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Forget those plans by Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and other theaters to run Team America: World Police in place of The Interview. The Austin-based chain says that Paramount has now decided not to offer South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s 2004 satire that focuses on Kim Jong-il, the late father of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Alamo says that the cancellation at its Dallas theater is “due to circumstances beyond our control” and says it will offer refunds to those who have already bought tickets. Cleveland’s Capitol Theater also tweeted that Team America“has been canceled by Paramount Pictures.”
Due to to circumstances beyond our control, the TEAM AMERICA 12/27 screening has been cancelled. We apologize & will provide refunds today.
— Alamo Drafthouse DFW (@AlamoDFW) December 18, 2014
The post Paramount Cancels ‘Team America’ Showings, Theaters Say appeared first on disinformation.
In October 1984 I arrived at Oxford University, trailing a large steamer trunk containing a couple of changes of clothing and about five dozen textbooks. I had a freshly minted bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard, and I was raring to launch into graduate study. But within a couple of weeks, the more advanced students had sucked the wind from my sails. Change fields now while you still can, many said. There’s nothing happening in fundamental physics.
Then, just a couple of months later, the prestigious (if tamely titled) journal Physics Letters B published an article that ignited the first superstring revolution, a sweeping movement that inspired thousands of physicists worldwide to drop their research in progress and chase Einstein’s long-sought dream of a unified theory. The field was young, the terrain fertile and the atmosphere electric. The only thing I needed to drop was a neophyte’s inhibition to run with the world’s leading physicists. I did. What followed proved to be the most exciting intellectual odyssey of my life.
That was 30 years ago this month, making the moment ripe for taking stock: Is string theory revealing reality’s deep laws? Or, as some detractors have claimed, is it a mathematical mirage that has sidetracked a generation of physicists?
Unification has become synonymous with Einstein, but the enterprise has been at the heart of modern physics for centuries. Isaac Newton united the heavens and Earth, revealing that the same laws governing the motion of the planets and the Moon described the trajectory of a spinning wheel and a rolling rock. About 200 years later, James Clerk Maxwell took the unification baton for the next leg, showing that electricity and magnetism are two aspects of a single force described by a single mathematical formalism.
via Tech Dirt:
The commissioners of a small Tennessee town have just voted to ban negative comments about it from social media. This stupid move was prompted by “criticism and lies” being posted online, which supposedly “hampered” the town’s government from performing its duties.
South Pittsburg City is a town of 3,000. This fact will limit the damage done by its city commissioners’ new policy (which passed with 4-1 vote), but only because the town itself is tiny.The ban, however, is super-broad. (via Ben Swann and BRACE YOURSELF for always-awesome AUTOPLAY)
It applies to all city elected representatives, appointed board members, employees, volunteers, vendors, contractors and anyone associated with the town in an official capacity who uses social networks. The policy says those persons can’t post anything negative about the city, its employees or other associates.
Examples include posted videos, blogs, online forum discussions, Facebook and Twitter, Commissioner Jeff Powers said.
Now, it’s obvious that this ban violates the First Amendment rights of everyone involved. It’s obvious to the lone dissenting voter, Paul Don King. It’s not so obvious to the rest of the commissioners, who have offered a variety of terrible defenses the new policy.
Commissioner Jeff Powers:
“It seems like every few meetings we’re having to address something that’s been on Facebook and created negative publicity,” he said. “This is just an industry standard nowadays.”
Oh, lord. Have you ever heard of such a slight inconvenience? “Every few meetings.” Sounds exhausting. If he thinks it’s a drag dealing with negative comments periodically, just wait until he has to actively police social media for violators.
One, you’re a government, not an “industry.” So, that makes this move censorship rather than some sort of half-assed town TOS. It’s called prior restraint and it’s something the Supreme Court has recognized as a violation of First Amendment rights. You can’t just tell any group of people they can’t criticize the town or its employees/”other associates.” That’s not an “industry standard.” It’s not even a “government standard.” Criticism is to be expected, not shut down.
Powers follows that up by attempting to clarify the situation, but only makes it more incomprehensible.
The post Tennessee Town Passes Policy Banning Negative Comments About The Town’s Government appeared first on disinformation.
via Nasa from December 16:
NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory’s drill.
“This temporary increase in methane — sharply up and then back down — tells us there must be some relatively localized source,” said Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a member of the Curiosity rover science team. “There are many possible sources, biological or non-biological, such as interaction of water and rock.”
