Michael Lewis Reveals His Shocking New “Big Short”

When the award-winning author of “The Big Short,” “The Blind Side” and “Moneyball,” stopped by Yahoo Finance yesterday to discuss his latest book, “The Undoing Project,” he was predictably asked for his next “Big Short” idea.  And, after downplayi…

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One Year After The Election; Where Does The Trump Rally Rank?

Via LPLResearch.com,
It’s hard to believe, but the U.S. Presidential Election was a year ago today. Per Ryan Detrick, Senior Market Strategist,
“Although no one at the time would have believed it, the 12 months since Election Day have been …

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Will Xi Offer Trump A Small Victory On Trade As Cover For His Longer-Term Ambitions

On Monday, Trump pressed Japan’s Prime Minister and business leaders to reduce the $69 billion trade deficit. A couple of badly made jokes, awkward moments and an unfair singling out of the auto industry later, we expressed our scepticism that th…

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Donna Brazile Exposes “The Cult Of Clinton” – She Lost Due To “Arrogance”

Former Chair of The DNC, Donna Brazile, continues on her 12-step program to Clinton-sobriety today telling MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough that the “arrogant” Clinton campaign was more like “cult” than a political campaign.

As Grabien reports, Brazile said of the Clinton campaign…

“It was a cult,” 

 

“I felt like it was a cult.”

Brazile further said that the main reason Clinton lost was due to her “arrogance.”

Brazile pulls no punches…

SCARBOROUGH: “Bottom line it for us. Why did they lose? Was it, at the end of the day, arrogance?”

BRAZILE: “Yes, Joe. It was a cult, I felt like it was a cult. You could not penetrate them. I mean, I — look, you can — I’m a grassroot organizer. I know street politics better than I know sweet politics. I know how to touch people where they live, work, pray, and play. But I cannot help a candidate, Joe, if I don’t have the resources, if I cannot spend the resources that the party is raising because there’s a blind agreement between…“

BRZEZINSKI: “…Exactly…”

BRAZILE: “…A campaign…”

BRZEZINSKI: “…Unspoken even”

BRAZILE: “…And, again, I want my party to come back from this stronger. I like what Tom Perez is doing. I know he said this is not about my book. Baby, I know it’s not about my book. But it’s about making much-needed changes and reform inside the party. I’ve sat at the table. I want to make room for others to sit at the table, but you have to come into the room knowing you have to change the recipe. Yesterday was a wake-up call for the Democrats, too. Because you know what? It’s coming from the bottom up. It’s not top-down anymore. It’s bottom-up politics now.

Read more here…

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America’s “Abject Servitude” Is Now Exposed

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

These are the poisoned fruits of a neofeudal system in which power, wealth and political influence are concentrated in the apex of the wealth-power pyramid.

Stripped of pretense, ours is a culture of rape. Apologists for the system that spawned this culture of rape claim that this violence is the work of a few scattered sociopaths. The apologists are wrong: The system generates a culture of rape.

The engine of our culture of rape is the elevation of the entitled-insider class to untouchability: they are above the law, and more equal than others in their freedom to impose every sick sociopathology known to humanity on the powerless peasants imprisoned in our noxious neofeudal system.

For the true sickness of our society and culture is measured not in the vile crimes of our entitled-insider class: it’s measured by the armies of enablers, protectors, enforcers and apologists who protect the entitled-insider class from exposure and justice. After 25 years of blatant abuse of power and crimes that have yet to enter the court docket, 25 years during which the cream of the American media purposefully ignored his blatant abuses of power, the moldering putrid remains of American journalism has finally emerged from its fetid nests, trembling in the unaccustomed brightness of day, to “report,” 25 years too late to save his innumerable victims, Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies (New Yorker).

You know how incestuous and cowardly our entitled-insider class is, and how they operate: for 25 long years, editors in the self-glorifying citadels of American journalism killed every story that would have exposed Mr. Weinstein’s actions to the world.

The same can be said of all the other predators hiding beneath the cloak of secrecy that protects the entitled-insider class from exposure.

