Across Our State & Nation
Epstein associate arrested for assault
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested Thursday on charges she helped recruit three girls — one as young as 14 — to be sexually abused by financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of assaulting dozens of girls and women over many years. According to the indictment, Maxwell, who lived for years with Epstein and was his frequent companion on trips around the world, facilitated his crimes by “helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse” girls. Epstein, 66, killed himself in a federal detention center in New York last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Maxwell has, for years, been accused by many women of recruiting them to give Epstein massages, during which they were pressured into sex. Those accusations, until now, never resulted in criminal charges. The 58-year-old was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire, where the FBI said it had been keeping tabs on her. “More recently we learned she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago,” William Sweeney, head of the FBI’s New York office, told a news conference Thursday. The indictment, which was unsealed Thursday, included counts of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and perjury. Among the most sensational accusations was a claim by Virginia Roberts Giuffre that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew at her London townhouse. Giuffre bolstered her allegations with a picture of her, Andrew and Maxwell that she said was taken at the time.
GEORGETOWN, Del. — An 8-foot tall whipping post was removed from a Delaware county courthouse square Wednesday after activists said the post was a reminder of racial discrimination. The post outside the Sussex County Courthouse in Georgetown was removed after an hour and a half of excavation and put in storage unit with other historical artifacts, news outlets reported. The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs said the post was used to bind and whip people publicly for committing crimes up until 1952. However, Black people were disproportionately punished, according to the historical group. A book published in 1947 by Robert Caldwell, a former sociology professor in the state, said more than 60% of those beaten between 1900 and 1945 were Black, The Delaware News Journal reported. At that time, Black people made up less than 20% of Delaware’s population. The state-owned post was put on display outside the courthouse by the Georgetown Historical Society in 1993, nearly two decades after Delaware outlawed state-sanctioned public floggings outside local jails and prisons. It was the last state to abolish the whipping post, news outlets reported.
PORTLAND, Maine — With more than 4,000 workers on strike, Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works plans to bring in more subcontractors to join management and existing contractors to try to avoid falling further behind on production. The company and Machinists Union Local S6 are also entering into federal mediation next week in hopes of getting back to the bargaining table, President Dirk Lesko said. The hiring of more subcontractors has been a bone of contention during previous negotiations with workers. But the company must do what it can to prevent further delays in the delivery of destroyers to the Navy, Lesko said. “First and foremost, the subcontracting that we’re doing does not impact a single job at Bath Iron Works. Not one person will be displaced because of this,” he told The Associated Press. “The message that we’re sending the customer is that we’re trying to do the best that we can to build the ships when they need them.” The president of the union said the expansion of subcontracting is proof that Bath Iron Works is not negotiating in good faith. “We are outraged that this company would further expand its use of low-wage subcontracting,” said Robert Martinez Jr., International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “It’s a slap in the face to more than 4,300 IAM Local S6 shipbuilders who have worked through a pandemic and for generations to make this company successful.”
Airbnb to crack down on parties
Airbnb will ban some younger U.S. guests from booking homes in their area as part of a continuing effort to crack down on unauthorized parties. The San Francisco-based home sharing company said U.S. guests under age 25 with fewer than three positive Airbnb reviews won’t be allowed to book entire homes close to where they live. Airbnb wouldn’t reveal how it defines what is “close.” Those guests will still be allowed to book entire homes elsewhere, and they will be allowed to book hotel rooms or private rooms within homes, the company said. Guests under 25 with at least three positive Airbnb reviews and no negative reviews won’t be subject to the restrictions. Airbnb began stepping up efforts to ban “party houses” last November after five people were shot and killed during an unauthorized party at an Airbnb rental in Orinda, California.
US unemployment falls to 11%
WASHINGTON — U.S. unemployment fell to 11.1% in June as the economy added a solid 4.8 million jobs, the government reported Thursday. But the job-market recovery may already be faltering because of a new round of closings and layoffs triggered by a resurgence of the coronavirus. While the jobless rate was down from 13.3% in May, it is still at a Depression-era level. And the data was gathered during the second week of June, just before a number of states began to reverse or suspend the reopenings of their economies to try to beat back the virus again. “This is a bit of a dated snapshot at this point,” said Jesse Edgerton, an economist at J.P. Morgan Chase. President Donald Trump said the jobs report shows the economy is “roaring back,” though he acknowledged there are still areas where “we’re putting out the flames” of the virus. Economists expect the recovery to take longer than Trump’s optimistic projections, with the unemployment rate likely to be near double-digit levels by year’s end. While the job market improved in June for a second straight month, the Labor Department report showed that the U.S. has recouped only about one-third of the colossal 22 million jobs lost during the lockdowns this spring. Layoffs are still running high: The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits fell only slightly last week to 1.4 million, according to another report. Though the weekly figure has declined steadily since peaking in March, it is still extraordinarily large by historic standards. And the total number of people who are drawing jobless benefits remains at a sizable 19 million. U.S. job growth in June was driven mainly by companies recalling workers who had been laid off during the widespread business shutdowns across the country. In an ominous trend contained in the Labor Department report, the number of Americans who said they had lost their jobs permanently rose by 600,000 last month to nearly 2.9 million. Many businesses — particularly small ones — are shutting down for good even though the lockdowns have been largely lifted.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly issued an order Thursday directing Kansas residents to wear masks in public places and their workplaces, likely provoking a backlash from the Republican-controlled Legislature even though enforcement is expected to be lax. Kelly issued the order after the state saw a surge in reported coronavirus cases following her decision to lift statewide restrictions on businesses and public gatherings May 26. She left the rules to the state’s 105 counties after weeks of complaints from Republican lawmakers that she was moving too slowly to reopen the economy. The new mask requirement will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The governor’s order says Kansas residents must wear masks in indoor public spaces, while seeking health care or using public transportation. It also says people must wear them outdoors in public when they can’t remain at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) from others. Businesses must require their employees to wear masks in places frequented by the public, even if members of the public are not present, or if they prepare food. The requirement would not apply to children under 6, the deaf, or people with medical conditions that make breathing through a mask difficult or that would prevent them from removing a mask without assistance. The rule also doesn’t apply to the Legislature’s meetings or to court proceedings.
Kids threw COVID contest parties
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Several college students in an Alabama city organized “COVID-19” parties as a contest to see who would get the virus first, officials said. Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said students hosted the parties to intentionally infect each other with the new coronavirus, news outlets reported. McKinstry said party organizers purposely invited guests who tested positive for COVID-19. She said the students put money in a pot and whoever got COVID first would get the cash. “It makes no sense,” McKinstry said. “They’re intentionally doing it.” Fire Chief Randy Smith did not say whether actions would be taken against the students. He also did not say which schools the students attend. Tuscaloosa is home to The University of Alabama and several other colleges. Tuscaloosa City Council members unanimously approved a mask requirement during a meeting Tuesday.