Researchers used Curiosity’s onboard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory a dozen times in a 20-month period to sniff methane in the atmosphere. During two of those months, in late 2013 and early 2014, four measurements averaged seven parts per billion. Before and after that, readings averaged only one-tenth that level.
Curiosity also detected different Martian organic chemicals in powder drilled from a rock dubbed Cumberland, the first definitive detection of organics in surface materials of Mars. These Martian organics could either have formed on Mars or been delivered to Mars by meteorites.
Organic molecules, which contain carbon and usually hydrogen, are chemical building blocks of life, although they can exist without the presence of life. Curiosity’s findings from analyzing samples of atmosphere and rock powder do not reveal whether Mars has ever harbored living microbes, but the findings do shed light on a chemically active modern Mars and on favorable conditions for life on ancient Mars.
“We will keep working on the puzzles these findings present,” said John Grotzinger, Curiosity project scientist of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “Can we learn more about the active chemistry causing such fluctuations in the amount of methane in the atmosphere? Can we choose rock targets where identifiable organics have been preserved?”
Researchers worked many months to determine whether any of the organic material detected in the Cumberland sample was truly Martian. Curiosity’s SAM lab detected in several samples some organic carbon compounds that were, in fact, transported from Earth inside the rover. However, extensive testing and analysis yielded confidence in the detection of Martian organics.
Identifying which specific Martian organics are in the rock is complicated by the presence of perchlorate minerals in Martian rocks and soils. When heated inside SAM, the perchlorates alter the structures of the organic compounds, so the identities of the Martian organics in the rock remain uncertain.
“This first confirmation of organic carbon in a rock on Mars holds much promise,” said Curiosity Participating Scientist Roger Summons of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “Organics are important because they can tell us about the chemical pathways by which they were formed and preserved. In turn, this is informative about Earth-Mars differences and whether or not particular environments represented by Gale Crater sedimentary rocks were more or less favorable for accumulation of organic materials. The challenge now is to find other rocks on Mount Sharp that might have different and more extensive inventories of organic compounds.”
Researchers also reported that Curiosity’s taste of Martian water, bound into lakebed minerals in the Cumberland rock more than three billion years ago, indicates the planet lost much of its water before that lakebed formed and continued to lose large amounts after.
The post NASA Rover Finds Active and Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars appeared first on disinformation.
via Good Times Weekly:
A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams.
“Are you dreaming right now?” asks science writer and dream researcher David Jay Brown. We are sitting in the ivy-draped courtyard of Laili, next to a babbling fountain and a rowdy dinner party of 10.
“No!” I say, sure of the answer to such an absurd question.
“But how do you know?” he asks.
“I just know.”
“Well, have you tested it?” He picks up a fork and taps the wall. In a dream, maybe the tines would bend, he says. In a dream, the words on the menu would scramble the minute you looked away and looked back again. And if you plugged your nose and breathed out, you’d feel the air leaving your nostrils, even though they were plugged.
“Nope, not dreaming,” I say, through a pinched nose. But there’s an epiphany scratching around inside his point: even when fork tines bend with no effort and landscapes transform at the mere suggestion of thought, we accept what we’re experiencing in a dream as real.
“The most fascinating thing of all, and what most people are so surprised to hear, is that we never appear to go unconscious during sleep,” says Brown. “Sleep laboratory studies demonstrate that the entire night you are thinking, or dreaming, or having some form of mentation. The entire night. You never lose consciousness. What you lose is long-term memory. You lose the ability to memorize what’s happening throughout the night.”
The post Is This a Dream? The Hitchhikers’ Guide to Lucid Dreaming appeared first on disinformation.
“Reframing the CIA’s interrogation techniques as a violation of scientific and medical ethics may be the best way to achieve accountability,” writes Lisa Hajjar at The Nation:
Human experimentation was a core feature of the CIA’s torture program. The experimental nature of the interrogation and detention techniques is clearly evident in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its investigative report, despite redactions (insisted upon by the CIA) to obfuscate the locations of these laboratories of cruel science and the identities of perpetrators.
At the helm of this human experimentation project were two psychologists hired by the CIA, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. They designed interrogation and detention protocols that they and others applied to people imprisoned in the agency’s secret “black sites.”
In its response to the Senate report, the CIA justified its decision to hire the duo: “We believe their expertise was so unique that we would have been derelict had we not sought them out when it became clear that CIA would be heading into the uncharted territory of the program.” Mitchell and Jessen’s qualifications did not include interrogation experience, specialized knowledge about Al Qaeda or relevant cultural or linguistic knowledge. What they had was Air Force experience in studying the effects of torture on American prisoners of war, as well as a curiosity about whether theories of “learned helplessness” derived from experiments on dogs might work on human enemies.
