On Friday, September 27, 2013, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Vice-President caused tremors in the government when he rightly denounced the controversial ordinance to negate the Supreme Court verdict to protect MPs and MLAs convicted for serious crimes from immediate disqualification. He called it a “complete nonsense” and asserted what “our government has done is wrong”
Rahul Gandhi said that the arguments that “we need to do this because of political considerations. Everybody is doing this. The Congress does this, the BJP does this, the Samajwadi Party, the JD(U) does this … It is time to stop this nonsense, political parties, mine and all others … If you want to fight corruption in the country whether it is Congress Party or BJP, we cannot continue making these small compromises because, if we make these small compromises, then we compromise. … Now, I will tell you what my opinion is on the ordinance. It is complete nonsense, it should be torn up and thrown away. It is my personal opinion.”
This statement, a major embarrassment to the UPA government, caught Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is now on a US visit, off guard. Gandhi, who had publicly called the ordinance to protect convicted MPs and MLAs from immediate disqualification as complete nonsense causing tremors in the government.
President Pranab Mukherjee is not in a hurry to give his assent to the ordinance that has come under attack from mainstream opposition parties and civil society and wants the government to explain the need for such an ordinance.
Under the Indian Constitution, the president must be satisfied as to the existence of circumstances which render it necessary for him to promulgate such an ordinance. He may seek legal opinion from experts before he decides on whether to give his assent or not.
A high-level BJP delegation led by L K Advani met President Mukherjee and urged him to refer the ordinance back to the government for re-consideration as it is “unconstitutional and immoral”.
The passengers not knowing his real name called the rude bus conductor “Groucho”. No one ever befriended him.
On that fateful Monday morning, exasperated by the surging crowd, the conductor blew the whistle. A girl standing on the footboard slipped off the crowded bus. The rear tire ran over her body. She died instantly.
The infuriated passengers beat the bus driver and the conductor and then dragged them to the nearest police station.
The police found fault with the bad conductor for blowing the whistle too soon. They let off the driver and produced the conductor before the magistrate. After six months, the court sentenced him to death.
On the day of the execution, Edison, the bad conductor, entered the electrocution chamber. He saw the electrocution chair in the center of the room and a banana placed on it. He loved bananas. The executioners waited till the grouch finished eating the banana. They strapped him firmly to the electric chair and switched on the high-voltage current. However, the grouch survived since the electric current failed to pass through his body to his brain and heart. The judge set Edison free.
The grouch reinstated to his former job as a bus conductor did not seem to have changed even a wee bit after the ordeal he had undergone. He went about his job bent on being ruder to his passengers than before.
Three months later, on a busy Monday morning the conductor blew the whistle when a middle-aged woman tried to board the bus. Unfortunately, the woman standing on the footboard lost her balance and slipped off the crowded bus. The rear tire ran over her body. She died on the spot.
The enraged travelers after thrashing the bad conductor and the bus driver dragged them to the nearby police station.
Again, the police found fault with the grouch for blowing the whistle too soon and let off the driver. They produced the conductor before the same magistrate. The hearing as expected ended early, and the court once again sentenced the bad conductor to death.
On the day of execution, on entering the death chamber, the grouch saw two bananas placed on the electrocution chair. He ate both bananas.
The executioners strapped the conductor firmly to the electric chair and switched on the high-voltage current. To the amazement of the assembled, the grouch survived. This time too, the electric current failed to pass through to his brain and heart. Again, the judge set the grouch free.
Once again, reinstated to his earlier job with a severe warning, the bus conductor went about his job assiduously as before but was kind to his passengers.
Three months later, on a busy Monday morning he saw an elderly gentleman trying to board the bus. Remembering his earlier experiences, Edison, now no more a grouch, blew the whistle after the elderly person got onto the footboard. However, to Edison’s misfortune the old man fell off the bus and succumbed to his injuries. As before, the passengers took the conductor to the police station.
