Category Archives: LAW

Method Man says he's never heard the Wu-Tang album Martin Shkreli bought for $2 million

Method Man Getty

The Wu-Tang Clan album, “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” may go down as one of the most puzzling chapters in the history of the legendary rap group.

Only one copy exists and the person who paid a reported $2 million to buy it, former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, was convicted of securities fraud in August and recently placed the one-of-a-kind album on eBay.

But the biggest question has been the album’s authenticity. Is there an album? And if so, is it an official Wu-Tang album?

Business Insider brought these questions up to Wu-Tang member Method Man on Thursday.

“Yeah, I think there is an actual album,” Method Man said, while promoting the show he’s currently on, HBO’s “The Deuce.” “As far as recording, that’s as far as my reach went. When I was informed how they were approaching selling the album, I kind of flipped out, because I was misinformed by the person who gave me the information. It’s hard for me to speak on it because I wasn’t in the loop.”

Since Shkreli bought the album it’s become a legend of its own.

Rumors of the concept coming to Wu-Tang leader RZA while atop the Great Pyramid of Khufu, and that Bill Murray (a friend of RZA’s) was contractually allowed to take the album off Shkreli’s hands in a heist, spread far and wide. And Shkreli flaunted it every chance he had, live-streaming tracks after Donald Trump was elected president, and getting into a public spat over the album with Wu member Ghostface Killah.

martin shkreliRecently the big debate is whether “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” is an official Wu-Tang album. Representatives for Method Man and fellow member U-God say it isn’t, and instead is the byproduct of tracks produced by Moroccan producer Tarik Azzougarh, also known as Cilvaringz.

Method Man, himself, doesn’t know.

“I wouldn’t know because I haven’t heard it,” he said. “I only know the tracks that I spit on. That is it.”

Looking back on the way the album was released, and the antics of Shkreli, Method Man thinks it was done all wrong.

“My personal opinion, I wouldn’t have done it that way,” he said. “I would have just gave it to the people at the end of the day. But you have people that have families to feed, things of that nature. And then to have someone [buy the album] that is pretty much disliked by a lot of people based off something that had nothing to do with hip-hop, that made it worse.”

Method Man said fans shouldn’t be bummed over not being able to hear the “Once Upon a Time” album because a new Wu album is coming out October 15, “Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues.” That’s definitely an official album, he said.

The rapper-actor didn’t seem that interested in talking about the Shkreli situation, but he was amused that one of the prospective jurors at Shkreli’s trial said in court, before being excused, that Shkreli “disrespected the Wu-Tang.”

“Yeah, you’ll be surprised how far that W stretches,” Method Man said.

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The Las Vegas gunman rented a room near a festival where Chance the Rapper and Lorde performed, police confirm

chance the rapper

On Sunday, Stephen Paddock killed 59 people and injured more than 520 others when he opened fire from a broken hotel window on the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Police have now confirmed reports that, one week prior to the Route 91 attack, Paddock rented a room overlooking another Las Vegas festival, Life Is Beautiful

The Life Is Beautiful Festival took place from September 22 to 24, and featured artists like Chance the Rapper, Lorde, Gorillaz, and the xx.

The Daily Beast first reported that Paddock may have initially targeted the Life Is Beautiful festival when he rented multiple condos at the Ogden, a luxury condominium tower with a line of sight to the concert grounds. 

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo confirmed the report in a press conference on Wednesday. He stated that it’s unclear why Paddock rented a room at the Ogden.

“Was he doing pre-surveillance? We don’t know yet,” Lombardo said.

Last Thursday, days after the Life Is Beautiful festival, Paddock checked into a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Three days later, from a broken window in his room, he shot into a crowd of about 22,000 concertgoers during the performance of the Route 91 Harvest festival’s headliner, Jason Aldean. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

Police found Paddock dead in his Mandalay Bay room and recovered a total of 42 guns from his home and hotel room. His motive remains unclear.

