The Pittsburgh Steelers football team held a moment of silence before their game Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, to honor the victims of the Shabbos morning massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue.
A design based on the Steelers’ helmet logo — inserting a Star of David and added the words, “Stronger than hate” — was widely shared on the internet and was displayed at Heinz Field during the game.One child in the stands wore that new symbol as a patch on his jersey.
Eight men and three women were killed by a gunman inside the Tree of Life Synagogue during services on Saturday.
Mayor Bill Peduto called it the “darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history.”
In a statement issued before his team’s game, Steelers owner Art Rooney II said: “Our hearts are heavy, but we must stand against anti-Semitism and hate crimes of any nature and come together to preserve our values and our community.”
“We’re thankful for a victory, but we also understand that there are bigger things,” Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after the 33-18 win.
“There’s life. I’m glad that we could give people maybe three hours of a break of maybe not thinking about it all the time, and that’s what sports does sometimes is it helps you to kind of heal. But it’s over and people are going to celebrate and enjoy this, but reality still sets in for a lot of people.”
The shooting was felt by all Pittsburghers, and was close to the Steelers. Michele Rosenthal, the team’s former community relations manager, had two brothers, Cecil and David, killed in the attack.
“We love you Michelle and we’re thinking about you,” said Roethlisberger, who was not surprised to the city pull together. “I know the Boston Strong thing, but it’s true everywhere. That’s what Pittsburghers are. We’re family. There’s so much love here in this town — for the sports, for each other, for all the different races, ethnicities, religions and everything we have.”
“Today was much bigger than a game of football,” said Steelers’ running back James Conner, who played at Pitt before joining the Steelers and ran for 146 yards Sunday. “It was good that we got the win to try and uplift some spirits and vibes of everybody in our city. It’s really a tragedy. Our city took a hit and our hearts are with all of the victims and their families. We still have those in mind.”
Tekashi 6ix9ine Arrested by Feds for RICO
Daniel Hernandez, the Brooklyn rapper known as Tekashi 6ix9ine, was arrested in New York City on federal crime charges last night. 6ix9ine’s ex-manager Shottie, real name Kifano Jordan, and their associates Faheem Walter (aka Crippy) and Jensel Butler (aka Ish) were also arrested. They all face racketeering and firearms charges. 6ix9ine said last week that he had fired Shottie and the rest of his management team.
The investigation that led to 6ix9ine’s arrest was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s office with the NYPD, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Homeland Security Investigations. Pitchfork has emailed a representative for 6ix9ine for comment.
Earlier this month, police apprehended Jordan in connection with an incident in which Walter, in his capacity as 6ix9ine’s bodyguard, was shot and later charged with gang assault.
Hernandez is currently on probation, stemming from an October 2015 guilty plea to the use of a child in a sexual performance. Sentencing in the case dragged on for years until, last month, a New York judge gave Hernandez four years of probation and required him to complete community service, refrain from gang affiliation, and avoid future arrests.
Daniel Hernandez also has a pending legal case in Texas. This past January, Hernandez allegedly choked a 16-year-old at the Galleria Mall in Houston, Texas. Hernandez and his security demanded that the teenager erase video footage of the incident from his phone, according to a police report. In May, he was charged with misdemeanor assault, and he was arrested on the Texas warrant in July.
AG Whitaker Alleged to Have Served on Board of WPM
The FBI is reportedly conducting a criminal investigation related to World Patent Marketing, a company that was shut down in 2017 after the Federal Trade Commission alleged that it operating “an invention-promotion scam” that tricked “thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars.” According to recent reports, new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker served on its advisory board.
Alleged WPM Conduct
In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission charged the operators of an invention-promotion scam, World Patent Marketing, with deceiving consumers and suppressing complaints about the company by using threats of criminal prosecution against dissatisfied customers. At the FTC’s request, a federal court temporarily halted the Florida-based scheme and froze its assets pending litigation.
“This case is about protecting innovators, the engine of a thriving economy,” said then Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. “The defendants promised to promote people’s inventions and took thousands of dollars, but provided almost no service in return. Then they added insult to injury by threatening people who complained.”
According to the FTC, consumers paid an individual and various corporate entities thousands of dollars to patent and market their inventions based on bogus “success stories” and testimonials promoted by the defendants. But after they allegedly strung consumers along for months or even years, the defendants purportedly failed to deliver what they promised. Instead, many customers allegedly ended up in debt or lost their life savings with nothing to show for it.
WPM Threats of Legal Action
The FTC also alleged that the defendants used various unfair tactics, including threats of legal action, to discourage consumers from publishing truthful or non-defamatory negative reviews about the defendants and their services. According to FTC attorney Richard B. Newman, the agency reported that one customer who sought a refund and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau allegedly received a letter from the defendants’ lawyer. According to the FTC, the letter stated that seeking a refund was extortion under Florida law and, “since you used email to make your threats, you would be subject to a federal extortion charge, which carries a term of imprisonment of up to two years and potential criminal fines.”
WPM Settlement Order
In 2018, the defendants agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that bans them from the invention promotion business. Under the settlement order, the defendants are also banned from misrepresenting any good or service, and suppressing the availability of truthful negative comments or reviews by consumers. They are also prohibited from profiting from consumers’ personal information collected as part of the challenged practices, and failing to dispose of it properly.
A $25,987,192 judgment was imposed, which was partially suspended when $78,670 in frozen funds were transferred to the Commission and the individual defendant Cooper paid $976,330.
Whitaker’s Alleged Involvement
According to media reports, court filings indicate that Whitaker received regular payments of $1,875 from the company while serving as a member of its advisory board. It has also been reported that Whitaker sent a strongly worded email to a former customer in 2015 that had complained about the company. Whitaker is not a named as a defendant in the case against the company.
In a statement, a Justice Department spokeswoman said, “Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has said he was not aware of any fraudulent activity. Any stories suggesting otherwise are false.” In fact, FTC investigators did not obtain evidence or internal communications showing Whitaker knew about the company’s alleged bogus promises, according to those with firsthand knowledge of the matter. The receiver that oversaw the settlement confirmed, recently stating to The Washington Post that he has “no reason to believe that [Whitaker] knew of any of the wrongdoing.”
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Bar Shooting Survivors Also Survived Vegas Route 91 Shooting
One group of people at a Southern California bar where a gunman killed 12 people Wednesday night revealed it was their second narrow escape from a mass shooting. One man said he and others inside the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks also survived the shooting that killed 58 people and injured nearly 500 others at a country music concert in Las Vegas last October.
Nicholas Champion said he and many others in the bar were also at the Las Vegas Route 91 shooting.
“It’s the second time in about a year and a month that this has happened,” he said. “It’s a big thing for us. We’re all a big family and unfortunately this family got hit twice.”
More than 100 people were inside the bar during the shooting, including many college students who were there to celebrate “College Country Night.”
Police said they found the shooter dead inside, possibly from a self-inflicted wound. Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters early Thursday, “It’s a horrific scene in there. There’s blood everywhere.”
Among the victims is 29-year veteran deputy Ron Helus. Helus was among the first responders and was shot while entering the building where the shooting was taking place. He died at the hospital Thursday morning.
So far, there is no known motive for the attack.
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