Epstein girlfriend guilty of sex trafficking. JetBlue cancels 1280 flights as travel chaos continues. Putin makes surprise call to Biden over Ukraine.
Epstein girlfriend guilty of trafficking underage girls
Ghislaine Maxwell, a former girlfriend of deceased pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, has been found guilty of trafficking underage girls for sex. During her long association with Epstein, Maxwell helped procure potentially hundreds of teenage girls for sex with Epstein and some of his high profile friends. Four survivors of their abuse testified that Maxwell approached, befriended and groomed the girls, and sometimes even participated in the abuse herself. Maxwell, 60, could be spending the rest of her life in prison.
The deliberations took surprisingly long, with the jury mulling the verdict for 5 days. This prompted the judge to ask the jury to work overtime and through the coming weekend if necessary. The judge said that rising COVID numbers in New York threatened to derail the trial, potentially forcing a mistrial.
During the 90s and early 2000s, Epstein and Maxwell rubbed shoulders with the world’s elite. Both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump were known to keep company with Epstein. Trump even once called Epstein “a terrific guy”. Clinton flew multiple times on Epstein’s jet, dubbed the “Lolita Express”, and spent time on Epstein’s private island. To date, none of Epstein’s victims have accused Clinton or Trump of improper conduct.
The same cannot be said for Prince Andrew of Great Britain. The prince was forced to step away from public life after photos surfaced of his with his arm around Virginia Giuffre, then 17. Giuffre claims to have been coerced into having sex with Andrew multiple times while she was underage. She’s filed a lawsuit against the prince, but he is not facing criminal charges.
JetBlue cancels 1280 flights as travel chaos continues
Discount domestic carrier JetBlue has canceled 1280 flights between now and mid-January. These are the latest in a wave of cancellations by numerous airlines, starting the Wednesday before Christmas. Airlines say that the cancellations have to do with staff shortages due to an uptick in COVID infections. Severe weather conditions across the U.S. have also contributed.
Flight attendants unhappy with new COVID guidance
Earlier this week, the CDC issued new guidance that shortened isolation times for COVID-19 infections. Under the new guidelines, COVID-positive people who are asymptomatic can isolate for 5 days instead of 10. The leader of the flight attendants union claims that the new CDC guidance bowed to pressure from the airlines. Airlines have lobbied for the shorter isolation times to alleviate their personnel shortages.
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, stated, “If any business pressures a worker to return to work before they feel better we will make clear it is an unsafe work environment, which will cause a much greater disruption than any ‘staffing shortages'”.
Putin makes surprise call to Biden over Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin has requested a call with President Biden, which will take place today. This will be the second direct talks between Putin and Biden this month. Putin hopes to address a number of security issues regarding Ukraine and other countries that border Russia.
In recent months, upwards of 100,000 Russian troops have amassed at the Ukrainian border. Putin claims he has no plans to invade, but it appears he is using the soft threat of an invasion as a bargaining chip in talks about wider regional security.
Since the Berlin Wall fell, NATO has positioned ever increasing assets in former Soviet countries on Russia’s border. Putin wants the NATO presence on his doorstep dialed back. He also wants to prevent former Soviet nations like Ukraine and Georgia from obtaining NATO membership.
Today’s call is a preamble for formal talks that will take place next month.
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