Guess who is back in the news? Con artist Michael Avenatti. BBC NEWS reports:
Adult film actress Stormy Daniels has taken the stand in the federal trial against Michael Avenatti, her ex-lawyer who is now accused of defrauding her.
Avenatti represented her when she publicly described an alleged affair with Donald Trump, breaking a non-disclosure deal with Mr Trump's lawyer.
Prosecutors say he withheld funds owed to Ms Daniels for her book deal. He is representing himself and cross-examined his ex-client on the stand on Thursday.
Whoever could have guessed? Um . . . anyone paying attention. From four years ago, this is Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Avenatti"
He was a con artist and he was a crook. Those unable to pay attention, like Senator Dianne Feinstein, were duped by him. THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER reminds the media was a huge dupe for Mr. Con Man:
Avenatti first appeared on television on March 7, 2018, the day after filing the suit. He was invited back again and again and again. Avenatti appeared a total of 256 times on TV in the months that followed, according to a count by Newsbusters. CNN loved him the most, putting him on 122 times. MSNBC was next with 108 appearances — that's 230 appearances just between the two anti-Trump networks. He made a few appearances on broadcast television — 12 on ABC, seven on CBS, five on NBC. He appeared just twice on Fox News in that period.
Avenatti became a celebrity. People around him actually began talking seriously about him running for president against Trump in 2020. In May 2018, CNN's Brian Stelter cited Avenatti's "star power" and said, "One reason I'm taking you seriously as a contender is because of your presence on cable news." Avenatti was a cable TV — specifically CNN and MSNBC — phenomenon.
The indictment tells a different story. In April 2018, a month after filing suit and the beginning of Avenatti's star turn, Daniels signed a book contract with St. Martin's Press. She would be paid an $800,000 advance in four separate payments — $250,000 upon signing the contract, $175,000 upon delivering a final manuscript, $175,000 on publication, and a final $200,000 six months later, after completion of Daniels's "publicity requirements." The contract called for the publisher to send the checks to Daniels's agent, who would take his fee and then send the payment on to Daniels.
The con man has decided to represent himself. With more on the trial, CNN notes:
Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress who was allegedly defrauded by Michael Avenatti, testified Thursday in federal court as part of the criminal trial against the celebrity attorney.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Thursday, January 27, 2022. US troops remain in Iraq but Joe's itching for war with Russia.
As US President Joe Biden pushes for more war (and as Nancy Pelosi plans to gift Ukraine with $500 million US tax dollars), Margaret Kimberley (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) observes:
The corporate media always carry water for the state, and they are never more dangerous than when the nation is on a war footing. Right now the United States government is sending weapons to Ukraine. One wouldn’t know that because of constant references to “lethal aid.” The euphemisms and subterfuge are necessary for a very simple reason. Everyone except the Washington war party knows that provoking war with Russia is extremely dangerous.
Joe Biden is picking up where he left off, as Barack Obama’s Ukraine viceroy. He and his incompetent foreign policy team have spun a tale about a pending Russian attack on Ukraine. In reality, it is the U.S. that is ginning up war by provoking the Ukrainians to start a fight that they can’t win. In 2014 a U.S. backed coup put a far-right clique in power. The people of the Donbass region in the east, largely ethnic Russians, wanted no part of the new anti-Russian government and sought autonomy. The resulting war has killed some 30,000 people.
Now the Biden team who publicly insulted the Chinese government and withdrew from Afghanistan without even being able to secure a major airport, have moved on to opening the proverbial can of whoopass with the world’s other major nuclear power. They are using Ukraine in an ill-advised effort to instigate what could lead to disaster.
The 2014 coup against an elected Ukrainian president took place in part because the Russians underestimated the extent of U.S. and NATO determination. They roused themselves quickly however and Crimeans, who are mostly of Russian origin, voted to rejoin the nation they had been a part of until 1954. The U.S./NATO regime change effort came at a steep price for Ukraine. Thanks to Atlanticist meddling it is now the poorest country in Europe that won’t get the NATO and EU membership it was promised. It remains a pawn between two powerful countries.
The U.S. is pulling all the hybrid warfare schemes out of the tool box. For months they claimed that Russian troops were massed on the border, ready to invade. They have engaged in diplomacy but only to try and get their way. Russia has held firm on a guarantee of no further NATO encroachment and the removal of missiles from their border. The French and Germans are feckless and do what Washington wants. They should be pressuring Ukraine to live up to the Minsk II Agreement which requires talks with the breakaway Donbass region.
None of this information is conveyed to the American people who live in ignorance orchestrated by republicans, democrats, and their friends in corporate media. Republican senators who want to run for president outdo one another with nonsense about stopping the Nord Stream II gas pipeline that Germany, a U.S. ally, asked the Russians to build. Winter is coming, quite literally, and Europe needs Russia’s gas. But unless they stop following Uncle Sam’s bullying they will end up with nothing.
