Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Osama, We Hardly Knew Ye...

“Madmen in power always need a fictitious ‘evil’ enemy to keep the game of war going, and keep the money flowing. Government is only able to grow and become more powerful by scaring the people about an outside enemy that is almost always manufactured and hyped by the government itself.”
Saman Mohammadi
The Excavator
“History would be something extraordinary, if only it were true.” – Tolstoy

I’ll give the the group that bumped off JFK one thing–at least they stuck to their story, flawed though it is, down through the decades.  With the gangland style hit on Osama Bin Ladin the official story has changed so many times one can’t help to question what is going on with it.  Well, for those of us that still practice critical thinking.   

By now, we all are familiar with the yarn.  First there was a big shoot-out at the OK Corral.  Nope, there was only one guy shooting who was easily dispatched, along with two other men.  For such a high profile guy, not much of a security force.  Then the Boogie Man was using women as human shields and they were killed. Oops!  No he wasn’t–only two women were allegedly wounded.  We were told Bin Ladin was shot in resistance.  No, he was shot in the head execution style instead.  His glorious mansion turned out to be a rundown, nondescript, three story cinder block building. His neighbors had no idea he was living there.  Much later we will find out that the burial at sea, attended to according to Muslim tradition is not really a tradition at all and was witnessed by not a single sailor onboard the ship the body was allegedly on.

Not only were the 9/11 attacks one of the most tragic events in American history it was also one of the weirdest.  There is so much going on with it, after a while the mind dulls to the relentless onslaught of particulars, each fact building on another to a huge pyramid of anomalies and seemingly unthinkable incidents.  Everything from cell phones working at over 30,000 feet (impossible) to half a million tons of concrete and steel crashing to the ground with little notice on seismographic markers, the afore mentioned steel frame turning to dust, to the put options being placed on airline stock of the exact hijacked airliners where a reported $100 million dollars were made, the evidence of the transaction located on the hard drives of the computers located in the Twin Towers.  This rolling wreck never seems to stop tumbling.  

I’ve always been fascinated with how quickly they pinned this ghastly crime on Bin Ladin and al-Qaeda within a few hours of the attacks before any investigation started, before the smoke cleared.  And nothing ever changed from that day forward, no matter how much investigating they did.  Years later, when the 9/11 Commission issued it’s report, it was the same story unchanged from the day the tragedy occurred.  The end result was–he’s guilty–that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.  This is similar to Lee Oswald being apprehended within an hour of the assassination with the crime accredited to him which never changed either.  In fact, a signed Dallas Police affidavit lists Oswald as President Kennedy and officer J. D. Tippit’s killer, dated at 1:40 PM that day.  How is that for innocent till proven guilty?

The Beginning of a Legend

At first, Bin Ladin was defined at the mastermind of the attacks.  But as investigative journalist Peter Lance uncovered, the mastermind is really Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. (And there is some weird stuff on this guy.  It was widely reported that KSM was killed in a gun fight with the Pakistani ISI on 9/11/02.  Then he comes back from the dead to be captured after another gun battle in 2003, some six months later.)  However, even in recent years, Osama Bin Ladin is still listed in some recently published books as the mastermind.  Even the movie, Zero Dark Thirty continues in this vein (See a good review HERE).  Some parts of this altered reality never change and keep chugging right along.  

The government’s interaction with Bin Ladin is a long and sorted affair.  Born into the wealthy Bin Ladin family that made their fortune in construction (which ironically included work on the Twin Towers), he later went on to fight the Russians in Afghanistan with the CIA supported Mujahideen.  Gradually he turned against the United States, fearing it was trying to take over the Mideast, and also for its support of Israel.  He became involved with numerous acts of terror throughout the 1990’s directed mainly at the United States.