Voracious predators like Bill Clinton mastered the fine art of forcing consensuality on their innumerable victims, considering the act of forced sex as little more than a standard perquisite of power, much like having the hotel door opened by servants.

The armies of spies, informers, PR flacks, security guards, attorneys, thugs, sycophants and handlers didn’t just enable predatory exploitation of the peasantry: they actively recruited victims and set them up, just as powerless maids were trapped in the chambers of lords in feudal times.

The truly sick reality of our culture of rape is that nobody involved reckoned they were doing anything wrong. The sociopathological predators reckoned they were simply exercising their droit du seigneur, their right to take any woman they desired as a privilege of belonging to the entitled-insider class.

Every single individual in the vast armies of spies, informers, PR flacks, security guards, attorneys, thugs, sycophants and handlers were simply doing their job, doing what they were told to avoid reprimand or being fired. In other words, every one of these individuals was a good German, pulling the trigger, defending predators from justice, protecting the most vile, sick abusers of power from exposure and attacking any victim who dared speak the truth, because, well, they were paid to do so.

Were there no other jobs in America other than protecting evil predators from exposure and justice? Or did these good Germans secretly revel in their proximity to power, much like the SS reveled in their proximity to Nazi power? All you good Germans who served your overlords so well: please don’t deny the thrill of being close to sociopathological power. Or were you just too afraid of losing your own pretty perquisites?

These are the poisoned fruits of a neofeudal system in which power, wealth and political influence are concentrated in the apex of the wealth-power pyramid, a system so corrupted that predators don’t just get off scot-free, they are celebrated as wunnerful guys because their abuses of power are so well hidden, their victims so well marginalized and their PR flacks so relentless in painting over the rotting flesh of their corruption.

While tens of thousands of men and women rot away in America’s teeming Drug War gulag, the exploiters and predators of our entitled-insider class are free to ruin and rape. It’s time we stop making excuses for the predators of our entitled-insider class, stop accepting the cover provided by the worm-ridden decaying corpse of our corporate media, and stop the armies of Good German executioners who have bludgeoned every attempt to expose the truth of our pervasive culture of rape, exploitation and pillage.

Our abject servitude is now exposed. We are peasants and debt-serfs imprisoned in a deeply corrupt and oppressive neofeudal society. Will we ever tire of worshiping our predatory entitled-insider class exploiters?

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. Check out both of my new books, Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print) and Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print, $5.95 audiobook) For more, please visit the OTM essentials website.

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Real Motive Behind Saudi Purge Emerges: $800 Billion In Confiscated Assets

From the very beginning, there was something off about Sunday’s unprecedented countercoup purge unleashed by Mohammad bin Salman on alleged political enemies, including some of Saudi Arabia’s richest and most powerful royals and government officials: it was just too brazen to be a simple “power consolidation” move; in fact most commentators were shocked by the sheer audacity, with one question outstanding: why take such a huge gamble? After all, there was little chatter of an imminent coup threat against either the senile Saudi King or the crown prince, MbS, and a crackdown of such proportions would only boost animosity against the current ruling royals further.

Things gradually started to make sense when it emerged that some $33 billion in oligarch net worth was “at risk” among just the 4 wealthiest arrested Saudis, which included the media-friendly prince Alwaleed.

One day later, a Reuters source reported that in a just as dramatic expansion of the original crackdown, bank accounts of over 1,200 individuals had been frozen, a number which was growing by the minute. Commenting on this land cashgrab, we rhetorically asked “So when could the confiscatory process end? As we jokingly suggested yesterday, the ruling Saudi royal family has realized that not only can it crush any potential dissent by arresting dozens of potential coup-plotters, it can also replenish the country’s foreign reserves, which in the past 3 years have declined by over $250 billion, by confiscating some or all of their generous wealth, which is in the tens if not hundreds of billions. If MbS continues going down the list, he just may recoup a substantial enough amount to what it makes a difference on the sovereign account.”

