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Toxic femininity: ‘Badass’ US women demand right to torture and kill for Empire… just like men

© Global Look Press / Marvel Studios
By Michael McCaffrey | RT | January 25, 2019

Thanks to a new wave of feminism and its call for equality, it isn’t just toxic men who can kill, torture and surveil in the name of US militarism and empire, women can now do it too!

This past weekend was the third annual Women’s March, which is a protest originally triggered by Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election that encourages women across America to rise up against misogyny and patriarchy.

As sincere as these women are in their outrage, in their quest for power they are inadvertently reinforcing the immoral and unethical system that they claim to detest. This is most glaringly apparent when this new feminism boldly embraces the worst traits of the patriarchy in the form of militarism and empire.

The rise of #MeToo, Time’s Up and the anti-Trump Women’s Movement, has brought forth a new wave of politically and culturally active neo-feminists. This modern women’s movement and its adherents demand that “boys not be boys”, and in fact claim that the statement “boys will be boys” is in and of itself an act of patriarchal privilege and male aggression. The irony is that these neo-feminists don’t want boys to be boys, but they do want girls to be like boys.

The inherent contradiction of that ideology was on full display recently when the American Psychological Association (APA) put out a guide to treating men and boys. In the guide’s summary the APA makes the extraordinary claim that “traditional masculinity – marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression – is, on the whole, harmful.”

These APA guidelines blatantly turn “traditional masculinity” and “toxic masculinity” into synonyms, and never once mention testosterone, revealing a staggering ignorance of male biology. The APA is in essence blaming the bull for his horns.

Further diminishing their credibility, how can anyone look at the mess that is the current emotional state of our world and think we need less stoicism and not more?

The hypocrisy of the APA guidelines are glaringly evident because everywhere you look nowadays girls and young women are constantly being urged to be more competitive, dominant and aggressive. I guess when women do it, it is empowering, but when men do it, it is dangerous.

Women, and some men, often tell me that if women were in power, the world would be a better and safer place. But that old trope, which obviously animates the feminist movement of today, is foolishness. I mean have none of these people ever heard of that pernicious beast Margaret Thatcher? And does anyone think that Hillary Clinton’s proposed no-fly zone over Syria or her tough talk about Russia would have led to more peace and less war?

Another example of the vacuity of this ideology is the group of Democratic women with military and intelligence backgrounds who won seats in Congress in 2018. These women, who have dubbed themselves “The Badasses”, how toxically masculine of them, are being touted as the “antidote to Trump.”

No doubt these former military and intelligence “badasses” will be so much less toxic than their male counterparts when they demand the US “get tough” by militarily intervening across the globe to further American interests. This sort of star-spangled belligerence is no less toxic in a pantsuit than a three-piece suit, and will only lead to more victims of America’s “competitiveness, dominance and aggression” around the world.

Other toxically-masculine women in government are also being hailed as great signs of women’s empowerment.

Gina Haspel is the first female director of the CIA and women now also hold the three top directorates in that agency. Ms. Haspel proved herself more than capable of being just as deplorable as any man when she was an active participant in the Bush-era torture program. No doubt the pussy-hat wearing brigade would cheer her “competitiveness, dominance and aggression” when torturing prisoners… most especially the traditionally masculine ones.

Hypocritical Hollywood has long been a haven for toxic masculinity, be it in the form of depraved predators like Harvey Weinstein or Woody Allen or counterfeit tough guys like John Wayne. Hollywood has also long been the propaganda wing of the US military machine. It is well established that for decades Hollywood and the Department of Defense have worked hand in hand in creating movies that tout muscular American militarism and empire.

Now Hollywood and the Department of Defense (DoD) are using the social justice calling card of “diversity and inclusion” to take the next step in indoctrinating young people with the noxious ideology of American exceptionalism and aggression… but this time they are targeting girls and young women.

The latest product of the Hollywood and DoD propaganda machine is the Disney/Marvel movie, Captain Marvel, which comes out this March. The film, which has a budget worth $150 million and stars one of the leading feminist voices in Hollywood, Academy Award winner Brie Larson, tells the story of Carol Danvers, a former Air Force pilot who “turns into one of the galaxy’s mightiest heroes.”

With Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans set to potentially leave their roles as Iron Man and Captain America respectively, Disney is positioning itself to replace them as the face of the multi-billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe with Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, who is described as a “badass superheroine”… one more flag-waving, badass lady for the girls to look up to!

The movie has been described as “the recruiting tool of the Air Force’s dreams”, and will no doubt be a huge boost to female recruitment, much like Tom Cruise and Top Gun boosted male military recruitment in the 1980’s.

The DoD has reportedly been partnered with Marvel since 2008’s Iron Man. The DoD and Air Force demand that any film project with which they assist “portrays the Air Force and military in an accurate way and that it is in the service’s interest to partner on the project.”

It is good to know that feminist Brie Larson is cashing in by partnering with the Air Force to make a movie that indoctrinates millions of US kids, specifically girls, with the dream of being able to bomb innocent people across the globe from miles up in the sky and look really “badass” while doing it.

I’m sure Ms. Larson, a public and outspoken advocate for abuse victims here in America, has meticulously weighed the pros and cons of being a recruitment tool for the US military, which in recent years has aided and abetted, or been directly responsible for, the murder of women and children in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and elsewhere.

The cacophony of feminist voices in the public sphere has effectively challenged some minds about some things, but not the right minds about the right things. The mendacious US establishment and its virulent military industrial complex have co-opted this current feminist moment and are using it to further solidify their deadly stranglehold on the American consciousness and Brie Larson is now an accomplice to that crime.

Is this what the new wave of feminism is all about, putting lipstick on the pig of American empire and militarism and calling it a victory for equality? If so, I’ll pass on that toxic femininity.

I’ll stick with traditional masculinity, you know, the stoic kind, whose adherents, principled men like Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Daniel Ellsberg, Pat Tillman and Edward Snowden, among many others, all did the right thing in the face of enormous opposition, and who didn’t tout themselves as “badass,” didn’t start fights but finished them, didn’t torture, didn’t spy and didn’t bomb innocent women and children into oblivion.

The bottom line is this, I fervently believe that men and women should be equal in their rights and opportunities, but I believe just as fervently that regardless of gender, no one has the right to kill, maim and torture for the American empire.

Michael McCaffrey is a freelance writer, film critic and cultural commentator. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he runs his acting coaching and media consulting business. mpmacting.com/blog/

Read more:

The Pentagon & Hollywood’s successful and deadly propaganda alliance

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

White Helmets, Black Hearts

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | January 3, 2019

In 2016 the White Helmets were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Justin Timberlake thought they should get it. So did Bear Grylls, Ben Affleck, Michael Palin, Daniel Craig, Rowan Williams, Ridley Scott, George Clooney, Sacha Baron Cohen, Vanessa Redgrave and various other artists, writers, and politicians who put their signatures to the petition on the White Helmets web site.

‘Give it to Syria’s White Helmets’ the Guardian, a media mainstay of the terrorist war on Syria from the beginning, implored the Nobel committee. ‘They embody a spirit of civic resistance.’

The actor George Clooney also identified their essential goodness. ‘In a world full of hate these people put on helmets and run towards violence while everyone else is running away from it,’ he said in London when attending a showing of the glowing documentary the White Helmets made about themselves.

‘Where there is no structure in society they are there to protect. First and foremost they are heroes.’

On their website, the White Helmets describe themselves as ‘former tailors, bakers, teachers and other ordinary Syrians’ who had come together to form the ‘Syria Civil Defence’. In fact, Syria has, and has had since the 1950s, a government civil defense organization of the same name, which operates across the country, unlike the White Helmets, which has operated only in ‘rebel’ held areas.

Furthermore, far from being an organization set up by ‘ordinary Syrians’ who saw a need for ‘civil defense’ and decided to fill it, the White Helmets were not even Syrian in origin but the brainchild of a former British intelligence officer. Furthermore, again, they were never financially independent, as they claimed, but were funded from the beginning by the same governments making war on Syria through armed proxies tied to their intelligence services. They were a carefully constructed arm of this war.

The White Helmets were a sustained lie from the start. They were deliberately packaged to give the corporate media the images it wanted, dominated by the White Helmet hero scurrying across a rubble-strewn foreground with a dusty, crying child in his arms. In the background, out of sight but figuratively represented in the wailing of children and the bodies on the street were the architects of these horrors, the ‘regime’ in Damascus and the dictator sitting in his palace.

