Paul, Rockets roll past Spurs for 12th straight win

first_imgSteam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours Paul’s dazzling performance came on a night James Harden had one of his worst 3-point shooting nights of the season, making 6 of 18 from the field, including 2 of 11 from 3. Harden had 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists, scoring half his points on 14-of-16 shooting from the free-throw line.The Rockets are on the fourth-longest win streak in franchise history and the longest since a franchise-best 22 straight in the 2007-08 season.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkAll Rockets starters and reserve Eric Gordon had scored in double figures by the end of the third quarter. Clint Capela had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Gordon scored 14 points, Ryan Anderson had 12, and Trevor Ariza added 11.The Rockets beat the Spurs for just the third time in their last 12 meetings. View comments Meralco ‘never the same’ after Almazan injury in PBA Finals LATEST STORIES Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina Redemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie Thompson LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 16 points. Joffrey Lauvergne had 14, Patty Mills had 13 and Davis Bertans scored 12, all off the bench for San Antonio.The Rockets jumped to a 31-16 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 60-43 at the half. The Rockets entered the fourth quarter with a 92-72 lead.Kawhi Leonard played in his second game back after making his season debut on Tuesday night in Dallas after missing the first 27 games of the season with a right quadriceps injury. Leonard, who has been recovering from a quadriceps condition that causes pain and weakness in the knee, started and had 12 points in 17 minutes, all in the first half.Before the game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich hinted before the game that Leonard and Tony Parker were unlikely to play Saturday night in Dallas in the second half of San Antonio’s back-to-back.TIP-INSADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) looks to shoot against San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (14) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/George Bridges)HOUSTON — Chris Paul had 28 points, eight assists and seven steals to lead the Houston Rockets to their 12th straight victory, a 124-109 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.Paul became the first player in NBA history to post 28 points, eight assists and seven steals in a game against the Spurs. In the past 10 years, that stat line has been achieved just 10 times — Paul has done it six of those times. The Rockets are unbeaten when he plays this season.ADVERTISEMENT Spurs: SF Kyle Anderson missed his sixth straight game with a sprained left MCL, but he is progressing well and could return after San Antonio’s back-to-back in Houston and Dallas, possibly as early as Monday when the Spurs host the Clippers. … Danny Green started and played through left groin tightness, scoring two points in 19 minutes.Rockets: Houston played its first game without Luc Mbah a Moute, who suffered a dislocated right shoulder on Wednesday night against Charlotte. Mbah a Moute could be out 2-3 weeks with the injury. … The Rockets improved to 19-1 when leading after the third quarter, winning by double digits for the 17th time in 27 games.UP NEXTSpurs: Host Dallas on Saturday night.Rockets: Host Milwaukee on Saturday night.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Brian Heruela arrival bolsters Phoenix backcourt, defense Scottie Thompson also worthy of Finals MVP, thinks Cone Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ‘a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Panthers owner under investigation for workplace misconductlast_img read more