It begins to get hard to tell what is real and what is not here.  For example, when Bin Ladin was alive he was on the FBI’s most wanted list for a litany of crimes.  However, the 9/11 attacks was not listed as one of those crimes.  Ed Haas, a writer for The Muckraker Report asked FBI official Rex Tomb about that and was told there was no evidence linking Osama Bin Ladin to the crime.  Tomb gave the example that a federal grand jury had indicted Bin Ladin for embassy bombing in 1998.  Evidently, they never did gather any evidence to connect Bin Ladin to the 9/11 attacks. Hence, no mention of the 9/11 crime on their 10 Most Wanted list. If there is no evidence then where is the justification for invading Afghanistan?  Or for that matter, the need to send in a Navy Seal Team to assassinate him years later?  Apparently, some other authority did deem him guilty enough or else this is just one massive behind the scenes machination with the rest of us in the dark.

It could also be a blurring of the lines between portraying a perpetrator as a criminal or as an enemy combatant.  

But other things are wrong too.  Now scrubbed off the FBI’s web site is the reference to Bin Ladin being left handed.  Notice the following picture of Bin Ladin signing a document with his right hand.

Obviously, the FBI should know better than this.  If a guy sitting at his computer surfing the Internet can easily find the discrepancy then they know what is going on.  And I think they do.  Sometimes information is released they know is wrong just to get tongues wagging.  It’s a distraction and it has a tendency to work.  It’s another reminder that the truth is concealed and so compartmentalized that who knows what the truth really is?  It’s all part of the general fiction being told and retold till it morphs into a reality of its own.  It reminds me of the many times the #2 al-Qaeda leader is killed.  It happens about every six months and has been going on for years.  Now really, who would want to be the #2 guy if his life expectancy is only going to be six months?  He’d better get insured!  It’s about as peculiar as hijacking a plane with a box cutter.  A box cutter has a slanted razor blade about an inch long.  You ever heard of anybody carjacking a car with such a thing?  Nope.  But the public is expected to believe this nonsense.

Sleep with the Fishes

By 2011 Osama Bin Ladin had evolved into a cartoon of his former self.  He was the all star boogie man on wanted posters with an enigma all of his own. Where was he and were did he spend his days?  He is missing for years and little is told to the public of his whereabouts.  

And then suddenly, on May 2, 2011 came the news flash–Osama Bin Ladin is declared dead, killed by Navy Seal Team Six.  Bravo!  We are ass kickers once again!  John Wayne salutes us from his heavenly abode.  Over on the winner’s side, the picture of President Obama, slumped in his chair looking petulant from having his golf outing interrupted, huddled with his cabinet watching the event live on TV.  We later find out this gathering was contrived as well with Secretary of State Clinton, her mouth agape in shock and awe.  A poor liar but a good actress it seems.

The fable ambles on.  They dumped the body in the sea.  The body is the prima facie evidence of what occurred–in other words, an irrefutable exhibit of fact.  Down through history when the mighty foe is slain, the body is always put on display.  Here, no such thing happens.  Even the death photos are ordered not to be revealed. 

Even more puzzling is that no autopsy was completed, or at least never admitted to.  Of course, if Bin Ladin was really killed in the manner they say, we know what he died of.  However, a documented and photographed autopsy forms a trail of evidence.  Evidence the government could use to prove their case, which as we found out, they have no desire to.  Evidently, the criminal enterprise that our government has become has grown so great in its hubris, that it no longer considers it necessary to prove anything.  So consumed with their own pride they ask the world to take their word on this.  The word of interminable liars.

When Che Guevara was captured Bolivian army even their authorities did an autopsy of Guevara’s remains which included fingerprints.They photographed him alive and photographed him dead.  Years afterward they even photographed a display of his bones.  They made sure the world knew they got the right guy.  Meanwhile, the government of the United States does not of this. For a major world superpower to transgress like this addresses the political nature of the undertaking and how much they need to conceal.  And what would that be?  Did the Boogie Man really die in December of 2001 as former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dr. Steve Pieczenik said in an amazing series of disclosures in 2012 on the Alex Jones show?  Or did the Seals rush in and kill a doppelgänger?  That is, if they killed anything at all.  What we know of evidence in this affair is fuzzy and strains our notion of common sense.  I guess they learned their lesson with the 26 volumes of collected hearings and evidence the Warren Commission published.  Never again.  Because in those books are stored facts that contradict the Warren Report.