To implement those theories, Mitchell and Jessen oversaw or personally engaged in techniques intended to produce “debility, disorientation and dread.” Their “theory” had a particular means-ends relationship that is not well understood, as Mitchell testily explained in an interview on Vice News: “The point of the bad cop is to get the bad guy to talk to the good cop.” In other words, “enhanced interrogation techniques” (the Bush administration’s euphemism for torture) do not themselves produce useful information; rather, they produce the condition of total submission that will facilitate extraction of actionable intelligence…
[continues at The Nation]
John Grant writes at CounterPunch:
CAUTION! To paraphrase Bill O’Reilly, you are now entering a no-censor zone that discusses obscene activity.
The Christmas movie from Sony Pictures I want to see is Seth Rogen and James Franco rectally feeding Dick Cheney at the climax of a movie sequel called The Enhanced Interview: Saving the Homeland One Dick At a Time.
Rogen and Franco have a good track record at getting money for movies that break taboos. Both are actor/directors not queasy about biological functions. Rogen co-directed the movie The Interview that caused an international incident by having an actor play the real Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and, among all the dick jokes, exploding his head into biological goo; and Franco just directed an excellent film called Child Of God based on a Cormac McCarthy novel in which a mentally ill, homeless redneck is shown from behind cleaning his dirty ass crack with a stick and, later, having sex with a female corpse for whom he has purchased a red dress. Rectal feeding and/or re-hydration of an actor playing Dick Cheney would not be much of a hurdle for these brave cineastes.
While the North Korea movie may be an adolescent and politically irresponsible comedy, Child of God is a dark, small-budget gem. The kind of biological/psychological frankness the film engages in would have never been shown in theaters or on TV before the cell phone images of torture from Abu Ghraib in Iraq seeped into the American consciousness. Scenes of red-blooded American men and women torturing naked male Iraqi prisoners in one of Saddam Hussein’s hideous dungeons shocked the American aesthetic. Sadistic behavior bordering on sodomy as US military policy? Hey, that doesn’t comport with American values!
But, then again, I’m afraid it does.
For this advancement (or degradation) in cultural aesthetics — at its worse, there’s the film series brand Saw — we have to thank the advent of cell phone cameras and government torture facilitators like Dick Cheney, who as a young man was soft, delicate and privileged enough to willfully avoid service in Vietnam, but as an old man with a bum ticker became powerful and ruthless enough to advocate torturing human beings in dungeons with hooks in the ceiling and drains in the floor to whoosh away all the hosed off blood, piss and shit from the previous eight-hour work shift. Cheney is even cold-blooded enough to say on Meet The Press that he doesn’t care that innocent people were tortured under his program: “I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective.” This is a man comfortable in a secure and luxurious mansion who has never gotten any torturous biological matter on him.
Senator John McCain, on the other hand, is the oddball Republican passionately against torture. The reason is simple: McCain, whose suffering at the hands of the Vietnamese is legend, knows how really humiliating and biologically messy torture is. He may be a militarist; he still wants absolutely nothing to do with it. It was instructive to watch Bill O’Reilly debate McCain on the torture report. What soon became clear was that O’Reilly with all his bullying brusqueness didn’t have a clue what McCain knew in his viscera and bones, and O’Reilly was not willing or able to stretch to imagine it. He was a “patriot,” and it would be like allying himself with “America haters on the far left” to even question the CIA. His position, like every other defender of the CIA, was based totally on authority, not evidence. CIA defenders all wanted to know why the Senate investigators didn’t interview CIA leaders and include their remarks. One good answer is because the Senate report implied they were all liars.
I’ve always been of the school that passive, incurious citizens need to have their noses rubbed in horrors done in their name but kept hidden from them. The classic case, of course, was those camps and the horrible smells in Germany and Poland. Sergeant Schultz was the perfect joke when he would say, “I see nah-think!”
Read more here.
Just when you thought that the obese were the last large class of people left unprotected by discrimination laws, the European Union Court of Justice has ruled that if the obesity of a worker “hinders the full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers”, then obesity can fall within the concept of “disability.” From BBC News:
Obesity can constitute a disability in certain circumstances, the EU’s highest court has ruled.
The European Court of Justice was asked to consider the case of a male childminder in Denmark who says he was sacked for being too fat.
