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Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years for helping Epstein

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By Tom Hays And Larry Neumeister in New York

NEW YORK (AP) — Ghislaine Maxwell, the jet-setting socialitewho once consorted with royals, presidents and billionaires, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for helping the financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls.

The stiff sentence was the punctuation mark on a trial that explored the sordid rituals of a predator power couple who courted the rich and famous as they exploited vulnerable girls as young as 14.

Prosecutors said Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial, sexually abused children hundreds of times over more than a decade, and couldn’t have done so without the help of Maxwell, his longtime companion.

A jury in December convicted Maxwell, 60, of sex trafficking, transporting a minor to participate in illegal sex acts and two conspiracy charges.

Judge Alison J. Nathan, who also imposed a $750,000 fine, noted that Maxwell never expressed remorse. The judge said she wanted the sentence to send an “unmistakable message.”

Maxwell, wearing a blue prison uniform and a white mask to conform with coronavirus rules, looked to one side as the sentence was announced, but otherwise did not react. She wore leg shackles that could be heard rattling when she walked into the courtroom.

Addressing the court earlier, Maxwell stood at a lectern and said she empathized with the survivors and hoped her punishment would bring them peace. But she did not admit culpability and laid blame for the abuse on Epstein, saying meeting him was the “greatest regret of my life.”

She called him “a manipulative, cunning and controlling man who lived a profoundly compartmentalized life.”

Annie Farmer, one of the four accusers who testified against Maxwell at trial, was briefly overcome with emotion as she addressed the judge before the sentence was pronounced.

“We will continue to live with the harm she caused us,” Farmer said.

The judge said Maxwell was being punished for her “heinous and predatory” crimes, not Epstein’s. She criticized Maxwell’s “pattern of deflection and blame.”

Four survivors at the sentencing described their sexual abuse, including Farmer, who said she and her sister tried to go public with their stories about Epstein and Maxwell two decades ago, only to be shut down by the powerful couple through threats and influence with authorities.

Inside a courtroom crowded with reporters, three of Maxwell’s siblings sat in a row behind her. Outside the courthouse, Kevin Maxwell said that his sister won’t give up on her legal battle, “and we as a family will be solidly behind her.”

Defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim promised to appeal, saying Maxwell “has been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.” She said Epstein had left Maxwell “holding the whole bag.”

Earlier in court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe recounted how Maxwell and Epstein “molested these kids together.” She called Maxwell “a person who was indifferent to the suffering of other human beings.”

Epstein and Maxwell’s associations with some of the world’s most famous people were not a prominent part of the trial, but mentions of friends such as Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Britain’s Prince Andrew showed how the pair exploited their connections to impress their prey.

Over the past 17 years, scores of women have accused Epstein of abusing them, with many describing Maxwell as the madam who recruited them. The trial, though, revolved around allegations from only a handful of those women.

Four testified that they were abused as teens in the 1990s and early 2000s at Epstein’s mansions in Florida, New York, New Mexico and the Virgin Islands.

Three were identified in court only by their first names or pseudonyms to protect their privacy: Jane, a television actress; Kate, an ex-model from the U.K.; and Carolyn, now a mom recovering from drug addiction. The fourth was Farmer, the sole accuser to identify herself in court by her real name, after speaking out publicly.

They described how Maxwell charmed them with conversation and gifts and promises that Epstein could use his wealth and connections to help fulfill their dreams.

Then, they testified, she led them to give massages to Epstein that turned sexual and played it off as normal.

Carolyn testified that she was one of several underprivileged teens who lived near Epstein’s Florida home in the early 2000s and took up an offer to massage him in exchange for $100 bills in what prosecutors described as “a pyramid of abuse.”

Maxwell made all the arrangements, Carolyn told the jury, even though she knew the girl was only 14 at the time.

The allegations against Epstein first surfaced publicly in 2005. He pleaded guilty to sex charges in Florida and served 13 months in prison, much of it in a work-release program as part of a deal criticized as lenient. Afterward, he was required to register as a sex offender.

In the years that followed, many women sued Epstein over alleged abuse. One, Virginia Giuffre, claimed that Epstein and Maxwell had also pressured her into sexual trysts with other powerful men, including Prince Andrew. All of those men denied the allegations, and Giuffre ultimately settled a lawsuit against Andrew out of court.

Federal prosecutors in New York revived the case against Epstein after stories by the Miami Herald in 2018 brought new attention to his crimes. He was arrested in 2019, but killed himself a month later.

Eleven months after his death, Maxwell was arrested at a New Hampshire estate. Since then, she has been jailed in a federal facility in New York City.

