Jeffrey Epstein Conspiracies and the Mysterious Deaths of the Rich and Ruined

On the evening of November 5, 1991, a Spanish fisherman spotted the body of Robert Maxwell, a controversial British press baron, floating in the Atlantic Ocean near the Canary Islands. The crew of Maxwell’s luxury motor yacht had been searching for him all day, after he vanished, that morning, with no explanation. Almost immediately, conspiracy theories emerged. Maxwell, who came to Britain as an impoverished Eastern European émigré and turned himself into a larger-than-life figure and confidant of political leaders, hadn’t ended his own life: he had been murdered. The rumored perpetrators included agents of the K.G.B. or M.I.6, or a team of frogmen from the Mossad. In support of this theory, it was pointed out that Maxwell had long been rumored to have ties to various intelligence agencies, especially the Israeli one. Maybe he had been silenced to prevent him from spilling the beans.

Almost thirty years later, some people cling to these confabulations, despite the existence of a simpler and more convincing explanation for Maxwell’s death. When he set out on his boat, he knew that the debt-burdened business empire which he had spent decades building, Maxwell Communication Corporation, was on the brink of collapse. He also knew that, in a desperate and failed effort to prevent such an outcome, he and his associates had taken hundreds of millions of pounds from M.C.C.’s employee pensions and used the money to try to prop up the company’s share price. After the inevitable bankruptcy occurred, this illegal scheme would be revealed. Maxwell would be ruined, shamed, and, most likely, sent to jail. To a man who was eaten up by pride and insecurity even as he became a well-known figure on two continents—that year, he had purchased the Daily News—the prospect of financial ruin and public humiliation was too much to take. So he jumped overboard.

Having followed Maxwell’s career closely as a financial writer and editor for the London Sunday Times, I believed at the time, and continue to believe, this version of events. It doesn’t clear up all the mysteries surrounding Maxwell’s death, such as the lack of a suicide note and the fact that a team of coroners couldn’t agree conclusively on the cause, leaving open the possibility of heart attack or accidental drowning. But suicide is intuitively plausible, and it satisfies the principle of Occam’s razor, which says that when choosing between various theories we should choose the one that provides the simplest explanation and requires the fewest auxiliary hypotheses to be true.

In a remarkable quirk of history, the stories of Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein are linked, through Maxwell’s daughter, Ghislaine. The motor yacht on which Maxwell took his last steps was called Lady Ghislaine. Shortly after his death, Ghislaine Maxwell moved to New York, where she met Epstein, becoming his girlfriend, and, according to some accounts, his procurer. (She has vigorously denied these claims.) Like Maxwell, Epstein was a self-made figure—he hailed from Coney Island and didn’t graduate from college—who lived by his wits. Like Maxwell, he cultivated prominent people even though the source of his fortune was opaque. And, like Maxwell in 1991, at the time of Epstein’s death everything was being taken away from him.

A decade ago, Epstein used his money and influence to emerge from a two-year F.B.I. investigation pleading guilty to just two state charges of soliciting prostitution, one involving a minor. This time, however, he was trapped. In July, a team of federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York had accused him of running a sex-trafficking scheme involving dozens of underage girls. A judge had denied his plea for bail. New witnesses had come forward. The case had attracted enormous publicity. Virtually everyone associated with Epstein had turned on him, including Leslie Wexner, the retail billionaire who appears to have been a primary source of Epstein’s fortune. (Last week, Wexner claimed that Epstein “misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family.”)

At sixty-six, Epstein was facing the prospect of languishing for months in a nightmarish jail that had housed the likes of John Gotti and El Chapo; facing his accusers in a criminal trial; losing his fortune in civil suits; and spending the rest of his life in a federal pen, this time without the work release he’d been granted during his first incarceration. He had lost what sociopaths like him value most: control. Based on what we know now, it appears that Epstein killed himself, in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, on Saturday morning, and that no one else was involved. In some ways, this isn’t a very satisfying explanation, and it raises important questions about why Epstein wasn’t being supervised more closely. But it fits the facts that have been revealed so far. It also fits what we know about Epstein’s psychological profile. And it doesn’t require the involvement of Mossad frogmen, or their equivalent, to be true.

But how was he allowed to do it? According to the Wall Street Journal, Epstein’s own attorneys were the ones who requested that he be taken off suicide watch. This doesn’t explain why the authorities acceded to this request when Epstein, only weeks earlier, had been found unconscious in his cell, with bruises on his neck. Similarly, we don’t know why Epstein was left alone in his cell last Friday night, or why the guards didn’t check on him at regular intervals, as the jail’s standard procedure demanded. “It remained unclear why that procedure was not followed in Mr. Epstein’s case,” the Times reported on Sunday. Bob Hood, a former senior official at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which runs the Metropolitan Correctional Center, told the Times, “The Bureau of Prisons dropped the ball. Period.”