Health Issues Abound

An Egyptian newspaper published Osama Bin Ladin’s obituary in December of 2001.   Whatever happen to him, he was by all accounts suffering from stage five kidney disease, meaning kidney failure, requiring dialysis by July of 2001.  One can live a while having kidney dialysis done three times a week but it needs to be administered by heath care professionals and needs constant attention.  It’s not something a person ever recovers from and is the beginning of the end unless one gets a kidney transplant.  That, and ailing from Marfan syndrome, which is an inherited degenerative disease of the body’s connective tissues, would should have added to the shortening of Bin Ladin’s life.  The official story ignores these important details.  Most books written never mention Bin Ladin’s health issues such as these or any other health related matters.  Take note of how you never see Bin Ladin’s health mentioned in any TV news reports about him.

The Psyop That Never Ends

Did Osama Bin Ladin die on May 2, 2011?  I think not.  Where is the proof?  We have none.  As stated earlier, there is no autopsy, DNA evidence, photographs, basically nothing to verify what happened. Basically no official account, or for that matter, any popular books published on the event mention a single word in regards to Bin Ladin’s health problems. Of course, a cartoon never gets sick does it?  Documents supposedly taken from Bin Ladin’s residence, including letters and other correspondence have been published at the West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.  Little of it is especially revealing and nothing of major operational importance.  It’s a bland read.  In the end, the only tangible proof is from various sources that Bin Ladin was in very bad health leading up to the September attacks and died soon thereafter.

Most likely there never be any independent verification or investigation of what happened.  There will be no grand jury impounded with the task to investigate further.  Our side will have our story and their side will have theirs.  

The truth is out there they say.  That is, if there is truth to be found in a mirage.  

Addendum - #1

Osama or Usama?  The first name swings back and forth.  All declassified government docs have him listed as Usama or UBL.  Notice that mostly everything in popular print has him as Osama.  In speeches by government types, both civilian and military, they pronounce his first name as Osama.  This is reminiscent of Lee Oswald’s SIG-201 file where his middle name is listed as “Henry” and not Harvey.  If Lee Henry Oswald is uncovered in any cable traffic the CIA would know there is a leaker in their midst–false information to find a mole.  

Likewise, the surname goes back and from Laden to Ladin. 

Addendum - #2

Beltane.  Some have suggested skullduggery or synchronicity with Bin Ladin’s death occurring on this ancient high holy day of Wiccans and Pagans.  But it ends on May 1.  Bin Ladin was allegedly killed on May 2.  

Addendum - #3

The box cutters.  It should be pointed out that the sole source of the box cutter story is Barbra Olson on Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon, originally based on two phone calls to her husband Solicitor General, Ted Olson.  Both calls were pitched by the FBI in the trial of the alleged 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui.  Two calls were tried, none connected they said.  Also, all of the calls made that day from the hijacked airliners were also tossed, except for two.  One of those being the famous Todd Beamer “let’s roll” call.  (Probably due to how useful that slogan was for directing public opinion towards war without end?)  So not only was the FBI calling their former boss Ted Olson a liar but all the family members, over 30 of them, that said they got calls from loved ones aboard the doomed planes as well.  An apparent ongoing mystery of what happened with the phone calls that day.  Remember, the two calls they said got through would be impossible to make if they used cell phones.  

Amazingly, print, TV, and online media till mention the box cutter phantasy as fact. 


Osama Bin Ladin’s death in 2001.

Osama Bin Ladin being right handed.


KSM’s Death.


No evidence on OBL.


Review of Zero Dark Thirty by Jim DiEugenio.


Dr. Stephen Pieczenik’s Bio.

