I'd certainly be interested in doing a real one when I die (possibly see if I can't find a way to sneak occasional pictures of me holding up signs saying "get me out!!") although I'd have to abandon plans to have myself cooked and eaten my friends and family so......
and i was already thinking, what if the guy started moving with thousands of viewers watching, but nobody could get to him in time. modern luxuries have put a crimp in horror stories, but this is a good example of how new technology could actually make a story creepier.
I actually sat and watched it for 5 minutes because I was sure it was one of those 'sudden shock' e mail type things that get sent to you and the guy was going to sit bolt upright or something.......I am a silly cow
Exactly - they've really missed an opportunity to really mess with people. It should be easy enough to set up a movie on a long loop with just a few seconds of an eye lid flickering or a finger moving or you could have it set to refresh a static image and randomly throw some freaky stuff in. You could make people wonder if they saw anything or not
Play Dead: Yes it cn certainly add extra elements to a story or it could work well as viral advertising - I keep running acorss that site time and time again so it is working.
I had a whole page designed about how I was going to put something like that into my will.
Good thing it wasn't one of those 'old lady heart attack inducer' flash movies--the volume on my speakers, I've just discovered, was maxed, and I had my nose pressed against the screen, trying to see the woman's hair--I thought she was bald.
How could someone die of natural causes at 41, anyhow?
*sigh* These fake 'livecam' things always let me down when I realize they're a hoax...
I was just reading this, and thinking how sick this man must be, with all that's going on in Iraq. But the fact this was reported earlier today as real beheading by Muslim extremists raises issues of how easy it is to create a grainy video of a beheading and get it out there in the media.
The Lolladoff Plate HOAX ~
A supposedly 12,000 year old stone dish found in Nepal
clearly shows a disk shaped UFO and a figure resembling a Grey.
First shown in a 1970s book entitled 'Sungods in Exile' by Karyl Robin-Evans,
The book was actually written by a David Agamon whose real name was Gamon
~ who admitted to the Fortean Times magazine that this was in fact his hoax.
A SAN FRANCISCO geek managed to convince terrorists and the international media that he had been beheaded by Islamic militants.
Benjamin Vanderford, 22, staged his own beheading to show how easy it was to fake and fool the press.
According to Reuters, the video, which appeared on a Web site used by Islamic militants, was in the same format used by al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and was introduced by a headline that said it showed Zarqawi killing an American.
It was made and posted on the Web about three months ago and intended as an experiment into how quickly such items spread on the Internet. He was surprised at how long it took.
Vanderford distributed the staged video on Kazaa and other Internet peer-to-peer networks which are popular swapping forums for films, music and software. He didn't put it on any terror sites, and the terrorists seem to have done it themselves.
However, it looks like the FBI does not share his interest in the media process and is checking out if he has broken any law to see they can throw the book at him. The full story can be found here.
False report of Swedish king's assassination on faked BBC website
Sat Aug 21, 6:58 PM ET
STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Hoaxers imitated the BBC news website on the Internet, including a fake announcement that King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden had been assassinated in Athens while attending the Olympic Games (news - web sites), according to reports.
The phoney website contained the headline late Friday : "Sweden's King murdered," and followed with the announcement: "Swedens King Carl XVI Gustaf was shot in Athens this evening when he was on his way back to his hotel after watching the Swedish table tennis star Jan-Ove Waldner beat Timo Boll, Germany, in the Olympic games."
The Swedish newspaper Expressen said online the page had been sent by e-mail to an unquantified number of Hotmail Internet addresses.
"It's really very bad taste," the newspaper quoted Royal Palace spokeswoman Elisabeth Tarras-Wahlberg as saying: "It goes beyond the limit."
Apart from the authentic-looking layout closely imitating the BBC, the newspage also included genuine items such as the latest from Najaf in Iraq (news - web sites) and the Olympics in order to enhance its appearance of credibility.
The table tennis match was shown on Swedish television Friday with the Swedish royal couple congratulating Waldner.
Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia and their three children are frequent victims of false rumours about their deaths, illnesses or about supposed affairs.
In March a Swedish radio station several times broadcast a false report that the 58-year-old king had died, later admitting there had been a hoax.
An example to us all about how simple hoaxes can still be effective:
When Hoax Fox Us
By Nandkumar Kamat
MORE than ten thousand people were recently fooled by a hoax created by some unidentified publicity seeking suspects at Santa Estevam (Island of Zuvem). Their modus operandi was clever. They threw a rechargeable, lighted electric torch in the creek and soon the rumour was spread that an unidentified object was emitting a mysterious white light under water.
A local cable TV news channel even speculated that a meteorite had fallen at that place. On Sunday, September 5th most of the local newspapers reported the ‘mysterious light’. People thronged there at night in hundreds and it was feared that the weak Santa Estevam bridge could collapse. The police too rushed. The fire brigade rushed there. Some National Institute of Oceanography scientists rushed there. Ultimately it was discovered that a local youth had thrown a lighted rechargeable torch in the creek. Now it has to be seen whether the Crime branch of Goa Police would take any action against the miscreants.