War on Russia? The economy's tanking -- inflation surges and the stock market struggles, etc -- and Joe can't deliver on anything -- not even one of his extremely modest campaign promises -- so it's time to start a war to distract everyone yet again. Alex Lantier and Johannes Stern (WSWS) report:
Yesterday, as crisis talks between German, French, Ukrainian and Russian officials began in Paris, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a statement rejecting Russian demands for security guarantees from NATO in Ukraine.
The NATO alliance is stoking a war crisis, deploying thousands of troops to Eastern Europe and demanding that the far-right regime in Ukraine be armed to fight an invasion it alleges Russia is preparing. It has sent large quantities of missiles and other arms to Ukraine, and it is preparing up missile bases in Ukraine only a few minutes’ flight time from Moscow. Moscow therefore issued a written request for guarantees that Ukraine would not be allowed to join the NATO alliance and serve as a jumping-off point for attacks on Russia.
Blinken dismissed this out of hand. “There is no change. There will be no change,” he said of US-NATO plans to allow Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, such as Georgia, to join NATO. “We make clear that there are core principles that we are committed to uphold and defend, including Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the right of states to choose their own security arrangements and alliances,” he continued.
Blinken added that this policy had been decided directly by President Joe Biden who, he said, was “intimately involved” in drafting the US response to Moscow’s request. “We reviewed it with him repeatedly over the last weeks, just as we were getting, as you know, comments, input, ideas from allies and partners.”
Only days after US officials revealed plans to send up to 50,000 troops to the borders of Russia and Ukraine, Blinken all but admitted that Washington is not negotiating but sending an ultimatum backed with threats of war.
War and more war. And let's not pretend that the mid-terms aren't on the minds of those screaming for war. The pathetic and faux 'resistance' spent the last four years whitewashing War Criminals and crooks. The same ones that pushed for the Iraq War and saw it as a campaigns trategy for the 2002 mid-term elections are now 'helping' the Democratic Party -- the David Frums. Trash. Get in bed with trash, don't whine to me that you got a social disease. You brought it on yourself. You knew a David Frum was filth before you ever bedded down.
The media goes along with the pushf or war. "The corporate media." Uh, no.
THE PROGRESSIVE bills itself as "A voice for peace and social justice since 1909." Guess it's taking a long break. (And, no, they have not been around since 1909. That's like MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS trying to claim credit for the work of KNIGHT RIDDER because they bought KNIGHT RIDDER.) No wars appear to exist in the eyes of today's PROGRESSIVE. Ukraine? Never heard of it apparently. Iraq? They believe it fell off the planet. Go down the list. Adult topics are so very hard for them so they stick to lifestyle crap and the 'sports' work of Dave Zirin.
So, no, it's not just the corporate media. Outside that echo chamber, however, David Broder speaks with Richard Sakwa (JACOBIN) about some basic myths:
In Western media, Ukraine is often near-totally defined by its antagonism with Russia; a Times headline cited a general saying “Ukrainians are ready to tear apart Russians with their bare hands.” Especially after the 2008 NATO summit, it’s also assumed that Ukrainians want to join NATO, but Russia is stopping it. What evidence is there for that?
This goes much further back even than NATO’s 2008 Bucharest summit, which invited both Georgia and Ukraine to ultimately join. It’s the way that Ukrainian policy was defined for a long time in terms of the so-called European choice — which itself was highly contested, with poll after poll showing that the Ukrainian public is divided. It’s wobbled a bit over the years, but basically the western part, what we would call the Galician element, really wants to not just join the West, but to tear up all ties with Russia.
Postcolonialism, if that model can be used in this case, assumes a hybridity after you’ve been colonized, like at the linguistic and cultural levels, whereas the cultural separatists believe that it’s post-colonial with a hyphen, that you have to expunge all former links. But the southern and eastern parts of the country are more inclined to maintain close links with Russia. In a way, there is a basis to Vladimir Putin saying that Russians and Ukrainians are one people in terms of culture, history, intermarriage and so on. He never said that they should be one state — and that’s a fundamental difference.
I traveled through the Donbass in 2008, and you’d see painted on buildings everywhere, “No to NATO.” Whereas now we’ve seen the WikiLeaks State Department documents, published in 2010–11, showing endless messages from the US ambassador in Kiev saying ultimately people wanted NATO. This was a fanciful and artificial idea from the beginning, assuming that the choice was simple and unequivocally toward the West. Russia was then framed as holding Ukraine back geopolitically, developmentally, and above all in terms of democracy.
