Saturday, December 25, 2010

the ’Jesus trail’

It is funny that Arab Muslims reap so much profit from Christian tourists. At least they can look forward to a Merry Christmas.

Curious, Christmas means safety from Muslim terrorists in Bethlehem while the rest of the world sit around awaiting another Underwear Bomber.

Think Christmas is commercial? Wait until you see the 'Jesus trail'

McClatchy Newspapers

Strains of "Silent Night" stream from the tour bus speakers on what has become known as the Jesus circuit in Nazareth, northern Israel.

Locals here joke that the carols constitute a whole new category of music in the largely Palestinian city, but the bigger joke, they claim, is making money selling Americans their own Christmas music.

"There have always been Christians who come to the Holy Land. But in recent years they come in huge groups, in tour bus caravans, in the thousands!" said Ibrihim Mansouf, a local shop owner in Nazareth. "They want to buy anything, anything that was made in the Holy Land."

A cross is seen backdropped by the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, during a Christmas parade in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Friday, Dec. 24, 2010. Thousands of tourists, pilgrims and clergy converged on Bethlehem on Friday as the town of Jesus' birth prepared to celebrate Christmas Eve.(AP 

Of the 3.5 million tourists that visit Israel each year, 2.4 million travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories for "Christian Tourism" according to the Israeli Tourism Ministry.

It's a billion-dollar industry - one that both Israeli and Palestinian businesses have just begun to capitalize on.

"The Holy Land is becoming the heart of life for people of faith across the entire world. Christmas is a tradition of this land, and all the inhabitants can enjoy the atmosphere and message of peace that the season brings," said Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the custodian of the Holy Land, who oversees Israel and neighboring countries on behalf of the Franciscan Order.

In recent years, there has been a boom in sites and services that mix modern-day tourism with biblical stories. In the north, tourists can visit the "Nazareth Village" a re-creation of life in the time of Christ, complete with wandering shepherds and carpenters who interact with guests.

The "Jesus trail" begins just outside the city, and allows the hardy to walk - quite literally - in the footsteps of Jesus. It's 40 miles long and takes three to five days to cover. Across the north of Israel, Maronite Christian villages offer one-week Aramaic courses based on readings from the New Testament, as well as walks along the hills where Jesus is said to have given the sermon on the Mount.

All of this before tourists even get to Jerusalem or Bethlehem.

"Tourism is a bridge to peace and dialogue among cultures," Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov told reporters recently. In recent years, his office has worked to establish access to tour sites in Israel, as well as in the Palestinian territories, he said.

"If I can bring in three more tourists, and two of them visit the Palestinian areas, they will create employment there. This is a win-win situation for Israel and the Palestinian Authority," said the Russian-born Misezhnikov.

Not everyone feels that Israel's new push to cater to Christian tourists benefits both sides equally.

Victor Batarseh, mayor of Bethlehem, recently lashed out as Israeli Tourism officials for trying to "cash in" on tourists visiting the region.

"Israel takes 95 percent of the benefits (of tourism to Bethlehem)," he said. "Israel uses the name of Bethlehem, since religious tourists go to two places, Bethlehem and Jerusalem."

He argued that years of Israel's military occupation and the separation barrier that winds its way around the city have made it difficult for businessmen in Bethlehem to make ends meet - let along build the type of infrastructure the tens of thousands of tourists would need.

This year, every single hotel room in Bethlehem has been booked - with tens of thousands of tourists spilling out in neighboring Jerusalem for accommodation.

"We don't have enough hotel rooms to deal with these numbers. That's why most of these pilgrims sleep over in Israel. That's why they get most of the profits," Batarseh said. There are five new hotels currently under development in Bethlehem, but Batarseh said that 10,000 to 15,000 additional rooms would need to be built to house the tourists the city sees in one Christmas season.

Misezhnikov said Batarseh is unjustly heaping guilt onto Israel. He pointed out that Israel has endorsed several international conferences in Bethlehem to plan and fundraise for future business projects in the city.

"I would support any plan that would build world-class and innovative tourism accommodations. I have been pushing for this whether it happens in the Palestinian areas or Jewish ones," Misezhnikov said.
Sarah Anderson, a 46-year-old teacher from Chicago, visited Bethlehem and Jerusalem for the first time this week.