Then an article overnight from the WSJ confirmed that fundamentally, the purge may be nothing more than a forced extortion scheme, as the Saudi government – already suffering from soaring budget deficits, sliding oil revenues and plunging reserves – was “aiming to confiscate cash and other assets worth as much as $800 billion in its broadening crackdown on alleged corruption among the kingdom’s elite.

As we reported yesterday, the WSJ writes that the country’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, said late Tuesday that it has frozen the bank accounts of “persons of interest” and said the move is “in response to the Attorney General’s request pending the legal cases against them.” But what is more notable, is that while we first suggested – jokingly – on Monday that the ulterior Saudi motive would be to simply “nationalize” the net worth of some of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest individuals, now the WSJ confirms that this is precisely the case, and what’s more notably is that the amount in question is absolutely staggering: nearly 2x Saudi Arabia’s total foreign reserves!

As the WSJ alleges, “the crackdown could also help replenish state coffers. The government has said that assets accumulated through corruption will become state property, and people familiar with the matter say the government estimates the value of assets it can reclaim at up to 3 trillion Saudi riyal, or $800 billion.”

While much of that money remains abroad – and invested in various assets from bonds to stocks to precious metals and real estate – which will complicate efforts to reclaim it, even a portion of that amount would help shore up Saudi Arabia’s finances.

A prolonged period of low oil prices forced the government to borrow money on the international bond market and to draw extensively from the country’s foreign reserves, which dropped from $730 billion at their peak in 2014 to $487.6 billion in August, the latest available government data.

Confirming our speculation was advisory firm Eurasia Group, which in a note said that the crown prince “needs cash to fund the government’s investment plans” adding that “It was becoming increasingly clear that additional revenue is needed to improve the economy’s performance. The government will also strike deals with businessmen and royals to avoid arrest, but only as part of a greater commitment to the local economy.”

Of course, there is a major danger that such a draconian cash grab would result in a violent blowback by everyone who has funds parked in the Kingdom. To assuage fears, Saudi Arabia’s minister of commerce, Majid al Qasabi, on Tuesday sought to reassure the private sector that the corruption investigation wouldn’t interfere with normal business operations. The procedures and investigations undertaken by the anticorruption agency won’t affect ongoing business or projects, he said. Furthermore, the Saudi central bank said that individual accounts had been frozen, not corporate accounts. “It is business as usual for both banks and corporates,” the central bank said.

However, this is problematic: first, not only is the list of names of detained and “frozen” accounts growing by the day…

The government earlier this week vowed that it would arrest more people as part of the corruption investigation, which began around three years ago. As a precautionary measure, authorities have banned a large number of people from traveling outside the country, among them hundreds of royals and people connected to those arrested, according to people familiar with the matter. The government hasn’t officially named the people who were detained.

… but the mere shock of a move that would be more appropriate for the 1950s USSR has prompted crushed any faith and confidence the international community may have had in Saudi governance and business practices.

The biggest irony would be if from this flagrant attmept to shore up the Kingdom’s deteriorating finances, a domestic and international bank run emerged, with locals and foreign individuals and companies quietly, or not so quietly, pulling their assets and capital from confiscation ground zero, in the process precipitating the very economic collapse that the move was meant to avoid.

Judging by the market reaction, which has sent Riyal forward tumbling on rising bets of either a recession, or devaluation, or both, this unorthodox attempt to inject up to $800 billion in assets into the struggling local economy, could soon backfire spectacularly.

Meanwhile, for those still confused about the current political scene in Saudi Arabia, here is an infographic courtesy of the WSJ which explains “Who Has Been Promoted, Who Has Been Detained in Saudi Arabia

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Bitcoin Rebounds Sharply After Gartman Predicts Drop

Having tumbled from record highs near $7600 to $6900 in the last two days, Bitcoin is rebounding this morning, back to $7250 following condemnation from Dennis Gartman and blessing from ‘father of financial futures’ Leo Melamed.

Gartman issued the following statement overnight…

BITCOIN: A Bubble Bursting… Maybe?: Our antipathy toward Bitcoin specifically and toward the crypto-currencies generically is widely known but yesterday’s action does look like a “reversal” to the downside… finally.

