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Witness recounts massage as government rests case against Maxwell

Jacob Scott

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A woman testified that when she was 16-years-old Ghislaine Maxwell gave her a nude massage, as the government on Friday rested its sex trafficking case against the British socialite and former Jeffrey Epstein confidante.

Annie Farmer told jurors she had been a high school student eager to talk about university plans while visiting Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico when Maxwell suggested a massage. She disrobed at Maxwell’s direction, Farmer said. After some time, Maxwell pulled down a sheet, she added, and began to rub the upper part of her breasts.

“I was very uncomfortable and fearful and wanted to get off the table,” Farmer recalled on Friday, occasionally sobbing.

She also testified that Epstein climbed into bed with her on the trip, prompting her to take refuge in the bathroom, and that Maxwell showed her how to massage his feet. “He seemed to be enjoying it. He made groaning noises,” Farmer recalled.

Farmer had gone on the weekend trip believing that it was a group event for promising students funded by Epstein, David Mulligan, her high school boyfriend, testified. “But she told me when she arrived she was the only girl there,” Mulligan recalled.

Farmer told the FBI in 2006 that “Epstein or Maxwell” was responsible for cancelling her older sister’s trip to the ranch that weekend at the last minute, essentially leaving her isolated and vulnerable.

She was the last of four women accusers to take the stand against Maxwell during a two-week government case that has featured often harrowing testimony. Prosecutors are seeking to prove that Maxwell helped groom girls, some as young as 14, for Epstein to sexually abuse. In some instances, prosecutors also say she participated.

Maxwell has denied wrongdoing. Her lawyers have accused the government of trying to make her a scapegoat for Epstein, who died by suicide in a New York jail cell after his arrest in July 2019. They have also claimed that the government’s witnesses are seeking a financial “jackpot”, as Bobbi Sternheim, one of Maxwell’s lawyers, put it.

The four accusers include an American soap opera actress, an aspiring British singer, a single mother with a drug problem and Farmer, a psychologist. All grew up in circumstances where their father was not present, either because of death or divorce. They were also, to varying degrees, financially strapped, they testified.

Farmer is the only one of the four accusers to use her full name in court. Her testimony was not part of the criminal charges against Maxwell because she met the legal age of consent in New Mexico — 16 — during the relevant period. Still, her account was consistent with a pattern that prosecutors have established with other accusers: promises of patronage by Epstein led to social outings with him and Maxwell that soon veered into adult and sexualised situations.

Farmer met Epstein through her older sister, Maria, who worked for him as an artist in New York City, she said. He paid for her to fly from Arizona for a Christmas visit in 1995. In her teenage diary, she recalled the delight of seeing The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and drinking champagne at Epstein’s mansion. But she also expressed unease at his behaviour when the trio went to the movies. Epstein, she testified, began caressing her hand and rubbing her leg while her sister sat on his other side.

“It was a little weird. One of those things that’s hard to explain,” she wrote in a diary entry from January 7, 1996 that was shown to the court. She added: “I think he’s just a relaxed guy and likes to flirt or was being fatherly or something. I know this sounds like me trying to justify him doing something weird, but it isn’t.”

Epstein repeated the behaviour, more blatantly, Farmer said when she went to the movies with him and Maxwell during the New Mexico trip in April. She would later scold herself, Mulligan testified, for not having the courage to report the abuse. She was fearful, he said, that doing so would jeopardise her sister’s job with Epstein.

On cross-examination, Laura Menninger, Maxwell’s attorney, established that there was no mention of her client in Farmer’s diaries. She also confirmed that Farmer had kept a pair of cowboy boots that Epstein had bought her during the trip, and continued to wear them over the years — suggesting her experience had not been so traumatic.

She did not wear them to work, Farmer said, but she allowed: “I did wear them when I went two-stepping.”

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‘Moon Knight’ Took Marvel in a Different Orbit, but It Didn’t Rise to the Occasion

Jacob Scott

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Before anyone writes that off as an anomaly, “Eternals” tackled a similar introduction of a dense mythology on the bigger screen, with equally mixed results. It’s a reminder that while film-goers have had more than a decade to get to know characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, introducing some of these lesser-known heroes can pose a more formidable challenge beyond catering to the most ardent fans.
For Marvel, there are warning signs in that, since “Moon Knight” will be followed by several series based on second-tier characters, although the next two on the horizon, “Ms. Marvel” (which is due in June) and “She-Hulk,” at least have the benefit of sharing franchises and name recognition with existing Avengers.
Ultimately, “Moon Knight’s” murky storytelling appeared to squander its principal assets, which included the cool look of the character — a costume that was too seldom used — and the presence of Isaac, who possesses additional genre credentials via the “Star Wars” sequels.

Taking its time in peeling back the layers of the character’s complicated backstory, “Moon Knight” took a weird plunge into the Egyptian mythology behind it, in ways that became increasingly confounding and surreal.

By the time the protagonist’s two halves, Steven Grant and Marc Spector, wound up in a psychiatric hospital talking to an anthropomorphic hippo in the penultimate chapter, the question wasn’t so much being able to keep up with the story as whether bothering to do so was worth the effort.