"There is a big wall between them, and I was expecting two different worlds," she said. "But I felt the holiness of each place was equal and special and had nothing to do with politics."

FULL STORY: Miami Herald

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ghost Towns in China

This a fascinating story.

The ghost towns of China: Amazing satellite images show cities meant to be home to millions lying deserted

Ghost city: Kangbashi was meant to be the urban centre for wealthy coal-mining community Ordos and home to its one million workers, but its roads are eerily empty and the houses stand vacant

These amazing satellite images show sprawling cities built in remote parts of China that have been left completely abandoned, sometimes years after their construction.

Elaborate public buildings and open spaces are completely unused, with the exception of a few government vehicles near communist authority offices.
Some estimates put the number of empty homes at as many as 64 million, with up to 20 new cities being built every year in the country's vast swathes of free land.

I suspect this a result of central planning and those who do that do not understand what they are doing.

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:
Of the 35 major cities surveyed, property prices in eleven including Beijing and Shanghai were between 30 and 50 per cent above their market value

That is an incredible statement, or there is something happening in China I just can't comprehend.

Prices equal MARKET VALUE!

No cars in the city except for approximately 100 clustered around the government headquarters

Shi has insisted China will not end up in a worse place than Dubai - where a property price bubble imploded during the global financial crisis.

PRICE BUBBLE represents an inflated MARKET PRICE!

Find out what is causing the bubble and pop it before it causes to much damage!

Back when I sold my house in California it was no secret that prices were inflated and eventually the BUBBLE would pop.

Causes were no less than central planning by liberal wackos like Barney Fag, oops I mean Sen. Barney Frank who helped push quasi government agencies like Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac to guarantee home loans to people who had no business buying a house. Followed by unscrupulous financiers with nothing to loose.

So much for the liberal concept that everybody has a RIGHT to own their own house.

I wonder what the problem in China is.

Is it some philosophical idiotology or simply greed by some who will no matter what profit immensely?

For Full Story and Pictures From the



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

China Leans on North Korea?

I am not making any bets, or holding my breath if this signifies positive news.

Now that's said.
To me it is apparent that when China sighs,  an ill wind engulfs the city of Pyongyang, capital of an ill governed impoverish country.
China calls on N Korea to admit inspectors

Beijing, Pyongyang’s only ally, has refused to criticise it publicly despite being pressed since a North Korean attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in November. “We support North Korea to make peaceful use of nu-clear energy, but it should also respect inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency under the framework of the six-party talks,” said Jiang Yu, a foreign ministry spokeswoman.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Commodity Prices Sore, Traders Hoard

Except maybe to get a glimpse of what the future holds I really don't know what to make of this.

No doubt we will be hearing a lot about the global demand for and concentration of raw materials. In that vein I find this story interesting.

Trader Holds $3 Billion of Copper in London
As commodity prices soar to new records, the ability of a few traders to hold huge swaths of the world's stockpiles is coming under scrutiny.

The latest example is in the copper market, where a single trader has reported it owns 80% to 90% of the copper sitting in London Metal Exchange warehouses, equal to about half of the world's exchange-registered copper stockpile and worth about $3 billion.

Copper soared to a new record of $4.2705 per pound on Tuesday in New York, and is up 28.3% this year. Here, the Cerro Verde copper mine in the Atacama desert near Arequipa, Peru.
The report coincided with copper prices soaring to new records on Tuesday. Commodities prices rallied along with stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 55.03 points, or 0.48%, to 11533.16, its highest level since August 2008. Crude oil jumped to its highest level in more than two years and topped $90 a barrel in late electronic trading in New York. Corn and soybeans rose amid worries about hot weather in Argentina.

Copper soared to a new record of $4.2705 per pound on Tuesday in New York, and is up 28.3% this year. The LME's three-month copper contract closed at $9,353.50 a metric ton, up 1.6% on the day, a new record.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. recently had a large position in copper, though it is unclear whether the U.S. bank increased its holdings, or whether a new player has taken dominant position.

"Regardless of who owns it, the only thing of note here is that we are being told that one person has a substantial position," said David Threlkeld, president of Resolved Inc., a metals consultancy.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Yea! Dream Act Kiled!

