Category Archives: politics

20 Years Later, Biggie Smalls’ Mom Has a ‘Very Good Idea’ Who Killed Him

On September 7, 1996, West Coast hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas. Six months later, Brooklyn heavyweight Biggie Smalls—The Notorious B.I.G.—was fatally targeted in a L.A. drive-by shooting. Biggie’s death was also the final nail in the coffin of the West Coast-East Coast, Death Row Records-Bad Boy Records feud that came to define hip-hop’s 1990s glory days. On the anniversary of Biggie’s murder 20 years later, it’s difficult to remember a time when coastal allegiances amounted to more than a preference for Shake Shack or In-N-Out.

While Biggie and Tupac may have been enemies by the end—with Tupac rapping about sleeping with Biggie’s wife, and ‘Pac turning against Biggie in the wake of the 1994 Quad Studios shooting — death is the great equalizer: Now, the once-beefing rappers are equally likely to be found immortalized on the dorm room wall of a college freshman, or momentarily resurrected as a headlining hologram. But incredibly advanced lasers aren’t the only forces bringing these hip-hop legends back to life. Two decades later, the lives and deaths of Tupac and Biggie are getting the USA network treatment. The upcoming series Unsolved, which dives deep into the two cold case murder investigations, stars Wavy Jonez and Marcc Rose as Biggie and Tupac, respectively. For Rose, it will be his second time playing 2Pac, reprising his role from 2015’s Straight Outta Compton.

And while watching Jonez and Rose channeling the rappers on set is unsettling, life is even stranger than fiction. In a new Daily Mail interview Voletta Wallace, the 64-year-old mother of Biggie Smalls, insists that a “conspiracy” is standing in the way of justice being served. Wallace confidently points fingers at the LAPD, claiming, “I have a very good idea who murdered Christopher and I genuinely believe that the LAPD knows exactly who did too.” She adds, “They’ve done their investigation, but they just refuse to move forward. I don’t know why they haven’t arrested who was involved. It seems to me that it’s one giant conspiracy, and someone is definitely being protected somewhere down the line.” For Biggie’s mother, “There’s no closure for me until that murderer is behind bars and sentenced.”

Of course, Wallace isn’t the first to weigh in on Biggie’s killing, and she certainly won’t be the last. The still-unsolved murders of Biggie and Tupac have launched more conspiracy theories than Alex Jones could ever dream of. Among the more outlandish claims are theories that the FBI shot both of the rappers in an effort to curb hip hop-related violence, or that Biggie and Tupac are actually alive and kicking it in a small resort town in New Zealand. Hey, if it’s good enough for Peter Thiel, it’s good enough for Biggie and ‘Pac.

While we don’t have a name or a face to link to Wallace’s claims, there are a good number of details for would-be conspiracists to comb through, courtesy of a cache of FBI files on the case. In 2011 The Daily Beast went through the documents to get a more vivid picture of Notorious B.I.G’s murder. Twenty years ago, Biggie was leaving a Soul Train Awards afterparty in a three-car motorcade; Biggie was in the second car, and his friend and label founder Sean Combs was in the first. At around 12:45 a.m., “An African-American male dressed in a blue suit and bow tie” fired six shots at the vehicles, with four of them hitting Biggie Smalls in the chest. The rapper was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m.

Death Row Records executive Suge Knight was a main suspect, in keeping with the theory that Biggie’s death was a direct response to Tupac’s murder. Knight denied any and all involvement in B.I.G’s death. The LAPD, which was accused of corruption in the case, made the decision in tandem with the FBI to close the investigation into Biggie’s murder, abandoning the 18-month case they had been trying to build against Knight. Four years later, the case was reopened after new information allegedly surfaced. Biggie’s mother brought a $400 million wrongful death suit against the LAPD in 2006, which was eventually dismissed.

