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BBC submarine drama is anti-Russian propaganda machine in action

By Johanna Ross | September 25, 2021

The scene: a British nuclear submarine. A detective has been sent to investigate the death of a sailor. When she asks the Naval Commander why there needs to be so much secrecy, as Britain is not at war, he responds ‘That is an illusion. We have always been at war’.

The series, entitled ‘Vigil’ is the BBC’s most watched drama of the year, and has been well publicised, attracting an audience of 10.2 million over its first week. It depicts a fight with an illusive, ruthless adversary that successfully manages to infiltrate a UK submarine to ‘knock out Britain’s nuclear deterrent’, killing British citizens in the process. The murder weapon of choice is a nerve agent; can you guess who the enemy is yet?

Of course it’s Russia. Nuclear submarines, nerve agent, a treacherous opponent; from the opening sequence with video footage of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev projected onto a submarine, the audience is under no illusion as to who this adversary is. Nowadays, the British public almost expects it to be Russia.

For years now the UK population has been schooled on ‘evil Russia’ across all media platforms – from the news to TV dramas to films – with the line between fiction and reality becoming increasingly blurred. One of the most Googled questions about the ‘Vigil’ drama series is ‘is it real?’ This is hardly surprising given the sheer volume of anti-Russian content, with cinema often dramatising real life events and vice versa.

Take the Skripal case, for instance. The apparent poisoning with ‘Novichok’ of the former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter took place just a few months after a British/American TV series ‘Strike Back’ was released, in which a ‘rogue Russian biochemist‘ was working on a substance of the very same name. That was probably the first time that western audiences had ever heard the word ‘Novichok’, and yet, by extraordinary coincidence, it was to appear on our TV screens just a few months later, in the news.  The finger of blame was immediately pointed at Moscow, just as preparations were being made for Russia to host the 2018 world cup. The timing could not have been worse for the Kremlin, and yet it helped Britain considerably in its bid to discredit Russia in its hosting of the sporting event.

TV and cinema being used by governments as instruments to sway and foster public opinion is nothing new. In the book ‘Propaganda and empire: the manipulation of British public opinion, 1880-1960’ John M MacKenzie explores the plethora of ways the British government promoted imperialism throughout the empire’s existence, not only through cinema, but using everything from cigarette cards to school textbooks. During the war, the British Ministry of Information also pumped out films with instructive government messaging under the direction of Humphrey Jennings. These documentaries were more about what to do and what not to do, promoting slogans such as ‘grow your own’ and ‘make do and mend’ to aid the war effort on the home front.

The ‘Vigil’ drama obviously had a considerable budget. And its political function is twofold; it highlights the ‘threat’ from Russia, and the question of the Trident’s future in an independent Scotland. By playing up the idea of a real, imminent danger from Russia, it persuades the viewer of the importance of retaining Britain’s nuclear deterrent. As tensions grow between East and West, and Boris Johnson pursues his ‘Global Britain’ strategy, we will no doubt see more programmes emphasising Britain’s military strength countering Russia and let’s not forget, China. Sadly, such manipulation of the population doesn’t encourage understanding between peoples and instead, fosters division and discrimination. At best it is Britain using Russia as a scapegoat to bolster its sense of national pride; at worse, it is laying the groundwork for a future conflict with Russia.

Johanna Ross is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

September 25, 2021 Posted by | Book Review, Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

New Israeli Film Paints Sympathetic Picture of Jewish Terrorists Who Tried to Murder Millions

By Eric Striker | National Justice | September 8, 2021

An upcoming Israeli film that sympathetically portrays a group of Jewish terrorists who attempted to murder millions of German civilians by poisoning their water supply is enjoying uncritical publicity in Zionist media.

The film, “Plan A,” is based on a true story that director Yoav Paz extensively researched through recently unveiled testimony as well as the book Li Nakam Veshilem (Vengeance and Retribution are Mine) by historian Dina Porat.

Following the end of the second world war, a group of approximately 50 Jews led by communist partisan and Israeli national poet Abba Kovner formed a group called “Nakam,” or “the avengers.”

The group concocted a scheme to infiltrate post-war Europe and kill millions of German citizens by adding arsenic to their drinking water — a plot they called “Plan A.” Were that to fail, they had a “Plan B” where they would poison German soldiers held in Allied prisoner of war camps. According to Kovner’s testimony, the future first president of Israel Chaim Weizmann aided his organization in the operation.

“Plan A” failed when British security forces intercepted members of Nakam and they were forced to throw their supply of poison overboard of their ships. Individuals in the Zionist movement also believed that a terrorist attack of such a magnitude would’ve caused diplomatic problems for the soon to be founded Zionist state and may have tipped the British off.

Eventually they succeeded in partially achieving “Plan B.” They infiltrated the American run Langwasser internment camp and were able to poison thousands of captive German soldiers by putting arsenic in their bread. While many were seriously ill, the New York Times claimed at the time that there were no known deaths, though this incident has no been closely investigated. The criminals in question were thwarted in their other operations but released after a few months.

According to Paz and his brother and co-writer Doran, the point of their movie is not to examine “right and wrong” or “black and white,” but instead to make Jewish viewers sympathize with the Nakam’s mindset and actions.

Stephen Applebaum at Jewish News appears to come away with the message the directors were trying to convey, “Putting yourself in the shoes of the Avengers today is a queasy sensation. Their suffering and loss is made palpable in the film, but so is the suffering, loss and horror they planned to inflict on millions. What would you have done? Hopefully, none of us will ever need to find out.”

Though “Plan A” is in English and has a relatively well-known cast, including German actor August Diehl and “Bladerunner 2049’s” Sylvia Hoeks, there are not many reviews for the upcoming feature set to debut in America and Europe on September 13th.

Cath Clarke at The Guardian is so far the single exception, but she focuses on the film’s technical failures rather than the dark message suggesting that Jews should consider indiscriminately killing people from ethnic groups they have grievances or grudges against. A film promoting such a dangerous message in any other racial and historical context would’ve undoubtedly garnered much more controversy.

September 9, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Film Review, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Pentagon documents reveal DOD bullies forcing movie and TV producers to accept their ‘assistance’

By Tom Secker | RT | August 5, 2021

For the first time, the US military’s central office for dealing with Hollywood has re-leased internal reports on its operations, revealing how the Department of Defense strong-armed the industry to achieve its propaganda goals.

The reports were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request and offer a rare glimpse inside the DOD’s main entertainment liaison offices at the Pentagon, which oversees the individual branch offices in Los Angeles run by the Army, Navy, Air Force and others. The reports cover approximately two years of activities and illustrate just how aggressive the DOD can be when dealing with film and TV producers, as well as their involvement with some of the biggest-name filmmakers in Hollywood.

The sheer range of products mentioned in the documents as having gained assistance from the US military is staggering, from Navy-assisted episodes of Cake Boss and the Great Food Truck Race to the Disney sci-fi fantasy A Wrinkle in Time. Numerous other films are listed, including blockbusters like Captain MarvelTop Gun: Maverick and Transformers: The Last Knight.

On Captain Marvel the DOD and US Air Force provided research trips to military bases, filming access at several military locations, and extensive promotional help including an Air Force recruitment campaign that tied into the film. The documents also reveal how the two co-directors of the movie, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, paid a visit to the Pentagon just before the film’s release.

One document notes, “During their visit they attended office calls and had lunch with Air Force leaders. They also participated in a professional development session” for Air Force and DOD public affairs officers, showing just how integrated the military-Hollywood relationship has become.

The files also confirm the military’s support on the final season of Homeland, though only after the “major problems noted in scripts” were resolved by the showrunner making “significant edits to the problematic areas.” The result was a show that preempted the false story that the Russian government had been funding Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, and played up fears about what will happen when the US finally withdraws from the country.

The Pentagon also worked on smaller films such as The 15:17 to Paris, a Clint Eastwood-directed retelling of how three Americans, including two servicemen, tackled a gunman on a train from Amsterdam to Paris in 2015. One entry in the reports records how they received “a long list of things that the film makers hope to obtain from us” but the DOD only approved support after ensuring that they could “create enough military portrayal to justify use of our assets.”

