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China

China Secretly Clones Austrian Village 329

Hugh Pickens writes "A scenic mountain village in Austria called Hallstatt has been copied, down to the statues, by a Chinese developer. Residents of the original Hallstatt attended Saturday's opening in China for the high-end residential project, but were still miffed about how the company did it. 'They should have asked the owners of the hotel and the other buildings if we agree with the idea to rebuild Hallstatt in China, and they did not,' says hotel owner Monika Wenger. People in Hallstatt first learned a year ago of the plan when a Chinese guest at Wenger's hotel who was involved with the project inadvertently spilled the beans. Minmetals staff had been taking photos and gathering data while mingling with tourists, raising suspicions among villagers. The original village is a centuries-old village of 900 and a UNESCO heritage site that survives on tourism. The copycat is a $940 million housing estate that thrives on China's new rich. In a country famous for pirated products, the replica Hallstatt sets a new standard. 'The moment I stepped into here, I felt I was in Europe,' says 22-year-old Zhu Bin, a Huizhou resident. 'The security guards wear nice costumes. All the houses are built in European style.' This isn't the first time a Chinese firm has used a European place as inspiration. The Chinese city of Anting, some 30 kilometers from Shanghai, created a district designed to accommodate 20,000 residents called 'German Town Anting' and in 2005 Chengdu British Town was modeled on the English town of Dorchester."
The Internet

Comcast Is Reading Your Blog 235

Paolo writes "A Washington student got a bit of a shock when he received an email from internet service provider Comcast about comments he had made on his blog. Brandon Dilbeck, a student at the University of Washington, writes a blog and used it to complain about the service he was getting from Comcast. Shortly afterwards he got an email message from Comcast apologizing for the problems and suggesting he might look at a guide it had posted on its web site. Lyza Gardner, a vice president at a Web development company in Portland used Twitter to complain about the company and was surprised to be contacted directly. Comcast is now monitoring blogs as a way of improving its image among customers. The company was ranked at the bottom of the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index."

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