I was hardly the only one to wonder when I posted about Epstein's mysterious attempted suicide in July, but now he's dead and "questions swirl" around the circumstances. Here are some of the questions, chopped out of the larger article.

One of Jeffrey Epstein's two guards the night he hanged himself in his federal jail cell wasn't a regular correctional officer, according to people familiar with the detention center, which is now under scrutiny for what Attorney General William Barr on Monday called "serious irregularities." ...

Epstein had been placed on suicide watch after he was found in his cell a little over two weeks ago with bruises on his neck. But he had been taken off that watch at the end of July and returned to the jail's special housing unit.

There, Epstein was supposed to have been checked on by a guard about every 30 minutes. But investigators have learned those checks weren't done for several hours before Epstein was found unresponsive, according to a person familiar with the episode. ...

A second person familiar with operations at the jail said Epstein was found with a bedsheet around his neck Saturday morning.

Bedsheets that are paper thin, and a bed so low that Epstein had to hold his feet up off the floor while he strangled.

Epstein, 66, was found with the sheet wrapped around his neck and secured to the top of a bunk bed, the New York Post reported Monday. He kneeled toward the floor and used the noose to strangle himself, the paper added, citing an unnamed law enforcement official.

Back to the original article...

An autopsy was performed Sunday, but New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said investigators were awaiting further information.

What information are they waiting on, and from whom?

I think the Babylon Bee nails the zeitgeist: "CDC: People With Dirt On Clintons Have 843% Greater Risk Of Suicide".


Yet another college admissions scandal where the wealthy cheat, this time to steal money from taxpayers and the poor.

The Journal tells a story of a Chicago-area family whose household income is greater than $250,000. They live in a home valued at more than $1.2 million.

The mother transferred guardianship of her then-17-year-old daughter to her business partner last year.

She and her husband have already spent $600,000 sending their other children through college, the article said. There wasn't enough cash to send their youngest, so they reached into the loophole with the help of, no surprise here, a lawyer and an education consultant.

The daughter claimed only $4,200 in income that she earned from a summer job. The daughter was accepted into a private university, and received a $27,000 merit scholarship, and on top of that, $20,000 in need based financial aid, including a Pell grant that she'll never have to pay back.

What really needs to be said about this? If there are hand-outs paid for by taxpayers, then dishonest people will conspire to steal them.


Considering how many powerful people seem likely to get caught up in the revelations about Jeffrey Epstein's child-exploitation operation, it seems reasonable to wonder if someone is trying to kill him to keep him quiet.

Millionaire and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, facing charges of federal sex trafficking, was placed on suicide watch after being found unresponsive and with injuries to his neck at a federal lockup in New York City, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the incident.

Epstein, 66, was discovered injured on Tuesday in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, where he is being held without bail, the source said.

He was discovered with marks on his neck that appeared to be self-inflicted, the source said.

I've got no evidence for this conjecture, but there are certainly plenty of people with motivation to kill Epstein. If Epstein dies interest in his crimes will dwindle. Let's make sure this guy stays alive long enough to name names.


I've recently started reading some posts by Sean Carroll at his blog, Preposterous Universe. Carroll is a physicist and an atheist, and he has written a ton of fascinating material about physics and cosmology. I'm learning some new stuff, even though I disagree with his premise/conclusion about the existence of God.

I'd like to briefly discuss one paragraph in his essay titled, "Rapped on the Head by Creationists". (I'm not going to critique the whole essay because I'm not smart enough and don't have the time to work things out.)

As I like to emphasize, the God hypothesis could in principle count as a scientifically promising explanation, if only it could actually explain something new, something beyond our mere existence. For example, it's unclear why there are three generations of fermions in the Standard Model; can God perhaps account for that? Even better, make a testable prediction. Does God favor low-energy supersymmetry? What is God's stance on proton decay, and baryognesis? If you are claiming to explain some features of known particle physics or cosmology by appeal to God (and maybe you aren't claiming that, but some people are), you should be able to carry the program forward and make predictions about unknown particle physics. Otherwise you are just telling a story about stuff we already know, without explaining anything, and that's not science.

My opinion is that this paragraph illustrates a significant lack of humility by Carroll that is common among modern atheist scientists.

Whether or not you believe God exists, it's foolish to argue that the "God hypothesis" hasn't produced anything of value -- any new knowledge, philosophy, science, art, etc. Western Civilization is a cultural edifice that has been built on the foundation of the God hypothesis over the course of several thousand years, and it's naive to think that any modern Western person is learning or accomplishing anything without standing atop this monumental structure. (Richard Dawkins makes exactly this error -- divorcing the Enlightenment from its historical and cultural foundation.)

