The Beneficiaries of 9/11

To this day I still remember exactly what I was doing when I heard that the World Trade Centers had been attacked.  I was at lunch with my friends when some boys came up to us shouting that terrorists had just blown up New York City.  I didn’t initially believe them.  I mean, nothing even remotely similar to this had ever happened before in my lifetime, and seeing that I was the ripe old age of eleven, I thought they must be lying.  It all sunk in though when we were called into an emergency assembly.  I remember being in shock, not being able to wrap my mind around the reality of the situation, and I know I was not alone.  The events that transpired on September 11, 2001 left many people scared and confused.  They didn’t know what to think or believe, the world as we knew it was unraveling before our eyes.  What would happen next?

Unfortunately, times like these tend to attract individuals that exploit people’s fears to gain traction for their own interests.  For example there have been a few claims that the U.S. government was behind the attacks all along and that they were instrumental in orchestrating them.  But what is interesting is that most of the conspirators that claim this also have deep-seated hatred toward the U.S. government.  Does it not seem suspicious to anyone else that these people have a vested interest in turning the public against the government?

Overall, I think it is pretty obvious to the public at large that most of these conspiracies theories regarding 9/11 are works of fiction.  So you can imagined how surprised I was when I came across a conspiracy theory that I thought could actually have some truth to it.  This conspiracy focuses on some very sketchy financial transaction transactions that were made on Wall Street in the week leading up to the attack .  The premise of this theory is that there were individuals (most likely the terrorists themselves) that purchased large put options for major companies that ended up being affected financially by the attack.  Basically what this means is that in the week leading up to 9/11 a group of individuals purchased options, known as puts, that bet against the stock prices of some of the major firms affected by the attacks. These kinds of investments are usually very risky unless you have insider information indicating that something is going to happen to cause the stock price to plummet.  So is it just a coincidence that there was a huge spike in put options  for the four most negatively impacted corporations of the attacks just a week prior? Take a look at this 2-minute clip I found of an ABC new segment on this controversy.

So first of all I just want to note that this information was reported on the ABC evening news.  This was the initial fact that made me think, “Okay well if a respected news channel is reporting on this then maybe it does have some truth to it…”. As we learned earlier in the semester with the Mike Daisy case, journalists, at least in our country, value the facts.  Therefore it is unlikely that one of the country’s most respected new channels would put their reputation on the line to report false report facts, which makes me trust, to a certain extent, what they are saying.  While the Peter Jennings seems hopeful that some justice would come out of the SEC investigation launched after these allegations were made, I could not find any information showing that any real progress in bringing the individuals involved to justice.   So let me ask you this, do you think its fair that these people were able to get away with profiting from the worst terrorist attack to take place on American soil?  Personally, I think this proves as another example of the greed and unethical behavior to take place on Wall Street in the early 2000s, but I am interested to hear what you all think?



This is Some Serious Spy Shit, Y’all

Sorry for swearing, but this is genuinely nuts.

I’m about to get SUPER GEEKY, but bear with me for a bit because this is actually pretty cool for real people too. So, raise your hand if you’ve heard of UVB-76. I didn’t see any hands (probably because this is a text post on a website), so I’m gonna go ahead and explain it. UVB-76, aka “The Buzzer,” is an AM radio station that broadcasts at 4625kHz. Crazy right? No. Not yet.

The weird thing about this station (also referred to as MDZhB) is that pretty much 24 hours a day, the station broadcasts this short buzzing tone about 25 times/minute. Here’s a clip that was recorded in Southern Finland, 530 mi away from the station’s estimated location:

Until we have html embedding enabled, here’s a link to the sound.

Why is this a thing that exists? As far as we know right now, well, that’s just it -we don’t know. It could just be that Russians have weird taste in music. We do know, however, that this place has been broadcasting since 1982, and has changed several times. Every once in awhile, there’s some muffled Russian conversation in the background, which most likely means that the broadcast is actually just a mic that’s left on, with a buzzer device sitting next to it. The station itself has also changed location at least once, and the ruins of the old place are creepy as hell.

Tell me with a straight face that this doesn't make you a little nervous.

Tell me with a straight face that this doesn’t make you a little nervous.

