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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
November 14, 2021

Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto could be unmasked at Florida trial

Lawsuit over a $64 billion cache looks beyond the pseudonym to solve the mystery of who created the cryptocurrency

A seemingly run-of-the-mill trial is playing out in Florida: The family of a deceased man is suing his former business partner over control of their partnership’s assets.

In this case, the assets in question are a cache of about one million bitcoins, equivalent to around $64 billion today, belonging to bitcoin’s creator, the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto. The family of the dead man says he and his business partner together were Nakamoto, and thus the family is entitled to half of the fortune.

Who Satoshi Nakamoto is has been one of the financial world’s enduring mysteries. Does the name refer to one person? Or several? And why has he or she or they not touched a penny of that fortune?

The answers to those questions are at the center of the Florida dispute and of bitcoin itself. Bitcoin has become a trillion-dollar market, with tens of millions of investors. It has challenged governments trying to regulate it and has been endorsed by some. The technology behind it is seen by some as a way to rewire the global financial system. Yet, who created it and why has remained a mystery.

November 14, 2021

Florida HOA ordered by judge to pay $35 million to residents for improper fees

Each resident could receive up to $10,000 after the ruling.

POINCIANA — Residents of a 55-plus neighborhood in central Florida have been awarded nearly $35 million in a civil case following a judge’s ruling that they were charged improper homeowners’ association fees.

“It’s been a long battle,” Lita Epstein,who chairs the Poinciana Community Development District, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Each resident could receive up to $10,000 following the Nov. 2 judgment issued by Polk County Judge Wayne Durden, according to Carter Anderson, an attorney for the plaintiffs. The lawsuit represented more than 5,000 residents of the Solivita development in Poinciana, which spans parts of Polk and Osceola counties.

Developer Avatar Properties proposed a bond measure in 2015 to sell a clubhouse, pools and tennis court to the resident-run development for $73 million, the newspaper reported. However a valuation of the amenities by a certified appraiser found them only to be worth roughly a quarter of that.

November 13, 2021

Critics Question Why Kyle Rittenhouse Singled Out In Kyle Rittenhouse Trial

KENOSHA, WI—Arguing that the prosecution had demonstrated flagrant bias throughout the proceedings, critics questioned Thursday why Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger had repeatedly singled out Kyle Rittenhouse over the course of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

“Not a day has gone by during this murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse that the ADA hasn’t mentioned Kyle Rittenhouse by name and accused him of murder,” said trial observer Jim Webbins, 49, adding that he watched with rising fury as Rittenhouse took the witness stand and then became the exclusive target of Binger during his cross-examination of Rittenhouse.

“The prosecution is treating Kyle like some kind of killer just because he brought an illegal gun to a riot, escalated tensions, and then killed people. Tell me something: Why aren’t any of the rioters being prosecuted for the murder of those people Kyle shot? Huh? Answer me that.”

Webbins went on to state that the media was clearly “along for the ride,” demonstrating its bias by continually referring to Rittenhouse as the defendant.


November 13, 2021

Has Joe Manchin found an excuse to destroy President Biden's agenda?

Things seemed to be going so well for Democrats. Progressives and centrists in the House resolved (mostly) their differences over President Biden’s Build Back Better bill, and the separate infrastructure bill passed, to everyone’s delight. It looked like Biden could be heading for a pair of legislative victories that would deliver on a substantial portion of his agenda, and vital steps on pressing problems — affordable child care, health insurance, climate change, even prescription drug prices — would finally be taken.

But now, with new inflation data, the BBB is at risk of destruction. It may be possible that one eternally grumpy Democratic senator — Joe Manchin III of West Virginia — will use inflation as an excuse to kill the most important legislation of Biden’s term.

And it would be an excuse, not a justifiable response to what’s actually happening in the economy and the effect the legislation will have.

Let’s be clear: Inflation is a real problem, though if you looked at the sheer volume of headlines about it over the last week, you’d think it was running at 6000 percent rather than 6 percent. It’s a challenge, not a cataclysm; we’re not pushing wheelbarrows full of cash to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread.

That’s not something the administration can say, because it would make them sound insensitive to people’s real worries and struggles. But right now the blanket media coverage of the issue makes everyone believe things are even worse than they are, as when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer describes genuinely high gas prices by visiting a Washington gas station whose prices are nearly a dollar higher than other stations just blocks away.


