Whose Concern is Porn in UK & Indonesia?

Two similar cases. One is in the UK and the other one is in Indonesia. While the British government is proposing to ban porn websites to protect children from morals degradation, the Indonesian government is doing the same which is said to secure national income from telecommunication sector. Yet these two cases have risen contradicting reactions from the corresponding public and investors. The government vs. ISPs in the UK with no major opposition from the public. And… tadaaa… the government—with supports from ISPs—vs. public (Black Berry users) in Indonesia. Yes, Black Berry does exist in this country. And its users are still in euphoria. Remember, UK is in the West part of the globe and Indonesia is in the Far East. What can we see from these cases?

1.       Who has the interests in porn websites.

2.       How big the public trust to the government is.

3.       How either society interprets the freedom of information.

In Indonesia, for most issues involving foreign interests, public normally goes for the national interests. They tend to blame their government of being too weak in protecting the national interests. It seems the other way around this time. They don’t believe in the economic motive used by the government. They would even be more reluctant if the government used morale justification.

The BBC One’s Panorama has made a documentary on the impact of porn to teenagers and children. Watch Panorama: Too Much Too Young!

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Operators demand RIM filter porn

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 01/11/2011 10:24 AM | National

Telecommunication companies have urged the government to force RIM (Research In Motion), the manufacturers of BlackBerry smartphones, to filter pornographic content, the Information and Communication Ministry says.

The companies that sent the request letter were PT Telkomsel, PT Indosat, PT XL Axiata, PT Natrindo Telepon Seluler, PT Smart Telecom, and PT Hutchinson CP Telecommunication, Communication and Information Ministry spokesman Gatot S. Broto said in a press release received Monday.

“The telecommunication companies sent the letter on Dec 1, 2010 to the Post and the Telecommunication director general, asking for help from the ministry. They demanded RIM filter all negative content that could be accessed with BlackBerry without reducing the service quality,” Gatot said.

The demand echoed a previous request sent by the ministry on July 21, 2010, along with Indonesian Internet Service Providers to all parties, Gatot said as reported by kompas.com.

Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring has said RIM had until January 21, 2011 to block pornographic content.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/01/11/operators-demand-rim-filter-porn.html

BlackBerry maker says it is committed to filtering porn content

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 01/10/2011 12:23 PM | Headlines

Three days after Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring threatened to shut down internet access on BlackBerry in Indonesia unless access to porn sites was blocked on the smartphones, maker Research in Motion (RIM) said it would install a filter for its subscribers in Indonesia as soon as possible.

In a press release made available to The Jakarta Post on Monday, RIM said it shared Minister Tifatul Sembiring’s sense of urgency on internet content filtering solutions.

“RIM has been engaged with its carrier partners and the government on this matter and continues to make it a top priority to implement satisfactory technical solutions with its partners as soon as possible,” the statement read.

A test by the Post showed that porn sites could still be accessed via BlackBerry web browser, but   the sites could not be opened on other smartphones such as IPhone.

However, critics are worried that such a threat by the minister would lead to another form of censorship by the government.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/01/10/blackberry-maker-says-it-committed-filtering-porn-content.html

Tifatul: RIM must filter out porn by Jan. 21

Nani Afrida, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 01/10/2011 6:25 PM | National

Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring has set a deadline of Jan. 21 for BlackBerry manufacturer, Research in Motion (RIM), to ban all access to pornographic sites.

“Should the company [RIM] ignore our deadline, we will impose a sanction, including revoking the permit, in accordance with the prevailing law,” Tifatul said during a meeting at the Jakarta Convention Center in Jakarta on Monday.

He said the government would use Law No. 36/1999 on telecommunications, Law No. 11/2008 on information and electronic transaction and Law No. 44/2008 on pornography to enforce this threat.

Tifatul said RIM would not get any special treatment from the government, citing that all telecommunication companies operating in Indonesia must obey the regulation.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/01/10/tifatul-rim-must-filter-out-porn-jan-21.html

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U.K. plan to ban web porn draws concern from providers; Experts say it’s ‘technically not possible’

By Philip Caulfield

Tuesday, December 21st 2010, 10:50 AM

A proposal to block Internet porn in Britain is causing an uproar among Internet service providers, web experts and digital privacy advocates who say the plan won’t work.

British Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said in an interview with the Sunday Times that the government wanted to cut off access to pornographic websites to protect children.

Under the new proposal, ISPs would block household computers from all porn sites, and parents who wanted to watch porn would have to opt in – that is, specifically request the ability to view porn websites.

“This is a very serious matter,” Vaizey said. “I think it’s very important that it’s the ISPs that come up with solutions to protect children. I’m hoping they will get their acts together so that we don’t have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years.”

The plan is still in its early stages, and the British government is working to set up a meeting with ISPs to discuss the issue.

But while ISPs said they support the idea, many think any plan to cut off access to the millions of porn websites was a long-shot.

“Unfortunately, it’s technically not possible to completely block this stuff,” Trefor Davies, chief technology officer at Britain’s ISP Timico, told BBC.

Filtering systems are often imperfect, he said, and a giant porn filter would block access to websites that were not hosting pornographic material.

“The cost of putting these systems in place outweigh the benefits, to my mind,” Timico told BBC.

Nicholas Lansman secretary general of ISPA, the U.K.’s trade association for ISPs, said online safety was a priority issue, but that the responsibility of monitoring what children view online should fall to parents.

“ISPA firmly believes that controls on children’s access to the Internet should be managed by parents…with the tools ISPs provide, rather than being imposed top-down,” Lansman told the BBC.

He also said that ISPs currently block illegal and “abhorrent” child abuse content, but that blocking lawful pornography content would lead to the blocking of legitimate websites.

ISPs Virgin Mobile and BT, which already have programs that block some content, and Talk Talk have said they support the idea.

There have been successful attempts to stop Internet porn in the past.

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2010/12/21/2010-12-21_uk_plan_to_ban_web_porn_draws_concern_from_providers_experts_say_its_technically.html

No More Porn for UK Web Surfers?

Published December 20, 2010| NewsCore

The UK Government plans to combat the early exposure to sex of children by blocking Internet pornography — unless parents request it.

The move is intended to ensure that children are not exposed to sex as a routine part of the Internet. The move follows warnings about the hidden damage being done to children by sex sites.

The country’s biggest broadband providers, including BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, are being called to a meeting next month by communications minister Ed Vaizey and will be asked to change how pornography gets into homes. Instead of using parental controls to stop access to pornography — so-called “opting out” — the tap will be turned off at source. Adults will then have to “opt in.”

The new initiative is in advance of the imminent convergence of the Internet and television on one large screen in the living room. It follows the success of an operation by most British Internet service providers (ISPs) to prevent people inadvertently viewing child porn websites.

Ministers want companies to use similar technology to shut out adult pornography from children. Pornography sites will be blocked at source unless people specifically ask to view them.

TalkTalk, which includes Tiscali and the British version of Aol.com, is already introducing a new free service early next year called “bright feed,” which allows people to control the Internet so that all devices are automatically covered without the need to set up individual controls.

Homeowners can either specify which adult sites they want to receive or put a cinema-style classification on their feed to restrict what is received according to age ranges, such as U, 12 or 18. A survey by Psychologies magazine this summer found that one in three children aged 10 in Britain had viewed pornography on the net.

Vaizey called it “a very serious matter. I think it is very important that it’s the ISPs that come up with solutions to protect children.

“I’m hoping they will get their acts together so we don’t have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years.”

Claire Perry, a lawmaker and a keen lobbyist for more restrictions, said “unless we show leadership, the Internet industry is not going to self-regulate.

“The minister has said he will get the ISPs together and say ‘Either you clean out your stables or we are going to do it for you.’

“There is this very uneasy sense for parents of children that we do not have to tolerate this Wild West approach. We are not coming at this from an anti-porn perspective. We just want to make sure our children aren’t stumbling across things we don’t want them to see.”

Previously the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) had told MPs that such a blanket ban would be expensive and technically difficult to operate. But Miranda Suit, cofounder of the charity Safermedia, which held a conference on Internet porn last month, said, “Technically we know it can be done because the ISPs are already removing child porn after the Government put pressure on them.

