22 March 2017

Diana's Death a 'Tragic Accident': Maybe, Maybe Not

Princess Diana, 36, and Mr. Al Fayed, 42, died in a Paris car crash on 31 Aug 1997.

Gordon Thomas wrote of a scenario Diana's death in 1999 [summary below]. After the summary, there are chronicled news articles of Diana's death, which migrates through complete denial, investigation, inquest jury, and verdict. Her death remains an enigma with powerful parties involved.

It will be interesting to see if Mr. Thomas' account of her death plays out or not. It will also be interesting to see how Mohammed al-Fayed [Dodi's father] handles the verdict of the inquest. Will he respect the outcome of British justice, or will he see it as an expected outcome? After all, who would really expect to see a verdict against British royalty and British intelligence in a British court? Will al-Fayed had now seek justice outside the courts? What vengeance will the sons seek, especially with the resources at their command? It can be a deadly game when played on their level. In Oct 2009, Mohamed Al Fayed even made a run to become the first president of an independent Scotland. Ripe material for an aspiring Shakespeare. And now it’s a movie – Unlawful Killing.

Gideon's Spies by Gordon Thomas, 1999, Death of Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed

The Ritz Hotel had become important in Mossad's overall strategy. The hotel remained a meeting place for Middle Eastern arms brokers and their European contacts. Mossad had decided to have an informer in the Ritz who would be able to report on activities. As a chauffeur to VIPs, Henri Paul would be in good position to overhear their conversations, witness their behavior, see where they went, whom they met.

A Mossad psychologist had concluded that there was an inherent vulnerability about Henri Paul. The psychologist had recommended that steadily increasing pressure, linked with the promise of substantial monetary reward to finance Paul's social life, could be the best way to recruit him.

For Henri Paul in those last days of August 1997, there seemed no way out. He continued to drink, to take pills, to sleep restlessly, to bully junior staff. He was a man teetering close to the edge. Though he managed to conceal it, Henri Paul was unraveling mentally. Compounding the pressure was the forthcoming visit of Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed. Paul had been put in charge of their security while they were in the hotel, with particular responsibility for keeping away the paparazzi.

Two weeks prior to their deaths, the service had held several meetings with Henri Paul, "who was a paid informer of MI6."  Henri Paul had installed a bugging device in the Imperial Suite at the Ritz hotel and had obtained tapes of the "last intimate moments" of Diana and Dodi. Shortly before their death, the couple had spent several hours alone in the suite.

Just past midnight on Sunday, August 31, 1997, the dead were Diana, Princess of Wales, mother of the future king of England; Dodi Al-Fayed, son of Mohammed Al-Fayed, the Egyptian-born owner of Harrods of Knightsbridge, the "Royal" store; and Henri Paul. The couple's bodyguard had been critically injured. "Paul had been blinded as he drove through the underpass by a high-powered flash, a technique which is consistent with MI6 methods in other assassinations."

Moments later, the mysterious white Fiat Uno, which had been seen zigzagging away from the scene of the crash and which traces of paint scrapes had  been found in the tunnel, had driven into a side street off the Avenue Montalgne. Waiting there was a pentachnicon, its ramp lowered. The Uno had driven up the ramp, and the pantechnicon's doors had been closed. Hours later, the Uno had been gripped in the claws of a crusher and was reduced to a block of scrap metal.

Mohammed Al-Fayed: "A decision had been made by the Establishment, and at the very top, that Diana must not be allowed to marry a Muslim. Then the future king of England, Prince William, would have an Arab as his stepfather and another as his grandfather. There was also a real fear that I would provide the money to allow Diana to become a rival to the Queen of England. The Establishment would do anything to end my son's relationship with the one woman he had ever truly loved."

Mossad's determined attempts to recruit Henri Paul could lead to accusation that this had played a part in Diana's death. To this day Mossad's involvement with Henri Paul has remained a well-kept secret - the way the service had always intended it should remain. Mossad acted at the behest of no one outside Israel.

In The News:

UK relationship with France to continue after Brexit, says prince
17 Mar 2017

The UK's relationship with France will continue despite the vote to leave the EU, Prince William has said. Speaking at the start of a two-day official visit to Paris with the Duchess of Cambridge, the prince said friendship and co-operation "would not change". It is the duke's first official visit to the city where his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash in 1997.

Princess Diana WAS pregnant on the night she died, shock new play claims
10 Jan 2015
Sensational claims about the death of Princess Diana will be aired in a controversial West End play, which opens this week: Truth, Lies, Diana. It will revive claims that Diana was pregnant with “a Muslim baby” when she died in a Paris car crash alongside lover Dodi Fayed in 1997. Writer and director Jon Conway – who also appears in the production – said: “I think it’s important the public is able to hear the whole story. I call it the D-word as nobody wants to talk about it.”