When some “urban explorers” broke into the old compound, they found some standard run-down buildings, and also an undocumented transmission compound at least 35 feet underground. They could only explore part of it, but there was clearly much more than “public” documents initially showed. Where’s the new location? We don’t really know that for sure, either.  The case of UVB76 gets really weird, though, when you catalog some of the maybe-random things that are broadcast occasionally.

From time to time (especially starting in 2010) there’s a message spoken and repeated by anonymous Russians. Here’s an example:

At 0757 UTC on February 21, 2006: “UVB-76, UVB-76. 75-59-75-59. 39-52-53-58. 5-5-2-5.Konstantin-1-9-0-9-0-8-9-8-Tatiana-Oksana-Anna-Elena-Pavel-Schuka. Konstantin 8-4. 9-7-5-5-9-Tatiana. Anna Larisa Uliyana-9-4-1-4-3-4-8.”

In August 2010, there was another voice broadcast. Two days later, it went silent, and then some thumping noises were heard. After some garbled electronic noises, it was back to buzzing as usual, except with some Russians arguing in the background. Shortly after, in Spetember, the station’s transmitter was moved, shortly after what may have been a reorganization of the Russian military For the first week of September, transmission was interrupted frequently, usually with what sounded like recorded snippets of “Dance of the Little Swans” from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Below is a clip with the message heard. Seriously, listen to this and tell me it’s not fucking creepy:

(Even the guy that recorded it looks conspiracy-y.)

And here’s some nice ballet for you to enjoy.

November 11, 2000 brought more weird shit. According to listeners (yeah…. those exist…), some phone conversations were accidentally broadcast. Wikipedia says this about them:

The phone calls mentioned the “brigade operative officer on duty”, the communication nodes “Debut”, “Nadezhda” (Russian for “hope”, both a noun and a female name), “Sudak” (a kind of river fish and also a town in Crimea) and “Vulkan”. The female voice says “officer on duty of communication node Debut senior ensign Uspenskaya, got the control call from Nadezhda OK”.

Once again, do we know what it means? NOPE. The Russian Government isn’t saying anything. The former Minister of Communications and Informatics of Lithuania has stated that “the purpose of the voice messages is to confirm that operators at receiving stations are alert.” Operators? Receiving Stations? The common consensus is, in fact, that the station is meant to communicate with Russian sleeper agents, and that actually makes sense. Tuning in to the broadcast is untraceable, everything’s coded, and there’s no specialized (read: “suspicious”) equipment needed.

Spectral analysis shows the repeating tone and also makes a boring sound look really futuristic.

Spectral analysis shows the repeating tone and also makes a boring sound look really futuristic.

The other big claim is that it’s for research purposes. This is based on an article from the Russian Journal of Earth Sciences that mentioned an observatory meant to record changes in the ionosphere, and the fact AM radio works over long distances by bouncing signals off it. But that theory doesn’t explain the military communications.

On November 20th, 2011, the broadcast was live again, and a dire message was posted on an anonymous internet forum. It contained this paragraph:

The Russian Station UVB-76 is a “Dead Man’s Switch” created to detonate a nuclear device set in South Korea’s capital. It will be activated by Dmitry Medvedev’s assassination in early September. It has been made clear in the sessions that North Korea will take the blame and war will begin.

This is almost clearly someone messing around, but at the time, it worked because nobody had a fucking clue what was going on but UVB-76 was making all sorts of crazy noises.

Honestly, I highly recommend that you read this Wired article on the place- it’s well-written and fascinating. It also ends with a description of the entrance to the current (locked-down) compound where the transmitter probably is, and it sounds like Comrade Wonka’s Spy Factory. I’ll leave you with this quote:

The front door appears to be locked. There is no light on inside; no one comes in or out. But someone has been here. The dog, after all, must be fed.