The FBI files are full of juicy details, such as information about LAPD Officer David A. Mack, a suspect in the case who had a Tupac shrine in his garage, along with guns and ammo. Other interesting tidbits include one informant’s accusations that Notorious B.I.G. had secret ties to New York City’s Genovese crime family, and the revelation that the rapper was carrying marijuana, a pen, an asthma inhaler, and three magnum condoms on his person at the time of his death. But according to a new Daily Mail source, Biggie wasn’t even the intended victim. The source, who was allegedly with Biggie on the night of his death, “is convinced the bullets were meant for P. Diddy.” There’s a certain logic to that, seeing as many fans believe that the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy played a pivotal role in Tupac’s death. According to this theory Sean Combs, one of hip-hop’s biggest living moguls, was just one lucky Suburban away from meeting his maker.

SOURCE: DB

 

GOP Calls on Investigation of Trump’s Ties to Russia

Following the news of national security adviser Michael Flynn resigning on Monday (February 13), top GOP lawmakers met on Tuesday to call for an investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia. They also want Flynn to testify.

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Sen. Roy Blunt (Rep. MO) said, “I think everybody needs that investigation to happen,” adding, “And the Senate Intelligence Committee, again that I serve on, has been given the principal responsibility to look into this, and I think we should look into it exhaustively so that at the end of this process, nobody wonders whether there was a stone left unturned, and shouldn’t reach conclusions before you have the information that you need to have to make those conclusions.”

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Senator Blunt also spoke on the importance of the trustworthiness of the national security advisor, after reports surfaced of Flynn speaking about sanctions against Russia before Trump was sworn in. Blunt explained, “In this case, absolute trustworthiness is the most important thing, even better than, even more important than knowledge, you’ve got to trust what the national security adviser says and apparently that wasn’t gonna be the case here.”

SOURCE: VLADTV

Devin McCourty & Martellus Bennett To Skip White House Visit

New England Patriots star Devin McCourty became the second Super Bowl champion to declare that he will not be joining his team for a trip to meet President Donald Trump at the White House, on Monday, February 6.

[NFL] Devin McCourty To Boycott White House Visit

Leading up to Sunday’s big game in Houston it had been anticipated that Martellus Bennett would boycott the tradition, with he and his Seattle Seahawks star brother, Michael, being two of the more politically vocal voices in the NFL. Bennett had hinted that he wouldn’t be attending during Super Bowl opening night festivities last week, and reconfirmed his position following the Patriots’ historic comeback win, stating, “It is what it is, people know how I feel about it.”

[NFL] Devin McCourty To Boycott White House Visit

In a text message sent to Time magazine, McCourty followed suit with his tight end teammate, writing, “I’m not going to the White House … Basic reason for me is I don’t feel accepted in the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won’t.”

[NFL] Devin McCourty & Martellus Bennett To Skip White House Visit

It remains to be seen how Bennett and McCourty’s refusal to head to the nation’s capital might impact their standing on the team, as Patriots owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and QB Tom Brady are all avid supporters of the President. Should any kind of repercussions be levied against them, the team may face a backlash from Black players around the league, considering the team brought itself to meet President Obama without its team captain in 2015, when Brady omitted himself from the White House visit.

SOURCE: VLADTV

Alicia Keys Attend Women’s March

Protests against Donald Trump’s presidency have become a global movement. Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, London, Toronto, and Paris, are just some of the cities hosting marches Saturday (Jan. 21).

Alicia Keys Attend Women’s March

Though the final numbers have yet to be tallied, it’s already clear that the Women’s March trumped the inauguration figures. Alicia Keys, Janelle Monae, America Ferrera, and Uzo Aduba, were among those at the Washington D.C. march.

Alicia Keys Attend Women’s March
“We are mothers, we are caregivers, we are artists, we are activists,” Keys told the crowd. “We are entrepreneurs, doctors, leaders of industry and technology. Our potential is unlimited. We rise!” Keys also performed “Girl on Fire,” while Monae shared the stage with the Mothers of the Movement, and performed “Hell You Talmbout” off her 2013 album, The Electric Lady.

