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Appeals Court Refuses to Overturn Jeffrey Epstein’s Infamous “Sweetheart Deal”

Epstein’s victims were dealt another blow from the legal system after an appeals court ruled against overturning the serial abuser’s infamous “sweetheart deal” from 2007.

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(TMU) — On Tuesday, a 2-1 majority rejected an appeal from one of the victims of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein which would have thrown out a non-prosecution agreement that provided immunity to Epstein, his aides, and unnamed “co-conspirators.”

Epstein’s escapades became front page news in the summer of 2019 when he was arrested and faced charges for abusing dozens of young girls at his homes in Florida, New Mexico, New York, and Paris. Epstein died of an alleged suicide on August 2019 while in custody on new sex-crime charges filed in New York.

The latest attempt to overturn Epstein’s arrangement with Florida prosecutors was filed by Courtney Wild, who says she was sexually abused by Epstein at his Palm Beach mansion at the age of 14. ​​​The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Wild’s appeal, stating that despite the government’s attempts at shielding Epstein from harm, the Crime Victims’ Right Act (CVRA) does not allow for relief for victims who are mistreated by prosecutors prior to a formal charge being filed.

Courthouse News reports:

“Claiming rampant violations of the Crime Victims Rights Act, women abused by Epstein in their youth have been fighting in court since 2008 to overturn his and his aides’ federal immunity, to obtain grand jury records and hold Florida public hearings where they can air their grievances against the Justice Department.

‘Despite our sympathy for Ms. Wild and others like her, who suffered unspeakable horror at Epstein’s hands, only to be left in the dark—and, so it seems, affirmatively misled—by government lawyers, we find ourselves constrained to deny her petition,’ U.S. Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom, an appointee of President Donald Trump, wrote for the majority.”

After the decision, Courtney Wild stated, “The government intentionally misled the victims but found a way to get away with it by working with a child molester to get around the law. The judges ruled in their favor. How?”

The two judges who ruled against Wild claimed that overturning the original non-prosecution agreement could potentially infringe on prosecutors and law enforcement officials decision making process if they feel their decisions may be later overturned. Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Frank Hull, the one dissenting vote, said the other judges decisions ignores the terms of the CVRA. The majority’s contorted statutory interpretation materially revises the statute’s plain text and guts victims’ rights under the CVRA. Nothing, and I mean nothing, in the CVRA’s plain text requires the majority’s result,” she wrote. ​​

Wild’s attorney Paul Cassell told Courthouse News that it’s “clear that the [Act] as written by Congress can apply even before an indictment is filed.”​​ Cassell said that Wild plans to file for an en banc rehearing before the full 11th Circuit. ​​If that rehearing is rejected, the claim could eventually make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Despite rejecting Wild’s appeal, the judges acknowledged that, “mysteries still exist about how Epstein and his co-conspirators escaped federal prosecution for multiple sex-trafficking crimes against over 30 minor girls in Florida.”

A History of Cover Ups

This is not the first time the controversial plea deal has been discussed in court. In 2008, following Epstein’s plea agreement, attorney Bradley Edwards filed suit against the U.S. government claiming the feds failed to involve the victims in the settlement, an obligation required by the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. Edwards was one of the lawyers representing the women who brought the original suit against Epstein.

In 2015, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra sided with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Epstein in asserting that 15,000 pages of documents must remain private. The women behind the suit state they believe Epstein’s connections helped him get his “sweetheart” prison deal.

The fact that U.S. Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom was appointed by Donald Trump should not be ignored. Trump was an associate of Epstein throughout the 1990’s and the 2000’s. And after becoming President, Donald Trump appointed Alexander Acosta to U.S. Labor Secretary. Acosta is the same attorney who helped seal Epstein’s non-prosecution agreement.

In the spring of 2017, Acosta, who was at that time serving as the Miami U.S. Attorney, was nominated by Donald Trump and approved by the U.S. Congress. When Acosta was questioned during his nomination hearing regarding his role in Epstein’s deal, he downplayed the collusion and claimed that there might not be enough evidence to convict Epstein.

Acosta also wrote that he was subject to “a year-long assault on the prosecution and the prosecutors” by “an army of legal superstars” who investigated him and his family looking for any way to disqualify him. Whether he was a willing participant or strong armed into the agreement, Acosta helped Epstein reach a plea deal that allowed him to get away with the victimization of dozens of young girls.

In 2015 Politico reported that court documents released through litigation appeared to show prosecutors cooperating with Epstein’s lawyers to keep the deal secret. Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafaña used her personal Gmail account to suggest to one of Epstein’s lawyers that they file legal papers in a different jurisdiction as a way to “hopefully cut the press coverage significantly.” Villafaña told Epstein’s attorney that she would “include our standard language regarding resolving all criminal liability and I will mention ‘co-conspirators,’ but I would prefer not to highlight for the judge all of the other crimes and all of the other persons that we could charge.”