SEE ALSO: The Las Vegas gunman may have planned to attack Chance the Rapper and Lorde concert, report says

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NOW WATCH: ‘It was an act of pure evil’: Watch Trump’s statement about the Las Vegas shooting — the deadliest shooting in modern US history

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The Las Vegas gunman meticulously planned his attack with chilling precision, down to a camera hidden in a food service cart in the hallway

Las Vegas

Three days after a gunman unleashed an 11-minute stretch of gunfire upon a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers from his perch on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel, investigators remain dumbfounded by the lack of clues as to his motive.

Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant, had no prior criminal record, left no social media footprint, and had not established any apparent ties to extremist groups, officials say. His attack was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, killing 58 and leaving 527 injured.

But what authorities have made clear so far is that Paddock methodically planned every detail of his attack, ensuring he had a massive arsenal of weapons outfitted to maximize carnage, and a network of cameras set up inside and outside his hotel room, presumably to alert him when law enforcement arrived to take him down.

“I anticipate he was looking for anybody coming to take him into custody,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told media Tuesday afternoon. “It was pre-planned, extensively, and I’m pretty sure that he evaluated everything that he did in his actions, which is troublesome.”

Paddock checked into his suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel on Thursday, September 28. Over the next few days, he hauled up more than 10 suitcases filled with firearms, though hotel staff said they spotted nothing “nefarious,” according to Lombardo.

He kept the “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door throughout his stay so no maids would enter, an anonymous hotel worker told The New York Times.

Paddock amassed his weapons cache over a period of years, purchasing them legally in Nevada, California, Utah, and Texas, officials said. When investigators entered his room, they found 23 guns, including AR-15-style and AK-47-style rifles, and a hammer Paddock had apparently used to smash out two of the hotel suite’s windows.

Mandalay Bay

Twelve of the rifles recovered from Paddock’s suite had been retrofitted with “bump stock” devices, which enable semi-automatic weapons to achieve rapid-fire capabilities, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told media on Tuesday.

Authorities recovered an additional 24 rifles, shotguns, and pistols from two Nevada properties owned by Paddock. He purchased 33 firearms in the last year alone.

Beyond the weaponry, Paddock appears to have planned out the rampage down to the moment police stormed his suite. He set up an elaborate surveillance system, placing cameras in the hallway outside his suite, on a food-service cart, and over the peephole of his door.

The cameras appear to have been effective — Paddock at one point shot through his suite door and wounded a security guard. Paddock then turned one of his guns on himself, pulling the trigger as SWAT officers closed in around his suite.

Even the absence of Paddock’s girlfriend Marilou Danley, who traveled to the Philippines a week before the shooting, appears to be part of his plan, according to her sisters. Danley, whom authorities are questioning as a person of interest, arrived back in the US late on Tuesday night escorted by FBI officials.

“She was sent away so that she will be not there to interfere with what he’s planning,” one of Danley’s sisters told Australia’s Channel 7 TV network. The network withheld both sisters’ names.

Paddock’s brother Eric offered a similar theory.

“He manipulated her to be as far away from here and safe when he committed this,” he told The Washington Post. “The people he loved he took care of, and as he was descending into hell he took care of her.”

SEE ALSO: How Americans really feel about gun control

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Here's what we know about the victims of the Las Vegas shooting

las vegas shooting

At least 58 people have died in a mass shooting in Las Vegas at a country music festival Sunday night, and details are slowly emerging about the victims.

One was an off-duty police officer from Bakersfield, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD). His name has not yet been released while police notify his family.

Two other off-duty officers were among the more than 500 transported to hospitals, police said. One is in stable condition after surgery, and the other’s injuries weren’t life-threatening, police said.

The family of registered nurse Sonny Melton from Paris, Tennessee told WZTV that he was one of the people who died.

“I’m in complete disbelief and despair. I don’t know what to say. Sonny was the most kind-hearted, loving man I have ever met. He saved my life and lost his,” his wife Heather Gulish Melton said in a statement to Fox 17 News in Nashville.

It will likely take days to identify all of the victims.

“The identification process of all of the injured and the deceased will take time, so authorities are asking the public for patience,” LVMPD said in a press release Monday morning.

The gunman, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino with an automatic rifle, police said. Police said they found him dead with at least 10 rifles in his hotel room.

Many of the Route 91 Harvest festival’s approximately 22,000 attendees were young people, including families with kids. Country star Jason Aldean was onstage performing his headliner set to close the three-day festival when Paddock opened fire.

