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BREAKING: Michael Avenatti Charged With Five Counts Of Conspiracy To Commit Extortion Over Threats To Expose A Major School Basketball Scandal Involving Nike

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Michael Avenatti

Federal prosecutors in New York announced that they filed charges against Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who said he had a major announcement against Nike and it’s alleged involvement in a ‘major school/college basketball scandal.’

The charges filed by Assitant United States Attorneys Matthew Podolsky, Robert L. Boone, and Robert B. Sobelman alleges that Avenatti of attempting to extort Nike for up to $25 million by threatening to release damaging information about the company.

He now faces five counts of conspiracy to commit extortion.

Earlier today, Avenatti posted on Twitter that he will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal by Nike that he and his team have discovered. “This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.”

https://twitter.com/MichaelAvenatti/status/1110213957170749440

Nike’s shares reportedly fell as much as 1.3% after the tweet of Avenatti’s supposed expose.

According to the lawsuit, Michael Avenatti attempted to conspire with another party to “extract more than $20 million in payments from a publicly traded company by using his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.”

In an 11-page complaint, prosecutors said that Avenatti met with Nike’s attorneys to demand a payment ‘to make a multi-million dollar payment” and make an additional $1.5 million dollar payment to an individual that the lawyer refers to like his client.

The client was said to be an AAU coach, whose team have previously made deals with Nike. According to the affidavit, Nike refused to further renew the contract with Avenatti’s client. Avenatti claimed that his client has evidence that would prove that Nike employees have paid the families of high school players “similar to conduct a rival company” that had recently been subjecting of criminal proceedings in the District. He named three high school players in particular and indicated that his client is well aware of the said payments as well.

The legal document obtained by Z6Mag also revealed that on March 20, Avenatti called the representative of Nike concerning the demanded payment and if those demands were not met, the lawyer will “go and take ten billion dollars off your client market cap […] I’m not f*cking around.”

An affidavit from an investigator from Federal Bureau of Investigation said that Avenatti and another party referred to as “CC-1” used “threats of economic and reputational harm to extort Nike[…] Specifically, Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call and the start of the annual National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament at which he would announce allegations of misconduct by employees of Nike”

The complaint characterized the unnamed CC-1 as an attorney licensed to practice in the state of California and is similarly known to have represented celebrities and public figure clients like Avenatti.

AVENATTI WANTS TO BE PAID FOR “INTERNAL INVESTIGATION” THAT NIKE DID NOT REQUEST

Special Agent Christopher Harper further revealed that the lawyer and the certain CC-1 demanded to be “retained” by Nike to conduct an “internal investigation – an investigation that the global athletic brand did not request. Avenatti and his cohort also allegedly demanded payment for their work in the said “internal investigation” with a retainers fee amounting to $22.5 million.

The attorneys of Nike said that they asked for time from Avenatti and the defendant gave them until Tuesday, two days after the alleged meeting.

“If [Nike] want to have one confidential settlement and we’re done, they can buy that for twenty-two and half million dollars, and we’re done[…] Full confidentiality, we ride off into the sunset,” Avenatti allegedly told Nike’s lawyers as indicated in the filed court document.

A screenshot of one of Avenatti’s posts on Twitter was also cited in the affidavit. The tweet seems to taunt the “end of the scandal” about the demands (and the inability of Nike to meet them) he made from the company.

“Something tells me that we have not reached the end of this scandal. It is likely far far broader than imagined,” Avenatti wrote on Twitter.

Furthermore, the lawyer is also facing federal charges of wire fraud and bank fraud in the Central District of California. The Department of Justice said that “Federal law enforcement officials will provide details concerning today’s arrest of lawyer Michael Avenatti, who faces federal charges of wire fraud and bank fraud in the Central District of California.” /apr

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President Trump VS ‘the Squad’: Here’s What Both Sides Are Saying

Both sides have aired their responses on Twitter and press conferences.

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Photo: Michael Vadon | CC BY 2.0

Political figures and celebrities are weighing on President Donald Trump’s tweets over the weekend.

President Trump tweeted a comment about “Democrat Progressive Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe.” He goes on, suggesting that these Congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”

The tweet, which was posted last Sunday, drew both positive and negative criticisms.

Though no names were included in President Trump’s post, the public has identified that his statements were directed to Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), Ilhan Omar (Minneapolis), Rashida Tlaib (Michigan), and Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts).

The following Congresswomen have responded to the President’s tweets on their Twitter accounts as well.

The Congresswomen were united in calling out the President’s tweet as “racist.” Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Pressley were born in America; while Rep. Omar had gained citizenship when she came to America during her childhood.

Officially, the women responded to the President via a press conference yesterday.