I received many phone calls at home seeking clarification of the so called ‘mysterious underwater light’. I told the callers that there are several natural phenomena like bioluminescent bacteria, dinoflagellates, jellyfish and many others which emit light. No meteorite would ever produce light under submerged conditions. I knew that the Santa Estevam incident was a trick to fool people and exploit their natural curiosity and gullibility.
Those who were excitedly speaking on the Cable TV news channels were actually having a good laugh. Perhaps they knew about the whole drama and they were relishing the publicity spotlight. They did not care about misleading the law and order machinery or wasting the time of thousands of people.
Only the ex-leader of opposition Dr Kashinath Zalmi offered a rational explanation when he reached there and was interviewed by the TV anchor. Dr Zalmi attributed the source of light to an electric torch fallen/thrown in the creek. But nobody believed him. There are laws against rumour mongering and the state government would have to come down with a heavy hand to pin down the culprits involved in the ‘mysterious light’ hoax. If this tendency is not curbed it could create a security problem in the state in future.
It is amazing. This is fourth year of the 21st century but people easily get carried away by the so called ‘mysteries’. Some years back the so called ‘Mooh notchwa’ or ‘monkey man’ was creating havoc in north India and especially in New Delhi. Then it suddenly disappeared. The psychologists discovered this phenomenon as mass hysteria. It was amplified by the TV news channels.
The whole country had experienced for a day or two what is now known as the great milk drinking miracle by idols of Lord Ganesh. It all began in Mumbai. The rumour was spread by using modern communication channels. The scientists tried to explain the phenomenon as simple capillary action.
Many science popularising NGOs gave demonstrations of the capillary effect. The ‘miracle’ was soon over and the country forgot about it. But the excitement caused a loss of millions of litres of milk in a country where thousands of children are deprived of this luxury.
Hoaxes are easy to create in a superstitious country. In 1984, a trekker who had visited Dudhsagar forests at night found a shining piece of wood. Next day a front page news item appeared with a caption - ‘Radioactive wood found at Dudhsagar’. I knew that it was a natural phenomena of bioluminescence because during the monsoon we come across several such samples of wood colonised by bioluminescent fungi. Immediately I sent a letter stating the scientific facts. The full mineral map of Goa is available and there are no detectable radioactive deposits. Besides the person who rushed to the press without meeting the scientists was indulging in an act of sensationalism.
There was another incident reported in a local Marathi daily a few years ago. A news item appeared about emergence of volcanic activity at Savoi Verem village. The reporter had mentioned that the ground had burnt and vapours were emerging from rocks. He even claimed that a mineral called Magnetitie had formed due to the volcanic activity. In reality it was found that a high tension electric cable had fallen on the ground and the current had caused the heating of the soil and rocks. The mineral which was reported was common in the iron ore belt of Goa. The newspaper did not follow up the story.
When I reported the news to a senior geologist in Goa University, he just smiled and said: “If a volcano emerges in Goa, planeloads of scientists from all over the world would land here. It is just a hoax.”
Irresponsible and unverified reporting is eroding the rational, logical and analytical faculties of the Indians. Article 51-A of the Constitution of India has specified the fundamental duties of the citizens. Upholding the spirit of inquiry and scientific temper is one of our fundamental duty. It is the duty of every citizen to immediately demand scientific investigation of any the so called mystery, miracle or a hoax.
The fiasco of low cost ‘biological petrol’ was exposed a few years back in Tamil Nadu. The person whose cause had been championed by top most politicians ultimately admitted to adulteration and tricks to falsely claim his so called ‘patentable invention’. Somehow the Indian public immediately forgets such hoaxes. This has encouraged a tendency where the media is taken for a ride by some hoax creators.
I was wondering after analysing the St Estevam incident, whether the hoax had anything to do with developmental neglect of the area, the rising local unemployment and the condition of the old bridge. A few news reports mentioned the need to urgently repair the old bridge on the St Estevam creek. If the hoax was created to draw attention to the condition of the bridge then we have to admire its creators. But this technique may also encourage other people to create similar hoaxes.
Like any other state, Goa has now become prone to mass hysteria and neurosis. Did anyone hear about the consequences of the mass ‘eye drops’ camps organised by some politicians in the past? Some people have become blind in the name of religion by directly looking at the Sun. But they would not admit this in public. The St Estevam hoax would not be the last such hoax in Goa. As long as people patronise such hoaxes, Goa would be a fertile land for hoaxes which would fox us.
Well I'm not sure about 'fault' but we all tend to share responsibility for such things. At any point someone could have investigated further or tried to calm things down. I think the public/media interaction is a complex one and they tend to reinforce each other (like a postiive feedback loop ).
Kids killed for organs story fools Manila media
Tue September 28, 2004 01:34 AM ET
MANILA (Reuters) - Grisly newspaper reports about children being killed for their vital organs shot fear through several towns in the northern Philippines but police said it was all a hoax.
The Manila Standard set off a media frenzy on Monday with the front-page headline "5 dead kids: organs missing".
The story described corpses of young victims dumped along roads in Nueva Ecija province after their hearts, livers and kidneys had been cut out for sale on the black market.
"This is not Mexico or Latin America, where organ harvesting has been a practice for decades now," the paper said. "This is right here."
Descriptions were similarly gory in reports by other news outlets on Tuesday but the details were equally vague.
