Netflix has a captivating true-crime series in 'Evil Genius,' the wild story of a 'pizza bomber heist'

Evil Genius

  • Netflix has a popular and compelling new docuseries in its recent original series, “Evil Genius.”
  • The four-part series explores the wild criminal case surrounding the 2003 death of Brian Wells, a pizza-delivery man who died after robbing a bank in Erie, Pennsylvania.
  • “Evil Genius” has a 73% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it has drawn significant buzz from audiences as another captivating entry in Netflix’s true-crime catalog. 

Netflix has another captivating docuseries in its recent original series, “Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist.”

Over four episodes, the series explores the criminal case surrounding the 2003 death of Brian Wells, a pizza-delivery man who robbed a bank in Erie, Pennsylvania. Wells died shortly afterward when a bomb strapped to his neck detonated in front of police. 

The robbery was planned and executed by a group of four “fractured intellectuals,” including a woman named Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong — a “middle-aged mastermind” grappling with mental illness — and her former fiance, Bill Rothstein, who are the focus of the series. 

Diehl-Armstrong died in federal prison in 2017, serving a life sentence for planning the heist and murder.

But “Evil Genius” complicates the narrative of the heist and case with new evidence and a noteworthy confession.  

Executive produced by Mark and Jay Duplass (the producers of Netflix’s “Wild Wild Country”), “Evil Genius” has a 73% critic rating on the reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, but its 88% audience rating is reflective of the significant buzz the series has drawn since its release last Friday. 

CNN’s Brian Lawry had one of the more laudatory reviews of the series, writing, “With Evil Genius there’s actually a sense of discovery, and a crime spree so unusual that it genuinely approximates a Coen brothers movie, down to the quirky assortment of culprits and stooges.”

Watch a trailer for the series below, and find “Evil Genius” on Netflix.

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Robert Mueller scores a victory as federal judge allows criminal case against Paul Manafort to move forward

Paul Manafort

  • A federal judge in Washington DC is proceeding with the criminal case brought forward by special counsel Robert Mueller, regarding Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman.
  • US district judge Amy Jackson declined to throw out the case against Manafort, who faces two indictments from the special counsel.
  • “Given the combination of his prominence within the campaign and his ties to Ukrainian officials supported by and operating out of Russia, as well as to Russian oligarchs, Manafort was an obvious person of interest,” the ruling said.

A federal judge in Washington DC is proceeding with the criminal case brought forward by special counsel Robert Mueller, regarding Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman.

US district judge Amy Jackson declined to throw out the case against Manafort, who faces two indictments from the special counsel. Manafort is charged in Virginia and Washington with tax and bank fraud connected to his lobbying work for the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia interests in Ukraine.

The judge deemed that the indictment “falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel.”

“Given the combination of his prominence within the campaign and his ties to Ukrainian officials supported by and operating out of Russia, as well as to Russian oligarchs, Manafort was an obvious person of interest,” the ruling reads.

Judge Jackson previously dismissed a civil case Manafort filed against Mueller, in which Manafort’s attorneys argued that the scope of Mueller’s investigation was too broad.

Manafort’s lawyers’ previous push for dismissal hinged on the argument that because the crimes in question do not directly relate to Mueller’s core mandate — investigating whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow — he was not authorized to charge Manafort with them.

Judge Jackson added that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein followed the appropriate rules and possessed the judicial authority when he appointed Mueller to investigate the Russian government’s efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

In appointing Mueller in May 2017, Rosenstein gave him broad authority not only to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated” with the Trump campaign, but also to examine “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

Earlier this year, it surfaced that Rosenstein also sent a memo to Mueller in August outlining the full scope of his mandate and specific threads he was allowed to investigate.

Per the memo, Mueller is authorized to investigate two threads related to Manafort:

  • Whether Manafort colluded with Russian government officials as Russia was trying to meddle in the 2016 US election.
  • Whether he committed any crimes “arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian government before and during the tenure of President Viktor Yanukovych.”

Manafort pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Sonam Sheth contributed reporting.

SEE ALSO: Trump’s lawyers are ‘anxious’ for a ruling in Manafort’s case as they gear up to take on Mueller

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HBO is making a series that will 're-examine' the murder case of the 'Serial' podcast

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  • HBO and Sky Atlantic are making a documentary series that will “closely re-examine” the murder case of Adnan Syed, the subject of the popular podcast “Serial.”
  • The four-hour series, directed by Oscar-nominated documentarian Amy Berg, is titled “The Case Against Adnan Syed.”
  • The series promises “new discoveries, as well as groundbreaking revelations that challenge the state’s case” in Syed’s trial.