“In the past, Internet porn was regarded as a moral issue or a matter of taste. Now it has become a mental health issue because we now know the damage it is causing. We are seeing perverse sexual behavior among children. Legislation is both justifiable and feasible.”

She quoted the example of two underage brothers sentenced to at least five years’ detention this year for a sadistic sex attack on two other boys in South Yorkshire. The brothers were said to have had a “toxic” home life where they were exposed to pornography.

This weekend some ISPs appeared ready to introduce an “opt in” clause voluntarily. Andrew Heaney, executive director of strategy and regulation for TalkTalk, said “Our objective was not to do what the politicians want us to do but to do what was right by our customers.

“If other companies aren’t going to do it of their own volition, then maybe they should be leaned on. Legislation is a sledgehammer but it could work.”

A spokeswoman for Virgin Media said, “We already have an opt-in approach on mobiles. We’ve taken this approach as mobiles are taken out of the home — and kept in a pocket — whereas parents can control what happens within the home and online.

“We’re able to block sites, so it would be possible to do the same on the Internet. It is just about finding the right approach.”

A spokesman for BT, which has a “clean feed” system to block access to illegal sites, said “We do what we can to protect children.”

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/20/porn-uk-web-surfers/

Broadband operators to face porn ban?

Adrian Holliday | Dec 20th 2010

Broadband service providers like BT And Virgin could be forced by the government to block porn sites – or give users an “opt-in” to access them. Communciations minister Ed Vaizey wants a meeting with broadband players in an effort to protect children from web pornography.

Porn warn

“I’m hoping they will get their acts together,” he told the Sunday Times, “so that we don’t have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years.”

Practically it would mean adult sites would be automatically blocked. But some internet players are already concerned about how much such a move would cost to implement.

It’s not clear just how much the global porn industry is worth though some estimates put the figure close to £40bn, perhaps more. But whatever the numbers, the government is rightly concerned about the increasingly sexualisation of children, and the best way to protect themn.

Profitable?

Will the broadband providers co-operate? They will likely argue that they are there to provide a service for their customers, and not be a tool for government social policy. Making it harder for customers to see porn could conceivably cost them lost revenues too.

BT, Virgin, Talk Talk, BSkyB, Orange and 02 are responsible for streaming most UK internet content. We asked BT for a response. They sent us a press release on the issue.

“BT takes child internet safety seriously and works closely with the government to support the prevention of illegal activities online,” it said. “We are aware of the adjournment debate and the ministers stated intention of holding a round table. We would be happy to take part to discuss the issues raised.”

However it added that there are “many legal, consumer rights and technical issues that would need to be considered before any new web blocking policy was developed.”

Source: http://www.dailyfinance.co.uk/2010/12/20/broadband-operators-to-face-porn-ban/2

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There’s No Winter World Cup!

Don’t call it winter World Cup then. How on earth 20-30 degrees Celcius can be said winter? This reminds me of some questions asking winter in Indonesia. Well some people don’t realise that some countries have only two seasons or even one season throughout the years.

It’s the tournament for all countries, players and fans alike. Not only for those living in certain regions. Since we never called it summer World Cup, it could be held in any month so long as every participant could fit it in any way. There’s no excuse not to kick the ball to every corner of the earth.

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Blatter ‘expects’ winter World Cup

Last Modified: 07 Jan 2011 12:11 GMT

FIFA president says Executive Committee will consider possibility of Qatar hosting World Cup 2022 outside summer months.

The prospect of the Qatar 2022 World Cup being held in the winter moved a step closer as FIFA president Sepp Blatter endorsed the move away from the blazing Middle Eastern summer.

Speaking to a media roundtable in the Qatari capital Doha before the opening match of the Asian Cup on Friday, he said: “I expect it will be held in the winter because when you play football you must protect the main people, the players.

“We have time to look at this question, it is still 11 years away but we must decide the most adequate period for a successful World Cup which means January or the end of the year.

“We will take it up at our executive committee meeting in March.”

