LONELY AMERICANS WERE SWINDLED OUT OF MILLIONS IN ROMANCE SCAMS:
In the first three quarters of 2021, Americans lost $343M+ to romance scams, per an analysis by Atlas VPN. That’s more than all of 2020, in which Americans reported $304M in romance scams to the FTC, up 50% from 2019.
What’s a romance scam? According to the FBI, it’s when a scammer uses a bogus online persona to build a relationship with someone they later con out of money. Romance scammers typically lurk on dating sites or social media to find victims, and may be part of a criminal organization. Common targets are lonely or vulnerable people over 50, often women. Scammers establish trust and affection, then ask for money – perhaps for medical or legal fees, debt, or travel expenses. And they usually want it via some less traceable means, like gift or reload cards, transfers, or crypto.
Why the boom in romance scams? One theory: the pandemic. People have a good excuse for not wanting to meet in person and have been more isolated than ever. A recent study found 36% of Americans are feeling “serious loneliness.” Some scammers are brazen enough to do it in person, like John Meehan – subject of The Los Angeles Times’ “Dirty John” series – or Derek Alldred, who, per The Atlantic, scammed 12+ women out of ~$1M.
Widow of Slain Police Officer Earns Standing Ovation as She Torches Soft-On-Crime DA:
Dominique Luzuriaga laid into Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg during the funeral for her late husband, rookie New York City Police officer Jason Rivera, earning a standing ovation from the police officers who filled St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Luzuriaga, who struggled to hold back tears throughout her remarks, began with the regret that she and her husband of only a few months had argued before he left for work that day. “You know it’s hard being a cop’s wife sometimes. It is hard being patient when plans were canceled or we would go days without seeing each other or when you had to write a report that would take forever because you had to voucher so many things,” Luzuriaga said, going on to say that what followed that argument was the phone call she hoped no one else ever had to take. “My heart dropped,” she said, after learning that two police officers had been shot in Harlem. “I immediately texted you and asked you, ‘Are you okay? Please tell me you’re okay. I know that you are mad right now but just text me you are okay. At least tell me you are busy.’ I get no response. We used to share locations on ‘Find My iPhone’ and when I checked yours I see you are at Harlem Hospital. I thought maybe you were sitting on a perp. But still, nothing. I called and then called again and then called one more time. And this time I felt something wasn’t right.” Then came the phone call, she said, and she had to go to the hospital. “Dozens of people were surrounding me and yet, I felt alone. I couldn’t believe you left me. Seeing you in that hospital bed wrapped up in sheets and not hearing you when I was talking to you broke me,” she continued. “I was lost. I’m still lost.”
States are Making Bank Off Weed Taxes:
In 2020, US cannabis sales hit a record $17.5B, per Forbes. But a new report from the Marijuana Policy Project found that states are also profiting. The 18 states that have legalized recreational cannabis have raked in $10.4B in tax revenue since 2014.
The report does not include local tax revenues…but cities pull in money, too. Denver has generated $237.5M. California’s West Hollywood sees itself as a future Amsterdam. It currently has six dispensaries in 1.8 square miles, generating $2.2M a year.
Where does the money go? Every state is different, but many support schools, infrastructure, or nonprofits. For example, Colorado splits its money among funds including the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Fund. Since 2014, it has received $325M+ in excise taxes. California has given ~$100M to organizations that work with communities harmed by the war on drugs, per AP News. Michigan generated $45.7M in 2020 from excise taxes and fees, which it splits between its School Aid Fund, the Michigan Transportation Fund, municipalities and counties, and admin costs.
A 2021 study from the Pew Research Center found that only 8% of U.S. adults think cannabis should be illegal, while 31% are cool with medical use and 60% are fine with recreational use, too.
Examiner – Lens:
Tamara Rojo will succeed Helgi Tomasson as the artistic director of San Francisco Ballet.
Mexican Cartel Assassin Cuts Out and Eats Heart of Rival Gang Member in Horror Warning:
A Mexican cartel assassin butchered one of his rivals, cut his heart out and took bites from it in harrowing footage posted online as a warning to other gang members. It is understood that the mutilated corpse in the video belongs to a gunman working for the Sinaloa Cartel, whose former leader, Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, otherwise known as “El Chapo,” is serving a life sentence in a U.S. maximum security prison in Colorado. Mexico’s most dominant and dangerous drug gang is now headed by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, known for keeping a lower profile than his predecessor, and Guzmán’s three sons. The description for the video on the blog borderlandbeat.com reads: “A new video from the Mexican underworld has just surfaced online. For this broadcast a fallen Mayo Zambada gunman lies dead on the ground next to other deceased individuals.