One small step for man, requires one giant leap of faith

One of the greatest moments in human history is believed to be a hoax. A major event for the human race was when the United States’ Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969. Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to the Moon for the United States and the world. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to step onto the surface of the Moon. Around 500 million people worldwide watched this event, which made it the largest television audience for a live broadcast during that time. This was a huge event throughout the world as many people awed at the technology that allowed humans to finally land on the moon. Ever since this major event in history occurred, there has been a lot of talk about whether or not it was a hoax. While there is a lot of discredited discrepancies, there is a great deal of believable evidence that makes some scholars still believe that the 1969 Apollo moon landing was a conspiracy. Here is part one of a famous conspiracy program by Fox that blames the government for the faking of the moon landing in 1969:

The conspiracy theory prompted the release of the 1978 film called Capricorn One, in which the government fooled the country by faking the mission to the moon. Fox television even aired a program called “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?” The part one of the program was viewed over one million times on youtube. Most scholars believe that there were astronauts in Apollo 11, but they simply orbited the earth for 8 days. At the same time, NASA showed fake pictures to the American public to make it seem like the trip was real. While others believe that half way to the moon, the astronauts would have died from deadly radiation. Conspirators believe that there are major inconsistencies in footage supplied by NASA. The major inconsistencies in the footage were that the stars were missing from the sky, the American flag flapped on the moon even though there is air or wind on the moon, there is artificial lighting in the photographs taken on the moon and no blast crater beneath the lunar lander. The no blast crater is one of the biggest evidence in supporting the notion that the 1969 moon landing is a hoax. A powerful rocket engine blasted onto the moon and left no mark on the moon? At the same time, human footprints made a major imprint surrounding the ship and there was no dust on the foot pads. The many images taken on journey were examined and found to be staged. It is believed that NASA certainly had the resources to recreate the event in a television studio or in Area 51. Was getting to the moon first so important that the US government would consider faking it? This major event took place during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was believed that the country who won the space race would win the Cold War. Getting to the moon first meant winning the space race.

Of course NASA dismisses the charges completely. There are strong opinions on both sides. In 2002, when Bart Sibrel, a conspiracy theorist, confronted Buzz Aldrin about faking the moon landing, the 72 year old, at the time, punched Sibrel in the jaw. While I do think that some parts of the video can be believable, I do agree with NASA that the 1969 Apollo moon landing was not a hoax and it was real. Honestly I think it was impossible for NASA to have faked such a worldwide historical event.  My opinion is just one person and there will always be people who argue for the conspiracy of the moon landing in 1969. I never even thought, before writing this blog, that this conspiracy was so well known. I think it is pretty popular because the event was a huge moment in history. There are conspiracy theories for just about every major event, from the Sandy Hook shooting to JFK’s assassination. It is believed that 20% of Americans believed at one point that we never went to the moon, are you one of them?

Blog Prompt 7- Conspiracies: Do They Exist?

Nicolas Cage

Conspiracy theories pervade today’s society. Every time a notable event occurs in society there is sure to be a conspiracy theory trailing right behind. These theories include everything from the US government destroying the World Trade Center themselves to the band members of Led Zeppelin selling their souls to the devil. For this week’s blog you get to choose one of the three prompts below:

1) Create your own conspiracy theory.  For example, perhaps you have a theory as to where the socks all go from the dryer, why sequels are usually so bad, why the banks were bailed out, or why the dinosaurs _really_went extinct.  Feel free to be as serious or light-hearted as you like.

2) Share one you find interesting with your views on its authenticity (or why it is so widespread).

3) Discuss conspiracy theories in general.  Why are they popular?  What makes for an effective conspiracy theory?  You should include in this topic some small amount of research into “why” they exist.

For inspiration take a look at Alex’s blog post from last week: KEN LAY IS ALIVE.

Contest- who can get the most views?

This week there will be a special award for whoever gets the most views.  A view is when someone clicks on to your actual post.  For example, if you click on our blog stats, you can see “top authors” and “top posts.”  The”top” there is measuring views.  As of today, the top posts of last seven days are (minus the “home” page):

Would You Buy a Paper? 23
Blog Council 6- Great Writing and Our Reach 15
“The Narrative Doesn’t End:” Mike Daisey, Truth, Art, and a Phone Call 11
Blog 6 Prompt: Where are they now? 9
Managing the Madness of a 20-year-old Overnight Millionaire 8
Gamesmanship vs. Sportsmanship, the Ethics of Sports 8
Mascot Revenge 7
Social Ethics vs Business Ethics 7

Your goal is to be in the #1 slot for this week.

Reward: one week off of blogging or +2 points on your final grade, whichever you prefer (they are roughly equivalent.)

Tips: promote your post on all social media, by email, use tags, use the “zemanta” extra content to link to other posts.