Cripes! Even America’s favorite cons are being outsourced

❝ Police in India say they have arrested 70 call centre workers on suspicion of tricking American citizens into sending them money by posing as US tax officials.

A total of 772 workers were arrested on Wednesday in raids on nine fake call centres in a Mumbai suburb…

An estimated $36.5 million was extorted from Americans, police said.

❝ Seventy were placed under formal arrest, 630 were released pending questioning over the coming days, and 72 were freed without further investigation.

“The motive was earning money,” said Parag Marere, a deputy commissioner of police. “They were running an illegal process, posing themselves as officers of the [US] Internal Revenue Service.”

Marere said the year-long scam involved running fake call centres that sent voicemail messages telling US nationals to call back because they owed back taxes.

Those who called back and believed the threats would fork out thousands of dollars to “settle” their case, he said. The scam brought in more than $150,000 a day…

Americans are so fracking gullible. You get a voicemail telling you to callback the IRS – without ever checking on the phone number. You’re only calling back – much of the time – because you know you’ve been Trumping your tax bill, anyway. If they can pump you for how much you think you owe – it’s only a matter of playing the fish until you’re landed. You can go higher or lower. It’s all in the game.

Somewhere along the line you might notice your IRS agent has an accent. Perfectly reasonable in a nation of immigrants. If the boiler room is like most I’ve heard, you should also detect conversational background noise. And if everyone has the same accent – you’re in trouble, Bubba. The IRS doesn’t restrict hiring to any one ethnicity. 🙂

Chief thug in Mumbai massacre asks court to ban film — They did. Surprised?

Hafiz Muhammad SaeedReuters/Fayaz Aziz

A Pakistani court on has banned an Indian film about the 2008 Mumbai attacks in response to a petition filed by the man New Delhi accuses of masterminding the killing of 166 people over three days.

Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba which the United Nations has listed as a terrorist organization, petitioned the court to ban the Kabir Khan-directed feature film “Phantom” on the basis that it maligns Pakistan and vilifies Saeed and his current organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

The Lahore High Court issued a ban on Thursday…

India says it has handed over evidence against him to Pakistan which should have detained him. The issue has stood in the way of rebuilding relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors…

Saeed lives freely in the city of Lahore in a villa with police stationed outside.

Corruption on a scale vile enough to stain the character of a nation.

Street vendor/thief accidentally saves baby from suffocation

A street vendor who stole a bag from a local train in India accidentally saved the life of a baby boy concealed inside, investigators say.

Kishor Kale, 20, left the train Monday with the bag in Kurla, a Mumbai suburb, the newspaper MiD Day, reported Tuesday. He opened the bag at the station, hoping to find cash or valuables, and instead a tiny hand poked out.

Kale tried to dump the bag and baby on the platform but was caught by an alert ticket seller. He told police he was hawking nail polish on the train when he spotted the bag on the floor.

Police said the baby is only about 15 days old. While he is in good health, he would probably have suffocated if he had remained in the bag 10 minutes longer.

Jitendra Rathod, a senior officer with the Government Railway Police in Wadala, said investigators are examining security camera footage to verify Kurla’s story of how he came by the bag and to find out who dumped it and the baby.

Phew! Hope his story is verified. Otherwise this dude is up the proverbial body of water without a means of locomotion.

Politicians think banning bikini-clad mannequins will reduce incidents of sexual assault in India

The civic body in Mumbai has passed a proposal to ban the display of bikini-clad mannequins in lingerie shops…The proposal, intended to reduce incidents of assault on women, is under active consideration by the body’s chief executive, Sitaram Kunte.

The proposal was unanimously passed by the assembly, which has 227 members from various political parties.

There have been a number of high-profile sexual assaults against women in India in recent months…Dozens of rape cases have been reported in Mumbai since the beginning of the year.

Ritu Tawade, a member of the civic body, first put forward the idea a couple of months ago, after a series of rape cases in the country.

She told the BBC that the public display of scantily clothed mannequins in shop windows “indirectly or directly leads to rape”.