HBO is teaming with the UK’s Sky Atlantic to release a documentary series following the murder case and conviction of Adnan Syed, the subject of the first season of the popular podcast “Serial” from 2014.

Directed by Oscar-nominated documentarian Amy Berg (“Deliver Us From Evil”), the four-hour series is titled “The Case Against Adnan Syed.” 

The series will “closely re-examine” the 1999 disappearance and murder of 18-year-old Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee, and the subsequent conviction of Syed, her ex-boyfriend.

A press release on the series states that the show will present “new discoveries, as well as groundbreaking revelations that challenge the state’s case.”

Syed was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2000 for Hae Min Lee’s murder. In March of this year, Maryland’s court of special appeals granted a retrial for Syed’s case. The Baltimore Sun reported this week that Syed’s prosecutors had asked the court to reverse the retrial ruling. 

Berg has been working on “The Case Against Adnan Syed” since 2015, per the release. The show will also feature original music from singer-songwriter Nick Cave. 

“We’ll be offering viewers a compelling window into one of the most talked about murder cases in recent years,” Sky director of programming Zai Bennett told Variety of the series. “The hugely talented Amy Berg has unprecedented access to those closest to the investigation, which is sure to make unmissable viewing.”

HBO has not yet announced a release date for the series. 

SEE ALSO: The best TV show of 2018 on each network so far — from FX to Netflix to HBO

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Fox News settles a slew of discrimination lawsuits for around $10 million

fox news

  • Fox News reportedly reached a $10 million settlement for several discrimination lawsuits filed by 18 current and former employees.
  • The ranged from claims of racial, gender, and pregnancy discrimination.
  • The settlement would force the plaintiffs to drop their claims and find employment elsewhere, never to return to Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox.

Fox News reportedly reached a $10 million settlement for several discrimination lawsuits filed by 18 current and former employees, according to The New York Times.

The lawsuits ranged from claims of mistreatment based on racial, gender, and pregnancy, including one that alleged no action was taken after repeated complaints about what was described as “abhorrent, intolerable, unlawful and hostile racial discrimination.”

“When it comes to racial discrimination, 21st Century Fox has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox,” Douglas Wigdor and Jeanne Christensen, representatives of the plaintiffs, previously said in a statement cited by BuzzFeed News.

Fox News denied the allegations.

“We believe these latest claims are without legal basis and look forward to proving that Fox News at all times has acted appropriately, and lawfully,” a spokesperson said regarding a pregnancy discrimination allegation in 2017. “[Fox] is committed to a diverse workplace that is free from all forms of discrimination.”

The plaintiffs included Fox News reporters who appear on radio and television, including Kelly Wright, a black employee of the network since 2003.

Wright claimed in his filing that he was marginalized by the network’s so-called “plantation-style management.”

The settlement would bind the plaintiffs to drop their claims and find employment elsewhere, never to return to Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, according to The Times. The parties would be barred from disclosing their respective settlement amounts, but will not prevent them from discussing their allegations.

The settlement marks the end of another chapter in the network’s history of scandals. A string of sexual-harassment allegations have ratteled the network previously — which led to the ouster of several influential figures in 2017, most notably Bill O’Reilly, and then-chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.

SEE ALSO: Fox News is in the middle of a class-action racial-discrimination lawsuit

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John Oliver mocks AT&T for paying Michael Cohen to 'understand' Trump's thinking

john oliver michael cohen

  • John Oliver on Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight” mocked AT&T for paying Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, for “insights into understanding” Trump’s thinking. 
  • They put their trust in a political novice who turned out to be a total moron and was actually just bilking them for personal gain,” Oliver said of AT&T and the several companies that admitted to paying Cohen.
  • “You want to know how the Trump administration works? Congratulations, you just got a f—ing master class,” he continued. 

John Oliver turned his attention, on the latest episode of “Last Week Tonight,” to the series of controversies surrounding President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. 

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and a lawyer so sh—y, he made Trump say, ‘I need someone good — get me Rudy Giuliani on the phone,'” Oliver joked. 

In January, a Wall Street Journal report revealed that Cohen had facilitated a $130,000 hush payment to the porn actress Stormy Daniels in the final weeks of the 2016 election campaign to prevent her from coming forward about an alleged affair with Trump.  

Last week, Cohen drew further scrutiny after a report from Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, alleged that Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, accepted payments from corporations that included AT&T, Novartis, and Korea Aerospace Industries. 

Oliver proceeded to mock AT&T, which is currently in a legal battle with the Justice Department over its proposed merger with HBO’s parent company, Time Warner, for the company’s statement addressing the controversy, saying that they paid Cohen to “provide insights into understanding the new administration.”