Eagles get hero’s welcome after winning 1st Super Bowl title

first_imgJiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina Michael Porter Jr. stays patient as playing time increases Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, the unassuming backup quarterback who took over for injured star Carson Wentz and played brilliantly throughout the playoffs, wasn’t on the team plane. Foles headed — where else? — to Disney World, riding a float at the Orlando resort and fist-bumping Mickey Mouse amid a shower of green confetti.“It’s all right to yell,” he told the cheering crowd. “We’re world champs! We did it! We did it!”The underdog Eagles won their first NFL championship since 1960 on Sunday night with a surprise 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots, ending a drought that had long tormented the city’s football-crazed fans. Philly was the only team in the Northeast Corridor to have never won a Super Bowl.The city scheduled a victory parade for Thursday along a 5-mile route that will stretch from the Eagles stadium complex to the steps of the Philadelphia art museum, whose steps Sylvester Stallone ran up during “Rocky.” It’s a fitting ending point for a team that Stallone had cheered on throughout the playoffs.Revelers along the parade route will be able to indulge in free Bud Light at two dozen bars, thanks to a promise the beer maker made to Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson before the season.ADVERTISEMENT OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Almazan vows to comeback stronger after finals heartbreak Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Vandals were seen having an apparent food fight inside a gas station’s convenience store, yelling “Everything is free!” and overturning a car outside a hotel. After 1 a.m., the only people allowed inside the 24-hour Wawa convenience store near City Hall were police officers.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Philadelphia Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy while displaying it to fans gathered to welcome them in Philadelphia a day after defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)PHILADELPHIA — Fresh off their first Super Bowl title, the Philadelphia Eagles arrived home to a hero’s welcome Monday afternoon, hours after overjoyed fans mobbed the streets in a sometimes unruly victory celebration nearly 60 years in the making.Hundreds of fans greeted the team’s plane at Philadelphia International Airport, cheering wildly and singing “Fly Eagles Fly” as Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie emerged with the Lombardi Trophy.ADVERTISEMENT Newsome sets focus on helping Bolts open new PBA season on right track LATEST STORIEScenter_img Frigid Super Bowl raises questions about northern venues Philly had some cleaning up to do Monday after pockets of Eagles fans turned unruly overnight, with rowdies smashing department store windows, looting a gas station convenience store and toppling a number of the city’s famously greased light poles. The police commissioner said he and other officers were hit with bottles.The vast majority of revelers celebrated peacefully, and police made only three arrests, said Ajeenah Amir, a spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Kenney.“Tens of thousands came out and celebrated this amazing victory, and but for a handful of bad actors, the celebration was peaceful and jubilant,” Amir said. She lauded police for “their assistance in getting the crowds dispersed and people home safely.”Just as Foles and the Eagles clinched victory in Minneapolis, the scene more than 1,000 miles away in Philly was one of jubilation and pandemonium.Revelers shot off fireworks, drivers beeped their horns and Philadelphians young and old descended on Broad Street, the main thoroughfare that last hosted a major championship parade in 2008 for the Phillies’ World Series win.“The city deserved it,” said 66-year-old Lou Potel, who threw a party at his home just off Broad before joining a much bigger party outside. “It’s a great city, and now we have a Super Bowl to go along with it.”Fans clambered atop the awning at the swanky Ritz Carlton Hotel near City Hall, jumping off into the crowd in what one Twitter post called “Ritz Carlton Skydiving.” The awning later collapsed with a large group of people on top of it. It wasn’t clear if anyone was injured.Nearby, windows were smashed at a Macy’s department store and at an Old Navy clothing store.And apparently no amount of grease in the world can keep some drunken Eagles fans from climbing poles in celebration. A few managed to shimmy up traffic lights and street sign poles.Amir said there were reports of some injuries from falls near light poles but precise numbers weren’t available. MOST READ Nueva Ecija warehouse making fake cigarettes raided, 29 Chinese workers nabbed After getting off the plane, Lurie, Coach Doug Pederson and stars like tight end Zach Ertz and running back LeGarrette Blount approached the chain-link fence separating the team from the fans, smiling, pumping their arms and shooting video with their phones. Fans stood on cars and news trucks to catch a glimpse.“It’s been a long journey to redemption,” said John Hall, 49, who works at Philadelphia’s public transit agency. “We don’t have to hear the negative anymore, that we don’t have a ring. It’s official now.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkDan Mazzoli, 53, a disabled construction worker and die-hard fan from New Jersey, shared the moment with his 12-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter.“We’ve been waiting for this all our lives,” he said. Nonito Donaire vs Naoya Inoue is BWAA 2019 Fight of the Year OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew View commentslast_img read more

