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The Tiger King Without His Tigers – Jeff Lowe Banned From Exhibiting Animals for Life

The pandemic has been a weird time. Numerous things gained popularity that may not have if people hadn’t been stuck indoors. Plenty of people picked up baking, while others started gardening. Streaming services hit an all-time high. One television show in particular that caught the public’s eye was Tiger King. The show brought to life the insane world of the exotic animal trade, with a heavy focus on the show’s namesake, tigers. Now, one of the most infamous stars of the show, Jeff Lowe, has been banned from exhibiting animals for the rest of his life.

The sentencing comes from the U.S. Justice Department nearly a year after the confiscation of Lowe’s animals. Between January and August of 2021, the Department confiscated 146 animals from Lowe for legal reasons. The reasons are the illegal taking, possession, and transporting of endangered or vulnerable animals. 

For those who don’t know, Jeff Lowe was the former business partner of Joe Exotic, the star of the hit Netflix Series, Tiger King. In 2016, Jeff Lowe took over the zoo that Exotic and he had both worked on together, and with it he took all of the animals. Joe Exotic was arrested and sentenced to 22 years in prison for murder-for-hire and wildlife-related crimes in January of 2020. While these are the events that the Netflix series focuses on primarily, Jeff Lowe was also in legal troubles of his own.

In November of 2020, the Department of Justice sued Jeff Lowe and his wife, Lauren Lowe, in a civil case. This case related to repeated violations of two acts; the Animal Welfare Act and the Endangered Species Act. They violated these acts by failing to provide their animals with proper nutrition, veterinarian care, proper enclosures, and sanitary conditions. By failing to do so, the Department of Justice concluded that the couple were presenting serious danger to the health of the animals.

The case didn’t come to fruition from the Netflix series, however. There were observations of many animals at their zoo that led to the charges being filed against them. Among these observations were a lion cub laying unresponsive in the mud, arthritic wolves being forced to live on a concrete pad, and a bear so deprived of nutrition that its bones were showing through its coat.

Most of these conditions, it seems, were born out of spite. In June of 2020, Lowe had been ordered to forfeit the site of his animals to Carole Baskin. The property was being given to her as a way of settling a long-standing legal dispute between the two. The animals were being poorly taken care of before that point in time, but the conditions only grew worse.

In October of 2020, Lowe’s license to exhibit exotic animals had been taken away. This was one month prior to the larger civil case that was brought against them in relation to the violation of the Animal Welfare Act and the Endangered Species Act. While his license had been forfeited permanently, Jeff Lowe continued to display the animals by electronic means. He was using applications like Cameo to display animals online. At that point in time, no laws existed to stop him from doing so.

Confiscations started in January 2021, and would not stop until August 2021. In total, all 146 of Jeff Lowe’s animals were taken away, to be properly cared for by existing animal sanctuaries.

This week’s decision against the Lowes was the last in a long line of charges brought against the couple. While the charges regarding the violation of both acts were dropped, a settlement was made that stops the couple from exhibiting animals for the rest of their lives. Jeff Lowe believes that the charges being dropped are proof that he’d done nothing wrong. Still, the animals have been taken from his ownership, and he can no longer run a zoo. Legally, that is.

The charges brought against Lowe are a precedent. This is the first time that the Department of Justice has ever brought a case regarding the Animal Welfare Act in relation to electronic means of display. As such, the laws will be different from here on out, with Jeff Lowe to thank.

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Juror in the Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Lawyers up in Preparation for a Mistrial

The recently concluded Ghislaine Maxwell sex-trafficking criminal trial could potentially end up being declared a mistrial.  An attorney for several accusers of Jeffrey Epstein has publicly insisted that a mistrial motion might soon be granted by the judge who presided over the case.  If Maxwell is tried a second time, it could prove to be quite strenuous on the victims.

Why Would There Be a Mistrial?

One of the Maxwell trial jurors, Scotty David, recently admitted that he suffered childhood sexual abuse.  David states he swayed the jury deliberations by delving into the details of that abuse.  Maxwell might receive a new trial, yet a new trial does not automatically increase the chances of her walking free or receiving reduced punishment.  However, most sane and logical people would agree that the fact that a member of the jury was sexually abused should not be enough to trigger a new trial.  

The problem lies in the fact that the juror failed to reveal the entirety of the truth about his personal situation in the initial questionnaire provided to potential jurors.  That questionnaire required that all potential jurors indicate if they or anyone they are close to endured sexual abuse of any sort.