Science, rationalism, and enlightenment thinking are children of the God hypothesis. You may think -- like Nietzsche -- that the children have now overthrown their father and that "God is dead", but don't be so arrogant as to deny their paternity. Modern man is the inheritor of an ancient and powerful legacy, and he should be grateful rather than arrogant.


We don't know all the details, but it seems that the mystery of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 is mostly solved.

In truth, a lot can now be known with certainty about the fate of MH370. First, the disappearance was an intentional act. It is inconceivable that the known flight path, accompanied by radio and electronic silence, was caused by any combination of system failure and human error. Computer glitch, control-system collapse, squall lines, ice, lightning strike, bird strike, meteorite, volcanic ash, mechanical failure, sensor failure, instrument failure, radio failure, electrical failure, fire, smoke, explosive decompression, cargo explosion, pilot confusion, medical emergency, bomb, war, or act of God--none of these can explain the flight path.

The why is still unclear. The most interesting hypothesis I've read is that the pilot was involved in a conspiracy to steal cash, gold, or jewels that were frequently transported on the flight by Chinese plutocrats smuggling their wealth out of China. In this scenario, the pilot was simulating the flight path of the airplane at home because he wanted to make sure that it wouldn't be recovered easily and no one would figure out that a) his body wasn't on board, and b) neither was the treasure.


A question from Quora: Who would stop me if I legally bought the Mona Lisa, then ate it?

What a fun question! But instead of answering the boring element of it, let me question the premise.

If I somehow acquired the Mona Lisa I wouldn't eat the whole thing. First, it's made of wood, so eating it would be unpleasant. But second, it would be a lot more fun to just eat a small part of it. I'd cut out a small, unobtrusive piece from the background and record a video of myself eating it. Then I'd resell the painting to put it back into circulation. Having forcibly inserted myself into history, I'd now be eternally linked with one of mankind's greatest works of art. I'd post the video of me eating the Mona Lisa on Youtube and live off the proceeds for the rest of my life.

And since Quora is showing me art-related stuff, here's a likely apocryphal story about Pablo Picasso:

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him. "It's you -- Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist."

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

"It's perfect!" she gushed. "You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?"

"Five thousand dollars," the artist replied.

"But, what?" the woman sputtered. "How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!"

To which Picasso responded, "Madame, it took me my entire life."


The experiences of Facebook moderators show just how harmful the company is to our society.

Early on, Speagle came across a video of two women in North Carolina encouraging toddlers to smoke marijuana, and helped to notify the authorities. (Moderator tools have a mechanism for escalating issues to law enforcement, and the women were eventually convicted of misdemeanor child abuse.) To Speagle's knowledge, though, the crimes he saw every day never resulted in legal action being taken against the perpetrators. The work came to feel pointless, never more so than when he had to watch footage of a murder or child pornography case that he had already removed from Facebook.

In June 2018, a month into his job, Facebook began seeing a rash of videos that purportedly depicted organs being harvested from children. (It did not.) So many graphic videos were reported that they could not be contained in Speagle's queue.

"I was getting the brunt of it, but it was leaking into everything else," Speagle said. "It was mass panic. All the SMEs had to rush in there and try to help people. They were freaking out -- they couldn't handle it. People were crying, breaking down, throwing up. It was like one of those horror movies. Nobody's prepared to see a little girl have her organs taken out while she's still alive and screaming." Moderators were told they had to watch at least 15 to 30 seconds of each video.

It doesn't seem to me that these problems can be solved. In the process of removing this vile content, Facebook simultaneously censors protected speech: politics, religion, satire, and more.

"I really wanted to make a difference," Speagle told me of his time working for Facebook. "I thought this would be the ultimate difference-making thing. Because it's Facebook. But there's no difference being made."

I asked him what he thought needed to change.

"I think Facebook needs to shut down," he said.


How is it possible than an American city has even one "notorious trash pile"? Apparently Los Angeles has enough trash piles than one is the "most notorious".

Drone video shows a sprawling trash pile about a block long between downtown Los Angeles's Fashion and Produce districts. The heap of waste was cleaned up last year, but has returned months later, offering an attractive source of food for rats. (Published Monday, May 20, 2019 | Credit: NBC4)

But there's plenty of money for Fantasy Trains.


This has to be the most cold-hearted argument for abortion that I've ever read: abortion is good for business.

More than 180 business owners, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, signed a letter protesting restrictive abortion legislation and published a full-page ad in The New York Times.