Manchin does not want to Build Back Better. Manchin does not even want to Make America Great Again. What Manchin wants is to be the focus of media attention.

He has much in common with fellow small-state Senator Lindsey Graham, another attention-seeking chancre on our body politic.

November 13, 2021

DeSantis talked tough on employer vaccine mandates. Legislators reined him in.

Lawmakers in the Republican-dominated House and Senate face a dilemma as they convene a week-long special session on Monday: cross the governor who had become a national rock star with the Republican base, or find a work-around that would appease both sides.

TALLAHASSEE — When Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last month that he wanted to call a special session to penalize companies that require employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19, Sen. Aaron Bean, a veteran Republican lawmaker who has spent much of his 17-year legislative career working on healthcare issues, knew the idea was going to have problems.

“I want to stand for freedom,’’ said Bean, of Jacksonville. “But there’s also the argument that if I own a small company, and I have underlying health conditions, and I want to make sure all those that interact with me are safe, are vaccinated, who are we to tell that small business owner what they can’t do?”

Bean and other legislators were hearing from Florida businesses that they didn’t want to be told what they couldn’t do any more than they wanted the federal government to tell them what they had to do to keep their workplaces safe.

So legislators in the Republican-dominated House and Senate faced a dilemma as they convene a week-long special session on Monday: cross the governor who had become a national rock star with the Republican base, or find a work-around that would appease both sides.


It's gonna be DeSantis versus the Mouse. This will be interesting to follow.
November 12, 2021

Tough sentences for Jan. 6 rioters should freak Trump out

Scott Kevin Fairlamb on Wednesday became the recipient of the toughest sentence yet administered for the crimes committed during the Jan. 6 insurrection. Fairlamb, who pleaded guilty to charges against him, will serve 41 months in prison.

The Post recounts: “Scott Kevin Fairlamb, 44, was captured on various videos screaming profanely in support of the pro-Trump insurrection, climbing on the inauguration scaffolding outside the Capitol, and then pushing an officer into a group of people and punching the officer’s face shield, as well as briefly entering and exiting the Capitol, according to court filings and footage played in court.”

His sentence certainly stands out from those previously handed down. The Post reports: “Of the 126 people who have pleaded guilty so far, only 16 have admitted to felonies, and Fairlamb is the third felon to be sentenced. The other two felons, who were not accused of violence against the police, received sentences of eight and 14 months.”

That punishment could have serious repercussions on various fronts, including for leadership at the Justice Department. The prosecutor at the sentencing hearing warned, “It is just critical that the court’s sentence convey to future rioters that there will be very, very serious consequences for those who intend to obstruct the rule of law and obstruct democracy, particularly through assaults on law enforcement.”


November 12, 2021

Beneath the mystery of Tom Brady's greatness is a modest secret: Self-discipline

If you’re offered $400 now but you can have $550 by waiting three months, which do you take: the quick cash or more money later? The answer to that question says something about your ability to compete with Tom Brady. Because he will wait. And then he will wait some more. He will give up today’s fun for tomorrow’s reward, and eventually he will bury you with all the loose change that is the difference between his self-discipline and your itch for immediate gratification.

At 44, with most of his peers retired, limping or clutching at the disks in their backs, Brady is on a blitzing pace to throw for more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns this season as he and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers approach Sunday’s game with the Washington Football Team. This is a feat worthy of gaping incredulity, and it raises the question of what makes Brady’s clock tick. It would be sooooo convenient to think Brady came preloaded with some unattainable, far-fetched genetic gift not relevant to you. The simple truth may be more banal — and exposing — than that. His longevity may just be the product of better habits than yours and mine.

The behavioral-science term for the inability to reject immediate gratification in favor of a bigger gain is “delayed reward discounting.” People who delay-discount tend to perceive something as less valuable the longer they have to wait and work for it. Whereas others are stronger at setting and attaining more distant-horizon goals. This is “one of the most relevant predictors” of long-term success, according to Michael Sofis, a senior scientist with health services consultant firm Advocates for Human Potential. And it’s undoubtedly a contributor to Brady’s sheer longevity. He was in his 30s when he started training for his 40s, quitting sugar and white flour, among other steps. And he works in May for what might happen in February. Consider this story about him.

