By Jack Kelly
It’s become an annoying cliché to say “just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any crazier” and then input the last ridiculous thing that happened today. I don’t want to be “that guy,” but you have to read today’s latest mayhem and chaos.
Over the weekend, there may have been an alleged assassination attempt tied to Jeffrey Epstein. In a nice, quiet, upper middle class New Jersey suburb, a gunman dressed as a FedEx driver rang the doorbell and killed Daniel Anderl, a 20-year-old college student. The assailant wounded his father, Mark Anderl, 63. Law enforcement speculates that the real target was Esther Salas—a federal judge, who is Daniel’s mom and the wife of the injured husband. The judge was linked with the high-profile money laundering Deutsche Bank case involving Epstein. The shocking murder is being investigated by the FBI. Salas was in the basement at the time of the alleged hit and was not harmed in the shooting.
The FBI is investigating a shooting that occurred at the home of Judge Ester Salas in North Brunswick Township, New Jersey earlier this evening, July 19. We’re looking for one subject & ask that anyone who thinks they may have relevant information call us at 1-973-792-3001.
— FBI Newark (@FBINewark) July 20, 2020
“The FBI is investigating a shooting at the home of Judge Salas. We are working with our local and state partners,” Doreen Holder, the public information officer for the bureau’s Newark office, told Fox News.
Salas, 51, holds the distinction of being the first Hispanic female appointed to the U.S. District Court in New Jersey. She has presided over many serious cases. It’s possible that the shooting could have been tied to one of the other cases she was involved with. Seated in Newark, Salas’ most high-profile cases recently involved the tax evasion prosecution of Joe Giudice, the husband of Real Housewives of New Jersey star Theresa Giudice. She also spared a murderous gang leader from the death penalty over what she ruled was an intellectual disability that made him ineligible for capital punishment.
Salas was currently presiding over an ongoing lawsuit brought by Deutsche Bank investors who claim the company made false and misleading statements about its anti-money laundering policies, while failing to monitor “high-risk” customers, like the sex offender. Since the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, public interest in all things Epstein has been revived.
Salas was assigned to the case just four days before her husband and son were shot. A FedEx spokesperson said the company is “fully cooperating” with the investigation.
The media has focused on the massive amounts of jobs lost since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Over 51 million Americans have filed for unemployment since about mid-March.
There has been scant talk about what else is happening to workers.
It’s been reported that tens of millions of Americans who lost their jobs because of the pandemic are now in danger of losing a big chunk of their remaining income. The federal government’s enhanced unemployment benefits of $600 per week are set to expire in less than two weeks. The extra money was a lifesaver for many people. Without these funds, many families will find themselves in desperate financial straits. As people have less money to spend, businesses will suffer from lack of revenue, which puts pressure on them to lay off workers and, in turn, causes a further downward spiral.
Okay, we can use a little less stressful news to distract us. Over the weekend, we were fortunate enough to see photos of Facebook gazillionaire Mark Zuckerberg zipping around the ocean on an electric surfboard in Hawaii—while wearing enough white sunscreen on his face to make a Batman supervillain blush.
Was trying to think of who Mark Zuckerberg surfing reminded me of & then it came to me pic.twitter.com/ybue3Prbkr
— Tom Reagan’s Hat (@RufusTSuperfly) July 19, 2020
The 36 year old—who was recently accused of colonizing the Hawaian island of Kauai—was caught in this geeky moment while his security detail followed behind him on a boat on Saturday. In the snaps, Zuckerberg is shown hanging 10 on the $12,000 Efoil board, which allows users to glide above the water, alongside pro surfer Kai Lenny.
Speaking of wackiness—in his first rally for his last-minute presidential campaign, rapper and clothing empire billionaire Kanye West ranted against abortion and pornography, argued policy with attendees and, at one point, broke down in tears as he revealed that his father had wanted him aborted. West also told his audience that he and his wife Kim Kardashian almost aborted their daughter.
West, 43, boasted that his “brain [is] too big for his skull.” He appeared on stage with “2020” shaved into the back of his head and wearing what appeared to be a military-style vest.
But it was West’s criticism of abolitionist Harriet Tubman that has been met with anger by stars, including 50 Cent and Q Tip.
“Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves, she just had the slaves go work for other white people,” West proclaimed.
“Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves, she just had the slaves go work for other white people. – Kayne West 🤦🏽♂️ pic.twitter.com/6AtGTzLHIl
— Showtime (@mattcraigallday) July 19, 2020
West, a former supporter of President Donald Trump who has left voters befuddled over whether his campaign is genuine or a publicity stunt to help sell albums or merchandise, delivered rambling remarks during the event in Charleston, South Carolina. He is seeking to qualify for the state ballot as an independent candidate.
Let’s get back to the bad news about the economy and job market. At least 4 million U.S. workers have received pay cuts since February, even as they continued working the same job. Millions more have seen pay freezes, according to economists from the Federal Reserve and University of Chicago who put out a study analyzing data from the payroll processing company ADP.
Other estimates put it higher. Roughly 7 million workers have likely received a dock in pay, according to Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. Combined with those who have been forced to log fewer hours, the number climbs to 20 million people—or 1 in 8 workers—who have seen their paychecks shrink over the past few months, underscoring how much harm shutdowns have caused beyond layoffs alone.
“We have an income crisis that is even larger than a jobless crisis,” Claudia Sahm, director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, wrote on Twitter recently.
I previously reported on Forbes.com about this issue, writing that having your salary cut seems like a personal affront. Cutting pay violates the implicit agreement—even if it’s not in writing—of the contract between employee and employer. Morale and productivity may decline. The prevailing feeling may be, “Since you’re paying me less, I’ll work less.”
There’s also the awkwardness that a person is expected to still work the same amount of time and expend the usual energy and enthusiasm they previously did, but now for less money. It feels like an insult. It shows that your value has declined, even if you’ve outperformed and exceeded all expectations and goals set by your boss. Pay reductions could also be viewed as a precursor to an eventual firing.
People whose salaries are cut may feel stuck. At a time like this, there are not a lot of options open. It won’t be easy to just find another job. As soon as things get better, they’ll leave feeling that they’ve been mistreated and look forward to jumping ship. Others may view things differently. They may conclude that, at the very least, they still have a job and don’t have to brave this uncertain job market.
It seems, according to Politico, that the cuts are mostly hitting higher-wage workers.
Here’s a little more unpleasant news. According to Axios, the job market is poised to reverse gains as coronavirus cases surge. Applicants for the newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program have alarmingly risen. This new program was designed for gig-economy, self-employed and related types of workers.
The amount of people seeking unemployment benefits are now at around 1 million new claims a week. The number of continued claims, or people approved for and receiving aid under this program, rose to 14.3 million for the week ending July 4. These numbers are in addition to the all the millions of people who filed for the traditional unemployment benefits.
Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation—a separate program that provides additional benefits to individuals who previously collected state or federal unemployment compensation but exhausted those benefits—is rising toward 1 million weekly claims, with new claims touching more than 936,000 for the week ending June 27. Jobless claims are still more than double the worst weeks in U.S. history.
According to Zero Hedge, during a Sunday morning BBC news program, China’s ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming was—in a rare segment—asked point blank about viral footage, which purports to show a terrifying scene from Xinjiang province of Muslim minority Uighurs being handcuffed and loaded onto train cars.
While the footage, which appears to have been secretly caught via drone, appears to be a year old or more, it resurfaced in recent weeks, gaining millions of views and reigniting allegations of Uighur people being mass shipped to communist “reeducation” camps and sprawling detention centers.
If these videos are accurate—and they look it—how can America ethically keep any business relations with China?