Beefing up the military’s presence in films, and the role of military characters in the unfolding storylines, is a key aim of the DOD’s Hollywood offices, but they don’t always get what they want. Christopher Nolan approached them about providing Osprey and Chinook aircraft for use in Tenet, and the National Guard and Air Force “indicated interest if military characterizations are rewritten emphasizing military mission.”

A few weeks later, it seems that Nolan simply stopped responding to the military’s phone calls, with one update commenting, “Likely cause is that producer/director were reluctant to make changes needed to gain DOD support.” This echoes what happened on Interstellar, Nolan’s previous sci-fi epic. Reports from the Navy’s Hollywood office record how he approached them about potential support, but the relationship broke down after he refused to share his script with Navy officials, having clearly learned from the extensive rewrites the military demanded on Man of Steel.

At the other end of the Hollywood scale is Tom Hanks, who has worked with different US government agencies throughout his career, from the CIA on Charlie Wilson’s War to Homeland Security on The Terminal, as well as several military-supported productions. Hanks’ name comes up multiple times in the documents, as the DOD provided help to his historical war film Greyhound, as well as his forthcoming post-apocalyptic drama Finch.

The strict criteria that the military apply when deciding whether to support a production results in a high number of rejections, which can have the effect of killing a movie or TV show. Among the rejections detailed in the documents are “documentaries about Vladimir Putin and about the trials at Guantanamo Bay” and a film about the Bermuda Triangle, where the DOD were “Not impressed by the quality of the writing nor the story itself.” Neither the Bermuda Triangle film nor the Gitmo documentary appear to have been made.

Other movies that were turned down include Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse as well as Rob Reiner’s Shock and Awe, in the latter case because “premise is how the WH & DoD (mainly the WH) claimed that Bin Laden and Hussein conspired to create the 9/11 attacks, and fabricated evidence of Saddam collecting materials to fabricate nuclear weapons to use against the U.S. and its allies.”

Likewise, a feature-length documentary about Operation Eagle Claw – the failed attempt by US special forces to rescue some of the hostages held in Iran – was turned down after their request was forwarded to the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, highlighting how high-up policy wonks are sometimes part of the decision-making process. This documentary also appears to have fallen by the wayside, unable to be produced due to the Pentagon’s censorious approach to pop culture.

However, the most egregious censorship revealed by the new documents came on the 2019 CBS drama series The Code, about Marine Corps lawyers prosecuting and defending cases brought under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Code was initially made without any military input, because the producers wanted to explore topics of which the DOD wouldn’t approve.

In the opening episodes the cases handled by the lawyers include a Marine-turned-congressman who is accused of murdering an Iraqi civilian execution-style, and the fallout from a Marine killing a Spanish citizen while drunk driving. Meanwhile, the widow of a murdered Marine decides to sue the Corps and challenge the Ferris Doctrine – a law that prevents people from suing the US military based on events that happened while on active duty.

These are precisely the sort of storylines that the DOD routinely removes from scripts for shows they support, such as NCIS and Hawaii Five-0. The documents record how on an NCIS: New Orleans episode they “Took issue with the latest NCIS NOLA script, in which a team of former U.S. Army rangers are portrayed as ‘killers for hire’.” An update days later reports that, “Filmmakers responded by saying they are working to remove all references to killers having been affiliated with U.S. Army Rangers.”

But this wasn’t possible on The Code, because the producers resisted numerous efforts by the military to get involved and have influence over the scripts. As the reports detail, “The showrunner turned down several offers of assistance by the Marine Corps Entertainment office during production.” An investigation by Task & Purpose found that the Marines kept trying to insert themselves into the production of The Code, but as one official put it, they were “essentially told to f-ck off” by the showrunners.

The documents go on to note that – somehow – Marine Corps leadership got hold of the early episodes of The Code before they’d aired. They were “displeased enough that they communicated what they saw as serious shortcomings in the depiction of the Marines.” The Corps imposed themselves on the production, and as a result, “CBS Television has indicated a desire to correct the problems in future episodes by accepting DoD assistance.”

The upshot of this was that the show took a turn and abandoned the controversial storylines of its earlier episodes, including the lawsuit around the Ferris Doctrine – though the suit is abandoned not due to pressure from the military brass, but so that the widow can embark on a romantic relationship with one of the key witnesses.

A few months later The Code was cancelled, having given up on the only thing that made it stand out in a crowded marketplace of criminal and legal procedurals. In essence, the DOD sabotaged a TV show because they didn’t like its politics.

While the likes of Christopher Nolan are powerful enough to sometimes resist the military’s overtures and manipulations, the DOD’s hostile takeover of Hollywood is gathering pace due to these aggressive, domineering tactics.

Tom Secker is a British-based investigative journalist, author and podcaster. You can follow his work via his Spy Culture site and his podcast ClandesTime.

August 5, 2021 Posted by | Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Authoritarians Drunk on Power: It Is Time to Recalibrate the Government

By John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead | The Rutherford Institute | July 27, 2021

It is time to recalibrate the government.

For years now, we have suffered the injustices, cruelties, corruption and abuse of an entrenched government bureaucracy that has no regard for the Constitution or the rights of the citizenry.

By “government,” I’m not referring to the highly partisan, two-party bureaucracy of the Republicans and Democrats. Rather, I’m referring to “government” with a capital “G,” the entrenched Deep State that is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and has set itself beyond the reach of the law.

We are overdue for a systemic check on the government’s overreaches and power grabs.

We have lingered too long in this strange twilight zone where ego trumps justice, propaganda perverts truth, and imperial presidents—empowered to indulge their authoritarian tendencies by legalistic courts, corrupt legislatures and a disinterested, distracted populace—rule by fiat rather than by the rule of law.

This COVID-19 pandemic has provided the government with the perfect excuse to lay claim to a long laundry list of terrifying lockdown powers (at both the federal and state level) that override the Constitution: the ability to suspend the Constitution, indefinitely detain American citizens, bypass the courts, quarantine whole communities or segments of the population, override the First Amendment by outlawing religious gatherings and assemblies of more than a few people, shut down entire industries and manipulate the economy, muzzle dissidents, reshape financial markets, create a digital currency (and thus further restrict the use of cash), determine who should live or die, and impose health mandates on large segments of the population.

These kinds of crises tend to bring out the authoritarian tendencies in government.

That’s no surprise: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Where we find ourselves now is in the unenviable position of needing to rein in all three branches of government—the Executive, the Judicial, and the Legislative—that have exceeded their authority and grown drunk on power.

So what we can do to wrest back control over a runaway government and an imperial presidency?

It won’t be easy.

We are the unwitting victims of a system so corrupt that those who stand up for the rule of law and aspire to transparency in government are in the minority. This corruption is so vast it spans all branches of government: from the power-hungry agencies under the executive branch and the corporate puppets within the legislative branch to a judiciary that is, more often than not, elitist and biased towards government entities and corporations.

The predators of the police state are wreaking havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives. The government doesn’t listen to the citizenry, it refuses to abide by the Constitution, which is our rule of law, and it treats the citizenry as a source of funding and little else.

In other words, the American police state is alive and well and flourishing.

We have arrived at the dystopian future depicted in the 2005 film V for Vendetta, which is no future at all.

Set in the year 2020, V for Vendetta provides an eerie glimpse into a parallel universe in which a government-engineered virus wreaks havoc on the world. Capitalizing on the people’s fear, a totalitarian government comes to power that knows all, sees all, controls everything and promises safety and security above all.

Concentration camps (jails, private prisons and detention facilities) have been established to house political prisoners and others deemed to be enemies of the state. Executions of undesirables (extremists, troublemakers and the like) are common, while other enemies of the state are made to “disappear.” Populist uprisings and protests are met with extreme force. The television networks are controlled by the government with the purpose of perpetuating the regime. And most of the population is hooked into an entertainment mode and are clueless.

Sounds painfully familiar, doesn’t it?

In V for Vendetta, as in my new novel The Erik Blair Diaries, it takes an act of terrorism for the people to finally mobilize and stand up to the government’s tyranny: in Vendetta, V the film’s masked crusader blows up the seat of government, while in Erik Blair, freedom fighters plot to unmask the Deep State.