While poor residents of Manila have been known to sell a kidney to raise money, police said the tale of a gang preying on children for their organs was pure fabrication.
The "culprit of this hoax" admitted he made up the story and had sent it to a reporter in a mobile phone text message as a joke, Edgar Aglipay, director of the Philippine National Police, told a radio station.
The man identified by Aglipay had the same name as the lone source of the Manila Standard story on Monday.
"After the report broke out in the newspaper, many teachers and parents expressed fear. Our chief was forced to hold a meeting in the school," said Enrile Vicente, a police officer in the farming community of Gapan.
"TV and radio stations in Manila came here in droves."
Milan Il Giornale in Italian 21 Sep 04 p 4 IL GIORNALE
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Interview with Italian former SID Defense Intelligence Service agent Rocco Martino by Gian Marco Chiocci; place and date not given: "Former 007 Rocco Martino Speaks Out: 'Here Is the Truth About Nigergate'"
the italian input into the niger uranium that iraq was supposedly trying to obtain.
Fox News apologises for Kerry fabrication
Fox News, the influential rightwing US television network, said yesterday it had "reprimanded" its chief political correspondent after its website carried
fabricated quotes attributed to John Kerry, in which he called himself a
"metrosexual" who enjoys getting manicures.The network, owned by Rupert Murdoch, apologised for the article in which the Democratic challenger was quoted telling a rally in Florida: "Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" Comparing himself to the president, Mr Kerry was supposed to have said: "I'm metrosexual - he's a cowboy." Women voters, he purportedly added, "should like me! I do manicures."
The article appeared under the byline of Carl Cameron, who has been following Mr Kerry on the campaign trail. It had been posted on the site, the network said in a statement, because of "fatigue and bad judgment, rather than malice."
"Carl Cameron made a stupid mistake and he has been reprimanded for his lapse in judgment. It was a poor attempt at humour and he regrets it," a Fox spokesman Paul Schur told the Los Angeles Times, though he would not give details of what action would be taken against Mr Cameron.
The "metrosexual" story taps into a persistent theme underlying the election race, in which the Republican party and its supporters in the media have sought to make a campaign issue of the candidates' perceived masculinity.
At the party's convention in New York last month, California governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger called Mr Kerry's advisors "economic girlie-men".
A metrosexual, the fake Fox article helpfully concluded, "is defined as an
urbane male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle".
Man stages fake heist to woo back wife
Fri October 08, 2004 04:57 PM ET
By Ben Fenwick
EDMOND, Oklahoma (Reuters) - An Oklahoma man desperate to save his marriage by appearing like a hero to his wife ended up in police custody on suspicion of staging a crime where he hired burglars and foiled their fake robbery attempt, police say.
Trent Spencer, 27, of Edmond, north of Oklahoma City, was charged this week with the misdemeanour crime of filing a false report, said police spokeswoman Glynda Chu.
According to police, Spencer, a high school teacher, paid two students 0 each to break into his house and try to make off with a stereo.
The masked students tied his wife with duct tape and her husband was in the house just in time to foil the supposed crime, police said.
Police said Spencer attacked the two in a choreographed fight, even hitting one with a board that he had cut to break in half. The plan was going well until his wife freed herself and called police, something Spencer did not anticipate, police said.
Police rushed to the scene and eventually tracked down the fake burglars.
"It was the most bizarre hoax we've ever had," Chu said. "It's sad because he was so desperate."
A part-time soldier appeared before a court martial yesterday in connection with faked photographs published in the Daily Mirror of British troops kicking and urinating on Iraqi prisoners.
Private Stuart Mackenzie, 25, a former McDonald's restaurant manager who also worked for the Inland Revenue, is alleged to have played a part in staging the pictures, which led to the sacking in May of the paper's editor, Piers Morgan.
Mr Mackenzie served in Iraq last year as a Territorial Army soldier attached to
the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, which was the unit allegedly carrying out the abuse.
The army accused the paper of putting soldiers' lives at risk when the pictures,
which were published under a large headline saying Vile!, caused fury in Iraq.
Mr Mackenzie appeared before a civilian judge advocate and a panel of three army officers, including and presided over by a lieutenant colonel from the Gurkhas, who will take the role played by the jury in civil courts.
Because of legal argument, the charges were delayed until a renewed hearing
which is expected to begin next week.
Mr Mackenzie, from Haslingden in Lancashire, attended the half-hour hearing at Catterick camp in North Yorkshire, the army's largest base. He spoke only once, to confirm that he did not object to any of the three military members hearing the case.
The court was delayed by discussions in the presence of the military members
over whether one of them should have been from the Territorial Army.
After an adjournment, the three, who are all from the regular army, heard that a former requirement for this in Queen's Regulations no longer applied and they were confirmed.
The case will be heard at Catterick by Assistant Judge Advocate General John
Paul Camp, who swore in the three military members before hearing legal argument which can not be reported. The photographs made headlines across the world in early May, shortly after the initial furore over genuine pictures were published of American soldiers abusing and humiliating Iraqi detainees in Baghdad's Abu
After Mr Morgan was sacked, the Mirror admitted that it had been hoaxed and
promised a penitential donation to charity. Court martial penalties include
detention, fines and dismissal from the service.