It was not long before holes began to appear in the narrative. These rescues were not genuine but were being staged for media consumption. Journalists Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett were the first to pick holes in the narrative and the more they picked the more the holes widened, to the point where it was clear that the White Helmets were a scam of the first order.

But they were a scam the governments making war on Syria wanted their people to believe and a scam that the corporate media perpetuated, when the most cursory research would have revealed the lies.

The White Helmets were not just working in ‘rebel-held’ areas, a media euphemism for civilian districts taken over by the most violent terrorist groups on the face of the earth. They were an extension of these groups. They boasted of their affinities on their Facebook pages. They hated the Syrian government with the same fervor as the takfiris. They also reviled the Alawi, the Shia, Christians and Sunni Muslims who fell short of the takfiris’ exacting standards.

Many White Helmets doubled up as ‘first responders’ and takfiri gunmen. They operated completely under the instructions of the takfiris. They took away the bodies of the newly executed for burial and staged chemical weapons attacks as required. As evidence gathered by Russian researchers indicates, they were also involved in the harvesting of body organs from the bodies of wounded civilians.

These activities were all funded by the ‘liberal democracies,’ including the UK, the US, the EU and individual EU governments, including Denmark and Germany, nominally committed to fighting terrorism around the world.

By 2017 the British Foreign Office alone had paid the White Helmets an acknowledged $80 million. Outside money had even come from the Jo Cox Foundation, set up in memory of the British Labor politician, murdered in 2016, to work for a ‘fairer, kinder and more tolerant world.’

The contradictions in western attitudes were exemplified when Raed Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, and the recipient of millions of dollars in US aid, travelled to the US in 2016 to receive a humanitarian award and was turned back at Dulles International Airport in Washington.

Although the Department of Homeland Security never makes its reasons public, Saleh was clearly on a security/terrorist watch list. He had been allowed into the country before but this time he was turned away.

Waiting to greet him, the well-meaning but naïve members of the InterAction NGO alliance donned white helmets in his absence. Unfortunately, they are not likely to see the White Helmets being outed anywhere in the US media.

The Russian Foundation for the Study of Democracy recently compiled evidence based on extensive interviews in Syria with hundreds of witnesses, including former White Helmets and takfiri fighters, physicians and civilians living in areas that had been taken over by takfiri groups.

The interviews indicated that many of the White Helmets were not volunteers as claimed. In East Aleppo men were imprisoned and given time to decide whether to join Jabhat al Nusra or the White Helmets. It had to be one or the other. There was no third option unless saying ‘no’ to both and facing execution can be considered an option.

For some, joining the White Helmets was the only means of survival for themselves and their families but once inside the organization, everyone knew orders had to be obeyed whatever they were.

These orders came from the takfiri groups. A member of Jaysh al Islam’s internal security services told Russian researchers that instructions were delivered to the White Helmets by phone or personal messenger but either way, they were under the full control of Jaysh al Islam.

After eastern Ghouta was taken over by the takfiris it was divided into four sectors. The White Helmets in the district were integrated with the takfiri group assigned responsibility for each sector.

Along with faked chemical weapons attacks, setting up faked ‘regime’ bombings in line with instructions from the takfiri groups was a specialty of the White Helmets media unit. Witnesses gave evidence of bodies being brought from the morgue and the wounded from the hospital in preparation for faked attacks. Wrecked cars would be dragged to the site. The stage having been set with the apparent consequences of a ‘regime’ bombing, tyres and trash would be set on fire and the cameras would begin to roll.

In Douma, the White Helmets constructed barriers, dug trenches and tunnels, and transported fighters, weapons, and ammunition to the front lines. According to witness evidence, they were permanently engaged in preparing battle positions for the takfiris. White Helmet or ‘rebel’ media rooms or centers kept the global corporate media supplied with a steady flow of lies which were eagerly lapped up, no questions asked. The lies included the faked 2018 chemical weapons attack in Douma.

Theft was a common perquisite of being a White Helmet. Money and gold would be stolen from houses and jewelry stripped from the living – usually women – as well as the dead. Senior White Helmet figures enriched themselves, one in Douma buying cars and summer houses.

In the districts, they occupied the takfiris and the White Helmets shared office space. They took over schools and kindergartens. Under the threat of death, teachers in eastern Ghouta were told to send their students to religious schools. Students at the Gaza school in Aleppo were told to seek their education at the mosque.

The most heinous of White Helmet activities was the harvesting of body organs. Statements made to the Russian researchers indicated that organs were being removed in Turkey for transplantation into the bodies of wounded fighters and that the White Helmets and takfiri groups such as Ahrar al-Sham acted as an integrated team throughout the whole process.

The Russian researchers heard extensive prima facie evidence of the wounded being taken away for treatment by the White Helmets and being returned as corpses stripped of their body parts. A doctor in Aleppo gave evidence relating to a driver in Aleppo who weighed about 70 kgs when taken away and about 30-45 kgs when his corpse was returned. He had been cut from his throat to his stomach.

‘The skin almost touched his back,’ the doctor said. ‘I touched him with my hand and understood that there were clearly no organs left.’

In Aleppo the mother of a boy whose organs had been removed was only allowed to see his head and neck. An injured girl was taken to Turkey for ‘treatment’ and her body returned three days later with her internal organs missing. Even a person with a minor injury would be taken away and returned with the stomach cut open and the organs removed. It was understood, according to witnesses, that people taken away for medical treatment by the White Helmets often did not come back alive.

In July, 2018, 429 members of the White Helmets were smuggled out of Syria across the occupied Golan Heights and moved immediately to Jordan. The transfer was facilitated by the government of Israel which had armed the takfiris and given hospital care to their wounded since the beginning of the war. It had also helped and protected them by attacking Syrian military installations and now it was saving their White Helmet enablers from the retribution of the Syrian state and people.

From Jordan, the White Helmets were dispersed among the countries whose governments had supported them. They were quickly whisked away into a life of anonymity, supported by the British, European or American taxpayer. No one would know where they were or who they were so no critical questions could be asked. The truth was being buried with them.

This is a shocking story, of government criminality and media irresponsibility, of which the lies fed to the world about the White Helmets is only part.

The Russian report is a significant addition to the enormous body of prime facie evidence about the real nature of the White Helmets but as anything coming out of Russia is instantly dismissed as ‘fake news’ the corporate media already has a licensed reason to ignore this report.

The caravan of celebrities who moved quickly to capture some of the limelight created by the White Helmets, without asking any questions about what they were actually supporting, without caring as long as some of the spotlight fell on them, will move on in their narcissistic, feckless fashion.

The truth must have dawned on George Clooney by now. Certainly, it would be surprising to see him going ahead with his feature film on the White Helmets unless he intends to show what they were really like behind the lies he and many others swallowed. That’s the story that certainly needs to be told.

January 3, 2019 Posted by | Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Renowned Physicist Freeman Dyson: “Theories Of Climate Are Very Confused”… “Models Are Wrong”!

“The Uncertainty has Settled” reviewed by P Gosselin | No Tricks Zone | 16. November 2018

In his new documentary “The Uncertainty has Settled,” Dutch filmmaker Marijn Poels focuses on climate science and politics and found that the issue is in fact as controversial and as UNSETTLED as any issue could possibly get.

The science climate change is far from settled and is in fact unsettled.

The production of the film took Poels to a variety of locations from Manhattan to the Austrian Alps.

The first part of the film depicts the plight of farmers in former East Germany (Saxony Anhalt), who are struggling to practice their livelihoods under the heavy burden of German agricultural regulation and market distortion that result from bureaucrats having decided that 0.01% of our atmosphere (man-emitted CO2) is a monumental problem.

That’s the narrative the media and leading politicians keep ramming. But a number of skeptics doubt it, and so Poels investigates if this doubt is just right wind politics or if there is something really behind it. … Full review

[The most notable part of the documentary is the interview with Freeman Dyson, from 1:09:00 – 1:14:00]

[Be sure to watch Piers Corbyn at 41:45 and again at 52:20]

November 18, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Film Review, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

New BBC documentary ‘Dangerous Dynasty’ ignores the West’s role in destabilizing Syria

By Neil Clark | RT | October 16, 2018

The new BBC2 documentary, ‘A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad’, should be contrasted with the 2010 BBC4 series ‘Syrian School’, which eschewed neocon propaganda and allowed us to make our own minds up about Baathist Syria.

Whatever happened to objective film making? Why does everyone today feel that the film or program maker must take sides and not just show us things as they are?