Edwards and Paul Cassell filed a court document in response to the revelations, stating that “the victims’ allegations of a conspiracy between the Government and Epstein’s attorneys to conceal the existence of a broad non-prosecution agreement are not mere speculation, but appear to be well supported.” The suspicion of improper deal-making is one of the key reasons these women and Bradley Edwards have fought for this lawsuit for the last 12 years.

The closing of yet another case against Epstein and his co-conspirators will likely continue to fuel theories that Epstein was working for an as yet unnamed intelligence agency.

By Derrick Broze | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Corruption

UN Says Trump Violated International Law With Pardons for Blackwater War Criminals

Elias Marat

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A United Nations panel has strongly denounced U.S. President Donald Trump’s pardons for several former Blackwater mercenaries and convicted war criminals that were found guilty of massacring over a dozen civilians in Baghdad.

The U.N. working group on the use of mercenaries released a statement Wednesday condemning the White House decision to pardon the four killers as an offense to basic justice and insult to the memory of over a dozen people killed in the 2007 massacre, reports Reuters. The panel also sharply condemned the move as a violation of U.S. obligations to international law.

“Pardoning the Blackwater contractors is an affront to justice and to the victims of the Nisour Square massacre and their families,” said panel  chair Jelena Aparac.

“These pardons violate U.S. obligations under international law and more broadly undermine humanitarian law and human rights at a global level,” she added.

The four men, all of whom were American, were involved in the indiscriminate killing of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians, when the mercenaries opened fire during busy traffic at the Baghdad square. Twenty additional civilians were injured. Nicholas Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder while Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty and Paul Slough were each convicted of voluntary and attempted manslaughter.

The four men were employed by the private security firm Blackwater which was owned by security contractor Erik Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Prince has reportedly served as an informal adviser to the White House while also helping to orchestrate spying efforts to infiltrate campaigns by political and labor groups considered hostile to Trump, the New York Times reported earlier this year.

The four mercenaries were included in a wave of controversial pre-Christmas pardons announced by the Trump administration that critics derided as corrupt and immoral.

“While U.S. Army contractors convicted of massacring civilians in Iraq are pardoned, the man who exposed such crimes against humanity, [WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange, rots in Britain’s Guantanamo,” tweeted Greek economist and parliamentarian Yanis Varoufakis.

The pardons for the former Blackwater mercenaries, in particular, were sharply criticized by Gen. David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the two top American officials in charge of U.S. policy in Iraq at the time of the 2007 massacre, who called the move “hugely damaging, an action that tells the world that Americans abroad can commit the most heinous crimes with impunity” in a joint statement.

The U.N. working group’s chair also said that the pardons send the signal that private security contractors would essentially give them the green light to “operate with impunity in armed conflicts” as states increasingly rely on the firms to circumvent their obligations under humanitarian law.

In recent years, military contractors have increasingly been deployed in sensitive conflict zones by companies from the U.S., U.K., Russia, South Africa and other countries.

Blackwater, which has since been renamed as Academi, earned worldwide notoriety for the 2007 massacre, after which the company was stripped of its license to operate in Iraq by the country’s government.

Documents released by WikiLeaks have also highlighted major human rights abuses, including the murder of civilians, by private security services such as Blackwater throughout the Iraq War.

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Animals

Trophy Hunters Killed 1.7 Million Animals Over the Past Decade – Including Endangered Species

Elias Marat

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The bloodthirsty “sport” of trophy hunting managed to kill one animal every three minutes over the past decades, according to a devastating new exposé of the industry.

Over 1.7 million animals – including elephants, lions, and rhinos – have been slaughtered by trophy hunters, with the wealthiest among them paying top dollar to kill rare and endangered creatures hovering at the brink of extinction.

The grim data underscores the ties between an industry that rakes in over $400 million per year and the global elites thirsty for a chance to kill the rare animals that conservationists have tirelessly worked to rescue.

The new book, entitled Trophy Leaks: Top Hunters and Industry Secrets, was written by Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting (CBTH) founder Eduardo Gonçalves, and exposes the shocking scale of an industry that disingenuously claims that it is pursuing the aim of conservation.

Instead, the book reveals that trophy hunters have killed some “100 endangered animals” every day in 2018. The book, which also relies on analysis by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, shows that the life of an animal is taken for sport every three minutes in a blatantly irresponsible contribution to a loss of biodiversity that has seen the global rate of species extinction accelerate to unprecedented levels in recent decades.

For this reason, Gonçalves aptly characterizes the trophy hunting trade as an extinction industry that banks on the wholesale slaughter of creatures.

“An estimated 1.7 million animals were shot by trophy hunters over the past decade – the equivalent of almost 500 animals a day, or one every 3 minutes,” Gonçalves writes.

The book also reveals how shills for the game-hunting industry have run high-profile disinformation campaigns on social media to counter the efforts of the U.K. government to outlaw imports linked to trophy hunters. About £600,000 (USD $800,000) was used to prop up sock puppet accounts on Facebook and Twitter that purported to be Africans opposed to Boris Johnson’s pledge to ban trophy imports to Britain.