Qatar was awarded the right to host the tournament last month despite summer temperatures in the Gulf state soaring to well over 40C.

Concerns have been raised about the health impacts of playing and spectating in such searing heat, although the Qatar organisers say they will have cooling technology in the stadiums.

German legend Franz Beckenbauer, a FIFA executive committee member, and England coach Fabio Capello are among others who have voiced support for a switch of dates.

UEFA president Michel Platini is also said to be sympathetic to the idea, with January temperatures hovering around a more comfortable 20C.

Source: http://english.aljazeera.net/sport/football/2011/01/201117113313173507.html


Softening a Conspiracy

I haven’t found anything newsworthy from the headline “U.S. to temporarily send 1,400 more Marines to Afghanistan”. Of course ‘temporarily’ as it’s a temporary (I hope) invasion. If it’s not temporarily then it emigrates the troops and occupies the country. This is the example of an unnecessary-use-of-words-to-soften-a-conspiracy. The use of ‘temporarily’ doesn’t give an excuse to the intention what so ever. It’s still an invasion. It would be much more newsworthy if it said “U.S. to send home 1,400 more Marines from Afghanistan”.

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U.S. to temporarily send 1,400 more Marines to Afghanistan

WASHINGTON | Thu Jan 6, 2011 4:33pm GMT

(Reuters) – U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates has authorized a temporary deployment of an additional 1,400 Marines to Afghanistan, a U.S. defence official told Reuters on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Marines are due to arrive in Afghanistan in the coming weeks, the official said, bolstering U.S. forces ahead of the spring fighting season. U.S. forces in Afghanistan currently stand at about 97,000.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Bill Trott)

Source: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE7052EX20110106


Don’t Worry You’re An Australian

It wouldn’t be that simple Ass. Since you’re an ‘ally’, they will provide you with a selection of treatments. You’d be offered with waterboard or dance naked before you’d be hanged to death. During your stay in the jail, they’ll give you some nicknames: AsSange-da, Ta-leaks-ban or maybe Ham-assange. You’ll see from the jail Sweden and Australia being invaded and burned down.

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WikiLeaks Founder: ‘I Could Die In A US Jail’

11:37am UK, Friday December 24, 2010

Huw Borland, Sky News Online

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has claimed he could be killed if he is detained in an American jail.

But, in an interview with The Guardian, he also said it would be “politically impossible” for Britain to extradite him to the United States for alleged espionage.

Assange is currently on bail in the UK amid moves to extradite him to Sweden on sex assault charges.

American authorities are reportedly considering whether they could extradite him to stand trial for espionage over leaked US diplomatic cables.

The WikiLeaks website has distributed about 1,900 of the more than 250,000 embassy documents it claims to possess.

Many of them contain critical or embarrassing US assessments of foreign nations and their leaders.

Assange told the paper, if he was extradited to America, there was a “high chance” of him being killed “Jack Ruby-style” in the US prison system.

Ruby is the man who shot dead Lee Harvey Oswald before he could stand trial for the murder of President John F Kennedy.

But Mr Assange also believed it would be difficult for the British to hand him over to the Americans, if there was strong public support for him in the UK.

“It’s all a matter of politics. We can presume there will be an attempt to influence UK political opinion, and to influence the perception of our standing as a moral actor,” he said.

He added: “Legally the UK has the right to not extradite for political crimes.

“Espionage is the classic case of political crimes. It is at the discretion of the UK Government as to whether to apply to that exception.”

Source: http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/WikiLeaks-Julian-Assange-Claims-He-Could-Be-Killed-In-A-US-Jail-Jack-Ruby-Style-If-Extradited/Article/201012415867784?lid=ARTICLE_15867784_WikiLeaks:JulianAssangeClaimsHeCouldBeKilledInAUSJailJackRuby-StyleIfExtradited&lpos=searchresults


Get Lost in Fez

“Keep in touch”, I understand the real meaning of this phrase when I am in Morocco. Men keep touching literally, almost all the time, wherever you are. I assume that it is a sign of friendship when a receptionist in my hotel wraps his hand round my shoulder as he shows me the direction of the main street in Fez.