The court said that if obesity could hinder “full and effective participation” at work then it could count as a disability.
The ruling is binding across the EU…
Clive Coleman, the BBC’s legal correspondent, comments:
Today’s ruling was of great interest to employers across Europe. The judgement makes no direct link between Body Mass Index and obesity, but is a powerful statement that an obese worker whose weight hinders their performance at work is entitled to disability protection.
That will mean employers must, on a case by case basis, make reasonable adjustments such as providing larger chairs or special car parking, and protect such employees from verbal harassment.
But there are wider implications. Providers of goods and services such as shops, cinemas and restaurants will also have to make reasonable adjustments for their customers, which might include things like special seating arrangements…
[continues at BBC News]
Here’s one other DARPA-funded robotic limb controlled by thoughts alone — actually make that two, because Colorado man Les Baugh had two bionic arms attached from shoulder level. Baugh got them this summer, 40 years after losing both arms, as part of aRevolutionizing Prosthetics Program test run at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The project’s researchers have been developing these Modular Prosthetic Limbs (MPL) over the past decade, but they say Baugh is the “first bilateral shoulder-level amputee” to wear two MPLs at the same time. Unlike Jan Scheuermann who controlled a robotic arm with a pair of neural implants, though, Baugh had to undergo a procedure called targeted muscle reinnervation, which reassigned the nerves that once controlled his arms and hands.
The post Double amputee controls two robotic arms with his mind appeared first on disinformation.
via Mysterious Universe:
In the winter of 1981, teenager Jean Hilliard was on her way home at around midnight when the family car she was driving ran off the road near Lengby, Minnesota. Unable to free the vehicle, she made the dangerous decision to leave the car on foot, and attempt to walk to the nearby home of her friend, Wally Nelson.
Hilliard trudged along in the snow, her cowboy boots slipping occasionally and slowing her progress. She began to grow tired, and was nearly to the point of collapsing by the time she could see the shape of Wally’s home off in the distance.
Whether or not Hilliard could make it or not in those final moments may have been far from her mind, but there in the frigid early morning hours, she collapsed into the snow, only 15 feet from Nelson’s front door.
The following morning, Wally was leaving his home at approximately 7 am when he saw Hilliard’s body in the snow. He quickly lifted her up, and finding her body quite literally “stiff as a board”, he loaded her into the back of his car at an angle (“diagonally”, as he told reporters after the incident), and hurried her off to the hospital in the nearby town of Fosston, and probably with little hope that she might be revived.
Once Hilliard was admitted to the hospital, doctors found her flesh so frozen that hypodermic needles couldn’t puncture her skin. However, almost miraculously, her body had maintained a low pulse throughout the evening, and as Hilliard was admitted to the ICU her heart had been beating at a mere 12 beats a minute, with a body temperature of around 88 degrees. Her caretakers wrapped her in an electric heating pad, and hoped to slowly thaw the frozen girl.
via Tech Dirt:
Geek gadget also-ran KlearGear gained internet infamy thanks to the following paragraph tucked away on its “Terms of Sale and Use” page:
In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.
Tacked onto this absurd redefining of “fair and honest feedback” was a $3,500 fee. This was levelled at a couple who complained about the non-delivery of products it had paid for. This went to court, and the couple was awarded over $300,000 in a default judgement when KlearGear no-showed.
For the most part, this would seem to be a cautionary tale — something other companies would take into consideration when crafting their own terms of service. But some companies are still apparently willing to dance with the Devil Streisand by including onerous fees tied to the phrase “fair and honest feedback.” Not only will the enforcement of this clause likely result in large amounts of public shaming, but in some states, this may actually be illegal.
In the interest of discouraging future KlearGears from dragging their customers’ credit ratings through the mud in response to bad reviews, we present a list of companies that still maintain similar clauses on their websites, along with dollar amounts demanded if this clause is violated.
The post Here Are The Companies That Want To Charge You $2,500-$100,000 For Negative Reviews appeared first on disinformation.
via OxFam America:
It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it’s true: There really are 10 companies that control most of the food and drinks you’ll find in the grocery store. Between them, these giants—whose revenues add up to more than a billion dollars a day—own hundreds of common brands, from Cheerios to Ben & Jerry’s, Odwalla to Tropicana. (See the infographic above to learn more.)
So why should these huge companies care about doing business responsibly? First, because their global operations touch countless lives. “These corporations are so powerful that their policies can have a major impact on the diets and working conditions of people worldwide, as well as on the environment,” wrote Alexander E.M. Hess in USA Today.
