US Intelligence Rewrites over 1000 Hollywood Movies: New Book

A still from the movie "Hulk," which was changed by the U.S. Marine Corps.

A still from the movie “Hulk,” which was changed by the U.S. Marine Corps. | Photo: Creative Commons
The authors stated that a militarized propaganda apparatus operates throughout the movie industry.
The U.S. military rewrites major Hollywood blockbusters if they don’t fit with its pro-war agenda or are damaging to its reputation, new research has revealed.
Tom Secker and Matthew Alford, in their new book, “National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood,” scoured through more than 4,000 pages of Pentagon and CIA documents using Freedom of Information requests. Their research reveals the extent to which U.S. intelligence operates within Hollywood — where they were involved in over 800 movies and 1,000 TV shows.
The CIA’s involvement ranges from obvious contenders such as films like “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” to more surprising media such as “Oprah” and “America’s Got Talent.”
According to Secker and Alford, if a producer or writer asks for access to the military for research, the script must be vetted by the intelligence agency. Producers are asked to sign Production Assistance Agreements that force them to use Pentagon-approved versions of the script.
The book — along with the Department of Defense’s Hollywood database of collaborations that the authors also released — reports that a number of movies, including James Bond, the Transformers franchise, and movies from the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, have been modified or otherwise influenced by the U.S. military.
The 2003 film “Hulk” saw “radical” changes made by the Marine Corps. One of the biggest modifications included changing the name of an operation that captured Hulk, “Ranch Hand,” which wasn’t allowed because it was the real name for the United States’ destruction of Vietnam with pesticides and poison.
The movie, “Top Gun,” however, was approved with no changes given that “it clearly portrayed the navy in a very positive light,” the DOD said, adding that it “completed rehabilitation the military’s image, which had been savaged by the Vietnam War.”
U.S. intelligence’s influence in Hollywood has been documented before, for the first time in 2005 where it was only suspected that the Pentagon had worked on less than 600 films and only a handful of television shows.
Last year, two books were also published detailing more revelations, but they “missed or underplayed important cases,” according to Secker and Alford.
“In all, we are looking at a vast, militarized propaganda apparatus operating throughout the screen entertainment industry in the United States,” the authors stated in a recent piece on Medium. “In societies already eager to use our hard power overseas, the shaping of our popular culture to promote a pro-war mindset must be taken seriously.”

Report: Burundi’s government purging Tutsi army officers

By Ignatius Ssuuna and Eloge Willy Kaneza

BUJUMBURA, Burundi — Burundi’s ruling party is purging ethnic Tutsi army officers in a campaign of repression, a human rights group says, accusing the international community of inaction amid deadly political violence in the East African country.
Hundreds of Tutsi soldiers in the national army have been murdered, disappeared or detained, and others have deserted, according to the new report by the International Federation for Human Rights and Burundi-based partners.
Burundian authorities blame the Tutsi, an ethnic minority, for the instability, the report says.
“The primary positions of command in the main army corps are now occupied by a Hutu majority, loyal to the president,” the report says. “The army has become a highly politicized body.”
The international community’s efforts to depoliticize the army after the country’s long civil war “are being obliterated,” the report adds, while warning that targeted groups inside the army could coordinate and take action in the coming months or years.
Burundi’s government on Tuesday denounced the report, saying the local groups that helped produce it are not officially recognized.
“This is fake. They are mercenaries who work for some foreign people who want to destroy our country,” said Therence Natahiraja, assistant spokesman for the interior ministry.
The government has previously denied a campaign of repression and harassment of Tutsi army officers.
The war in Burundi started in 1993 when Tutsi paratroopers assassinated the country’s first democratically elected president, a Hutu. Fighting mainly between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-dominated army resulted in the deaths of 300,000 people. A cease-fire was declared in 2006 but it took several years for fighting to end.
The latest violence erupted in April 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to seek a disputed third term that he ultimately won. More than 500 people have been killed, according to the United Nations, although some rights groups say at least 1,000 have died.
Tutsis make up 14 percent of Burundi’s 10 million people, while Hutus are about 85 percent of the population.
Burundi’s government has accused neighboring Rwanda, which has a similar ethnic composition, of supporting rebels opposed to Nkurunziza. Rwanda’s government denies it.