Alicia Keys Attend Women’s March

Ferrerra also shared a powerful address with the crowd. “It’s been a heart-wrenching time to be a woman and an immigrant in this country,” said the 32-year-old actress. “Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday. But the president is not America. His cabinet is not America. Congress is not America, we are America and we are here to stay.” – See more at:

SOURCE: WWF

Inside the Women’s March & History in the Making

Donald Trump hammered home in his inaugural address outside the Capitol building Friday the promise he had sewn onto so many red ballcaps: that he would Make America Great Again. In the same spot the following day, protesters with far less nostalgia for America’s past – women who lived through the Civil Rights movement, who came of age in an era when abortion was criminalized, who have vivid memories of a time when gay men and women were regularly victimized – have gathered to say, We are not going back. 

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An estimated 500,000 marchers – more than double the crowd that showed up to watch Trump’s swearing-in – are squeezed onto the National Mall with their families and their hand-drawn signs and their pink knit caps, waiting for their turn to talk at the Women’s March on Washington.

They self-describe as “nasty,” but for the most part the marchers are good: they don’t push, they carry their possessions in translucent bags, as requested, and their posters don’t have poles or sticks or stakes. Some are frustrated to see the evangelical Christians who are parked in the middle of the Mall hoisting signs that read “Attention Rebellious Jezebels” and “Abortion Is Murder” with strictly verboten metal poles.

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It isn’t fair, but add it to the fucking list: Hillary Clinton earned three million more votes than Donald Trump and still lost the presidency. Women earn 80 cents on the dollar compared to men – women of color even less. They have only 19 percent representation in Congress.

As they’ve proven by turning out in record numbers all over the U.S. and the world Saturday, women are tired of double standards. So they surround the anti-abortion protesters and chant, “My body, my choice!” and “Love trumps hate!” loud enough to drown out the bullhorn.

A teenage boy leans out from the Newseum’s second-floor balcony, waving and kissing his star-spangled Make America Great Again hat and hollering, “Jesus loves you! Donald Trump loves you!” as the march sweeps down Pennsylvania Avenue. The marchers channel Michelle Obama, drowning him out with chants of, “When they go low, we go high!”

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For the millions of men and women pouring into the streets around the world Saturday, the march is a show of force, proof that for however many people are happy about Donald Trump’s inauguration – and that number is far smaller than he or his press secretary would have us believe – many more are unhappy. Across the country, and in countries around the globe, people are showing up to drown Trump out.

Just past the Newseum, four women – ages 57, 66, 77 and 79 – are sitting on a bench, watching as a line of police vans cuts through the protesters. One of the women, Roberta Safer, explains why they drove together from Maryland for the march. “I demonstrated in 1957 for Civil Rights,” she says. “It’s still the same problems, and Donald Trump’s cabinet picks are going to reverse many of the things that we’ve had. … It just upsets me to see us go backwards.”

Her friend Rosanna Mason has similar concerns. “My wife, before she died, was a teacher. I’m getting texts constantly from her students: ‘What about me, what about me? Am I going to be deported? Are they going to send me to [conversion] therapy?’ A lot of people are scared.” She says she tells them the only thing she can: that she remembers how she coped as a lesbian before gay rights were mainstream. “I remember back in the Seventies, I remember the Eighties, the violence. I tell them to hold on to your friends. … because when we all do it together, we’ll be stronger.”

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The Bikers for Trump have set up a counter-protest in support of the new president at a park on Pennsylvania Avenue. There aren’t more than 20 Trump supporters there, but they have a stage equipped with speakers blasting Lee Greenwood, Toby Keith and Kid Rock at an unreasonable volume. At one point, the group’s head, Chris Cox, gets onstage and tells the marchers, “On November 8th, America voted, and it voted for Donald Trump.”

“Three million votes! Three million votes!” they chant back.