According to the book, nearly 800 hunters have won the “African Big 5” prize from the industry, which rewards those who have slain at least one buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and black or white rhino.

Hunting lobbyists with the Safari Club International (SCI) industry association have also awarded special prizes to hunters who have killed over 80 different African species.

Hunting advocates have also allegedly pledged over $2 million to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in hopes of seeing a generous return on investments under his administration.

While Trump has previously denounced trophy hunting as a “horror show,” his two sons are prominent trophy hunters and the Humane Society of the United States has denounced his administration for catering to wealthy trophy hunters and ignoring the pleas of conservationists to ban the import of slain animal “trophies.”

“Future generations will look back aghast at how we allowed the world’s most endangered species to be gunned down in their droves by adrenaline junkies in pursuit of grinning selfies and gruesome souvenirs,” Gonçalves told the Daily Mail.

“Trophy-hunting isn’t about a handful of sick individuals – it is about a huge global industry which wields extraordinary power and manipulates governments.”

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Corruption

Texas Dad Beaten, Maced, Taken to Jail for Filming Cops Arrest His Son for ‘Wide Right Turn’

Elias Marat

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As 2020 draws to a close, the year is likely to go down in history as a time when people across the United States finally decided to take a stand against systemic police brutality and widespread human rights abuses at the hands of law enforcement.  Despite the protests, however, the widespread abuse of U.S. residents under color of authority is showing few signs of disappearing.

And in one especially egregious recent incident, a Texas police officer can be seen arresting a motorist for allegedly making too wide a right turn. The officer then proceeds to call for backup, after which the officers pepper-spray the driver and then beat the man’s father for lawfully filming the arrest.

The North Texas man is now suing two officers with the Keller Police Department for the disturbing incident, which occurred on Aug. 15 and has already led to the police chief disciplining the offending officer and apologizing to the family.

“It’s undeniable that their conduct was horrible,” Scott Palmer, one of the lawyers suing Keller PD, told New York Times. “They’re supposed to preserve and protect, and they caused havoc and mayhem.”

Dillon Puente, 22, was on his way to his grandmother’s home when he was pulled over for making a wide right turn. In police bodycam footage, Sergeant Blake Shimanek can be seen requesting that Dillon exit the car before he placed him in handcuffs.

In a police report reviewed by WFAA, Shimanek claimed that he arrested Puente for the mere traffic infraction out of fears for his own safety.

After Dillon was arrested, his father Marco Puente arrived at the scene to video record the arrest.

“He was ticketed and taken to jail for a wide right turn,” Marco later recounted.

Marco parked his truck in the lane adjacent to his son before Shimanek sharply warned him to move his vehicle, warning that he could be arrested for obstructing the roadway. Marco quickly complied before returning to record the arrest with his phone from the sidewalk across the road.

“The officer didn’t like me being there recording anything,” Marco said.  

At that point, Shimanek ordered Officer Ankit Tomer to place Marco under arrest for filming the scene, which was well within his rights.

“Put your phone down,” Tomer said in footage captured by his bodycam. “Put your hands behind your head.”  

“This guy is arresting me for just standing here,” Marco said.  

It was at that point that Tomer escalated the situation by initiating force against Marco, an innocent civilian who was simply watching out for his son.

“They tried to take me down and pepper spray me, and it was a fiasco,” Marco said.  

In the video, the officers can be seen tackling Marco to the ground and repeatedly spraying him with mace before placing him, too, in handcuffs. The father-son pair were then detained and hauled to the local jail.

However, Dillon Puente was ultimately only given a minor citation for the initial wide turn. Marco wasn’t charged with any crime, and he was quickly released.

Two days after the incident, the Keller police chief himself met with Marco to apologize for the conduct of his officers. Shimanek was also demoted from sergeant to officer for his role in the unnerving altercation.

In the lawsuit against the two officers, Keller PD leadership are quoted as calling the use of force and arrest of Marco Puente entirely “inappropriate.”

Regardless of the police department’s apologies, the lawsuit is being filed as a matter of ensuring basic accountability.

“Marco is not a criminal. This is a man, a concerned father, and if this can happen to him, it can happen to anyone,” Marco’s attorney Scott Palmer said. “These officers knew better. I believe they were trained better, but why did they not execute better? I don’t know.”

Shimanek also has a history of misconduct, including a 2016 incident where he unlawfully entered a home without a search warrant and other incidents.

“It’s disturbing to know that these are the people we are entrusting with providing safety in the community and they are abusing that power,” said James Roberts, an attorney who works with Palmer’s law firm. “I know that they knew better. I know that they knew what they were doing was wrong, yet they still did it.”  

The Puente family is still disturbed by the incident, months after it transpired. And while Marco recognizes that the apology was a “nice” gesture, further accountability is required.

“This is going on everywhere,” Puente said about police brutality. “If people keep on brushing it under a rug, it’s going to keep happening.”

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