The BBC's worldwide reputation for accuracy took a blow yesterday after it broadcast an interview with a hoaxer who claimed to offer a $12bn settlement to the 120,000 surviving victims of the Bhopal disaster.
Hopes were raised in India when the BBC's international news channel, BBC World, interviewed a man identified as a representative of Dow Chemical, which now runs the Bhopal plant after taking over Union Carbide.
He said Dow accepted full responsibility for the world's worst industrial disaster, which has claimed the lives of 20,000 people over the past 20 years, and left many more with chronic health problems.
But it soon emerged that Jude Finisterra was a hoaxer who has targeted Dow Chemical in the past. His interview, which was picked up and reported internationally, was shown twice on BBC World, and on BBC television and radio in Britain, before it was pulled.
"Today I am very, very happy to announce that today, for the first time Dow is accepting full responsibility for the Bhopal catastrophe. This is a momentous occasion," he said in the live interview. In public, the BBC said it had moved "swiftly" to correct the mistake and stressed it had been the victim of an "elaborate" hoax.
It condemned the actions of Mr Finisterra as a "tasteless publicity stunt". But in private, some BBC journalists expressed surprise that the hoax was not identified more quickly: the apology seemed extraordinary because Dow maintains that it has "no responsibility" for Bhopal.
The corporation said a producer on BBC World had been asked to book a representative from Dow for the 20th anniversary of the disaster. He went to the Dow website, and was directed to the media relations section. Email correspondence and phone calls followed, which resulted in yesterday's interview with Mr Finisterra from the corporation's Paris office.
It appears that part of the Dow website had been hijacked in a detailed and carefully planned operation.
The corporation was keen to stress that it was the victim of a stunt. It said in a statement: "This interview was inaccurate, part of an elaborate deception. The person did not represent the company and we want to make clear that the information he gave was entirely inaccurate." Dow confirmed that Mr Finisterra did not work for the company.
The incident raises the issue of internet security, and the BBC said its procedures regarding the trustworthiness of information obtained from websites would be reviewed.
Mr Finisterra later told The World at One on Radio 4 that he was part of Yes Men group, which hoaxes businesses and governments."I was speaking on behalf of Dow in a certain way. I was expressing what they should express."
He added that he had heard Bhopal residents had broken down in tears when they learned of the report, and he felt bad about it.
They hoaxed the BBC on the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster - and were condemned around the world. But the Yes Men - satirists, website subverters and underminers of global corporations - say in this exclusive interview that they are unrepentant. And their huge inflatable phallus might surface in next year's general election...
Sunday December 12, 2004
I was listening to the Radio 4 news early on the morning of Friday 3 December when a spokesman for Dow Chemical announced a $12 billion settlement for the surviving victims of the Bhopal disaster in India 20 years ago. 'I am very, very happy to announce that today, for the first time, Dow is accepting full responsibility for the catastrophe,' he crowed, sounding like a showman announcing a lottery win. 'This is a momentous occasion.' Indeed, it was, but for all the wrong reasons.
Throughout the morning, the interview was broadcast internationally, and Jude Finisterra, the spokesman in question, appeared beaming on BBC television. It took two hours for Dow to respond, saying they had agreed no such settlement, and for the BBC to acknowledge that it had been the victim of an elaborate hoax perpetrated by the Yes Men, a pair of anti-globalist activists whose tactics seem to be influenced more by Groucho than Karl Marx. This, though, seemed to be a prank too far.
Before the hoax was uncovered, the news of the so-called compensation award had already reached Bhopal, where protesters were gathered to mark the anniversary of the chemical catastrophe that has claimed some 20,000 lives and left 120,000 survivors still seeking compensation. By the evening news, the BBC had apologised to Dow Chemical for the embarrassment caused by their unwittingly bogus report. Many expected the Yes Man to offer a similar apology to the people of Bhopal, and the pair were being roundly castigated in many of the following days' papers for making the Bhopal survivors seem like victims all over again.
'It was a dreadful four or five days,' laments Jude Finisterra alias Andy Bichlbaum, who is crouched over a restorative gin and tonic in the corner of a Covent Garden hotel a week later, looking beleaguered and exhausted. 'Not sleeping, feeling guilty as hell. I kept wishing it would just blow over. It was,' he sighs, 'the absolute worst.'
What the hell did he expect, though, I ask, given the high risk factor involved in such a confrontational strategy? Surely they had thought through the possible ramifications beforehand: the raising of false hopes, the playing around with victims' emotions? 'Yeah, of course,' he replies not altogether convincingly, 'but we thought it would take Dow maybe five or 10 minutes to respond. I actually thought I'd be pulled off the air during my speech. But two hours? I mean, come on.'
His partner, Mike Bonanno, who has just slipped into the seat beside him, takes up the case for the defence. 'A full two hours for Dow to retract,' he repeats, sounding indignant, 'So it was their fault in a way. They should have retracted immediately.'
