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Tue, 21 Jan 2020
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Michael Avenatti arrested at Los Angeles courthouse during state bar hearing

Michael Avenatti
© Seth Wenig/AP, File
Attorney Michael Avenatti was abruptly taken into federal custody in Los Angeles Tuesday evening, following a day-long disciplinary hearing in which the California State Bar is asking a judge to prevent Avenatti from practicing law based upon their belief he poses a "threat of substantial harm to the public" if he continues to perform legal work.

Avenatti was on the stand when the court took a break and IRS agents placed him under arrest. Multiple sources told ABC News that Avenatti is accused of violating the terms of his pre-trial release. It was not immediately clear what he allegedly did to violate those terms because the documents are under seal.

The lawyer, who is facing multiple federal criminal charges in California and New York, will likely spend the night at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles or the Santa Ana jail before his appearance tomorrow in a Santa Ana federal court.

Avenatti skyrocketed to celebrity status alongside his former client, adult film star Stormy Daniels, who filed multiple lawsuits -- unsuccessfully -- against President Donald Trump. Eighteen months ago, the brash lawyer was a fixture on cable news shows and the topic of flattering pieces in Vanity Fair and The New York Times magazine. Reporters asked him about his skin-care routine and Tom Ford suits while he and Daniels posed for photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Comment: See also: Michael Avenatti, aka 'creepy porn lawyer', charged with extortion and wire fraud in Nike case

Mr. Potato

'I'm not allowing this': Yaniv vows to stop Ricky Gervais' Vancouver show

Ricky Gervais Jessica Yaniv
Trans activist Jessica Yaniv is back, and we're giving her attention yet again. After recently suing yet another immigrant-owned beauty salon for allegedly not waxing Jessica's hairy legs, Yaniv has also publicly denounced one of the world's most buzzing comedians: Ricky Gervais.

Gervais, who just knocked his Golden Globe hosting duties out of the park, recently announced that he would be touring North America and Europe, with stops in Toronto and Vancouver. While most Canadians with a good sense of humour are likely fans of Gervais, at least one Vancouverite felt as though the tour should have no place in her city.

"No," tweeted Yaniv. "I'm not allowing this," she replied to news of Gervais' visit.

Comment: Looks like the booking agent forgot to check in with Yaniv for permission before booking Gervais. Rookie mistake.

See also:


Murder charge filed in Kentucky case of man believed mauled to death by pit bull

Melissa Wolke was charged in January 2020 with murder after allegedly letting her pit bull attack a man.
Melissa Wolke was charged in January 2020 with murder after allegedly letting her pit bull attack a man.
Police charged a woman late Friday with murder after she allegedly let her pit bull attack a man who died.

Kentucky State Police identified the victim as Donald W. Abner, 55, of Richmond.

Detective James Royal charged Melissa D. Wolke, 38, of Mount Vernon with murder in the case, according to a news release issued late Friday.

Before state police filed the murder charge, the Rockcastle County Sheriff's Office had charged Wolke with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, public intoxication and menacing, according to a citation filed in court.


Woman who encouraged boyfriend to kill himself loses fight to appeal conviction

Michelle Carter
© AP: Charles Krupa
Carter will be released on January 23 but her conviction will still stand.
A Massachusetts woman who goaded her boyfriend into killing himself with numerous text messages and phone calls has lost her bid to appeal her manslaughter conviction in the US Supreme Court.

The justices refused to hear Michelle Carter's appeal of a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling last year upholding her 2018 conviction.

Evidence in the trial showed Carter repeatedly urged her boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to take his life in 2014.

Comment: This sentence seems unbelievably light. The fact that her suicidal encouragements took place over text message is really neither here nor there. Repeatedly and judiciously convincing someone to kill themselves is akin to attempted murder.

See also: UPDATE: It seems there may be another side to the story. A series of blog posts by Peter Breggin, MD who testified on behalf of Michelle Carter at the trial. From Breggin:
I was the only psychiatric and medication expert on either side, and I testified on behalf of Michelle. Other than perhaps her lawyers, I probably know more about the true story than anyone else. This blog will be the first in a series of reports about the trial. Nearly everything in this series of reports was revealed and documented at the trial, often through my testimony. Documents for the Michelle Carter case and links to videos of the pretrial hearing and the later trial can be found in the case archive I'm creating on my website www.breggin.com.
While the media has been portraying Carter as a conscienceless psychopath who convinced her boyfriend to kill himself, Breggin makes the rather convincing case that Carter was actually in the grips of severe psychoactive drug side effects (Prozac) together with isolation and lack of parental supervision. His 6-part blog series starts here and is well worth checking out.