David insists he was not asked about any potential history of sexual abuse on the initial juror questionnaire.  However, when he was told other jurors were asked such a question, he responded to the Daily Mail stating that he did not remember it and indicated he would have checked off the “yes” box to reveal his abuse.

The Victims’ Attorney Responds

Lisa Bloom, the attorney for the women victimized by Maxwell and Epstein, states the revelation detailed above is a significant blow to justice.  She went on to state that the juror questionnaire is not a public document, and that only the attorneys working the trial, and the judge, are aware of its contents. 

Bloom indicates that the prosecutors are demanding an inquiry and the judge will soon set a formal schedule for the motion raised to declare a mistrial.  Bloom took to Twitter to provide her comments on the matter, stating if David lied and the court determines that the lie, also referred to as an omission of information, was material, the judge might order a new trial.  Maxwell faces upwards of 65 years in prison after being found guilty of sex-trafficking young girls for Epstein.

Bloom went on to state, “My heart goes out to the 4 victims, who will have to do it all again.  And because this juror was a victim, and was brave enough to tell his story in the deliberations room and stand with the other victims, a convicted sex trafficker may get a do-over.  Just a punch in the gut to the 8 Jeffrey Epstein victims I represent.”

Bloom also noted that simply being a victim of sex abuse does not preclude one’s service as a juror on a sexual abuse jury.  In other words, there is a chance that the judge who reviews the motion for a mistrial will determine that the juror’s history of sexual abuse did not significantly influence the case, ultimately rendering Maxwell guilty and removing the potential for a mistrial.  

Bloom highlighted the fact that the issue in question is whether the juror lied when filling out his questionnaire, and in doing so deprived the legal defense of the opportunity to ask him important questions throughout the jury selection process in order to determine if he had a bias.  David has since retained an attorney.  David’s attorney also represented Anna Sorokin, the infamous “fake heiress.”

A Maxwell Victim Speaks Out

Prior to the mistrial motion, Annie Farmer, the lone Maxwell victim to testify under her legal name, indicated she was overwhelmed with gratitude for David.  She pointed to the juror’s courage and described him as “brave” for disclosing his personal trauma and helping others who suffered similar abuse.  However, Farmer has not provided comment in recent days after word has spread of a potential mistrial.

The prospect of a mistrial could have been avoided had David simply kept his mouth shut.  Unfortunately, David provided a litany of interviews after Maxwell was found guilty.  It is during those interviews that David made the public aware of his personal sexual abuse and how he used it to sway the jury’s deliberations.  

Conspiracy theorists will undoubtedly attempt to connect David to the Illuminati and the dozens of famous politicians and entertainers tied to Epstein, insisting these wealthy individuals offered David a bribe to change his tune in the aftermath of the verdict.  

However, it must also be noted that yet another juror revealed to the New York Times earlier this week that he or she had also been sexually molested as an adolescent, and even went as far as talking about how that abuse swayed the jury’s decision.

 

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Alexa Asks a Girl to Engage in a Lethal Activity and Sets Off a Robot Revolt

We all love how AI makes our lives more convenient, but the underlying threat of a robot revolt recently became all too real when an Alexa device challenged a 10-year old girl to touch a coin to the prongs of a half-inserted phone charger. 

The incident took place in Oakdale, Minnesota on December 26, 2021. The 10-year old daughter of Kirstin Livdahl asked Alexa for a challenge. The device responded by suggesting the lethal activity. 

Livdahl immediately took to social media to spread the startling news. 

“OMFG, My 10 year old just asked Alexa on our Echo for a challenge and this is what she said.”

She accompanied the post with a screenshot of the message Alexa sent her child. It read, “Plug a phone charger about half way into a wall outlet. Then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”

It didn’t take long for Livdahl’s post to go viral, getting thousands of likes and hundreds of responses. 

An Amazon spokesperson told the press that the company fixed the issue as soon as they were made aware of it. “We will continue to advance our systems to prevent similar responses in the future,” she said. 

Livdahl said that although the incident was shocking, it did have one benefit. “It was a good opportunity to talk to my kids about internet safety and not believing everything you see and hear from the internet again,” she said. 

The girl’s mother also provided an in-depth explanation of the circumstances that led to the incident. 

“We were doing some physical challenges like laying down and rolling over while holding a shoe on your foot.” The activities were inspired by a physical education teacher’s YouTube video. After they ran out of challenges her daughter wanted to keep the fun going, so she turned to Alexa. 

Apparently, Alexa’s suggestion was sourced from an article on a local news website called “Our Community Now” which talked about something called “the outlet challenge”. The article explained that the outlet challenge was a Tik Tok trend, and it mentioned how dangerous it was, but that’s something Alexa failed to pick up on. 