Mrs Tawade believes that they are titillating for men. “It’s a Western thing, our society doesn’t allow them,” she said…

Mumbai Mayor Sunil Prabhu supports the idea. He told a local newspaper that he believed scantily clad mannequins invited the unwanted attention of men, in a city that has seen a surge of sex crimes.

I’m less certain that there has been anything other than an increase in the reporting of sex crimes. Blaming the victims is pretty standard behavior for any ignoranus lacking respect for women. That doesn’t change according to the city you live in; but, rather, the culture controlling social mores.

If rapes aren’t prosecuted, if sexual assault on the street or public transit is acceptable male behavior, the context of advertising or clothing only defines this year’s excuse. It will continue unless the legal system enforces a code of behavior that doesn’t build-in excuses for sexual assault.

Jihadi leader lives openly in Pakistan – no one wants $10 million reward offered by the United States

Lahore, Pakistan — Ten million dollars does not seem to buy much in this bustling Pakistani city. That is the sum the United States is offering for help in convicting Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, perhaps the country’s best-known jihadi leader. Yet Mr. Saeed lives an open, and apparently fearless, life in a middle-class neighborhood here.

“I move about like an ordinary person — that’s my style,” said Mr. Saeed, a burly 64-year-old, reclining on a bolster as he ate a chicken supper. “My fate is in the hands of God, not America.”

Mr. Saeed is the founder, and is still widely believed to be the true leader, of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group that carried out the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, in which more than 160 people, including six Americans, were killed. The United Nations has placed him on a terrorist list and imposed sanctions on his group. But few believe he will face trial any time soon in a country that maintains a perilous ambiguity toward jihadi militancy, casting a benign eye on some groups, even as it battles others that attack the state.

Mr. Saeed’s very public life seems more than just an act of mocking defiance against the Obama administration and its bounty, analysts say. As American troops prepare to leave Afghanistan next door, Lashkar is at a crossroads, and its fighters’ next move — whether to focus on fighting the West, disarm and enter the political process, or return to battle in Kashmir — will depend largely on Mr. Saeed…

His security seemingly ensured, Mr. Saeed has over the past year addressed large public meetings and appeared on prime-time television, and is now even giving interviews to Western news media outlets he had previously eschewed…

Still, he says he has nothing against Americans, and warmly described a visit he made to the United States in 1994, during which he spoke at Islamic centers in Houston, Chicago and Boston. “At that time, I liked it,” he said with a wry smile.

During that stretch, his group was focused on attacking Indian soldiers in the disputed territory of Kashmir — the fight that led the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate to help establish Lashkar-e-Taiba in 1989…

“When there are no Americans in Afghanistan, what will happen?” said Mushtaq Sukhera, a senior officer with the Punjabi police who is running a fledgling demobilization program for Islamist extremists. “It’s an open question.”

A shift could be risky for Mr. Saeed: Some of his fighters have already split from Lashkar in favor of other groups that attack the Pakistani state. And much will depend on the advice of his military sponsors.

For their part, Pakistan’s generals insist they have abandoned their dalliance with jihadi proxy groups. In a striking speech in August, the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said the country’s greatest threat came from domestic extremism. “We as a nation must stand united against this threat,” he said. “No state can afford a parallel system of governance and militias.”

Unfortunately, that last statement by General Kayani although truthful guarantees nothing. No one is confident that Pakistan’s military – and especially the ISI, their answer to the CIA – is at all interested in building anything more than bank vaults filled with looted gold. The blood of their fellow Pakistanis means nothing.

Indian women claim a right to pee

Women in India, assailing the lack of public toilets available to them, have begun a Right to Pee Campaign…

The humorous slogan, coined by the Mumbai, India, media, masks the dependence of the population on public restrooms, and the imbalance of men’s rooms to those available to women, The New York Times said Thursday.

A government study indicated the public sanitation system of the city, whose population is 20 million, offers 5,993 toilets and 2,466 urinals to men, and only 3,536 toilets to women, and a 2009 study in New Delhi, the capital, said the ratio of men-to-women public conveniences was 1,534 to 132.