Off to one side, 31-year-old Courtney Miller is holding a sign that reads, “Sorry. Were my civil rights getting the way of your privilege?” She asks a man in a Confederate hat why he still wears it even though the South lost. He retorts by asking her why she has black pride – her people lost too, he says. For ten minutes, he tries (and fails) to defend an indefensible point, while she maintains her composure, trying, maybe in vain, to reason with him.

“You never get anything accomplished by fighting, by yelling and screaming. We’re not going to get our points across. We might leave here today and agree to disagree, but maybe I said something that will make him think,” Miller says after the interaction. “I’m standing here because my grandparents had to do this. Now I have to do this. I’m hoping my kids don’t have to do this. We’re marching for the same things, and I’m getting tired.”

SOURCE: RS

8 Men Control Half of World’s Wealth

According to a report released by Oxfam, the disparity between the rich and poor is even more dramatic than previously thought.8 men, the report says, control as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, or close to half the world’s population.

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Oxfam cited Forbes’ March 2016 billionaires list to substantiate their claim. In order, the 8 men that control half the world’s wealth are Microsoft founder Bill Gates whose net worth is $75 billion; Amancio Ortega, the Spanish founder of Inditex; Warren Buffett; Carlos Slim Helu; Jeff Bezos of Amazon; Mark Zuckerberg; Oracle’s Larry Ellison; and Michael Bloomberg.

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Oxfam warns that this kind of economic inequality will inevitably lead to more drastic and extreme political changes, like the United States’ election of Donald Trump and Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

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Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, said, “It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day. Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy.”

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SOURCE: VLADTV

Melania Trump Modeled in US Illegally Without Work Visa

Melania Trump was paid for 10 modeling jobs in the United States worth $20,056 that occurred in the seven weeks before she had legal permission to work in the country, according to detailed accounting ledgers, contracts and related documents from 20 years ago provided to The Associated Press.

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The details of Mrs. Trump’s early paid modeling work in the U.S. emerged in the final days of a bitter presidential campaign in which her husband, Donald Trump, has taken a hard line on immigration laws and those who violate them. Trump has proposed broader use of the government’s E-verify system allowing employers to check whether job applicants are authorized to work. He has noted that federal law prohibits illegally paying immigrants.

Mrs. Trump, who received a green card in March 2001 and became a U.S. citizen in 2006, has always maintained that she arrived in the country legally and never violated the terms of her immigration status. During the presidential campaign, she has cited her story to defend her husband’s hard line on immigration.

The wife of the GOP presidential nominee, who sometimes worked as a model under just her first name, has said through an attorney that she first came to the U.S. from Slovenia on Aug. 27, 1996, on a B1/B2 visitor visa and then obtained an H-1B work visa on Oct. 18, 1996.

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The documents obtained by the AP show she was paid for 10 modeling assignments between Sept. 10 and Oct. 15, during a time when her visa allowed her generally to be in the U.S. and look for work but not perform paid work in the country. The documents examined by the AP indicate that the modeling assignments would have been outside the bounds of her visa.

It is highly unlikely that the discovery will affect the citizenship status of Mrs. Trump. The government can seek to revoke the U.S. citizenship of immigrants after the fact in cases when it determines a person willfully misrepresented or concealed facts relevant to his naturalization. But the government effectively does this in only the most egregious cases, such as instances involving terrorism or war crimes.

The disclosures about the payments come as Mrs. Trump takes on a more substantial role advocating for her husband’s candidacy. She made her first speech in months Thursday, in which she spoke of her time working as a model in Europe and her decision to come to the U.S.

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“As a young entrepreneur, I wanted to follow my dream to a place where freedom and opportunity were in abundance. So of course, I came here,” she said. “Living and working in America was a true blessing, but I wanted something more. I wanted to be an American.”

The documents obtained by the AP included ledgers, other accounting documents and a management agreement signed by Mrs. Trump from Metropolitan International Management that covered parts of 1996 and 1997. The AP obtained the files this week after seeking copies since August from employees of the now-defunct modeling firm, after Mrs. Trump made comments earlier this summer that appeared inconsistent with U.S. immigration rules.