Bulacan torches Rizal; Makati triumphs

first_imgJust play Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina Christopher Tolkien, son of Lord of the Rings author, dies aged 95 Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew MOST READ Makati coach Cholo Villanueva has learned enough to teach his team the ins and outs of pressure defense.ADVERTISEMENT View comments Cloudy skies over Luzon due to amihan Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Nextcenter_img Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES Bicol riders extend help to Taal evacuees Jury of 7 men, 5 women selected for Harvey Weinstein rape trial Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award “You can’t teach what you don’t know,” said the former La Salle standout in the UAAP. “And (playing pressure defense) is something I’ve been teaching from the years of experience playing and being an understudy of the Pumarens (Franz and Derrick).”Makati proved it had a grasp of what had been La Salle’s calling card during the Pumaren years, forcing 34 turnovers on a bewildered Basilan squad for a 77-65 victory Tuesday night in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League at Baliuag Star Arena in Baliwag, Bulacan.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownMakati drew 38 points from those Basilan error to come up with a smashing performance that rivaled that of home squad Bulacan, which crushed Rizal, 80-61.“We’ve prepared hard this season, knowing that we’ll be facing strong teams along the way,” said Bulacan coach BrittReroma. “But we just want to improve day-by-day.” Taal victims get help from Kalayaan town In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’last_img read more

Nimba Lawmaker Blames Finance Ministry for Underdevelopment

first_imgNimba County District #1 Representative, Prince Tokpah, says development in his county is dormant because the Ministry of Finance has failed to disburse county and social development funds belonging to Nimba.Recently speaking at a program marking the ground breaking of four projects in Nimba under the “Legislative Support Project,” Representative Tokpah stressed that over time members of the county’s Legislative Caucus have engaged the Ministry of Finance, urging it to see reason and release the funds for development projects; but all efforts to date have proven futile.He said Nimba County receives US$1.5 million every year from Arcelor Mittal as part of its social development fund. The county development fund that every county receives is a separate fund. According to the representative, Nimba has over US$4 million that the Ministry of Finance is failing to release; this, he alleged, is causing citizens to blame the legislators for failing them.“Delays on the part of the Ministry of Finance to release our social and county development funds are causing our people to blame us.  Not that we are not doing anything to protect their interest, but the Ministry of Finance has failed to release the money allowing us to do so; and because you are not aware of how government works, you blame us.  If our money is not released, we will organize ourselves and approach the issue so that concerns will be raised,” Representative Tokpah explained.The Nimba lawmaker said the withholding of the county’s funds is deliberate as far as caucus members are concerned. He vowed not to relent, and to use every means possible to get to the Finance Minister.In addition to the county development funds, Representative Tokpah also said the Government of Liberia contracted yellow machines belonging to Nimba County to grate damaged roads in 2012 with the consensus that it (government) would pay the difference to the county since the machines were meant for farm-to-market roads.According to the representative, since 2012 government has not attempted to pay the money it owes the county.In separate remarks, Ganta City Mayor Dorr Cooper, rhetorically stated that it would be better if government prepares a billboard with the inscription that the Executive Mansion is renovated by Nimba rather than fail to fulfill the promise made since 2012.He said Nimba should not be the only county the Government of Liberia owes every year; therefore, what it owes must be made available to enhance development in their respective districts.When the Ministry of Finance was contacted on April 21, Deputy Minister for Administration, Jordan Slunteh, said the Ministry of Finance disbursed US$1.2 million to Nimba on September 6, 2013.Minister Slunteh said the Ministry has not disbursed the rest of the money on the grounds that procedures leading to the disbursement need to be followed, and therefore they cannot be disbursed when those conditions set have not yet been met.County caucuses in recent years have come under fire for the mismanagement of County Development Funds. Most notable was the 2013 “You eat, I eat” recording in which Montserrado County Representative Edward Forh was heard trying to convince Superintendant Grace Kpaan to embezzle funds meant for the development of the county.Representative Forh is still in office. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf accepted Superintendent Kpaan’s resignation.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Residents oppose Aera development proposal, want to see land preserved

first_img“Land acquisitions for the sake of conservation are very feasible,” said Misty Herrin, spokeswoman for the Nature Conservancy, an international conservation organization. “California voters made a huge gesture in support of conservation when they passed Proposition 84.” Some residents have expressed their opposition to Aera’s deal, and others are skeptical that Diamond Bar’s golf course could bring more homes. “The potential exists for a home on every single fairway,” said Mike Popovec, a member of the Rowland Heights Community Coordinating Council. DeStefano, however, said that Diamond Bar is not interested in building homes. (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2477160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! ROWLAND HEIGHTS – Residents fighting development plans bordering Diamond Bar, Walnut, Rowland Heights and La Habra said they want to buy the land and preserve it. Nearly 75 people attended a meeting Monday hosted by the Rowland Heights Community Coordinating Council and heard two proposals by Aera Energy, formerly Shell Oil, and the city of Diamond Bar. Aera’s plan calls for the construction of 3,600 homes on 3,000 acres. The other project, which borders parts of Aera’s property, is proposed by Diamond Bar for the construction of a golf course on 270 acres, said Diamond Bar City Manager Jim DeStefano. The course would be near the southwest portion of Diamond Bar, in Rowland Heights, and would replace the current course. Diamond Bar wants to develop the northwest course for commercial use. “There is opportunity in the area to generate more retail,” DeStefano said Monday. “We are looking to see whether such a project has merit.” While many people at the meeting said they would like to see all the land preserved, Aera Vice President George Bayse has said that would not be in the best interest of the company. Plus, the plan already calls for half of the land to be set aside for open space, Bayse said. Claire Schlotterbeck, executive director of Hills for Everyone, a nonprofit organization, said there is federal and state money available that could be used to buy Aera’s land.Conservationists said there is plenty of funding available to buy land that would be preserved as open space. last_img read more

Modano shines in overtime

first_imgDALLAS – Mike Modano has found his scoring touch again, and that’s good news for the Dallas Stars. Modano scored his 499th career goal 35 seconds into overtime, and the Stars took sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division with a 4-3 win over the Kings on Sunday. Burke gave all the credit to Modano. “He just beat me,” Burke said. “I saw him come across the middle and I tracked him as far as I could. He just beat me with the shot.” Dustin Brown scored twice and Burke made 30 saves for the Kings, 0-2-3 in their past fivegames. “We didn’t get what we deserved,” Kings coach Marc Crawford said. “(The Stars) got some breaks. We forced them to play a game they didn’t want to play.” Also: Dallas defenseman Mattias Norstrom missed the game due to a recurring knee injury. Norstrom was acquired Feb. 27 in a trade with the Kings. … L.A. scored its first goal in the first period against Dallas this season. The Stars have 12 first-period goals against the Kings in their sevenmeetings – all Dallas victories. Modano’s 14th goal of the season, and third in five games, moved him three goals behind Joe Mullen for the career lead among U.S.-born players. “It was a good play. It took me a second or two to get it to my forehand,” Modano said of his shot from the high slot that beat Kings goaltender Sean Burke. “I held my stride a little bit to create some space.” center_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Dawson Creek RCMP searching for answers after break and enter

first_imgA break and enter in the Rolla area of Dawson Creek last Tuesday has RCMP looking for suspects.The land owner told police that someone had broken into the homestead that was no longer occupied. Later, a stolen truck and fifth wheel camper were found on the property.Further digging showed that both vehicles were stolen earlier in the month – the truck had been stolen out of Grande Prairie, and the trailer from Beaverlodge. Now, Dawson Creek RCMP are awaiting the results of forensic examination completed on both the truck and trailer to continue the investigation.- Advertisement -Police are asking anyone with more information on this case to contact them directly – or, if you wish to remain anonymous, to contact Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.last_img read more

Chelsea and Arsenal will have to move fast to land £10m striker

first_img Mattia Destro [centre] 1 Chelsea and Arsenal target Mattia Destro’s move to Monaco is back on, according to reports in Italy.The Roma striker was close to moving to the Principality last week, only for the two clubs to fail to agree a fee for the player.But Sky Sport Italia claim the deal is now back on, although Destro is said to still be holding out for a potential move to Fiorentina.Either way, the Premier League giants will have to move fast if they are to secure one of their long-term targets.last_img read more

L.A. port truck switch miffs Long Beach

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m. The Los Angeles harbor commission is poised today to approve a plan aimed at significantly reducing diesel emissions from big rigs, even as relations have become increasingly murky with the neighboring Port of Long Beach over the issue. After weeks of negotiations, both agencies announced a plan last Thursday that would require diesel trucks operating at the twin port complex to follow 2007 federal emissions standards by Jan. 1, 2014, the first step in implementing the disputed Clean Trucks Program. But Los Angeles port officials abruptly changed course the following day by placing the final deadline on a fast-track for Jan. 1, 2012. The last-minute maneuver prompted the Long Beach harbor commission to delay a vote on the matter earlier this week. “Our commissioners and our staff are a little confused, disappointed and frustrated right now,” said Art Wong, a spokesman for the Port of Long Beach. “It’s been a difficult time getting this done, and now we find out that they still want to tweak it at the last minute,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what went wrong.” CONFLICT: Panel is set to OK a 2012 deadline for emission cuts. Long Beach thought deal was for 2014. By Art Marroquin Staff Writer While Long Beach cries foul, the Los Angeles harbor commission is scheduled this morning to vote on the more aggressive 2012 timeline. Additional provisions requiring trucking companies to purchase and maintain the cleaner-burning trucks while also hiring drivers as full-time employees will be worked out at a later date, according to executives at both ports. “We are on track and ready to bring this before our board as it stands,” said Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. Knatz said she was on a business trip in Eureka when her staff crafted the plan and press releases with Long Beach port executives last week. After reviewing the materials Friday morning, Knatz said that she ordered the schedule to be shifted so that it would comply with provisions outlined in the larger Clean Air Action Plan, which was adopted by the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor commissions last November. “Maybe both staffs thought they had an agreement, but they are not the final decisionmakers,” Knatz said. “There is no agreement until the board and management agrees. I saw the inconsistency and I raised a red flag.” Members of the Long Beach port’s executive staff were on a work-related retreat last weekend, leading to the breakdown in communication when Knatz called for the change, according to Wong. “We had an agreement and they decided to change their mind after we had already gone public,” Wong said. There was speculation that a representative in Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office ordered the change, according to sources close to the situation. At first, Villaraigosa’s press office had tried to characterize the last-minute switch as a “typo” in separate press releases simultaneously delivered last week by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, then later declined to comment on the matter. Knatz denied rumors that Villaraigosa’s office told her to change the timeline. “The mayor does not call up port staff,” she said. Before Knatz’s decision, staffs from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach spent at least two weeks hammering out a plan that mirrored provisions scheduled for consideration next month by the California Air Resources Board, Wong said. CARB’s plan would commit the state to set increasingly strict emission regulations, with a goal to have port trucks meeting 2007 federal standards by 2014. “We had reasons for agreeing on 2014,” Wong said. “We’re convinced that there are more particulate reductions by going to 2014, costs would be less expensive to our industry and it would be more realistic to do.” Estimates show that fully implementing the program by 2012 would cost $7 billion, but the ports would save about $1 billion if they held off for two years, according to Wong. “I think both ports know that it would be confusing for the industry and disruptive to have to meet two different standards,” Wong said. “That’s why we went with the proposed state standards, which say 2014.” Knatz contends that aligning the port’s Clean Trucks Program with CARB’s proposed standards would require a public process to amend the Clean Air Action Plan. “CARB came up with valid technical issues worth looking at, but if we are going to deviate from what the boards approved, then we have to change the Clean Air Action Plan,” Knatz said. “I did not feel it was appropriate to just change the Clean Air Action Plan without any vetting or discussion. Once we get the Clean Trucks Program figured out, then an update of the Clean Air Action Plan would be more meaningful.” As it stands, the proposal bans diesel trucks built prior to 1989 from both ports by Oct. 1, 2008. Regulations would grow increasingly stricter through Jan. 1, 2012, in Los Angeles and Jan. 1, 2014, in Long Beach. Knatz said she is confident that Long Beach port officials will see things her way. “That’s certainly the direction I see things going,” she said. In the meantime, Long Beach officials are back at the drawing board, trying to figure out which way to go. “As difficult as this has been, we are still anxious to move forward with the Clean Trucks Program,” Wong said. “I don’t know how we are going to resolve this, but we have to and we will.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Bethlehem festive as pilgrims come back