Alleged Osama (Usama) Bin Ladin letters uncovered at his compound.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Getty Images and iStockphoto - A Corporate Marriage Made In Hell

“iStock becomes less profitable with increased success.  As a business model, it’s simply unsustainable: businesses should get more profitable as they grow.”

“Money will not make you happy.”

Kelly Thompson, Sept 9, 2010

The big fish devouring the little fish is as common place in and nature as it is in the annuals of business.  Getty Images purchase of the upstart online stock company, iStockphoto in February of 2006 blazes a familiar trail of corporate takeovers.  However the history of what happened to iStock, it’s contributors and buyers of imagery is a sordid tale of greed, mismanagement and underhandedness that would entice Al Capone to repent of his sins. 

A Bit of History
iStockphoto.com was founded by Bruce Livingstone in May, 2000 as a free stock image site that gradually evolved into a stock agency where the photographers were paid though at very low values.  Over time that grew and provided a profitable return for contributors.  Exclusivity was encouraged and those that complied resulted in additional perks such as quicker approval time for submitted images and a higher royalty rate.  However, many remained independent but at a lower royalty rate.  The arrival of iStockphoto and other online stock sites (Shutterstock, Dreamstime, Fotolia, etc.) launched the Microstock wave that caused many traditional stock image companies to either flounder or go under.  Over time, iStock would add vector illustrations, video and audio clips to the mix of products to sell.  A sense of community developed through iStock’s forum which allowed a free exchange of ideas, help, critiques, complaints,  besides just hanging out with like minded creatives. 

Never the less, Bruce Livingstone’s sale of iStock to Getty in 2006 changed all of that, slowly like it always does, with the frog put in his pot of water on a slow boil.  There was much consternation in the forums with some despairing the change, some positive to the point of being delusional, and some people absolutely clueless as to what happened.  I will never forget the poster that wrote, “They couldn’t beat us, so they joined us.”  Poor soul.  Have working for a company taken over in 2000 and having lost my job as a result of it, I was leery of what waited down the road and was glad in my decision to never go exclusive there.  

And, that wasn’t the only takeover because private equity firm Hellman & Friedman bought Getty/iStockphoto in 2007.  Since then, in October of 2012, The Carlyle Group announced its acquiring of Getty/iStockphoto.  

One Damn Thing After The Other
The first notice of Getty’s new ownership was the arrival of the “controlled vocabulary.”  This came from Getty’s keyword system and allowed for the use of multiple languages to used in image searches.  A lot of grumbling about that since the contributors were tasked with making the changes to their portfolios.  It was a lot of work, especially for those with thousands of images online.  At least it allowed for broader international search coverage and one thing that worked out well.

But other issues ensued over time and clouded over iStock’s sense of independence within a larger corporate structure.  Here is a brief look at the worst of them:

Redeemable Credits.  In the beginning, sales progression for a contributor was shown as film canister graphic.  Copper, bronze, silver, gold, etc.  This original system everybody was happy with.  It gave one a sense of something to work towards to, a viable goal for success.  In 2010 a new system of "redeemable credits" was announced which amounted to selling on a curve.  Now everybody would have to sell a certain amount of images to maintain their royalty percentage.  Few do with the added burdens of a bad search engine, price hikes and massive Getty image content uploads, among other issues so the majority took an income hit.  Many are calling for an end to the RC system but but an update from the General Manager stated that this won’t be happening. This announcement of this new royalty structure by former admin Kelly Thompson was accompanied by his now famous “Money will not make you happy,” quote which did nothing to soften the blow and certainly gained the ire of many.  Even worse, all were told that the original commission model was no longer “sustainable.”  They take an 80% commission from each image sale from the non-exclusives and that is not a viable business model?  Laughable.

Screwed up search.  Complained about for months on the forums, the “best match” image search has been tinkered with so many times buyers can’t find what they need and photographers have seen, for many, a drastic drop in sales.  Management has been hesitant to admit any problem, with GM Rebecca Rockafellar who at first would not admit to it at all.  This is an ongoing issue and apparently, the BM currently favors Getty images first.  Stay tuned.