That explanation won’t satisfy many people, of course—not with the President and members of his Administration spreading defamatory conspiracy theories about the Clintons. On Saturday, Trump retweeted a video from a conservative comedian, Terrence Williams, in which Williams suggested that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton were responsible for Epstein’s death. (Earlier on Saturday, Lynne Patton, an official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, posted a headline about Epstein’s death along with the word “Hillary’d!!” and the hashtag “#VinceFosterPartTwo.”) What the forty-fifth President appears to be intimating is that an assassin, working for the forty-second President, broke into one of the most secure jails in the country, hanged Epstein, and left without disturbing the guards or being caught on internal cameras. And perhaps the most remarkable thing is that no one is really surprised to see Trump doing this—disinformation and incitement are two of his trademarks.

Of course, Trump isn’t the only one raising questions. As I pointed out in a column last month, the Epstein saga, in addition to being a sickening sex-crime story, is really about wealth, privilege, and the ability of the super-rich to circumvent the rules that bind ordinary people. Over the weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “Something’s way too convenient here, and we need to get down to the bottom of what happened.” De Blasio, along with Republican Senator Ben Sasse, has demanded an independent probe into the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death. Could someone working for Epstein have got to the warden, or whoever made the suicide-watch decision, and to the guards? Given the way the earlier case was resolved, in 2008, and the list of names that have been associated with Epstein, such a possibility, outlandish as it sounds, needs to be investigated. Right now, though, the simplest explanation seems like the most persuasive one: Epstein wanted out, and a series of screwups allowed him to beat the system, again.

Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign?

Joe Biden’s son is under scrutiny for his business dealings and tumultuous personal life.

In today’s political culture, people running for President may announce their candidacy on the steps of their home-town city hall or on “The View,” but the full introduction comes with their book. Some candidates’ memoirs tell stories of humble beginnings and of obstacles overcome; some describe searches for identity; some earnestly set out detailed policy agendas. Nearly all are relentlessly bland. In 2017, Joe Biden, a longtime senator from Delaware, Barack Obama’s Vice-President for eight years, and now a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, published an unusually raw memoir about the death, two years earlier, of his forty-six-year-old son, Beau, describing how it had threatened to undo him but ultimately brought his family closer. Beau, his father writes, was “Joe Biden 2.0,” a war veteran, a prosecutor, and a promising politician who “had all the best of me, but with the bugs and flaws engineered out.”

How to run a multi-tenant WordPress platform on Google Kubernetes Engine

As a service provider running WordPress sites, it is all about density, density, density

WordPress is said to run 28% of all websites on the Internet. That is a phenomenal installed base of some 75 million sites. While some of these are massive sites like TechCrunch or The New Yorker, the vast majority of WordPress sites are much smaller.

That means as a WordPress hoster, your business probably follows the 80-20 rule. 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your sites. Or said another way, 80% of your sites only account for 20% of your traffic.

That means that you need to think about your business in two ways:

  1. You need to provide a reliable service to a large number of low-traffic sites while minimizing infrastructure costs since your margins come in large part by placing more sites on the same physical infrastructure.
  2. You need to provide a white-glove, highly performant and reliable experience to a small number of sites that make up the bulk of your revenue.

At the same time, you need a migration path for some sites to move from low-volume to high-volume plan, without disrupting the customer or your own internal operations teams.

 

..“Our clusters are highly dense, meaning we run a lot of containers per host. On AWS, we use huge instances. The recommendation from Kubernetes is 100 pods per VM. Already, we’re running 200-300 pods per host. Also, since most of the apps that we run are stateful, we can easily have 200-300 volumes per host as well. And we’re working to push these limits even further. Because of these densities enabled by Kubernetes and Portworx, we’re easily saving 60-90% on our compute costs. Portworx itself was between 30-50% cheaper than any other storage solution we tested.”

 

.. If you categorically knew which 20% of your customers would account for 80% of your traffic at all times, solving the noisy neighbor problem would be a one-time migration. But, because traffic patterns change over time, this is a hard problem to solve. Portworx does a few critical things to help.

First, in addition to using Kubernetes to limit pod resources like Memory and CPU, you can use Portworx to automatically place different workloads on different storage hardware for different classes of service. For instance, you might sell your customers a premium “performance” plan if they are expecting heavy usage and they are performance sensitive. Alternatively, cost-conscious customers might opt for a “budget” plan that offers reliability but doesn’t guarantee blazing fast performance. On the backend, these plans can be mapped to Portworx “storage classes” that automatically place high-end plans on SSDs and low-end plans on HHDs.

 

.. Often a hosting customer will call their service provider the day before they are going to be on a national TV and say “I really need my site to work tomorrow.” This often leads to a lot of scrambling around and manual tuning, but with PX-Motion, moving the customer to an environment with more resources is as easy as kubectl apply -f wp-migration.yaml.

The above described moving one heavy load site off a multi-tenant cluster. This is often the best option if you have some advance warning before a large traffic spike. However, in the middle of a large traffic event, it is often better to move low traffic sites away from the heavy traffic site, instead of vice versa. This is also possible with PX-Motion.

Does Joe Biden Have a #MeToo Problem?

Last week, former Vice-President Joe Biden announced his candidacy for the 2020 Presidential race. He has an early lead in polls, but several women have come forward to accuse him of inappropriate behavior, and he is facing renewed scrutiny for how, as a senator, he handled Anita Hill’s testimony during Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, in 1991. Jane Mayer and Evan Osnos join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the first Presidential campaign of the #MeToo era.