And Bitcoin surged…

 

But on the positive side, Reuters reports that Leo Melamed, 85, said while he was initially skeptical about bitcoin he sees similarities between it and International Monetary Market currency futures trading, which he launched as chairman of the Chicago exchange in 1972.

“The world in the 1970s didn’t look at currency trading as a valid instrument of finance. I too went from not believing (in bitcoin) to wanting to know more,” he said.

He says bitcoin could go beyond being a crypto-currency and represent a new asset class based on blockchain technology.

“My whole life is built abound new technology. I never said no to technology. People who say no to technology are soon dead. I’m still that same guy who believes in, at least examining change. That’s what bitcoin represents,” he also said.

Melamed said he expects major investors to take part in bitcoin futures, which the exchange plans to start by the end of year.

“That’s a very important step for bitcoin’s history… We will regulate, make bitcoin not wild, nor wilder. We’ll tame it into a regular type instrument of trade with rules.”

Finally, we note that as the cryptocurrency has surged in recent months, searches for “buy bitcoin” have overtaken “buy gold” dramatically

“With the U.S. stock market setting fresh all-time highs day after day, it’s no surprise gold prices have retreated,” Adrian Ash, research director at London-based BullionVault, said in a report.

“Some investors are also being distracted by the noise around Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Altogether, that’s made interest from new gold investors the weakest since the metal’s half-decade price lows of end-2015.”

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Ron Paul: We Are Reaching A Point Of No Return

Authored by Adam Taggart via PeakProsperity.com,

Dr. Ron Paul has long been a leading voice for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, sound money, civil liberty, and non-interventionist foreign policies.

Dr. Paul served as the US Representative for Texas’s 27th Congressional District from 1976 to 1985. He then represented the 14th district from 1977 to 2013. He ran for the office of US President, three times, most recently in the 2012 Republican primaries. Dr. Paul also had a long career as an OBGYN over which he delivered more than 4,000 babies.

The recent author of the book, The Revolution At Ten Years, Dr. Paul looks ahead at the future of the movement he helped launch — tackling central planning, the military empire, cultural Marxism, the surveillance state, the deep state, and the real threats from these institutions to our civil liberties.

As a multi-term member of Congress, Dr. Paul knows the players and policies responsible for the growing unfairness and inequality now rampant in society. He does not expect the offenders will reform willingly. Instead, he predicts the system will collapse under its own unsustainability — offering a rare and valuable chance then for more sound and fair solutions to prevail:

Wealth doesn’t come from the creation of money, especially a fiat system. With too much fiat money and all this credit, eventually the economy becomes exhausted and engulfed with debt and mal-investments. The treatment for this is a correction; you have to allow the debt to be liquidated. You have to get rid of the mal-investment and you have and to allow real economic growth to start all over again. But that wasn’t permitted in ’08 and ’09, which is why there’s been stagnation. It’s hard to believe that today we have negative interest rates — real rates are negative and people still aren’t grabbing them up! A shortage of money isn’t the problem here; rather, it’s a shortage of understanding market conditions.

 

We’re over-taxed and over-regulated. This is resulting in a destructive system that has divided the country into two groups: those who haven’t recovered from the Great Financial Crisis versus those who are getting very rich because they’re on the receiving end of the new money created by the Federal Reserve. The people who get to create the credit get to distribute the credit, which always results in a situation where money becomes unfairly distributed, as its allocation is no longer dependent on productivity.

 

We haven’t changed anything. We still have a system where we encourage people to borrow money, that debt doesn’t matter, and we’re not going to cut taxes, and we’re not even going to admit that we spend too much money. Nobody can cut anything — that’s why Washington is at a stalemate. A lot of people don’t like Obamacare, but there’s enough people who do like it. Once it has been implemented, it’s very hard to get rid of a program. I also don’t think that the proposed tax reforms will actually lower taxes. They never do.  Our politicians won’t admit where the real problem lies: overspending, monetizing the debt, taking over the whole world through the monetary system, financing wars, financing welfare and the military industrial complex. It’s going to continue until this whole thing comes apart.

