Friday, July 24, 2009

How to attract tourists to your town

This recession may have taken its toll on the Canadian Tourism Industry, but the town of Constance Bay near Ottawa has taken a new approach to attract visitors.

According to the Ottawa Citizen:
A roadside sign posted outside the village a couple of weeks ago by the City of Ottawa directs travelers to Constance Bay's downtown with some symbols indicating various amenities. One square was left blank. Bad move, apparently. Sometime last weekend, a vandal filled in the blank spot with a pair of stick figures who appear to be particularly engaged. But don't let the saucy illustration fool you, said West Carleton-March Councillor Eli El-Chantiry. It's business as usual in Constance Bay, located about 48 kilometres northwest of Ottawa. He says the city will have to have the sign sandblasted back to its virgin state.

From chuckling photographers snapping pictures to e-mails inquiring about Constance Bay's new swingers' club, El-Chantiry seemed on Thursday to be tiring of all the attention the sign was getting.

He tried himself to remove the corruption, but no luck.

"When I saw it, I took a towel and some water and I could not reach it," El-Chantiry said, noting the sign stood more than eight-feet above the ground. "Then I saw someone taking pictures."

It doesn't help the councillor that the illustration looks professional enough to have been part of the original design.

"There was one spot missing; it was perfect," said Ian Glen, president of the Constance and Buckham's Bay Community Association, adding he may consider a picture of the sign for the 2010 Best of the Bays calendar.

"Everybody just thinks it's pretty funny. I don't think anybody's going to take terrible offence to it."

As of Thursday night, the defiled sign had been taken down, the city said.

The copulating couple could not be removed by usual methods without damaging the sign. Instead, it must be sandblasted back to its virgin state before it can be reposted, El-Chantiry said, and next time there will be no blank slates.

"The community centre or the Legion, whatever. Just put something there, don't leave it blank."

In city council this week, El-Chantiry assured his colleagues Constance Bay would soon be rid of the carnal defacement.

"Then (Councillor) Gord Hunter said: 'What's the big issue? I thought he was just showing her how to waterski.'"

Cartoon of the Day

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ground Zero: Jakarta

I have been following the Jakarta bombings story since this morning, both shocked and surprised. just when you think the world is getting more peaceful something like this happens. Today at about 8:35pm two hotels (Marriot and Ritz Carlton) in a up-scale Jakarta neighborhood were targeted as part of Al-Qaeda bombings in the region. This is first major terrorist attack in Indonesia after the Bali bombings in October 2002.

Original Associated Press report:

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Explosions ripped through two luxury hotels in Jakarta Friday, killing eight and wounding at least 50 more, ending a four-year lull in terror attacks in the world's most populous Muslim nation. At least 18 foreigners were among the dead and wounded.
The blasts at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, located side-by-side in an upscale business district in the capital, blew out windows and scattered debris and glass across the street, kicking up a thick plume of smoke. Facades of both hotels were reduced to twisted metal. An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw bodies being shuttled away in police trucks.
Police said they were investigating whether the blasts, detonated inside cafes in each hotel, were caused by suicide bombers, planted explosives or a combination of both. Several of the bombing suspects were believed to have been staying at the Marriott.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the attack was carried out by a "terrorist group" and vowed to arrest the perpetrators. He said it was too early to say if the Southeast Asian Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, blamed for past attacks in Indonesia, including a 2003 bombing at the Marriott, was responsible.
"Those who carried out this attack and those who planned it will be arrested and tried according to the law," a somber-looking Yudhoyono told a news conference.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the bombings as reflecting "the viciousness of violent extremists" and said they "remind us that the threat of terrorism remains very real." She said the United States was prepared to provide assistance if requested by the Indonesian government.
The European Union condemned the blasts as "brutal."
The Marriott was hit first, followed by the blast at the Ritz two minutes later. The attacks came just two weeks after a presidential vote expected to re-elect Yudhoyono who has been credited with stabilizing a nation previously wracked by militancy.
Theo Sambuaga, chairman of the parliamentary security commission, said "there are indications of suicide bombs" at the two hotels. "That is being investigated."
But top anti-terror official Ansaad Mbai told AP it was too early to conclude suicide bombers were responsible.
Jakarta police chief Maj. Gen. Wahyono said the suspects of the Marriott bombing stayed on the 18th floor of the hotel where un-detonated explosives were found after Friday's twin explosions.
"There were several perpetrators," he told reporters. "They were disguised as guests and stayed in room 1808."
Security Minister Widodo Adi Sucipto told reporters at the scene the hotel blasts happened at 7:45 a.m. and 7:47 a.m. (0045 GMT, 8:45 p.m. EDT) and that "high explosives were used." He said eight people were killed and 50 wounded.
Alex Asmasubrata, who was jogging nearby, said he walked into the Marriott before emergency services arrived and "there were bodies on the ground, one of them had no stomach," he said. "It was terrible."
Anti-terror forces with automatic weapons were rushed to the site, and authorities blocked access to the hotels in a district also home to foreign embassies.
"This destroys our conducive situation," Sucipto said, referring to the nearly four years since a major terrorist attack in Indonesia -- a triple suicide bombing at restaurants at the resort island of Bali that killed 20 people.
The security minister and police said a New Zealander was among those killed, and that 17 other foreigners were among the wounded, including nationals from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea the U.S. and Britain.
The dead New Zealander was identified by his employer as Timothy David Mackay, 62, who worked for cement products manufacturer PT Holcim Indonesia. He was reportedly attending a business meeting at the Marriott Hotel when the explosions occurred.
Noel Clay, a U.S. State Department spokesman in Washington, said that several American citizens were among the injured. Three Americans were listed as patients at the Metropolitan Medical Center hospital.
Manchester United football team canceled a planned visit to Indonesia. The team had been scheduled to stay at the Ritz on Saturday and Sunday nights for a friendly match against the Indonesian All Stars, the Indonesian Football association said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but terrorism analyst Rohan Gunaratna said the likely perpetrators were from the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah.
"The only group with the intention and capability to mount attacks upon Western targets in Jemaah Islamiyah. I have no doubt Jemaah Islamiyah was responsible for this attack," he said.
There has been a massive crackdown in recent years by anti-terror officials in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim nation of 235 million, but Gunaratna said the group was "still a very capable terrorist organization."
Police have detained most of the key figures in the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah, and rounded up hundreds of other sympathizers and lesser figures.
But Gunaratna said that radical ideologues sympathetic to JI were still able to preach extremism in Indonesia, helping provide an infrastructure that could support terrorism.
Government spokesman Dino Patti Djalal told CNN the scene of the blasts were "eerie," when he arrived.
"The bodies I saw, some were being collected, some were on the floor," he said. "What we know, of course, is this was a coordinated attack."
When asked if Jemaah Islamiyah was behind the attack, Djalal said: "We always knew there are terrorists out there. But we've had a number of very good successes; no major attacks since the Bali bombings."
He was referring to the October 2002 bombings of two Bali nightclubs that killed some 202 people, many of them foreign tourists.
"This is a blow to us," Djalal said, but said the government would find those behind the attacks.
"The president has built his reputation on ... anti-terrorism policies," he said. "Make no mistake, he will hunt whoever is behind this."
Because of past attacks, most major hotels in Jakarta take security precautions, such as checking incoming vehicles and requiring visitors to pass through metal detectors. Still, international hotels make attractive targets, since the nature of their business requires them to be relatively open and accessible.
On Friday, Australia and New Zealand updated their travel advisories, which had already warned against unnecessary travel to Indonesia because of the risk of terrorism.
"We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Indonesia due to the very high threat of terrorist attack," the Australian Foreign Ministry said on its Web site. Those in Indonesia were warned to exercise "extreme caution."
New Zealand urged its citizens in Indonesia to keep a low profile.
Britain also updated its travel warning, though it did not raise its alert level.

Video 1

Video 2

Witness talks to Al-Jazeera

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims families and the people of Indonesia. I am very much sickened by this event.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some people have no brains.....but Zardari isn't one of them

I first read this article on Five rupees blog, and had to share it with you all. It is probably the funniest article that I have read in the longest time. Trust me on this one. Just read it.