These thoughts were uppermost in my mind when watching the first episode of the 72 Films production, ‘A Dangerous Dynasty’ last week.

You could say the title was a bit of a giveaway. If you were expecting to see a balanced, intellectual analysis of Baathist rule in Syria, providing historical perspective, and putting the ‘House of Assad’ in some kind of regional context, you’d have been very disappointed.

We weren’t even two minutes in before a voice-over declared: “Many have wondered how this former eye doctor [Bashar Assad] and his British-born wife ended up running a regime of committing war crimes, of gassing their own people… Understand their saga [the Assads] and you will understand how their country now lies in ruins.”

Really? The ‘House of Assad’ had ruled Syria for over 40 years without the country being in ruins.

The descent into the abyss began in 2011. We can argue till the cows come home about ‘who fired first’, as anti-government protests swept the country, but even if we do blame the Syrian authorities for initiating the violence seven years ago, there’s no getting away from the fact that the conflict which developed was deliberately stoked by powers hostile to the Syrian Arab Republic.

These powers were desirous of either regime-change or keeping Syria permanently weak and divided for geo-strategic reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with concern for human rights.

To blame all the bloodshed on the ‘House of Assad’, as ‘A Dangerous Dynasty’ does, is ahistorical nonsense and ignores the pernicious role that the US, France, the UK, and their regional allies have played in destabilizing Syria and keeping the fires of war burning.

“We have to ask ourselves how does this mild-mannered eye doctor end up killing hundreds of thousands of people,” one commentator says in ‘A Dangerous Dynasty’, as if Bashar, who had originally planned to devote his life to the noble cause of medicine,  just got up one morning and said “Right, now I’m going to kill hundreds of thousands of people.”

The reality is that the Syrian president was faced with a foreign-backed attempt to destroy his country. He reacted with great force, but just look at how neighboring Israel responds when rockets are fired in from Gaza, or how the US responded after 9-11. Imagine how the White House would react if foreign-backed jihadists took control of parts of the US and beheaded captured US soldiers. Do we think the US president would have said to the ‘rebels’, “Hi guys! Let’s sit round the camp fire together and sing Kumbaya”?

The program had unpleasant undertones of Arabophobia, promoting the narrative that Arabs, and in particular Arab ‘dictators’ who don’t show sufficient subservience to Western elites, cannot be trusted.

It reminded me of an interview with Syria’s deputy ambassador to the UN and a US neocon on BBC’s Newsnight, in the lead-up to the Iraq War, which I wrote about for the Guardian.

While the neocon was treated with great deference, the Syrian representative was treated with withering contempt and “Why should we believe YOU?” condescension. ‘A Dangerous Dynasty’ had much the same tone. Sinister music was played whenever a family photograph of the Assads was shown to make it clear we understood that these were ‘the baddies’.

We were told that Bashar’s mother was “tough and manipulative.” His father Hafez “has extraordinary eyes that seem to look into your soul.” Assad Sr. was “an old fashioned dictator.” Female soldiers had to bite off the heads of snakes and male ones kill puppies to show their obedience. In one segment, we were told that Hafez al-Assad was like a crafty hamburger seller from the bazaar who removes the meat after you’ve paid your money. “He didn’t trust anybody… he lives in a world of conspiracy and paranoia. His whole worldview was conspiratorial,” an American envoy complained.

But didn’t Hafez had good reason not to trust anyone – least of all American governments? Just look at what the US did to Iraq and Libya. Gorbachev trusted the Americans and believed promises that there would be no NATO Drang nach Osten following the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact. Today, NATO troops are on Russia’s borders.

Arabophobia can also be seen in the surprise expressed that Bashar Assad, is “civilized” and “well-mannered” in his personal interactions. As if Arabs, can’t do ‘civilized’ and ‘well-mannered’.

Ironically, probably the most nuanced view in the whole program came from Sir John Sawers, the former head of MI6, who was a British diplomat in Syria in the 1980s.

“It was a socialist military dictatorship, but actually there was a live-and-let-live approach. It was a tightly controlled society but one where Western diplomats could move around fairly freely. If you didn’t bother the Syrian regime they weren’t going to bother you,” Sawer said.

No one disputes that Hafez al-Assad was a ruthless leader, but while the words ‘regime’ and ‘dictator’ were repeated ad nauseam, there was nothing in the program about the advances that Syria made under Assad and his son in the years 1970-2011. The way Christians and other religious minorities were protected by the secular government was ignored. Ditto Syria’s very generous support for the dispossessed and stateless Palestinians, which made them a target.

The book ‘Parting Shots’, published by the BBC, includes a letter written by Sir James Craig, British Ambassador to Syria in 1979, to UK Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington. Craig admits he doesn’t like the Baathists. But he also says “all I have said against them could be said against a hundred other government is this naughty world.” He then goes on: “And there is this, above all, that can be said for them: ever since they came to power, and long before, they have devoted a preponderant part of their energy to the cause of the Palestinians, to which they are called not only by self-interest but by the ties of kinship, neighbourliness and compassion.” Sir James said he found “a distinct spark of nobility” in their “obstinacy” on this issue.

If we go back eight years, a much fairer picture of Syria was shown on the BBC in ‘Syrian School’.

This was arguably one of the best documentary series ever shown on British television. It didn’t preach and it didn’t tell us what to think. It simply showed us what everyday life was like in Syria – the good and the bad.

Max Baring, who worked as director-cameraman on the program said: “Syria is a country where, from poetry to politics, you can have an intellectual debate. You can re-imagine the world there in a way that we seem to have lost in the West, where even the credit crunch hasn’t dented the orthodoxy of Liberal Capitalism, where ‘The X-Factor’ seems now to have become the cultural pinnacle.”

You don’t have to be a diehard supporter of ‘House of Assad’ to acknowledge that life was (and is)  better under the ‘dynasty’ than under the medieval head-choppers of ISIS and other associated fundamentalist ‘rebels’, who the enemies of Baathist Syria seemed quite happy to support – either directly or indirectly. As my fellow Op-ed columnist John Wight correctly pointed out last week, “Not one Western journalist denouncing the Syrian government would have dared to set foot within so much of an inch of militant-held territory, knowing that if they did they would be peremptorily abducted, tortured and slaughtered.”

Shamefully, it’s “the Syrian regime” that ‘Dangerous Dynasty’ blames for the rise of hardcore jihadist terrorism. The neo-con endless war lobby, who set the Middle East on fire, gets a free pass.

The second episode of the hatchet job will be shown this Tuesday. I think I’ll take a bath (no pun intended), instead. Looking further ahead, I’ve an idea (which I’ll give them for just £10K), for the program makers for their next series. How about doing one about another father and son, who both launch wars in successive decades against the same country? The father, who was a millionaire, was director of his country’s intelligence services. The son sold his illegal war on a pack of false claims about a country possessing weapons it didn’t have, with the invasion leading to a million deaths and a refugee crisis of Biblical proportions.

‘Junior’ also invaded another country where conflict is still raging today, and under the pretext of fighting a ‘War on Terror’ introduced a surveillance state and established a detention camp where people were held indefinitely without trial. The title of the series: ‘Dangerous Dynasty: The House of Bush’.

Over to you, 72 Films.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes from Piraya Film AS on Vimeo

The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes from Piraya Film AS on Vimeo

A 2 hour 32 min version of THE MAGNITSKY ACT – BEHIND THE SCENES had its world premiere at an invitation-only screening at Filmens Hus in Oslo, Norway, on June 25th, 2016. Since then, the film has been shown (and awarded) at several international film festivals. Personal copies have also been sent to hundreds of journalists, politicians and others who have expressed interest in the film, given the film’s high-profile political content.

However, more than two years after its world premiere, the film has not yet been released to the general public. It has not been broadcast on TV, nor been screened at cinemas, released on DVD or made available online. Many dissatisfied members of the audience have asked Piraya Film why they cannot see the film.

The answer is that an attack campaign was launched by the British financier Bill Browder (who appears in the film) against the film and the filmmakers while the film was still under production. This campaign was backed by, among others, individuals in the US State Department, CIA, various think tanks and human rights organizations, and included smear tactics in the press and in various other settings. The campaign succeeded in blocking planned screenings at the European Parliament and at a Norwegian film festival. The film was partly financed by several TV stations, and normal procedure for a documentary would be that these TV stations broadcast the film first. However, the involved TV stations were subject to both political and legal pressure, and have, until this date, not published the film.