The History of Nails:
In 1810, nails – for carpentry and such – were as big a share of the U.S. economy as personal computers for household use or personal air travel are today. So writes Daniel Sichel, an economist at Wellesley College, in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper released last month, “The Price of Nails Since 1695: A Window Into Economic Change.” In the 1700s, nails were so expensive that people would burn down old buildings to make it easier to recover the nails from them. Nail prices fell about 1.5% annually from the late 1700s to the middle of the 20th century compared with overall consumer prices, Sichel calculates. Since then, he writes, inflation-adjusted nail prices have risen, “reflecting in part an upturn in materials prices and a shift toward specialty nails in the wake of import competition, though the introduction of nail guns partly offset these increases for the price of installed nails.”
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Examiner – 20 Years – A Look At 2002
The LBN Examiner was founded on June 1, 2002, an incredible 20 years ago. Let’s take a look back at what was going on in 2002:
** George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law January 8, 2002.
** Halle Berry became the first Black actress to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for playing Leticia Musgrove, a widowed waitress, in the 2001 film Monster’s Ball.
Examiner – Did You Know?
** Did you know that in the previous year, that over 10,400,000 readers viewed the LBN Examiner in all 50 of the United States in 26 foreign countries?
Examiner – A Look Back:
Led Zeppelin – The musicians were diabolically bad as people, and satanically good as performers. If half the band’s energy was proto-punk destruction, the other half was brilliantly refined restoration.
Examiner – Commentary by Nellie Bowles:
** Is an armed robbery really so bad? Manhattan’s new district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has put out new directives for his prosecutors. And it’s a doozy. The new directives he sent out indicate that if you do an armed robbery of a business, but the gun isn’t loaded and no one is seriously injured, you ought to be prosecuted for petty larceny (a misdemeanor). Garage or backyard storage unit break-ins are downgraded (if the guy’s not in your bedroom itself, were you even robbed?). Drug dealers believed to be low-level will be charged only with a misdemeanor. He won’t prosecute: turnstile jumping, traffic infractions, trespassing, and resisting arrest for many types of crimes. “The Office will not seek a carceral sentence other than for homicide,” Bragg wrote, or for very extreme cases like violent felonies with a deadly weapon that cause serious injury. Otherwise: Back on the street. Upon taking office, Bragg immediately dropped the probe in former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of (and hiding of) nursing home deaths.
** Sad: The comedian Patton Oswalt posted a photo with his long-time buddy Dave Chappelle. Then he got yelled at. Dave Chappelle, who we love, is *bad,* apparently. So Patton Oswalt posted a really depressing apology. “I’m sorry, truly sorry, that I didn’t consider the hurt this would cause,” he wrote, along with a photo of himself alone, downcast and hunched over legal pads. It’s so sad watching people try to stay in Good Standing. It’s sad watching a grown man throw his friend under the bus. For what? To make the 10 meanest people on Twitter like you?
** What’s cancel-worthy one year is common sense the next: Speaking of things that get you yelled at for no good reason, here’s one: suggesting Covid severity is linked to obesity and that healthy lifestyles are protective. That was considered racist to say. Now, finally – and uselessly since the worst of this pandemic is over – CNN is coming out this week saying that weight matters and losing weight helps one fight the virus off. But don’t worry, we still have the Times with an essay this week on why “diet culture is immoral.”
Examiner – Polling Update:
Jesse Watters put President Biden’s polling numbers in perspective. Dentists are more popular than Biden. Bugs are more popular than Biden. The Confederate flag is more popular than he is. And the most dramatic, broccoli is more popular than Biden.
Examiner – Lens:
Ron Perelman, the chairman and chief executive of MacAndrews & Forbes, which is best known for overseeing Revlon, in his Upper East Side office, where he displays some of his art collection, including works by Cy Twombly and Giacometti.