The article outlines what the outlet challenge is as follows:

“The challenge is simple: Plug in a phone charger about half way into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs. The resulting sparks are cool enough to win you internet fame. (Obviously, do not attempt this)” the article goes on to warn its readers. 

Many know that this task would be very dangerous if executed. Metals conduct electricity and inserting them into a live socket could cause shocks, fires, injuries, and deaths. 

The Tik Tok challenge resulted in scorched electric outlets in one Massachusetts home and two public schools. This led State Fire Marshall Peter Otroskey to release a warning about the dangers the challenge could cause. 

As soon as Livdahl heard the device’s suggestion, she shouted, “No, Alexa, no.” She also stated that her daughter knew better than to try such a dangerous feat. “She’s too smart to do that,” she said. 

Although the event was shocking, the fact that no one got hurt made it somewhat humorous. Many tweeters came up with clever responses to Livedahl’s post. Here are some examples.

  • “This is how SkyNet wins” – @ScungilliM
  • “Tech won’t save us” – @pabloalcain
  • “Don’t let your kids talk to robots” -@hannahposts
  • “Goddammit Alexa, the kill all humans plan was scheduled for next week” -@hal9000_

AI is a wonderful tool but it’s easy to see how things can get taken out of context without the human touch. Thankfully, this story had a humorous ending. Here’s hoping that the humans keep winning!

 

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Swimsuit Model, Brooks Nader, Stalked in NYC with AirTag

Apple’s AirTags are quickly becoming a major problem for celebrities, attractive individuals, and those with expensive vehicles.  The popular tech company’s AirTags serve as tracking devices, empowering stalkers to track the whereabouts of people, automobiles, and other items.  Though the technology was not invented with stalking in mind, it is clearly becoming a major problem as evidenced by the recent stalking incident involving Brooks Nader, a swimsuit model living in New York City.

Nader’s Stalking Sounds the Tech Alarm

A stranger slipped an Apple AirTag into Nader’s coat pocket at some point this past month.  The stranger then stalked the swimsuit model across the ensuing days.  Nader insists the stalker tracked her whereabouts, potentially in an attempt to abduct her.  She insists she only realized she was being stalked when her iPhone alerted her to an unknown accessory planted on her person.  

The phone also notified her that, “This item has been moving with you for a while.”  The admission was made through Nader’s Instagram account with the handle “@brooksnader.”

Apple’s AirTag, initially released in April, is a tracking device the size of a nickel that functions as a key finder.  Apple users attach the AirTag to personal items in an attempt to prevent them from becoming lost.  

The diminutive gadgets sell for a mere $30, presenting an affordable opportunity to stalk people, steal cars, and pilfer other valuables.  All it takes is a quick sleight of hand for a potential stalker to slide the tiny tracking device into a purse, coat pocket, or the bottom of an automobile for limitless tracking.

Nader Reaches Out to Apple

The supermodel who once appeared in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue shared a screen capture of the AirTag to Instagram Stories in an attempt to connect with Apple.  She wrote, “@Apple, did you take into consideration the danger and potentially fatal consequences this device has?”

Nader went on to address her fans and critics, addressing questions as to whether the AirTag was actually her own.  Nader insists the AirTag is not hers and that she is not seeking publicity.  After all, it is often said that all publicity is good publicity for a public figure or individual looking to make a quick buck, especially in the context of social media attention.  Nader went on to state that she hopes her experience serves as a public service announcement to “…all my ladies to please please check your belongings.”

Apple’s Response

Apple has acknowledged the potential for its AirTags to be used for nefarious purposes.  Apple has also expressed interest in helping to prevent potentially deadly stalking attempts with the AirTags by notifying individuals if they have such a device on them that is not officially registered in their name.  A company representative went on to state that AirTag is meant to discourage undesired tracking and that, “If someone else’s AirTag finds its way into your stuff, your iPhone will notice it’s traveling with you and send you an alert.”

Nader took the effort a step further by requesting that all of the ladies who read her social media posts check their belongings including their pockets, coats, bags, vehicles, and surroundings.  Though AirTag is built with proactive safety features that prevent undesired tracking, which is a breakthrough for the industry, it is still possible to use the tiny devices to track the activity and specific location of targeted individuals.  

Apple’s Find My network has an intelligent and fully tunable system complete with deterrents applicable to AirTag and third-party products within the overarching Find My network program for accessories.  However, the bottom line is Apple has not done enough to prevent the improper use of AirTags and subsequent tracking.  It is quite possible these devices will be pulled from the market in the year ahead or even in the months that follow Nader’s stalking.