Diana death police find no SAS role
16 Dec 2013
There is "no credible evidence" the SAS was involved in the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Al Fayed, the Metropolitan Police has said. "The final conclusion is that whilst there is a possibility the alleged comments in relation to the SAS's involvement in the deaths may have been made, there is no credible evidence to support a theory that such claims had any basis in fact. Former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi's father, was "disappointed but not discouraged" by the outcome, his solicitor Simon McKay said. He called the scoping exercise "the latest whitewash in a 16-year cover up".

Diana death: New information assessed by Scotland Yard
18 Aug 2013

The Metropolitan Police is assessing new information it has recently received about the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed in 1997. Scotland Yard said it was "scoping" the information and "assessing its relevance and credibility". Reports in several British Sunday newspapers suggest there are allegations the military was involved and that information had been passed to the police by an Army source. A spokesman for Dodi's father Mohamed Al Fayed said he would be "interested in seeing the outcome". In December 2006, the report into Operation Paget said it had found no evidence of murder and dismissed all conspiracy theories surrounding the deaths. Operation Paget concluded that driver Henri Paul had been drunk and driving at excessive speed.

Princess Diana film in Galway for first public showing
06 Jul 2011

A controversial documentary about the death of Princess Diana, Unlawful Killing, is to get its first public screening at an Irish film festival. Directed by Keith Allen and funded by the businessman Mohammed Al Fayed, its makers claim the film has evidence of a conspiracy around the Princess's death.

Unlawful Killing – the film the British won't get to see
07 May 2011
Inquest evidence showed conclusively that the crash was caused by an unidentified white Fiat Uno and several unidentified motorcycles, vehicles that were certainly not paparazzi, because uncontested police evidence confirmed that the paparazzi were nowhere near the tunnel at the time of the crash. British lawyers insisted on 87 cuts before any UK release could be contemplated. So rather than butcher the film, or risk legal action, the film is showing it in France, then the US, and everywhere except the UK.
Movie Trailer featuring Piers Morgan

Mohammed Al Fayed sells Harrods store to Qatar Holdings
08 May 2010
Mohammed Al Fayed has sold London department store Harrods to the Qatari royal family's investment company for a reported £1.5bn ($2.3bn). Qatar Holdings is the investment arm of the emirate's sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Investment Authority. Recognised for its celebrity-endorsed sales, food hall and signature green bags, Harrods is one of the world's largest and most famous department stores.

Mr. Al Fayed waged a 10-year campaign in an attempt to prove that Princess Diana and his son Dodi, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997, were murdered in a conspiracy. Despite living in Britain for decades, the multi-millionaire businessman has repeatedly been refused a UK passport.

Egyptian tycoon wants to be Scottish president
25 Oct 2009
Mohamed Al Fayed, owner of plush London emporium Harrods, told The Sunday Times newspaper he was ready to become the first president of an independent Scotland. The Egyptian tycoon, 80, who owns an estate in the Scottish Highlands, said he was urging his "fellow Scots" to detach themselves from "the English and their terrible politicians". Fayed, who has been repeatedly refused a British passport, said he hoped to be offered Scottish citizenship if a planned referendum on Scottish independence leads to Scotland leaving the United Kingdom -- and then becoming a republic. "You Scots have been living in a coma for too long," he told the broadsheet. "Whatever help is needed for Scotland to regain its independence, I will provide it. When you Scots regain your freedom I'm ready to be your president."

Princess Diana unlawfully killed
07 Apr 2008
Princess Diana was unlawfully killed due to the "gross negligence" of driver Henri Paul and the paparazzi, an inquest jury has found. The jury reached the same verdict for her companion Dodi Al Fayed. In a statement read on Al Fayed's behalf [Dodi's father Mohamed Al-Fayed] he said the verdicts would come as a blow to "millions" of his supporters around the world.

Diana murdered, Al Fayed claims
18 Feb 2008
Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed were murdered, Dodi's father Mohamed Al Fayed has told the inquest into their deaths in a car crash in Paris in 1997. Harrods owner Mr. Al Fayed claimed former prime minister Tony Blair, MI5, MI6 and the British ambassador to France were all part of the conspiracy. And he said Princess Diana "knew Prince Philip and Prince Charles were trying to get rid of her". He also said Diana had told him she was pregnant, and the couple was engaged. And he said Prince Charles was complicit, hoping to make way so he could marry his "crocodile wife" Camilla Parker Bowles. In his evidence, Mr. Al Fayed branded Prince Philip a "Nazi" and a "racist" and said: "It's time to send him back to Germany from where he comes."