 

The eventual event will be driven by the marketplace. When it comes undone, they will no longer be able to prop things up just by printing more money. If we have a sharp downturn and they decide, “Well, QE didn’t work because it wasn’t enough.” and they double QE, there’ll be a point of no return and all confidence will be lost. We’ll dump the dollar. Interest rates will go up instead of down. That will make all the difference in the world because it will be unsustainable and create real challenges for the dollar remaining the reserve currency. When the dollar no longer serves as the world’s key currency, that’s when the ballgame will be over.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Dr. Ron Paul (29m:56s).

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Making Sense Of Saudi’s ‘Game Of Thobes’

Authored by Jamal Elshayyal via Al-Jazeera,

Was Saturday a “Red Wedding” moment for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? As the plot thickens in Riyadh, here’s a roundup of the chatter on the streets…

It started off with the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a clearly orchestrated move produced and executed by his paymasters in Riyadh.

Hariri announced on a Saudi-owned channel from the Saudi capital that he was resigning his post in protest at foreign intervention in Lebanon‘s domestic affairs. The irony was lost on him. 

The ostensible reason he gave, as he invoked his late father’s name, was that he too is threatened with assassination. 

As the day turned into evening, there were reports of explosions being heard close to the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. It transpired that Houthi rebels (linked to Iran and allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is partially linked to the United Arab Emirates) had fired at least one ballistic missile from Yemen towards Riyadh. It put an exclamation point on the fact that the war in Yemen is far from over – more than two years since Saudi Arabia launched operation “Decisive Storm”.

As the clock inched to midnight another bombshell was dropped, this time by the Saudis: A royal decree ordering the arrest of several princes, billionaires, and notable figures, as well as the sacking of senior government officials. Some were the sons of the late King Abdullah. One was the head of the Saudi National Guard. 

All three of these developments will have seismic implications, not just in Saudi Arabia, but in the region and beyond.

The resignation of Hariri, or sacking by his Saudi sponsors, should sound the alarm bells for any government that doesn’t want to see another war erupt in the region.

A lot of chatter involved Israel.

It’s no secret that Israel has been conducting military exercises on its northern front for several months now. While Hezbollah has been busy helping prop up the Assad regime in Damascus, Tel Aviv has been developing its missile defence systems. Sooner or later, it will want to test those in real-life scenarios, as the logic would have it. 

Forcing Hariri to quit the government would help Israel frame any aggression against Lebanon as an attack on Iranian proxies.

With Gaza politically neutralised for now, following Hamas‘ handover of power to the Palestinian Authority, Israel could very well see this as an optimal time to attack. Such an attack would also provide a perfect opportunity for the West to test the new Saudi leadership’s “moderate” credentials: Would it cheer Israel on?

In Yemen, the war has cost the Saudi economy hundreds of millions of dollars. This war, launched by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to restore Sanaa’s legitimate government and put Iran in check, has failed to do either. But it has succeeded in killing thousands of innocent people, displacing millions, and helping Tehran position itself as the defender of the oppressed in the Middle East.

The targeting of Riyadh could push the young prince to be even more reckless and destructive in his ongoing expedition in Yemen. 

What’s not so clear is the motive behind the mass arrests and sackings that took place in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Removing the head of the National Guard and a one-time contender to the throne is an obvious play to consolidate power by Bin Salman.

However, what’s more puzzling is the detention of billionaire prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. On paper, Bin Talal and Bin Salman are a match made in heaven: Both want to transform Saudi Arabia into a “secular” society, both detest the idea of democracy and liberalism, and both are equally willing to hand over the Kingdom’s wealth and sovereignty to the United States

Earlier I spoke to a contact who used to work for the billionaire prince. He told me that a possible reason for his detention was Alwaleed’s refusal to put up money to help prop up Saudi’s staggering economy. The message from Bin Salman to the country’s wealthy elite is: Pay up or get locked up.