Business owners banded together to "stand up for reproductive health care" by posting the ad in Monday's print edition titled "Don't Ban Equality," which says abortion bans are "bad for business." ...

"Equality in the workplace is one of the most important business issues of our time," the ad reads. "When everyone is empowered to succeed, our companies, our communities, and our economy are better for it."

"Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers," the ad continued. "Simply put, it goes against our values, and is bad for business. "

"We, the undersigned, employ more than 108,000 workers and stand against policies that hinder people's health, independence, and ability to fully succeed in the workplace."

Basically: "Killing babies will help us make more money." This is completely insane. The argument tries to side-step the moral and human dimensions of abortion by turning it into an economic issue, but where does that lead? Who else can we kill for money? Who gets to decide? Apparently the richest and strongest people are free to kill the weakest and most helpless people for money.

The argument is also wrong. Human beings are the only wealth-generating "objects" in the universe -- more humans means more wealth.

What a bunch of posturing, evil idiots.


Momentum is gathering for government action to break up the world's largest tech companies.

As in the gilded age a century ago, the tech industry epitomizes capitalism run amok, with huge concentrations of wealth, power, and control over key markets, like search (Google), cellphone operating systems (Apple and Google), and social media (Facebook/Instagram).

We have been accustomed to think of technology entrepreneurs as bold, risk-taking individuals who thrive on competition but now we know that it is more accurate to see them as oligarchs ruling over an industry ever more concentrated, centrally controlled and hierarchical. Rather than idealistic newcomers, they increasingly reflect the worst of American capitalism--squashing competitors, using indentured servants from abroad, colluding to fix wages, and dodging taxes while creating ever more social anomie and alienation.

Trust-busting has appeal that crosses the ideological spectrum -- monopolies enhance inequality and make us poorer, and simultaneously corrupt and undermine our government.

Others, such as centrist Michael Lind, suggest that if these are in fact natural monopolies, it would be best that they be regulated as such, much as we have seen in markets such as electricity and water. Whatever the kind of poison being prescribed, the oligarchs have generated a remarkable range of enemies.

I would prefer break-up to regulation like a utility, but there's no doubt that change is coming.


The last abortion clinic in Missouri is set to lose its license at the end of May, which will make Missouri the first state in America without an abortion clinic. Planned Parenthood and its abortion providers are refusing to cooperate with state regulators.

On May 20, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services notified Planned Parenthood of three issues that could impact license renewal, according to documents reviewed by CBS News and provided by Planned Parenthood.

On May 22, Planned Parenthood said it would address two of them: adjusting who at the clinic provided the state-mandated counseling and adding an additional pelvic exam for abortion patients.

But it said a third request was out of its control. According to Planned Parenthood, the health department said it was investigating "deficient practices," and needed to interview seven physicians who provide care at the clinic. Planned Parenthood said it could offer interviews only with two who are its employees. The other five physicians working at the facility are residents in training and not employed by Planned Parenthood, a spokesperson for the clinic said via email on Tuesday. The state has indicated that the result of those interviews could be "board review" in addition to "criminal proceedings," the spokesperson said. The medical residents declined to be interviewed for the state's investigation.

In its letter, the Department of Health wrote that it could not "complete our investigation until it interviews the physicians involved in the care provided in the potential deficient practices," and that "the investigation needs to be completed and any deficiencies resolved before the expiration of [the clinic's] license on May 31, 2019."


This amazing picture was taken by Nirmal Purja's Project Possible on 22 May 2019 near the summit of Mount Everest.

mount everest traffic jam.jpg

Hundreds of climbers line up to reach the summit.

Nirmal Purja, a former Gurkha and Royal Marine, posted the picture of the route to the 8848m (29,029ft) summit on Twitter on Thursday as he warned that the mountain can kill.

Mr Purja, who is making a world-record attempt to climb all 14 peaks of the Himalayas in seven months, estimated that there were 320 climbers in the queue.

Despite the clear blue sky, it was minus 25C as climbers, some described by experts as dangerously unprepared, waited for hours in the "death zone".

Deaths linked to overcrowding

The deaths of two adventurers the day before were linked to overcrowding. Donald Lynn Cash, 55, an American, collapsed on Wednesday while taking photographs at the summit. Anjali Kulkarni, an Indian climber who was also 55, died during the descent.


The Democrats are passing laws specifically aimed at forcing disclosure of Donald Trump's finances and tax returns from when he was a private citizen. This is garbage politics. Whether you like Trump or not, there's absolutely no reason for a House committee to be digging through his personal finances.