Second, because shoppers these days think about factors like fairness and sustainability—and we’re increasingly (and successfully) demanding that the brands we buy do the same. These food companies may be big, but no company is too big to listen to its customers.
Enter Behind the Brands. Launched last year, Oxfam’s campaign takes a closer look at the “big 10” food companies’ policies, encourages them to do more for people and the planet, and, when needed, harnesses the power of consumer action to convince them to do better.
The post These 10 companies make a lot of the food we buy. Here’s how we made them better. appeared first on disinformation.
So this is what all the fuss was about. Underwhelming, don’t you think?
The post Kim Jong-Un’s Head Exploding Scene – Video From The Interview appeared first on disinformation.
via Scientific American:
Physicists have a problem with time.
Whether through Newton’s gravitation, Maxwell’s electrodynamics, Einstein’s special and general relativity or quantum mechanics, all the equations that best describe our universe work perfectly if time flows forward or backward.
Of course the world we experience is entirely different. The universe is expanding, not contracting. Stars emit light rather than absorb it, and radioactive atoms decay rather than reassemble. Omelets don’t transform back to unbroken eggs and cigarettes never coalesce from smoke and ashes. We remember the past, not the future, and we grow old and decrepit, not young and rejuvenated. For us, time has a clear and irreversible direction. It flies forward like a missile, equations be damned.
For more than a century, the standard explanation for “time’s arrow,” as the astrophysicist Arthur Eddington first called it in 1927, has been that it is an emergent property of thermodynamics, as first laid out in the work of the 19th-century Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann. In this view what we perceive as the arrow of time is really just the inexorable rearrangement of highly ordered states into random, useless configurations, a product of the universal tendency for all things to settle toward equilibrium with one another.
Informally speaking, the crux of this idea is that “things fall apart,” but more formally, it is a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics, which Boltzmann helped devise. The law states that in any closed system (like the universe itself), entropy—disorder—can only increase. Increasing entropy is a cosmic certainty because there are always a great many more disordered states than orderly ones for any given system, similar to how there are many more ways to scatter papers across a desk than to stack them neatly in a single pile.
Mike Whitney from Counterpunch writes at Global Research:
“John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price. That would help explain why the price has been falling at a time when, given the turmoil in Iraq and Syria caused by Islamic State, it would normally have been rising.” (Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia, Larry Eliot, Guardian)
U.S. powerbrokers have put the country at risk of another financial crisis to intensify their economic war on Moscow and to move ahead with their plan to “pivot to Asia”.
Here’s what’s happening: Washington has persuaded the Saudis to flood the market with oil to push down prices, decimate Russia’s economy, and reduce Moscow’s resistance to further NATO encirclement and the spreading of US military bases across Central Asia. The US-Saudi scheme has slashed oil prices by nearly a half since they hit their peak in June. The sharp decline in prices has burst the bubble in high-yield debt which has increased the turbulence in the credit markets while pushing global equities into a tailspin. Even so, the roiled markets and spreading contagion have not deterred Washington from pursuing its reckless plan, a plan which uses Riyadh’s stooge-regime to prosecute Washington’s global resource war. Here’s a brief summary from an article by F. William Engdahl titled “The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria”:
“The details are emerging of a new secret and quite stupid Saudi-US deal on Syria and the so-called IS. It involves oil and gas control of the entire region and the weakening of Russia and Iran by Saudi Arabian flooding the world market with cheap oil. Details were concluded in the September meeting by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Saudi King…
..the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been flooding the market with deep discounted oil, triggering a price war within OPEC… The Saudis are targeting sales to Asia for the discounts and in particular, its major Asian customer, China where it is reportedly offering its crude for a mere $50 to $60 a barrel rather than the earlier price of around $100. That Saudi financial discounting operation in turn is by all appearance being coordinated with a US Treasury financial warfare operation, via its Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in cooperation with a handful of inside players on Wall Street who control oil derivatives trading. The result is a market panic that is gaining momentum daily. China is quite happy to buy the cheap oil, but her close allies, Russia and Iran, are being hit severely…
According to Rashid Abanmy, President of the Riyadh-based Saudi Arabia Oil Policies and Strategic Expectations Center, the dramatic price collapse is being deliberately caused by the Saudis, OPEC’s largest producer. The public reason claimed is to gain new markets in a global market of weakening oil demand. The real reason, according to Abanmy, is to put pressure on Iran on her nuclear program, and on Russia to end her support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria….More than 50% of Russian state revenue comes from its export sales of oil and gas. The US-Saudi oil price manipulation is aimed at destabilizing several strong opponents of US globalist policies. Targets include Iran and Syria, both allies of Russia in opposing a US sole Superpower. The principal target, however, is Putin’s Russia, the single greatest threat today to that Superpower hegemony. (The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria, F. William Engdahl, BFP)
The US must achieve its objectives in Central Asia or forfeit its top-spot as the world’s only superpower. This is why US policymakers have embarked on such a risky venture. There’s simply no other way to sustain the status quo which allows the US to impose its own coercive dollar system on the world, a system in which the US exchanges paper currency produced-at-will by the Central Bank for valuable raw materials, manufactured products and hard labor. Washington is prepared to defend this extortionist petrodollar recycling system to the end, even if it means nuclear war.