Police said family members could call 1-866-535-5654 if they are looking for missing loved ones.

The city of Las Vegas also set up a family reunification center and urged people to donate blood to help the victims.

While police secured the area, busloads of people were transported to the Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus, where the Las Vegas Review Journal reported they were patted down before entering.

Officials expect the death toll to rise.

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said at a news conference that police were still finding people who had taken cover during the shooting as the sun rose on Monday.

“It’s going to take time for us to get through the evacuation phase,” he said.

Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to help victims and their families.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

SEE ALSO: At least 58 people are dead and more than 500 are injured after a mass shooting in Las Vegas

DON’T MISS: What we know about Stephen Paddock, the man behind the worst mass shooting in modern US history

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Brazil is struggling with scandals and crises, and people there may look to the military for a solution

Brazil is struggling with scandals and crises, and people there may look to the military for a fix

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Wells Fargo bank teller stole nearly $200,000 from a customer and spent it on a down payment for his home and several vacations

Wells Fargo

A Wells Fargo bank teller accused of stealing $185,000 from a homeless customer has agreed to a plea deal, according to court documents cited by The Washington Post.

The former employee, 29-year-old Phelon Davis, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of interstate transfer of stolen property this week after a 2014 encounter with a homeless customer who tried to deposit $185,000 in cash at a Wells Fargo branch in Washington, DC, the court documents said.

The customer, who was not named but was described as a homeless street vendor, had existing accounts at the bank, but he lacked the identification documents he needed to deposit the $185,000 worth of cash he had been carrying in a garbage bag. The Post said. The man was turned away.

The homeless man “had a surprisingly large balance with the bank,” The Post reported, citing a document related to the case. Davis was accused of forging the customer’s signature to fraudulently open a Wells Fargo account in the customer’s name — including an online login, an ATM card, and personal identification number, all of which Davis controlled. He funded the account with $3,000 of the homeless customer’s money.

The customer had no access to email or the internet, according to The Post, and thus had no knowledge of the fraudulent activity, the newspaper said.

Court documents showed that, over the course of two years, Davis transferred $177,400 of that customer’s money between accounts, and withdrew $185,440, taking $5,000 across state lines, the court documents said. Davis used some of the stolen cash as a down payment on his home, took several vacations, and paid some debts.

Davis has been ordered to pay back the stolen money and could face up to 30 months in prison.

It appears Davis fraudulently opened the accounts during the same period in which Wells Fargo employees were accused of fraudulently opening millions of accounts in customers’ names between at least 2011 and 2015. It was unclear whether Davis’ activity was related to that scandal, which exploded in 2016 and eventually drove then-CEO John Stumpf out of the company. Wells Fargo in July agreed to shell out $142 million to settle the matter.

SEE ALSO: BUFFETT: Wells Fargo made 3 huge mistakes during the fake accounts scandal but one ‘dwarfs all the others’

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Neil Gorsuch gave a speech at the Trump International Hotel — and it sparked an uproar

neil gorsuch protest trump hotel

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch sparked an uproar this week by accepting an invitation to speak at a conservative event held at the Washington, DC-based Trump International Hotel, in which the president still holds a financial stake.

Dozens of protesters descended on the hotel Thursday ahead of Gorsuch’s speech, carrying signs with messages like “Gor$uch for sale” and chanting, “Who is Gorsuch? Such a sellout,” Politico reported.

Organizers of the event appeared baffled by the controversy, saying they had booked the hotel before Donald Trump was elected president and Gorsuch was nominated to the Supreme Court.

“We had no political agenda — it’s just a nice hotel and a new venue for us,” Steve Slattery, the spokesman for the conservative Fund for American Studies, told CNN.

But ethics watchdogs, too, cried foul over the speech and questioned whether Gorsuch’s appearance compromised his impartiality — particularly if certain lawsuits against Trump and his businesses eventually make their way to the Supreme Court.

“He’s helping a conservative organization put money into the pockets of the president who put him on the bench. And that doesn’t really give a strong sense of independence from that president,” Elizabeth Wydra, the president of the nonprofit think tank the Constitutional Accountability Center, told NPR.