Nader Isn’t the First Victim of AirTag Stalking

Those who haven’t paid close attention to the ongoing AirTag saga might be surprised to learn Nader’s stalking is just one of many using the new Apple devices.  Search Google News or another search engine for stories about carjackings and you’ll find a growing number rely on the use of AirTags.  

Rewind back to December of last year and you’ll also find news stories about a 27-year-old Mississippi resident who reached out to police after receiving an iPhone notification that she was carrying an unregistered AirTag.

Another woman living in Maryland broadcast her experience with AirTag tracking last month on Twitter.  Her alarming story of how a stalker planted an Apple AirTag on her vehicle prior to her departure from a bar in the early morning hours is concerning to say the least.  Last summer, a Texas woman made waves on TikTok when posting a video in which she stated an AirTag was placed in her purse and used by an unknown individual to track her location.

 

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A Vitriolic Email Sent to Mina Kimes Email Takes Center Stage at ESPN

ESPN NFL commentator Mina Kimes recently revealed a hateful email she received earlier this football season.  She describes the email, titled “STOP”, as “absolute trash”, sent by an online troll.  The story has gained considerable traction in only a couple days’ time, largely because it was a grossly misogynistic message against an Asian woman who makes a living commentating on a masculine sport played by Caucasians and African-Americans.

The Emailer’s Identity has Been Revealed

Kimes shared the email on Monday, noting that the internet troll who sent the message has been identified as a critic named Charles Brown.  Brown wrote the lengthy email to Kimes insisting she “pretends” to know things about male sports.  Brown’s email message also contained additional sexist remarks that offended Kimes as well as other women at the “mothership” of sports that is ESPN.

The misogynistic email insinuated that the only reason Kimes is employed at the network is because of affirmative action policies.  Brown stated, “Jeff Saturday must privately feel so emasculated having to pretend to have an intellectual back and forth about professional sports with someone wearing lipstick and high heels.”

Saturday, a former Indianapolis Colts center, also works as an ESPN NFL football commentator, primarily on the Get Up morning show hosted by Mike Greenberg.  However, those who watch ESPN on weekday mornings are well aware of Saturday’s schtick.  Saturday is bombastic and absurdly loud, almost always yelling into the camera to heighten viewer awareness and engagement.  

In contrast, Kimes has a tempered cadence and a smooth verbal flow that communicates insightful football tidbits in a truly artful manner.  The difference between Saturday’s and Kimes’ oratory skills and elocution makes the accusation made in Brown’s email all the more absurd.

Kimes’ Response to the Email

Kimes took to Twitter to respond to the hateful email, stating “Sir, this is a Wendy’s.”  It is also interesting to note Saturday responded to the disgusting email by heaping on the praise for Kimes.  Saturday also directly addressed Brown, telling him to “pipe down.”  Saturday expanded on the directive, by expounding with a lengthy monologue on Twitter.  

Saturday’s tweet read, “This is absolute trash! Mina is fantastic at her job and has earned everything she has at ESPN. I can also tell you that I have reached out to Mina a number of times so that she could teach me about the use of analytics in football. She makes our NFL team better.”

Kimes went on to elaborate on her stance of publicly acknowledging the email message, stating she “understands” the recommendations to not amplify the hateful comments.  She went on to detail her logic in shining the spotlight on the email, insisting misogyny in the sports media world is an overarching structural problem that extends well beyond her.  Kimes highlighted the fact that if she were to remain quiet and others in her position throughout the industry also remained silent when such attacks are made, no progress would be made.

Brown is Facing a Public Backlash

Brown has a tough road ahead of him now that he has made his misogynistic views known to the world.  The Twitter community seized the opportunity to chastise Brown for his attack on Kimes, tweeting insults of their own at the sports commentator throughout the day on Monday.  

Support also flowed in for Kimes.  Drea Blackwell, a sports anchor with KSBW, wrote the following on social media: “You are exceptional and I know you don’t need me to tell you that. Thank you for being a role model for young girls who love sports. Hopefully one day we will live in a world where they don’t get similar comments.” 

Dan Orlovsky, a fellow football commentator on ESPN’s Get Up morning show also chimed in on the written attack against his colleague.  Orlovsky stated, “1) I don’t eat fast food 2) you wear heels? 3) you’re brilliant.”  The comment reaffirms the merit of women being capable of intelligently commenting on a sport solely played by men.