Diana had 'no signs' of pregnancy
26 Nov 2007
There was no physical evidence that Diana, Princess of Wales was pregnant, according to the British pathologist who examined her body. But he said they would not necessarily be visible very soon after conception. Dr Chapman confirmed that fluids used in embalming could lead to some changes in a body, such as causing blood clots to form, but he said the chemicals would not obscure the physical evidence of a pregnancy if one existed.

'No evidence' of Diana pregnancy
03 Oct 2007
Intimate details of Princess Diana's life will be heard at the inquest into her death, but whether she was pregnant may never be known, the coroner said. Lord Justice Scott Baker said it was likely "pregnancy is a matter that cannot be proved one way or the other in scientific terms in this case". The inquest also heard how members of MI6 were in Paris during the summer Diana and Dodi Al Fayed both died.

Diana Death Anniversary Marked
31 Aug 2007
Among the absentees at the service was Mohammed al-Fayed, the father of Diana's Egyptian boyfriend. Al-Fayed, owner of the luxury London store Harrods, accuses Britain's royal family of ordering the couple's murder to prevent them from marrying. Diana died in the early hours of August 31, 1997, alongside Dodi al-Fayed, following a crash in a tunnel. Despite comprehensive police inquiries ruling out foul play, some Britons share al-Fayed's suspicions that the deaths were not an accident. An official inquest into the deaths will begin on October 2, propelling Diana into the headlines once again.

Diana Inquest: Royals on the Stand?
04 Mar 2007
Mohamed al Fayed, whose son Dodi died alongside Diana in a Paris car crash 10 years ago, wants to call Diana's ex-husband Prince Charles and her ex-father-in-law the Duke of Edinburgh as witnesses. The multimillionaire owner of the luxury Harrods department store, who is convinced the couple was murdered, won a major legal challenge last week when London's High Court ruled that the inquest should be heard before a jury.

Diana's Death a 'Tragic Accident'
14 Dec 2006
An official UK police inquiry into the Paris car crash which killed Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed has found no evidence the couple were murdered. The evidence suggests Princess Diana was not engaged or about to get engaged and scientific tests showed she was not pregnant, he said.

Date set for princess's inquest
18 Dec 2003
The inquests into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed will be opened on 6 January 2004, it has been announced. Princess Diana, 36, and Mr Al Fayed, 42, died in a Paris car crash in 1997. There will be two separate inquests. Princess Diana's inquest will be held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, while Mr Al Fayed's will open in Reigate, Surrey. Dodi's father, Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, welcomed the news, but said he would continue to call for a full public inquiry into the crash.

Earl rules out Diana conspiracies
22 Oct 2003
Earl Spencer has dismissed conspiracy theories about the death of his sister Diana, Princess of Wales, describing an apparent prediction of her own death in a letter as a "bizarre coincidence". "Diana felt quite beleaguered by what we call the establishment in Britain and looked at ways they might get at her.” He told NBC's Today show he understood from handwriting experts, that letters allegedly sent by Diana to former butler Paul Burrell saying she feared for her life, were genuine. In the alleged letter, sent about 10 months before the fatal Paris tunnel crash in August 1997, Diana writes about her fears of an accident being planned involving her car.  The French inquiry in 1999 blamed chauffeur Henri Paul, who also died, concluding he had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs and had been driving too fast.

Al-Fayed challenges Duke to sue
22 Nov 1999
Mohamed al-Fayed has issued a challenge to the Duke of Edinburgh. Mr al-Fayed called on Prince Philip to sue him over his allegations that the Duke had "masterminded" a conspiracy to kill the Princess of Wales and his son Dodi.

Wealth Gap Series

This series explores the widening Wealth Gap and its impact on class and race relations, excerpting heavily from Thomas Piketty, Professor at the Paris School of Economics, who has explored the structural cause of the wealth gap in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century published in 2014. He created quite a stir, getting both rave reviews and harsh critiques. He brought the issue of a widening wealth gap to the limelight and has shown how war mitigated extreme wealth gaps in the past. And without a discussion and resolution, war may again mitigate the current wealth gap extreme.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Professor Paris School of Economics, 2014, Excerpts
The central thesis of this book is that a small gap between the return on capital and the rate of income growth can in the long run have powerful and destabilizing effects on the structure and dynamics of social inequality.

The concentration of wealth and prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. The main driver of inequality – the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of income growth – generates extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values.