It turns out that this new bullish mood is down to the emails and messages of support the Yes Men have received in the intervening week, including many, they claim, from Bhopal activists on the ground. 'If you had interviewed us last Saturday, you would have found us crushed by guilt,' admits Bichlbaum. 'We would probably have told you that we should have done it differently, but now, thinking of how the response has changed from the purely negative to the mostly positive, I'm not so sure.' Bonanno nods in agreement. 'It focused so much attention on Bhopal and Dow's attitude that it was worth it. Believe me, the anniversary would have passed without any media attention at all in America.' As if on cue, Bichlbaum takes over again. 'And that would have backed up Dow's whole attitude - "They died, we won, game over" - so, in a way, even with the false hopes issue, it was a successful intervention.'
The Yes Men are in town, as it happens, to promote their forthcoming film of the same name, a documentary record of some of their more sustained campaigns of political mischief, which is released in Britain in February. Their film company's planned two-day pre-publicity schedule has been turned upside down by the fallout of what is now referred to by the two as 'the Bhopal incident', and they both look bedraggled by the experience.
Bonanno and Bichlbaum, which they insist are their real names, are a double act in every sense. They share what might be called a well groomed, preppie look and a geeky sense of humour, their to-and-fro conversation peppered by words such as 'wonkish', which I'm not sure even they know the meaning of. One suspects they could become quite annoying quite quickly if their nebbish prankster tendencies were not tempered by a political streak that is as radical as it is mischievous. They both grew up in what they term 'left-liberal Jewish families', Bonanno in upstate New York, Bichlbaum in Tucson, Arizona. They met eight years ago, having been involved individually in anti-global activities of the more absurdist variety. Their stunts often emerge out of the many fake websites they have set up, all of which bear a striking resemblance to the real thing, so much so that they are constantly being invited to participate in right-wing think-tanks and corporate conferences of the most market-driven type. Their most effective lookalike site to date has been gwbush.com, which concentrates on the teenage GW's much-contested recreational pursuits. 'This guy's just a garbage man,' was Bush's verdict when asked about the fake site during a press conference.
Since then, the Yes Men have built a similar site satirising the World Trade Organisation, one of their corporate pet hates, and have been invited to give some seriously deranged PowerPoint presentations by unwitting corporations. Many of these performances feature in the Yes Men film, directed fly-on-the-wall style by Chris Smith, who made the brilliant fake documentary American Movie in 1999. His camera wanders over the glazed faces of conference goers and World Trade Organisation employees as Bichlbaum, under the pseudonym Hank Hardie Unruh, advocates the return of indentured slaves as a way around petty trade restrictions such as the minimum wage, and the creation of a recyclable third-world burger made from refined human waste which could be eaten a total of 10 times.
Often, towards the culmination of a presentation, Bonanno will rip off Bichlbaum's grey suit to reveal a shiny, gold, body-hugging 'management leisure suit', complete with a huge inflatable phallus which features an inbuilt satellite camera that can be deployed for keeping tabs on a company's global workforce. As the film shows, this advanced absurdism often meets with a remarkably approving response, though most of the time, you feel that the general torpor of the conference circuit may have dulled the senses of the participants to the point where they have simply zoned out.
'Nothing surprises me about business people any more,' says Bichlbaum wearily. 'It's fascinating how gullible they are, and quite fantastic in a way. That's why theatre and film work, after all, and it's certainly why politics and corporate power works. People will believe anything if it is told by someone in authority. The Republicans rely on, and exploit, that passivity more than most, but so do all political parties. We see ourselves as a kind of indignant but mischievous opposition to all that.'
To this end, they dogged the footsteps of the Bush campaign in a customised bus bearing the words 'The End is Near' and a devilish GW with a giant missile where his nose should be. They also collected thousands of signatures from diehard Republicans for a petition to increase global warming. How do they respond to the charge that they are not elected representatives, that they are, in fact, loose cannons exploiting the very freedoms that democracy allows by impersonation, hoaxing and, some would say, conning corporate targets? 'Well, who elected the World Trade Organisation?' responds Bonanno. 'It was created by an elite for an elite. It serves no one but that elite, and its whole attitude to the so-called Third World is colonial'.
Both Bonanno and Bichlbaum now consider the Yes Men their full-time job, and have been funded by some unlikely sources including an art foundation set up by the erstwhile musician and retired head of A&M Records Herb Alpert. 'It was more an award for conceptual art rather than political activism,' says Bonanno, 'and we were chosen by the artists on the awards panel rather than by Herb himself. He said something like, "I don't understand it, and it's pretty weird, but its kinda hep." We took that as a thumbs-up.'
So it goes. Somewhere between satire and surrealism, activism and absurdism, the Yes Men seem likely to wreak embarrassment and confusion for some time to come, and not even the censure that followed the 'Bhopal incident' seems to have dimmed their determination. 'We may seem entirely mischievous, but we are in fact deadly serious,' says Bichlbaum. 'We both had grandparents who died in the Holocaust so we share an inbuilt suspicion of power, and a healthy fear of the places it can lead to if the powerful are left unchecked. That has transferred itself into a refusal to take those in power seriously, but it doesn't mean we are not serious in our goals.' And how would he summarise those goals? 'To make the world a better and a fairer place. The left have to get smart again, to become a valid opposition. This notion propagated by New Labour that there is some third way beyond politics that will consign the left-right division to the dustbin of history is nonsense. It's delusional.'
