Stories published in March, 2016

Mustafa Kamal or MKUltra?

MKUltra was a top-secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) mind control program initiated in the 50s. It involved the use of drugs, chemicals and other sensory stimuli to breakdown an individual’s will. Other implications of the program included brainwashing and indoctrination, which would lead to the creation of sleeper agents to be used for ulterior purposes. Once you gain control of a subject, the possibilities are endless. On a larger scale, gaining control of peoples’ minds or the group mind depends on several factors most important of which is opinion leadership. When several individuals identify with each other in a personal relationship, they form a ...

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The perfect banana bread for those who don’t love bananas!

I’m not a fan of bananas, or anything that has a strong banana taste in it. Why would someone have a banana smoothie? Or banana ice cream? No, thank you!  Even getting myself to eat a banana is quite the task, taking about 10 minutes.   Bite – chew – forcefully swallow – repeat. I used to force myself to eat them for health reasons. Now I’ll just stick them in a smoothie with MANY other delicious ingredients to hide the taste. However, ironically, I do like some desserts with bananas. By some, I mean banoffee pie; mainly because of the caramel/dulce de ...

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In defence of Qandeel Baloch

I was first exposed to the raw talents of Qandeel Baloch whilst watching an episode of Pakistan Idol. Back then, I was unaware she was such an icon/sex symbol. All I saw was a girl close to my age walk into the audition room and completely botch her audition. After following American Idol for years and expecting all the judges to be Simon Cowell, I felt bad for her and hoped the judges would go easy on her. She seemed like a typical spoilt girl, whose heart seemed to be in the right place. Her profile on her personal website ...

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The vicious cycle of a Pakistani applying for a UK visa: Apply, reject, more money, re-apply, reject, more money

London is like my second home. My love for the city knows no bounds. My friends like to call me the brand ambassador of London. Even my wife feels envious at times. While London in summer is more like a ritual for me and my family, I am not too sure if the tradition can be sustained anymore given the visa tragedy. Recent news has been dominated with UK visa horror stories of endless delays and unreasonable rejections. The United Kingdom seems to be pursuing an unannounced policy of rejecting visa applications from Pakistan. A recent study conducted by an ...

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s despotic zeal: Shameful day for free press in Turkey

The virtual control he already has of a majority of Turkey’s newspapers and TV stations apparently isn’t enough for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. On Friday, with the zeal of its despotic leader, his government seized my paper, Today’s Zaman, and its parent, the Turkish-language Zaman, which is the highest-circulating daily in the country. Together, these titles were two of the few remaining independent voices inside Turkey — and Today’s Zaman, in particular, was a reliable English-language news source for diplomats, academics and expatriates. On Friday, a government-controlled court appointed trustees to take over the newspapers in what amounts to a politically motivated assault. At midnight, protesters faced tear ...

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Hail Caesar!: A tribute to the golden age of Hollywood

From the tragic to the absurd, the Coen brothers’ names have become synonymous with dark comedy, snappy dialogue and an unprecedented love for filmmaking. With Hail Caesar! (2016), the Coen brothers pay tribute to the golden age of Hollywood but the story takes place when the studio system is at the brink of a downfall; television was introduced to mass audience and threatened the very existence of cinema and filmmaking. The film portrays the life of a studio fixer who is caught in major production of film, Hail Caesar!, celebrity gossip, a foreign plot to overthrow the Hollywood establishment and his ...

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Forget the top 800, KU deserves to be in the top 100 universities of the world!

There are rare moments when I become proud of my alma-mater. As unfortunate as it may sound, there aren’t many instances where the University of Karachi (KU) is mentioned in an amicable light. So whenever it is mentioned positively, I savour it. I revel in KU’s popularity and I cherish the few moments of spotlight grandeur this university is offered. Earlier this week, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) – a reputed British ranking agency – revealed that six universities from Pakistan had made it to the top 800 educational institutions around the world. And, lo and behold, KU was one of them. ...

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London Has Fallen along with Hollywood standards

Here we go again, yet another tediously mindless sequel. If torturing us with the 2013 action thriller, Olympus Has Fallen, wasn’t enough the producers come up with a bigger and dumber version. Was there even a demand for it? I mean come on, is anyone in here even aware of the predecessor let alone calling out for a sequel? Why, just why? The original featured terrorists taking over the White House, with Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) having to rescue President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) while averting a nuclear cataclysm. Aaron Eckhart.Photo: Screenshot Banning’s battlefield has now shifted ...

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Maria Sharapova’s confession shows there are no heroes left in sports

Every time she stepped on court, countless fans stopped blinking. They weren’t only watching her game, Maria Sharapova was instead like a Russian ballerina mesmerising her audience, never mind the grunting. But one false step, even if unwittingly, and now she goes down in history books for the shot she should not have played. After the recent match-fixing allegations in the sport, tennis has now got a body blow with Sharapova’s confession of failing a drug test. The Russian says she was taking the drug, meldonium, as a medicine for health purposes but researchers, for long, have been insisting this substance also ...

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Imran Khan hasn’t carried balls since he stopped playing cricket

(Author’s note: Blog and blog title refer to cricket balls only. Puns not intended). Here we go. Another day, another Imran Khan statement reflecting a worryingly right-wing mind-set. This much is clear: Like the countless who voted for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in the last General Elections, I shall not be voting for a political party that is full of so much hot air it should be floating around the world, that holds a country hostage through street politics, that is both outsmarted and manipulated, that consistently panders to the single biggest threat in the history of this country: the religious preachers. There is a ...

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