World
As Hollywood Lobbied State Department, It Built Free Home Theaters for U.S. Embassies
Four U.S. Embassies got upgraded screening rooms last year, paid for by the lobbying arm of the big studios. The industry and the government say there were no strings attached
 
This story was co-published with The Daily Beast.
 
Hollywood’s efforts to win political clout have always stretched across the country, from glitzy campaign fundraisers in Beverly Hills to cocktail parties with power brokers in Washington. 
 
Last year, the film industry staked out another zone of influence: U.S. embassies. Its lobbying arm paid to renovate screening rooms in at least four overseas outposts, hoping the new theaters would help ambassadors and their foreign guests “keep U.S. cultural interests top of mind,” according to an internal email.
 
That was the same year that the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents the six biggest studios, reported it was lobbying the State Department on issues including piracy and online content distribution. Hollywood’s interests – including its push for tougher copyright rules in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact – often put the industry at odds with Silicon Valley.
 
The only public indication of the embassy-theater initiative was a February 2015 press release from American officials in Madrid, titled “U.S. Embassy Launches State-of-the-Art Screening Room.” It credited “a generous donation” from the MPAA.
 
Asked about its gifts to the State Department, the lobby group declined to say how many embassies got donations or how much they were worth. 
 
“Because film is a great ambassador for U.S. culture around the world, MPAA assisted with the upgrade of some embassy theater facilities,” said spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield. “All gifts complied with the law as well as with State Department ethics guidelines.”
 
Nicole Thompson, a State Department spokeswoman, said at least three embassies besides Madrid received between $20,000 and $50,000 in entertainment upgrades last year – London, Paris and Rome. The revamped screening rooms, she said, aren’t intended to entertain U.S. officials, but rather to help them host screenings to promote an American industry and sow goodwill. 
 
Thompson said the donations were proper and that all gifts to the department are reviewed to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. “The department has explicit authorities to accept gifts made for its benefit or for carrying out any of its functions,” she said. 
 
The State Department routinely accepts gifts from outside groups, Thompson said. She couldn’t provide any other examples of major gifts from groups that simultaneously lobby the agency. Thompson declined to list the items given by the MPAA or their total value, and wouldn’t say whether the group had made similar gifts in the past. 
 
There was at least one precedent. A spokesman for Warner Bros. Entertainment said the studio helped pay for the refurbishment of the screening room at the U.S. ambassador’s home in Paris in 2011. “This donation was coordinated with the State Department and complied with all appropriate rules and regulations,” the spokesman said.
 
State Department policies posted online specifically permit gifts from individuals, groups or corporations for “embassy refurbishment, ” provided that the donors are vetted to ensure there’s no conflict or possible “embarrassment or harm” to the agency. The posted policies include no caps on the value of donations, nor any requirements for public disclosure of foreign or American donors. The rules also say that the donations can’t come with a promise or expectation… Continue Reading…
 
Courtesy: ProPublica
The Reverse Hair Loss Program
Before-and-after photos can send a powerful message. But sometimes that message is deceptive if not flat-out fraudulent
 
The Reverse Hair Loss Program is advertised as an alternative to hair transplantation surgery. But at least three of the before-and-after photos on a website selling the so-called “study course” appear to have been lifted from surgeons whose patients elected to have surgery. That is to say, the people pictured as success stories did not actually use the Reverse Hair Loss Program but chose to go in another direction entirely. 
 
Notice the watermark on the following before-and-after photo that depicts the work of hair transplant surgeon Dr. Robert M. Bernstein:
 
 
Now watch that watermark disappear on the website selling the Reverse Hair Loss Program:
 
A simple crop, a little color and a white dividing line and it’s an entirely new person. Only it’s not. It’s the same guy who probably isn’t the 72-year-old Army veteran that the Reverse Hair Loss Program website claims he is. But that’s not the only red flag with this product, to which TINA.org was first alerted through a spam email in our inbox. Among the others:
O Science, Where Art Thou? The Reverse Hair Loss Program, which costs $39, supposedly includes a recipe for a “super cocktail” that is said to start regrowing hair “faster than you can count it.” What’s in this drink? All we’re told on the website is that it includes an organic compound that raises the levels of a “Hormone X,” which, when present in the right proportions, “makes balding impossible.” 
 
Jerry Williams The author of the website and creator of the Reverse Hair Loss Program does not disclose his real identity and instead opts for the pen name Jerry Williams. Jerry writes that his hair regrowth secret has ruffled feathers in the hair care industry, which may explain the alias. He brags that his product has been “blacklisted by every major medical journal.” Is that a good thing? 
 
Disclaimer But perhaps the most telling warning comes from the website’s own disclaimer. It states in part, “Use common sense and judgment.”
 
Find more of our coverage on hair loss here
 
 

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The Sensex and the Nifty rose 3% each, along with ML Mega-cap Index and ML Mid-cap Index, during the fortnight ended 1st July. ML Large-cap Index went up by 2%. ML Small-cap Index advanced 5%.

 

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