A federal judge in New York City on Wednesday said Deutsche Bank and Capitol One can turn over financial documents related to President Donald Trump and his businesses in response to subpoenas from House Democrats.

Judge Edgardo Ramos's ruling came after a hearing at which lawyers for Trump, his three older children, and the Trump Organization argued that the subpoenas to the two banks should be quashed. ...

And Ramos's ruling came hours after the New York State legislature passed two bills aimed at Trump, which would allow Trump's state tax returns to be turned over to Congress if they are requested. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he supports that idea, but has yet to say whether he will sign the bills.

This behavior is disgraceful. Just imagine the outrage if Trump started rooting through the finances of Democrat politicians!

Everyone gets it: Democrats hate Trump. Fine. There's an election coming up, so just beat him. Quit with all the embarrassing garbage.


So the Season 8 of "Game of Thrones" was pretty bad -- but why? It didn't have to be. Why was it both slow and rushed? These paragraphs sum up my questions.

I don't pretend to understand the pressures of TV production -- logic suggests that with the episodes getting ever more technically complicated, they would take longer to shoot, which results in fewer of them per season.

But didn't the show already take as much time as it needed, with months and months between some seasons? Why not go ahead and take as much as it takes to get to 10 episodes for those last two? For that matter, why not break up some of these supersize installments from this season into two separate ones that let moments land and things develop less frantically?

It doesn't take a genius to write a good script, but it does take time. And it takes screen time to give complex plots and characters a chance to resolve in a satisfying manner. I don't get it.


United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham is investigating improper surveillance of the Trump Campaign.

Durham, known as a "hard-charging, bulldog" prosecutor, according to a source, will focus on the period before Nov. 7, 2016--including the use and assignments of FBI informants, as well as alleged improper issuance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants. Durham was asked to help Barr to "ensure that intelligence collection activities by the U.S. Government related to the Trump 2016 Presidential Campaign were lawful and appropriate."

A source also told Fox News that Barr is working "collaboratively" on the investigation with FBI Director Chris Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and that Durham is also working directly with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is currently reviewing allegations of misconduct in issuance of FISA warrants, and the role of FBI informants during the early stages of the investigation.

Durham was appointed to the job of U.S. Attorney by Trump, but he has a long history of appointments by both Republicans and Democrats, from as far back as 1999.

Amid allegations that FBI informants James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi had corrupted their handlers, US Attorney General Janet Reno named Durham special prosecutor in 1999. He oversaw a task force of FBI agents brought in from other offices to investigate the Boston office's handling of informants.

It would be good for our country to have a full and honest accounting of what went on behind closed doors in the Obama administration. I sincerely hope that no wrong-doing occurred.


State Representative Brian Sims appears to be insane -- he's offering cash rewards to identify teenage girls who are praying outside an abortion clinic.

Sims posted the second video on his Facebook page three weeks ago. He began by introducing himself and calling for support of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America. Then, he turned the camera to four pro-life women who were peacefully sidewalk counseling outside the facility.

"What we've got here is a bunch of ... pseudo Christian protesters who've been out here shaming young girls for being here. So, here's the deal, I've got $100 to anybody who will identify these three, and I will donate to Planned Parenthood," Sims said.

One of the young women responded that she is not white. Another said they simply are praying for women, and they believe women deserve better than abortion. Then, they walked away.

The linked article calls the people praying "four pro-life women", but three of them were very young teenagers!

The mother of two teenage girls who were harassed by Democratic Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims for protesting outside a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood a few weeks ago told Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tuesday night that it was a "shocking experience," but they had prayed for him following the incident.

Ashley Garecht had taken her 13- and 15-year-old daughters and their 15-year-old friend to Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which is in Sims' district, on Holy Thursday of the Easter Triduum to peacefully pray before they went to Mass.

During the disturbing encounter -- which Sims live-streamed on Periscope -- the unhinged Democrat offered $100 to anyone who could identify the young girls.

Garecht said the altercation that was caught on video was not the first interaction they'd had with Sims.

"He approached us about 20 minutes before that," she explained. "He came in yelling at us and really was yelling very directly at the girls -- very specifically at the girls. So I moved myself in between him and said 'please talk to me, let's have a conversation, the two of us as two adults,' but he continued to yell at the girls and then eventually he left and about ten minutes later is when he came back videotaping us," she continued.

How in the world does Sims think his behavior towards these children is acceptable? What do other Pennsylvania Democrats think?


Andrew C. McCarthy explains what should be obvious: Mueller's complaints about "context" are pointless now that his report is public.