It’s been nearly 40 years since what the American media called “The Fall of Saigon” and the Vietnamese referred to as the Liberation. I saw it then as the Fall of Washington.
The ghosts of Vietnam are back, thanks to two filmmakers with very different takes. The first is Rory Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy’s youngest daughter. Her one-sided account has already been nominated for an Oscar. The second is Tiana, an American of South Vietnamese origin, who made the film, From Hollywood To Hanoi, years ago to promote reconciliation between our two countries.
Tiana is finishing a movie called The General and Me, on her unlikely conversations (for someone from a virulently anti-communist family) with North Vietnam’s legendary and late General Vo Nguyen Giap, a.k.a the “Red Napoleon,“ a.k.a the man whose military doctrines defeated the French Army and later the Pentagon’s brutal Vietnamization strategy.
Giap created the Vietnamese resistance Army at Ho Chi Minh’s request in 1944, and without training, became a military genius. Tiana has two other self-promoted US “geniuses” in her movie too: pathetic walk-ons by former US General William Westmoreland, and an arrogant ex-Defense Secretary, Robert MacNamara, who could not conceal his contempt for her.
Rory’s highly-hyped and well-funded movie depicts footage we have seen before of the hurried evacuation of US soldiers and some of their Vietnamese conscripts in a long and bloody war that was lost almost from its earliest days.
Rather than look at the reasons for that loss, Rory has, with support from HBO and PBS’s American Experience series, tried to present a heroic picture of Americans in their last days in Saigon, coping with a Mad Ambassador and in some cases rebelling against US policy.
(I have loved some of Rory’s work before, but this had ideological agenda written all over it.)
These two films, all these years later, mirror the cultural and political divides of the times with one film, in effect, rationalizing the war, and portraying the American military as compassionate, and the other, for one of the first times, offering views from the other side that Americans never heard.
Even if her Uncle JFK did escalate the war, despite his back and forth doubts, a member of the Kennedy Family is still treated as a cultural icon in a culture that can’t remember details of what happened yesterday, much less forty year ago. Rory’s work has been acclaimed; Tiana’s has not yet been seen. She labels the forgetting deliberate, what she calls, “Nam-Nesia.”
Gerald Perry writes in Arts Fuse:
“The mushy reviews of Last Days in Vietnam (a 94% Rotten Tomatoes approval rating) are extraordinarily similar. They praise filmmaker Rory Kennedy for documenting a forgotten moment of American history, the chaotic days in 1975 when the US raced to leave Saigon and South Vietnam steps ahead of the advancing North Vietnamese Army. And the critics are pumped up with pride at the stories Kennedy has uncovered of brave and noble American soldiers and a few anti-establishment American diplomats who helped evacuate many South Vietnamese–by boat, plane, and helicopter–who presumably would be enslaved or murdered by the Communist North Vietnamese.
What hardly anyone observed is that Kennedy, daughter of peacenik Robert Kennedy, is offering a flag-waving whitewash of the war in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese are characterized, with no exceptions, as Isis-like warriors murdering all their opposition on the way from Hanoi to Saigon. And, after entering Saigon, annihilating those who oppose them, or sending their enemies to re-education camps. The South Vietnamese? This amazed me: there is not any mention of the much-documented corruption of the various puppet governments, and of the South Vietnamese army as a coercive instrument of torture and killings. Each South Vietnamese ex-soldier who is interviewed is allowed to tell his shiny story, including a high-ranking officer. There’s no blood attached to any of them.”