“You have the Trump hotel at the center of at least three lawsuits filed against President Trump for violating the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause … It’s certainly not a good look.”

The left-leaning Constitutional Accountability Center is representing more than 200 members of Congress in their lawsuit against Trump over the emoluments clause, the constitutional provision prohibiting government officials from receiving payments from foreign governments.

That clause had not previously been tested in court against a US president — yet there are now reportedly at least five lawsuits pending in federal courts across the country that claim Trump’s failure to fully divest himself of his businesses violates the emoluments clause.

Gorsuch in his speech did not address the criticisms his appearance had sparked, nor did he refer to Trump’s ownership of the hotel, according to Politico. Instead, he spoke about free-speech rights and civility.

“Those with whom we disagree vehemently still have the best interests of the country at heart,” Gorsuch said. “We have to learn not only to tolerate different points of view but to cherish the din of democracy … It’s not just about good manners and courtesy. It’s about keeping our republic.”

neil gorsuch speech trump hotel

He continued: “To be worthy of our First Amendment freedoms, we have to all adopt certain civil habits that enable others to enjoy them as well.”

Though Gorsuch stipulated that the speech not be used to solicit donations, and he was not paid for his appearance, profits from the event will go to the Trump hotel and even to Trump himself. The president has moved his assets to a trust in his name, meaning he can still profit from his businesses, albeit after he leaves office.

“To the public the Trump Hotel appears simply as what it is: a paid gateway to presidential influence that operates under the color of presidential approval,” a group of officials from liberal organizations such as People for the American Way, Naral, and Planned Parenthood wrote in a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts, urging the court to address the incident.

“Justice Gorsuch, in accepting an invitation to keynote an event, shows disregard for the Court’s ethical standards and traditions, for its sacred reputation, and, bluntly, for basic common sense.”

SEE ALSO: Michelle Obama says women who voted against Hillary Clinton ‘voted against their own voice’

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The Trump administration will drop the refugee cap to 45,000 — the lowest in decades

donald trump

The Trump administration announced Wednesday it will reduce the number of refugees resettled in the United States in the 2018 fiscal year to 45,000.

That cap is the lowest ceiling on refugee admissions since the 1980 creation of the Refugee Act, which gave the president the power to determine refugee admission levels.

The quota will include regional caps of 19,000 for Africa, 17,500 for the Near East and South Asia, 5,000 for East Asia, 2,000 for Europe and Central Asia, and 1,500 for Latin America and the Caribbean, the State Department said in a briefing to Congress, according to the Associated Press.

Trump administration officials told reporters on Wednesday that the new cap will enhance national security and ensure the refugees who are admitted are screened properly. The officials added that new screening and resettlement requirements for refugees will soon be announced.

Trump, within his first days in office, had already dramatically reduced the refugee cap to 50,000 from the 110,000 President Barack Obama sought to admit for fiscal year 2017. The New York Times had first reported last week that Trump was mulling whether to reduce the cap for fiscal year 2018 to a figure below 50,000.

Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, one of the staunchest immigration hardliners remaining in the White House, had reportedly pushed for a cap as low as 15,000, according to the Times. Homeland Security officials, meanwhile, recommended at a recent meeting that the limit be lowered to 40,000.

Axios reported on Monday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had signed off on a memo recommending that admissions be capped at 45,000.

Refugee resettlement organizations in the US have expressed dismay at the news. They had been pushing the Trump administration to set next year’s refugee cap at at least 75,000, and said a further reduction in admission levels would drain their resources and force the shuttering of many resettlement programs.

“Reports of a ceiling as low as 45,000 are deeply troubling at a time of global crisis,” Hans Van de Weerd of the International Rescue Committee said in a statement on Tuesday, following media reports that the 45,000-refugee cap would soon be announced.

“The decision to arbitrarily slash refugees admitted would represent a sad day for America, and a bad day for the world’s refugees. Setting a record-low cap on refugee resettlement, the White House is showing a stunning cruelty toward those fleeing our common enemies — enemies who intend to paint the US as indifferent to refugees’ suffering.”

SEE ALSO: A Trump adviser told DACA recipients to ‘get in line’ to immigrate to the US — here’s why they can’t

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Tom Cruise's new movie is a bland look at one of the 1980s most infamous drug runners

American Made 2 Universal final

I have to be honest, the life of Barry Seal is quite interesting. 

Seal was a former airline pilot whose talents caught the eye of not just the CIA, but the White House and Pablo Escobar. His life was just begging to be made into a movie. But it might not have been wise to make it into a satirical comedy starring Tom Cruise and directed by Doug Liman (behind multiple “Bourne Identity” movies and “Edge of Tomorrow”). 

“American Made” (opening Friday), is an entertaining look at Seal’s infamous career as a drug runner for Escobar and the Medellín cartel, bag man for the US and Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and gun runner for the Reagan-supported Contras. But it takes huge leaps in creative license — I highly doubt in real life the DEA, state troopers, and the FBI all converged on Seal’s hanger to bust him at the exact same moment, as depicted in the movie. In the effort to be fun and slick, “American Made” loses its teeth and is relegated to Tom Cruise doing the two things he’s best at: being a charmer and daredevil.

The movie is a cookie-cutter version of past movies on the topic.

The wave of cocaine that flooded into the US has been told in movies (let’s not even count the numerous books) as far back as Brian De Palma’s 1983 classic, “Scarface.” Since then, others like the documentary “Cocaine Cowboys,” and the 2001 Johnny Depp movie “Blow,” have elevated the story, delving deeper into the risks involved to get the drugs to the States, and the unconventional ways to house the mountains of cash.    

If you’ve never seen those movies, then you’re going to love “American Made.”

For the rest of us, it’s an entertaining flick filled with Tom Cruise grins and a forgettable “American Dream” plot that will be great viewing when it’s on cable. 

SEE ALSO: The 10 biggest box office bombs of 2017 so far, after a dismal summer

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Twitter just explained why it won't block Trump for tweets that North Korea considers a declaration of war (TWTR)

Trump kim jong un

Donald Trump’s tweets have long raised questions about whether they violate Twitter’s rules prohibiting abusive behavior on the service. 

On Monday, after a Trump tweet threatened that North Korea might not “be around much longer,” Twitter was forced to explain why the President was not banned from the service. 

In a six-part tweet from Twitter’s public policy account, the company said that Twitter takes “newsworthiness” and “public interest” into account when determining whether a user has violated its rules. 

Those considerations have long been used internally when deciding the fate of a problematic user, Twitter said. The company said it plans to update its public-facing policy soon to better reflect some of those other internal factors.

“We need to do better on this and will,” Twitter said.

Trump’s tweet came at time of heightened tensions between the US and North Korea, following several North Korean missile launches and nuclear tests that have drawn sharp criticism from the international community. On Friday a North Korean official said the country might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.  

Trump and North Korean government have been engaged in a war of words, with North Korea’s foreign minister calling Trump “mentally deranged” and Trump referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man.”

After Trump’s tweet on Saturday, North Korea’s foreign minister told reporters that the country considers Trump’s tweet to be a declaration of war, and that his country can thus legally shoot down US military planes, according to NPR

Special Trump rules?

The episode has put Twitter in a difficult position, leading many observers to question how the company’s policies against threats and abuse squared with tweets by Trump that some believe risk provoking a nuclear conflict.

Under its existing policy, Twitter reserves the right to remove content and disable accounts that post violent threats or harassment.

The company has left up Trump’s tweet about North Korea because of its “newsworthiness” and “public interest value” — two factors which are taken into account for all content considered otherwise in violation of the company’s content policy. 

That explanation struck some critics as tantamount to Twitter admitting that the usual rules don’t apply to Trump. 

Twitter insisted it was not being inconsistent in its rules. And the company promised to update its public-facing policy to give users a better understanding of its process. 

President Trump’s tweets have long posed a challenge for Twitter’s terms of use policies. Throughout the 2016 presidential election and his presidency, Trump has used the platform to call out individuals and corporations that he opposes, often times using derogatory terms, as well as to introduce new items of public policy. 

Read the full response from Twitter’s pubic policy group here: 








SEE ALSO: North Korea calls Trump’s tweets a declaration of war, threatens to shoot down US bombers

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