If I were Tony or Gordon, I'd keep an eye out for smooth talking infiltrators in the run-up to the election. It's surely only a matter time before that shiny gold inflatable phallus makes a very public appearance on these shores.
This guy should be put in line for a Darwin Award.
Fake hijack text joker was 'stupid'
December 20, 2004
An Italian man had acted stupidly when he sent his wife a text message that his plane had been hijacked by terrorists, the Federal Government said yesterday
The man, believed to be Italian tourist Antonio Casale, 35, sent the message to his wife as a joke after leaving Sydney on a Lauda Austrian Airlines flight to Vienna last Sunday night.
Mr Casale claimed terrorists were in control of the plane and were taking the passengers to an unknown destination.
His distressed wife contacted Italian police, who immediately contacted the Italian embassy in Canberra, who in turn contacted Australian Federal Police.
A spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson said authorities were able to quickly work out Mr Casale's identity and discover the message was a hoax, but not before causing a major international security alert.
The pilot of the plane was reportedly contacted by counter-terrorism negotiators mid-air, who found him oblivious to any hijacking attempt.
"The Italian police picked up on it, then the Italian embassy, the Australian Federal Police came in on it and it was quite a big operation," Mr Anderson's spokesman said.
He said while Mr Casale had been stupid to attempt such a stunt, the incident had proved authorities were able to quickly deal with terrorist threats.
"This is effectively a textbook operation from start to finish by our authorities," the spokesman said.
"They were made aware of the alleged threat in fairly short order and were able to work out who the passenger was and where he was sitting and so on and they were able to provide the details to authorities overseas to discover this was a hoax.
"Federal police and other authorities over here have got enough on their plate without having to worry about stupidity like this as well."
A Central Islip man faces 2 felonies in scams such as mailing dead animals and falsely calling in child abuse that occurred over 10 years
BY JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
December 28, 2004
If sometime in the past 10 years, a mattress you didn't order showed up to your home, if your electricity was mysteriously turned off or if you received a Christmas card with a dead rat or bird, then you might be a victim of what State Police call a "Rodack Sampler."
The title stems from Jack Rodack, 50, of Central Islip, who was arrested for committing those offenses, along with others, against people on Long Island, New York City, New Jersey and upstate, said New York State Police Investigator Susan Mulvey of the Endwell barracks in Broome County.
Mulvey said yesterday that Rodack performed several antics:
Mailing dead animals and used condoms to people's homes; changing or forwarding addresses of other people through the postal service; placing real estate ads in newspapers for places that weren't available, inundating victims with unwanted calls; calling police to homes that didn't need help; and reporting child abuse that didn't take place.
"One woman had more than 20 child abuse calls made about her," Mulvey said.
So far, police have identified about 14 victims, although Mulvey said it's possible countless more, including some on the West Coast, have received the "Rodack Samplers."
It appears Rodack targeted former co-workers at the New Jersey State Division for Youth and Family Services, where he was a case worker, and from his job as a New York State Department of State investigator and process server, authorities said. Mulvey said some of his victims had interacted with him while he attended college upstate.
Investigator Michael Young got the case from a small, upstate police department and took about a month to suspect Rodack.
He used phone records, traveled throughout the state and noticed patterns to help solve the case, Mulvey said.
"It may have escaped some of the other agencies because it was so long-term," Mulvey said.
State Police in Brentwood arrested Rodack at his home at 29 Hackmatac St. on Thursday and drove him upstate, said Investigator Eric Baez.
Rodack was charged with second-degree stalking and second-degree forgery, both felonies. If convicted, he could face up to 8 years in prison, Baez said. Mulvey said Rodack has a criminal history, but would not provide details.
An estranged brother reached by phone in Michigan last night declined to comment.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (AP) - A former state worker has been charged with second-degree stalking, accused of mailing dead rats, dead birds and used condoms as part of a pattern of harassment against 14 people.
State Police say Jack Rodack, 50, of Central Islip, was also charged with second-degree forgery, accused of falsely reporting police emergencies and child abuse at victims' homes, terminating their utility services, and ordering products delivered to homes.
Rodack is a former caseworker with the New Jersey State Division for Youth and a former investigator with the New York State Department of State and had victims in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and at least one in the Southern Tier, police said. He was sent to Broome County Jail without bail.
Vestal police had been investigating the local case of harassment for about eight years, State Police Senior Investigator Susan Mulvey told the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin.
Authorities said many victims came into contact with Rodack through his state jobs, but only some recalled having a problem with him.
Tuesday, January 4, 2005 Posted: 4:57 PM EST (2157 GMT)
SYLVESTER, Georgia (AP) -- A 59-year-old great-grandmother who claimed in an Associated Press story last year that she was pregnant with twins admitted Tuesday that she is not.
Frances Harris' claim gained widespread attention after the rural Sylvester, Georgia, woman and her family told her story the same week that a 56-year-old woman gave birth to twins in New York.
"To the surprise of even her family, it was recently discovered that Harris is not pregnant with twins," Harris said in a statement distributed Tuesday by her 39-year-old son, Fred Jackson.
"Due to some personal issues that are still being evaluated, Mrs. Harris believed that she was pregnant with twins and was able to convince her family and friends that she was expecting as well."