“If you want to understand this president’s thinking,” Oliver said, “simply have a donkey kick you in the head five times and then watch Fox News for 72 hours straight. That would give you a pretty good idea of what’s going on his mind.”

“These companies got exactly what they paid for, because they wanted to understand how the Trump administration worked, and think about it: They put their trust in a political novice who turned out to be a total moron and was actually just bilking them for personal gain,” Oliver said of Cohen.

“So, you want to know how the Trump administration works? Congratulations, you just got a f—ing master class.”

Watch a clip from the episode below: 

SEE ALSO: The best TV show of 2018 on each network so far — from FX to Netflix to HBO

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Uber has hired a former head of the national transportation safety agency following the company's fatal Arizona crash

uber driver nightmare

  • Uber announced Monday that it has hired a former chairman on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to advise the company on safety culture following a fatal Arizona crash involving one of its self-driving cars.
  • The announcement coincides with The Information’s report that Uber determined the fatal crash was caused by a problem with the software that detected the pedestrian yet decided no reaction was needed.
  • The company said Monday that a full safety review of its self-driving vehicle program is underway as well.

Uber Technologies said Monday it has hired a former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman to advise the company on its safety culture after a fatal self-driving crash in Arizona.

Online news outlet The Information reported Monday that Uber has determined the likely cause of the fatal collision was a problem with the software that decides how the car should react to objects it detects. The outlet said the car’s sensors detected the pedestrian but the software decided it did not need to react right away.

“We have initiated a top-to-bottom safety review of our self-driving vehicles program, and we have brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture,” Uber said Monday. “Our review is looking at everything from the safety of our system to our training processes for vehicle operators, and we hope to have more to say soon.”

A 49-year-old woman was killed on March 18 after being hit by an Uber self-driving sports utility vehicle while walking across a street in Phoenix, leading the company to suspend testing of autonomous vehicles. Arizona’s governor also ordered a halt to Uber’s testing.

Uber declined to comment on the Information report. “We can’t comment on the specifics of the incident,” the company said, citing the ongoing NTSB investigation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also investigating the incident.

Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in April the ride-sharing company still believes in the prospects for autonomous transport. “Autonomous (vehicles) at maturity will be safer,” he said at a Washington event.

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'It's a dead issue': Rudy Giuliani says Trump was 'unaware' of Michael Cohen's financial dealings

Rudy Giuliani

  • Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for President Donald Trump, denied Trump was aware of Michael Cohen’s financial dealings that were brought to light in a report published on Tuesday.
  • The report alleges that a firm linked to Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, was compensated for various services to major firms, including one linked to a Russian oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • Giuliani said Trump was not concerned about the report’s findings.

The former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team for the Russia investigation, said Trump was not aware of Michael Cohen’s financial dealings that gained intense scrutiny after a bombshell report surfaced on Tuesday.

“The president was unaware of this,” Giuliani told Bloomberg on Wednesday. “The president is not involved in any respect. It’s a dead issue as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, took some heat a day earlier after a report published by Michael Avenatti, the attorney for the adult-film star, Stormy Daniels, who is suing Trump and Cohen, detailed large sums of money funneled to a shell company linked to Cohen.

The firm, Essential Consultants LLC, appeared to have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from major corporations like Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical firm; Korea Aerospace Industries, a South Korean defense contractor; and AT&T, the giant US telecom company.

According to the report, Cohen’s firm also received a $500,000 payment from Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, shortly after the 2016 US presidential election.

The identified companies brushed off concerns about whether their payments to Cohen’s firm were inappropriate.

“Essential Consulting was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration,” AT&T said in a statement. “They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017.”

Giuliani reiterated that Trump did not know why Cohen received payment from the companies, and said Trump’s legal team has “no reason to be concerned about it or to pursue it any further.”

SEE ALSO: Rudy Giuliani shreds Michael Avenatti’s bombshell report on Russian reimbursements, calls him ‘a pretty unsuccessful lawyer’

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Former boss of Anbang Insurance Group sentenced to 18 years in prison for fraud

Wu Xiaohui, Chairman of Anbang

  • Wu Xiaohui, former chairman of Anbang Insurance Group, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for fundraising fraud and embezzlement.
  • Anbang was founded in 2004 and bought the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. It also has significant stakes in Chinese banks and property developers. 


Wu Xiaohui, former chairman of Anbang Insurance group, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for fundraising fraud and embezzlement, state-run China Daily reported

Wu, 51, founded private insurer Anbang in 2004, and in 2014, bought the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. It also has significant stakes in Chinese banks and property developers. 