Price Raises.  Multiple price hikes over time have caused many buyers to look for cheaper images at iStock’s competitors.  The pricey Vetta collection really raised the bar and to be fair, is made up of some very high quality and creative imagery.  But the slogan such as “The designer’s dirty little secret,” is from a bygone era.  Buyers know there are cheaper alternatives at other Microstock sites.  Notice these price hikes were not seen at Getty–but at iStock they were.  

Flood of Getty Images.  This was bound to happen.  Getty took various collections of images from their massive library of content and started flooding them on iStock’s servers.  Naturally, they get a high placement in search.  It annoyed many that these images didn’t have to go through the file inspection process and the original images could remain on their respective web sites–something no iStock exclusive photographer can do–thus cheapening the whole selling point of exclusive content not available elsewhere.  Not to mention how much competition these images bring to iStock contributor’s sales.

The Claw Backs.  In early 2011 there was apparently a surge in credit card fraud.  Some of the bigger selling contributors lost thousands of dollars.  One photographer, Sean Locke reported a loss of over $5,000.  Was he repaid?  No.  Nobody was.  I lost a few bucks myself so I consider my involvement in this very fortunate.  My heart goes out to those that lost their work and income to fraud and my never ending loathing of a company that allowed such a thing to happen through sheer incompetence and their failure to repay those who were robbed.  And to add to the resentment, contributors were promised new security measures in place to prevent this from happening again.  However,  claw back messages are still being sent out but are now vaguely worded so the photographer has no idea what happened.  Was it fraud?  Was it a refund?  Who knows?

Exchange Rate values resulting in questionable payments.  Probably the most confusing and convoluted mess currently ongoing at iStock.  So bad they’ve brought on a forum admin named iStock Lawyer to respond to questions.  Apparently, when the exchange rate goes up compared to the US dollar, the royalty percentage is taken from the original dollar amount, not the increased value, if any.  Also, exchange rates involve a lot of rounding up and down and the exchange rate for international currency is set monthly, not daily.  Various esoteric concepts such as “currency hedging” come into play.  Anyway, contributors have noticed discrepancies in moneys earned and get a lot of meandering answers regarding the issue.  iStock apparently quietly updated the Artist Supplier’s Agreement (ASA) to include rate changes which is in violation of the agreement to issue a 30-day notice for any such changes.  iStock Lawyer’s response?  To simply state that they had been doing this for years so no need for a notice.  Ha!  However, one poster on the forum had an original copy of the ASA showing that a rate change occurred on 9/7/12.  And no 30-day notice was sent out.  

And this is just a bare-bones account of what has gone on since iStock was sold in 2006.  It’s one outrage after the other and I’m shocked that no class action lawsuits have been filed.  The credit card fraud and lack of reimbursement should be reason enough alone for one.  They have proven themselves unworthy of trust and unethical in their deeds.  

The Clueless Among Us
Some people don't seem to get what happened.  Getty did not buy iStockphoto to grow the brand.  No big company does that when it buys a smaller company viewed as a competitor.  They either absorb the company, cut out the fat, sell off the assets or keep it functional but on a tight leash.  That is basically what happened to iStock.  This was evident early on when Getty would place ads for their content on iStock’s web site but no link-back on Getty’s site for iStock's images.  Then with the reduction in royalty rates with the RC system, lack of marketing of iStock’s brand, poor search and the price hikes, so the main marketing point of iStock was devalued.  It was on the leash at that point.  Every decision Getty made, some which looks dull-witted in retrospect, was meant to devalue the iStock brand.  And at that, they succeeded.  They started slowly at first but now it’s full speed ahead.

It was quite telling when the contract was changed from agent to distributor.  An agent has their client’s best interests in mind and acts accordingly.  A distributor doles out the product with no other interest than moving product.  That’s how cold the business relationship is with the content providers.