As I am walking down the Ville Nouvelle in this late capital city of Morocco, I see male couples walking arm-in-arm while talking seriously or giggling in the middle of the day. While handshakes and hugs may be acceptable in most countries, Moroccan people—the men—show further gestures to express friendliness. They lean, cuddle, hold hands and flatter hair. Cheek kissing—sometimes twice for each cheek—is a universal form of greeting.  Not only among Moroccans, but also between locals and tourists. I call it hospitouchlity a la Morocco. However, touching bottoms is insulting so don’t be over friendly!

This city is seven hours away overland from the better-known Marrakech to the north. UK based Flee Winter takes visitors straight to Fez—a three-and-a-half-hour flight from London—and offers a wide range of accommodation, mainly in traditional riads in the ancient medina.

The modern quarter of the city has not been overrun by franchise outlets. An American burger chain—one of a few of its kind—in the city centre is most likely avoided by visitors as local eateries along the main street offer more characteristic fresh meals.

The sun is getting hotter when I end up in a juice bar just next to a local café packed with spectators watching a football match on a 29-inch TV. A cup of thick mango juice is in hand but the man behind the till won’t let me go before I can count to ten in perfect French “un deux trios quatre cinq six sept huit neuf dix”. He is one of at least half of the population who speak French, Morocco’s unofficial second language and primary lingo in business and economics. This is because of the strong French influence between 1912 to 1956, which  left a heritage of French architecture in parts of Morocco.

It is easy to find Fez medina. Just follow the palm trees along the main road to the north until you hit the long yellowish white austere wall. But it can be an endless wander without paying 100 dirhams—around ten pounds—for a local guide to trace the labyrinthine narrow lanes inside the wall.

Photos by Ady Nugroho

Stepping through one of many gates on the wall is like leaping back in time leaving behind the new quarter of Fez towards the old complex that has not changed much in nearly a millennium. Dense settlements block sunshine from reaching down to the uneven-floored alleyways where residents walk through with bare foot, slippers or high heels in between damp walls. They prefer to let the sunshine into each house through a four-sided courtyard surrounded by rooms on two or three floors.

My guide, Khalid, invites me to come by his house, which accommodates his extended family. Guests do not need to pay anything before entering this kind of house, but they will have to bow deep to get through the main door as it is only as high as average adults’ waist bringing to mind the doors on the hobbit’s shelters in the Lord of the Rings.

Sitting in the guest room on the ground floor relieves weary feet with a refreshing mint tea served while listening to his story. “People coming here always ask me how we manage to bring in the sofa, refrigerator and other big items to the house through such a tiny door,” says Khalid well before I ask the same question. Dwellers with similar houses use temporary hoists to lift furniture up and onto the rooftop and then back down to place them on the ground floor through the void.

Other households open up their rooftops as viewing platforms where visitors can see the complex from above. White satellite dishes spring up on every rooftop like mushrooms sprouting up from decayed wood. Workshops selling leather products tease customers by showing them the production process. Again, from the rooftop.

I am offered a sprig of mint leaves. I do not know what it is for until I come closer to the edge of the rooftop. Now I get the idea. I hold the leaves under my nose as a distraction from the stench of the tannery down below, where dozens of tanners stand up to their knees in pits. Khalid says that pigeon guano and cow urine are some of the main components in processing the skins. No wonder there is a smell.

The shows, and the smell, are free. But afterwards, visitors will be directed to rooms full of leather products downstairs. Bargaining skill is crucial here to get the best price for handmade pieces. My ability at bartering is easily outshone by the traders who delight in teasing the best price for their goods.

The same skill is required at the souq—the market street in the centre of the medina. The hurly burly of people selling and bargaining, kids playing, and goats bleating is perfect for an Aladdin film location. There are just seven pairs of eyes that are slightly closed, standing quite still with sorrowful faces: donkeys. These animals are still quite popular as four-legged taxis for transporting goods, sometimes even beyond the medina’s wall.

