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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Top 10 'Hells On Earth


Oklahoma City Makes Top 10 'Hells On Earth'
Mayor Says Ranking Slam Over NBA Team Relocation Effort
OKLAHOMA CITY -- What does Oklahoma City have in common with the likes of Chernobyl and Baghdad? They're all "Hells on Earth," according to AskMen.com.
Oklahoma City was the only American city to make the
Web site's list, at No. 5, more hellish than cities like No. 10 Baghdad, Iraq; and No. 6 Chernobyl, Ukraine; but less hellish than No. 4 Pyongyang, North Korea; and No. 1 Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
While Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said the city's ranking on the list could be somebody's slam over the relocation situation regarding the Seattle Supersonics, the creator of the list said that couldn't be further from the truth, reported KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City.
Nick Clarke said from Marbella, Spain, that his
travel feature was merely about Oklahoma City's wide variety of severe weather.
"I visited (Oklahoma City) a few years ago. It's nice. Not one of my favorite places, but I enjoyed my time," he said.
Of Oklahoma City, Clarke wrote:
"While it may be all hunky-dory on the musical front, Oklahoma City isn't the kind of place you'd want to hang out in for too long if you like to keep your feet on terra firma. The weather is frighteningly unpredictable, with blizzards often descending on the city and winds that could knock a high rise clean off its feet. It is, after all, located in the direct path of 'Tornado Alley.'
The worst time to visit would be from March to August, when The Day After Tomorrow-style weather is pretty much expected. In fact, the severe weather season makes Dorothy's Kansas look positively calm, with Oklahoma City being the city worst affected by tornadoes in the United States. One of the most powerful tornadoes on record -- an F5 with wind speeds of 320 mph -- devastated much of the city in 1999, securing its place on our list of hells on earth."
Of the feature's most hellish place on Earth, Clarke wrote:
"With over 115 new HIV and AIDS cases diagnosed every month at Port Moresby General Hospital, the capital of Papua New Guinea isn't at the top of this list for much except being the 'worst place to live in the world,' according to a 2004 vote by the Economist's Intelligence Unit. With the population expanding at an uncontrollable rate, employment levels have rocketed, income levels have plummeted and cases of rape, robbery and murder have reached new heights (the murder rate is 23 times that of London).
Gang members, known as 'raskols,' have been known to carry out bank robberies with M16 machine guns, hijack cars wielding machetes and, in one case, drag an injured nurse from a car wreck to rape her. Clearly, the 'rascal' tag does them a disservice. If you don't have time to pick up some souvenirs, don't worry; you'll almost certainly have picked up a disease or two to take home with you."
"It's one person's, one company's opinion. You have to take everything with a pinch of salt," the British-born Clarke said. "It's not a knock on the people, crime or possible pollution in Oklahoma. It was strictly about the weather."
Clarke, 23, is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture and travel. He said the list was a collaboration between him and the AskMen.com staff. The "Hells on Earth" feature was aggregated to an online Web site from AOL Travel; however, AOL has since removed Oklahoma City from its list.
However, Cornett told KOCO-TV that he's not convinced. He said he believes Oklahoma City's inclusion in the list was generated by somebody who has a grudge over the Sonics' relocation to Oklahoma City.
Cornett said he would watch to see how the story progresses.
KOCO-TV contacted James Bassil, AskMen.com's editor-in-chief, and he stressed that the site's "Hells on Earth" feature was meant to be humorous.
"AskMen.com included Oklahoma City on a tongue-in-cheek list of travel destinations because of the constant weather challenges that the city faces. This list was written in a lighthearted, humorous tone and was not meant to disparage Oklahoma City as a place to live, work or raise a family," Bassil said.
The other cities making the list were No. 9 Dhaka, Bangladesh; No. 8 Yakutsk, Russia; No. 7 Mogadishu, Somalia; No. 3 Bujumbura, Republic of Burundi; and No. 2 Linfen, China.
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