These acts of desperation and outright anarchy are what happens when a parasitical government muzzles the citizenry, fences them in, herds them, brands them, whips them into submission, forces them to ante up the sweat of their brows while giving them little in return, and then provides them with little to no outlet for voicing their discontent: people get desperate, citizens lose hope, and lawful, nonviolent resistance gives way to unlawful, violent resistance.

This way lies madness.

Then again, this madness may be unavoidable unless we can wrest back control over our runaway government starting at the local level.

How to do this? It’s not rocket science.

There is no 10-step plan. If there were a 10-step plan, however, the first step would be as follows: turn off the televisions, tune out the politicians, and do your part to stand up for freedom principles in your own communities.

Stand up for your own rights, of course, but more importantly, stand up for the rights of those with whom you might disagree. Defend freedom at all costs. Defend justice at all costs. Make no exceptions based on race, religion, creed, politics, immigration status, sexual orientation, etc. Vote like Americans, for a change, not Republicans or Democrats.

Most of all, use your power—and there is power in our numbers—to nullify anything and everything the government does that undermines the freedom principles on which this nation was founded.

Don’t play semantics. Don’t justify. Don’t politicize it. If it carries even a whiff of tyranny, oppose it. Demand that your representatives in government cut you a better deal, one that abides by the Constitution and doesn’t just attempt to sidestep it.

That’s their job: make them do it.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, all freedoms hang together. They fall together, as well.

The police state does not discriminate. Eventually, we will all suffer the same fate.


Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president The Rutherford Institute. His books Battlefield America: The War on the American People and A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State are available at www.amazon.com. He can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

July 28, 2021 Posted by | Book Review, Civil Liberties, Film Review | , | 4 Comments

New evidence reveals John McCain and other Vietnam War POWs may have lied about being tortured

By Paul Benedikt Glatz, Jeremy Kuzmarov and Steve Brown | Covert Action Magazine | June 21, 2021

Collusion by the White House, the Pentagon, and the mainstream media resulted in disparagement, denial, and suppression of eyewitness testimony confirming that most POWs were actually well-treated by their North Vietnamese captors (in contrast to the brutal torture and death often meted out to North Vietnamese POWs by U.S. forces).

Dissenting POWs: From Vietnam's Hoa Lo Prison to America Today
[Source: amazon.com]

When numerous U.S. POWs began to understand the truth about the war they had been fighting, they spoke out against it—voluntarily—as an act of conscience. But they were cynically portrayed as traitors, turncoats and “camp rats,” their reputations and lives destroyed, driving many to despair and even suicide.

Among the few memories that most Americans still retain of the Vietnam War—now nearly 60 years in the past—one of the most vivid centers around the torture suffered by Senator John McCain at the hands of his brutal Vietnamese captors while a prisoner of war in Hanoi’s Hoa Lo prison (AKA The Hanoi Hilton).

This story has been told, retold, and continually burnished countless times by admiring media interviews and a flood of books and memoirs, including several by McCain himself.

Another memory of the war, still believed by millions of Americans, is that hundreds or even thousands of American soldiers classified as MIA (Missing in Action) are actually being held and tortured in secret North Vietnamese POW camps, callously abandoned by our government and desperately praying to be rescued—preferably in a Hollywood-style rescue by Chuck Norris or Sylvester Stallone, who starred in the spate of Commie-hating blockbuster movies inspired by their plight.

This belief is continually reinforced by POW/MIA flags which fly at every post office, and a ready supply of new books and movies, such as the 2018 release of the film M.I.A. A Greater Evil.

But both memories of the Vietnam War are false memories. However passionately believed, they were cynically manufactured fantasies implanted in all-too-willing American minds for political purposes.

How and why these counter-factual beliefs were so successfully foisted on the American public is the subject of the new myth-shattering book by Tom Wilber and Jerry Lembcke, Dissenting POWs: From Vietnam’s Hoa Lo Prison to America Today (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2021).

Wilber is the son of a dissenting POW, Walter “Gene” Wilber, who is featured in the book, and has contributed to the award-winning documentary film The Flower Pot Story by Ngọc Dũng. Lembcke is a distinguished sociologist from College of the Holy Cross who has written a number of books debunking popular myths about the Vietnam War.

The two start their book by noting that the dominant war hero image of the POW—who endured torture and resisted service to enemy propaganda—was to a large extent created by high-ranking men like McCain who were captured early in the conflict.

John McCain Was a War Hero. But He Shouldn't Have Been.
John McCain embodied the war hero image of someone who endured torture at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors while retaining loyalty to the United States. [Source: nymag.com]

McCain’s oft-told story of ill-treatment and torture is contradicted by Nguyen Tien Tran, the chief prison guard of the jail in which McCain was held. In a report by The Guardian, “[Tran] acknowledged that conditions in the prison were ‘tough, though not inhuman’. But, he added: ‘We never tortured McCain. On the contrary, we saved his life, curing him with extremely valuable medicines that at times were not available to our own wounded’. . . . [H]e denied torturing him, saying it was his mission to ensure that McCain survived. As the son of the US naval commander in Vietnam, he offered a potential valuable propaganda weapon.”

Most of the others promoting a heroized image of U.S. POW’s were graduates of service academies and came from privileged backgrounds. They included a) James Stockdale, who ran for Vice President in 1992 as the running mate of Ross Perot; b) Robinson Risner, a double recipient of the Air Force Cross, the second highest military decoration for valor; and c) Jeremiah Denton, who went on to become the first Republican Senator from the state of Alabama and a close ally of President Ronald Reagan.

John McCain fit well with this group because he was also academically privileged and his family included high-ranking military officers like his father, Jack, who was an admiral and the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

James Stockdale, Medal of Honor, Vietnam War | Military.com

James Stockdale while in captivity. [Source: military.com]

Jeremiah Denton featured in famous film footage from his captivity. [Source: washingtontimes.com]

After his release in 1973, Colonel Risner, right, and Maj. Gen. LeRoy J. Manor rode in a parade in San Francisco.
Robinson Risner, right, is celebrated in a parade in San Francisco in 1973 after his return following seven years in a North Vietnamese POW camp. [Source: nytimes.com]

With post-war military careers at stake, these high-ranking officers played up the alleged barbarity of the North Vietnamese, demanded resistance to interrogations from other captives, and threatened so-called deviants with disciplinary charges after release to the U.S.

The Nixon administration advanced their credibility and status in a desperate ploy to stir up support at home for an unpopular conflict abroad; and further concocted a story—announced in a press conference by Defense Secretary Melvin Laird on May 19, 1969—that 1,300 American soldiers deemed “missing in action” were believed to be prisoners of war.

Melvin Laird was first to publicize plight of POWs in Vietnam - Hartford Courant
Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird gives the opening statement of a press conference on May 19, 1969, to publicize the plight of U.S. POWs and MIAs in North Vietnam. [Source: courant.com]

The unaccounted for would now publicly be described as “POW/MIA,” implying that any serviceperson missing in Vietnam could also be a prisoner of war. This transformed the war from a political issue into a humanitarian one, trading public support for sympathy. It didn’t matter why we were there in the first place: Our boys were there, and by God were we going to do anything to get them home.

Suddenly, the public image of Vietnam looked very different. The very real footage of brutalized Vietnamese bodies, wailing children, and napalmed villages was traded for a fantasy—all of the violence that had been done in Uncle Sam’s name was now being done to him.

Kim Phuc, the napalm girl: 'Love is more powerful than any weapon'
Images like this famous one of a Vietnamese girl, Phan Thi Kim Phúc, running from a U.S. napalm strike, were supplanted by the fixation with the plight of American POW/MIAs. This was a brilliant public relations maneuver by the Nixon administration in collusion with the media. [Source: irishtimes.com]

The POW issue soon became a cause célèbre. In the early 1970s, millions of “POW bracelets” were sold by a student group called VIVA (Voices in Vital America), each branded with the name of a missing American serviceman.

Washington Memorial Park | Pow mia, My childhood memories, Baby boomers memories

POW/MIA bracelet. [Source: pinterest.com]
POW MIA Bracelet

[Source: audacy.com]

These shiny nickel bracelets were spotted on the wrists of celebrities like Sonny and Cher—who had often before dressed like hippies—and Sammy Davis, Jr, and allegedly Princess Grace of Monaco put in an order for two bracelets.