Rep. Pressley asked the public to “not take the bait” to steer the conversation away from the current issues at hand. “This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern, and consequence to the American people that we were sent here with a decisive mandate from our constituents to work on,” Rep. Pressley said.

Rep. Omar stated that the President is dividing the country. “He would love nothing more than to divide our country based on race, religion, gender, orientation or immigration status because this is the only way he knows he can prevent the solidarity of us working together,” she continues.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s message was directed for children of the US. She shared an anecdote from her childhood memory when her father reminded her that this is her country. The representative goes on to highlight the agenda of Congress to bringing service to the public, especially the children. She reiterates, “No matter what the president says, this country belongs to you.”

Rep. Tlaib echoed the sentiments shared by the others. “We cannot allow this hateful actions, by the President, to distract us from the critical work to hold this Administration accountable to the inhumane conditions at the border,” she emphasized.

All Congresswomen reminded the public about the issues on immigration needs additional focus, more than ever.

President Trump Clarified his Tweets

President Trump addresses the issue in a Made in America showcase on Monday. Reporters asked the President about his statements during the events’ Q&A portion.

The President pointed out that if the Congresswomen are not happy with the country, the lawmakers can leave. “If you’re not happy in the U.S., if you’re complaining all the time, very simply, you can leave. You can leave right now. Come back if you want, don’t come back, it’s OK too. But if you’re not happy, you can leave,” President Trump clarifies.

From the President’s perspective, the lawmakers do not love their country based on the statements the women released. “I’m sure that they’ll be many people that won’t miss them, but they have to love our country. They’re Congresspeople,” the President further adds.

The President also reiterated that he didn’t use any names in his tweets.

Positive and Negative Reaction to the Tweet

Political figures such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and some Republicans spoke against the President’s Tweets.

Schwarzenegger, the former California governor, issued a statement urging the President to rise above his personal attacks to do his job as America’s leader. “At some point, you have to dial down Donald and dial-up President Trump,” Schwarzenegger wrote. “I know it isn’t easy, but the job you hold is bigger than you. It is bigger than any man or woman. The American people put great trust in you to serve, and it is time to rise to their trust instead of dragging them down and tearing them apart.”

House Speaker Pelosi shared her opinions via a Dear Colleague letter to House Democrats. The Speaker urged his fellow lawmakers to join in “condemning the President’s xenophobic Tweets.

Republicans also shared their disappointment regarding President Trump’s tweets. Senator Lisa Murkowski shared that the comments were “spiteful.” Senator Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) commented that “We should defeat their ideas on the merits, not on the basis of their ancestry.”

Celebrities like Susan Sarandon, Chris Evans, Janelle Monáe, and Stephen King also tweeted support for the Congresswomen.

Meanwhile, other politicians also came out to defend President Trump’s tweets. Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, reiterated to reporters that the President is “not racist.” He further cited that the President appointed an Asian woman of color in his cabinet, referring to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Representative Andy Harris (Maryland) emphasized that the President’s message were not racist. “They’re obviously not racist. When anyone disagrees with anyone now the default is to call them a racist and this is no exception,” Harris repeats.

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[Breaking] Democrats Move To Ban Big Techs From Issuing Digital Money

The bill is bluntly named as “Keep Big Tech Out Of Finance Act”

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Photo: Christoph Scholz | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Facebook’s announcement of its biggest financial venture called Libra has prompted multisectoral discussion among tech companies, banking, and financial ecosystem, as well as government and regulatory official regarding the effect of cryptocurrency and digital money on the global economy.

The polarized discussion has seen lawmakers and executives on the opposite side of the poles arguing the harms of allowing tech giants like Facebook to issue currencies that have the potential of disrupting banking systems around the world.

Some say that it is on its way to a full-blown legal and social battle between regulators and the tech stratosphere. Some even suggest that this war has already begun.

A new draft proposal for the bill, bluntly named as “Keep Big Tech Out Of Finance Act,” that circulates among Democrats majority that leads the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, proves that the US government is not joking about its position against Libra and other similar ventures in the future.

According to the proposed bill, no tech company should be allowed to issue any form of financial services. “A large platform utility may not establish, maintain, or operate a digital asset that is intended to be widely used as a medium of exchange, unit of account, store of value, or any other similar function, as defined by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System,” reads a copy of the bill obtained by Z6Mag.

Furthermore, while the bill does not specify any company, it clearly refers to Facebook, and it’s planned blockchain-based currency, Libra. The “large platform utility” is defined as a technology company with “an annual global revenue of $25,000,000,000 or more” and one that is “predominately engaged in the business of offering to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties.” This definition seems to be crafted to include Facebook rather than exclude other companies.

