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El Chapo Guilty on All Counts!!! El Locked Up for Life

2/12/2019 11:43 AM PST
Breaking News

11:35 AM PT -- The sketch artist in the courtroom caught the moment El Chapo and his wife exchanged thumbs-up after the verdict was announced.

Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman is guilty on all 10 counts he was facing in a Brooklyn federal court ... and he's now facing life in prison.

A jury of 7 women and 5 men returned the verdict Tuesday to wrap up a nearly 3-month long criminal trial that included up to 200 hours of testimony about drug trafficking, gold-plated AK-47s, diamond-encrusted pistols ... and an alleged $100 million payment to a former Mexican president.

After 6 days of deliberations, the jury returned guilty verdicts against Chapo for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds, international distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs and use of firearms.

Reporters in the courtroom say Chapo looks stunned by the verdict, and his wife, Emma Coronel, fought back tears ... even as she and Chapo gave each other thumbs up. 

It's been a wild ride for the Sinaloa Cartel's leader over these past few years. He was captured by the Mexican government in 2014, escaped more than a year later through a mile-long underground tunnel ... but got caught again in early 2016. 

He was extradited to the U.S. in 2017, and between then and last November -- when his criminal trial got underway -- there have been a series of weird motions and rulings about his life behind bars. Just to name a few, Chapo has had prison TV woes, prayer problems, love letter recommendations and made a heartfelt promise NOT to kill his anonymous jurors. 

Law enforcement sources tell us Chapo is looking at a mandatory life sentence ... without parole. Sentencing will be announced June 25.

Chapo's lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman -- who's in the unenviable position of losing the case -- tells us, "We're very disappointed but we fought like hell and left it all on the battlefield." 

Originally published -- 9:42 AM PST

R. Kelly Judge Meets Him Halfway ... Gets Studio Hours Extended

2/8/2019 11:37 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

2/8 11:33 AM PT -- It seems as though Kelly has already complied with the court's demand to remove the bed.

2/8 -- The judge agreed to meet him in the middle -- he has extended the working hours for the first-floor studio space from 9 AM-9 PM.

Kelly's also been ordered to remove the mattress immediately.

R. Kelly's attorney, Melvin Sims, tells TMZ that they are pleased with the outcome, but still "concerned with the restriction and limitation of any recording artist's ability to create music and ply their trade in a private studio, to certain hours of the day, particularly through the use of local ordinances."

The case has been continued until May 2.

R. Kelly wants back in his studio, and he wants to work late-night hours -- 'cause that's when his creative juices flow the best ... according to new legal docs.

The singer filed paperwork in Chicago Thursday as part of his building code violations case asking a judge to give him access to his studio during the wee hours of the night. According to the docs -- obtained by TMZ -- Kelly wants access to the space between the hours of 8 PM to 7 AM.

Kelly says it's during those hours when he puts in the best work on his music, just like a lot of big artists in and around Chi-Town. He also lists this schedule as his employees' normal working hours.

In the docs, obtained by TMZ, R. Kelly doesn't spell it out specifically, but we've been told by sources close to the singer that he sometimes spends up to 15 hours in his studio ... and needs a place to crash -- hence the bed that was there as of Wednesday when city officials did a follow-up inspection to Thursday's hearing.

These are photos taken from inside R. Kelly's studio, and as you can tell ... there's still a bed inside that hasn't been removed. City officials attached this photo as evidence that R. Kelly is using the space as a residence, even though he says he's removed most of his other belongings since the city's January raid. 

A city inspection showed a number of personal items were being stored inside the studio, including clothes, a massage table, couches, an entertainment set and other miscellaneous items. There was even a full bathroom that'd been installed, shower included.

The building's landlord was facing heavy fines for each of the violations -- which ranged between $500 and $1,000 for each day the violation went unaddressed, adding up to staggering amounts in the tens of thousands. Sources close to R. Kelly tell us he helped the landlord pay off some of those fines.

R. Kelly had already been instructed that he could only use the studio for recording during business hours -- 9 AM to 5 PM.

A judge continued the case and is expected to officially weigh in Friday.

Originally Published -- 2/7/2019 11:44 AM PST

Van Jones Trump's SOTU Address ... A Bowl of Kool-Aid with Bird Poop!!!

2/6/2019 8:49 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Van Jones wants to give President Trump credit for his State of the Union Address, but he can hardly bring himself to do it ... because he says POTUS also talked way too much crap on immigrants.

We got Van on Capitol Hill Tuesday night after the SOTU and the CNN commentator summed up the night like this -- Trump served a "nice bowl of Kool-Aid with some bird poop in it."

Translation: Trump's nice speech about criminal justice reform was ruined by his rhetoric on immigrants.

Van said he was touched by the compassion Trump showed for Americans wronged by the criminal justice system, and particularly how he praised Alice Marie Johnson, who Trump commuted last summer.

But, Van was NOT down with how POTUS dehumanized immigrants and justifying taking babies away from their mothers at the border.

Plain and simple ... Van was temporarily inspired, but mostly disgusted with Trump's address.

Bill Bellamy Gov. Northam's Gotta Resign Now ... No Excuse for Blackface

2/3/2019 3:11 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Bill Bellamy says Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has no choice but to resign after admitting he'd worn blackface in his youth ... 'cause he thinks people don't really change.

We got the longtime comedian Sunday at LAX and asked what he thought of Gov. Northam denying he was pictured in an old blackface photo that surfaced in his medical school's yearbook but copping to wearing blackface for a Michael Jackson costume/dance contest.

Northam told reporters Saturday that while he does not believe he was in either of the racist costumes that showed up on his own personal yearbook page, he did explain how he once put shoe polish on his face to dance like MJ. He also said he wasn't resigning.

Bill thinks the scandal's too big for the Gov not to step down, despite his best efforts to wiggle out of the predicament. According to BB ... you simply can't serve as a state's representative with that in your history ... no matter how far back it goes, period. 

Northam apologized for the photos and his participation in the blackface, but Bill thinks there's no saving grace here. The way he sees it ... once a racist, always a racist.

Chicago's Polar Vortex Straw Bins to Rescue 200k Stray Cats!!!

1/30/2019 1:15 PM PST
Exclusive Details

Even 9 lives can't withstand 20 degrees below zero -- which is why Chicagoans are on a mission to save hundreds of thousands of stray cats ... with the help of tons of straw.

A grassroots community in Chi-Town called "Chicago Community Cats" has been bracing for a week for the polar vortex temperatures by prepping makeshift shelters for stray and feral cats. Erica Roewade, who runs the group, says about 200 people have been working around the clock to build straw-stuffed bins to keep the kitties warm.

It's a huge undertaking. Chi-Town reportedly has roughly 200k feral cats roaming its streets and alleys.

Roewade says the group has also purchased about 100 "Snuggle Safe Disks" (which also keep pets warm), heated water bowls and other supplies to distribute throughout the city. 

Considering temps are expected to stay in the negative all week -- Roewade says the most important thing is to keep the frigid wind and airflow off the kitties. 

Tom Brokaw on Hispanics GOPers Always Tell Me ... IDK If I Want Brown Grandbabies

1/27/2019 4:20 PM PST

Tom Brokaw is offering a half-ass apology for going on national TV and expressing some pretty xenophobic thoughts on the Hispanic community.

The iconic news anchor was on "Meet the Press" Sunday with a group of panelists, who were discussing what it would take to unite the country at this point. The convo weirdly went from the U.S. standing up to Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro to Brokaw offering his take on how the GOP is grappling with a rising Latinx electorate.

Brokaw said one of the issues that's affecting the GOP these days -- according to people who confide in him, apparently -- is that they're worried the U.S. is becoming flooded with Hispanic voters, who by and large register as Democrats. 

Then the xenophobia ... Brokaw said conservative folks have expressed fear of having "brown grandbabies" due to interracial couples. He piggybacked on that sentiment with his own two cents ... saying the Hispanic community should "work harder" at assimilating in this country -- namely, by speaking English and making everyone else comfortable.

The backlash was swift on social media ... and Tom followed up later Sunday by saying he felt terrible if part of his comments offended anyone in "that proud culture," adding that he's worked hard to knock down false stereotypes over the course of his career. 

He finished by reiterating his point about both sides needing to work to find common ground -- but a lot of people took his statement as a de facto non-apology.

Back to you, Tom.

XXXTentacion Girlfriend Gives Birth to Son ... 7 Months After Murder

1/27/2019 6:45 AM PST

XXXTentacion's legacy lives on, in the form of a baby boy who was born 7 months after his tragic death.

X's girlfriend gave birth Saturday to Gekyume Onfroy. The kid already has a nickname -- Yume! Gekyume is derived from a word X created. It means "a different state" or the next universe of thought. X's mom and girlfriend say X himself chose the name for his firstborn son.

Both mother and child are healthy.

