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July 12, 2019

The size and provenance of his wealth and the intricacies of his alleged sex trafficking operation are not the only mysteries surrounding Jeffrey Epstein. There are questions about why he did not have to register as a sex offender in New Mexico, where he owns a large ranch with a 26,700-square-foot mansion, and why prosecutors and police in New York — where his Manhattan townhouse is worth at least $100 million according to luxury real estate agent Dolly Lenz — but not judges appeared to treat him leniently.

And then there's Epstein's private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. With Epstein in jail in New York, "it's quiet now on the island of Little St. James," Bloomberg News reports. "Epstein dubbed it Little St. Jeff's. Locals have other names for it: Pedophile Island and Orgy Island." On St. Thomas, where Epstein's businesses are headquartered in an unmarked office in a nondescript strip mall, "he has been a subject of lurid speculation for as long as anyone can remember," Bloomberg says. "Tourists still take boats out to get a glimpse of the island," topped with a blue-and-white building that resembles a temple.

A former employee told Bloomberg that Epstein ferried groups of young women out to his island after they flew into St. Thomas, and the crew of groundskeepers had strict orders that Epstein could never catch sight of them. "The only unusual aspect of the main residence the former worker said he was aware of were the security boxes in two offices," Bloomberg reports. "The level of secrecy around a steel safe in Epstein's office, in particular, suggested it contained much more than just money, he said. Outside of an occasional visit by a housekeeper, no one was allowed in those rooms." Presumably, the FBI could ask a judge for access, too. Peter Weber

5:53 p.m.

Snap is finally on the upswing again after its disastrous 2018 redesign.

On Tuesday, Snapchat's parent company revealed the app gained 13 million new users in the second quarter, its largest boost since it went public in 2017. It also reported a boosted revenue of $388 million up 48% from a year earlier, sending stocks up 11% in post-market trading, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Snapchat had been either losing users or remaining stagnant from when it posted its IPO until the first quarter of 2019. It also saw a year of falling stock numbers, hitting a record low of $4.99 at the end of last year. Shares have since rebounded 180% to hit $16.50 after Snap shared its Q2 earnings Tuesday, though that's still below its debut price of $17, CNBC notes.

Snap's 203 million total user base exceeds the 192 million expectation analysts predicted for this quarter, Snap said on Tuesday. That's largely thanks to popular gender-swapping filters that apparently even helped one college student catch an alleged predator cop. An updated Android interface also helped retain and add users, Snap said. Snap expects its revenue and user base to continue growing in the third quarter, with an anticipated Q3 revenue of between $410 million and $435 million. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:10 p.m.

You might want to get the tissues out for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's eulogy for her former colleague, the late former Justice John Paul Stevens, who died last week at 99.

Ginsburg kept her remarks short and sweet, but they lent credence to reports that Stevens was not only a well-respected judicial mind, but a man of high character — with a sense of humor to go along with it.

Stevens was laid to rest in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, but CNN obtained a transcript of Ginsburg's eulogy. She spoke of how Stevens was actively playing sports and traveling across the Atlantic well into his 90s. In fact, the two of them saw each other at a conference in Lisbon, during what turned out to be the last week of Stevens' life.

On their last evening there, Ginsburg said she told Stevens that it was her dream to remain on the bench as long as he did. (Stevens, who served for 35 years, has the third longest Supreme Court tenure in U.S. history). Stevens' response? Stay longer.

At the end of the day, Ginsburg said, "in a capital city with no shortage of self-promoters" the "genuinely genial, unpretentious, and modest" Stevens "set a different tone." Read the full remarks at CNN. Tim O'Donnell

4:42 p.m.

Comedian Jon Stewart on Tuesday celebrated the Senate's passage of a bill permanently reauthorizing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, saying fighting for the cause alongside 9/11 first responders has been the "honor of my life."

Stewart spoke after the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill extending funding through 2092 in a 97-2 vote, ensuring that it remains funder for the remainder of the 9/11 first responders' lives, as NBC News reports.

"I will always be so proud to have been associated" with the fight to extend the fund, Stewart said on Tuesday. "...We can never repay all that the 9/11 community has done for our country, but we can stop penalizing them. And today is that day that they can exhale." Stewart went on to say that "unfortunately, the pain and suffering of what the heroes go through is going to continue," but today should "begin the process of being able to heal."

The former Daily Show host blasted Congress in a fiery, viral testimony last month, pleading with lawmakers to permanently extend the fund. But Stewart clearly didn't want to take too much credit for the bill's passage, sarcastically quipping after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) heaped praise on him, "Yes, I think we can all agree I'm the real hero."

9/11 first responder and advocate for the fund Jon Feal also spoke on Tuesday after embracing Stewart, saying there's "no joy" or "comfort" in passing the bill after "18 years of pain and suffering." After deciding he'll miss "nothing" about Washington, D.C., Feal blasted the two Senators who voted against passing the bill, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), pointing to the overwhelmingly successful vote and telling them, "We whipped your asses." Brendan Morrow

4:41 p.m.

