers also represent a serious threat to the species.

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Appeals court rules Ghislaine Maxwell’s “extremely confidential” deposition must be made public

Elias Marat

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Accused sex trafficker and ex-girlfriend of the notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, has failed in a court battle to prevent the public release of a 2016 deposition that could shed further light on details about her criminal involvement with the disgraced late financier.

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied efforts by Maxwell’s attorneys to flip the decision of a lower court that ordered the transcript be unsealed and made public.

According to Maxwell’s legal team, the 418-page deposition includes “extremely personal, confidential” information about her sex life and voluminous details on her dealings with her notorious partner, including flight logs from Epstein’s private jets.

The deposition is one component of a larger batch of thousands of files related to Epstein accuser and former “sex slave” Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s now-settled 2015 civil lawsuit against Maxwell. Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation after she was accused by the British socialite of fabricating the sexual abuse allegations against her and Epstein.

Guiffre also alleged that Maxwell lured her into joining Epstein’s ring before grooming her to be sexually abused by him and his “clients” when she was only 15.

“(T)he District Court correctly held that the deposition materials are judicial documents to which the presumption of public access attaches and did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Maxwell’s meritless arguments that her interests superseded the presumption of access,” wrote the appellate court panel.

“The District Court’s order articulated and applied the correct legal framework in its individualized review of the materials to be unsealed,” the three-judge panel added.

 Following her arrest in July, the 58-year-old British socialite was denied bail and placed in prison ahead of her trial in 2021. Maxwell faces faces charges of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts; enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts; conspiracy to transport minors, and transportation of a minor, with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; and two counts of perjury.

She is accused of grooming multiple minors to engage in sex acts with Epstein by befriending them to ask them about their lives and families while building friendships with the young girls alongside Epstein by taking their victims on social outings or out shopping.

She has pleaded not guilty to assisting Epstein in the recruitment and sexual abuse of three girls between 1994 and 1997, and of committing perjury by lying about her involvement while under oath.

In a July ruling, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska said that the public has a right to know the contents of deposition and that this right far outweighs any “annoyance or embarrassment” to Maxwell.

“In the context of this case, especially its allegations of sex trafficking of young girls, the court finds any minor embarrassment or annoyance resulting from Ms. Maxwell’s mostly non-testimony … is far outweighed by the presumption of public access,” she added.

Preska did, however, note that some information will remain sealed, including several medical records included in the court filings and the identities of the anonymous women, or “Jane Does,” who have accused Epstein of abuse.

Epstein, 66, was found dead in a lone cell in the special housing unit (SHU) of a federal Manhattan prison in New York City while facing a potential prison sentence of up to 45 years on charges of pedophilia and sex trafficking.

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