It is also worth noting that the proposed legislation also prohibits “large platform utilities” from affiliation with “persons who are a financial institution.” This further includes Facebook’s proactive workaround against possible future laws that may prohibit them from owning Libra.

Libra is actually not owned by Facebook. Instead, it is governed by a group of companies that are based in Switzerland called the Libra Association with Facebook as one of its founding members.

Nonetheless, the bill is still on its earliest phase yet, and many could happen to move forward. For it to become a law, it still has to withstand the possible opposition by Republicans in both the House and the Senate.

But it seems like the bill has an unlikely ally in the person of Donald Trump as the new proposal came out after Trump criticized cryptocurrencies.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, the POTUS said that he is not a “fan” of cryptocurrencies, asserted that America has only one currency, criticized bitcoin, as well as told Facebook that they need a banking charter if they want to launch their newly announced crypto-based money called Libra.

Trump said cryptocurrencies are not money, and “Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity.”

“If Facebook and other companies want to become a bank, they must seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations,” said the president.

According to the President, the dollar is the only currency in America, and Libra, among other cryptocurrencies, are not “real money.”

“We have only one real currency in the USA, and it is stronger than ever, both dependable and reliable. It is by far the most dominant currency anywhere in the World, and it will always stay that way. It is called the United States Dollar!” Trump said in a tweet.

Trump’s sentiments echoed similar apprehensions from cryptocurrency critics who have been advocating against the growth of the “volatile” blockchain technology and crypto money. Many argue that those attributes count against the wider adoption of digital currencies.

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Ireland To Investigate Google’s Potential Data Breach

They are “looking into it.”

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Photo: Paul Robertson | Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Ireland’s data protection regulating body is set to investigate the potential data breach in Google, following the confirmation from the tech superpower that their employees are listening to the recordings taken from their Smart Home speakers.

The Data Protection Commission in Ireland is set to look into the possibility of Google violating the privacy and data protection of users after admitting having linguistics experts listen to “anonymous” recordings taken from their smart speakers.

Google listens to smart home speaker recordings

According to Google, linguistics experts are listening to “snippets” of recordings made by users to improve the device’s artificial intelligence for voice recognition technology used in their smart home systems and smartphones. Nonetheless, they clarified that the tapes were randomly snipped and are unnamed.

After Ireland’s data privacy agency was made aware of the reports on Thursday, a spokesperson said that they would be “looking into it.” It is, however, unclear at this point if any Irish customers were affected by the potential violation of consumer privacy.

“We received a breach notification from Google on Thursday evening in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and we are currently assessing the information we have,” Spokesperson for the Commission, Graham Doyle said.

The smart speaker from Google understands and responds to voice commands given to it, answering queries about the news and weather, as well as being able to control other internet-connected devices around the home.

In a statement released by the search engine and smart device tycoon, Google reveals that its experts transcribed a small number of anonymous recordings, and an investigation has been launched following the controversial Dutch tape recordings that were leaked in the recent months.

“We partner with language experts around the world to improve speech technology by transcribing a small set of queries – this work is critical to developing technology that powers products like the Google Assistant,” Google said.

“Language experts only review around 0.2% of all audio snippets, and these snippets are not associated with user accounts as part of the review process.”

The statement continued: “We just learned that one of these reviewers had violated our data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data.”

“Our Security and Privacy Response teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating, and we will take action. We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again,” they added.

Data breach plagues smart home manufacturers

Similarly, earlier reports have tagged a similar system released by Amazon, Alexa, to have been listening to the recordings made by their users in their smart home devices. Amazon admits the process and justified it in the same manner as Google, citing its role in the development and improvement of artificial intelligence.

Privacy campaigners claimed it was a “data protection disaster waiting to happen.”

Privacy concerns are not only limited to smart home speakers. Last week, Chinese smart home devices manufacturer Orvibo suffered a data breach that exposed the exact geolocation of their users through their device’s GPS.

Google and other tech companies “cannot be trusted”

The announcement of Google’s potential data breach follows the recent report that the majority of Americans do not trust Facebook and Google. The recent poll conducted by McLaughlin and Associate revealed that 76.7% of conservative America does not trust Facebook and Google to be unbiased and to treat everyone equal. The survey asked respondents several questions to understand their perception and their opinions towards Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google, Youtube, and Twitter.

And the results for the overall trustworthiness perception of tech companies isn’t far from the results from conservative respondents. Of all the respondents, around 63.4 percent of them said that Facebook and Google could not be trusted to treat all its users equally.

The results, which also revealed that conservatives also don’t trust Google, came following a crucial “bias” issue that the tech giant is facing. 62.9 percent of conservative respondents saying they do not believe the company treats users equally, while nearly half of the respondents polled in general — 47.9 percent — agreed that Google is untrustworthy.

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