Market crowds fade out when muezzin’s prayer call reverberates from the Kairaouine Mosque. Its 16-feet-high golden main gate features middle-eastern ornaments framed in a purple solid arch signalling its status as one of the biggest mosques in Africa. Behind the gate are glimpses of its seemingly endless columns propping the high ceiling. Even if you cannot enter the building—non-Muslims are forbidden, its huge green pyramidal roof and minaret can be seen from some points across the medina. The mosque is in the same complex as  Kairaouine University, one of the world’s oldest universities founded in 859, centuries before Oxford and Cambridge.

Some other old buildings inside the wall have become riads providing laid-back accommodation and fashionable restaurants like La Maison Bleue in the southwest neighbourhood of Batha. I am relaxing on a brocaded divan in a candlelit salon when waiters in pantaloons and babouches—Moroccan slippers—distribute menu cards listing a line up of various tagine. The dish is named after its special clay pot. As I open its cone-shaped cover, colourful succulent mutton chops and vegetables in watery yellow sauce release aromatic subtly-spiced flavoured steam.

I stay in Riad Laayoun in the heart of the medina. I can feel the strong character reflected from zelliges dressing all walls and floors, plaster carvings, cedar wood, paintings and decorative doors. I am so lucky to occupy a room with small patio facing the panoramic hillock behind the outspread settlements in the medina. My favourite place is its rooftop terrace, where I enjoy breakfast. While not the most expensive accommodation, it offers the most from my money leaving a few dirhams for souvenirs.

Visiting Fez:

Flight booked by Flee Winter £140 per person

Double room in RiadLaayoun 660 dirhams per night

Dinner package in La MaisonBleue 550 dirhams

£1=12 dirhams

French AZERTY keyboards are widely used


Stadium Hopping in South Africa

Sportive spirit is in the air around the horn of Africa.

South Africa has been upheld as a role model of racial integration following its successful social transition following the abolition of apartheid. Now the nation is this year’s number one sporting destination as it will host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Nine cities are in full party mode as the excitement builds in the run-up to the games. All are preparing to welcome both ordinary tourists and football fans during the month-full championship or even before it kicks off on June 11.

Of the ten stadiums to stage the matches during the football season five are new and have been recently completed. While all of these are based on a typical stadium design each has distinctive characteristics and will encourage city explorers to visit and add it to their photographic album of the trip. Each building has become their area’s landmark and a proud symbol of what South Africa has achieved over its recent history.

This follows a trend with major sporting events such as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Here the main stadium, the ‘Bird’s Nest’ has become a new city icon. It is clear that in South Africa the new stadiums in Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth, Durban, Nelspruit and Polokwane have already had a similar impact.

Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town

Walkers along the seaside of the Atlantic in Cape Town can easily spot the Green Point Stadium with the Signal Hill as its backdrop. The giant ring-style oval building seems solid from a distance, but it is actually designed with a semi-translucent façade enabling lights to infiltrate from the inside making the building radiate at night.

Catching glimpses of the glowing-in-the-dark structure is still popular among local people even though it has been there for several months since it was officially opened in December 2009. Pick any of the 70,000 seats available and witness a full-angle view of its interior.

Locals still refer to this as Green Point Stadium, which was the name of the old stadium on the same site, rather than the official name ‘Cape Town Stadium’. This massive concrete block is a prominent landmark.

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

Still on the southern edge of the country, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is one of three coastal stadiums built for the games. It is set only a stone’s throw away from the Indian Ocean and is on the shores of the North End Lake.

There is no need to hire a helicopter to witness the unique roof-texture as it can be seen clearly from any of the 46,000 seats. The roof is made up of a series of white ‘petals’ making it look like a flower. This is why the stadium is nicknamed ‘The Sunflower’.

Port Elizabeth built the first stadium dedicated to football at the heart of the city enabling architectural conscious strollers to compare it with the surrounding Victorian and Edwardian buildings that demonstrate a physical timeline of architectural changes dating as far back as the 19th century. The Opera House is a good example of Victorian architecture and is still in use. The city has also the richest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in South Africa.

Durban Stadium, Durban

Go further north along the east coast to find Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. The stadium has a grand arch across its void, which was inspired by the country’s flag. The two legs of the arch on the southern side of the stadium merge into one to form a single footing on the northern side. The southern side has a 550-step adventure walk to the top.