This did not surprise me. In 1976, the anniversary of the American Revolution, I published a small book featuring the views of Vietnam’s top military strategists including General Vo Nguyen Giap called “How We Won The War.” It was based on articles I wrote in the aftermath of the defeat of the US –backed Saigon military in 1975. Predictably, it got no pickup. There were many post-mortems about what we did wrong but, few if any, about what they did right.
Surely, that story is historically more significant than how we cut tail and ran.
I wrote then:
“The American press was never much help in our efforts to find out more about those remarkable Vietnamese people who have now managed to out-organize, out fight, and defeat a succession of U.S. backed regimes. When the US media did recognize the other side’s existence, they did so with disdain, distortion and denigration…the U.S. never came to terms the fact it was defending a government which had no support and attempting to crush one that did.”
A group of LA-based film critics later wrote to PBS:
“Rory Kennedy’s egregiously unbalanced, out-of-context, dubiously propagandistic Last Days in Vietnam is currently in theatrical release, a production of the PBS series, An American Experience. We are appalled by the extraordinarily one-sided nature of Kennedy’s rewrite of history that only shows the U.S. government’s and the Republic of Vietnam’s side of the story, and never offers the points of view of the millions of Americans who opposed the war and of those who fought on the side of the National Liberation Front and North Vietnam.”
So much for “balance!”
The protest was all for naught. Public Television retreated into its archive of knee-jerk form letters and responded to criticisms of one program with a defense that cited all the programs they ran, most decades old, while announcing that a new multi-million dollar series on Vietnam by their always well-funded doc superstar, Ken Burns, is in the works. Typical!
They avoided details like these:
And, on and on!
It’s been 40 years. What have we learned? The Obama Administration, aided by our Secretary of State, a Vietnamese speaker no less, named John Kerry, once the leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, had turned into an apologist for the American role in the war, and an arms salesman to Vietnam which fears the Chinese today more than the Americans.
Whose voice should we listen to? Rory Kennedy with her slick and costly archive-footage based mockumentary of history, or Tiana who is struggling to bring Vietnamese voices and a deliberately buried history to life?
Why are these Vietnam films always—“AAU—all About Us?”Danny Schechter reported in North and South Vietnam in 1974, and returned in 1997. He has written widely on the issues of the war. He edits Mediachannel.org and blogs at Newsdissector.net. Comments to Dissector@mediachannel.org
The post Voices From The Ghosts of Vietnam Are Being Heard Again appeared first on disinformation.
Oh, the weird shit you find on the internets. To preface this, earlier in the week I quite randomly had a dream that featured the impressively god awful Christian rap group DC Talk (which I wrote about on Facebook, Friend me). In this dream, I was in a classroom where DC Talk showed up to perform. We couldn’t believe our teacher actually thought this was something that we’d find interesting. So we students just mockingly encouraged them all hipster irony style as they did their crappy thing. Didn’t seem like there was a lot of substance to the dream, but upon waking up I realized that the only reason I’d heard of DC Talk in the first place had to do with them being forced on us in Church youth group as a kid. The dream had an incredibly similar vibe. “Hey kids, stop listening to that satanic secular music, these guys are church approved.” Being impressionable and somewhat open to the idea, those of us in the youth group took the tape home and gave it a listen just to discover that, wow, this is the worst rap group ever. Terrible, just terrible. I mean, at the time we were listening to stuff like NWA. I’ve offhandedly made fun of DC Talk ever since.
So, why is this significant? Well, someone on FB mentioned that one of those guys was involved in some sort of sex scandal, and although I couldn’t find any evidence of that whatsoever, what I did find astounded me. Yep, even terrible Christian musicians get accused of secretly being Occultists involved with some sort of shady Illuminati conspiracy. Seriously. That’s how unbelievably paranoid these conservative Christian sex repressos are and why anytime anyone accuses me of being crazy I can quickly point out how unbelievably insane our accepted beliefs in regards to spirituality are. We love to just ignore how Bananas with a capital B this stuff is, but these people vote far more than disaffected Pitchfork reading scenesters, which is a big part of the reason our political system is irreparably fucked and why we’re cutting social services in favor of war. No, a satanic force couldn’t be behind all that. No way. He’s too busy telling musicians what to do clearly.