Wu stood trial at the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court in March and admitted at the time that he played a role in a fundraising scheme that brought in more than 723 billion yuan ($115.2 billion) from unlawful dealings. He initially contested charges against him but later asked for leniency

He has also been accused of misleading investors and diverting 65.25 billion yuan ($10.4 billion) to companies that he controlled, and funneled funds into overseas investment and personal spending.  

Regulators seized control of Anbang in February. The company boasted of extensive ties to China’s Communist Party, and Wu himself is married to the granddaughter of Deng Xiaoping, China’s former paramount leader.

Wu had links to US presidential adviser Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, and reportedly met with Wu in November 2016, shortly after Trump won the election. 

Both Kushner and Wu are real-estate investors, and Kushner’s family business, Kushner Companies, were in talks on a $4 billion deal with Anbang last March. However, the deal fell through shortly after news broke following scrutiny from US lawmakers. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating contact between Kushner and foreign investors during the transition period, specifically looking at Kushner’s interactions with Anbang. 

SEE ALSO: Just after Trump won, his son-in-law had a cozy meeting with a Chinese exec who’s buying US assets left and right

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Dr. Dre lost a trademark battle to a gynecologist in Pennsylvania called Dr. Drai

Dr. Dre

  • Dr. Dre has lost a trademark battle to a gynecologist called Dr. Drai, BBC News reports.
  • Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, filed a complaint in 2015 against Draion M. Burch, saying that Burch’s moniker would cause “confusion” for consumers.
  • Burch argued that consumers would be unlikely to confuse him with Young “because Dr. Dre is not a medical doctor.”
  • The US Patent and Trademark Office dismissed Young’s case in a ruling last week.

Dr. Dre lost a long-running trademark dispute this week to a Pennsylvania-based gynecologist who was looking to trademark the name Dr. Drai, BBC News reports.

Dr. Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, filed a complaint in 2015 against the gynecologist, Draion M. Burch, saying that Burch’s “Dr. Drai” moniker would cause “confusion” in the marketplace, as Burch intended to sell audio books and web seminars using the name.

But the US Patent and Trademark Office dismissed Young’s case in a ruling last week, saying that the music mogul failed to show how people would be misled into buying Burch’s products, according to the BBC. 

Burch argued in the case that consumers would be unlikely to confuse him with Young “because Dr. Dre is not a medical doctor nor is he qualified to provide any type of medical services or sell products specifically in the medical or healthcare industry.”

He also stated that an association with Young would be “a bad reflection on me as a doctor,” citing “misogyny and homophobic things” in Young’s rap lyrics, according to The Washington Post

Burch, whose website touts himself as “One of America’s Top Women’s Health Experts,” is the author of a book called “20 Things You May Not Know About the Vagina,” and the host of web seminars with titles like “What Your Mama Didn’t Tell You About Making Babies.”

Young, the cofounder of headphone company Beats by Dre and a legendary producer and rapper, is currently working on new solo music to follow up his 2015 album “Compton.”

SEE ALSO: The 50 best-selling music artists of all time

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These are the 10 US states with the weakest gun laws in 2017

louisiana shooting

The US experienced another mass shooting on April 22, 2018 when a man entered a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee and opened fire, killing four people before a bystander heroically disarmed him. 

In terms of strict state gun laws, Tennessee falls in the middle of the pack, according to the Giffords Law Center’s Annual Gun Law Scorecard. In 2017, the Giffords Law Center ranked the state as having the 26th least strict gun laws in the US.

The Giffords Gun Law Scorecard’s methodology is based on nine different broad categories of laws, such as background checks, gun sales, and who can have a gun.

“We assign points to different policies … and they’re somewhat graduated based on the strength of the policy,” Laura Cutilletta, legal director at the Giffords Law Center, told Business Insider.

“We also take away points if a state has something particularly dangerous, like letting guns in bars,” Cutilletta said, adding that they then “add everything up, and we assign grades based on the points total.”

“Probably the most important part is we compare that to death rate in every state,” Cutilletta said, “and we find that there is a strong correlation between states with stronger gun laws and having lower gun death rates.”

Here are the 10 states with the weakest gun laws in 2017:

SEE ALSO: History of the AR-15 and why it’s used in so many mass shootings

10. Vermont

Gun death rate: 11 per 100,000 (36th lowest in the US). 

Cutilletta noted that Vermont might move up in the rankings, given that they just passed a number of stricter gun laws in 2018 already. 

9. Kentucky

Gun death rate: 17.5 per 100,000 (13th highest in the US). 

8. Louisiana

Gun death rate: 21.2 per 100,000 (3rd highest in the US). 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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