A cable car is available to carry visitors from the northern side climbing up along the arch to a viewing platform at the height of 105 metres. From this point, height junkies can see panoramic views of the shoreline, city and roof of the stadium. The roof design looks like an eyelid along with eyelashes. Down below each of the 70,000 seats is spacious and gives a clear line of sight to the pitch.

The building is located in the centre of Kings Park Sporting Precinct featuring further sporting arenas and a pedestrian connecting the complex to the beach. More attractions are found on the beach such as an aquarium built into a sunken ship in the Shaka Marine World. During the championship, Beachfront Fan Park will be a flocking point for football fans to catch the World Cup action on a big screen.

Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

In local language Mbombela means ‘many people together in a small place’. But Mbombela Stadium in north-eastern city of Nelspruit is far from small. It has capacity to hold 46,000 spectators under its rounded rectangle roof with its wide-open void.

The concept of the architecture reflects the inter-relation between sport and wildlife as the location is close to the Kruger National Park. On the façade, 18 orange roof steel piles resemble giraffes. The seating bowl inside depicts a zebra pattern in black and white. The translucent roof floats above the top of the seating bowl with a clear six-metre gap to provide views to the surrounding hills.

Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane

Finally going to the northern-most tip of the country where the Peter Mokaba Stadium was just completed earlier this year replacing the old stadium with the same name in the city of Polokwane.

The design is inspired by the locally iconic Baobab tree with the emphasis on a large concrete structure. Sitting on one of the 45,000 seats feels like waiting for a performance in a giant open-air amphitheatre as the roof covers only one side of the seating bowl. Yes, it is the tribune side.

Of course, each city has many other attractions to offer, but at the moment all South African’s energy and spirit belongs to football. They hope people coming to the country will bring the same energy and spirit when they celebrate the first ever World Cup on African soil.


Welcome to the Wax World

Here is where all the stars flock in an ex-planetarium building just across my university. Stare at their brightness before you catch them for a snap of picture.

Photo by Ady Nugroho

“Look! I’m taller than him,” shouts a teenager to his buddies as he stands next to Tom Cruise. He does not realise that Julia Roberts, who was standing nearby, witnessed his naughty action of pulling Cruise’s hair. He and a bunch of people effortlessly manage to get close to and even touch dozens of celebrities in an A-list party. Everybody is free to mingle and pose for camera with their idols or make fun of them.

Unfortunately, these are only do-able in the fake world of celebrities in Madame Tussauds London where their life-size wax figures answer visitors’ curiosity about their real figures. The gallery brings visitors in to glamorous atmosphere as soon as they come out of the lift. Camera flashes strike endlessly while guests are walking along the red carpet towards the A-list hall where the party has just started.

Each celebrity’s level of popularity can be seen here. The more publicity they get in the real world the bigger crowd surrounding them in the hall simply to stare at them or grope their ‘vital’ areas. A man, who is not the first one, gropes Victoria Beckham’s chest ignoring David Beckham who is standing by her side. Another couple who come under the spotlight are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Fake hands

The attraction continues as visitors step in to the movie room to get up close with some Bollywood stars, Hollywood’s make-believe characters such as Superman and Shrek. This room is set to present a mini version of a movie studio featuring props used in a movie. Just before visitors leave the movie room, a couple of wax artists try to attract them with their skills in making fake hands.

The next room is a little bit different where quite a few kids play football and other sporting games under the supervision of some world’s sport champion. Meanwhile, their parents look too busy with the royal family members in the same room. Some visitors whisper in front of the Prince of Wales’ family: “This is the first time I have seen all of Prince Charles’ family together in one place .”

Another shining star in the gallery is Michael Jackson who is standing with his trademark pose between many other musicians. Visitors can wear some accessories a la the king of pop supplied before they freeze for a shot. In the other corners of the room are several world leaders. Rough guesses say that Barack and Michele Obama are the latest occupiers of the room.

Up to this point visitors are full of smiles. But their expressions change once they enter the Chamber of Horrors.


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