The sixth and final episode brought the plot to a messy close, seeking to stop the goddess Ammit from proceeding to “purify the souls of Cairo, and then the world.” In the customary credit sequence, the producers capped that off by introducing a third personality, Jake Lockley, also rooted in the comics. While that seemingly spelled the end for the show’s villain (Ethan Hawke), the finish — giving the god Khonshu the protégé he sought — paved the way for further adventures should Marvel so choose.

That last twist might be cause for celebration in narrower confines of the Marvel fan universe, but “Moon Knight” too often felt like it was one long Easter-egg sequence, conspicuously preaching to that choir.

Granted, Marvel has made clear that Disney+ offers the chance to explore different kinds of stories, but “Moon Knight” feels at best like a quirky showcase for Isaac and at worst a failed experiment in terms of execution and tone.

That doesn’t mean this “Moon” won’t somehow rise again, if the closely held streaming data justifies it. But the promise that surrounded this property has faded, providing further evidence that even Marvel isn’t immune from setbacks as it moves into its next phase.

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Start-up Pony.ai says it’s the first self-driving company to get a taxi license in China

Jacob Scott

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Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai handout

BEIJING — Self-driving start-up Pony.ai announced Sunday it received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars as traditional taxis in the Nansha district of the southern city of Guangzhou, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, which is backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing city late last year to charge fees to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It is not the same as a taxi licence.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also received approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving testing in China and/or other countries, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other large Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California. 

Robotaxis in China currently have a human driver present for safety.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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How to watch Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time

Jacob Scott

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Who’s Playing

Memphis @ Minnesota

Current Records: Memphis 2-1; Minnesota 1-2

What to Know

The Memphis Grizzlies’ road trip will continue as they head to Target Center at 10 p.m. ET this past Saturday to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis will be strutting in after a win while Minnesota will be stumbling in from a loss.

The Grizzlies are hoping for another victory. They beat the Timberwolves 104-95 this past Thursday. The victory came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 39-21 deficit. Memphis’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 20 points in addition to eight rebounds, and shooting guard Desmond Bane, who shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points and six boards.

Barring any buzzer beaters, Memphis is expected to win a tight contest. They might be worth taking a chance on against the spread as they are currently on a two-game streak of ATS wins.

Memphis’ win brought them up to 2-1 while the Timberwolves’ defeat pulled them down to a reciprocal 1-2. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: The Grizzlies come into the game boasting the second most points per game in the league at 115.6. But Minnesota is even better: they rank first in the league when it comes to points per game, with 115.9 on average. Tune in for what’s sure to be a high-scoring contest.

How To Watch

When: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota TV: ESPN Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.) Follow: CBS Sports App Ticket Cost: $76.96

Odds

The Grizzlies are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Timberwolves, according to the latest NBA odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Grizzlies as a 3-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

See NBA picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Memphis have won 19 out of their last 28 games against Minnesota.

Apr 21, 2022 – Memphis 104 vs. Minnesota 95 Apr 19, 2022 – Memphis 124 vs. Minnesota 96 Apr 16, 2022 – Minnesota 130 vs. Memphis 117 Feb 24, 2022 – Minnesota 119 vs. Memphis 114 Jan 13, 2022 – Memphis 116 vs. Minnesota 108 Nov 20, 2021 – Minnesota 138 vs. Memphis 95 Nov 08, 2021 – Memphis 125 vs. Minnesota 118 May 05, 2021 – Memphis 139 vs. Minnesota 135 Apr 02, 2021 – Memphis 120 vs. Minnesota 108 Jan 13, 2021 – Memphis 118 vs. Minnesota 107 Jan 07, 2020 – Memphis 119 vs. Minnesota 112 Dec 01, 2019 – Memphis 115 vs. Minnesota 107 Nov 06, 2019 – Memphis 137 vs. Minnesota 121 Mar 23, 2019 – Minnesota 112 vs. Memphis 99 Feb 05, 2019 – Memphis 108 vs. Minnesota 106 Jan 30, 2019 – Minnesota 99 vs. Memphis 97 Nov 18, 2018 – Memphis 100 vs. Minnesota 87 Apr 09, 2018 – Minnesota 113 vs. Memphis 94 Mar 26, 2018 – Memphis 101 vs. Minnesota 93 Dec 04, 2017 – Memphis 95 vs. Minnesota 92 Feb 04, 2017 – Memphis 107 vs. Minnesota 99 Nov 19, 2016 – Memphis 93 vs. Minnesota 71 Nov 01, 2016 – Minnesota 116 vs. Memphis 80 Oct 26, 2016 – Memphis 102 vs. Minnesota 98 Mar 16, 2016 – Minnesota 114 vs. Memphis 108 Feb 19, 2016 – Memphis 109 vs. Minnesota 104 Jan 23, 2016 – Minnesota 106 vs. Memphis 101 Nov 15, 2015 – Memphis 114 vs. Minnesota 106

Injury Report for Minnesota

No Injury Information

Injury Report for Memphis

Dillon Brooks: Game-Time Decision (Foot) Santi Aldama: Out (Knee) Killian Tillie: Out (Knee)

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