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The Maxwells: Scandal, conspiracy and more than a few days in court



The Maxwells: Scandal, conspiracy and more than a few days in court


LONDON — Ghislaine Maxwell comes from a family dominated by her father, Robert, whose mysterious drowning at sea left behind conspiracy theories, financial scandal and a fallen empire.

Her arrest on Thursday in the United States for allegedly procuring young girls for the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein has put the family back in the news.

The father

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Robert Maxwell’s life read like a novel, having variously been suspected of working for the British, Israeli and Soviet secret services.

The Czechoslovakian-born businessman was born to Jewish parents who would be killed by the Nazis, and came to Britain penniless at the age of 16.

An undated photo of British newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell, who was found dead in the sea off the Canary Islands in November 1991, following a reported fall from his yacht. (AP Photo)

He changed his name from Jan Ludvk Hyman Binyamin Hoch and fought for the British Army during World War II, going on to set up a publishing business after the end of hostilities.

From there, he built up one of the biggest media and publishing groups in the world.

At its peak in the 1980s, he employed 16,000 people in a raft of companies including Britain’s Mirror Group Newspapers, US publishers Macmillan, and the Berlitz language schools.

He was chairman of the Oxford United football club and a member of parliament from 1964 to 1974, representing the left-wing Labour party.

In business, he was an authoritarian — and often controversial — figure, who met world leaders of the time including Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, announces charges against Ghislaine Maxwell during a July 2, 2020, press conference in New York City (Johannes EISELE / AFP)

In 1995, his youngest son, Kevin, said his father was capable of great generosity and charm but also demanded “absolute loyalty,” and reacted badly to criticism.

He was capable of “verbal brutality” and sometimes a bully, who worked up to 17 hours a day, seven days a week, and was “motivated by power.”

“He did not consider himself above the law… but would stretch it as far as it would go,” Kevin Maxwell said at his trial for defrauding the Mirror Group’s pension scheme.

Maxwell, dubbed “Cap’n Bob” and the “Bouncing Czech” in the British satirical magazine Private Eye, died when he fell from his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, off the Canary Islands in November 1991.

Ghislaine Maxwell, far right, daughter of the late Robert Maxwell, looks on as the casket containing the body of Robert Maxwell is unloaded from a plane in Jerusalem, November 8, 1991. (AP Photo/Heribert Proepper)

His death sparked conspiracy theories but his daughter was adamant: “One thing I am sure about is that he did not commit suicide. I think he was murdered,” she told Hello! in 1997.

After his death, over 400 million ($500 million) was found to be missing from his employees’ pension fund and was found to have been used to bail-out loss-making companies in his empire.

The revelations shocked the family, as his reputation changed from business guru to crooked tycoon.

The mother

Elisabeth Maxwell, a Protestant French national from Lyon, met her husband just after WWII and spent 46 years of her life with him.

The couple had nine children together and even after his death she defended his memory and reputation, despite the scandal leaving her distraught and in financial dire straits.

She defended him in an interview with The Times newspaper in 1991, suggesting he made enemies because his generosity matched his enormous bulk.

“He had great moral principles. He wanted to make the world a better place,” she said, but had no inkling of the massive fraud he perpetrated at the time.

Elisabeth — known as Betty — was a historical researcher of some repute, and looked into Maxwell’s own background growing up in Czechoslovakia, and the fate of his family.

In this file photo taken on November 10, 1991 British press magnate Robert Maxwell’s daughter Ghislaine (L) and wife Elisabeth (R) attend the funeral service for burial on the Mount of Olives of their father and husband (Sven NACKSTRAND / AFP)

She gave lectures on the Holocaust and promoted good relations between Christians and Jews.

Maxwell, who was buried on the Mount of Olives, referred to his wife as “the keeper of my Jewish soul.”

She died in France in 2013 at the age of 92.

The brothers

Two of Maxwell’s sons worked closely with him, Ian and Kevin, the number two in his father’s empire, and were the central focus of investigations into his misdealings following his death.

The brothers faced lengthy criminal proceedings but were acquitted of the fraudulent misuse of pension fund assets in January 1996 after a mammoth 130-day trial.

Kevin (right) and Ian Maxwell, sons of publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, leave the High Court in London, Sept. 19, 1996 (AP Photo/Max Nash)

Kevin Maxwell, declared bankrupt by a London court for a record 406 million, sold his house in upmarket Chelsea, west London, and moved to a cottage near Oxford, southern England.

His wife, Pandora, told the fraud trial her husband’s relationship with his father had been strained in the months before his death, and he wanted to leave the family business.



Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ



Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ


Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”


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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video



HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video


HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.


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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…



unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...


My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.


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