Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The 'Fake' Cities of Syria's Unrest

It’s been reported briefly by a number of news outlets that a documentary/news show in Syria recently suggested the unrest currently taking place there is not really happening. Instead, they allege it's actually being staged in cinematic replicas of Syrian cities for the Al Jazeera news organization.

That's right: fake cities, built in Qatar by Al Jazeera, occupied by hordes of actors, under the direction of filmmakers to create a false impression of what’s happening on the ground in Syria. Or at least that’s the spin.

Or perhaps more accurately, propaganda. As this post from The New York Times mentions, the station that ran the allegations on September 9 is closely tied to the ruling regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

“Addounia TV is owned by Mohamed Hamsho, who is the brother-in-law of Maher al Assad, the commander of Syria’s Republican Guard and the brother of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.”

The post also links to this video of the broadcast, subtitled in English by a YouTube channel called the Syrian Interpreter and aptly titled "Addounia TV hitting the crack pipe, 9 Sept."

The segment claims that movie-set versions of Syrian cities and public squares have been constructed with the help of American and French directors to dupe the global audience. It’s also suggested that a similar illusion was created in Libya.

“The world and the Libyans were deceived by those replicas that Tripoli fell. With those replicas, Al Jazeera will continue media fabrication and cinematic tricks by shooting scenes of big defections from the Arab Syrian Army and shooting scenes of clashes between some elements who claim being defectors and elements from the regime.”

The report also claims that Al Jazeera has had replicas built of Al Asi Square in the city of Hama, the Clock Square in Homs, and some of the neighborhoods in Idlib. Unconvincing zoom-ins of satellite images purport to back up these allegations.

The construction of a fake city—let alone multiple fake cities—would be a major undertaking. The sheer scale of it makes even the suggestion almost laughable. It calls to mind the climax of the 1974 Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles, in which a fake version of a town is created to fool a band of thugs intent on terrorizing the locals into leaving. Or the fake war created for TV in Wag the Dog. Or even the theory that the moon landing was filmed on a soundstage.

But if such a monumental building project were to take place, a pretty surreal alternate reality could be created. Maybe the Syrian government could even follow its own line of reasoning and build some fake cities to counter the fake cities they claim Al Jazeera has built. Instead of “staged” conflict, they could film a smoothly-functioning government that respects the will of its people. In Syria right now, a film set in a fake city might be the only place to find such a thing.

--The Atlantic Cities.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Man who tricked Al Capone and sold the Eiffel Tower... twice!

Victor Lustig was born in 1890 in what is now the Czech Republic. As a youngster he studied languages. He also studied people: their habits, mannerisms, and especially their weaknesses, and decided to do something in that field instead. By the age of twenty he was a confirmed conman. By the age of thirty he was a confirmed wanted man on the run from police in several European countries. He started over again in the United States and called himself 'Count' because it sounded important. One dupe he conned was Al Capone; the most dangerous criminal in America at that time. The Count knew that the crime lord couldn't be taken in like the others; he would get revenge. Lustig devised something different for the underworld boss.

 The count asked Capone to invest $50,000 in a swindle that he claimed he was working on. Lustig promised to double his money in sixty days. The homicidal Capone gave the cash - and a warning of what would happen to Lustig if there was a double-cross. Lustig let the money sit in the bank for sixty days. At the end of that time he went back to Capone with a look of disappointment. He told his investor that the deal feel through. Just before Capone was about to explode, Lustig handed back the $50,000. The crime boss was so impressed with Lustig's honesty (?!) that he rewarded the conman with a thousand dollars. Which is what Lustig expected Capone to do! 

In 1925 Lustig was back in Paris with his new friend Dapper Dan, relaxing at an outside cafe. They were in need of money just as they read in the newspaper that the Eiffel Tower was in need of repairs. While others said what was really needed was to tear down the 985 foot structure. Almost immediately the Count thought up a scheme; he would sell Paris' most famous landmark to a scrap metal dealer. He gave himself the title 'Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Mail and Telegraphs'. Dapper Dan would be his secretary. They typed-up letters with Lustig's title printed on them and mailed them out to the five leading scrap metals dealers in Paris. They were asked to come meet with Lustig and his secretary at their room in the fashionable Hotel Crillon. The buyers were told that it had become too costly to repair the Eiffel Tower and that the 7,000 ton steel structure would be sold to the highest bidder to be torn down. They were also told to keep the meeting secret; if the public found out too soon there would be an outcry. The secret bids meant nothing to Lustig. He talked to each client and picked out the man most likely to fall for the scam; the one who seemed most anxious to get ahead.

A week later the chosen victim, Monsieur Poisson, showed up at Lustig's place. He was handed a phony contract that stated that he owned the Eiffel Tower while Lustig was handed a real check. The Count and Dapper Dan quickly cashed their earnings and just as quickly fled France for Austria. Lustig never did say how much he got paid for France's top tourist attraction. Resting in Vienna they scanned the newspapers to see if Poisson went to the police; he didn't. Poisson was too embarrassed to tell anyone what happened. After a month's vacation Lustig and Dapper Dan decided to do it again. This time they used the same techniques but with different results. The scrap metal dealer who was fleeced reported his loss of $100,000 to the police. Once again the Count fled to America.