Yume was born 3 days after what would have been X's 21st birthday.

TMZ broke the story ... X was murdered in his car last June in Broward County after 2 men were lying in wait as he left a motorcycle dealership. Four men were arrested and are awaiting trial.

MAGA Hat Student Nick Sandmann KY Prosecutor Warns ... Prison Sentences for School Threats

1/25/2019 12:30 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

The Kentucky prosecutor investigating threats against Nick Sandmann's high school wants to punish anyone threatening physical harm ... with prison time.

Rob Sanders, whose jurisdiction includes Covington Catholic High School, tells us he's deadly serious about seeking incarceration for people threatening Sandmann's teachers and classmates ... because it's a Class D felony in Kentucky, punishable by 1 to 5 years in a state penitentiary.

As you know ... threats against Nick and others at his school have been pouring in via email, phone calls and social media, ever since his confrontation with Native American elder Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial.

Sanders says the threats include burning down the school, blowing up the school, shooting up the school and attacking students ... and he wants to set an example for the nation -- threats made on social media have real-world consequences.  

Sanders makes it clear he doesn't have a political dog in the fight. His only point is it's totally unacceptable to ever threaten kids, and watch ... he's not about to stop with fines.

MAGA Hat Student My Smirk Wasn't Really a Smirk ... Here's What It Meant

1/23/2019 6:37 AM PST

The MAGA hat-wearing student who faced off with a Native American Vietnam-era vet says his smirk seen 'round the world wasn't out of smugness ... just peaceful defiance.

Covington Catholic High School junior Nick Sandmann appeared on "Today" Wednesday with Savannah Guthrie, who grilled him on a number of topics -- most importantly ... why didn't he just walk away, and what was up with that smirk on his face?

Sandmann says, in hindsight, he wishes he would've just walked when Nathan Phillips came up to him drumming. That said, he explains that, in the moment, he felt leaving or making any sudden movement would've escalated the situation.

On that smirk ... Sandmann says it was just him smiling with the message of, "[T]hat is the best you're going to get out of me, you won't get any further reaction of aggression and I'm going to stand here as long as you want to hit that drum in my face."

Sandmann further explained people who have come to judge him based on one expression they saw have jumped to harsh conclusions based on mere assumptions.

The full interview can be watched on the "Today" website.

Oldest Living Man Dead at 113

1/20/2019 7:31 AM PST

The oldest living man died peacefully Sunday morning in his home ... at 113 years old.

Masazo Nonaka was born in 1905. To put this in context, it's when Albert Einstein unveiled to the world his theory of relativity.

Speaking of relativity ... Nonaka was relatively independent. He used a wheelchair to get around and enjoyed reading newspapers and venturing out to a nearby spring bath once a week. He also loved eating sweets at the end of a meal.

His granddaughter said, "We feel shocked at the loss of this big figure. He was, as usual yesterday and passed away without causing our family any fuss at all."

Nonaka doesn't hold the Guinness World Record of all time ... the oldest living man was also from Japan and died in 2013 at 116 years old.

The oldest living woman was from France and died in 1997 at 122. 

RIP

MLK, JFK, RFK, Malcolm X Celebs and Fams of Kennedy, MLK Demand New Probes ... Assassinations Were Conspiracies

1/19/2019 8:00 PM PST

Sixty prominent citizens are marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day by calling for new investigations into the assassinations of 4 men -- assassinations that changed the world -- John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

The group -- The Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) -- believes all 4 assassinations were the result of conspiracies that were covered up by the government.

Members of TRC include Oliver Stone, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Rob Reiner, David Crosby, Mort Sahl, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and MLK's nephew Isaac Newton Farris Jr.

TRC claims, "The conviction of James Earl Ray [MLK's convicted killer] has steadily lost credibility over the years." They note following the verdict, Coretta Scott King said, "There is abundant evidence of a major, high-level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband."

The JFK assassination has long been controversial and scores of experts and others including Dr. Robert McClelland, one of the surgeons who tried to save JFK's life, believe Oswald did not act alone.

There has also been significant criticism into the murder of Malcolm X, suggesting the investigations was a massive coverup.

As for Robert Kennedy, TRC calls the trial of Sirhan Sirhan, "A mockery of a trial that has been demolished by numerous eyewitnesses, investigators and experts," including the then L.A. County Coroner. TRC says forensic evidence proves the fatal shot was not at the hands of Sirhan.

TRC wants Congress to establish real oversight and document release, including a public inquest which will be modeled on the Truth and Reconciliation process in post-apartheid South Africa.