Many people on the forums complain about Getty management not giving them any respect.  Hey people, it’s Crowd Sourcing.  You work too cheap to be respected.  You are the peasants at the King’s gate with your torches and pitchforks.  That’s why the Redeem Credits model was instituted (with Shutterstock’s subscription model arriving before that) to keep the peasants in their place.  You rose up too high.  Now it’s time to put you back down to where you started.  Where you belong in their eye.

Future Days
Corporations are needed things.  They give us jobs and a good life if principled people are in charge.  They also can lapse into oppressive organizations capable of all kinds of unprincipled deeds.  Many people constantly blame iStockphoto’s management for these awful decisions and the mess it has become, but really, most of the decisions have come down from on high.  iStock management for all intent and purposes no longer exists.  Getty has the majority of the blame for what has happened.  One must wait and see what Carlyle management will do with all of this.  

I suppose there are worse examples of corporate takeover, greed and incompetence besides the Getty mauling of iStockphoto.  But this situation has taken a turn to the dark side so rapidly it’s amazing to watch.  Nobody could have dreamed up such a scenario as has unfolded.  It is as if sociopaths are in charge and no injustice is deemed too outlandish to carry out.  No telling what is coming in the future.  Sit back and see.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Shortwave Number Ladies

One of the more mysterious things to experience while listening to Shortwave radio are the numbers ladies (also known as Number Stations).  Basically, a young (sounding) woman reciting numbers.  I heard them once when I had a shortwave radio.  Some people report excerpts of music and sometimes letters to go along with the numbers.  Despite the international nature of shortwave broadcasts the numbers are usually pronounced in English though people have heard the numbers in other languages.  No government, company, or individual has ever come forward admitting to owning a numbers broadcasting station.  Recently the phenomena made it way into mainstream culture on an episode of the FOX sci-fi show Fringe, which featured a numbers being broadcast on a radio.

So what is going on here? According to the The Conet Project, a group dedicated to studying and recording the number broadcasts this form of coded messages goes back as far as World War I and and prove quiet useful during the Cold War.  It’s still ongoing today because it's a simple and highly effective method of transmitting coded dispatches.  And to whom?  Quite possibly intelligence agencies sending coded messages to their operatives in the field.  Other possibilities include drug traffickers and corporations using number stations for sending out secret communications.  Some people just write it off as geeks playing a hoax.

One good explanation I heard a few years ago come from a caller to the now defunct Rollye James Show.  Now, anybody can call in a talk show and say whatever they want to, but this man seemed to clearly define what is going on.  He made a lot of sense.  Basically, the numbers are related to a page in a book, then a sentence on that page, followed by a word in the sentence and then finally, a letter in the word.  The book could be anything, fiction, non-fiction, the Bible, Moby Dick, whatever. However, both parties must have the same book.  (And you'd better start listening at the top of the broadcast or else the sequencing is thrown off.)

The man ended his call when he stated he had probably said more than he should have and hung up.

If this is true, and even if it isn't, then it's a good source of coding messages that we should all consider as the government grows larger, more tyrannical and more intrusive in our daily lives and business.  A massive surveillance state is underway with equally massive data centers being built to process and document everything we say and do from our phones to our emails.  The 4th Amendment is history and warrantless searches are common place.  It's high time we The People acquire such a coding system to send messages to one another that the government can't read as they grow more oppressive and tyrannical.

Yes, it's a slow method of encryption.  But it works and has been useful for nearly a hundred years.  And you don't need a radio to broadcast numbers.  You can email them, snail mail them, publish them on a web site, read them over Skype or a phone call.  You can most likely find a dozen different ways to use this coding method.  If there is ever a civil war, or a revolution, this might come in very handy.

The Conet Project
To download audio samples go here:

More info on Number Stations:

NSA whistleblower William Binney:  The FBI has the e-mails of nearly all US citizens.