Nation and world news briefs

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Criticism mounts of Harvey Weinstein settlement deal: ‘Most one-sided and unfair settlement in history’

NEW YORK — A proposed $18.9 million settlement to compensate victims of Harvey Weinstein faced more criticism Monday ahead of a key court hearing.

Doug Wigdor, an attorney for six Weinstein accusers, called the deal “if approved, one of the most one-sided and unfair class settlements in history.”

Manhattan Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein will hold a hearing Tuesday on whether to approve the deal announced by Attorney General Letitia James, which resolves a 2018 suit filed by her office against The Weinstein Co., Harvey and Robert Weinstein and a class action suit brought by the producer’s sexual assault victims.

A handful of accusers have opted out of the proposed settlement, in part because insurers will cover the bill rather than Weinstein himself. The fallen Hollywood power player is serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape. Weinstein claims he is broke.

“The practical reality is that those who opt out of the settlement face an uncertain financial recovery, with The Weinstein Company bankrupt, and Mr. Weinstein defending legal matters, facing debt and judgments, frozen assets, marital and child support obligations, and a line of creditors looking for compensation,” Weinstein attorney Imran Ansari said. “Mr. Weinstein’s current and future financial state is far from healthy, not only has his personal liberty been taken from him, but his financial liberty as well.”

Elizabeth Fegan, an attorney for women who will accept the settlement, said “it is unlikely his victims could achieve more.”

—New York Daily News

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Stolen Disney memorabilia worth thousands found in online auction, authorities say

LOS ANGELES — After thousands of dollars in Disney memorabilia was stolen from a Northern Sacramento storage unit, authorities say they have made an arrest and recovered most of the items.

A woman reported the theft of several high-value Disney collectible items totaling about $35,000, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. The items were taken between December 2019 and late April, the woman said.

The sheriff’s property crime bureau found some of the items in an online auction and were able to identify a suspect in the theft, Deputy Joe Gordon said. Search warrants for the auction website and the suspect’s social media accounts helped detectives locate the person’s place of employment, a hotel room being used as a residence and a storage unit.

About $25,000 worth of Disney memorabilia was found in the suspect’s possession on June 30, authorities said.

Shortly afterward, the suspect, who has not been identified, was arrested on suspicion of theft and booked at the Sacramento County Main Jail, Gordon said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether charges had been filed in the case or whether the suspect remained in custody.

Investigators are still working to locate the other items that were stolen, noting they may have already been sold online, the Sheriff’s Department said.

“Because of the uniqueness of the items and that they didn’t have unique identifying information like a serial number on a computer or a cellphone, it was something that (the victim) would have to kind of personally identify,” Gordon said. “She worked with our detectives pretty extensively and was able to identify it.”

—Los Angeles Times

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NC court removing statue of controversial judge, slave owner in downtown Raleigh

RALEIGH, N.C. — Thomas Ruffin, a 19th century North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice, has long stood as a controversial emblem of the state’s judicial history.

His legacy, which includes pro-slavery rulings and rhetoric, and his own status as a slave owner, will no longer grace the state’s Court of Appeals in downtown Raleigh.

Sharon Gladwell, communications director for the state’s court system, told The News & Observer that Ruffin’s statue was removed due to safety concerns associated with it.

“The State Capitol Police recently informed the Court of Appeals (COA) of safety concerns associated with the Thomas Ruffin statue remaining at the COA Building,” she said in an email. “After making a request of the Governor’s Office for the statue to be removed, the Court began working cooperatively with the N.C. Department of Administration and the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources on the removal and relocation of the statue. The statue was removed this morning.”

The removal comes amid a push by protesters to take down statues and other monuments erected in memory of the confederacy and pro-slavery historical figures. Last month, Gov. Roy Cooper ordered the removal of three confederate monuments at the Capitol, just days after protesters tore down two confederate statues. He cited public safety then as the reason for their removal.

Ruffin was North Carolina’s third chief justice, and his statue was erected over a century ago in 1915. In his time on the state’s highest court, he authored a decision affirming the “absolute” power of a slave owner in a widely studied case in slave law.

When a young enslaved woman named Lydia sought to evade punishment from slave owner John Mann, he shot her from behind. In State v. Mann, an 1829 case, a jury found Mann guilty of assault and battery. But Ruffin overturned the decision, writing that “the power of the master must be absolute, to render the submission of the slave perfect.”

Ruffin was also a slave owner and operated his own plantation, where he reportedly rubbed salt and pepper into the wounds of his slaves, among other extreme practices.

—The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

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