Bezos braces for tough welcome in India as Amazon faces anti-trust probe & local merchants' fury

Jeff Bezos
© REUTERS/Katherine Taylor
India's anti-trust panel has launched a probe into Amazon and Walmart-run Flipkart amid claims they violated a competition law, as India's traders group plans to stage mass protests when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos arrives this week.

The world's second richest person, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, should not count on a red carpet welcome in India when he arrives in New Delhi later this week, with mass rallies and sit-ins being planned by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), protesting what it calls "predatory" trade practices.

The CAIT, which represents 70 million small traders and businesses, has called on its supporters to go on strike on Wednesday, when Bezos is set to touch down.


"France get out": Hundreds of people protest French military presence in Mali

Mali France get out
© AFP Photo
A man shouts as he holds a sign that reads "France get out" during a protest against French and U.N. forces, Bamako, Jan. 10, 2020.
Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in the capital of Mali to protest against the presence of French troops in the Sahel region.

Demonstrators gathered in a square in the center of the capital Bamako, where they burned the French flag and carried banners reading slogans such as "Down with France."

The protest came ahead of a summit in France on the country's military presence in Africa.

Comment: See also:


Business of tragedy: Lloyd's insurers warn of volcanic apocalypse as investors back losses with 'catastrophe bonds'

Taal Volcano Tagaytay City Philippines
© Reuters / Eloisa Lopez
Residents look at the errupting Taal Volcano in Tagaytay City, Philippines, January 13, 2020
Lloyd's of London, one of the world's largest insurance markets, warned that volcanic eruptions could bury 15 major cities in lava and ash in the coming two centuries. As always though, there's money to be made in catastrophe.

The Philippines' Taal Volcano belched into life on Sunday, spewing a cloud of ash half a kilometer into the sky and shutting down Manila's international airport less than 80km (50 miles) away. As lava shot out of the volcano and earthquakes rumbled nearby, scientists warned of an "imminent" eruption.

The Taal Volcano last erupted in 1977, but a previous eruption in 1911 killed more than 1,300 people. Residents of the area surrounding Taal Lake are therefore worried about the possibility of another disaster.

Such catastrophic eruptions will only become more common in the coming 100-200 years, Lloyd's of London warned on Tuesday. According to the venerable insurer, around half of the world's volcanoes in eruption are expected to have "reawakened" during this time, after lying dormant for generations.

Moreover, Lloyd's added, "about one percent of the world's population lives in 15 cities within range of an active volcano."

Comment: Volcanoes, Earthquakes And The 3,600 Year Comet Cycle
We have also discovered that cometary events and volcanic eruptions leave very similar traces. In addition, they are not mutually exclusive, both can occur simultaneously for the simple reason that cometary events do indeed cause volcanic eruptions.

Despite this proven causation, mainstream science keeps downplaying the role of cometary events in favor of a systematic recourse to spontaneous (i.e., not induced by a comet) volcanic eruptions to explain most catastrophes. [...]

To summarize, the evidence suggests that a comet (or cometary swarm) interacted with Earth ca. 14,400 BP, 10,800 BP, 7,200 BP and 3,600 BP. That is to say, on a 3,600-year cycle, meaning that we are due a repeat performance around now. Indeed, the American Meteor Society's records of observed fireballs worldwide over the past 13 years suggest that the 'show' might actually have already begun..


Massive petrochemical terminal explosion rocks Zhuhai Port, China

Petrochemical terminal
A petrochemical terminal at Zhuhai Port in southern China suffered a major explosion and caused a massive fire today.

The accident occurred at Changlian Petrochemical's base in the Gaolan port area of Zhuhai Port, just across the border from Macau at the mouth of the Pearl River.

The workers at the terminal and nearby areas have been urgently evacuated. Currently the casualties remain unknown. According to local reports, the fire has been put out.