It was unclear from the statement whether Harris was pregnant at all. When asked, her son said, "I don't know."
Harris did not answer the door or phone at her rural home Tuesday. She has not responded to questions from the AP for weeks.
"The family of Mrs. Frances Harris regrets that this situation has occurred and apologizes for any inconvenience that may have caused," said the statement, signed by Mrs. Harris and Jackson. "At this time, the family wishes to put this situation behind them and will not be making any more statements."
Harris' youngest daughter, Kendal Byrd, originally called the AP office in New York in November after Aleta St. James gave birth to twins by in-vitro fertilization three days before her 57th birthday. In an interview November 11 at her home, Harris said she did not know she was pregnant until she visited a doctor in August because of unusual weight gain over the summer.
Harris originally claimed to be carrying twins due December 21. As Christmas approached and the date passed, Byrd said doctors had given her mother a new due date of December 28. She had described her mother as grouchy, tired and "in pain, having some small contractions."
A mother of five, grandmother of 14 and great-grandmother of six, Harris said in November that she had not been trying to get pregnant and even had her tubes tied 33 years earlier. She claimed her ex-husband had fathered the twins and said the couple planned to remarry before the birth.
Byrd, 34, did not respond Tuesday to AP's attempts to reach her at her home or on the phone. In previous interviews, she said she had been taking her mother to medical appointments at the Affinity Health Group in Tifton, where officials declined to comment.
"We have no statements to make," Affinity spokeswoman Venita Kennedy said.
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Someone is putting the scare into people walking trails at Creamer's Field in Fairbanks by laying down bogus bear tracks.
"It's either a person or a circus bear with two left front feet walking on its hands," said state wildlife biologist Harry Reynolds. "There are no hind tracks."
The tracks feature a foot pad, toes and claws that stretch out 3 inches from the toes. Reynolds said it's either a boot or some little attachment someone is putting on a boot.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has received several reports of grizzly bear tracks on the trails in the past few weeks. The first report came about three weeks ago from Jim Brader, who was skiing on the trails when he noticed what appeared to be bear tracks near the farmhouse visitor center.
"I thought, 'If there's a bear out here now it's a problem,'" said Brader, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. While he recognized there were no rear tracks, Brader still felt compelled to report the tracks to Fish and Game.
A couple days later, Fish and Game received another report of bear tracks at Creamer's. Reynolds investigated and quickly deduced the tracks were fake, based on the fact there were no tracks from rear feet and there appeared to be the faint imprint of a boot or shoe.
The latest report of the tracks came over the weekend.
The bogus tracks have startled some trail users, said Mark Ross, who works at the Creamer's Field Farmhouse Visitor Center as education coordinator for the department.
"A couple of people have come in and said, 'There's bear tracks out there,'" Ross said.
Even though bears are supposed to be hibernating now, it's not unheard of for a grizzly to be wandering around in the middle of the winter. Just two years ago, there was a grizzly bear shot and killed in late December about 10 miles west of Fairbanks.
"It's not a laughing matter to a lot of people," Reynolds said.
Friday, January 7, 2005 · Last updated 8:02 a.m. PT
Bevis Lake or Butthead Lake _ or Brinkley Lake?
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LAKE STEVENS, Wash. -- To the Washington state Department of Natural Resources, it's Bevis Lake. In Census Bureau records, it's Butthead Lake.
Ken Brown, a land surveyor with the state agency, suspects somebody in the federal agency decided to have some fun with the name of the 5.7-acre lake in a forested area about 25 miles northeast of Seattle.
"That means someone is playing a joke, I think," Brown said. "It's got to be."
He noted that U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps also show the name as Bevis Lake.
Bevis and Butthead are almost identical to the 1990s MTV cartoon show "Beavis and Butt-head," which featured a pair of slacker teenagers who watch music videos on television, mess around at work with food sold at Burger World and make bad jokes at school.
It's not unusual for small lakes in out-of-the-way places to have different names because of variations in county, state or other official records, but there are no such indications in this case, Brown said.
The lake also has a third name outside official records.
The Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which owns nearby Camp Brinkley, calls it Brinkley Lake, manager Gary Gilger said, adding, "it's nothing we make a big deal out of."
Serious reaction to a spoof news article tells us plenty about humour and religion, says Brian Whitaker
Monday January 10, 2005
An intriguing news item was emailed to me last week. The CIA, it said, is trying to infiltrate Muslim groups, both in the US and abroad, by training its agents to act as muezzins in mosques.
The muezzin is the man who summons the faithful to prayer, traditionally by climbing to the top of a minaret five times a day to issue his call. This places him in a uniquely useful position, according to a senior US intelligence officer quoted in the report.
"He is a highly respected member of Islamic society and, as such, almost beyond suspicion," the quote said. "Not only that, but the towers provide a perfect vantage point for our agents to see what is going on at ground level."
The CIA opened its first muezzin school at a deserted army airstrip in Virginia in 1989, with the school being specially equipped with six minarets from which its agents could practise, the report said. It added that the CIA was now capable of producing up to 100 qualified muezzins each year.