Her lawyers fought to have her conviction tossed out on the grounds of juror misconduct. Days after the verdict, one juror gave media interviews in which he disclosed he had been sexually abused as a child — something he hadn’t told the court during jury selection. Maxwell’s lawyers said she deserved a new trial. A judge disagreed.

At least eight women submitted letters to the judge, describing the sexual abuse they said they endured.

Anne Holve and Philip Maxwell, her eldest siblings, wrote to the court to ask for leniency and said that their sister’s relationship with Epstein began soon after the 1991 death of their father, the British newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell.

Robert Maxwell, they wrote, subjected his daughter to “frequent rapid mood swings, huge rages and rejections,” which “led her to becoming very vulnerable to abusive and powerful men who would be able to take advantage of her innate good nature.”

Sarah Ransome — an accuser whose allegations weren’t included in the trial — testified about the lasting harm to her life, gazing directly at Maxwell several times.

“You broke me in unfathomable ways,” said Ransome, who twice tried to die by suicide. “But you did not break my spirit.”

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COVID-19

Effect of pandemic border restrictions could be long-lasting: Critics

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BANFF, Alta. — The last of Canada’s COVID-19 border restrictions are set to disappear at the end of this month, but some critics say they fear the measures have already caused a lasting decrease in cross-border travel.

At the Global Business Forum in Banff, Alta. on Friday, prominent voices who have been arguing for months in favour of the lifting of restrictions such as mandatory vaccinations, testing and quarantine requirements for international visitors said they’re now worried the economic impacts of such measures could be permanent.

In a panel discussion at what is an annual conference for business leaders in Canada’s most-visited national park, Meredith Lilly – an associate professor at Carleton University and a former international trade advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper – said cross-border day trips by Canadians to the U.S. never fully recovered after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

She said her research has showed part of that is due to the heightened U.S. border controls put in place after that event.

“Fewer Canadians travelled to the United States to shop or fill up their tank of gas because of the unfriendly border,” Lilly said.

“Canada is now doing the same thing to Americans. So it’s going to take major effort to get Americans to come back.”

Earlier this week, federal government sources confirmed the cabinet order maintaining COVID-19 border measures will not be renewed when it expires on Sept. 30.

The change means international travellers will no longer have to prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Under the current rule, Canadians returning to the country who aren’t vaccinated must show a negative COVID-19 test result before arriving, and undergo further testing after arrival. They also must quarantine for 14 days.

The expiry also spells the end of insisting travellers use the ArriveCan app to input their vaccine status and test results, though the app will live on as an optional tool for customs and immigration.

But Lilly said the two-and-a-half years that pandemic-related border rules were in place was likely long enough to change the habits of some Americans, who will now no longer consider visiting Canada in the future.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that the number of international arrivals to this country increased in July even as they remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

The agency said the number of trips by U.S. residents in July was 2.2 million, 11 times the number of trips taken in July 2021, but still about 60 per cent of the trips reported in July 2019.

“So the picture still isn’t great,” Lilly said. “And three years is a long time for people to permanently change their behaviour.”

Canadian Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Perrin Beatty, who also spoke in Banff Friday, said this country’s tourism industry has now missed out on two summer seasons.

He said multiple medical experts have argued that testing asymptomatic travellers for COVID-19 at the border is far less effective than testing symptomatic Canadians within their communities.

“We’ve maintained these restrictions that simply make no sense. The cost to us, for small businesses in every part of this country, of the friction that we’ve put on at the border has been billions of dollars,” Beatty said.

“And we’re out of step with other countries around the world, we’re out of step with the science, and we’re out of step with the rest of Canadian society because of these self-inflicted wounds we’ve put on ourselves.”

A report released by the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable on Friday aimed to assess the impact and effectiveness of border measures and other travel restrictions implemented by the federal government to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The report, which was authored by four Canadian doctors specializing in infectious diseases, emergency medicine and pandemic management, concluded border measures have been largely ineffective at preventing new COVID-19 variants from entering the country.

It also said there is no convincing evidence that pre-departure and on-arrival testing and surveillance have had a significant impact on local transmission in Canadian communities.

The expiry of the cabinet order on Sept. 30 doesn’t deal with whether passengers must wear masks on domestic and international trains and planes because that rule is contained in a separate order issued by the minister of transport.

The tourism industry has argued masking on planes is also “inconsistent” from a policy perspective, given that the high air exchange rates on passenger aircraft make them one of the safest ways to travel from a COVID-19 perspective.

“But the government of Canada is saying the single most dangerous thing you can be doing is travelling by air,” Beatty said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.

Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press

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Business

Dow sinks to 2022 low as recession fears roil world markets

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BEIJING — Stocks fell sharply worldwide Friday on worries an already slowing global economy could fall into recession as central banks raise the pressure with additional interest rate hikes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.6%, closing at its lowest level since late 2020. The S&P 500 fell 1.7%, close to its 2022 low set in mid-June, while the Nasdaq slid 1.8%.

The selling capped another rough week on Wall Street, leaving the major indexes with their fifth weekly loss in six weeks.

Energy prices closed sharply lower as traders worried about a possible recession. Treasury yields, which affect rates on mortgages and other kinds of loans, held at multiyear highs.

European stocks fell just as sharply or more after preliminary data there suggested business activity had its worst monthly contraction since the start of 2021. Adding to the pressure was a new plan announced in London to cut taxes, which sent U.K. yields soaring because it could ultimately force its central bank to raise rates even more sharply.

The Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world aggressively hiked interest rates this week in hopes of undercutting high inflation, with more big increases promised for the future. Such moves put the brakes on economies by design, in hopes that slower purchases by households and businesses will deflate inflationary pressures. But they also threaten a recession, if they rise too far or too quickly.

Besides Friday’s discouraging data on European business activity, a separate report suggested U.S. activity is also still shrinking, though not quite as badly as in earlier months.

“Financial markets are now fully absorbing the Fed’s harsh message that there will be no retreat from the inflation fight,” Douglas Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a research report.

U.S. crude oil prices slid 5.7% to their lowest levels since early this year on worries that a weaker global economy will burn less fuel. Cryptocurrency prices also fell sharply because higher interest rates tend to hit hardest the investments that look the priciest or the most risky.

Even gold fell in the worldwide rout, as bonds paying higher yields make investments that pay no interest look less attractive. Meanwhile the U.S. dollar has been moving sharply higher against other currencies. That can hurt profits for U.S. companies with lots of overseas business, as well as put a financial squeeze on much of the developing world.

The S&P 500 fell 64.76 points to 3,693.23, its fourth straight drop. The Dow, which at one point was down more than 800 points, lost 486.27 points to close at 29,590.41. The Nasdaq fell 198.88 points to 10,867.93.

Smaller company stocks did even worse. The Russell 2000 fell 42.72 points, or 2.5%, to close at 1,679.59.

More than 85% of stocks in the S&P 500 closed in the red, with technology companies, retailers and banks among the biggest weights on the benchmark index.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday lifted its benchmark rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, to a range of 3% to 3.25%. It was at virtually zero at the start of the year. The Fed also released a forecast suggesting its benchmark rate could be 4.4% by the year’s end, a full point higher than envisioned in June.

Treasury yields have climbed to multiyear highs as interest rates rise. The yield on the 2-year Treasury, which tends to follow expectations for Federal Reserve action, rose to 4.20% from 4.12% late Thursday. It is trading at its highest level since 2007. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, slipped to 3.69% from 3.71%.

Goldman Sachs strategists say a majority of their clients now see a “hard landing” that pulls the economy sharply lower as inevitable. The question for them is just on the timing, magnitude and length of a potential recession.

Higher interest rates hurt all kinds of investments, but stocks could stay steady as long as corporate profits grow strongly. The problem is that many analysts are beginning to cut their forecasts for upcoming earnings because of higher rates and worries about a possible recession.

“Increasingly, market psychology has transitioned from concerns over inflation to worries that, at a minimum, corporate profits will decline as economic growth slows demand,” said Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist for LPL Financial.

In the U.S., the jobs market has remained remarkably solid, and many analysts think the economy grew in the summer quarter after shrinking in the first six months of the year. But the encouraging signs also suggest the Fed may have to jack rates even higher to get the cooling needed to bring down inflation.

Some key areas of the economy are already weakening. Mortgage rates have reached 14-year highs, causing sales of existing homes to drop 20% in the past year. But other areas that do best when rates are low are also hurting.

In Europe, meanwhile, the already fragile economy is dealing with the effects of war on its eastern front following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The European Central Bank is hiking its key interest rate to combat inflation even as the region’s economy is already expected to plunge into a recession. And in Asia, China’s economy is contending with still-strict measures meant to limit COVID infections that also hurt businesses.

While Friday’s economic reports were discouraging, few on Wall Street saw them as enough to convince the Fed and other central banks to soften their stance on raising rates. So they just reinforced the fear that rates will keep rising in the face of already slowing economies.

Economics Writer Christopher Rugaber and Business Writers Joe McDonald and Matt Ott contributed to this report.

Damian J. Troise And Alex Veiga, The Associated Press

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september, 2022

tue27sep10:00 am4:00 pmCACPC Annual SHRED Event10:00 am - 4:00 pm MST The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre, 4311-49 Ave Event Organized By: The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre

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