Examiner – (Notable) Remarks:
** Two years into this pandemic, we know something crucial that we didn’t know at its start: Children, miraculously, face a negligible risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19. And yet kids – from preschool to university – have borne the burden of our most draconian policies. While the rest of us have returned to bars and restaurants, pre-schoolers are still in masks. The Los Angeles school district announced last Friday that “masking will be required at all times, indoors and outdoors.” The extent to which COVID policies have disrupted the social, intellectual, and emotional growth of American kids – including some of the poorest and most vulnerable – is among the most morally urgent issues right now. —- Bari Weiss
** Your lifetime investing returns are overwhelmingly determined by how you behave when the market gets wild like it is now. Napoleon’s definition of a military genius was “the man who can do the average thing when everyone else around him is losing his mind.” —- Morgan Housel, author of The Psychology of Money
** We have been exceptionally lucky that COVID-19 largely spares the young. This isn’t to say that the virus hasn’t brought tragedy to some families. But we should keep perspective: More children have died or been hospitalized from the flu in many seasons, than have from COVID in each of the past two years. And yet, for those two years, many young Americans have been robbed of normal schooling and normal interactions with their peers. We have demanded that young people bear the heaviest burden of our policies for the sake of those who are more vulnerable. —- David Zweig, Writer for the Atlantic, New York magazine, Wired, and other outlets. Author of INVISIBLES and, forthcoming, AN ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION
** “Be silent, if you choose, but when it is necessary, speak – and speak in such a way that people will remember it.” —- Mozart
** Peer review is both the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of the scientific research system. It filters out bad work and makes good work better. But it can also slow down the dispersal of new ideas, which is a big problem when it comes to tackling fast-changing challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic. And, of course, peer review can fail. Retraction Watch, a website, maintains a list of more than 100 COVID-19 research papers that were peer reviewed, published and then had to be retracted. —- Peter Coy, N.Y. Times
** Cyberweapons have changed international relations more profoundly than any advance since the advent of the atomic bomb. In some ways, they are even more profoundly destabilizing – they are cheap, easily distributed and can be deployed without consequences to the attacker. Dealing with their proliferation is radically changing the nature of state relations, as Israel long ago discovered and the rest of the world is now also beginning to understand. —- Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti, N.Y. Times
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Examiner – Investigates:
** Time to settle every internet debate, ever. READ
** Engineering firm unveils a flying boat. READ
** Chain saw tops list of TSA’s strangest finds from the past year. READ
** The Epstein-Barr virus found to be a potential leading cause of multiple sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease affecting almost 1 million Americans. READ
** Russia says it has arrested 14 people associated with the prominent hacker group REvil; the group was responsible for an attack on Microsoft Exchange servers that affected more than 30,000 U.S. organizations. READ
** Martin Luther King Jr. interview on his philosophy of nonviolence. WATCH
“Intel for Influencers” – Who Reads the LBN Examiner?
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Examiner – Reader Question:
Should the government require private employers to mandate the COVID vaccine?
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Jasmine Rae Cakes Sculpts Wedding Cake Masterpieces Worldwide:
Jasmine Rae de Lung cake designs, appearing in VOGUE and Wedding Rule’s Top 10 Wedding Cake Bakers, are whimsical, organic, surprising, or even austere – a diaphanous wisp of rice paper or a chemical explosion of sugar. @JasmineRaeCakes sculpts masterpieces worldwide from Italy, Dubai, Malaysia and more.
The pandemic has been changing the x-factors of Jasmine Rae Cakes’ external world. As a result, Jasmine Rae has become more committed to her voice as an artist and forges a way for her to stand out in her fine art inspired uniqueness. Jasmine Rae de Lung was born in San Francisco. She earned her master’s while running her cake studio Jasmine Rae Cakes, established in 2006. With a formal art background, a mural-painting business, and a B.A. in Cognitive Science and a M.A. in Psychology, she designs cakes with nuanced revelation. The cornerstone of Jasmine Rae’s work is the natural process – relying on experienced skills to set up her materials and revel in their surprise; to surrender to the contortion of a rice paper petal as it dries; and constantly be responding to the cake as it forms. She holds her client in mind, replaying the parts of herself that overlap with theirs, their vision, their celebration, until they have an outcome that is personal and authentic.
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Examiner – Cartoon:
“Do you have any true-crime podcasts?”
Examiner – A Different View:…
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