The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, Episode 42 - Cher Scholar

Sonny and Cher with returned POW John “Spike” Nasmyth on their CBS comedy hour program in March 1973 in which they announced that they wore POW bracelets with his name. [Source: cherscholar.com]

The silver bracelets could even be spotted on the fashion runway, where models with an interest in political activism took to wearing them. A New York Times profile from the day quotes a model named Astrida Woods, who said she was “dissatisfied” with her life as a model and felt the urge to give back. “I began to do some work with Ralph Nader, and now [wearing the bracelets]. It’s a way to contribute something.”

Pretty young women showcasing POW bracelets as part of PR campaign to unify the nation around support for POW/MIAs, if not the Vietnam War itself. [Source: audacy.com]

Many U.S. GIs and pilots, however, reported being humanely treated during their captivity, with access to adequate food, recreation facilities and reading material.

Wilber and Lembcke conclude that “instances of brutal treatment” were “less common than [has been] purported” and that evidence of systematic torture drawn from visitor reports, POW statements, and oral histories was scant.

Those POWs who questioned the war were dismissed by the military for their supposedly “weak personal character” and “lack of education and backgrounds in broken and poor families,” a typical case of “psychologizing the political.”

These men were in turn stigmatized and then forgotten by the public amidst the manufactured concern about POW/MIAs who were supposedly brutalized and then kept in captivity and abandoned by their government.

Camp Rats?

A person with a mustache Description automatically generated with low confidence
Edison Miller [Source: valor.militarytimes.com]

The ranks of the POW dissenters included Lt. Col. Edison Miller, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart from California who spent six years in captivity after his fighter plane was shot down over North Vietnamese skies on October 13, 1967.

A contemporary described Miller, a Californian who flew previously over Korea, as a “first-rate pilot with a zeal for combat but an independent sort.”

John McCain falsely accused Miller of being a turncoat because he appeared in North Vietnamese propaganda.

In his 1999 best-selling book Faith of My Fathers, McCain wrote about Miller as one of two “camp rats”—the other being Tom’s father Gene, who had been executive officer of a squadron of F-4s when he was shot down over North Vietnam on June 16, 1968.

McCain said both “had lost their faith completely.”

“They not only stopped resisting but apparently crossed a line no other prisoner I knew had even approached,” McCain wrote. “They were collaborators, actively aiding the enemy.”

Miller told the Orange County Register in response to these charges that McCain had “lied about me … The attacks on my character and integrity are totally without merit or justification. I did stand up and say the war was wrong. I would speak against the war, but I never spoke against my country. And I gave up no secrets.”

A person in a suit and tie Description automatically generated with low confidence
Edison Miller holding his Marine Corps uniform in 2008. [Source: ocregister.com]

McCain accused Miller of receiving eggs, bananas and other delicacies to eat from camp guards. Miller says, however, that he never saw eggs during his internment and that McCain was never in a position to see the food brought to him.

A picture containing text, person, wearing, person Description automatically generated
Robert Schweitzer [Source: valor.militarytimes.com]

McCain further claimed that Miller turned him in to a North Vietnamese guard when McCain tried to befriend him, and that the guard then beat McCain. Miller said: “I never ratted out a fellow American. McCain has fabricated and exaggerated his experience for political advantage.”

Miller’s anti-war views had been sharpened in conversation with Navy Commander Robert Schweitzer, a captive from 1968 to 1973 who died a year after his release while still on active duty in San Francisco.

Schweitzer felt that, because the U.S. had never declared war, there could not legally be any North Vietnamese prisoners of war, only “Americans detained by a foreign power,” Miller said.

A tape of a conversation between Miller and Schweitzer was played for other prisoners, who heard not only an anti-war message but a challenge to the legality of the U.S. military action in Vietnam.

In 1970, when Miller and Gene Wilber were interviewed on national television, Wilber called for an immediate U.S. troop withdrawal “so that the Vietnamese can solve their own problems.”

U.S. journalists at the time, however, did not take their interview seriously, regarding it rather as a North Vietnamese propaganda show.

The two men along with Schweitzer continued to write protest statements and together with fellow dissenters met with American peace activists visiting North Vietnam, including actress Jane Fonda and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

Jane Fonda in Nghe An, North VN 1972 | manhhai | Flickr

Jane Fonda (center) during trip to North Vietnam in 1972. [Source: flickr.com]

Mr. Clark, left, in North Vietnam in 1972. He met with Communist officials in Hanoi and publicly criticized American conduct of the Vietnam War.

Ramsey Clark (left) in North Vietnam in 1972. [Source: nytimes.com]

Empathy for the War’s Victims

Amazon.com: Black Prisoner of War: A Conscientious Objector's Vietnam Memoir (9780700610600): Daly, James A., Bergman, Lee: Books
[Source: amazon.com]

Most dissenting POWs came from a working-class background.

James A. Daly, an African-American infantryman from the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, for example, was raised in poverty by a single mother.

His 1975 book, Black Prisoner of War, describes his three years of jungle confinement after his capture by North Vietnamese soldiers and the South Vietnam-based National Liberation Front (NLF), followed by a two-month trek north to Hanoi on the Ho Chi Minh trail where he experienced what it was like to be on the receiving end of U.S. ordnance.

Bob Chenoweth, from a white working-class family in Oregon, similarly developed an empathy for the Vietnamese people and a distaste for the racist views of most Americans toward the Vietnamese.

A helicopter crew member, before he was shot down and captured, Chenoweth said he “couldn’t see how U.S. forces could possibly be helping the Vietnamese given the attitude that GIs had, viewing them as ‘subhuman’ and disparaging them as ‘gooks and dinks.’”

Chenoweth and other of his contemporaries authored anti-war statements, wrote messages to GIs asking them to follow their consciences, sent letters to politicians, and recorded tapes to be aired via Radio Hanoi.

A person standing at a podium Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Bob Chenoweth speaking at Veterans for Peace conference in Spokane, Washington, in 2019. He was active in the Vietnam era anti-war movement upon his return from the war. [Source: wagingpeaceinvietnam.com]

Higher ranking POWs responded by trying to isolate the dissenters from other American prisoners while charging them with participating in a conspiracy against the United States.

One of the dissidents, Abel Kavanaugh, committed suicide as a result of the intense pressure and prospective stigma of a dishonorable discharge only a few months after coming home from Vietnam.

 Abel Larry Kavanaugh

Abel Kavanaugh [Source: findagrave.com]

Charges against the POW dissidents were eventually dropped, Wilber and Lembcke believe, so as to not jeopardize the hero-prisoner story with too much attention on dissent and through a possible exposure of inconsistencies in the accusers’ own prison biographies.

Fear of Communist Infiltration

A critical trope in Cold War America was the fear of communist infiltration and internal subversion through brainwashing and mind control.

This trope was fortified by a CIA propaganda effort that depicted Korean War POWs who defected to the North Korean and Chinese side as having been brainwashed in interrogation.

Brainwashing by Edward Hunter

CIA propaganda tract accusing Communist China of brainwashing U.S. POWs. The stereotype of cunning and evil Oriental communists endured through the Vietnam War and beyond and impacted how Americans viewed the dissenting POWs in Vietnam. [Source: goodreads.com]

Most of these defectors were in fact African-Americans who did not want to return to the Jim Crow South, while others were attracted by communist ideals or saw the U.S. war as immoral.[1]

Clarence Adams with Korean prisoners of war and communist captors, in 1954. Photos: SCMP; Della Adams; UPI
Clarence Adams with Korean POWs and Communist captors in 1954. Adams lived in China for 12 years. He said he was well treated in captivity and stayed on in China because he was offered the chance at education there. Later he made propaganda broadcasts for Radio Hanoi, eventually returning to his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, where he ran a chain of successful Chinese restaurants. [Source: u.osu.edu]

The stereotype of the brainwashed POW of the Korean War turned collaborator and traitor because of his weak character would become the backdrop for the discrediting of the dissident POWs of the Vietnam War.

The Korean War Prisoner Who Never Came Home
POW defectors in the Korean War who stood for peace. [Source: newyorker.com]

In an appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Gene Wilber was grilled on whether he had given in to the enemy to make antiwar statements. That he had acted on his own “conscience and morality” was drowned out by host Mike Wallace’s implications of collaboration and opportunism.