Revolutionary heroin vaccine could help stem opioid epidemic

Revolutionary heroin vaccine could help stem opioid epidemic

© Maurizio Gambarini / DPA / Global Look Press
A vaccine blocking the euphoric effects of heroin could soon be on the way after it proved effective during trials in rhesus monkeys. Researchers hope to test the potentially revolutionary vaccine on humans.
Developed by The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in California, it’s the first vaccination against an opioid to pass this stage of preclinical testing, offering hope to the millions of addicts worldwide.

Heroin-related overdose deaths quadrupled from 2010-15 – US govt 

Photo published for Heroin-related overdose deaths quadrupled from 2010-15 - US govt — RT America

Heroin-related overdose deaths quadrupled from 2010-15 – US govt — RT America

Heroin-related deaths in the US skyrocketed in the span of five years, amounting to a quarter of all overdose deaths by 2015, according to new federal data, presenting another grim snapshot of…

It works by exposing the immune system to an element of heroin’s molecular structure, which then triggers the body’s defence mechanism to produce antibodies against the opioid and, crucially, its psychoactive effects.
These antibodies neutralize the heroin molecules, blocking them from reaching the brain and causing a ‘high’. The hope is that by blocking the euphoric feeling, users won’t be motivated to take the drug, therefore preventing recovering addicts slipping into relapse.
In this trial four rhesus monkeys that were given three doses of the vaccine showed an effective response in neutralizing varying doses of heroin. The vaccine was most effective in the first month but could last over eight months.
Furthermore, two of the four monkeys had been pre-tested with the same vaccine seven months previous for a more basic trial and researchers discovered that these two showed a much higher response to the treatment the second time around.

Cannabis extract dramatically cuts seizures in rare fatal form of child epilepsy – study 

Photo published for Cannabis extract dramatically cuts seizures in rare fatal form of child epilepsy – study — RT Viral

Cannabis extract dramatically cuts seizures in rare fatal form of child epilepsy – study — RT Viral

Non-psychoactive cannabis extract cannabidiol (CBD) dramatically reduces the number of convulsive seizures affecting children with a rare and sometimes fatal form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndro…

“We were really encouraged to see the vaccine produce such lasting effects in non-human primate models,” study author Paul Bremer said in a press release.
The fact the two primates exhibited a higher response to the vaccine the second time suggests that the body held a “memory” of the vaccine. If this proves correct, human addicts would have long-term immunity to heroin.
“We believe this vaccine candidate will prove safe for human trials,” said study leader Kim Janda, adding that they’ve discovered no negative side effects from the vaccine.
The research was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.


The Bitcoin Bubble Will Turn Into Mania Before It Bursts

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

By Panos Mourdoukoutas , 22 June 2017

For the last nine months, the Bitcoin rally that took the digital currency from a few hundred dollars to close to $3000 had all the elements of a bubble that has yet to turn into a mania before it bursts.
Every asset bubble is different, and can be easily confused with healthy bull markets. But they all follow a certain pattern. They begin with ‘investor hype’ over a popular theme – an emerging industry or an exotic product that promises to change the world and make many people rich in the process.
Somewhere down the road Wall Street develops the vehicles that make broad investor participation in this theme easier, like a mutual fund or an ETF—turning investor hype into market contagion, and pushing the price of the underlying assets ever higher.


12-month performance

SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)


Bitcoin Investment Trust Shares (GBTC)


Source: 6/22/2017
Then comes easy money by accommodative central banks to provide ‘the air’ — financing for the bubble to grow bigger and bigger. Bold predictions by market gurus and talk in the mass and social media create buzz that help prices double or even quadruple in a matter of days, even hours—turning market contagion into mania. Investing in this theme reaches a cascade, as no investor wants to be left behind.
Finally, the bubble bursts, as early investors have already cashed out, and there are no more investors to join the party.
Apparently, the ongoing run up in Bitcoin and other digital currencies has most of the elements of a bubble. It’s an exotic asset that comes with big advantages—a better hedge against global uncertainties than conventional hedges like gold; a convenient medium of payment around the globe; and a limited supply–21 million. 
Meanwhile, there’s investor hype. More and more investors are becoming familiar with the digital currency, and can use investment trusts like GBTC to conveniently participate in the market.
Adding to the hype is an ultra-low interest rate environment (which has lowered the cost of holding all these four-digit trading Bitcoins).
But there’s one thing still missing to turn the bubble into mania: a broad participation beyond the “pioneers” and the “early adopters,” to “early majority–” along the Rogerscurve.
That’s when the demand for Bitcoin reaches a cascade and turns into mania, as a critical mass of investors rush to buy “hot” Bitcoins for the promise they hold — rather than for the fundamentals they display.
Investors who have been around Wall Street long enough know all too well that when money becomes tight and investment promises aren’t fulfilled, bubbles and manias end; and millions made are lost much faster than they were made. And then some.