A New York immigration lawyer whom Mrs. Trump asked to review her immigration documents, Michael J. Wildes, also reviewed some of the ledgers at AP’s request. Wildes said in a brief statement that “these documents, which have not been verified, do not reflect our records including corresponding passport stamps.” He did not elaborate or answer additional questions asking for clarification. Wilde appeared to be referring to Mrs. Trump’s arrival in the United States on Aug. 27, 1996, one day after the ledgers list a charge for car service to pick up Mrs. Trump from the airport. Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks also did not answer additional written questions from the AP.

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Since questions arose earlier this year, Mrs. Trump has declined to publicly release her immigration records. Wildes, the immigration lawyer, released a letter in September that laid out the details of what he said Mrs. Trump’s immigration records show, including a seven-week window in which Mrs. Trump was in the U.S. before her work visa was issued.

During that seven-week period, the ledgers list modeling work for clients that included Fitness magazine and Bergdorf Goodman department store. The management agreement, which said it was not an employment agreement, included a handwritten date of Aug. 27, 1996. The top of the document said it was “made and entered into as of this 4th day of September 1996.”

Many of the documents were part of a legal dispute related to the dissolution of the firm in the late 1990s and found recently in storage. The accounting ledgers for the firm’s models were listed on hundreds of pages of continuously fed paper that appeared yellowed with age. They were authenticated by a former employee who worked at the firm at the time. The employee spoke on condition of anonymity because this person feared retaliation and threats from Trump’s presidential campaign.

GOP National Convention kicks off  in Cleveland

Exhibit markings with the records were also consistent with documents filed in New York state court, including a deposition of one former partner that referred to the same exhibit number. The sworn testimony describing the exhibit’s content matches the documents obtained by the AP.

A former partner, Paolo Zampolli, who previously told the AP that he recruited Mrs. Trump to come to the U.S. as a model, confirmed that the contract language was used by his firm and his signature appeared on the document. Mrs. Trump’s signature on the contract resembled her signature on her marriage license recorded in 2005. Asked about the two dates on the document, Zampolli said he usually vacationed in Europe each August and likely arranged for the contract to be formally executed when he returned to New York after Labor Day, even though Mrs. Trump had signed it eight days earlier.

Zampolli previously told the AP that Mrs. Trump obtained a work visa before she modeled professionally in the United States. He said the ledgers for Mrs. Trump were consistent with printouts used by his firm at the time, but he would not personally vouch for them because he said money matters were handled by the company’s chief financial officer, who has since died.

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Zampolli said he did not recall Mrs. Trump working without legal permission. “Honestly, I don’t know. It’s like 20 years ago,” he said. “The contract looks (like) a real one and the standard one.”

Foreigners are not allowed to use a visitor visa to work for pay in the U.S. for American companies. Doing so would violate the terms of that visa and could prohibit a foreigner from later changing his or her immigration status in the U.S. or bar the foreigner from the United States again without special permission to come back. The E-verify system started in 1997— after Mrs. Trump came to the country— and was dramatically expanded after 2007.

Some ledgers obtained by the AP identify Mrs. Trump by her professional name and detail her involvement with the modeling agency from July 18, 1996, through Sept. 26, 1997. Other documents from the same accounting ledgers identify Mrs. Trump as Melanija Knaus and list $20,526 in gross earnings for the period before she was granted her work visa on Oct. 18, 1996. The documents also show the modeling company paid for her rent, lent her money and paid for her pager.

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Some ledgers were first made available to True.Ink, an online lifestyle publication, and then independently obtained and verified by the AP.

Metropolitan International Management managed the careers of about 65 women in 1996 and 1997, according to court records. It paid the women as independent contractors, collecting a 20 percent commission and deducting expenses. The ledger shows that the firm also deducted federal taxes from the models’ gross earnings, including Mrs. Trump’s.

SOURCE: TPM