One individual decided to leak his personal copy of the film to the internet in July 2018. We have worked hard to remove this from YouTube and various other sites, but we see that it is impossible to stop this illegal copy from spreading. With the film out like that, in an illegal manner and in breach of our copyright, we have decided to release THE MAGNITSKY ACT – BEHIND THE SCENES on Vimeo on Demand. We urge the public to support our work by seeing it here. With Browder as the main source of a disinformation campaign against the film and filmmakers, we have a need to counter the libel and defend ourselves through letting the public see the film.

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Film Review, Video | , | Leave a comment

The Untouchable Mr. Browder?

The Browder affair is a heady upper-class Jewish cocktail of money, spies, politicians and international crime

By Israel Shamir | Unz Review | June 20, 2016

Chapeau, Mr Browder! Hats off for this incredible man. Last month, he succeeded in stopping a film screening in the European parliament and took off a few articles from American web sites. This week, he turned the only US screening of a film critical to his version of events into a ruckus. No freedom of speech for his enemies! His lawyers prowl around and issue summons to whoever digs in his sordid affairs. His hacks re-wrote his Wikipedia entry, expunging even discussions of the topic: despite hundreds of edits, nothing survived but the official version. Only a few powerful men succeed purifying their record to such an extent. Still, good fortune (a notoriously flighty lady) is about to desert Mr Browder.

Who is this extremely influential man? A businessman, a politician, a spy? The American-born Jewish tycoon William Browder, says The Jewish Chronicle, considers himself Putin’s Number One enemy. For him, Putin is “no friend of the Jews”, “cold-blooded killer” and even “criminal dictator who is not too different from Hitler, Mussolini or Gadhafi”. More to a point, Browder is the man who contributed most to the new cold war between the West and Russia. The roots were there, still he made them blossom. If the US and Russia haven’t yet exchanged nuclear salvos, do not blame Browder: he tried. For a valid reason, too: he was hit by cruel Hitler-like Mr Putin into his most susceptible spot, namely his pocket. Or was there even a better reason?

Browder, a grandson of the US Communist leader, came to Russia at its weakest point after the Soviet collapse, and grabbed an enormous fortune by opaque financial transactions. Such fortunes are not amassed by the pure of spirit. He was a ruthless man who did as much as any oligarch to enrich himself.

Eventually he ran afoul of Mr Putin, who was (and is) very tolerant of oligarchs as long as they play by the rules. The oligarchs would not be oligarchs if they would found that an easy condition. Some of them tried to fight back: Khodorkovsky landed in jail, Berezovsky and Gusinsky went to exile. Browder had a special position: he was the only Jewish oligarch in Russia who never bothered to acquire the Russian citizenship. He was barred from returning to Russia, and his companies were audited and found wanting.

As you’d expect, huge tax evasion was discovered. Browder thought that as long as he sucked up to Putin, he’d get away with bloody murder, let alone tax evasion. He was mistaken. Putin is nobody’s fool. Flatterers do not get a free ride in Putin’s Russia. And Browder became too big for his boots.

It turned out that he did two unforgivable things. Russians were afraid the foreigners would buy all their assets for a song, using favourable exchange rates and lack of native capital, as had happened in the Baltic states and other ex-Communist East European countries. In order to avoid that, shares of Russian blue-chip companies (Gazprom and suchlike) were traded among Russian citizens only. Foreigners had to pay much more. Browder bought many such shares via Russian frontmen, and he was close to getting control over Russian oil and gas. Putin suspected that he had acted in the interests of big foreign oil companies, trying to repeat the feat of Mr Khodorkovsky.

His second mistake was being too greedy. Russian taxation is very low; but Browder did not want to pay even this low tax. He hired Mr Magnitsky, an experienced auditor, who used loopholes in the Russian tax code in order to avoid taxes altogether. Magnitsky established dummy companies based in tax-free zones of Russia, such as pastoral Kalmykia, small, Buddhist, and autonomous. Their tax-free status had been granted in order to improve their economy and reduce unemployment; however, Browder’s companies did not contribute to economy and did not employ people; they were paper dummies swiftly bankrupted by the owner.

Another Magnitsky trick was to form companies fronted by handicapped people who were also freed from paying tax. In the film, some of these persons, often illiterate and of limited intelligence, told the filmmaker of signing papers they could not read and of being paid a little money for the millions passing through their account.

(Mr Browder does not deny these accusations; he says there is nothing criminal in trying to avoid taxes. You can read about Browder and Magnitsky tricks here and here, and learn of the ways they attacked companies using minority shareholders and many other neat schemes.)

Eventually Magnitsky’s schemes were discovered and he was arrested. Ten months later, in 2009, he died in jail. By that time, his patron Mr Browder was abroad, and he began his campaign against Russia hoping to regain his lost assets. He claimed Mr Magnitsky had been his lawyer, who discovered misdeeds and the outright thievery of government officials, and was imprisoned and tortured to death for this discovery.

The US Congress rushed in the Magnitsky Act, the first salvo of the Cold War Two. By this act, any Russian person could be found responsible for Mr Magnitsky’s untimely death and for misappropriation of Browder’s assets. His properties could be seized, bank accounts frozen – without any legal process or representation. This act upset the Russians, who allegedly had kept a cool $500 billion in the Western banks, so tit for tat started, and it goes to this very day.

The actual effect of the Magnitsky Act was minimal: some twenty million dollars frozen and a few dozen not-very-important people were barred from visiting the US. Its psychological effect was much greater: the Russian elite realised that they could lose their money and houses anytime – not in godless Putin’s Russia, but in the free West, where they had preferred to look for refuge. The Magnitsky Act paved the road to the Cyprus confiscation of Russian deposits, to post-Crimean sanctions and to a full-fledged Cold War.

This was painful for Russia, as the first adolescent disillusionment in its love affair with the West, and rather healthy, in my view. A spot of cold war (very cold, plenty of ice please) is good for ordinary people, while its opposite, a Russian-American alliance, is good for the elites. The worst times for ordinary Russian people were 1988-2001, when Russians were in love with the US. The oligarchs stole everything there was to steal and sold it to the West for pennies. They bought villas in Florida while Russia fell apart. That was bad time for everybody: the US invaded Panama and Afghanistan unopposed, Iraq was sanctioned to death, Yugoslavia was bombed and broken to pieces.

As the Cold War came back, some normalcy was restored: the Russians stopped the US from destroying Syria, and Russian officials learned to love Sochi instead of Miami. For this reason alone, Browder can be counted as a part of the power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good. The Russian government, however, did not enjoy the cold shower.

The Russians denied any wrongdoing or even political reasons for dealing with Browder. They say Magnitsky was not a lawyer, just an auditor and a tax code expert. They say that he was arrested and tried for his tax avoidance schemes, and he died of natural causes while in jail. Nobody listened to them, until they demanded that Browder testify under oath. He refused. For two years lawyers tried to give him a summons, but he was a quick runner. There are funny videos showing Browder running away from summons.

Some good sense began to seep into American minds. The New Republic wondered: if Browder was indeed the victim of persecution in Russia and had enlisted the U.S. justice system to right the balance, why was he so reluctant to offer his sworn testimony in an American courtroom?

Enter Mr Andrey Nekrasov, a Russian dissident filmmaker. He made a few films considered to be highly critical of Russian government. He alleged the FSB blew up houses in Moscow in order to justify the Chechnya war. He condemned the Russian war against Georgia in 2008, and had been given a medal by Georgian authorities. He did not doubt the official Western version of Browder-Magnitsky affair, and decided to make a film about the noble American businessman and the brave Russian lawyer fighting for human rights. The European organisations and parliamentarians provided the budget for the film. They also expected the film to denounce Putin and glorify Magnitsky, the martyr.

However, while making the film, Mr Nekrasov had his Road to Damascus moment. He realised that the whole narrative was hinging on the unsubstantiated words of Mr Browder. After painstaking research, he came to some totally different conclusions, and in his version, Browder was a cheat who run afoul of law, while Magnitsky was his sidekick in those crimes.

Nekrasov discovered an interview Magnitsky gave in his jail. In this interview, the accountant said he was afraid Browder would kill him to prevent him from denouncing Browder, and would make him his scapegoat. It turned out Browder tried to bribe the journalist who made the interview to have these words expunged. Browder was the main beneficiary of the accountant’s death, realised Nekrasov, while his investigators were satisfied with Magnitsky’s collaboration with them.