Qatar-based foundation joins UN steering group for global education programme

UN Resolution: “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” [Wikipedia]

UN Resolution: “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” [Wikipedia]

By Nasim Ahmed

With one of the highest youth populations in the world, the Middle East has the potential to be the main beneficiary of one of the biggest UN-led initiatives to improve education around the globe. The details are outlined in a highly aspirational UN Resolution: “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” is committed to addressing the greatest global challenges, including poverty reduction, hunger, the improvement of education and safeguards against war and conflict. In total, 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) were agreed by the international community to be attained by 2030.
Different nations and multiple stakeholders from the private sector and civil society, as well as members of the public, were united “to take the bold and transformative steps,” as described by the UN General Assembly, that are “urgently needed to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path.” The SDGs were seen as another layer of commitment and further affirmation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were signed by 191 UN member states in 2000, along with at least 22 international organisations.
In a meeting at the UN in New York last week, all of the partners gathered to review their commitment and the progress made on one of the most important SDGs: “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.” Quality education (SDG4) was placed fourth on the list. A commission headed by a number of former heads of state, including former British Prime Minster Gordon Brown, was installed to set out the vision for what was called the “Learning Generation”.

UNESCO, which is the lead coordinator of the SDGs, pledged to “work with all constituencies to fulfil the 2030 Agenda’s promise of ‘leaving no one behind’.” As the secretariat for the SDG 2030 education goal, the UN organisation was given responsibility for “housing” how things moved on SDG4 and documenting the progress that was made towards the aspirational goal.
One member of the Education Steering Committee, Dr Mary Joy Pigozzi, spoke to MEMO about many of the different local implementation models adopted in delivering SDG4. Pigozzi, who is the executive director of Educate A Child (EAC), which is a programme of the Qatari charitable foundation Education Above All (EAA), spoke about the way in which the initiatives she’s been heading worked on “transforming pledges into action”. She told MEMO of the 7.1 million out-of-school children who are from some of the most marginalised communities in the world; they have been offered quality education through the EAC programme. “We look forward to sharing our methods and demonstrating the obvious: education is a driver of human development,” she told me.
Dr Pigozzi described her work and that of the EAC, which has a good track record of providing education in parts of Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. “Our work there positions us to be part of the global education architecture,” she explained. “This is an honour and opportunity for EAA.” The Qatari foundation works, inter alia, to develop a global initiative to provide safe schools in areas of conflict. “However, this brings with it responsibilities as well,” she added, before mentioning the important role that EAA plays in representing all the different foundations in the UNESCO steering committee, which includes member states and civil society organisations.
Pigozzi revealed that there was a strong focus on the financing of education during the latest meeting, which, she pointed out, was significant ahead of the G20 meeting in Hamburg later this week. “Global leaders,” she hopes, “will reaffirm their commitment to ensuring that all children have access to quality education, especially as education is the driver of several SDGs.” She stressed that this can only be achieved through “appropriate funding, protection of education as a human right, and collaboration.”
Discussing specific challenges in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region, it was pointed out that political instability and conflict, as reported previously by the World Bank, has undermined the progress made by countries in the region over the past decade. Reporting at the height of the Arab Spring in 2014, the international financial institution and one of the sponsors of the SDG4 vision said: “[The region] has taken great strides in education. It has quadrupled the average level of schooling since 1960, halved illiteracy since 1980 and achieved almost complete gender parity for primary education.”
However, these impressive achievements, the World Bank pointed out, are marred by an uncomfortable fact: “For too many students across the region, schooling has not been synonymous with learning.” The organisation raised specific concerns over trends which demonstrated “that school systems in MENA are generally of low quality. Basic skills are not being learnt, a fact most clearly captured by international standardised tests, whose results reveal that the Region is still below the level expected given MENA countries’ per capita income.”
The low quality of education was exacerbated further by concerns over the region’s youth bulge which is predicted to surge by about 10 million between 2015 and 2030. This sudden growth in the youth population will create an increased demand for educational services at all levels and will place immense pressure on existing institutions. It is also possible, though, with careful planning, coordination and the will to capitalise on the visions of SDG4, to direct the youth in the region by turning them into the driver for regional growth.


