The Mysterious Death of Investigative Journalist and JFK Witness Dorothy Kilgallen

Mark Shaw’s Denial of Justice

2019

Film Review

This is a presentation by author Mark Shaw regarding his latest book Denial of Justice: Dorothy Kilgallen, Abuse of Power, and the Most Compelling JFK Investigation in History.

I’m old enough to remember watching Kilgallen on the quiz program “What’s My Line” in the 1950s and 1960s. I was unaware she was also a celebrated investigative journalist who had covered every major US trial in the 20th century. Actively investigating the JFK assassination at the time of her death, she openly questioned Oswald’s role as the lone nut gunman in her columns in the New York Journal American. Moreover she had a contract with Random House to write a book based on her investigation.

Kilgallen attended the entirety of Jack Ruby’s trial (for the murder of Oswald) in 1964 and was the only journalist to interview him.

Several months before her death, she carried portions of Ruby’s leaked Warren Commission testimony in her column. A few days later, a posse of FBI agents invaded her home demanding the identity of the leaker. She refused to name her source.

In the months leading up to her 1965 death, she received several threats against her own and her children’s lives. The two hairdressers who were her closest confidants also complained of being followed and having their phones tapped.

One of them found her body, which was fully dressed with full make up sitting up in bed. The New York police dismissed her death as an “alcohol/seconal overdose. ” It would be three years before the blood sample taken at autopsy was tested. It was found to contain three different types of barbiturates (seconal, tuinal and phenobarbital).

 

The Hidden History of East German Privatization

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East German Privatization and the Difficult Legacy of the Treuhand

DW (2019)

Film Review

This documentary provides a detailed timeline of the four-year privatization of East Germany following the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. The privatization was overseen by the Treuhand Trust. Originally appointed in 1990 by the East German Council of Ministers, it was ultimately run by West German corporate and political elites. Following reunification in August 1990, it was the responsibility of the West German government in Bonn to oversee Treuhand. However the Bundestag provided no oversight at all until a massive Treuhand corruption scandal erupted in 1992.

During its four-year existence, Treuhand privatized 10,000 state-owned East German enterprises, put three million East Germans (70% of the workforce) out of work and permanentlyy deindustrialized East Germany.

According to the filmmakers, some of this disastrous outcome stemmed from the rigid neoliberal bent of Trehand managers; some from bribery and corruption; some from from incompetence; and some from the avarice of West German entrepreneurs who bought West German businesses that competed with them and shut them down. East Germany experienced massive public protests and even a hunger strike as thousands of factories closed and millions of East Germans became jobless.

Some factors contributing East Germany’s financial collapse were beyond Treuhand’s control. At the time the two Germany’s reunited, East Germany lost most of its export market as the Communist regimes in other Eastern bloc countries collapsed. To prevent the East German mark from collapsing, the Bundestag introduced the Deutschmark into East Germany in July 1990. This led to massive price inflation of German consumer goods, leading East German residents to reject them in favor of cheap West German products. With no sales revenue, East German companies were forced to turn to Treuhand for loans and subsidies to pay their staff.

In 1992-93 when the Bundestag intervened, Treuhand was forced to preserve designated East German industries by providing loans and subsidies to businesses willing to modernize.

One-hundred-fifty convictions resulted from the Treuhand corruption scandal. As in the former Soviet Union, East German were promised shares in their state owned enterprises as they were privatized. These shares never materialized.

The Greek documentary Catastroika provides a somewhat different perspective on Treuhand’s role in the wholesale privatization of East Germany’s state-owned industries: See Privatization and the Theft of the Commons

This documentary, which can’t be embedded, can be viewed free at Privatizing East Germany

Fethullen Gulen, Turkey’s 2016 Coup, and the US Charter School Movement

Turkey’s Coup: The Gulen Mystery

RT (2018)

Film Review

This alarming RT documentary series concerns the secretive Turkish imam accused by Turkish president Recep Erdogan of orchestrating the 2016 coup. Fethullen Gulen, founder of Turkey’s Hizmet movement, defected to the US in 1995, after being charged with trying to start a secret religion. At the height of the movement’s power in 2008, it had 2-3 million Turkish followers and ran 2,000 Gulen schools and universities in 140 countries, including the US.

The US is resisting Turkey’s demands for Gulen’s extradition to stand trial for his role in the coup.

What I found most concerning about the series is learning (in Part 4) of Hizmet’s extensive role in starting 170 taxpayer funded Gulen charter schools in the US. The FBI raided a number of Gulen schools in 2011 as part of an ongoing investigation. For some mysterious reason, the mainstream media made no mention of this at the time of the Turkish coup.

Some Russian analysts believe Gulen received CIA support in expanding his private school network to newly independent Muslim republics following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In 2008, the Justice Department appealed the State Department’s decision to award Gulen permanent residency in the US. They lost the appeal based on two letters from the CIA and one from the US ambassador in Ankara.

Gulen presently lives on a 25 acre estate in Pennsylvania.

Part 1 describes the formation of the Hizmet movement in Turkey in the sixties and seventies and the spread of Gulen schools to Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Bosnia, Ukraine and Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the same period, they also spread to many countries in Africa and Asia.

Part 2 describes the expansion of Gulen schools into Russia and Germany. After Putin came to power, many Russian Gulen schools were closed after parents complained about their children being indoctrinated with Islamic beliefs.

Part 3 includes interviews with Turkish immigrants in Germany and the extortion-style techniques the Hizmet movement used to pressure them to help fund new Gulen schools.

Part 4 examines the history of Gulen charter school movement in the US. One former American Gulen school teacher describes their abusive treatment of women and the complaint she made to the FBI about her husband being forced contribute 40% of his salary to the Hizmet movement. At the height of their power, the Hismet movement represented a powerful tightly controlled international corporation and had major presence in number of Turkish government agencies.