This time on America, the law caught up with Lustig when he tried to pass off counterfeit dollars. In 1935 he was sentenced to twenty years in Alcatraz prison where he died from pneumonia in 1947. While in prison he was protected from harm by orders from another prisoner... Al Capone.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prayer Before Birth

A piece of work by Louis Macneice, this is by far the best poem i've read. It was a part of our syllabus in 12th ISC, i fell in love with the poem the first time i read it.... I'm surprised it has managed to stay with me all these years...could'nt help but compile it here...
Written by Anglo-Irish poet Louis McNeice (1907 - 1963) at the height of the Second World War, In the poem, Louis MacNeice expresses his fear at what the world's tyranny can do to the innocence of a child and blames the human race "for the sins that in me the world shall commit".

I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me, with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me, on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me, my treason engendered by traitors beyond me, my life when they murder by means of my hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white waves call me to folly and the desert calls me to doom and the beggar refuses my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton, would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with one face, a thing, and against all those who would dissipate my entirety, would blow me like thistledown hither and thither or hither and thither like water held in the hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November Rain....

There is this very beautiful thing about the rains....each and every drop of pure and chill-cold water that falls from above is so fulfilling and so cherishing....Nature is so well spun, each and every season has a nouvuae riche sensation, as if the universe is tangled into such a bondage of complicated and mystified secrets, one could hardly imagine.
I love the rains especially when it rains off-season - an element of surprise, and usually when it does so it rains pretty heavily. Today was one such day, it rained, and , it rained well....the drops were so heavy and gravid...when they fell fell on my face, it took me to surprise to how easily and beautifully each and every single drop of the crystal water demeaned the heavy discontentment that hung around me that moment. It all reminde me of the very well known GnR tune.....

When I look into your eyes
I can see a love restrained
But darlin' when I hold you
Don't you know I feel the same
'Cause nothin' lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it's hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain
We've been through this such a long long time
Just tryin' to kill the pain
But lovers always come and lovers always go
An no one's really sure who's lettin' go today
Walking away
If we could take the time to lay it on the line
I could rest my head
Just knowin' that you were mine
All mine
So if you want to love me
then darlin' don't refrain
Or I'll just end up walkin'
In the cold November rain

Do you need some time...on your own
Do you need some time...all alone
Everybody needs some time...on their own
Don't you know you need some time...all alone
I know it's hard to keep an open heart
When even friends seem out to harm you
But if you could heal a broken heart
Wouldn't time be out to charm you

Sometimes I need some time...on my
own Sometimes I need some time...all alone
Everybody needs some time...on their own
Don't you know you need some time...all alone

And when your fears subside
And shadows still remain, ohhh yeahhh
I know that you can love me
When there's no one left to blame
So never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
'Cause nothin' lasts forever
Even cold November rain

Don't ya think that you need somebody
Don't ya think that you need someone
Everybody needs somebody
You're not the only one
You're not the only one

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


This is one of the best songs ever i've heard..i could listen to it all day...Paul and Lennon hav just got touched the strings of my heart...
It goes like this...

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it look as though they're here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday

Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be
There's a shadow hanging over me
oh, yesterday came suddenly

Why she had to go I don't know, she wouldn't say
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday

Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play
Now I need a place to hide away
oh, I believe in yesterday

Why she had to go I don't know, she wouldn't say
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday

Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play
Now I need a place to hide away
oh, I believe in yesterday, Mm

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Nice Story....

A taxi passenger tapped the driver on the shoulder to ask him a question. The driver screamed, lost control of the car, nearly hit a bus, went up on the footpath, and stopped centimeters from a shop window.
For a second everything went quiet in the cab, then the driver said:
"Look mate, don't ever do that again. You scared the daylights out of me!".
The passenger apologized and said, "I didn't realize that a little tap would scare you so much."
The driver replied, "Sorry, it's not really your fault. Today is my first day as a cab driver - I've been driving a van carrying dead Bodies for the last 25 years...

Do not stick with one job for a long time!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What is this life if full of care..................

"What is this life , if full of care.......................

We have no time to stand and stare........."

I often think that in today's fast paced life, how much does one think about oneself and his own needs. Everyone around around is competing in this rat race to earn more and more money and all the more fame, as if these are the sole factors that govern one's existence in the society.

If given a thought, we come to realise that this is how we have shaped the thinking and behaviour of the society itself.................we are the society, if we have to change it................. we have to first change ourselves.

In this short span of our lifetime, we aim to and most importantly wish to do sooooooooooo many things.............some of which we know that are peactically impossible to achieve. Who knows where we might be in the end of it all................
But still , every one has ambitions and their fulfillment in life is very essential for our well-being.
The first and foremost thing in life that one must do, is to realise which dreams he can achive and which he cannot, and then plan towards the fulfillment of those dreams that he knows he can achive. can achive what he wants leading to a sense of fulfillment in life nad this very feeling of fulfillment leads a man to live life to the fullest.
God has given us a wonderful means of living and we should make optimum use of our talents and skills.
"SATISFACTON" is the spice of life. Nowadays, we see so many people engaging themselves in high-profile jobs that give them an excellent salary............................. but can we guess, how many of them are actually happy with their jobs?
Most of the young generation today is only after the materialistic pleasures of life..................they do not see the real values of life.
Oftentimes, our desires and interests might not shell-out enough money and appreciation as we had ever expected, but as i said earlier...............the ultimate thing in life is satisfaction.
So what if a female wants to be an engine driver, so what if a male wants to be a make-up artist..............................the society might not approve of these combinations, but these people who do what they believe in are much more happy and satisfied in life than the rich and elite who have all the must-haves in life.
Now people do not ask what you do..............they are more interested in knowing how much you earn,
but one day will come,
when the society will realise what is important in life,
and what is not...............................