Why Poland Deliberately Raises Tensions With Ukraine

A participant in a march in memory of the Volhynia massacre victims, in Przemysl.

© Sputnik/ Alexey Vitvitsky
Ukraine will not join the European Union “with Bandera,” Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski told local media in Poland. Russian analyst Vadim Volobuyev said that Warsaw may block any Ukrainian attempt to join the EU.
He underscored that while economic relations between Kiev and Warsaw are not in a very good condition, when it comes to historic issues everything is very bad.
“Our message is very clear: you will not join Europe with Bandera,” Waszczykowski told the Polish media outlet wSieci.

Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski

Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski, © AFP 2017/ ATTILA KISBENEDEK
He also criticized Kiev for its reluctance to put an end to the abuse of minorities’ rights.
“We say it both loud and silently. We will not repeat the mistakes of the 1990s when we didn’t resolve certain issues with Germany and Lithuania. I mean the status of the Polish minorities in those countries. We will demand that Kiev resolve all of the issues before asking for membership in the EU,” the Minister said.
Waszczykowski pointed out that the Ukrainian government lacks the will to resolve those problems.
Earlier, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling Law & Justice party, said that Ukraine will not join the European Union until Kiev stops supporting the cult of personality of notorious top Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.
Kiev’s reaction was easy to predict, though. Markiyan Lubkivskiy, former adviser of the Security Service of Ukraine, said that Ukraine should demand explanations from Poland for Waszczykowski’s remarks. According to him, the comment of the Polish Foreign Minister was “unfriendly” and “harmful” to Kiev-Warsaw ties.
“This is meddling into Ukraine’s domestic affairs. We will decide by ourselves who our heroes are,” he told the Ukrainian broadcaster 112.Ukraina.
Poland may veto Ukraine’s possible admission to the European Union, according to Vadim Volobuyev, senior research fellow at the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
“This remark [by Waszczykowski] indicates a deterioration in Ukrainian-Polish relations. I have to admit that previously I underestimated the Polish ruling party. I thought that in order to stand against Russia, Warsaw would come to a compromise with Kiev. But this didn’t happen. Now, Warsaw is confronting Ukraine,” Volobuyev told Radio Sputnik.
At the same time, the expert suggested that the current situation risks negative consequences for Poland in the EU.
“Warsaw’s reputation in Brussels is bad. Moreover, Poland has serious differences with Germany, the leader of the bloc. Now, they’re confronting Ukraine. All the above risks negative consequences for Poland,” he said.
Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) was one of the leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and one of the founders of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The UPA was formed in 1942 as a military wing of the OUN and operated mostly in western Ukraine. In addition to cooperating with the Nazi Germany against Soviet forces, the group conducted an ethnic cleansing campaign mostly directed at the region’s Polish population.

A man carrying a picture of Stepan Bandera during a torchlight procession of Ukrainian nationalists in downtown Kiev. File photo

© SPUTNIK/ GRIGORIY VASILENKO, A man carrying a picture of Stepan Bandera during a torchlight procession of Ukrainian nationalists in downtown Kiev. File photo
Polish historians claim UPA was responsible for killing between 100,000 and 130,000 Polish civilians and 5,000-10,000 Ukrainian civilians in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, claims which Ukrainian historians have downplayed or denied outright.
In May 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared OUN-UPA veterans Ukraine’s “freedom fighters” and gave social benefits to them.
In recent years, Ukrainian-Polish relations have been strained by Ukrainian historians’ growing attempts to whitewash the World War II-era war crimes committed by the UPA.