After viewing Edison’s pas record, the judge decided to set an example. He sentenced the current good conductor to death by electrocution.
On the day of electrocution when the good conductor entered the same electrocution chamber, he did not find his favourite fruit, the banana, to appease him before his death. The executioners once again strapped the him to the chair and switched on the current. This time the conductor died instantly.
At the inquest, the coroner and the officials pondered why Edison did not die on the first two occasions, but died on the third occasion. Did the banana play any part in this?
To this day this story continues to be a mystery.
Recently, a science student after hearing this story came up with a plausible answer. He said: “On the first two occasions, Edison was a bad conductor, but transformed into a good conductor just before his death.”
New research shows Facebook has lost a total of eleven million users, nine million in the US and two million in Britain. Researchers at the University of Vienna analyzed 600 users and found they quit for the following reasons:
Privacy concerns – 48.3 percent
General dissatisfaction – 13.5 percent
Shallow conversations – 12.6 percent
Fear of becoming addicted – 6 percent
Studies show the majority of users that quit the site were older males.
Facebook, among other tech giants, have been repeatedly under scrutiny for their lack of user privacy, including turning over thousands of user’s info to the government. In August, Infowars revealed Facebook submitted information on approximately 38,000 users in 74 countries during the first half of 2013.
Over half of the requests originated from inside of the United States. Tech giants are unable to reveal absolute numbers on how many requests they’ve submitted to because the government prohibits them from doing so. However, companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo have formed a unique alliance and are fighting back.
The tech alliance is putting pressure on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court by filing motions asking to publicly disclose more details about secret national intelligence requests, instead of just releasing approximations.
“We believe there is more information that the public deserves to know, and that would help foster an informed debate about whether government security programs adequately balance privacy interests when attempting to keep the public safe,” said Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch.
“Editor of the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking which published the findings, said: ‘Given high profile stories such as WikiLeaks and the recent NSA surveillance reports, individual citizens are becoming increasingly more wary of cyber-related privacy concerns,’” reported Mail Online.
Facebook has also been under close examination for their recently updated “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” policy which states users’ profile data including their profile picture, name and personal information “could show up as part of a Facebook ad their friends may see on the site,” according to a report by Mashable.
Even more controversy surrounded the social media giant when they announced the update of the “Tag Suggest” feature, which would allow facial recognition technology “to speed up the process of ‘tagging’ friends and acquaintances who appear in photos posed on the network,” reported Reuters.
As you can see, users’ concerns over privacy, or lack thereof, are certainly substantiated. However, if your information isn’t being collected through Facebook, NSA’s spy program, PRISM, is sure to scoop up your info in some other way, most likely through email or cellular data.
Last year I read a post titled “Opportunist” by Rob in his blog Mental Gymnastics. In it, he mentions news about a work syndicate that won three million pounds between them.
This news intrigued me. Statistically, the chances of winning a million on a one-pound bet are slim. However, by pocketing out an extra dollar, you can better the odds.
I have outlined below an easy scam to dupe your lazy, gullible friends and profit from it.
1. Organize a lottery syndicate with at least 10 members. Volunteer to handle collection and buy tickets.
2. On Saturday mornings, buy eleven lucky dips with the collected ten dollars plus an extra dollar from your pocket.
3. On Mondays scan the results for lottery. If there is a sizeable win, substitute the spare ticket with the winning ticket and pocket the loot. No-one is any the wiser.
4. Email the results to your syndicate members. The number of tickets bought matching the number of members. Everything tallies.
5. Don’t be too greedy. To keep the members interested declare the small winnings.
Soon, the number of members in your syndicate will increase. If you collect 100 dollars then buy 102 tickets and your chances of winning will be better than the chances of winning a million on a dollar.
“Why not try this scam?”
When you hit the jackpot, will you retire and leave these fools to their drudge? I don’t think you will.