Part 5 explores the powerful role of the Turkish military in maintaining Turkey’s status as a secular state. It also describes a brief alliance between Erdogan and Gulen in the early 1990s to advocate for greater Islamic influence over Turkish society. Prior to the 2016 coup, the Hizmet movement controlled the second largest media empire in Turkey – with six TV stations, two radio stations and several newspapers, magazines and publishing companies. Following the coup, Erdogan arrested 102,000 members of the Izmet movement and fired 130,000 others who held government jobs. He closed all Turkey’s Gulen schools or arranged for their takeover by local authorities, He also shut down 1,500 Hizmet-funded NGOs and their Turkish media network. The subsequent drop in their funding led to the closure or takeover of many Gulen schools worldwide.

Part 5, which can’t be embedded, can be viewed free at

The Rise and Fall of Fethullah Gulen

 

War Games: Why NORAD Failed to Stop the 911 Hijackers

9/11 War Games

Directed by James Corbett (2018)

Film Review

This documentary presents a well-produced investigation into the multiple war games the Pentagon coincidentally scheduled simultaneous with the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center. In conjunction with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), NORAD (North American Aerospace Command have a well established protocol of using Air Force jets to intercept hijacked airliners and either forcing them to land or shooting them down. On 9-11, the protocol failed – no fighters jets were scrambled to intercept the three planes that reportedly crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. All available evidence suggests that four Air Force war games (three involving simulating hijackings) created so much confusion for air traffic controllers and FAA and NORAD officials that they paralyzed their ability to respond to the real hijackings.

The film is based on research by the late Michael Ruppert, archived audio recordings of air traffic controllers and FAA and NORAD, and testimony to the 9-11 Commission.

Much detailed information about these simulated attacks remains classified. However the names of four of the simulation exercises are known:

  • Northern Vigilance – an exercise which sent most of the US fighter jets on duty to northern Canada and Alaska for the day.
  • Vigilant Guardian and Tripod 2 – exercises which inserted numerous false radar blips on air traffic controller screens to test their ability to respond to them.
  • Vigilant Warrior – an exercise consisting of numerous “live fly” hijack drills, in which military personnel dressed as civilians would board civilian flights and simulate fake hijackings.

FAA/NORAD officials confronted with 22 possible hijackings had only eight fighter jets available to respond to them¬† most were in Canada participating in Northern Vigilance). In three instances (Delta 1989, United Airlines 177 and Continental 321), fighter jets intercepted “simulated” hijackings and forced airliners to land.

 

Trail of the Spider: The Suppressed Racial History of the American West

 

Trail of the Spider: A Passage Through Limbo

Directed by Anja Krschner and David Panos (2008)

Film Review

Trail of the Spider is a short feature film in which the suppressed racial history of the American West becomes a metaphor for the racial landscape of East London in the grips of property developers.

The somewhat surreal plot takes place in 1870, at the end of the Civil War and “Indian Wars.” the last days of the “unassigned lands.”

Instead of the Lone Ranger, the hero is Man With No Name, an African American Buffalo Solder* who changes sides and fights for the oppressed instead of the US government.

*The original “Buffalo Soldiers” were members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on September 21, 1866, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This nickname was given to the Negro Cavalry by the Native American tribes they fought.¬†

 

Frida Kahlo and Post-Revolutionary Mexican Art

The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo

PBS (2005)

Film Review

This documentary offers insightful background into Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo, the first Mexican painter to be exhibited in the Louvre.

Lahlo, who was bisexual, was the wife of the celebrated communist mural painter Diego Rivera. She was also briefly lovers with Leon Trotsky and his wife and allowed the latter and his wife to stay in her family home when they fled to Mexico in their efforts to escape Stalin’s agents.

It was via Trotsky she met the French surrealist painter Andre Breton. It was Breton who introduced her to the art world by organizing shows for her in New York and Paris.

For me the most interesting part of the film was its depiction of the post-revolutionary cultural revival that produced her and Rivera. It seems to have been very similar to post-revolutionary Russian and Spanish art. In all three cases there was a creative explosion as artists and intellectuals threw off centuries of cultural oppression in seeking to discover their authentic selves. At the time, many believed Mexico would follow Russia in creating a socialist workers state.

 

Catherine the Great: the Book and the Miniseries

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

By Robert K. Massie

Random House (2012)

Book Review

In reading this book, I was quite shocked to realize how little I learned about Russian history in the course I took as an undergraduate.

The Russian history class I took in college also never made it completely clear that Russian serfdom was a form of slavery (the word “slave” is derived from the medieval Latin word for “Slav”) virtually identical to that in the early US. Very different from medieval feudalism, serfdom wasn’t adopted in Russia until the 16th century. Its primary purpose was to prevent farm laborers from walking away from unfavorable working conditions. In Russia, serf owners could sell them away from their families, choose who they married, and force them to work in mines and factories. They were also legally permitted to engage in coercive sex with female serfs.

Russian serfs were emancipated in 1861, two years before Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation.

For some reason, there was also no mention in our class of the Pugachechina. This was , the Pugachev-led revolt of 1773-74 (which made it contemporary with both the French and American revolutions). Led by disaffected Cossacks and serfs, it was the most violent internal upheaval in Russian history. At the the time the Russian army was embroiled in a war with Turkey, and the Pugachechina very nearly succeed.

In contrast the 1917 October Revolution (according to Massie, Trotsky and John Reed – see Report by US Journalist Who Witnessed Russian Revolution and What We Didn’t Learn About the Russian Revolution in School) was a peaceful coup d’etat to remove from power the Duma ministers who had replaced Nicholas II in February 1917.

At present British Actress Helen Mirren is starring in the miniseries Catherine the Great streaming on HBO: