The Null Device
An ingenious con artist managed to persuade French banks to hand over €5m, by pretending to be a secret service agent fighting against terrorist money laundering:
Gilbert then demanded all the cash at the bank so he could mark the notes with microchips and keep track of the terrorist. A total of €358,000 was to be put in an briefcase and slipped under the door of a brasserie lavatory. The manager did as she was told. The money disappeared.
Gilbert's next fraud was even more audacious, police say. He acquired information about important financial transactions and telephoned France's biggest banks. Again posing as a DGSE agent, he said that some of the transactions were terrorist money-laundering operations and that the secret services needed to follow the money. But they could do so only if it were transferred to accounts abroad, he said.Meanwhile in Moldova, a conman is hypnotising bank clerks into handing over cash:
One victim told police that Kozak's technique was to start a friendly conversation, establish eye contact, and then put her in a hypnotic state. The teller then agreed to hand over all the cash in her till.
(via Schneier, Odd Spot)
After 14 years, New York's finest purveyors of beautifully poetic upbeat angst-pop, My Favorite are no more. The band have broken up after frontwoman Andrea Vaughn left. From songwriter Michael Grace Jr.'s characteristically poetic communiqué:
After more than a decade of making music and memories together, life suggests (or demands) changes. And in the cracks that faith won't fill, fractures will occur. You can't build palaces upon rubble. Few things live forever. And that which does—never dies. Thus mourn judiciously, and celebrate what you can.
When I started down this road, all those years ago... a tender teenager in horn rimmed glasses and a second hand Fred Perry, surrounded by misfits and prophets, glue sniffers and geniuses... all I hoped to do was share something of the urgent loveliness and sadness of our lives, surrounded as we were by a plainness of architecture, and ugliness of spirit which defined the suburbs, and (sadly) much of America itself. There was almost something glamorous in defying it, in defining it, as we did. I was consumed with being that dark star, that obscure saint. I wanted to make an art that was as rainy and lush and real and spectral as the coastal towns that comforted us at twilight. I wanted to be a sword swallower, and nostalgia was to be my sword. I wanted to do something courageous.Grace is reportedly putting together a new band called The Secret History; which will be the New Order to My Favorite's Joy Division, or perhaps the Trembling Blue Stars to their Field Mice. I hope more the former than the latter. Anyway, I'll be looking out for it.
That leaves us with a partially recorded could-be masterpiece, one that never truly felt much like a My Favorite record to me in the end anyway. It is also an album which Andrea ended up not recording very much for. An unfinished novel missing a main character.
During the last two years of this band's shaky solidarity, I began to plan—sadly—for this moment. I wrote the name of an imaginary band called The Secret History in the margins of my New York Times. I thought of what I would do, what I could do, if I had to start again. In the next couple months, this will all begin to take shape; a new project, old faces, a new website and diary, a resurrection of the record, a search for a new Nico, a crime to end all crimes. The last battle.I had the good fortune to see My Favorite, once, when they played in London some three months before they broke up. It was a privilege I didn't have with the various favourite bands I discovered posthumously (such as Slowdive and The Field Mice), though it is bittersweet to think that that is it; that there is no more where that came from.
It looks like a label called Egg Records is rereleasing a bunch of Australasian indiepop recordings:
Even As We Speak "A 3 minute song is 1 minute too long" early Australian singles collection CD - Mastered, working on sleeve
The Bats - "The Bats at the National Grid". New LP from Flying Nun legends. In Production