Trump on Gov. Shutdown Give me the Wall, You Get DACA Relief ... D.O.A. with Dems

1/19/2019 5:42 PM PST
Breaking News

5:40 PM PT -- Nancy Pelosi seems to have changed her a tune a tad in light of the President's announcement, saying Dems will vote next week to "add additional border security funding for ports of entry, advanced technology for scanning vehicles for drugs & immigration judges." 

That doesn't sound like she's budging on the issue of the "wall." Time will tell, though.

President Trump wants to strike a new deal with Democrats to reopen the government -- but his plan is already being shot down by the party's leaders.

DT made his pitch Saturday in a nationally televised address from the White House, where he basically offered limited protections for current DACA recipients and immigrants with temporary protected status in exchange for the border security funding he's demanded.

Trump said he'd give 700,000 people eligible for DACA three years of legislative relief and extend TPS for 300,000 immigrant beneficiaries if Congress would give him his big ask of $5.7 billion for a border structure (which he says will only consist of about 230 miles of steel barriers rather than a 2,000-mile-plus concrete wall). 

He's also asking for $805 mil to implement new drug smuggling technology, another $800 mil for humanitarian assistance at the southern border, about 2,750 border agents to be hired on, 75 new immigration judges as part of his package.

Unfortunately for the Prez, word about what he'd be proposing leaked early ... and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement which in effect turned him down before he could even get a word out. She says his new proposal is one that's been discussed in the past and is literally a "non-starter."

Either way, Trump says Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is going to introduce these new proposals in a bill on the Senate floor this week. Unclear if it'll pass in the House though.

In other words ... we're still in shutdown mode, for now.

Originally Published -- 1:49 PM PST

13-Year-Old Jayme Closs Smiling After She's Reunited with Aunt

1/11/2019 3:55 PM PST
Breaking News

3:55 PM -- The first photo of Jayme has surfaced ... showing her smiling with her aunt and godmother, Jennifer Naiberg Smith. As we told you ... they were reunited this afternoon at the hospital where Jayme was being evaluated.

1:57 PM -- Officials say cops recovered a shotgun consistent with what was used at the scene of the homicide. Cops say Patterson -- who shaved his head after allegedly killing Jayme's parents to hide from cops -- shot the door open.

Cops say Patterson had a small connection to Jayme's parents -- working at the same turkey processing plant as them for one day three years ago -- and he intentionally went looking for her. Cops say it's unclear right now why Patterson targeted Jayme. Patterson will make his first court appearance Monday in Barron County court.

Officials added Jayme was reunited with her aunt at the hospital Friday afternoon. She'll be reunited with her family later this evening. 

8:07 AM -- Officials have identified the kidnapper as 21-year-old Jake Thomas Patterson. He's been charged with 2 counts of first-degree homicide for the killing of Jayme's parents and 1 count of kidnapping. Patterson's being held in Barron County jail. Authorities say Jake had no criminal history and had no connection to the Closs family. 

Officials say it's unclear how Jayme escaped her captor but added she perfectly described one of Patterson's vehicles, which helped cops quickly spot his car. Cops pulled Patterson over and arrested him without incident.  

A 13-year-old girl who went missing 3 months ago after her parents were murdered was miraculously found alive ... and her captor is now in police custody.

Jayme Closs was found in the rural town of Gordon, Wisconsin (population less than 1,000) after escaping from a cabin and pleading with a neighbor walking her dog for help. According to reports ... Jayme was malnourished and disheveled ... wearing dirty clothes and shoes too big for her.

The dog walker then frantically knocked on a neighbor's door telling him to call 911. Minutes later, a large police presence descended on the suspect and arrested him. Authorities have not named the suspect.

Jayme was reported missing back on October 15 after her parents -- James and Denise Closs -- were found shot to death in their Barron, Wisconsin home ... about 65 miles south of where Jayme was found. Cops believe Jayme was home when her parents were murdered.

Officials say they received thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and thousands volunteered for a massive ground search ... but she never turned up.

After calling 911, the neighbor offered Jayme food and water but she declined. She was taken to a hospital where she was evaluated and has since been reunited with family.

Elizabeth Smart -- who also escaped her captors after she was kidnapped in 2002 -- called Jayme a "brave, strong and powerful survivor." Smart added, "No matter what may unfold in her story let’s all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED and whatever other details may surface the most important will still remain that she is alive."

Originally published -- 6:55 AM PT

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