Nekrasov could not find any evidence that Magnitsky tried to investigate the misdeeds of government officials. He was too busy covering his own tax evasion. And instead of fitting his preconceived notions, Nekrasov made the film about what he learned. (Here are some details of Nekrasov’s film)

While the screening in the EU Parliament was been stopped by the powerful Mr Browder, in Washington DC the men are made of sterner stuff. Despite Browder’s threats the film was screened, presented by the best contemporary American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who is 80 if a day, and still going strong. One has to recognise that the US is second to none for freedom of speech on the globe.

What makes Browder so powerful? He invests in politicians. This is probably a uniquely Jewish quality: Jews outspend everybody in contributions to political figures. The Arabs will spend more on horses and jets, the Russians prefer real estate, the Jews like politicians. The Russian NTV channel reported that Browder lavishly financed the US lawmakers. Here they present alleged evidence of money transfers: some hundred thousand dollars was given by Browder’s structures officially to the senators and congressmen in order to promote the Magnitsky Act.

Much bigger sums were transferred via good services of Brothers Ziff, mega-rich Jewish American businessmen, said the researchers in two articles published on the Veteran News Network and in The Huffington Post.

These two articles were taken off the sites very fast under pressure of Browder’s lawyers, but they are available in the cache. They disclose the chief beneficiary of Browder’s generosity. This is Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. He was the engine behind Magnitsky Act legislation to such an extent that the Act has been often called the Cardin List. Cardin is a fervent supporter of Hillary Clinton, also a cold warrior of good standing. More to a point, Cardin is a prominent member of Israel Lobby.

Browder affair is a heady upper-class Jewish cocktail of money, spies, politicians and international crime. Almost all involved figures appear to be Jewish, not only Browder, Brothers Ziff and Ben Cardin. Even his enemy, the beneficiary of the scam that (according to Browder) took over his Russian assets is another Jewish businessman Dennis Katsiv (he had been partly exonerated by a New York court as is well described in this thoughtful piece).

Browder began his way to riches under the patronage of a very rich and very crooked Robert Maxwell, a Czech-born Jewish businessman who assumed a Scots name. Maxwell stole a few million dollars from his company pension fund before dying in mysterious circumstances on board of his yacht in the Atlantic. It was claimed by a member of Israeli Military Intelligence, Ari Ben Menashe, that Maxwell had been a Mossad agent for years, and he also said Maxwell tipped the Israelis about Israeli whistle-blower Mordecai Vanunu. Vanunu was kidnapped and spent many years in Israeli jails.

Geoffrey Goodman wrote Maxwell “was almost certainly being used as – and using himself as – a two-way intelligence conduit [between East and West]. This arrangement included passing intelligence to the Israeli secret forces with whom he became increasingly involved towards the end of his life.”

After Maxwell, Browder switched allegiance to Edmond Safra, a very rich Jewish banker of Lebanese origin, who also played East vs West. Safra provided him with working capital for his investment fund. Safra’s bank has been the unlikely place where the IMF loan of four billion dollars to Russia had been transferred—and disappeared. The Russian authorities say that Browder has been involved in this “crime of the century,” next to Safra. The banker’s name has been connected to Mossad: increasingly fearful for his life, Safra surrounded himself by Mossad-trained gunmen. This did not help him: he died a horrible death in his bathroom when his villa was torched by one of the guards.

The third Jewish oligarch on Browder’s way was Boris Berezovsky, the king-maker of Yeltsin’s Russia. He also died in his bathroom (which seems to be a constant feature); apparently he committed suicide. Berezovsky had been a politically active man; he supported every anti-Putin force in Russia. However, a few months before his death, he asked for permission to return to Russia, and some negotiations went on between him and Russian authorities.

His chief of security Sergey Sokolov came to Russia and purportedly brought with him some documents his late master prepared for his return. These documents allege that Browder had been an agent of Western intelligence services, of the CIA to begin with, and of MI6 in following years. He was given a code name Solomon, as he worked for Salomon Brothers. His financial activity was just a cover for his true intentions, that is to collect political and economic data on Russia, and to carry out economic war on Russia. This revelation has been made in the Russia-1 TV channel documentary Browder Effect, (broadcasted 13.04.2016), asserting that Browder was not after money at all, and his activities in Russia, beside being very profitable, had a political angle.

The documents had been doubted for some linguistic reasons discussed by Gilbert Doctorow who comes to a reasonable conclusion: “Bill Browder[‘s]… intensity and the time he was devoting to anti-Russian sanctions in Europe was in no way comparable to the behaviour of a top level international businessman. It was clear to me that some other game was in play. But at the time, no one could stand up and suggest the man was a fraud, an operative of the intelligence agencies. Whatever the final verdict may be on the documents presented by the film “The Browder Effect,” it raises questions about Browder that should have been asked years ago in mainstream Western media if journalists were paying attention. Yevgeny Popov deserves credit for highlighting those questions, even if his documents demand further investigation before we come to definitive answers”.

We do not know whether Browder is, or had been, a spy. This should not surprise us, as he was closely connected to Maxwell, Safra and Berezovsky, the financiers with strong ties in the intelligence community.

Perhaps he outlived his usefulness, Mr Browder did. He started the Cold war, now is the time to keep it in its healthy limits and to avoid a nuclear disaster or rapid armaments race. This is the task we may hope will be entertained by the next US President, Mr Donald Trump.

View the Nekrasov film while you can:

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/lQ3qEwX66pIL/

July 31, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Film Review, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Bill Browder the Most Dangerous Man in the World?

The darling of the war party needs to answer some questions

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • July 24, 2018

At the press conference following their summit meeting in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin and American President Donald Trump discussed the possibility of resolving potential criminal cases involving citizens of the two countries by permitting interrogators from Washington and Moscow to participate in joint questioning of the individuals named in indictments prepared by the respective judiciaries. The predictable response by the American nomenklatura was that it was a horrible idea as it would potentially require U.S. officials to answer questions from Russians about their activities.

Putin argued, not unreasonably, that if Washington wants to extradite and talk to any of the twelve recently indicted GRU officers the Justice Department has named then reciprocity is in order for Americans and other identified individuals who are wanted by the Russian authorities for illegal activity while in Russia. And if Russian officials are fair game, so are American officials.

A prime target for such an interrogation would be President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who was widely criticized while in Moscow for being on an apparent mission to cultivate ties with the Russian political opposition and other “pro-democracy” groups. But McFaul was not specifically identified in the press conference, though Russian prosecutors have asked him to answer questions related to the ongoing investigation of another leading critic, Bill Browder, who was named by Putin during the question and answer session. Browder is a major hedge fund figure who, inter alia, is an American by birth. He renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1997 in exchange for British citizenship to avoid paying federal taxes on his worldwide income.

Bill Browder is what used to be referred to as an oligarch, having set up shop in 1999 as Hermitage Capital Management Fund, a hedge fund registered in tax havens Guernsey and the Cayman Islands. It focused on “investing” in Russia, taking advantage initially of the loans-for-shares scheme under Russia’s drunkard President Boris Yeltsin, and then continuing to profit greatly during the early years of Vladimir Putin. By 2005 Hermitage was the largest foreign investor in Russia.

Yeltsin had won a fraudulent election in 1996 supported by the oligarch-controlled media and by President Bill Clinton, who secured a $20.2 billion IMF loan that enabled him to buy support. Today we would refer to Clinton’s action as “interference in the 1996 election,” but at that time a helpless and bankrupt Russia was not well placed to object to what was being done to it. Yeltsin proved keen to follow oligarchical advice regarding how to strip the former Soviet Union of its vast state-owned assets. Browder’s Hermitage Investments profited hugely from the commodities deals that were struck at that time.

Browder and his apologists portray him as an honest and honorable Western businessman attempting to operate in a corrupt Russian business world. Nevertheless, the loans-for-shares scheme that made him his initial fortune has been correctly characterized as the epitome of corruption by all parties involved, an arrangement whereby foreign investors worked with local oligarchs to strip the former Soviet economy of its assets paying pennies on each dollar of value. Along the way, Browder was reportedly involved in money laundering, making false representations on official documents and bribery.

Browder was eventually charged by the Russian authorities for fraud and tax evasion. He was banned from re-entering Russia in 2005 and began to withdraw his assets from the country, but three companies controlled by Hermitage were eventually seized by the authorities. Browder himself was convicted of tax evasion in absentia in 2013 and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Browder, who refers to himself as Putin’s “public enemy #1,” has notably been able to sell his tale of innocence to leading American politicians like Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Ben Cardin and ex-Senator Joe Lieberman, all of whom are always receptive when criticizing Russia, as well as to a number of European parliamentarians and media outlets. In the wake of the Helsinki press conference he has, for example, claimed that Putin named him personally because he is a threat to continue to expose the crimes of the mafia that he claims is currently running Russia, but there is, inevitably, another less discussed alternative view of his self-serving narrative.