Mueller was annoyed because Barr's report showed Mueller didn't do the job he was retained to do, and omitted all the narrative-writing that Mueller preferred to do.

Before Attorney General Barr issued his letter outlining the special counsel's conclusions, Mueller was invited to review it for accuracy. Mueller declined. After Barr explained that Mueller had not decided the obstruction question, the press reported on this dereliction. Mueller is miffed about the press coverage ... but he can't say Barr misrepresented his findings.

Like the Mueller investigation, this episode is designed to fuel a political narrative. But we don't need a narrative - we don't even need anyone to explain the report plainly. That's because we now have the report. We can read it for ourselves. The rest is noise.

If you don't like Barr's summary then ignore it and go read Mueller's report for yourself.


An anti-Trump cabal in the American government played the media for fools for the past three years, and journalists can't stop patting themselves on the back.

The Mueller report makes clear reporters were sold wolf whistles over and over, led by reams of unnamed official sources who urged them to see meaning in meaningless things and assume connections that weren't there. ...

More than anything, reporters should be furious at the many sources close to the various investigations who (it now seems clear) must have known pretty early there were serious holes in many areas of this story, and that a lot of these "dots" were dead ends, but didn't warn their press counterparts. For instance, the papers should be mad those who supposedly had misgivings about the Steele report didn't warn them earlier.

But they're not mad, which makes it look like a case of intentional blindness, in which eyes and ears were shut among other things because the Trump-Russia conspiracy tale made a ton of money. Media companies earned boffo ratings while the Mueller probe still carried the drama of a potential spectacular ending, with blue-state audiences eating up all those "walls are closing in" hot takes.

This fiasco will surely end up being a net plus for Trump. The obstruction parts of the report make him look like a brainless goon and thug, but the absence of what Mueller repeatedly calls "underlying crime" make his ravings about an elitist mob out to get him look justified. This is not an easy thing to achieve, but we're there, and the press is a big part of that picture.


Politicians use this sentence to express general agreement with an idea while maintaining plausible deniability in case the idea becomes unpopular.

It's not just voting voting rights for terrorists. Saying you're willing to "have a conversation" about any issue is implicit support for the underlying idea. The only question is whether you believe it's politically feasible. Would Harris have a conversation about legalizing fully automatic firearms? Of course not. Would she be open to having a conversation about banning post-20-week abortions? No. Harris won't even have a conversation about banning post-abortion abortions. Any deviation from wild-eyed progressivism has the potential to brand you a heretic in this environment.

Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been the leading instigators of this dynamic, but they're not alone. It's a group effort. Every time a candidacy lags, the contender will offer a new attention-grabbing plan to confiscate wealth for some socialistic policy proposal. Want to form a commission to develop slavery reparations proposals? Let's have a conversation. "Free college?" Let's talk. Nationalize the entire health care industry? Let's start a dialogue. You want to pass a law that guarantees every American a job? Yep, let's huddle on it.

How about a plan that eliminates all fossil fuel energy production, the lifeblood of American industry and life, and replace them with windmills, bicycles, and choo choo trains? Nearly every Democratic Party presidential hopeful--including Harris, Sanders, Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julián Castro, and Beto O'Rourke--says we need to get a conversation going.

The underlying issue at the moment is that the Democrat party has been captured by radicals who won't tolerate compromise. Democrat politicians need to pander to radical zealotry without sabotaging their chances in the general election. This dilemma presents an opportunity for triangulation by Republicans.

At this point, Republicans should figure out ways to pose questions to Democrats in public and stimulate extremist contagion: Do you support allowing non-citizens voting rights? Do you believe all abortions should be paid for by taxpayers? Do you believe that border walls should be torn down? Do you think it would be okay for presidents to unilaterally institute bans on fossil fuels to save the earth if Republicans had "refused to act"?


Wow, I love this euphemism! Government agencies don't break the law, they simply under-comply!

Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought is issuing new guidance to all agencies on complying with the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that requires "major" rules be submitted to Congress at least 60 days before they take effect.

A senior administration official told The Washington Times that the Trump administration has found, with Government Accountability Office reports, that "agencies sometimes under-comply with CRA."

"We decided that some additional guidance from OMB is necessary to the agencies to help them comply with the law," the official said in an exclusive interview. "Many agencies often don't know how the CRA works. Agencies often don't even know to ask."

I wonder how far a citizen would get with this approach? "Actually officer, I wasn't speeding, I was merely under-complying with the speed limit."

Anyway, good on President Trump for reining in these executive agencies.

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