By the way, don’t forget to send me 1% of your winnings as royalty for this simple but great idea.
“The most important weapon in a con man’s arsenal is another man’s greed.”
Victor Lustig (January 4, 1890-March 11, 1947) born in Hostinne, Austria-Hungary, was a con artist who undertook scams in various countries and became best known as “The man who sold the Eiffel Tower. Twice.” He also ripped off Al Capone, the American gangster of $50,000.
In 1947, Lustig succumbed to pneumonia. His death certificate reads “Robert V. Miller, apprentice salesman.” A deviant even in death!
Frank William Abagnale, Jr. born April 27, 1948, an American, is considered one of the most famous impostors ever. As a confidence trickster, check forger, impostor, and escape artist, Frank Abagnale, before his nineteenth birthday, successfully performed cons worth millions of dollars while assuming no fewer than eight identities impersonating a Pan Am pilot, a Georgia doctor, a teacher, a Louisiana parish prosecutor, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons agent, and a lawyer to name a few.
Frank Abagnale’s primary crime was check fraud. He became so experienced that the FBI eventually turned to him for help in catching other check forgers.
Now, Frank Abagnale is a security consultant and an ethical motivator. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on combating forgery and embezzlement. For more than 30 years, many of the world’s leading financial corporations and governments have consulted him. He is associated with the FBI. Now, more than 14,000 financial institutions, corporations and law enforcement agencies across the nation use his fraud prevention programs.
In 1998, CNN’s Financial News named Abagnale one of its “Pinnacle 400” business leaders.
Catch Me if You Can is the autobiography of Frank Abagnale, co-written by Stan Redding. In 1980, Frank Abagnale sold the film rights to his autobiography which was adapted into a 2002 film of the same name by director Steven Spielberg, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Abagnale and Tom Hanks as the FBI agent who pursued him.
The notorious con man of India
India too can boast of its own indigenous notorious con man who had more than 50 identities. The police in eight states wanted him in about 100 cases, and his convictions added up to 117 years of prison life. He was a living legend in his lifetime known for his notoriety and is still a legend even after his death in 2009 (???) at the age of 97.
Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava, better known as Natwarlal, was born in 1912 in a nondescript village named Bangra, in Raghunathpur CD Block of Siwan district in Bihar, India, just two kilometres away from Ziradei, the birthplace of India’s first President Dr Rajendra Prasad.
Natwarlal left Bangra when he was 15 years-old and never returned to it.
He mastered the art of disguise and used novel ideas to cheat. He also mastered forgery and is known to have forged the signatures of many celebrities of his period. According to a legend, he was close to Dr Rajendra Prasad. However, the two fell out after Natwarlal tried to dupe the first president by forging his signature.
To Natwarlal, committing fraud was an art. Before he turned into a con man, he was by profession a lawyer. He had studied and understood human nature, and he used the vital weapon in a con man’s arsenal: another man’s greed.
He had swindled millions of rupees from many shop-owners by paying for goods purchased with forged cheques and demand drafts.
Natwarlal cheated many industrialists by posing as a social worker or as a person in need and relieving them of a huge amount of cash. It is alleged that even the Tatas, Birlas, and Dhirubhai Ambani had fallen for his ruse.
Natwarlal repeatedly sold the Taj Mahal thrice to gullible foreigners, the Red Fort twice, the Rashtrapati Bhavan once and the Parliament House of India lock, stock, and barrel along with its 545 sitting members.
Natwarlal was arrested nine times. However, he managed to escape from jail every time. He was last arrested in 1996. He was 84 years old at that time and was using a wheelchair. On June 24, 1996, Natwarlal vanished in the teeming crowd at New Delhi railway station while being escorted by the police from Kanpur jail to the AIIMS hospital for treatment. It was the last time anyone had ever seen him.