Asked about the difficulties of mastering the adhan - the call to prayer - in Arabic, one former CIA muezzin was quoted as saying: "Oh sure, it's hard as hell. The adhan is a bitch, let me tell you. It takes months and months of hard work. And if you haven't got the voice in the first place, there's jus' no way."
Wondering about the source of this tale, I searched the internet and found that it was published by khilafah.com, a website linked to the dour Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, on December 25.
This confirms two things about khilafah.com, Hizb ut-Tahrir, and their kind - firstly that they are willing to believe any old rubbish that happens to fit their view of the world, and secondly that they have no sense of humour whatsoever.
The muezzin story, written in the style of an American news agency report, begins quite plausibly, but becomes dafter and dafter. At one point, the former CIA officer - who refers to Muslims as "the Muzzies" - is asked whether anyone noticed he was a foreigner while he was performing his muezzin duties. "Oh, that was fine," he replies. "They taught us at the school how to cover our faces in boot polish so we looked darker than we really were."
The entire story is a joke. It first appeared more than three years ago on a satirical website called the Rockall Times, under the headline "CIA scales new heights in war against ragheads".
Khilafah.com amended this to read: "CIA scales new heights in war against Islam", but otherwise reproduced the story unchanged.
The Rockall Times sounds like the name of a newspaper - but Rockall is a lump of granite sticking out of the Atlantic ocean, halfway between Ireland and Iceland. It is 30 metres long, 25 metres wide and 19 metres high, and its only permanent inhabitants are periwinkles and a few other types of mollusc. Periwinkles do not read newspapers.
There are plenty of clues on the Rockall Times website to show it might not be what it seems - public health announcements such as "Your doctor or pharmacist can advise on how to get the most from smoking", and a headline saying "Asian tsunami catastrophe: UK house prices unaffected", for example.
It also includes a guide for immigrants to the UK, explaining that British families like to keep dogs and cats - but not elderly grandparents - in their homes, and that, as a special privilege, children living on council estates are not required to have a crash helmet or driving licence when riding stolen motorbikes.
Perhaps the Islamists at khilafah.com didn't notice any of this. Or perhaps they read it avidly, as proof of British decadence.
A few weeks after the September 11 attacks, I talked to a group of Muslims (not of the khilafah.com variety) in London. They were worried about the growth of Islamophobia and media stereotypes portraying Muslims as violent, misogynistic, stern, humourless people.
The most useful thing they could do about that, I suggested - only half-flippantly - was to collect jokes and amusing anecdotes and publish them as the Bumper Book of Muslim Humour. After all, Jewish humour is renowned, and it has probably done more over the years to counter anti-semitism than all the efforts of the Anti-Defamation League.
Interestingly, a search on Google for Jewish humour (or "humor") found 90,800 web pages. A similar search for Muslim humour found only 973, and the first item asked: "Is there such a thing as Muslim humour?"
One of the odder effects of September 11 was that Muslim comedians in the US started becoming better known. Among them is Ahmed Ahmed, an Egyptian-born American who does a stand-up show with a rabbi entitled One Arab, One Jew, One Stage.
Another is Tissa Hami, an Iranian-born woman who performs covered from head to foot in a full black chador. Occasionally, she shows a tiny bit of flesh when - as she puts it - she is feeling "kinda slutty". She jokes about being given a full body search at an airport, saying: "I was hoping to save that for the honeymoon."
As might be expected, much of this American brand of Muslim humour is about cultural misunderstandings and absurd security measures.
One of the few Islamic websites with a dedicated humour and satire section is muslimwakeup.com, which is run by progressive Muslims in the US. It recently secured an exclusive interview with Satan, who had dropped into Starbucks in New York for a coffee during Ramadan.
Talking in the way that people always do in celebrity lifestyle interviews, Satan says: "I tend to split my time between here, Jerusalem, Rome and Mecca. I also just bought a new place in Rio de Janeiro, but that's mostly a vacation home."
He continues: "I was in Jeddah at Friday prayers last week. I came out in time to watch a few beheadings. The guy reads this bit about God being merciful and on and on, then does what he has to do. He must have done about 12 before things got a bit boring.
"Every one of those people who watched believed that they were doing God's work. Hell, I made the sword. You think God can make a sword to remove a man's head that cleanly? Ha! God doesn't have the stomach for it. But I never get any credit."
One of the most popular TV shows in Saudi Arabia is a sitcom called Tash Ma Tash, which runs during Ramadan every year.
One episode lampooned Saudi judges who tend to work only a couple of hours a day, allowing cases to pile up unresolved. Because judges in the kingdom are also Islamic scholars, the programme's makers were accused of insulting religious figures and failing to accord them due prestige (nothing beats humour when it comes to deflating people's sense of their own importance).
The Permanent Committee of the Grand Ulema, the kingdom's highest clerical body, duly issued a fatwa declaring that it was sinful to watch the programme.
Unfortunately, there are more than a few Muslims who, like the Saudi ulema, say humour is an un-Islamic frivolity that distracts people's minds from prayer. And they're not joking.
The point of Tash Ma Tash, though, is that it attacks corruption, bureaucracy, bigotry and intolerance - issues that are normally difficult to discuss on Saudi television - and gets away with it by being funny. Sometimes, humour is a lot more serious than it looks.