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January 1, BREAKING: Ghislaine Maxwell Found Guilty



In a New York federal court, a 12-person jury found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five of six counts stemming from her role in Jeffrey Epstein’s serial abuse of minor girls.

Maxwell was convicted on five federal charges: sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and three related counts of conspiracy. The 60-year-old British socialite was acquitted on the charge of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.

Prosecutors argued that Maxwell groomed and trafficked underage girls to be sexually abused by Epstein. They accused Maxwell of conspiring with Epstein to coordinate a scheme to lure young girls into sexual relationships from 1994 to 2004 in New York, Florida, New Mexico, and the Virgin Islands.

After a month-long trial, the jury deliberated for roughly 40 hours across six days before handing down their verdict. The charges relate to testimony from four women who say Maxwell facilitated and occasionally participated in their sexual abuse between 1994 and 2004.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams praised the victims for their testimony after experiencing “one of the worst crimes imaginable.”

“I want to commend the bravery of the girls – now grown women – who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom. Their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case, and today’s result, possible,” Williams said in a statement.

Maxwell faces up to 65 years in prison. Judge Alison Nathan did not set a sentencing date.

The defense had argued that prosecutors were using Maxwell as a scapegoat because Epstein died before he could stand trial.

“The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell are for things that Jeffrey Epstein did,” one of Maxwell’s lawyers, Bobbi Sternheim, told the jury. “But she is not Jeffrey Epstein and she is not like Jeffrey Epstein.”

However, the four accusers who testified had a much different opinion of Maxwell’s involvement.

“I am so relieved and grateful that the jury recognized the pattern of predatory behavior that Maxwell engaged in for years and found her guilty of these crimes,” said Annie Falmer, the only publicly identified accuser. “She has caused hurt to many more women than the few of us who had the chance to testify in the courtroom.”

Maxwell also faces two pending perjury charges stemming from a 2016 civil deposition.

The testimonies

Falmer said Maxwell massaged her bare chest at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch in 1996 when she was 16 years old. The three other women testified using first names or pseudonyms.

Jane, a television actress, said Maxwell organized sexual massages with Epstein and sometimes participated in the abuse.

Maxwell’s lawyers asked Jane, who was 14 at the time, why it had taken so long to come forward.

“I was scared,” she said. “I was embarrassed, ashamed. I didn’t want anybody to know any of this about me.”

Carolyn, now a mom in recovery from drug addiction, testified that when she was 14, Maxwell touched her breasts, hips, and buttocks and told her she “had a great body for Epstein and his friends.”

Kate, a former model from Great Britain, testified that Maxwell invited her over and trained her how to give Epstein a sexual massage. Kate said Maxwell often spoke of sexual topics and asked Kate to invite other young girls for Epstein.

All four women described how Maxwell charmed them and gave them gifts to gain their trust, assuring them that Epstein’s wealth and connections could fulfill their dreams. But, they said, things took a dark turn once Maxwell coaxed them into giving Epstein massages that turned sexual — which Maxwell normalized. After one such massage, Kate, 17 at the time, said Maxwell asked her if she had fun and told her: “You are such a good girl.”

Prosecutors called 24 witnesses during the trial, including a housekeeper who said he was expected to be “blind, deaf, and dumb” about Epstein and Maxwell’s private lives.

The jury saw physical evidence as well, such as a folding massage table once used by Epstein and a “black book” that listed the victims’ contact information under the heading “massages.” Additionally, bank records showed Epstein transferred $30.7 million to Maxwell.

“Maxwell was a sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing,” prosecutor Alison Moe told the jury in closing arguments last week. “She manipulated her victims, and she groomed them for sexual abuse.”

Maxwell’s legal battles continue

Maxwell’s defense team indicated that they intend to appeal the conviction.

“We firmly believe in Ghislaine’s innocence. Obviously, we are very disappointed with the verdict. We have already started working on the appeal and we are confident that she will be vindicated,” Sternheim said.

In addition to the two pending perjury charges, Maxwell faces a lawsuit from another Epstein accuser. Virginia Giuffre, who was not involved in the trial, says she was coerced into sexual encounters with Prince Andrew when she was 17. Andrew has denied the accusation.

In a new interview with The Cut, Giuffre said Maxwell is “worse than Epstein.”

“She was the devil’s right-hand man. She made these appointments for him, she actively went out there and scouted for new girls. She was part of the sexual encounters at times. To paint herself as just the ‘house manager’ is a load of crock,” Giuffre told the outlet.