Kimes Will Trudge Forth

Those who don’t think kindly of women who attempt to make a living discussing sports played by men shouldn’t hold out hope that the likes of Kimes will be intimidated or quit.  Kimes has been one of the most respected talents at ESPN since signing with the network seven years ago.  Kimes is featured on a litany of ESPN programs throughout the morning, afternoon, and evening.  If anything, the nasty email sent by Brown can be used as motivation for Kimes to perform even better in her role as an NFL analyst.  

Though Kimes has not played football at a competitive level due to her diminutive stature, she discusses the game with eloquence and cogency.  Kimes is a hardcore football fan and an award-winning journalist.  She is also a summa cum laude graduate of Yale University.

 

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Yet Another Aide to VP Kamala Harris Calls It Quits

Kamala Harris is losing aides left and right.  The latest defector, Vincent Evans, has departed the VP’s staff due to what he describes as “bullying” and “turmoil.”  Evans is the latest in the exodus of support personnel to leave Harris’ office.  

Dishing the Details of Evans’ Departure

Evans, the VP’s former Deputy Director of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, left his post to take on a new challenge on Capitol Hill.  CNBC broke the story on Wednesday.  Evans will soon work for the Congressional Black Caucus, which is chaired by Joyce Beatty, a Democrat from Ohio, who works as an advocate on behalf of racial minorities.

Evans didn’t mince words when departing his position with the Harris office, lambasting the VP as a bully who criticizes staffers with what he describes as “soul destroying” words and insults.  However, despite the harsh language used to describe the VP, Evans made it clear to CNBC that he is still on positive terms with Harris, claiming the resignation is not tied to any prior departures from her office.  

Evans went on to state, “I am deeply honored to be named the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.  I started my career in Washington working for a member of the CBC, so I know firsthand the tremendous leadership and impact this caucus has in Congress and across the country.”

Evans Might Be Throwing Away a Promising Political Career

The step down from Harris’ office is widely construed as a career setback.  Evans had worked with the VP in the race for office ahead of the ’20 election.  He also contributed during the transition to the Biden-Harris presidency.  Though he has now removed himself from contention for a potential promotion within the White House, it must be noted he is not the only Harris aide to voluntarily leave her office.  

Symone Sanders, the former longtime aide and chief spokesperson for Harris, also departed her office last month.  Making matters worse is the fact that Ashley Etienne, the communications director for Harris, also vacated her post with the Harris team last month.  Harris’ Director of Press Operations also resigned within the past year.

Psaki’s Response to the Departure

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, insists the exodus of staffers from the VP’s office is perfectly “natural” and that it should be interpreted as “…a very positive thing.”  She went on to describe how working in the White House during the initial year of a new presidential administration “…is exciting and rewarding, but it’s also grueling and exhausting.” 

Psaki insists the flurry of departures is par for the course, pointing to prior precedent in which staffers who have worked their tails off for sitting VPs transition to new challenges after a year or two.  She draws parallels between these former VP staffers and those who recently departed the Harris team.

Evans’ New Role Won’t Be Nearly as Demanding

If the rumors about Harris’ demeanor and short temper are true, Evans is in for a smooth ride with the Congressional Black Caucus.  Evans previously served as an aide to Al Lawson, a Congress member from Florida.  Evans will now work closely with Joyce Beatty, the chair of the 56-member Congressional Black Caucus.

Evans, a graduate of Florida A&M, has been heavily involved in Tallahassee politics for the previous 10 years.  He served as a Florida Senate staff member prior to working for Curtis Richardson, the Commissioner of Tallahassee City.  Evans started working for Richardson in 2015.  His stint with Richardson’s team lasted merely one year.  

Evans transitioned to the role of statewide director for Hillary Clinton, lending assistance in her ’16 presidential campaign.  He then segued to Lawson’s staff after he won a seat in Congress.  Though few know it, Evans even played a role in the election of Joe Biden, serving as the now-President’s southern regional director during the ’20 campaign that unseated Donald Trump from the Oval Office.

The Harris Team has Lost a Political Superstar

Evans’ departure is a clear indictment of Harris’ lack of professionalism and inadequate social graces.  Beatty heaped on the praise for Evans, noting he “…knows the importance of developing critical relationships when it comes to public policy.” 

Lawson also sang Evans’ praises, describing his former aide with the following words:  “He just brings a wealth of knowledge to the caucus, and I think that’s very important because you have a lot of different personalities.”

Even representatives speaking on behalf of the Harris office spoke highly of Evans.  The VP’s deputy press secretary, Sabrina Sing, issued a statement about Evans departure, stating, “Vince has been an invaluable member of our team. We are grateful for Vince’s service and dedication, and we look forward to working with him in his new role at the Congressional Black Caucus.”

 

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