Natwarlal’s death is a mystery. In 2009, his lawyer Nandlal Jaiswal announced that Natwarlal died on Saturday, July 25, 2009. However, Ganga Prasad Srivastava, brother of Natwarlal claimed that he had cremated his brother Natwarlal in 1996 at Ranchi.
Therefore, the actual time, date, month, and year of Natwarlal’s death is still uncertain. So, living up to his legend Natwarlal died twice, 13 years apart.
The authorities are baffled with these queries:
Is Natwarlal really dead?
If he is alive where is he now?
Is he planning yet another scam under yet another name?
Many residents of Bangra are still basking in the glory of their legendary con man. They have plans to install a life-sized statue of the notorious Natwarlal in their village in the vacant land where Natwarlal’s house was once stood. This, they say this is the least they can do for the infamous man who made their featureless village in Bihar famous.
Edgar Thurston (1855-1935) was a superintendent at the Madras Government Museum. While holding his position at the museum, Thurston, educated in medicine, lectured in anatomy at the Madras Medical College.
He contributed to studies in the zoology, ethnology and botany of India and published works related to his work at the museum. His early works were on numismatics and geology and followed later by his researches in anthropology and ethnography. He succeeded Frederick S. Mullaly as superintendent of ethnography for the Madras Presidency.
He was honored with the Companion of the Indian Empire (CIE), the most eminent order of chivalry of the Indian Empire founded by Queen Victoria in 1878 to reward British and “native” officials who served in India.
K. Rangachari, a colleague from the museum, who had previously assisted him in a 1906 ethnographic study, Ethnographic Notes in Southern India, assisted him in producing this mammoth historical work.
The 120-year-old photographs like the above, found in the seven volume series of Castes and Tribes of Southern India depict the life, dress (like the custom of leaving the upper torso bare among women of the Tiya tribe), marriage, customs, and dances of the various castes, tribes and ethnic groups.
Nature magazine, in its September 1910 issue, described the work as
a monumental record of the varied phases of south Indian tribal life, the traditions, manners and customs of people. Though in some respects it may be corrected or supplemented by future research it will long retain its value as an example of out-door investigation, and will remain a veritable mine of information, which will be of value.
More recently, in 1995, Crispin Bates, a historian of modern South Asia, in his work “Race, Caste and Tribe in Central India: the early origins of Indian anthropometry” has said that Thurston generally displayed “often lurid, orientalist imaginings” in his writings.
One of the most ludicrous was Thurston’s study of southern India. Thurston was the curator of the government museum in Madras, and clearly saw the study of racial types among the Indians as an extension of his daily routine of labelling and pinning butterflies and of collecting and categorising the varieties of plants.
François-Marie Arouet, better known by the pen name ‘Voltaire‘, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit, for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, freedom of expression, free trade, separation of church and state, and his attacks on the established Catholic Church.
In his opinion, the French bourgeoisie were too small and ineffective, the aristocracy were parasitic and corrupt, the commoners were superstitious and ignorant, and the church was a static force only useful as a counterbalance since its “religious tax”, or the tithe, helped to cement a power base against the monarchy.
Voltaire distrusted the democratic ways of governance. He said that democracy was propagating the idiocy of the masses. He essentially believed monarchy to be the key to progress and change.
Since the king’s rational interest was to improve the power and wealth of France in the world, Voltaire presumed that only an enlightened monarch, advised by philosophers like himself, could bring about change.
Voltaire is quoted as saying that he “would rather obey one lion, than 200 rats (of his own species)“.
Today, Voltaire is remembered and honoured in France as a courageous polemicist, who tirelessly fought for civil rights, the right to a fair trial and freedom of religion, and who denounced the hypocrisies and injustices of the ancient regime.
Thomas Carlyle, who argued that while Voltaire was unsurpassed in literary form, not even the most elaborate of his works was of much value for matter, and that he had never come up with any significant idea of his own.
Voltaire had faced critics in his own life time. He retorted:
“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another. The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbor’s, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.”