My Jaw literally dropped when I was reading this article. According to the author(by the way, he is a political analyst), Zardari is one smart cookie. Not only has he kept the PPP together(I'm not really sure if that is a feat. I reckon that all you need to do is put Bhutto at the end of anything and everyone in the PPP will just worship it), but he has deftly congregated power within his party. My only question to the author is, what have you been smoking? Granted that's not a very nice thing to say, but that's the only plausible explanation of the Zardari ass-kissing that is so prominently featured in this article. Perhaps the author has forgotten that just six months ago Zardari was forced by the lawyers movement and Nawaz Sharif's PML to reinstate judge Iftikhar Chaudry to his supreme court post.

Since I can't send the author some Ginko Biloba (shipping charges are just too expensive), I have decided to list some Zardari's most accomplished blunders below.

At one point, Zardari (he) said that the PPP – of which his son Bilawal is chairman, and he is the co-chairman – had resisted the influence of “extremists from Aung San Suu Kyi to the Taliban”, apparently mistakenly referring to the jailed Burmese opposition leader.

Mr Zardari has occasionally been willing to take Washington to task for its interventions in Pakistan. He reiterated a call for the US to sell aerial drones to the Pakistan military in place of mounting cross-border attacks. “My position is that I have always asked for possession of the drone; I want the Pakistani flag on it.”

(Benazir’s) death remains a complex factor in Pakistani national life. Mr Zardari appears to blame Mr Musharraf, claiming that she died by a bullet not by the bomb that a Scotland Yard report identified as the cause. “I wish Musharraf had looked after my wife as I can look after myself,” he said.

and let's not forget about Sarah Palin

Need I say any more

Cartoon of the Day

Since I'm Canadian, this cartoon of the day has a Canadian twist. For all you non-canucks, do you know who the guy on the right is?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A change of heart

Even Fox News has started to turn on Sarah Palin. In the midst of a segment about the Alaska Governor's battle against "liberal" attacks. See Below:

Talk about bitch slapping your own teammates. Its apparent that FOX News is loyal to no one but themselves.

FOX News on interracial marriages

"Americans keep marrying other Ethnics"

Watch below:

I have to be honest here. Before I watched this video, I had this preconceived notion that this would primarily focus on black-white or white-asian marriages, but apparently according to the most recent nutcase invited on FOX News, even marrying Irish or Italian is somehow bad. Talk about being uber-racist.

Once again FOX news has managed to be both racist and ignorant beyond my expectations..

Things I wish I could do

I have resisted the influence of extremists from Aung San Suu Kyi to the Taliban

Asif Ali Zardari

For more words of wisdom, check this out.

Cartoon of the Day

Monday, July 6, 2009

Things I wish I could do

Chuck Norris saves a bakery

A POSH bakery in Split, Croatia, has been broken into almost every week.

But not since the shop owners posted a life-sized photo of the toughest man in Hollywood Chuck Norris in the window.

The sign says: “This shop is under the protection of Chuck Norris.”

Now the bakery hasn't had a single burglary for more than a month.

Sales assistant Mirna Kovac said: "To be honest we just started it as a joke but it really has worked. Thieves haven't been anywhere near us for ages. People seem to respect him.

"Everyone around here has seen his films and he's quite a popular character, perhaps even among criminals, so they've decided to leave us alone."

She added though: "We have had a few customers come in and ask us whether they can get Chuck's autograph.

“They really believe he is sitting in our storeroom out the back ready to pounce on any burglars."

Cartoon of the Day

Food in the 21st Century

Koogle and the rise of cyber segregation

Believe it or not, a search engine can also be kosher. Koogle, the world's first search engine designed for religious needs proves that there need not be a dichotomy between religion and the internet. But I'm not sure which irks me more, the fact that we need to have a religiously approved search engine or that once again Jews seem to have us Muslims beat in terms of piety (just kidding). Now that the Jews have a religiously sanctioned search engine, I'm not sure what is stopping our religiously inclined brethren from making up a Halal search engine. Let's call it Hoogle.

For the religiously inclined Koogle and Hoogle have a distinct charm. As this blog points out

..., if you are on Facebook or blogging to your heart’s desire and you see adverts with a semi-nude woman with a lollipop (the ultimate test of your faith) asking you to buy this or that, fear no more. The new and improved halal browser, equipped with halal firewall, will take care of it for you. You can look forward to a situation in which only totally halal adverts for items such as halal chicken, halal chips, halal banking and Umrah tours pop on your browser.
So why do I have a problem with this? Well, for one who determines what is halal (kosher) or not? and on what grounds? Considering that there are multiple interpretations of both the Koran and the Torah, which ones should be used to determines the Halal-ness or Kosher-ness of a website? Which sect of Islam or Judaism should determine this? Or should each sect have its own search engine? And most important of all, why should the internet have to be segregated for one religion or another?

Sure, the internet contains content that can be offensive to religious sensitivities (and non-religious ones as well; not all of us are interested in free porn or enlarging our gentalia), but we don't need to have cybereligious segregation to deal with this. The internet provides a meeting place where people from all over the world can exchange information, thoughts and ideas. By allowing users to access only religioulsy mandated websites, we are preventing to interactions between people from diverse backgrounds that may not share each others point of view. In addition to this, we are giving others (priests, rabbis and mullahs) a monopoly over determining religious morality.

Koogle and (soon to be) Hoogle pose a lot of problems for society (both real and cyber). If we are not willing to engage with each other on the internet, then how can we do it in real life? If we are not even willing to accept each other vitually, how can there be respect and understanding on a global scale?

How can we achieve peace in this world, if we don't even give it a chance in cyberspace?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cartoon of the Day

Yes, the 'PPP' has a think tank

While skimming Dawn (Pakistan's largest English language daily), I came across this interesting article which highlighted the fact that the PPP (fyi Pakistan Peoples Party-Benazir Bhutto was a part of this) has a think tank. Is anyone else surprised? Considering the level of idiocy at which both the party and its leaders operate, I had never considered the possibility of a PPP think-tank. After all, the party is not known for its brilliant cognitive abilities and it does not have a tank (and I don't think General Kayani will let Zardari have one anytime soon).

Here is some background. Basically National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza has constituted a committee comprising leaders of all parliamentary parties to make recommendations for constitutional amendments, including repealing the 17th Amendment. Both Zardari and the PPP have decided to continue with its current stance in constitutional reform negotiations.

According to Zardari:

the formation of a parliamentary committee for the purpose was a great leap towards the realisation of the dream of ridding the Constitution of all anti-democracy clauses introduced by dictatorial regimes.

the PPP was committed to the principles laid down in the Charter of Democracy and it its manifesto.
Correct me if I'm mistaken, but it seems the PPP has forgotten that the dynastic structure of the party leadership(you need to be a Bhutto to be one) isn't exactly democratic. Moreover, being founded by a feudal lord, whose land holdings apparently even impressed the British don't lend credibility to the populisitic values that this party seems to espouse. So pardon me if I cringe when I hear PPP, Zardari and democracy in the same sentence. But the PPP is not alone in this.This level of disconnect is present in all of the mainstream parties

However, much of the fault lies in us. For too long we have let political parties campaign on the merit of their past "glorious" achievements. For too long we have elected officials whose mandate is to do nothing for the Pakistani people

It about time we woke up and smelled the hypocrisy

Friday, July 3, 2009

Things I wish I could do

"I threw a plasma grenade and it got stuck in my bros ass!!!!!!"

Watch more videos of Halo

Cyril Almeida: I give you permission to curse the government

One of my favorite columnists; Cyril Almeida has given all of us a green light to gripe about the Pakistani government, especially in public places. In his most recent column Rich Govt Poor People while highlighting the unfair tax laws states:

the next time you’re at a petrol station or in a grocery store and you hear someone cursing the government, have a heart — let them, or even join them. They have reason to. They are being ripped off by their government.

Cursing the Pakistani government need not be limited to only taxes. The dismal state of the education system, the lack of adequate health care, widespread corruption and the bungling of the IDP issue are just a few suggestions, but feel free to add your own.

And so in lieu of this momentous occasion, let us all celebrate with a bit of political gripping.

Cartoon of the Day: Blogging in Iran