In the spring of 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, Brady participated in the Match II, the made-for-TV golf exhibition with Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods in Florida. It was hot and raining. Nevertheless, a couple of hours before tee-off, Charles Barkley saw Brady in the parking lot of the golf club. He was running sprints. “What the hell are you doing?” Barkley said.

“I’m trying to win a Super Bowl,” Brady replied.


November 12, 2021

Ocasio-Cortez Isn't Wavering. Are New Yorkers on Her Side?

By voting no on the infrastructure bill, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez set off a fierce debate, including among city residents eager to see the subways improved.

As the No. 6 subway train creaked toward an elevated Bronx station on Tuesday, one of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s constituents stood across the street, struggling to understand his congresswoman’s opposition to the most sweeping public works legislation in generations.

The infrastructure bill, which passed the House last week, offers New York billions of dollars, and it was a top priority for President Biden, congressional Democrats and even 13 Republicans — four of them from New York.

Yet Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and five fellow progressives voted against it; they argued that the bill was too modest and sought to use their votes to pressure wavering moderates to support a bigger climate and social safety net bill that is pending.

“Right mind-set,” said Emmet Allen, 27, the constituent who stood outside the Buhre Avenue station in Pelham Bay. “But wrong execution.”

November 12, 2021

Fugitive Jan. 6 Rioter Makes Insanely Desperate Plea on Belarus State TV

In the full special released Thursday, Neumann—who allegedly called Jan. 6 cops “little bitches”—said he’d face “torture” in America and promised to be a “good citizen” of Belarus.

Evan Neumann of Mill Valley, California is the newly minted star of state television in Minsk, Belarus.

Neumann, who is wanted in the U.S. on six criminal charges related to the attempted insurrection on Jan. 6—including two felonies for assaulting an officer—was featured in the Belarusian state TV special, “Goodbye, America,” which aired in full on Thursday. He recounted a treacherous journey through forested borderlands that landed him in Minsk and expressed his unwillingness to face justice in the United States. Neumann said he is seeking political asylum in Belarus because the U.S. is, in his opinion, no longer a country of law and order.

In Thursday’s premiere of his interview, Neumann said that unless he is able to return to the United States, he would like to stay in Belarus and perhaps get an IT job. He said that Belarus did him “a big favor” and in return promised to be “a productive and a good citizen.” Neumann mentioned living in Moscow in 1994 and complained that both Russia and Belarus are being “demonized” by the Western media. He described U.S. sanctions against both countries as “a form of terrorism.”

Neumann claimed that upon return to America, he would face certain torture. “I’m not strong enough to withstand torture,” he said, while grinning ear to ear. He expressed the need to obtain “government protection” from the United States by another country. Neumann explained his choice of a destination to the TV presenter Evgeny Gorin: “I know that Belarus resists the West. Besides that, your country was closer than Russia.” He described leaving his temporary refuge in Ukraine with only $1,000 dollars on his person and heading for the border.

In a country dealing with a severe migrant crisis in a cruel and callous way, this transplant from California is being handled in a markedly privileged way. For the Belarusian and Russian state media, he is a convenient pawn for besmirching the U.S. government. Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, repeatedly used the Capitol insurrection to take jabs at the U.S.’s election integrity and to claim that the rioters are facing “political repressions,” in an attempt to deflect from domestic issues plaguing Russia and Belarus under their authoritarian leadership.

November 12, 2021

Freeways force out residents in communities of color -- again

HOUSTON — Modesti Cooper first spotted the patch of land from 8,000 miles away.

The tree-studded lot with a “For sale” sign zoomed into focus on Google Earth seven years ago as Cooper sat at a computer inside her U.S. Air Force office in Afghanistan.

After six overseas deployments, the civilian IT worker was finally ready to settle down and had been scouring for properties in her hometown of Houston. She bought the land and built a four-story home with a pool, the letter “M” engraved in the tile.

Today, the house is slated for destruction to make way for a planned widening of Interstate 10.

Fifty years ago, Cooper’s predominantly Black neighborhood in Houston’s Fifth Ward was devastated to build the freeway. Now, another cycle of dislocation looms.


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