“She’s definitely worse than Epstein. She used that charm, that wit, that smile to come off as somebody you want to trust. Epstein did a whole bunch of really bad stuff, acting on his sick urges. One victim said it perfectly: Jeffrey had to ejaculate like you and I have to breathe. It’s organic to him. But Ghislaine facilitated it. She was the one out there bringing the girls in for him and participating in some of the sexual events. She’s worse to me, more evil than Epstein. What Ghislaine did to so many of us, it’s unforgivable.”


Jury finds Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of sex trafficking a minor for Jeffrey Epstein and four other charges
Ghislaine Maxwell convicted in Epstein sex abuse case


One Third of the Entire Country’s Homeless Population Lives in This State



The staggering issue of homelessness looms large over California, with the state hosting nearly a third of the nation’s rising homeless population, which stands at 582,462 people according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In the bustling city of San Francisco, Anthony, a former restaurant worker who has lived in a tent for three years, is just one of over 170,000 unhoused Californians.

The city’s inflated living cost, with average rent for a one-bedroom apartment being roughly $3,000 a month, starkly contrasts with its minimum wage of $18.07 an hour, leaving many like Nelly Sorto, a full-time cleaner and a mother of two, struggling to break into the rental market.

Anthony, a former chef, has experienced the vicious cycle of homelessness firsthand, stating, “Once you get behind, you just can’t get up,” to ABC News.

The economic downturn during the pandemic left many like him, striving to find a permanent home and bouncing from street to street as city officials clear their encampments.

This visible homelessness crisis is often attributed to several factors, including the high cost of living related to the tech boom and mental health issues experienced by many individuals.

Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, said to ABC News, “California has systemic issues in terms of its housing affordability… So, what we need to do in California is really have a massive investment to offset that difference between incomes and rent.”

The rising number of encampments has sparked frustration across the state, with residents like Jeanne Vasquez expressing concern over safety and the declining quality of life in their areas.

In July, Vasquez conveyed her discontent to ABC Los Angeles, citing instances of broken glass, needles on the ground, and inappropriate behaviors exhibited by individuals dealing with mental illnesses.

To combat this escalating issue, President Joe Biden announced an investment of an extra $3 billion focusing on support services including rental assistance, legal help, and job search support, with a particular emphasis on veterans.

However, GOP presidential hopefuls like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump have utilized the grim reality of the homelessness crisis in blue states to critique Democratic leadership.

Trump has been vocal about his stance on “urban camping,” promising to ban it and offering rehabilitation options for violators, as mentioned in one of his campaign ads.

However, Friedenbach argues that such policies essentially criminalize the homeless and advocates for a more comprehensive approach involving the federal government investing in housing vouchers, long-term housing subsidies, and reforms in mental health and substance use treatment systems.

She believes that this crisis is a “manufactured issue” created by a “lack of investment” and calls for active listening from the federal government to truly understand and address the needs of the unhoused people.

Despite the relentless efforts of San Francisco outreach teams, many unhoused individuals either decline offers of shelter or already have shelter but cannot be compelled to come inside, as per a spokesperson for the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.

While some, like Anthony, have been offered a place to stay, the glaring reality remains that thousands are still on the streets yearning for a place to call home, with at least 350 unhoused individuals still on the waitlist for housing in San Francisco.

The pervasive crisis necessitates immediate, profound measures and substantial investments to bridge the substantial gap between incomes and rent, and to address the systemic issues contributing to the surge in homelessness.

As our loyal readers, we encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions on this issue. Let your voice be heard and join the discussion below.


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Target Shutting Down Stores in Four States Amid Surging Theft and Crime



Target Corp. has announced it will close nine stores across New York City, Seattle, Portland, and the San Francisco Bay area due to persistent theft and safety threats. The decision came after the retailer deemed the theft-preventive measures, including the deployment of more security and merchandise lockdowns, ineffective.

“We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests and contributing to unsustainable business performance,” Target declared. The company has been vocal about the surge in organized retail crime, affecting its bottom line significantly.

Target CEO Brian Cornell revealed that the stores experienced a 120% increase in theft involving violence or threats of violence early this year.

“Our team continues to face an unacceptable amount of retail theft and organized retail crime…Shrink in the second quarter remained consistent with our expectations but well above the sustainable level where we expect to operate over time,” Cornell stated.

The company promised to provide most of the affected employees with opportunities to work at other locations, recognizing the essential role their stores play in the communities they serve.

“We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all,” the company emphasized.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported a rise in the average shrink rate to 1.6% this fiscal year, leading to industry losses of $112.1 billion, primarily due to theft. The intensified retail crime prompted over 45% of retailers to cut store hours and nearly 30% to alter store selections.