When he was subsequently invited to the White House POW reception, Wilber found his hotel room broken into and marked with accusations of treason when he returned from the reception.

In the summer of 1973, James Stockdale charged Wilber and Edison Miller with collaborating with the enemy, mutiny, and inciting personnel to insubordination. However, military judges found insufficient evidence to prosecute the case, and Wilber and Miller instead received letters of censure for their failure to meet the standard expected of officers.

Hollywood Revisionism

POW films starting from this time focused on returnees’ estrangement with their families and society and were told as stories of spousal infidelity, representing both individual drama as well as a sense of “home-front betrayal.”

These films were part of a post-war revisionism, which included a spate of films that contributed to the legend of American servicemen left behind in Vietnam.

In the 1980s, a new subgenre emerged focused on Vietnam veterans heroically taking on the task of returning to Indochina and liberating the left-behind POWs, who had been betrayed on the home front and abandoned by the U.S. government.

The POWs were depicted as victimized and emasculated captives who needed to be rescued by individualist heroes and whose honor as Americans was to be restored.

A picture containing text, book Description automatically generated

[Source: wikipedia.org]

This image, Wilber and Lembcke argue, fits the post-war efforts to psychologize the once political conflicts of the Vietnam War and to depict the veteran as a victim and loser.

More of a heroized image and the POWs’ endurance of torture was revived with the 1987 film, The Hanoi Hilton, which starred Michael Moriarty, Ken Wright and Paul Le Mat as U.S. POWs who defy their captors while enduring brutal treatment at Hanoi’s Hoa Lo prison (aka The Hanoi Hilton).

The Hanoi Hilton (1987) - IMDb

[Source: imdb.com]

This film meshed particularly well President’s Ronald Reagan’s characterization of the Vietnam War as a “noble cause,” fought by noble men, with the POW dissenters by implication being ignoble.

Persistence of the Hero-Prisoner Story

In their quest to comprehend the persistence of the hero-prisoner story, Wilber and Lembcke take their readers back to American colonial history and the captivity narratives emerging during that time.

These stories are about a complex mix of violence against captives, temptations to stay with their captors, the ideal to remain loyal with their fellow colonists, and their Christian beliefs.

Indian Captives

Illustration of captives in the Indian Wars. [Source: legendofamerica.com]

Such tensions and correlations between the Self and the Other were critical in the making of an American identity. The wars in Korea and Vietnam and the POW experiences there can be understood as a new chapter of this identity-making process. Here, too, Americans must prove their will and ability to endure the brutality of a racialized Other.

A wrench in the story, however, is revealed in the autobiographical accounts of POW-heroes like Stockdale, Denton, and Risner. They wrote about fasting as a way of enforcing self-discipline and self-assurance, sometimes with a religious subtext.

More bizarrely, they also wrote about self-mutilation—the deliberate infliction of physical wounds on themselves that would be visible during filmed interviews.

The aim was to make it appear to other POWs (and to the U.S. public) that they had been tortured. One officer wrote of how he purposely damaged his vocal apparatus so he could not be forced to make propaganda statements.

In addition to some high-ranking officers attempting to portray themselves as heroes by means of self-mutilation, Wilber and Lembcke also noted that they tried to keep political literature and news of dissent back home away from other POWs, fearing that these would enhance critical positions on the war and against their authority within the prison population.

Moreover, these ranking officers often despised the more humane view of the Vietnamese displayed by other prisoners, including an interest in their language and culture, and an understanding of why they were fighting back against an invasion of their country by the most powerful military force in the world.

Bringing Back Forgotten Dissenters

Wilber and Lembcke’s book helps restore these forgotten POW dissenters to their rightful—and honored—place among the large and diverse Vietnam generation of dissidents, draft resisters, oppositional GIs, veteran activists, deserters, and all those who supported them.

Antiwar Resistance Within the Military During the Vietnam War
[Source: vietnampeace.org]

The book also shows that, despite all destruction and death brought by the invaders from the sky, North Vietnam maintained a moral superiority through oftentimes fair treatment of the captured Americans. This was in stark contrast to the more systematic adoption of torture methods by USAID and CIA-trained police under the Operation Phoenix and like-minded programs.

A group of people holding signs Description automatically generated with low confidence
Vietnam War protesters create mock Tiger Cage, replicating one in the USAID-run Con Son prison where Vietnamese inmates were tortured in a way American POWs claimed they had been tortured. [Source: easyyolktoofiles.wordpress.com]

The POW/MIA flag that flies today over the White House is intended to honor the men who endured captivity; however, it continues to perpetuate a distorted understanding of a war that was as abominable as it was unjust, and helps to advance a dangerous nationalist ideology that will lead to future Vietnams.


  1. See Clarence Adams, An American Dream: The Life of an African American Soldier and POW Who Spent Twelve Years in Communist China (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007). 

June 23, 2021 Posted by | Book Review, Film Review, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 3 Comments

Documents reveal CIA support for anti-Iranian propaganda film Argo

By Tom Secker | Press TV | June 22, 2021

The 2012 spy comedy-drama Argo was a massive critical and commercial success, and while the CIA’s support for the film was an open secret, until now the details on how and why the Agency helped to make Argo were hard to come by. In response to a FOIA request made in 2012, the CIA recently released over 200 pages of documents about their role in the making of Argo, providing a glimpse behind the curtain of why the CIA is working with Hollywood.

Argo tells the story of six US State Department employees who fled the US embassy in Tehran during the 1979 revolution, and were hiding out in the city. The CIA’s Tony Mendez came up with the idea of pretending they were a Hollywood film crew, so he could sneak them out of Iran. The CIA, with the help of assets in Tinseltown, set up a fake production company and bought the rights to a sci-fi script, titled Argo, before Mendez traveled to Tehran and exfiltrated the six government employees.

‘We Love the Agency’

Numerous emails between the CIA and the film-makers, including star and director Ben Affleck, reveal a disturbingly close relationship. Affleck declared, “We love the Agency and this heroic action” before promising “we really want the process of bringing it to the big screen to be as real as possible.” One CIA officer wrote back, “The story you’re telling in the movie is one we’re proud of (something that is probably clear since we feature the tale in the museum).”

The documents detail how, over the following months, the CIA provided extensive support on Argo. Affleck, fellow star Bryan Cranston, and the producers were given tours of the Langley headquarters, Affleck was provided with archive photographs so the crew could recreate 80s-style CIA offices, and Affleck even had a roundtable meeting with senior CIA officials to plan out the project.

This culminated in the Agency granting permission for Affleck to film at CIA headquarters — a benefit provided to a tiny handful of productions since 1973s Scorpio became the first movie to be granted that privilege.

In one sequence, Affleck — playing Mendez — is shown arriving at Langley and entering the headquarters, walking over the CIA seal in the lobby. As Affleck revealed on the DVD commentary, they had to digitally remove the security gates in the lobby because they didn’t exist at the time of the Argo operation. A lengthy dialog scene between Affleck and Cranston — playing Mendez’ supervisor — was shot in a Langley corridor.

Unlike the Pentagon and other government agencies with a large number of locations and impressive-looking hardware, the CIA’s only cinematic asset is its Langley campus. As one CIA public affairs officer put it in an email to Affleck, “I love opportunities to show off our Langley home and, of course, the men and women of America’s premier intelligence service.” But it took months before the Agency’s higher-ups approved Argo for filming at their HQ, and several reviews of the evolving script by public affairs officers.

Authenticity vs. reality: How Argo butchered history

This rarely-granted access added production value, and lent Argo a degree of authenticity that few spy films achieve. In an interview with the CIA’s in-house magazine, Affleck declared, “I hope we can make it feel real,” but his film grossly distorted major details of the operation and surrounding events. Critics lauded Argo for authentically recreating the period and capturing the zeitgeist of the time, but soon the cracks started to emerge.

The Canadian government, which played a key role in the operation by both housing the six in Tehran and providing false Canadian passports to help them “sell” their cover identities, objected to having been sidelined in the Argo script. Former Canadian ambassador to Iran Ken Taylor criticized the movie, saying, “In general, it makes it seem like the Canadians were just along for the ride. The Canadians were brave. Period.”

These remarks were echoed by former President Carter. “90% of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian, and the movie gives almost all of the credit to the American CIA.”

Carter went on to point out that Affleck’s character, Tony Mendez, “was only in Tehran for a day and a half” and that Taylor was the real hero of the operation. This led to Affleck adding a card at the end of the movie acknowledging the role of the Canadians, but he made no other changes in response to this criticism. Tellingly, the newly-released CIA documents don’t mention Canada even once.

Indeed, the CIA’s internal history of the Argo operation, which was written by Mendez, records just how briefly he was on the ground in Iran, and grants Taylor far more credit than the movie does. It also notes that a second CIA officer also went to Tehran to help exfiltrate the “film crew,” referred to by the pseudonym “Julio.”

The film — which Mendez worked on as a script consultant and technical adviser — makes no mention of “Julio,” minimizes the role of the Canadian government, and turns Mendez and the CIA into the heroic saviors of the story. While this might have “felt real” to some audiences and critics, it was far from reality.

Remediating the CIA Coup of ’53 and the Hostage Crisis

Perhaps more importantly, the film also distorts history in its depiction of Iran, and the causes of the Iranian revolution. The film’s introduction admits that the CIA-MI6 coup in Iran in 1953, and the CIA’s subsequent training of the Savak in brutal interrogation methods, were among the provocations behind the 1979 uprising and the replacement of the American-backed Shah.

However, this is told through an animated sequence, the suffering of Iranians at the hands of the CIA is presented in a cartoonish way and so has little emotional impact. The brief animation overlooks the CIA’s deceitful, violent tactics during the coup, which included provoking riots and arranging for the “sham bombing” of the home of a prominent religious leader in Tehran, i.e. a false flag terrorist attack.

Similarly, Argo makes no mention of the Iranian hostage crisis, focusing solely on the six officials living at Ken Taylor’s house after fleeing the embassy and ignoring the larger number held hostage for months after the revolution. Operation Eagle Claw, which saw a Delta Force team attempt to fly into Tehran on helicopters to rescue the hostages, ended in a horrific failure when two of the helicopters crashed into one another, and several others had to be abandoned in the desert.

By misrepresenting or ignoring the wider story of what was happening in Iran, and why, Argo remediated a string of bad operations and horrific decisions by the CIA and US military, turning it into the Agency’s Saving Private Ryan. As an internal email from the CIA’s deputy director for public affairs put it, “This is a good news CIA story, with real life CIA good guys.”  Note: they didn’t say it was a real life story, because it wasn’t.

Demonizing Iranians? No problem, says the CIA

Throughout its two hour run, Argo depicts Iranians as constantly hostile and a violent threat to the safety of Americans. Any notion that Iran’s citizens have legitimate grievances is pushed aside in favor of lengthy sequences of Iranians shouting aggressively, throwing Molotov cocktails and burning American flags. According to Argo, the threat to Americans is not just the Revolutionary Guard, or even the new Iranian government as a whole, but every single person in Iran.

By depicting Iranians as irrationally angry and violent, and framing the story around everyone in Iran posing a threat to our small band of Americans, the film emotionally reverses what really happened. In reality, America was and is the much larger power and poses a far greater threat to Iran than vice versa, but in the world of Argo, the conflict and danger originates from Iran, and from Iranians.

Three sequences stand out: one where the “film crew” go on a fake location scout in a Tehran marketplace and are hassled, threatened, and even attacked by miscellaneous Iranian citizens; the lengthy interrogation of the group by Revolutionary Guardsmen at the airport; and the ending of the film, which sees the Revolutionary Guard chasing the plane carrying Mendez and the “film crew” down the runway in a reckless attempt to stop them fleeing the country.

None of these events actually happened. There was no phony film scouting trip, and no time to do anything like that given how briefly the two CIA officers were actually on the ground.  Likewise, the group’s passage through the airport went as “smooth as silk,” according to Mendez’s official account. He described how easy it was, saying, “I was armed with the Argo portfolio and would overwhelm anyone standing in the way with Hollywood talk. The Iranian official at the checkpoint could not have cared less.”

The CIA — which knew how far the script deviated from reality — had no problem with any of this. They reviewed multiple drafts of the screenplay before approving the filming at Langley, with one internal email detailing, “I’ve reviewed the script, which I think looks good. The Agency comes off looking very well, in my opinion, and the action of the movie is, for the most part, squarely rooted in the facts of the mission. There is some fiction thrown in toward the end for dramatic effect, but nothing too ridiculous.”

The CIA’s website says that through its relationships with Hollywood producers, it “strives to provide an accurate portrayal of the people of CIA, their skills, and their commitment to public service. To achieve this goal, [the CIA’s] Entertainment Industry Liaison works with creatives to make their scripts, stories, and other products as authentic as possible.”

By any objective measure, Argo should have failed these tests. It deviated from history, excluded the role of allies, and fabricated angry, violent Iranians who hate all Americans for no good reason. But instead of being rejected by “America’s premier intelligence agency,” Argo was granted an unusual degree of access, to boost its authenticity and help sells its twisted narrative of American-Iranian relations to the global public.

Tom Secker is a British-based investigative journalist, author and podcaster. You can follow his work via his Spy Culture site and his podcast ClandesTime.

June 23, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Film Review | , | 2 Comments

The First Pyrrhic Victory of the Vietnam War

Tales of the American Empire | May 27, 2021

The first major battle between the United States Army and the People’s Army of Vietnam occurred in 1965 in the Ia Drang Valley. The US Army’s 7th Cavalry helicoptered into Central Vietnam to search for enemy forces. This led to a major battle that was hailed as a great victory because far more Vietnamese were killed. This was the first in a series of Pyrrhic victories for the United States. A Pyrrhic Victory is term from Roman times that refers to battles that inflict such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat.

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Related Tale: “The Illusion Called South Vietnam”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0B9BM…

May 31, 2021 Posted by | Film Review, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Politifact backtracks on the origin of SARS-Cov-2, yet smears remain uncorrected

By Meryl Nass, MD | May 18, 2021

Here is Politifact quoting me from the film Plandemic, which Politifact then disputed by citing a March 17, 2020 Nature Medicine article, which I had mentioned in the film as being bogus:

“I feel quite convinced that this was a laboratory designed organism.” — Dr. Meryl Nass, internal medicine specialist

POLITIFACT August 18, 2020: Research shows that the virus could not have been created in a lab. An article published March 17 says the genetic makeup of the coronavirus, documented by researchers from several public health organizations, does not indicate it was altered.

Now, it seems, many have awakened, after being spoon-fed an analysis of the facts by Nicholas Wade, and realized the Nature Medicine paper makes absolutely no sense.

Here is what Politifact says now, May 17, 2021:

Some scientists have argued that the lab-leak hypothesis deserves to be taken much more seriously than it was earlier in the pandemic, and that dismissals of it as conspiracy theory were premature. Claims of complete certainty on either side remain unfounded.

No mention, of course, of Politifact’s previous smear of me and the movie. All the fact-checkers piled on me last August, as I described in a blog post, for saying the origin of Covid was a lab. Where are the rest of them now? Do the rest of the fact-checkers correct their facts?

Do the social media platforms that banned the movie resurrect it?

May 19, 2021 Posted by | Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

‘A glorified drug cartel whose dealers wore lab coats, suits and ties’: how Big Pharma made Americans addicted to opioids

By Ashley Frawley | RT | May 14, 2021

A new HBO documentary called ‘The Crime of the Century’ lays bare how firms like Purdue used bribery, dodgy marketing, and shady political deals to make fortunes by getting millions hooked on super-strong painkillers.

What would it look like if an illegal international drug cartel were allowed to advertise? Perhaps it might take the form of slick music videos and glossy magazine ads promising an ‘end to pain’. Certainly, they would minimise the negative effects of their drugs on your life, your future, and your loved ones. If questioned about what they were doing, we can imagine them blaming those who use their drugs, not themselves for providing them.

It sounds mad – madder still that anyone would believe them – but this is exactly what has been allowed to happen with large pharmaceutical companies and their marketing of highly addictive opioid drugs.

At least, this is the argument put forward in a new two-part HBO documentary series released this week entitled, ‘The Crime of the Century’. Across its nearly four-hour run-time, director Alex Gibney lays bare the bribery, underhanded marketing tactics, and shady political dealings that enabled the devastating overproduction and over-distribution of synthetic opiates. In devastating detail, the documentary portrays American pharmaceutical companies and the doctors who recklessly doled out prescriptions as elements of a glorified drug cartel – dealers in lab coats, suits and ties.

Systematically overselling the benefits of synthetic opioids and downplaying the risk of addiction, the documentary traces how drug companies are driven to pursue ever stronger and more exotic medications as patents on old treatments run out and profits dry up. In many ways, it traverses territory that is already well known, but is no less useful for highlighting in shocking detail just how much these companies have become a major risk to public health.

This is particularly true in their penchant for ‘discovering’ and treating ever more chronic conditions. While the efficacy of opioids for treatment of acute pain and end-of-life care has been well known, there is little incentive to develop and provide drugs solely for such patients, who tend to be few and far between and whose needs are often short-term. No, the real money is in long-term use in greater numbers. And this is where the dangers of pushing these drugs on patients with any kind of pain became increasingly clear.

Through heart-rending stories of suffering and loss, Gibney adeptly shows how a deadly cocktail of business incentives to push for over-prescription at escalating doses, inherent addictiveness, and, in some cases, communities facing economic despair, combined to produce the ‘perfect storm’ that became the opioid crisis.

In one story, a former heroin addict details his experience being used as a human guinea pig, prescribed a daily dose of pills equivalent to 200 hits of heroin. In another, a victim whose family described her as living a happy, functional life using nothing more than Tylenol was prescribed high doses of a range of opioids and muscle relaxants that regularly rendered her unconscious. One day her husband found her dead next to a phone that she’d attempted to use to call for help.

What could possibly fuel such enormous failure of caution? The obvious answer is greed and profit. Indeed, the meagre payouts and settlements companies like Purdue Pharma were ordered to pay over the years paled in comparison to the eye-watering profits they made misrepresenting their drugs. But the story is much deeper. The ‘opioid epidemic’ itself was preceded by claims that most Americans were actually being undertreated. What is more, they were being left callously to suffer in an ‘epidemic of pain’. Throughout the series, company representatives and even policymakers refer over and over to a ‘growing epidemic’ of pain suffered by millions.

This is what prepared the ground for the epidemic of over-prescription, permitting claims detailed in the documentary like “chronic pain patients can’t be addicts”, and the development of pseudoscientific terms like ‘pseudoaddiction’. The latter reflects an attempt to assuage the growing fears of prescribing physicians that the person before them is indeed becoming addicted to the drugs they were being prescribed. No, they only appear this way because they are in so much pain. You must help them. Prescribe more.

And prescribe more they did.

While it is easy to blame this situation on the greed of companies like Purdue Pharma and the owning Sackler family that lived luxuriously in its shadow, they would not have found such a ready market had they not been able to feed and exploit a culture with a preexisting aversion to pain. Indeed, many of the physicians and sales executives responsible for pushing large doses of highly addictive pain medications justified their actions with their belief that a life with pain was a life not worth living. They had convinced themselves that any pain was worse than death.

Supplanting everything that once made life meaningful, the pursuit of health and even mental health have become ultimate goals. The notion that one might tolerate pain, whether physical or psychic, is seen as beyond the pale. It is no longer, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Any pain or negative experience is seen as intensely damaging to the human psyche.

In a life without meaning, any pain becomes unbearable. We all become patients in waiting. Easy targets for these drug dealers in suits and ties.

Ashley Frawley is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at Swansea University and the author of Semiotics of Happiness: Rhetorical Beginnings of a Public Problem.

May 15, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Film Review | | 2 Comments

Vimeo Removes Film “trustWHO” Which Exposes Corruption at W.H.O.

21st Century Wire | April 12, 2021

Statement from the filmmakers:

A few days ago, Vimeo deleted our Documentary Feature “trustWHO”, directed by Lilian Franck, from their platform, stating that they do not support “Videos that depict or encourage self-harm, falsely claim that mass tragedies are hoaxes, or perpetuate false or misleading claims about vaccine safety.” This claim about our documentary is both misleading and false. “trustWHO” has been thoroughly researched for 7 years; it has been fact-checked and approved by lawyers, experts in the medical field and even by key executives of the WHO itself. The documentary simply investigates how efficiency and transparency of the World Health Organization are undermined by both corporate influences and a lack of public funding. It is a journalistic investigation based on facts – and far from what Vimeo makes it out to be.

This is our full statement on the matter, presented by Robert Cibis (Filmmaker, Co-author and producer of “trustWHO”).

Watch this brief statement and selected excerpts from the film:

To support our work and further investigations for the current Corona Crisis, please help us by donating here:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/co…
You will find the links to our full-length documentary “trustWHO” below:
English:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/video/det…
https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/tru…
https://play.google.com/store/movies/…
Deutsch:
https://www.amazon.de/TrustWHO-OV-Lil…
Français:
https://www.primevideo.com/detail/0FW…

April 17, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Film Review, Full Spectrum Dominance, Video | | Leave a comment

How the US Marines secretly advised on the hit movie Avatar, despite later framing it as being anti-war

By Tom Secker | RT | March 21, 2021

New documents show the makers of the film – the highest-grossing in history and now re-released – secretly liaised on its plot and dialogue with the Corps. The subsequent attack on it was all about military control over Hollywood.

The 3-D sci-fi epic Avatar was recently re-released in China, and revenues from the People’s Republic have seen the movie overtake Avengers: Endgame and reclaim its position as the highest-grossing film of all time.

This tidbit about box office statistics has resulted in a flurry of news coverage, but hidden behind the endless reports from journalists with dollar signs in their eyes is a tale of covert military propaganda, and how the DOD pressures filmmakers to produce more pro-war content.

Flashback: When the Marine Corps slated Avatar

Shortly after its original release in 2009, Avatar met with a wave of criticism, despite its enormous popularity with moviegoers. A Vatican newspaper commented that the picture “gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature,” while a review on Vatican Radio said it “cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium.”

American conservatives accused Avatar of being anti-American and anti-capitalist, while liberals skewered the film for its supposed racism, for the storyline of blue-skinned natives being saved by a noble white man – Jake, a paralysed former Marine.

Likewise, the semi-official Marine Corps Times reported how “Avatar has been the target of anger and backlash from some who see it as an affront to the Marine Corps and a negative allegory for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

They also published a letter from the then-director of Marine Corps public affairs, Bryan Salas, which said that Avatar “Takes sophomoric shots at our military culture and uses the lore of the Marine Corps and over-the-top stereotyping of Marine warriors to set the context for the screenplay.”

James Cameron apologises to the military for the movie

Salas’ public criticisms were widely reported and led James Cameron – the producer of Avatar – to reach out to the public affairs chief to discuss his concerns. Cameron then gave an extended interview to Marine Corps Times where he effectively apologised for the movie, and denied that it was anti-military.

Cameron told the Times, “I am also concerned that some people are simplistically saying that Avatar is ‘anti-military’. The highly sympathetic main character of the film, through whom the audience experiences almost every moment of the story, is a former Marine. His courage in the face of overwhelming odds makes him a hero of mythic proportions by the end of the story.”

He continued, “While the enemy force in the film are mercenary troops, who are clearly stated to be acting as corporate security contractors, it is not a goal of the film to criticize legitimate military forces, especially the courageous men and women who defend this country.”

The producer, who worked closely with the Marine Corps on his action blockbuster True Lies, went on to explain that his youngest brother John David Cameron joined the Marines in 1985 and fought in Operation Desert Storm. Cameron added, “After that conflict, Dave has worked for me, along with several of his fellow Marines, until the present. And I still have several former Marines working directly for me who have become like family.”

Cameron explained that his brother worked on Avatar as a technical advisor to Sam Worthington, who plays Jake in the film. He concluded, “So even though the US Marines are not mentioned specifically in dialogue, I felt it was important to make this association as a tribute to the calibre of people created by the Marine Corps’ training, spirit and values.”

Documents reveal the truth about the military and Avatar

Years later, in response to Freedom of Information requests, the Marine Corps released nearly 1,700 pages of activities reports from the Corps’ entertainment media liaison office. The documents tell a radically different story to the media storm that followed the release of Avatar, and reveal a close relationship between the Corps and Cameron during the film’s development.

