Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hoax bomb threats instill fear

Terror groups and irresponsible individuals are spreading hoax bomb threats in Indonesian cities in the wake of last week’s Mega Kuningan blasts to instill fear and anxiety among the public, experts say.

Since the deadly bombings that ripped through the JW Marriott’s lounge (not the Syailendra Restaurant as previously reported) and a restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel last Friday, Jakarta has received at least four hoax threats at landmarks across the city.

The Four Seasons Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta were among the threatened places.

In Medan, police recently arrested an 18-year-old for spreading bomb threats through text messages, while in Bandung, a 24-year-old was arrested for threatening to blow up a radio station for ransom money.

University of Indonesia criminologist Erlangga Masdiana said Friday terror groups made hoax bomb threats to divert public attention from the real terror.

“Bomb threats are rife before and after a bombing, usually to divert people’s attention so the latter don't realize they're in a trap,” he said.

He added hoaxes were usually carried out by groups who did not lay claims to the real bombings.
He warned these hoaxes could eventually trigger copycats, who are usually “sick or immature individuals”.

“That’s why there are bomb threats made by children or teenagers and mentally disabled people,” he said.

University of Indonesia sociologist Ida Ruwaida Noor said groups and individuals were taking advantage of people’s fears and anxieties in the wake of last week’s hotel blasts by making up hoax threats to disrupt public order.

She identified three types of groups who call in bomb threats: groups of people who want to spread terror for ideological reasons; alienated people whose interests are never heeded; and immature teenagers or young adults with a penchant for vandalism.

“There are people who just like to see others get restless,” she said.

“There are teenagers or young adults who like to vandalize by destroying public property.”

Erlangga said that besides spreading terror among the public, the hoaxes also caused financial losses.
Hotel guests had to evacuate the hotel buildings, while workers at office towers that received bomb threats had to stop their work and leave the building.

Mobilizing the police's elite Densus 88 counterterrorism squad is also costly, Erlangga said.
“It’s a high cost to the economy,” he said.

He added the worst part was the loss of sensitivity.

“At first, people feel afraid, but then there’s an adjustment to all the terror and then people become more used to it and there’s no alertness anymore,” Erlangga said.

“When people become desensitized, they can’t sense when the real danger looms.”

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Michael Jackson memorial cost LA $1.4 million

Los Angeles spent $1.4 million to provide security, traffic control and other services for Michael Jackson's memorial service, city officials said as they looked for ways to have others help the financially troubled city pick up the bill.

The amount included $1.1 million in overtime pay for the 4,173 officers who worked to secure Staples Center, Forest Lawn cemetery and other areas that attracted fans and members of the media, the Police Department said in a statement.

City officials said Wednesday that the remaining amount covered traffic control, cleanup and other costs related to Tuesday's public memorial service, which was attended by a total of more than 17,000 fans and watched by tens of millions of people around the world.

Matt Szabo, a spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, hailed the tally a success. He said it was "far less" than the initial estimate of $4 million.

Nonetheless, city attorney Carmen Trutanich said his office was investigating how the city can legally press third parties to pick up at least some of the tab.

Trutanich aims to have a report ready for the City Council by Friday, said spokesman John Franklin.

The city has also set up a Web site urging fans to make tax-deductible donations through credit cards, PayPal or check to help defray costs.

Fans have thus far donated $17,000, but contributions have been hampered by technical problems, Szabo said in a statement.

The site received so many hits that the servers crashed Tuesday night and several times Wednesday, Szabo said. The city's information technology department is working to rectify the problems.

Anticipating about 250,000 people would converge on downtown streets for the service, the Police Department deployed 3,240 officers starting at midnight. When only about 1,000 fans showed up, police brass let about 1,000 officers go early.

AEG Live, the owner-operator of Staples Center, has not committed any money to the Jackson memorial, which it organized and promoted. Company spokesman Michael Roth did not return messages on Wednesday.

City Controller Wendy Greuel called on the City Council to create a policy declaring who should pay for city services associated with such events.

In a letter to the emergency management department, Greuel criticized the nearly $49,000 expense for police officers' lunches, which were ordered from a restaurant located 80 miles (130 kilometers) from Los Angeles.

Greuel said her office called a local sandwich shop that could have provided box lunches for less than $17,500. The purchase would have had the added benefit of supporting a local business, she said.

The Jackson memorial was the second recent event that resulted in extraordinary costs at a time when the city is a half-billion dollars in debt and facing employee layoffs.

Last month's victory parade for the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers cost an estimated $2 million.

AEG Live gave $1 million to the city for that event and other private donors stepped in. (

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Doing the work that you love

As a child, I remember my father, sitting in his room, surrounded by his books, writing.
His work was his love. Later in his life, when most people have retired, he was up early in the morning, busy with his work. It gave him, both a meaning to life and kept him young.

My mother never liked her teaching job, although she was very successful. She retired early and kept searching for satisfaction, without success. She became bitter and sad.

Until today I cherish the lesson I learned from them:
"Find a job that is your hobby, your art."

As children we all wanted to be somebody. A fireman, a pilot, an artist.
As we grew up, we realized that our job must also pay our financial and social bills.
So we sold our passion and love for stability and security.
We rationalize by saying that 'work is work', and pleasure will come later.
But does it?
When was the last time you found the time and energy to do the things that you really care for?

What if your work could follow your heart's desire? What if you could really do what you love to do?
Finding it might be difficult, as we have lost touch with what we enjoy most.
It has been too long since we have given ourselves the chance to connect to it.

So, how about taking some time off and instead of complaining about your job, start searching what it is that you love doing.
Find out what is it that you are good at, where your talents lie and what comes both naturally and easily to you.
Recall childhood activities that you once loved.
Become aware of the situations that bring out the best in you.
Discover what values are important to you and what you would like to see manifested in your work.

Once you have created a framework for those activities, talents and abilities, in which you excel (as well as those values that you wish to express in your work), start investigating what sort of work expresses them to their fullest potential.
Allow yourself to be creative; don't dwell in the area of "sensibilities".
Allow yourself to be open; as opposed to reasoning everything.
Communicate to the world the type of work you wish to have. You will be surprised at how much support you will receive, once you clarify your wishes.

When you do the work you love, it becomes easy and effortless, because work becomes a source of energy rather than a drain. You continuously grow and develop while creating for yourself a space of love and friendship. You tap into your creativity therefore remaining young and alive.

So how about making your hobby your work?!


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