Cities like San Francisco and Portland have witnessed other retailers retracting their presence due to crime and changing downtown shopping trends. Stores like Whole Foods, Old Navy, and Nordstrom closed locations, citing concerns over employee safety and the prevalence of crime.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler expressed his discontent over Target’s decision, stating, “It is disheartening to learn that Target has made the decision to close stores here in Portland and in other major cities nationwide.”

He assured ongoing efforts to enhance public safety and combat retail theft in the area.

The impact of store closures is expected to be more pronounced in communities that rely on Target for essential goods and services.

Carlos Castelán, managing director of the Navio Group, remarked, “At the end of the day, safety is paramount,” acknowledging the grave implications of retail crime on customer and employee experiences and retailer costs.

While Target plans to open about 20 locations nationwide, the closures signal the broader implications of escalating retail crime on consumer access to essential retailers in various regions.

The intense scenario has left many wondering about the effectiveness of the additional security measures and local engagements in addressing the challenges posed by organized retail crimes.

The closing stores:

  • 517 E. 117th St., New York, N.Y.
  • 4535 University Way N.E., Seattle, Wash.
  • 1448 N.W. Market St., Seattle, Wash.
  • 1690 Folsom St., San Francisco, Calif.
  • 2650 Broadway, Oakland, Calif.
  • 4301 Century Blvd., Pittsburg, Calif.
  • 939 S.W. Morrison St., Portland, Ore.
  • 3031 S.E. Powell Blvd., Portland, Ore.
  • 4030 N.E. Halsey St., Portland, Ore.

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The Streets Aren’t Safe: Repeat Offender’s Grisly Crime Stuns Baltimore



Authorities have detained Jason Dean Billingsley, 32, a resident of Baltimore, as the prime suspect in the chilling murder of Pava LaPere, a noted CEO and founder of EcoMap Technologies.

Billingsley was arrested on Wednesday at around 11 p.m. ET, in connection with the murder of LaPere. LaPere’s body was discovered on the roof of her Mount Vernon apartment on Monday at around 11:30 a.m. However, authorities believe that she was actually killed the prior Friday.

LaPere, a distinguished name featured on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for social impact in 2023, suffered a brutal fate, allegedly at the hands of Billingsley, a man previously arrested for various crimes.

Outlets such as CNN, ABC News, and NBC News reported, citing court documents, that LaPere faced strangulation and blunt force trauma, causing her demise. The crime scene yielded several critical pieces of evidence, including a brick and several teeth.

This gruesome murder wasn’t the only crime linked to Billingsley that week. The Baltimore Police released a statement that he is also a suspect in an incident involving attempted murder, arson, and rape, occurring in the Baltimore area on Sept. 19, 2023.

This incident, merely a mile away from where LaPere was found, had Billingsley disguising himself as a maintenance man before committing the alleged heinous acts, according to documents obtained by local news outlet WJZ.

The Baltimore Police emphasized the severity of the crimes and the premeditated nature of the acts.

“All indications are that this was not a random act of violence,” stated Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley.

He went on to add, “We have information to believe that the victims from Edmondson Avenue were targeted by the suspect—that the suspect knew the victims and he went into that location for a criminal reason.”

Furthermore, he divulged, “we know that the suspect did not break into the building as he worked at that location.”

Details unveiled by WJZ expose the terror unleashed by Billingsley on Sept. 19. A woman, reportedly raped and her neck cut, and her boyfriend were set on fire.

A neighbor, recollecting the horror, said, “I heard her screaming and banging on the grate help her get out, help her. I screamed through the building to see if there was anyone who could help me help her.”

Also discovered was a 5-year-old in the building, who was promptly taken to the hospital.

Billingsley, facing first-degree murder and other charges relating to LaPere’s death, has been in the grip of the law before, with arrests in 2009, 2011, and 2013, for crimes including a sex offense, 2nd-degree assault charges, and robbery. The police have conveyed their uncertainty about whether LaPere and Billingsley were acquainted.

Commissioner Worley, addressing the ramifications of the arrest, noted, “I know this arrest does not bring back Pava LaPere.”

He expressed hopes that the arrest might, “at least we can give a sense of closure to the city of Baltimore, the victims of all his crimes and all their families.”

As the investigations continue to unravel the depth of Billingsley’s alleged crimes, the police remain vigilant, reviewing all open cases since October 2022 to discern any possible connections.

As our loyal readers, we encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions on this issue. Let your voice be heard and join the discussion below.


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