In the Saudi version of Game of Thobes, the 32-year-old Bin Salman shows that he is willing to throw the entire region into jeopardy to wear the royal gown. His actions have already all but destroyed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); Yemen can no longer be referred to as a functioning state; Egypt is a ticking time bomb; and now Lebanon may erupt. There’s a lot to worry about.

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Air Force Reporting Error Allowed Texas Shooter To Buy Guns

As details slowly trickled out this morning about yesterday’s mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, one glaring inconsistency quickly became clear: How did Devin Patrick Kelley – the deceased suspected shooter – manage to get his hands on the AR-556 rifle he used to murder 26 people (including up to 14 children) and and maim another 20?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a morning interview on Fox News that Kelley had been denied a Texas firearms permit because he had been dishonorably discharged from the military. However, a clerk at an Academy Sports & Outdoors store in San Antonio where Kelley had reportedly purchased the Ruger AR-556 rifle told reporters that Kelley had obtained the gun legally, and had checked off in his paperwork that he had no criminal history or history of mental illness that would disqualify him from obtaining a license for the firearm.

Since Kelley should’ve been prohibited from legally possessing a firearm because of his criminal history in the military, the question of just how Kelley came into possession of the firearm perplexed reporters, investigators and the public.

But in a stunning revelation, the Air Force cleared up any lingering confusion by admitting on Monday that it had failed to enter Kelley’s domestic violence court-martial into a federal database that could have blocked him from buying the rifle – something that could’ve potentially prevented the shooting.

The Air Force has reportedly launched a review into how the records were handled, according to the New York Times.

The conviction of the gunman, Devin P. Kelley, for domestic assault on his wife and infant stepson – he had cracked the child’s skull – should have stopped Mr. Kelley from legally purchasing the military-style rifle and three other guns he bought in the last four years. But that information was never entered by the Air Force into the federal database for background checks on gun purchasers, the service said.

 

“The Air Force has launched a review of how the service handled the criminal records of former Airman Devin P. Kelley following his 2012 domestic violence conviction,” the Air Force said in a statement. “Federal law prohibited him from buying or possessing firearms after this conviction.”

 

The statement said that Heather Wilson, the Air Force secretary, and Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, had ordered the Air Force inspector general to work with the Pentagon’s inspector general to “conduct a complete review of the Kelley case and relevant policies and procedures.”

 

The Air Force also said that it was looking into whether other convictions had been improperly left unreported. “The service will also conduct a comprehensive review of Air Force databases to ensure records in other cases have been reported correctly,” the statement said.

Other details about the killings emerged on Monday, including clues about Kelley’s motive. Local law enforcement officials said that he may have been driven by anger toward his estranged wife’s family, a fitting end to a life punctuated by eruptions of domestic rage.

In addition to his court-martial, in which his previous wife was the victim, Kelley had been investigated on a rape complaint, though he was not charged and his relationship to the victim was unclear. His current wife’s mother attended First Baptist Church, investigators confirmed Monday.

The New York Post reported that Kelley was “a wannabe tough guy who worked dead-end jobs, dated underage girls – and beat his infant stepson so badly he broke the child’s skull.”

“He pled to intentionally doing it,” Don Christensen, a retired colonel and chief prosecutor for the Air Force.

Kelley also reportedly dated underage girls, whom he stalked and harassed.

One of his exes, Brittany Adcock, now 22, said Kelley dated her for two months around 2009 — when he was 18 and she was just 13.

“At the time I didn’t think much into it being so young but now I realize that there’s something off about someone who is 18 with someone who is 13,” she said.

Kelley became so desperate after the 13-year-old dumped him that he offered her money to get back together, she said.

He even crudely suggested the girl move in with him and his wife — an offer that came with a twisted string attached.

“One time he told me I should move in with him and his wife and that he would take care of me as long as I walked around topless,” Adcock said.

Kelley graduated from New Braunfels High School in 2009, according to a now-deleted LinkedIn page where he claimed to have attended the school for six years.

Also in 2012, he was charged with animal cruelty for beating a puppy while he lived in a Colorado trailer park.

Kelley died after sustaining three gunshot wounds, including one that was self-inflicted.
 

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