Activists like Minu Gandhi said the restroom disparity amounts to discrimination, and have suggested women begin demanding their right to equal access…”We all feel this is a basic civic right, a human right,” she said.

The newspaper added that Mumbai’s toilets are generally located in dark and unclean buildings, and operate as male-controlled outposts, with a male attendant often collecting fees for toilet use, but not for urinals.

Local politicians vow to respond — as they do to almost daily requests for simple access to civilized essentials like food, water and sanitation.

India’s claim to be the largest democracy in Asia sounds pretty hollow when you take a close look at the class structure perpetuated by self-serving politicians and greedy corporations. It needn’t be that way. The latest government always admits that — after each election cycle. But, little seems to get done.

Indian academic medal winner waits six decades for his award

Dinanath Malhotra was awarded a gold medal for his MA from Punjab University in Lahore in 1944. But the partition of the sub-continent into India and Pakistan in 1947 prevented him from receiving the medallion until now.

Mr Malhotra is the owner of the popular Indian publishing house, Hind Pocket Books, in Delhi.

“In those days topper in MA was awarded a gold medal and I won it in the year 1944,” Mr Malhotra told the BBC. “These medals were made in England so at the convocation we were given dummy medals and we had to wait for the original gold medal to be awarded later.”

But the wait in Mr Malhotra’s case got a bit longer – 68 years to be precise.

India was partitioned in 1947 and Lahore became part of Pakistan. Mr Malhotra shifted to India and forgot about the medal.

A few years ago, he casually mentioned it in a meeting of the Indian Publishers Union with a senior official in the Human Resources Development Ministry. The official pursued the matter with the vice-chancellor of Punjab University and it was agreed that the medal would be awarded to Mr Malhotra in Lahore…

Mr Malhotra was all set to travel to Lahore when Mumbai came under attack from extremists in November 2008 and the trip was cancelled.

The medal was finally awarded at the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi on Friday. Mr Malhotra is happy that he has his medal but he also feels he missed an opportunity to visit Lahore, the city of his youth.

“I keep remembering the life at Lahore. People had great love for each other and we used to hug each other whenever we met,” he said.

“This is great. I had never dreamed that I could get this medal back. This is a great honour, not only for me but for the academic circle both in India and Pakistan.”

Bravo! The greatest sadness is the history of partition that has denied opportunities for a normal communal life in the subcontinent.

Chicago terror prosecution puts Pakistan spy agency on trial

Allegations that Pakistan’s intelligence service was involved in the Mumbai terror attacks will be scrutinised in an American court case starting on Monday when the man who helped plan the 2008 strikes testifies against his alleged accomplice.

David Headley, a Pakistani-American businessman who has confessed to his involvement in the attacks, will be the star witness in the trial of Tahawwur Rana, his childhood friend, in Chicago.

Rana is charged with providing material support for terrorism in the assaults, which killed 166 people, as well as a plot in Denmark that was never carried out. Opening arguments in the case, based on the deaths of six Americans in Mumbai, will begin on Monday.

The case has drawn international attention because Headley’s testimony is expected to reinforce allegations that Pakistan plays a double game in the fight against terrorism. Its success will depend largely on how the jury views Headley, 50, who is said to have juggled relationships with multiple wives, terrorist groups and intelligence agencies.

Headley is a former informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). He pleaded guilty last year to conducting reconnaissance for the Mumbai attacks and for the Danish plot. His confessions painted a devastating portrait of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) – he says ISI officers helped the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist group plot the commando-style attacks on Mumbai…

Prosecutors recently raised the political stakes by indicting a suspected ISI officer for the murders in Mumbai. The officer, identified only as Major Iqbal, allegedly oversaw Headley’s scouting in India.

The decision to indict Iqbal was made at high levels in Washington, sending a signal from Barack Obama’s administration, which had expressed frustration about Pakistan’s reliability even before Osama bin Laden was found and killed in Abbottabad.

RTFA. Beaucoup detail. Involved, intricate, opportunist – and offering all the corruption you would expect in global politics.

The ISI is about as useful to processes dedicated to peace and security as the average teabagger is to stem cell research.