Changlian Petrochemical, owned by Esson New Energy Group, produces various petrochemicals at the plant including benzene, toluene and and mixed xylenes. The terminal started production in 2003 and has an annual capacity capable of producing over 1.2m tons of petrochemicals.

Comment: Also from today: Huge explosion rocks chemical plant in Spain, multiple casualties reported


MPs call on Abkhazia's president to step down after opposition protesters STORM government - UPDATE: Leader resigns

© Sputnik
Thousands of opposition protesters took to the streets of Abkhazia's capital of Sukhum on Thursday, breaking into the office of president Raul Khajimba and demanding a new election.

The police force outside the presidential administration building failed to contain the angry crowd, with people smashing doors and windows to make it inside. Footage from the president's HQ showed the protesters roaming the offices, overturning furniture and throwing state papers around.

A large crowd remained camped outside the building as the night descended on the Abkhazian capital. The protest leaders urged the people not to disperse until their goal is achieved.

Comment: See also: UPDATE: 14th January @ 22:54 CET

RFE/RL reports that the leader has resigned and has no plans to run for a new term:
Raul Khajimba, leader of the self-proclaimed breakaway Georgian republic of Abkhazia, who resigned following four days of protests in the regional capital, Sukhumi, does not plan to take part in a new election.

Separatist Vice President Aslan Bartsits told lawmakers, who accepted the resignation on January 13, that Khajimba "will continue to take part in political life" but "is not going to run in the election."

Afterward, the breakaway region's parliament named de facto Prime Minister Valery Bganba as acting president and announced that the current staff of the separatist cabinet will continue until a new president is elected.
Raul Khajimba

Raul Khajimba
Bganba issued a statement addressing the residents of the breakaway region, saying that he will do "everything to establish internal stability in order to secure the decent organization and execution of presidential elections in accordance with the terms defined by the constitution."

The leader of the Bloc of the Opposition Forces, lawmaker Aslan Bzhania, said on January 13, that he plans to put himself forward as a presidential candidate in the election.

A day earlier, former Abkhaz Prime Minister Sergei Shamba read Khajimba's resignation statement to protesters near the presidential residence.

Parliamentary speaker Valery Kvarchia confirmed the resignation, telling Russia's TASS news agency that "the issue of who will act [as president] has not yet been decided."

"It may be the prime minister," he added, referring to Prime Minister Valery Bganba.

Kvarchia added the region's de facto legislature would take up the issue in a session later on January 13.

The announcement came just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin's aide, Vladislav Surkov, arrived in Sukhumi, joining a Russian delegation headed by Russian Deputy Security Council Chairman Rashid Nurgaliyev.

The Abkhaz Supreme Court on January 10 reversed an earlier decision and declared the September results void, following a petition by opposition leader Alkhas Kvitsinia.

Khajimba and his supporters had resisted calls for his resignation and planned to launch legal appeals before his January 12 about-face.

The head of the region's self-proclaimed Central Election Commission, Tamaz Gogia, said on January 12 that he did not agree with the Supreme Court ruling, but that he would abide by it. The commission set March 22 as the date for a new election.

The Black Sea region has had de facto independence from Georgia since a war against Tbilisi in 1992-93. After Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war in August 2008, Moscow unilaterally recognized Abkhazia and another breakaway Georgian region, South Ossetia, as independent states.

Both regions have since been largely propped up by Moscow and host Russian military forces.

Georgia and most of the international community consider both regions to be occupied territories.
See also: 'Beacon of liberty': 10 years since Georgia attacked South Ossetia and Russia - not the other way around


Huge explosion rocks chemical plant in Spain, multiple casualties reported

spain chemical plant explosion
© Djanko / Twitter @Frass72
A huge fire broke out at a chemical plant in Tarragona, Spain following an explosion at the site. One person is reported dead and another six injured.

The blast was reported at around 6:40pm local time on Tuesday in the Catalonian port city which attracts tourists with its numerous Roman-era ruins. People living several kilometers away reportedly felt its impact. As firefighting teams were dispatched to the scene, Catalonia's civil defense agency warned locals to shelter inside with their doors and windows closed as a precautionary measure. Residents were also asked not to drive.

Authorities stated that one person was killed when the blast toppled a building, and six people were reported injured. Two of those injured suffered major burns.

Comment: Below is a list of just some recent explosions at industrial plants: See also: SOTT Exclusive: The growing threat of underground fires and explosions