Central to the tale of what Browder really represents is the Magnitsky Act, which the U.S. Congress passed into law to sanction individual Kremlin officials for their treatment of alleged whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, arrested and imprisoned in Russia. Browder has sold a narrative which basically says that he and his “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky uncovered massive tax fraud and, when they attempted to report it, were punished by a corrupt police force and magistracy, which had actually stolen the money. Magnitsky was arrested and died in prison, allegedly murdered by the police to silence him.

The Magnitsky case is of particular importance because both the European Union and the United States have initiated sanctions against the identified Russian officials who were allegedly involved. In the Magnitsky Act, sponsored by Russia-phobic Senator Ben Cardin and signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, the U.S. asserted its willingness to punish foreign governments for human rights abuses. The Act, initially limited to Russia, has now been expanded by virtue of 2016’s Global Magnitsky Act, which enabled U.S. sanctions worldwide.

Russia reacted angrily to the first iteration of the Act, noting that the actions taken by its government internally, notably the operation of its judiciary, were being subjected to outside interference, while other judicial authorities also questioned Washington’s claimed right to respond to criminal acts committed outside the United States. Moscow reciprocated with sanctions against U.S. officials as well as by increasing pressure on foreign non-governmental pro-democracy groups operating in Russia. Some have referred to the Magnitsky Act as the start of the new Cold War.

The contrary narrative to that provided by Browder concedes that there was indeed a huge fraud related to as much as $230 million in unpaid Russian taxes on an estimated $1.5 billion of income, but that it was not carried out by corrupt officials. Instead, it was deliberately ordered and engineered by Browder with Magnitsky, who was actually an accountant, personally developing and implementing the scheme, using multiple companies and tax avoidance schemes to carry out the deception. Magnitsky, who was on cardiac medication, was indeed arrested and convicted, but he, according to his own family, reportedly died due to his heart condition, possibly exacerbated by negligent authorities who failed to medicate him adequately when he became ill.

The two competing Browder narratives have been explored in some detail by a Russian documentary film maker Andrei Nekrasov, an outspoken anti-Putin activist, who was actually initially engaged by Browder to do the film. An affable Browder appears extensively in the beginning describing his career and the events surrounding Magnitsky.

As Nekrasov worked on the documentary, he discovered that the Browder supported narrative was full of contradictions, omissions and fabrication of evidence. By the time he finished, he realized that the more accurate account of what had occurred with Browder and Magnitsky had been that provided by the Russian authorities.

When Nekrasov prepared to air his work “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes,” he inevitably found himself confronted by billionaire Browder and a battery of lawyers, who together blocked the showing of the film in Europe and the United States. Anyone subsequently attempting to promote the documentary has been immediately confronted with 300 plus pages of supporting documents accompanying a letter threatening a lawsuit if the film were to be shown to the public.

A single viewing of “The Magnitsky Act” in Washington in June 2016 turned into a riot when Browder supporters used tickets given to Congressional staffers to disrupt the proceedings. At a subsequent hearing before Congress, where he was featured as an expert witness on Russian corruption before a fawning Senate Judiciary Committee, Bill Browder suggested that those who had challenged his narrative and arranged the film’s viewing in Washington should be prosecuted under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA), which includes penalties of up to five years in prison.

Because of the pressure from Browder, there has never been a second public showing of “The Magnitsky Act” but it is currently possible to see it online:

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/lQ3qEwX66pIL/

Bill Browder, who benefited enormously from Russian corruption, has expertly repackaged himself as a paragon among businessmen, endearing himself to the Russia-haters in Washington and the media. Curiously, however, he has proven reluctant to testify in cases regarding his own business dealings. He has, for example, repeatedly run away, literally, from attempts to subpoena him so he would have to testify under oath.

When one gets past all of his bluster and posturing, by one significant metric Bill Browder might well be accounted the most dangerous man in the world. Driven by extreme hatred of Putin and of Russia, he personally and his Magnitsky Myth have together done more to launch and sustain a dangerous new Cold War between a nuclear armed United States and a nuclear armed Russia. Blind to what he has accomplished, he continues to pontificate about how Putin is out to get him when instead he is the crook who quite likely stole $230 million dollars and should be facing the consequences. That the U.S. media and Congress appear to be entranced by Browder and dismissive of Moscow’s charges against him is symptomatic of just how far the Russia-phobia in the West has robbed people of their ability to see what is right in front of them. To suggest that what is taking place driven by Browder and his friends in high places could well lead to tragedy for all of us would be an understatement.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Film Review, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments

You’ll never guess where the next James Bond villain is from…

RT | July 19, 2018

James Bond’s nemesis in the upcoming 007 film will be (now whisper it)… Russian. In what could be a sign of the times, it’s the first time in 20 years the fictional English spy will be battling it out with a Moscow baddie.

1999’s ‘The World Is Not Enough’ was the last Bond film to star a significant Russian villain – Victor ‘Renard’ Zokas, an ex-KGB agent turned-high tech terrorist, played with a questionable accent by Scottish actor Robert Carlyle.

The movie, once again starring Daniel Craig as Bond, has the working title ‘Bond 25’. It will be directed by Danny Boyle. Filming is scheduled to commence in December, with a proposed release date of October 2019, the Mirror reports.

The makers of the 007 film franchise are said to be seeking a 30 to 60-year-old leading male, from Russia or the Balkans. Producers say he must be “charismatic, powerful, innovative, cold and vindictive.”

As if one leading role being Russian wasn’t a scary enough proposition for James Bond fans, producers have revealed they intend to also cast a female in a leading role as a Russian. They must be “very striking” with “strong physical combat skills.”

Her character is described as “intelligent, brave, fierce and charming, she’s witty and skilful, a survivor.” The two Russian principal characters are rumored to have a Maori henchman who must possess “combat skills” and be “ruthless and loyal.”

Bond has a history of trading shots with evil characters from behind the old Iron Curtain in movies such as ‘From Russia With Love’. The prospective Russian villains will be following in the footsteps of Rosa Klebb and General Orlov.

Dua Lipa, the London-born singer-songwriter, is rumored to have been chosen to perform the theme song.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Film Review, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

The Pro-War Media Deserve Criticism, Not Sainthood

By James Bovard | Future of Freedom | June 20, 2018

The media nowadays are busy congratulating themselves for their vigorous criticism of Donald Trump. To exploit that surge of sanctimony, Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg rushed out The Post, a movie depicting an epic press battle with the Nixon administration. Critics raved over the film, which the New York Post enthusiastically labeled “journalism porn of the highest order.” Boston Public Radio station WBUR called it the “most fun you’ll ever have at a civics lesson.”

Spielberg, touting his movie, claimed that “the free press is a crusader for truth,” But the media hoopla around The Post is akin to geezers boasting of having shown moments of courage when they were almost 50 years younger.

The Post is built around the Pentagon Papers, a secret study begun in 1967 analyzing where the Vietnam War had gone awry. The 7000-page tome showed that presidents and military leaders had been profoundly deceiving the American people ever since the Truman administration and that the same mistakes were being endlessly repeated. Like many policy autopsies, the report was classified as secret and completely ignored by the White House and federal agencies, which most needed to heed its lessons. New York Times editor Tom Wicker commented in 1971 that “the people who read these documents in the Times were the first to study them.”

Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon official, heroically risked life in prison to smuggle the report to the media after members of Congress were too cowardly to touch it. The New York Times shattered the political sound barrier when it began courageously publishing the report despite a profusion of threats from the Nixon administration Justice Department. After a federal court slapped the Times with an injunction, the Washington Post and other newspapers published additional classified excerpts from the report.

The Post ignores the fact that U.S. government policy on Vietnam did not become more honest after the Pentagon Papers disclosure. In such cases, the government’s notion of “repenting” is merely to substitute new and often more-ludicrous falsehoods. Besides, as retired State Department whistleblower Peter van Buren noted, “The Post has no real interest in the Pentagon Papers except as a plot device, almost an excuse needed to make this movie.”

Because the Washington Post had a female publisher, Spielberg made it, rather than the Times, the star of the show. Van Buren suggested, “Spielberg might as well have costumed Meryl Streep (who played Post publisher Katherine Graham) in a pink pussy hat for the boardroom scenes.” The movie fails to mention Graham’s cozy relationship with President Lyndon Johnson. A few weeks after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, a secret tape made by the Johnson White House captured Johnson and Graham (whom he called “sweetheart”) flirting up a storm during a phone call. She later flew to his Texas ranch for a personal visit.