It’s a much more complex situation, as opinion polls even today show. Gerard Toal and his colleagues have shown that an astonishingly high proportion — 30 or 40 percent of the population, even with Crimea and Donbass not included — want close relations with Russia. Some even want to join the Eurasian Economic Union. So, this is what Zbigniew Brzezinski, and earlier and above all, Samuel Huntington, described as a cleft country, a divided country. So, it’s wrong to assume that they have opted unequivocally for NATO. But this choice has been imposed since the emergence of the neonationalist government in February 2014 after the Maidan events.
[. . .]
British media coverage often centers on our responsibility not to “appease” Putin. We also have this World War II analogy in German politics, with its Green Party foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, saying Berlin has a duty to protect these states for “historical reasons.” The idea that small countries like the Baltic states should be able to choose for themselves, and not be left defenseless, which Putin is effectively arguing for, sounds appealing at a certain level. But clearly there’s also a problem with this analogy insofar as it reimports into Western politics a trope that demonizes all critics, or those who aren’t hard-line supporters of the arms buildup, as latter-day “appeasers.”RS
The tendency you mention is even worse than it was in the first Cold War, because back then there was at least some diversity and debate. I’ve mentioned De Gaulle’s France, and within West Germany, there was the Ostpolitik line of change through engagement, beginning even in the early 1960s. What’s so shocking today is that there are so few voices in opposition. Instead, we have this endless trumpeting of the unity of the Atlantic powers. Unity is only a good thing if it’s united around a sensible policy, not if it’s an echo chamber of false analysis talking about plucky little Ukraine facing up to Russia as a revisionist power. Germany is to be commended to its approach to history, but there’s nothing more dangerous than misapplying that to a different historical moment. Any idea of talking about engagement — classic German policy — and even the pushing forward of Nord Stream 2 is considered “appeasement” of Russia.
This is a complete misunderstanding of where we are today. Putin does not wish to recreate a Soviet empire. Our defense minister in Britain, Ben Wallace, said this week that Putin is an ethnonationalist. This couldn’t be more mistaken: Russia today has at least 150 major nationalities. Putin has been condemning ethnonationalism endlessly: it would tear the country apart. So, if Western politicians get the basic things wrong, they’ll also get the big geopolitical things wrong.
So, my view is that this present situation is far more dangerous because there’s just a few brave souls out there who are condemning it. I’m delighted to see the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft has developed; there’s a few people in the United States, shockingly few in the United Kingdom — and I think the tide has turned in Germany too, especially with the Greens, who are just Clintonian liberal interventionists of the worst order — Cold War hawks.
Foreign policy should always be a balance between interests and values. If Russia was just willy-nilly wanting to invade and suppress Ukrainian democracy, then I’d be the first to support Ukraine. But that’s not what we’re talking about. Putin’s so-called revisionism is not of an Adolf Hitler sort. This endless, even implicit, reductio ad Hitlerum is just nonsense in this case. When Putin came to power, he even said Russia would join NATO. The elite and the leaders in Russia are rational. They’re not trying to recreate an empire. They’re simply saying, “Look, our back is to the wall. Listen to us.”
The solution is very simple: neutrality for Ukraine. No one is taking it over. Putin has supported the Minsk II agreement, which is a framework for the return of the Donbass to Ukrainian sovereignty. So, where is the empire in that? Today, there are 2.5 million people in the Donbass with their own views. Putin initially mobilized because Ukraine has 100,000 troops also on the border, with the Turkish drone missiles that showed their efficacy in the second Nagorno-Karabakh war last year between Armenia and Azerbaijan. So, there was genuine alarm in Moscow that they could do what Croatia did in Operation Storm, in attacking the Serbian enclaves way back in the mid-1990s. It’s a complicated situation, but the basic lines are fairly simple and clear.
Kyle Anzalone and Connor Freeman also address the lust for war in the latest episode of CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.
Turning to Iraq . . .
Sardar Sattar Tweets:
While flexibility does lessen for the morbidly obese, ten to fifteen minutes of morning streches and Moqtada wouldn't be so inflexible. Also, maybe get a sports bra for those moobs, Moqtada.
Still no government. And we're also supposed to pretend that's not emboldening ISIS.
As Moqtada disthers, Nouri al-Maliki remains in the news. ARAB NEWS notes:
Lawmakers have until Feb. 8 to elect a president — a post historically allocated to a Kurd.
But negotiations between parties and coalitions seeking to form a parliamentary majority have been marked by tensions, particularly between key Shiite currents seeking to exert their influence.
Both the Coordination Framework and another bloc formed by firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr claim to have the majority needed to elect a president.
We'll wind down with this;
MORE THAN A MAGAZINE, A MOVEMENT
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