There is no fundamental reason why we should believe that growth is automatically balanced. We should put the question of inequality back at the center of economic analysis and begin asking questions first raised in the nineteenth century. For far too long, economists have neglected the distribution of wealth.

Ultra-rich protect wealth with spread of 'family offices'
16 Mar 2017
The ultra-rich in London are increasingly protecting their wealth through the use of "family offices", says research from the London School of Economics. These are teams of professionals - such as lawyers, financiers and psychologists - employed to ensure the "dynastic wealth" of the super-rich, they support a "bunkered" and "fortified" way of life of the "global super-rich". The growth of extreme wealth, alongside poverty and low-income families, means that there needs to be more analysis of how such wealth is perpetuated, the study suggests.

Obama’s Farewell Address, Excerpts
10 Jan 2017
Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class, and ladders for folks who want to get into the middle class.

Stark inequality is corrosive to our democratic idea. While the top 1 percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many of our families in inner cities and in rural counties have been left behind. Convinced that the game is fixed against them. That their government only serves the interest of the powerful. That’s a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.

If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.

Britain's inequality map - stark and growing
02 Dec 2016
Andy Haldane, the Bank of England's chief economist is not only worried about the inequality of those on the lowest incomes versus the very rich, but also with those regions which have fallen behind in the race for economic growth since the financial crisis. Most concerning for a government which has pledged to make the economy work "for all" - which presumably means across geographies as well as income bands - is that the issue is becoming more acute.

UK one of the most unequal countries, says Oxfam
13 Sep 2016
The richest 1% of the UK population owns more than 20 times the wealth of the poorest fifth, according to Oxfam. That made Britain one of the most unequal countries in the developed world and contributed to the vote for Brexit, the charity said. The report said many people in the UK felt locked out of politics and economic opportunity. Rachael Orr, head of Oxfam's UK Program, said: "Inequality is a massive barrier to tackling poverty and has created an economy that clearly isn't working for everyone."

Wealth Over Work
23 Mar 2014
It seems safe to say that “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” the magnum opus of the French economist Thomas Piketty, will be the most important economics book of the year — and maybe of the decade. Mr. Piketty, arguably the world’s leading expert on income and wealth inequality, does more than document the growing concentration of income in the hands of a small economic elite. He also makes a powerful case that we’re on the way back to “patrimonial capitalism,” in which the commanding heights of the economy are dominated not just by wealth, but also by inherited wealth, in which birth matters more than effort and talent.

Wikipedia: Wealth inequality in the United States
The rich are accumulating more assets while the middle and working classes are just getting by. Currently, the richest 1% hold about 38% of all privately held wealth in the United States while the bottom 90% held 73% of all debt. According to the New York Times, the "richest 1 percent in the United States now own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent".

The distributive nature of tax policy has been suggested by some economists and politicians such as Emmanuel Saez, Thomas Piketty, and Barack Obama to perpetuate economic inequality in America by steering large sums of wealth into the hands of the wealthiest Americans. This claim has created much controversy and debate within the academic and political spheres.

Racial disparities: There are many causes, but inheritance might be the most important. Inheritance can directly link the disadvantaged economic position and prospects of today's blacks to the disadvantaged positions of their parents' and grandparents' generations.

In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, French economist Thomas Piketty argues that "extremely high levels" of wealth inequality are "incompatible with the meritocratic values and principles of social justice fundamental to modern democratic societies" and that "the risk of a drift towards oligarchy is real and gives little reason for optimism about where the United States is headed.

20 March 2017

Billboards in the News

Billboard Series

Anti-Trump billboard in Arizona prompts death threats against artist
20 Mar 2017
Karen Fiorito was commissioned by a company for the local arts in Phoenix to create the billboard. The Santa Monica-based artist earned a master’s degree in arts from Arizona State University. Since the Trump billboard went up Friday, the 25-year-old artist said she has received both positive and negative feedback, including a few death threats. The dollar swastikas, she said, represent “corporate power and greed and how our society has become all about money and corporatism.”

'Incredibly Creepy' Billboards to Track Behavior of Passers-By
29 Feb 2016
Billboards across the country will soon begin to spy on the behavior of passers-by and sell that data to advertisers. Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, which owns tens of thousands of billboards nationwide, is on Monday announcing plans to use people's cell phones to allow its billboards to track the behavior of everyone who walks or drives past the ads. The marketing behemoth is partnering with AT&T and other companies that track human behavior to collect data on viewers' activity, which advertisers could then use to create hyper-targeted ads—similar to how websites track visitors through their browsers and sell that data to online marketers. Facial-recognition technology is also increasingly used by advertisers to track behavior in public spaces. In Germany, the Astra beer brand recently created an automated billboard that noted when women walked past. The billboard approximated the women’s age, then played one of several prerecorded ads to match.