Spielberg’s movie portrays Post editor Ben Bradlee denouncing dishonest government officials to Graham: “The way they lied — those days have to be over.” Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who deluged the media with falsehoods about battlefront progress, did more than anyone else (except perhaps Lyndon Johnson) to vastly increase the bloodbath for Americans and Vietnamese. McNamara’s disastrous deceits did not deter the Washington Post from appointing him to its board of directors. As Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, recently observed, “The Washington Post was instrumental in avidly promoting the lies that made the Vietnam War possible in the first place.”

The Pentagon Papers proved that politicians and their tools will brazenly con the American public to drag the nation into unnecessary wars. But that lesson vanished into the D.C. Memory Hole — conveniently for bootlicking journalists such as Post superstar Bob Woodward. The late Robert Parry, a Washington correspondent for Newsweek in the late 1980s, declared that he saw “self-censorship because of the coziness between Post-Newsweek executives and senior national security figures.”

Post-Vietnam coziness

Perhaps the memory of winning the Pentagon Papers showdown with the feds helped make the media overconfident about their ability to resist the temptation to become political tools. New York Times columnist Flora Lewis, writing three weeks before the 9/11 attacks, commented in a review of a book on U.S. government lies on the Vietnam war, “There will probably never be a return to the discretion, really collusion, with which the media used to treat presidents, and it is just as well.” Within months of her comment, the media had broken almost all prior kowtowing records. CNN chief Walter Isaacson explained, “Especially right after 9/11 … there was a real sense that you don’t get that critical of a government that’s leading us in wartime.”

On March 17, 2003, George W. Bush justified invading Iraq by invoking UN resolutions purporting to authorize the United States “to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.” A year later, he performed a skit at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ annual dinner featuring slides showing him crawling around the Oval Office peaking behind curtains as he quipped to the poohbah attendees, “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere…. Nope, no weapons over there…. Maybe under here?” The crowd loved it and the Post headlined its report on the evening, “George Bush, Entertainer in Chief.” Greg Mitchell, the editor of Editor and Publisher, labeled the press’s reaction that night as “one of the most shameful episodes in the recent history of the American media and presidency.”

Most of the media had embedded themselves for the Iraq war long before that dinner. The Post blocked or buried pre-war articles exposing the Bush team’s shams on Iraq; their award-winning Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks complained, “There was an attitude among editors: ‘Look, we’re going to war; why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?’” Instead, before the war started, the Post ran 27 editorials in favor of invasion and 140 front-page articles supporting the Bush administration’s case for attacking Saddam. The New York Times printed a barrage of false claims on WMDs while axing articles by Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter James Risen demolishing “the administration’s claims of a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.” The New York Times also refused to publish classified documents showing pervasive illegal National Security Agency spying on Americans prior to the 2004 election, even though it had received the proof of vast wrongdoing. If the Times had not flinched, George W. Bush might have been denied a second term.

Broadcast media were even quicker to grovel for the war effort. PBS NewsHour host Jim Lehrer explained, “It would have been difficult to have had debates [about invading Iraq]…. You’d have had to have gone against the grain.” Lehrer neglected to say exactly how kowtowing became patriotic. News anchor Katie Couric revealed in 2008 that there was pressure from “the corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kind of dissent or any kind of questioning of” the Iraq war.

And now, Syria

Despite the role of media gullibility (or worse) in helping the Bush administration sell the Iraq war, the press showed scant skepticism about subsequent U.S. attacks abroad. The media behave at times as if government lies are dangerous only when the president is a certified bad guy — like Richard Nixon or Donald Trump. Barack Obama’s semi-sainthood minimized media criticism of his Syrian debacle — a civil war in which the United States initially armed one side (Syrian rebels who largely turned out to be terrorists) and then switched sides, a flip-flop that resulted in far more dead Syrians. But Americans have received few insights into that bellicose schizophrenia from the media. Historian Stephen Kinzer wrote in the Boston Globe, “Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press.” Even in the Trump era — when the press is openly clashing with a president — bombing still provides push-button presidential redemption. Trump’s finest hour, according to much of the media, occurred in April 2017 when he attacked the Assad regime with 59 cruise missiles, raising hopes that the U.S. military would topple the Syrian government.

When Trump announced he was sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, the Washington Post editorial page hailed his “principled realism” — regardless of the futility of perpetuating that quagmire. At a time when Trump is saber-rattling against Iran and North Korea, the media should be vigorously challenging official claims before U.S. bombs begin falling. Instead, much of the coverage of rising tensions with foreign regimes could have been written by Pentagon flacks.

Richard Nixon’s henchman H.R. Haldeman warned Nixon that the Pentagon Papers might make people believe “you can’t trust the government; you can’t believe what they say; and you can’t rely on their judgment. And the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this.” Unfortunately, much of the media continue to presume that presidents are infallible — as long as they are killing enough foreigners.

One of the starkest lessons of the Pentagon Papers was that politicians and their henchmen will tell unlimited lies — and ignore stark warnings — to plunge the nation into unnecessary foreign wars. And forgotten falsehoods almost guarantee new political treachery. Politicians don’t need to provide strong evidence as long as the media continue treating them as if they were Delphic oracles. Truth delayed is truth defused because there is no way to rescind bombs that have already detonated.

Media tub-thumpers were crestfallen when The Post struck out on Academy Awards night (it was nominated for Best Picture and other categories). But that worked out well for history, since it leaves the path more open for subsequent documentaries or movies that provide more honest exposure of how wars get started and perpetuated. Future movies might even venture into the forbidden ground of media docility regarding systemic violations of human rights.

Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, in his 1971 opinion on the New York Times’ right to publish the Pentagon Papers, declared, “Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.” Unfortunately, the media often choose to trumpet official lies instead of fighting them. Permitting glorious tales from eight presidencies ago to absolve subsequent media kowtowing would be as foolish as forgetting the lessons of the original Pentagon Papers. Worshipping the media is as foolish as worshiping politicians.

 

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

An Iranian Perspective on the Battle for Syria

By Rick Sterling | Consortium News | May 17, 2018

West against East on the Syrian battle-field, in the newspapers and now on film: A new, full-length action movie, titled Damascus Time, gives an Iranian perspective on the battle against ISIS in Syria.

The movie comes from Iranian screenwriter and film director Ebrahim Hatamikia. Two award-winning Iranian actors, Hadi Hejazifar and Babak Hamidian, play father and son pilots trying to rescue civilians besieged and attacked by ISIS forces in eastern Syria. The pilots have come to help the townspeople escape in an aging Ilyushin cargo plane.

Syrian and Iraqi actors play Syrian civilians and ISIS terrorists hell bent on blowing up the plane or using it on a suicide mission against Damascus.

The movie portrays sensational scenes from real ISIS atrocities with a backdrop showing the Syrian desert and famous ruins of Palmyra. The city where civilians are surrounded and besieged is similar to the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, which was surrounded and attacked by ISIS for years. During that time, the townspeople and soldiers depended on air-dropped food and ammunition to hold off the attackers, as shown in the movie.

Damascus Time’s jihadists display a human side, but they are wrapped in sectarianism, hate and violence.

Life’s complexities are demonstrated in the younger of the two Iranian pilots who has left his pregnant wife to be with his father. The mother-in-law of the young pilot bitterly criticizes him for leaving his wife. He tells her it will be his last trip.

While the story is fiction, what it portrays is all too real: Hundreds of thousands of real Syrians and Iraqis have been killed by the unleashing of the ISIS Frankenstein. Ironically, American leaders criticize Iran for being the “leading state sponsor of terrorism.” But in the Syrian war, Iran has been combatting it. Iran is more tolerant than most Westerners think too, as indeed Islam is. How many know for instance that Jews are represented in the Iranian parliament?

Western-backed Extremism

In reality, the U.S. and UK have allied for decades with extremists for short-term political gain. As documented in “Devil’s Game: How the U.S. Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam,” by Robert Dreyfuss, Britain and the U.S. promoted a violent and sectarian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood to undermine the nationalist and socialist policies of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt. Starting in 1979, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia promoted the founders of what became Al Qaeda to attack the socialist-leaning government of Afghanistan.

This policy has continued to the present. In the summer of 2012, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency outlined their strategy in a secret document : “THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR).”The U.S. looked favorably on what the document predicts will be the creation of the “Islamic State”: “THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME…”.