A report from April 2009 lists Avatar as a supported project, and details how Hollywood liaison officers “Met with director/writer James Cameron on 28 March for a sci-fi feature that finds a Marine paraplegic war veteran on another planet. In the project, the main character encounters a humanoid race with their own language and culture, which later comes to odds with humans.”

The reports goes on to say they offered “support for verbiage in the script dialogue” and that they “expected to meet with Mr. Cameron again to continue with script changes.” Another document from two weeks later records how they met with the producer on set to continue providing support.

Exactly what script changes were made as a result of these meetings is not recorded in the documents, but a draft script treatment by Cameron offers a glimpse into what disappeared.

In the draft version, Jake was paralysed when he “fell out a window, drunk, at a base party.” This detail went missing from the final film, replaced by Jake getting wounded in combat, and dialogue such as “I became a Marine for the hardship. To be hammered on the anvil of life. I told myself I can pass any test a man can pass.”

In December 2009, officers from the Marine Corps media liaison office attended the Avatar premiere, and later reports noted how the film had passed the $1 billion mark at the box office. The liaison office got back in touch with Cameron to arrange screenings on CENTCOM military bases, as well to have the actors and producers take part in a “Navy Entertainment Program visit to 11th MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit] and other units in the AOR.”

The updates on Avatar continued for months after the Salas letter and Cameron’s interview responding to it. Emphasising how the military actually saw the film as a propaganda success, an Army report from 2011 refers to a military panel at Comic Con featuring entertainment liaison officers. It lists several officials who appeared on the panel along with some of the projects they worked on – including Avatar.

How the Pentagon gets Hollywood to make more pro-war movies

In light of these documents, we need to take a more nuanced view of the military’s relationship with Avatar, and the public criticisms made by Salas. It was around this time that the DOD embarked on a more proactive approach in Hollywood, seeking greater influence in Tinseltown. The DOD-Hollywood chief at the time, Phil Strub, began giving more public interviews, liaison officers started having meetings with studio heads to discuss projects before they had even asked for support, and all the different military branches stepped up their outreach efforts.

By publicly criticising an apparently left-wing, anti-military film, Salas’ letter played into the narrative that Hollywood is full of peaceniks who hate the military, and thus pressured filmmakers to make more pro-military, pro-war films.

This same narrative, that Hollywood makes too many anti-military films, was repeated by several participants at an online conference hosted by the US Naval Institute last October. The conference featured several current and former military-Hollywood officials as well as retired military officers who work as technical advisors to the entertainment industry, and was likely a part of the same efforts to increase the Pentagon’s influence on the movie business.

However, there is no evidence to support the narrative that Hollywood is anti-military – seven of the top ten highest-grossing film franchises of all time have benefited from DOD and other government support, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe, James Bond and The Fast and the Furious. Other major franchises supported by the Pentagon and/or CIA include Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean and Mission: Impossible.

Indeed, the only $200 million dollar tentpole movie that deviates from the norm and could possibly be seen as anti-military or anti-war is Avatar, and it was publicly criticised by the Marine Corps even though they had a hand in rewriting the script. Thus, the Avatar episode only serves to highlight how the Pentagon won’t tolerate major movies having even a marginally anti-military vibe, and are seeking full-spectrum dominance of Hollywood.

Tom Secker, a British-based investigative journalist, author and podcaster. You can follow his work via his Spy Culture site and his podcast ClandesTime.

March 21, 2021 Posted by | Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

“There Is No Such Thing As An Antidepressant” UCLA Professor Exposes Big Pharma & Big Politics

By Arjun Walia – collective EVOLUTION – February 28, 2021

Below is a brief clip from of David Cohen, a professor and Associate Dean for Research and Development of at the Luskin School of Social Work, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His research focuses on psychoactive drugs (prescribed, licit, and illicit) and their desirable and undesirable effects as socio-cultural phenomena “constructed” through language, policy, attitudes, and social interactions.

He has conducted research on the side effects of psychiatric medications and on withdrawal. Public and private institutions in the U.S., Canada, and France have funded him to conduct clinical-neuropsychological studies, qualitative investigations, and epidemiological surveys of patients, professionals, and the general population.

He has authored or co-authored over 100 book chapters and articles. Recent co-authored books include Your Drug May be Your Problem (1999/2007), Critical New Perspectives on ADHD (2006), and Mad Science (2013). He held the Fulbright-Tocqueville Chair to France in 2012.

In the clip, taken from the Medicating Normal  documentary, he explains how antidepressants may provide a very short term mood boost for patients. He also expresses why pharmaceutical companies only conduct short-term studies instead of long term studies for antidepressant medications.

study published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology looked at 185 meta-analyses on antidepressant medication and found that one third of them were written by pharmaceutical industry employees and that almost 80 percent of the studies had industry ties.

study published in the British Medical Journal  by researchers at the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen showed that pharmaceutical companies were not disclosing all information regarding the results of their drug trials. Researchers looked at documents from 70 different double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) and found that the full extent of serious harm in clinical study reports went unreported.

“We  really don’t have good enough evidence that antidepressants are effective and we have increasing evidence that they can be can be harmful. So we need to go into reverse and stop this increasing trend of prescribing them.” – Joanna Moncrieff, a psychiatrist and researcher at University College London (source)

These medications don’t seem to be prescribed based on honest evidence when it comes to the cause of these illnesses, as well as what exactly these drugs are doing to our brain and biology. For example, a New England Journal of Medicine review on Major Depression is one of multiple that express these sentiments:

 … numerous studies of norepinephrine and serotonin metabolites in plasma, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid as well as postmortem studies of the brains of patients with depression, have yet to identify the purported deficiency reliably.

According to Daniel J. Carlat, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine,

“And where there is a scientific vacuum, drug companies are happy to insert a marketing message and call it science. As a result, psychiatry has become a proving ground for outrageous manipulations of science in the service of profit.” (source)

A 2002 article in the American Psychological Association journal Prevention and Treatment describes the lack of efficacy for antidepressant drugs. Even if there is a difference between drug and placebo, it is clinically insignificant. The majority of studies on antidepressants actually found no significant difference between drug and placebo. The negative results were not published and the researchers had to request access to US FDA documents to review the data.

A 2008 meta-analysis in PLoS Med has this to say about the lack of efficacy for antidepressants:

“Drug-placebo differences in antidepressant efficacy increase as a function of baseline severity, but are relatively small even for severely depressed patients. The relationship between initial severity and antidepressant efficacy is attributable to decreased responsiveness to placebo among very severely depressed patients, rather than to increased responsiveness to medication.”

A 2008 article by prestigious researcher John Ioannidis reviewed the evidence that antidepressants are not effective.

“While only half of these trials had formally significant effectiveness, published reports almost ubiquitously claimed significant results. ‘Negative’ trials were either left unpublished or were distorted to present ‘positive’ results.” This article ends with the statement: “Nevertheless, even if one feels a bit depressed by this state of affairs, there is no reason to take antidepressants, they probably won’t work.”

A recent report that appeared in the British Medical Journal/Evidence-Based Medicine which concluded antidepressants should not be prescribed because there is no evidence that their benefits outweigh the harms- even for major depression.

The Takeaway: When it comes to issues such as depression, nutritional, holistic and mindful interventions never really see the light of day and are never really discussed or recommended by your everyday psychiatrist.

In today’s day and age, self education is a must, and that goes for doctors as well. When it comes to solutions to these issues, one must also considered options outside of the pharmaceutical industry and dive into other resources to seek out interventions that may not be motivated by profit. This is why awareness is key. As more people become aware of this type information they begin to seek out alternatives and make new choices.

It would be helpful if more effort and funding was applied to study other interventions that may not provide profit for the pharmaceutical industry. Perhaps this also shows the limitation in basing public well being on a capitalistic economy. Perhaps it’s simply a measure of our societal worldview.

Depression may not be a problem with brain structure, chemical flow and neurotransmitters. Instead, the mood of depression we experience comes from other factors that in turn may lead to changes in biology, brain structure, chemical flows etc. Mainstream medicine does not identify this issue, because the issue is not biological and is instead rooted in human experience, trauma, how one perceives the world and much more.

March 11, 2021 Posted by | Film Review, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | 2 Comments