Italian wiretaps suggest that Toronto is on the verge of a mafia war

October 29, 2015

The long tentacles of the infamous Calabrian mafia are causing trouble in Canada. According to Italian prosecutors, the Toronto outposts of the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate may be preparing for armed confrontation.

Wiretaps recorded by Italian investigators show that following a high-profile mob killing in a Toronto suburb in 2014, tensions between mafia families from Italy’s Calabria region are brewing, Canada’s National Post reports.

The conversations of an accused mob member who returned to Italy from Toronto “seriously highlight the danger of an escalation of an armed conflict within the coterie of ’Ndrangheta clans,” Italian prosecutors concluded, “particularly among the Coluccio and the Figliomeni (clans).”

The Italian prosecutors, who prepared a series of documents as part of a sweeping anti-mafia case, said the escalation follows the murder of Carmine Verduci, a big mafioso in the Toronto area. The prosecutors are cooperating with Canadian police.

The National Post spoke to Toronto law enforcement, who haven’t noticed any increased activity among Italian organized crime figures.

Earlier this year, Canadian police broke up a ‘Ndrangheta drug ring, arresting 19 alleged high-level members of the criminal network. According to The National Post, there are at least seven primary ‘Ndrangheta clans in Toronto, supplying a “continuous flow of cocaine.” The Calabrian mafia is among the most powerful criminal organizations in the world. According to one estimate, in 2013 the clans made more than McDonald’s and Deutsche Bank put together.

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Court: Anti-Muslim slurs get legal protection

By Tresa Baldas

Detroit Free Press

8:45 a.m. EDT October 29, 2015

Marching around with a pig’s head on a pole while telling Dearborn Muslims they would “burn in hell” may have been loathsome and intolerable — but the First Amendment still protects and allows such activity, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

In a case that tests the limits of free speech, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a group of Christian evangelists who were evicted from a 2012 Arab-American street festival over their conduct. The demonstrators were marching around with a pig’s head mounted on a pole while carrying anti-Muslim signs and making anti-Muslim statements.

Sheriff’s deputies removed the demonstrators —  who were pelted with rocks, eggs and water bottles — to restore the peace.

But that triggered a lawsuit by a California group called Bible Believers, which claimed that Wayne County sheriff’s deputies failed to protect them, and instead unlawfully kicked them out to silence their protected speech.

The lawsuit failed twice, once in federal court in Detroit, then again before a three-judge panel with the Sixth Circuit, which concluded the sheriff’s deputies were justified in evicting the demonstrators.

The suit then went before the entire Sixth Circuit bench, which reversed course and ruled in favor of the Christian evangelists, concluding their speech was protected,

“Diversity, in viewpoints and among cultures, is not always easy. An inability or a general unwillingness to understand new or different points of view may breed fear, distrust and even loathing,” the justices wrote. “But … the First Amendment demands that we tolerate the viewpoints of others with whom we may disagree.”

The Sixth Circuit stressed that the First Amendment “envelops all manner of speech, even when that speech is loathsome in its intolerance, designed to cause offense, and, as a result of such offense, arouses violent retaliation.”

Attorney Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, who argued the case on behalf of the Bible Believers, applauded the decision, saying it was  “solidly on the side of free speech.”

“If this went the other way, it would incentivize  violence as a legitimate response to free speech, and that is wrong in our country,” Muise said.  “Any freedom-loving American enjoys protections of the First Amendment.”

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Producers of Tupac Biopic Sued for $10 Million

Ron Galella/Getty Images
By Christina Lee • October 29, 2015

Translation: No, you won’t be seeing the film anytime soon.

Production company Emmett/Furla Oasis has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Morgan Creek Productions. Both companies are producing the anticipated Tupac biopic; however, Emmett/Furla claims that Morgan Creek cast its Tupac Shakur without their permission—a breach of their contract. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Morgan Creek agreed to let Emmett/Furla have sole approval of the film’s director and the lead actor.

This latest development (if you can call it that) has hardly been the film’s only setback. John Singleton, who worked with the rapper and Janet Jackson in 1993’s Poetic Justice, was set to direct the biopic but then exited production in April. He now wants to direct a Tupac film of his own. “The people involved [in the biopic] aren’t really respectful of the legacy of Tupac,” John said at the time on Instagram. Carl Franklin is now set to direct.

In 2009, Morgan Creek sued Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur over the music rights to the film. Afeni countersued before both parties eventually settled in 2011.

Tupac is more than deserving of a film about his life. Among other life events, he started rapping while enrolled in a performing arts school, only for his mother Afeni to miss the early years of his music career because she got addicted to crack cocaine. Politicians feared him as he faced death threats. He survived several shootings as he rapped about how he was going to die at a young age, all before he was fatally shot at 25.

Revisit the Poetic Justice trailer below.

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Satanist Awaiting Murder Trial Found Dead of Apparent Suicide in North Carolina Jail

Chris Thompson

Firm that allegedly took $93M in financing to buy thousands of pelvic mesh cases leads in TV advertising, report says

John O’Brien

Oct. 27, 2015, 12:52pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Legal Newsline) – Trial lawyers will spend almost $900 million this year in broadcast advertising, a new report projects, with a firm that allegedly recently took in more than $90 million in funding to purchase lawsuits leading the way.

vagina mesh lawsuits

The report, written by University of San Francisco professor Ken Goldstein and Dhavan Shah of Sherpa Metrix, was prepared for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform’s annual summit, held Tuesday.

Goldstein and Shah’s research showed that broadcast advertising has grown by 68 percent over the past eight years, from $531 million in 2008 to a projected $892 million in 2015.

“(L)egal advertising not only appears to be recession-proof, but also politics-proof,” the report says.

“Unlike other major sectors, such as automotive advertising, legal advertising is unaffected by the onslaught of rate-raising political ads that flood many markets in election years.”

Goldstein and Shah project that AkinMears of Houston will spend more than $25 million this year. They reached that figure by obtaining the amount the firm has already spent this year, as of Sept. 30, and prorating it to the end of the year.

A lawsuit recently filed against the firm said it obtained $93 million in financing to purchase 14,000 pelvic mesh lawsuits.

Following closely behind AkinMears in TV spending is Morgan & Morgan and the Houston firm Pulaski & Middleman.

The others in the top 10 in TV spending are; James Sokolove Law Firm; Goldwater Law Firm; Los Defensores Attorney; Avvo; Jim S. Adler; and Cellino & Barnes.

The Tampa, Fla., market has seen the most legal ads this year with more than 164,000. It is followed by Orlando, Fla.; Atlanta; Las Vegas; Milwaukee; Detroit, Louisville, Ky.; Birmingham, Ala.; Mobile, Ala.; and Houston.

The four categories seeing the most spending are prescription drugs ($57.3 million), medical devices ($45.7 million), asbestos ($45.6 million) and lawsuit funding ($39.6 million).

The report also studied trial lawyers’ efforts to promote their websites. Seventy-eight of the top 100 Google search terms were legal terms, according to WebpageFX and SemRush.

A firm that would want a higher place for its ad on the Google search “San Antonio car wreck attorney” would need to spend more money than any other legal search term, the report showed.

The ILR owns Legal Newsline.

From Legal Newsline: Reach editor John O’Brien at

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