Harsher words have never been tweeted.

On Tuesday, a very confusing thread popped up on the account of U.K. Independent MP Jared O'Hara. It was seemingly written in the third person, calling "Jared" the "most disgustingly morally bankrupt person I have ever had the displeasure of working with." And that was far from the most incendiary comment in the thread.

The thread goes on to accuse O'Mara of having a "vile, inexcusable contempt for the people who voted you in" and relays the authors' fears that O'Mara will close down his whole office "once again" after this thread. The tweet's author then finally reveals himself as Gareth Arnold, whose Twitter bio says he "use to work for an MP."

O'Mara has had a troubled two years in Parliament, quickly coming under fire for misogynist and homophobic comments he made online long before his election. He soon resigned from the Labour party and became an independent. In April, he temporarily shut down his office after most of his staffers quit or were fired — something Arnald referenced in his tweets.

The thread stayed up for more than an hour, likely because of this reason Arnold tweeted from his own account.

Journalist Yashar Ali soon noted that Arnold is known for trolling right-wing politicians with massive online campaigns.

3:47 p.m.

In addition to the risks of nasty sunburns or shark attacks that we all think of when summer comes, new research suggests we might want to add another risk onto our radar: that of drug addiction.

A new study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine on Tuesday, shed light on a disturbing trend, revealing that people are more likely to try a drug for the first time during summer. In some cases, that's just a teenager trying marijuana for the first time; but other instances aren't so harmless. The study found that a third of LSD use, 30 percent of ecstasy use, and 28 percent of cocaine use began during the summer months.

So why summer? Some of it might have to do with the fact that school isn't in session. Having a sudden influx of free time can lead to "a slight but consistent increase" in young people's willingness to try new drugs, CNN reported. But the change isn't restricted just to teenagers: Adults, too, may have more exposure to situations where they might be offered drugs. "If you're going out, maybe just because of the warmer weather, you might be hanging out with people more," explained Joseph Palamar, the study's lead author. Simply being around other people, at places like the beach or a music festival, can increase your risk of being offered drugs.

Unfortunately, summer weather can make it unsafe to try drugs for the first time: "If you try ecstasy on a whim, and you're drunk, and you're dancing in 90-degree weather, that is dangerous," Palamar said. Because drugs can have unexpected effects on the body, taking them without planning ahead can be especially risky.

Read more about this strange seasonal trend at CNN. Shivani Ishwar

3:39 p.m.

Article II of the United States Constitution bestows executive power on the office of the presidency. For example, the article establishes the president as the commander-in-chief of the military and grants the office the power of pardons. But it's also sandwiched between Articles I and III, which are the foundations for the powers of the legislative and judiciary branches. You know, the whole checks and balances thing. It's unclear, however, if President Trump understands this.

During a speech at Turning Point USA's Teen Action Summit, Trump played his usual hits. But while railing against the Democrats for their "witch hunt" into 2016 Russian election interference and alleged obstruction of justice, Trump mentioned that he has "an Article II," which would allow him to do whatever he pleases.

But rest assured, he said he doesn't "even talk about that."

Trump has, in fact, talked about it on more than one occasion, often in the context of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

It appears that Trump usually brings up Article II when he's arguing that he could have fired Mueller and didn't. As The Washington Post's Aaron Blake pointed out, Trump might not actually think he has wide-reaching, unchecked powers as president — just that he could have put an end to the investigation. Whatever he believes, he's managed to get everyone talking about it. Tim O'Donnell

3:37 p.m.

Six months after airing the hit documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, Lifetime is tackling the Jeffrey Epstein case.

The network on Tuesday announced its new documentary Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, which comes after the financier earlier this month was arrested and hit with sex trafficking charges as prosecutors say he sexually abused dozens of underage girls. The series will examine how Epstein "used his money and connections to wealthy and powerful people to allegedly shield predatory behavior with girls," reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly, which delved into the years of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B singer and interviewed some of his alleged victims, brought renewed outrage to the case and was a ratings hit for the network. The month after it aired, Kelly was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and he was recently arrested on additional federal sex crime charges. Page Six recently reported that these federal charges came "after a Homeland Security Investigations agent watched the Lifetime series Surviving R. Kelly." Kelly has denied the allegations.

Prior to his recent arrest, Epstein previously pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in Florida but ultimately only served 13 months, during which time he was allowed to leave for hours a day. New criticism over the controversial plea deal offered to Epstein led to the recent resignation of President Trump's former Labor Secretary, Alex Acosta, a former Florida prosecutor.

The announcement of Surviving Jeffrey Epstein came during the Television Critics Association press tour, during which Lifetime also announced a film based on the college admissions scandal as well as a follow-up to Surviving R. Kelly itself called The Aftermath. A+E Networks President Rob Sharenow, Deadline reports, touted the network on Tuesday as providing a "platform for women to have their voices heard." Brendan Morrow

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