Then, in a leaked audio conversation with Syrian opposition figures in September, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S., rather than seriously fight Islamic State in Syria, was ready to use the growing strength of the jihadists to pressure Assad to resign, just as outlined in the DIA document.

“We know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that Daesh [a derisive name for Islamic State] was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened,” Kerry said. “We thought however we could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate, but instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him.”

Russia began its military intervention in late September 2015 without the United States, with the Kremlin’s motives made abundantly clear by Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials. But such clear explanations are rarely reported clearly by Western corporate media, which instead peddles the line from officials and think tanks that Russia is trying to recover lost imperial glory in the Middle East.

Who sponsors terrorism?

But Kerry knew why Russia intervened. “The reason Russia came in is because ISIL [another acronym for Islamic State] was getting stronger, Daesh was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus, and that’s why Russia came in because they didn’t want a Daesh government and they supported Assad,” he said in the leaked discussion. Kerry’s comment suggests that the U.S. was willing to risk Islamic State and its jihadist allies gaining power in order to oust Assad.

The Biggest Sponsors

The true “state sponsor of terrorism” is not Iran; it is the West and their allies. Since Iran has been fighting ISIS and other extremists in Syria, it is appropriate that the first feature length movie depicting that battle against terrorism and ISIS comes from Iran.

Hundreds of Iranians have given their lives alongside their Syrian and Iraqi comrades. “Damascus Time” is not the product of Hollywood fantasy; it’s the product of actual human drama and conflict occurring in the Middle East today. “Damascus Time” is fictional but based on a real conflict with actual blood, atrocities, tragedies and martyrs.

The movie is currently being shown at cinemas throughout Iran. In recent weeks it was the second highest ranking movie. A trailer of the film can be viewed here. It should be available for viewing in the West in the near future, unless western sanctions and censorship are extended to culture.

Rick Sterling can be contacted at rsterling1@gmail.com

May 18, 2018 Posted by | Film Review | , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering Ireland’s Great Famine

A review of Black ’47 a soon to be released film about the famine in Ireland

By Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin | Dissident Voice | April 13, 2018

Weary men, what reap ye?—Golden corn for the stranger.
What sow ye?— human corpses that wait for the avenger.
Fainting forms, hunger–stricken, what see you in the offing?
Stately ships to bear our food away, amid the stranger’s scoffing.
There’s a proud array of soldiers — what do they round your door?
They guard our masters’ granaries from the thin hands of the poor.
Pale mothers, wherefore weeping— would to God that we were dead;
Our children swoon before us, and we cannot give them bread.”
— “Speranza” (Jane Wilde, mother of Oscar Wilde)

Last Wednesday I attended a preview for a forthcoming Irish film, Black 47 (Director Lance Daly), about the worst year of the catastrophic Irish famine and is set in the west of Ireland in 1847.

The story centers around an Irish soldier, Feeney (James Frecheville), returning from serving the British Army in Afghanistan only to find most of his family have perished in the Famine or An Gorta Mor (the Great Hunger) as it is known in Gaelic.

The English and Irish terms for Ireland’s greatest tragedy are infused with different ideological approaches to the disaster. By emphasising the failure of the potato crop only, the impression is given that there was no food to be had on the island when the opposite was true – there were many other crops which did not fail but were not accessible to the vast majority of the people – hence, the Great Hunger.

Feeney (James Frecheville), Black 47 (Director Lance Daly)

In Black 47, the colonised fight back as Feeney puts the skills he has learned abroad with the British army to effective use in Ireland. He kills or executes the various people involved in the British colonial system he blames for the starvation and death of his family: from the bailiff to the judge to the colonial landlord. Moreover, Feeney goes a step further as he refuses to speak English to those in power before he kills them, reflecting back to them an immediate understanding of the powerlessness of those without the linguistic tools to negotiate compromises (as was seen in the film when a monolingual Irish speaker gets tough justice for ‘refusing’ to speak English in court).

Back in the late 1980s a book entitled ‘The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures‘ [1989] showed how the language and literature of the empire, English, was used by colonised peoples in the creation of a radical culture to aid their resistance to the hegemony of imperial power. However, now with many of his family dead, Feeney has ceased to be a Caliban profiting on the language of his masters and becomes a powerfully drawn hero who is uncompromising in his insistence that the Irish language and culture will be a respected equal to the imposed English language and culture of the colonists.

In the film the ruling class and their hierarchy of supporters are flush with food and the army is used to transport harvested crops to the coast and exportation. This fact is displayed symbolically when one of Feeney’s victims is literally ‘drowned’ in food, as he is found head first in a sack of wheat.

The international aspect of the Black 47 narrative hints at the geopolitics of the day with Feeney’s return from Afghanistan and the concurrent mass emigration to the United States from Ireland. Feeney’s indignation at finding out how his masters have treated his own family and compatriots as he risked his life for them abroad is similar to the treatment of the African-American soldiers of the Vietnam war on their return to the United States.

But this is not a black and white, Irish versus the Brits, movie. There is complexity as some of the British show empathy for the desperate Irish and pay the ultimate price or go on the run.

Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more a man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.

— Francis Bacon

Black 47 is a revenge movie which is cathartic for an audience feeling the utter helplessness of the victims living in a brutal system without real justice, where what should have been their protectors (the law, the state, the army, etc.) became their attackers and betrayed them. In previous food crises, according to Christine Kenealy:

The closure of ports was a traditional, short-term response to food shortages. It had been used to great effect during the subsistence crisis of 1782-4 when, despite the opposition of the grain merchants, ports had been closed and bounties offered to merchants who imported food to the country. During the subsistence crisis of 1799-1800, the government had placed a temporary embargo on the export of potatoes from Ireland. In 1816 and 1821, the British government had organised the shipment of grain into areas in the west of Ireland where there were food shortages. The grain was then sold on at low prices. Similar intervention and market regulation occurred in Britain.

Unfortunately for Ireland, Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan (2 April 1807 – 19 June 1886), a British civil servant and colonial administrator, was put in charge of administering famine relief. Trevelyan was a student of the economist Thomas Malthus and a believer in laissez faire economics and the free hand of the market. Trevelyan described the famine as an “effective mechanism for reducing surplus population” as well as “the judgement of God”.

Famine Memorial in Dublin by artist Rowan Gillespie

With this change in attitude on the part of the British government towards food shortages, the crisis was doomed from the beginning. Kinealy states:

In 1847 alone, the worst year of the Famine, almost 4,000 vessels carried food from Ireland to the major ports of Britain, that is, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool and London. Over half of these ships went to Liverpool, the main port both for emigration and for cargo.

Ultimately, one million people starved to death and one million emigrated reducing the population by about 20% – 25%.

Black 47 is an uncompromising film that depicts the harrowing results of a crop failure combined with an ultra exploitative system that knew no moral or legal boundaries. Sure, attempts were made by well-meaning people to alleviate the crisis but the failure of the state to end the crisis on a macro level resulted in an unprecedented disaster for the Irish people. It will go on general release in September.

Further research:

For those interested in finding out more about the Great Hunger, here is a select list of material covering different aspects.

Art

The preview showing of Black 47 was to complement a concurrent exhibtion of art in Dublin Castle showing at the Coach House Gallery until June 30. The exhibition, titled ‘Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger‘, is an exhibition of the world’s largest collection of Famine-related art.

​Belfast mural

Music:

Sinéad O’Connor – ‘Famine

Damien Dempsey – ‘Colony

Christy Moore – ‘On a Single Day

Books:

The Great Hunger by Cecil Woodham-Smith

The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy by Tim Pat Coogan

The Graves are Walking by John Kelly

Atlas of the Great Irish Famine edited by J. Crowley, W. J. Smith and M.Murphy.
(Massive hardback volume covering almost all aspects of the famine throughout Ireland, lavishly illustrated.)

National Famine Commemoration Committee

The National Famine Commemoration Committee was first established in 2008 following a Government decision to commemorate the Great Irish Famine with an annual national famine memorial day.

Film
Ireland 1848 – ‘An experimental documentary of the Great Irish Famine. Shot as a film might have been shot in 1848 fifty years before the cinema was invented.’

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/.

April 14, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Film Review, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Fact Checking Newsbud’s “Syria Under Siege” Video

corbettreport | Mar 29, 2018

James fact checks Newsbud’s recent “Syria Under Siege” video and comes to some unfortunate conclusions.

SHOW NOTES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=26467

March 29, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Film Review, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment