30 October 2009

Pakistan's secret war in South Waziristan...


Since the Pakistani Army launched Operation Rah-e-Nijat (Urdu for "Path to Salvation") the military has made significant progress. Last week recaptured the strategic town of Kotkai, the birthplace of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. The lawless, semi-autonomous South Waziristan region is a hotbed for Uzbek and foreign extremists and is a stronghold of the dreaded Tehrik-e-Taliban, or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, an umbrella of about a dozen militant groups fighting the government. The last time an offensive was launched in SW in 2004, heavy casualties forced the troops to strike up a peace treaty.

The biggest discrepancy in this battle is the casualties. While it's pleasing to know that the Army has inflicted heavy losses on the rebels, what is infinitely more pressing is the casualties on the army side. Information from the conflict is unreliable as access is denied to foreign media and journalists. So this means the only source of information is the Pakistani army and the drastic figures they give definitely doesn't sound very credible.

On the third of the offensive, the security forces reported 9 soldiers killed and 78 enemy fighters on the enemy side. I am not a military expert, but something is very wrong here. Evidently, the Army isn't the only belligerent giving dubious figures. The Taliban, who claim not to have lost a single fighter, say they have killed many more Pakistani soldiers than the nine reported by the army.

What makes this even more frustrating is the lack of pictures and media emanating from the battlefield. We just don't know what's happening there. I watch Al Jazeera English, as they usually have more footage and better coverage on such issues than Western media. However, the ban applies to them too and this means they have to relay on local men to be their eyes and ears on the ground. The army says 264 militants and 33 soldiers have been killed so far. Let's just hope the later doesn't rise much.

15 October 2009

Facebook The Movie- but Justin Timberlake NOT playing Zuckerberg !

A new movie based on the evolution of the social network Facebook is in the works, starring Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield produced by Scott Rudin, called "The Social Network". The famous online social network was set up in 2004 on-campus at Harvard by Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and now CEO. Jesse Eisenberg will play Mark Zuckerberg, while Timberlake takes the role of Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster and now the President of Facebook. Production work on the film will begin in October in Boston, before moving to Los Angeles.

It's disappointing Timberlake isn't playing Zuckerberg. Both of them have similar eyes, facial shape and you would even think they are brothers ! Sigh....

10 October 2009

The Getaway 3, Eight Days NOT abandoned !!

For fans of the 'The Getaway' series, June 4th 2008 was a black day. After all, it was on that day the makers of the franchise, Sony, announced that the work on the sequel to the popular action game will "cease immediately."

"It has been agreed that production of both 8 Days and The Getaway will cease immediately due to the redistribution of resources and budget. This decision was made following an internal review of all games and it was deemed that with the incredibly strong list of exclusive first party titles coming up both this year and in the near future, resource should be reallocated to enhance those projects closer to completion."
Both games were originally announced in tech demo form at Sony's 2005 E3 press conference and footage, allegedly "game footage", was released including a highly suspicious trailer of the new game Eight Days. Since then, virtually no news about it came out with the ambiguously worded statement suggesting the hiatus was only temporary while contradictory statements implied Sony "will not resume production."

Online petitions were set up to garner support for the redevelopment of games with more than 2600 people signing it. For most fans like me, Youtube was the source for the discussion though very little info of credibility came out of it.

Finally however, Nicolas Doucet, producer and creative art director at Sony Computer Entertainment's London Studio became the first official voice to confirm that the game hasn't been canned. In an interview mainly about 'Eyepet' (which were Sony's priorities and possibly the development for which the TG budget must have been allocated) reaffirmed that The Getaway 3 and Eight Days were "not abandoned, but put on hold".

GK: Before EyePet, the teams at Sony London were working on two projects that have since fallen by the wayside: Eight Days and The Getaway 3. Can you confirm that both of these have indeed been abandoned?

ND: I would not say they have been abandoned, just put to one side. Much work had been done. The studio just wanted to focus on its strengths, EyeToy and SingStar. Given the potential of EyePet, priorities have been changed, but the other projects aren't dead yet. Ultimately, the decision [to put those games to one side] has benefited everyone.
GK: How far through production were they?
ND: It depends. I think they were just over halfway through. They had a plan, everything was ready…
GK: How have you dealt internally with these strategic decisions from Sony?
ND: Many recruits to the EyePet team came from these projects, and contrary to popular belief, they are rather popular. First, because it was a much smaller team, they were able to integrate differently, but also with a different challenge.
Most importantly, The Getaway and Eight Days are still there. So, no, there haven't really been any regrets. This decision was welcome. And then everyone likes change, as is the culture of this community. There were no bad feelings.
GK: I guess you have another game currently under development…
ND: (Smiling) Yes.
GK: Is it linked to EyePet or is it unrelated to this franchise?
ND: No, it's a different concept, in addition to EyePet.
GK: So will you continue to be Sony's brand ambassador for social and casual gaming?
ND: While the whole studio won't, our group will, I think. There is a lot of interest around augmented reality. It surprised me to come to the Festival du Jeu Video (a gaming show held Paris in September) and see the number of magazines that want to do an article on this subject, as I thought it was too geeky. It is now very much part of the casual gaming space.

06 October 2009

Transformers 3 confirmed to be in 2011

The sequel to the Shia La Beouf and Megan Fox action series has been confirmed to be released in 2011, the date being 1 July 2011, just two days before the release of the first film. Transformers 2 has been hugely successful, grossing more than $100m more than it's predecessor ($832m). Fox and Bay obviously have some issues here, check out their exchanges !

Director Michael Bay announced a third "Transformers" movie will be hitting theaters on July 1, 2011 -- and not 2012 as originally thought -- on his web site on Thursday. And he also took the opportunity to further his war of words with his star, Megan Fox, by telling her to consult with a doctor before getting on board.

Fox originally drew Bay's ire while promoting this summer's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," when she said that "working with Michael Bay is not about an acting experience." Bay responded, "She says some very ridiculous things because she's 23 years old and she still has a lot of growing to do." Most recently, Fox compared Bay to "Napoleon" and said she and costar Shia LaBeouf "almost die when we make a 'Transformers' movie... He has you do some really insane things that insurance would never let you do."

In this latest blog post, Bay writes, "Megan Fox, welcome back. I promise no alien robots will harm you in any way during the production of this motion picture." He goes on to say, "Please consult your Physician when working under my direction because some side effects can occur, such as mild dizziness, intense nausea, suicidal tendencies, depression, minor chest hair growth, random internal hemorrhaging and inability to sleep. As some directors may be hazardous to your health, please consult your Doctor to determine if this is right for you."

Source -Yahoo