The modern, suburban Israeli community of Efrat clings to the hillside between Bethlehem and Hebron, four miles east of the Green Line. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc.
THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT that in the Middle East security is paramount. But, sometimes, it is also futile.
It is totally understandable that in Israel, tight security checks at every public place have become a way of life. Residents don’t seem to notice; visitors, unaccustomed to it, hardly can not notice.
On two occasions during my recent 10-day visit to the region, security was both overwhelming and, seemingly, futile.
The first was on a trip deep into the so-called “occupied territory” where Israeli residents have established residential communities surrounded by Palestinians. My trip was to the environs of Bethlehem, near the large Israeli community of Efrat.
The second was on my trip to the West Bank, crossing the border on the main road from Jerusalem to Ramallah, capital of the Palestinian National Authority.
BAHAI FAITHFUL CALL HAIFA TOMB, GARDENS ITS HOLIEST SITE
As if being home to the holiest shrines of the world’s three major religions is not sufficiently complicated, Israel is also the location of a fourth – lesser known – holy shrine considered by millions the holiest of all.
The Bahai Gardens surrounding the tomb of the religion’s founder, The Bab, sit on the steep slope of Mt. Carmel affording a commanding view of the city of Haifa on Israel’s north coast.
The gardens abound with symbolism.
It is a place of peaceful harmony – quite unlike the bitterly contested Old City in Jerusalem, where the holiest shrines of the world’s three major religions are located.
ARTISTS’ COLONY THRIVES JUST 90 MILES FROM DAMASCUS
Yakir Gershon, 73, lives in the artists’ colony Ein Hod just 90 miles from Damascus, Syria.
If President Obama decided to launch a missile attack on Syria, those missiles would almost fly right over the roof of his house in this artist’s colony about 10 kilometers south of Haifa.
Quite probably, a short time later, missiles would arrive from the opposite direction.
But the residents of this idyllic village just stay calm and carry on.
MEET SOME OF ITS HABITUÉS IN THE VIDEO
The world-famous Venice Beach, California, and its incomparable Boardwalk features daily some of the weirdest, most wonderful and wackiest people on the planet.
In our video presentation, you will meet some of the folks who populate the Boardwalk every day of the week.
Sit back take a few minutes off your weekend, and take a virtual trip down the Boardwalk at the world-famous Venice Beach, California.
IN KARACHI, SAME-SEX PARTNERS EASY TO FIND, MEDIA REPORT
It is a most unlikely discovery: in a country where only two percent of the people accept homosexuality, a gay community is thriving. It is in a city of over 21 million people: Karachi, Pakistan.
The “official” religious bent of the population denies the most basic right of all – continued life – to gay people, yet homosexuals risk life and limb to express their sexuality.
Gay sex is easy to find, several media outlets report. “Karachi pretty much fails on every metric of gay life except for one: man-on-man sex.”
Yet openly expressing one’s sexuality could be a death sentence.
What a paradox.
RACE IS ON TO OFFER SCHEDULED SUBORBITAL FLIGHTS
It has long been relegated to the realms of science fiction and fantasy, but space tourism on regularly scheduled flights is inching closer – and may be as little as one year away.
With Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceport in New Mexico well under way, and all the activity in California, there can be no doubt that a new space race is taking place.
It is a certain bet that within the lifetimes of most of us under 70 today, space tourism will turn from science fiction into science fact – for those with a wad of cash to spare.
BBC SAYS JOHANNESBURG UNDERGOING REBIRTH
The first 10 minute segment on BBC Newsnight this weekend was about the surprising rebirth of a city in which I lived for six months in 1974: Johannesburg, South Africa.
This story about one of the most violent cities on earth, however, was truly a surprise.
Riddled with crime, the inner city is apparently undergoing an urban renaissance.
Get In the (K)now … here, now
SENSATION IS SOMETHING LIKE FACING BACKWARDS ON A TRAIN
We pushed back from the gate at almost exactly the scheduled time of 5:45 p.m. PDT.
It was a short taxi, virtually no other aircraft in front of us, and a takeoff roll of less than a minute. I kept shooting, doing cutaways between the two portholes… the one with the wing in it clearly gives the sense of “facing backwards.”
CHALLENGING ROADS, SCENIC SPLENDOR, CAMARADERIE CAPTURED ON CAMERA (WITH MOVIE)
The southern reaches of the Kern River in the Sierra Nevada mountains was the bucolic destination chosen for the 2013 Gay Sport Bike Riders group’s annual run of motorcycle enthusiasts seeking camaraderie, hard and fast motorcycling, challenging terrain and an all-around great time.
After lunch on Aug. 2 the fun began with a fast downhill sprint along 9 Mile Canyon Road into the Owens Valley where it meets U.S. Highway 395.
Here’s the back story on how the movie was made.
CHALLENGING ROADS, SCENIC SPLENDOR, CAMARADERIE MAKE FOR ‘FUN-TASTIC’ TIME
Kernville in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains was the bucolic destination chosen for the 2013 edition of the Gay Sport Bike Riders’ annual run of motorcycle enthusiasts seeking camaraderie, hard and fast motorcycling, challenging terrain and an all-around great time.
This year’s event began in Los Angeles (and San Francisco) on Aug. 1. The focus of the weekend, of course, is the motorcycle riding.
Challenging twists and turns, roads strewn with boulders and left-over snow runoff, steep inclines and similar downgrades put the rider to the test.
Can we cut it? Find out here and watch a movie of the funtastic weekend.