If you google “DC Talk Illuminati” or “DC Talk Occult” an unbelievable smattering of articles turn up. Here’s one of the better one’s I found regarding DC Talk and member Toby Mac’s solo stuff. They’ve caught a lot of shit for these album covers:
TobyMac has had occultist symbolism for a while now, but out of hope that he truly is a Christian artist, I will give him the benefit of the doubt on some of his past album covers. I will not assume the occultist color themes and the triangle radio tower,with the equivalent of the all seeing eye on top, are intentionally occultist. I won’t judge the “All Seeing Eye” that showed up on DC Talk albums. This of course was before the internet was significant in shining a spotlight on occultist symbolism, so did they think people just wouldn’t know, or did they themselves not realize the similarities?
However, I cannot give the same benefit of the doubt with his current album. It is an in your face occult symbol.
So, does TobyMac agree with all of the occultist on the power of the “mind’s eye?” Is that a Christian belief? No. Christians who know the power of the Pineal Gland, understand that there is a Spiritual Warfare going on, and by opening the “Mind’s Eye” with the use of drugs, stimulants, forms of witchcraft or other methods are opening themselves to being attack by evil spirits like so many stars today. Beyonce claims Sasha Fierce possesses her body on stage, and Nicki Minaj claims that she has several spirits who take over her body.
So thaaaat’s why Nicki Minaj’s music sucks. Got it. I sort of thought it had something to do with the repression of sexuality by the Christian right unintentionally creating an enormous market for overly sexualized music. As Robert Anton Wilson liked to say: imposition of order equals escalation of chaos. Here’s a fun film about the evils of DC Talk:
And another one that’s been watched over 100,000 times:
Unbelievable, and the lesson I’ve learned is, you know that terrible music that gets pushed on you at church? Yeah, even that shit’s too out there for the Christian right. I had no idea. But as an admitted practicing Occultist I can say one thing. Fuck, they’re onto us. Toby Mac is not only a part of a vast Illuminati conspiracy, dude’s the fucking ring leader. He’s the one that brings the child prostitutes to our pot parties. Shit, I shouldn’t be talking about this publicly but I’m now going to let you in on our 3 point plan for world domination:
Phase 1: We’re going to take your guns
Phase 2: We’re going to take your land
Phase 3: We’re going to convert you all to Islam which is the one and only true religion.
Sadly, I’m pretty sure that’s precisely what these people want to hear. My actual take? Well, this is what’s been shown to me in various visionary states of consciousness. There is a conspiracy going on in the mind’s eye of humanity and it involves keeping the population as far away from shamanic or Occult ideas as possible. What do you think that whole story in Genesis about God cursing us for eating the fruit of knowledge is all about? The fruit of knowledge represents materialism and westernized scientific thought in general. The upside down pentagram represents the triumph of materialism over the spirit and if you’ll notice, it was God that cursed us, not Satan. The question is why. Just my two cents but what would I know, I actually live this stuff. Next up on the docket of things to write about, why do conservative people suck so bad at art? Oh, and I’ve been meaning to do a roundup of the worst Occult/Illuminati conspiracy videos on Youtube as well. Holy God are there a lot of them. Stay tuned true believers.
A little violence can sometimes work to defend against predatory bankers. Consider the farmers of Le Mars, Iowa. The year was 1933, the height of the Great Depression.
A finance bubble on Wall Street had crashed the economy, the gears of industrial production had ground to a halt, and 13 million Americans had lost their jobs. Across the Corn Belt, farmers couldn’t get fair prices for milk and crops, their incomes plummeted, and their mortgages went unpaid. Seeing opportunity, banks foreclosed on their properties in record numbers, leaving the farmers homeless and destitute.
So they organized. Under the leadership of a boozing, fist-fighting Iowa farmer named Milo Reno, who had a gift for oratory, several thousand farmers across the Midwest struck during 1933, refusing to sell their products. “We’ll eat our wheat and ham and eggs” went the popular doggerel of the movement. “Let them”—the bankers—”eat their gold.”
They called it a farmers’ holiday and named their group the Farmers’ Holiday Association. In speeches across the Midwest, Reno inveighed against “the destructive program of the usurers”—by which he meant, of course, the ruinous policies of Wall Street and the banking industry. Farmers, he said, had been “robbed by a legalized system of racketeering.” He said that the “forces of special privilege” were undermining “the very foundations of justice and freedom upon which this country was founded.” He compared the farmers’ fight to that of the Founders, who had taken up arms. He warned that the farmers might have to “join hands with those who favor the overthrow of government,” a government that he considered a servant of corporations. “You have the power to take the great corporations,” he said, and “shake them into submission.” One of his deputies in Iowa, John Chalmers, ordered FHA men to use “every weapon at their command.” “When I said weapons,” Chalmers added, “I meant weapons.”