Wednesday, December 29, 2021

HoliDaze: Breaking: Ghislaine Maxwell Found Guilty

The former UK socialite and confidante of Jeffrey Epstein, Maxwell faced decades in prison on charges of sex trafficking a minor and multiple conspiracy charges, and today a federal jury found Maxwell guilty on 5 of 6 of the federal charges against her, meaning she faces up to 65 years in prison.
A jury in a New York federal court has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five of six counts related to her role in Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuse of minor girls between 1994 and 2004. 
Maxwell, 60, was found guilty of 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. 
She was acquitted on the charge of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.
Maxwell faces up to 65 years in prison. 
"The road to justice has been far too long. But, today, justice has been done," US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. "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." 
The jury, which was made up of six women and six men deliberated for about 40 hours, across parts of six days.
I honestly thought this was headed for a hung jury and years of trials. No doubt Maxwell will want her conviction overturned ala Bill Cosby by a higher court, but these are federal, not state charges, and Maxwell is basically looking at the rest of her life in a brown jumpsuit anticipating pudding day for the week.

We'll see where this goes, but remember, both Maxwell and Epstein rubbed elbows with a number of very powerful people in US and UK politics.

HoliDaze: A Pair Of Legends Pass

Two very notable deaths this week, first, football broadcasting legend John Madden passed today at age 85.

John Madden, the NFL coach, broadcaster and namesake for the billion-dollar video game franchise, died unexpectedly Tuesday. He was 85 years old.

The legendary coach helmed the Oakland Raiders from 1969 to 1978, winning a Super Bowl over the Minnesota Vikings in January 1977. But he became as known for what he did after leaving the game in just his early 40s, when he ascended to the broadcast booth and later lent his name to the most successful sports video game franchise of all time.

He is survived by his wife, Virginia, and sons Mike and Joe, as well as several grandchildren.

"On behalf of the entire NFL family, we extend our condolences to Virginia, Mike, Joe and their families," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "We all know him as the Hall of Fame coach of the Oakland Raiders and broadcaster who worked for every network, but more than anything, he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather."

"Nobody loved football more than Coach. He was football. He was an incredible sounding board to me and so many others," Goodell continued. "There will never be another John Madden, and we will forever be indebted to him for all he did to make football and the NFL what it is today." 
Certainly I grew up with Madden's marquee game calling, particularly watching his Detroit Lions Thanksgiving games at my grandparents' house, and watching CBS's Super Bowl broadcasts as well as playing Madden NFL on consoles in the 90's and 00's.  It just wasn't the same without him once he retired.

And speaking of things never being the same since he retired, that brings us to our other extremely notable passing this evening, former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Harry Reid, who rose from abject poverty in rural Nevada to become one of the most influential state and national leaders, died on Tuesday, sources confirmed to The Nevada Independent. He was 82.

Additional details were not immediately available.

Reid was thought to be nearing the end of his life when he underwent surgery in 2018 for pancreatic cancer, which has one of the lowest survival rates. Last summer, however, Reid announced that he underwent an experimental surgery and was declared in “complete remission” and cancer-free.

Over more than three decades of service in Congress, Reid earned a reputation for fighting relentlessly to protect his home state and everyday Americans. As Senate Democratic leader for a dozen years, he played an instrumental role in passing the Affordable Care Act and shepherding through Congress pivotal economic recovery legislation in the wake of the Great Recession.

Reid also spent considerable time focusing on water, energy and public lands, issues at the forefront of a state that was undergoing rapid growth. In 2020, Reid said more than half of his congressional papers dealt, in some form, with the environment.

A savvy dealmaker and sometimes polarizing figure who made as many enemies as he did friends, Reid still earned the respect of colleagues in both parties — sometimes turning former enemies to friends. Soft-spoken with a sharp tongue, Reid compelled those around him to listen.

Reid took a no-holds-barred approach to politics, directly calling bankers to bail out the faltering CityCenter project on the Las Vegas Strip and falsely claiming Mitt Romney hadn’t paid his taxes in 10 years.

He helped Nevada punch above its weight on the national political stage by advocating that the state hold the first-in-the-West caucus in the nation in 2008, a move that has left Nevada’s presidential nominating contest just behind those in Iowa and New Hampshire. The caucus has brought droves of presidential contenders through the state every four years for the last four election cycles, elevating the state’s profile nationally.

He also turned the Nevada State Democratic Party into a well-oiled political operation — nicknamed the Reid Machine — responsible for securing numerous Democratic victories in close races over the last decade.
Everyone talks about all the fights Reid lost to Mitch McConnell, but frankly Reid was a Democratic player well after he left the Senate stage, and he won some critical legislative battles for Obama, including Obamacare and the nuclear option on appointing judges.
Oh, and Reid himself was an amateur boxer, who later became Nevada Gaming Commissioner, survived a Vegas mob car bomb attempt, and even had a movie role in Traffic.

Both of these men defined the roles they filled, and both will be missed.

Here's to you, Madden and Reid.
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