It is a shame that our Federal Government will not protect our borders.
Both the Democratic Party and Republican parties, for selfish/political reasons continue to not enforce immigration laws.

It has come to this, a rehensible bill passed by the House of Representatives, called the DREAM Act.
By another name is an AMNESTY bill for illegal immigrants.

Be it for minors or whoever makes no difference. This Act would put preference to ILLEGAL  ACTS.

What message does that give to millions of other people who wish to come to my country?
The law means nothing?

Dream Act Fails in Senate

WASHINGTON—The Senate on Saturday refused to advance a bill aimed at helping the children of illegal immigrants gain legal status, dealing the measure a likely death blow for the foreseeable future.

The Dream Act—which stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors—was aimed at helping people brought into the country illegally when they were 15 or younger. It would have let them obtain citizenship if they attended two years of college or served for two years in the military. To qualify, they also would have had to live in the U.S. for five years and graduate from high school.

The bill failed on a 55-41 vote. It would have required 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Crisis In Iran

Reductions of subsidies for basic needs create turmoil.

One would think that the Mullahs would think more of their domestic problems than fabricating enemies so to pursue nuclear weapons.

Subsidy Cuts Quadruple Gas Prices in Iran
TEHRAN — Gasoline prices nearly quadrupled on Sunday and riot police guarded filling stations around the capital as deep cuts in subsidies on fuel and other essential goods took effect.

And they are sitting atop one of the richest oil reserves on the planet.

After midnight on Sunday, the price of subsidized gasoline jumped to 38 cents a liter from 10 cents a liter. Similar increases went into effect for compressed natural gas and diesel fuel, with subsidy reductions for other commodities expected to be phased in gradually.

Security forces with riot shields took positions at gas stations in Tehran, bracing for a possible repeat of the unrest that followed the introduction of gasoline rationing in 2007, but there were no reports of violence.

He said that the prices of water, electricity and natural gas would increase “gradually,” and that the subsidy for bread would also be gradually eliminated. He predicted that the bottom 60 percent of income earners would be better off under the new plan while the wealthier 40 percent would “need to economize.”

That is a revolutionary concept new to me.

The government tried to cushion the blow by making a one-time payment to each household of about $77. Although the funds were deposited in October, Iranians were not allowed to withdraw the money until Sunday, the day the reductions took effect.

Despite Mr. Ahmadinejad’s call for Iranians to refrain from spending the money immediately in order to help prevent a sharp jump in inflation, witnesses reported that many customers were withdrawing the full amount at once.

“I want to spend it on living costs,” said one bank customer quoted by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency. “I know that prices haven’t risen yet but I know for sure that they will.”

FULL New York Times STORY

Funny how those kind of gimmicks never seem to work out as expected.

This will be interesting to watch.

Utah May Have State Gun!

Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of what arguably is the best handgun ever designed.

John Moses Browning's genius represents the best of American ingenuity.

Utah lawmaker to propose a state firearm

Utah soon could have an official state firearm: the Browning model 1911 .45-caliber handgun, designed by Utah gun maker John Moses Browning.

SALT LAKE CITY — Virtually all states have a state bird, a state flower and a state motto. Utah soon could have an official state firearm: the Browning model 1911 .45-caliber handgun, designed by Utah gun make  John Moses Browning.

State Rep. Carl Wimmer, a former police officer, a life member of the National Rifle Association and an instructor for concealed-weapons classes, wants to take a shot at creating that designation when the Legislature convenes next month. At least one anti-gun-violence group bemoans the move but sees no real harm.

"It would be very appropriate going into 2011 because it is the 100-year anniversary of the Browning model 1911," said Wimmer, a Republican. "It has a rich history. It was in every war from World War I to World War II, Korea, Vietnam and all the recent wars. It is still used by some military units and many police agencies."

When a Pennsylvania lawmaker proposed designating a state firearm there this year (to honor the Pennsylvania long rifle, news stories said that would create the first official state firearm in the country. That effort appears to have failed, so Utah could be the first.

"As to how the outside world views Utah, it again shows how Utah worships guns at all turns of the road," said Gary Sackett, of the Utah Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence.

"But it is probably true that this particular firearm has a historical place, so I don't think the bill goes to the core of what concerns us about firearm safety," he said. Wimmer said he owns a version of the gun, "and Browning was far ahead of his time with this model."