first_img“If you can’t be with family, it’s good to be here where it all went down,” said 23-year-old David Collen of Hickman, Neb., who is studying the Middle East at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Tiago Martins, 28, from Curitiba, Brazil, said the new peace talks had prompted him to visit Bethlehem for the first time. “The idea that it’s a Christian city makes me more calm, and I think going to the West Bank is more comfortable since Annapolis,” Martins said. Priests and monks, tourists, Palestinian families and police mingled in Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity, the site where tradition holds that Christ was born. Vendors hawked beads, inflatable Santas, roasted peanuts, cotton candy, steamed corn and Turkish coffee while city residents watched the festivities from balconies and rooftops. A four-story cypress tree, strung with lights and red and gold ornaments and topped with a yellow star, towered outside the church. Children strolling through the square wore red-and-white Santa Claus hats, with some in full Santa regalia. Balloons bobbed from vendors’ stands and strings children clutched in their hands. After nightfall, the square was lit in a sea of red and yellow lights and Christmas stars. “This year is much better than the last seven years for tourism,” said shopkeeper Jacques Aman, whose wooden handicrafts shop offered crosses, rosaries and nativity scenes. “The atmosphere is better in general. There is relative calm, from the security standpoint.” Palestinian scouts, some wearing kilts and berets adorned with pompoms, marched through the streets playing drums and bagpipes. Throughout the evening, choirs and orchestras performed hymns and Christmas carols in a multitude of languages. Years of violence have contributed to the departure of a growing number of Christians from Bethlehem. Johnny Giacaman, a Bethlehem native who now lives in the United Arab Emirates but returned this year to visit his family, is among the people who have left. “There is nothing for young people here,” he said, standing outside his family’s gift shop. “Christians are leaving in high numbers. I am an example. If this continues, in five to 10 years the Church of the Nativity will be a museum.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BETHLEHEM, West Bank – Encouraged by renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Christian pilgrims from around the world converged on Jesus’ traditional birthplace Monday to celebrate Christmas – a palpable contrast to the sparse crowds of recent years. The mix of people included festive American tourists, clergymen in brown flowing robes and Palestinian scouts wearing kilts and playing bagpipes. “I’m Catholic. I always wanted to see the beginning of Christianity, the whole history. It’s something you grow up with,” said Kristin Obeck, a 37-year-old schoolteacher from Richmond, Va. Despite the festive atmosphere, a heavy police deployment, the presence of Israel’s separation barrier and unease among Bethlehem’s ever-shrinking Christian population served as reminders of the lingering tensions in the region. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonIn the years following the 1993 Oslo peace accord, Bethlehem attracted tens of thousands of tourists for Christmas. But the number of visitors plummeted after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000. Tourism has begun to recover in recent years as fighting has slowed. This year, it got a boost from the renewal of peace talks last month at a summit in Annapolis, Md. Israeli tourism officials said they expected some 20,000 visitors to cross from Jerusalem into neighboring Bethlehem, an increase of about 50percent over last year. Tourism workers handed out sweets and flowers to pilgrims, and smiling Israeli soldiers posed for pictures with travelers. Bethlehem’s governor, Saleh Tamari, said all of the town’s 5,000 hotel rooms were booked. last_img read more