Giant ads for Verizon, Super Bowl are illegal, S.F. says
27 Jan 2016
Two large banners advertising Super Bowl 50 and Verizon Wireless recently installed on the Four Embarcadero building in San Francisco will shrink substantially following the threat of a lawsuit from the city attorney's office, officials said today. The banners, which cover most of the building on two sides, can be seen towering over the Super Bowl City fan village area now taking shape at Justin Herman Plaza. In a letter dated Jan. 25, City Attorney Dennis Herrera said his office has received complaints about the signs, which violate a city law passed by voters in 2002 that prohibits any new general advertising signs in San Francisco. The letter said the signs need to be removed by 5 p.m. on Thursday or the city would file a lawsuit and seek a temporary restraining order and fines.

Skyscraper Billboard SF

Targeting racist trolls by putting their comments on billboards
30 Nov 2015

Brazilians who post racist abuse online may see their words blown up and pasted onto billboards near their houses. The campaign is called "Virtual racism, real consequences" and it's backed by Criola, a civil rights organization run by Afro-Brazilian women. The group collects comments from Facebook or Twitter and uses geolocation tools to find out where the people who have posted them live. They then buy billboard space nearby and post the comments in huge letters, although names and photos are pixelated.

Billboard art show confronts Missouri drivers head-on
31 May 2015
SOMEWHERE ON INTERSTATE 70, Missouri — Those who spend a lot of time on I-70 can confirm that it’s easy to let your mind drift while driving this 250-mile stretch of Missouri. Missouri has five times the national average number of billboards: about 15,000 billboards. Cars, food, porn, Jesus — everything is advertised on the giant structures. Thus the “I-70 Sign Show” was born. Funded by the University of Missouri, the show displays critical art pieces on a billboards. The pieces are meant to challenge and critique the political, social and commercial noise that confronts drivers. The “I-70 Sign Show” piece that got the most feedback, New York artist Mel Bochner’s piece, simply reads, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

Obscene image shown on hacked US billboard
21 May 2015
Hackers have managed to make a huge video billboard in Atlanta display an obscene image favored by internet pranksters. It prompted calls to police, and soon after, the billboard's owner cut off its power supply. The hack came after a security researcher warned the company, which runs thousands of the video billboards, that they were vulnerable to attack. The FBI and Homeland Security are now investigating the hack. The billboard is owned by US electric-sign giant Yesco, which runs thousands of similar billboards across America. Other signs in other states are also believed to have had their images changed at the same time. A group calling itself the Assange Shuffle Collective claimed responsibility for the attack, in a discussion on social news site Reddit.

Google rents world's biggest digital billboard in Times Square
19 Nov 2014

Google has become the first company to rent to the world's largest and most expensive digital billboard in Times Square, New York. The billboard is eight stories high and is estimated to cost $2.5m (£1.6m) to hire for four weeks. The screen, which is the size of a football field, is mounted on the side of the Marriot Marquis hotel. Around 300,000 pedestrians are estimated to pass by the billboard every day.

Dangling dummies shock Las Vegas commuters
08 Mar 2012
Mannequins hanging from nooses on two Las Vegas billboards Wednesday were part of an apparent publicity stunt that led to dozens of calls from drivers on their morning commute, the Nevada Highway Patrol said. The dummies were dressed in business suits and hung from signs reading "Dying for work" and "Hope you're happy Wall St." It wasn't immediately clear who was behind the stunt. Both highways are some of the most highly traveled roadways during commuter hours.

17 Jul 2012
The Brandalism project saw 25 artists from 8 countries coming together for the biggest subvertising campaign in UK history.  Over five days a team of guerilla installers travelled to Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol and London and put up artworks that seeks to confront the ad industry and take back our visual landscapes.

Gallery Page

2010 AZ Billboard
On the way to the Grand Canyon for a family vacation in summer of 2010, we passed through Kingman, Arizona on the old Route 66. Pictured is a billboard promoting the governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, “doing the job the feds won’t do” with the ‘o’ in ‘won’t’ depicting the Obama symbol. Using a popular WWII poster, a much younger Jan Brewer is pictured as Rosie the Riveter. “Doing the job the feds won’t do” is in reference to Arizona’s controversial immigration policy regarding the protection of its borders. Whether one agrees with Arizona’s immigration policy or not, Governor Jan Brewer's billboard demonstrates that billboards still play a key role in the promotion of a public opinion.