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WINNIPEG – A group that represents wildlife professionals is asking the Manitoba government to do more to protect the province’s declining moose population.

The Wildlife Society Manitoba Chapter says in an open letter written late last month to Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Tom Nevakshonoff that the moose population in Manitoba has declined from a high of over 45,000 animals to just 20,000 now.

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It applauds recent hunting bans in specific areas, but says a comprehensive, province-wide moose conservation strategy is needed and that moose management needs a “higher prioritization” in provincial policy.

The society represents scientists, professors, biologists, managers and planners.

In October, the province issued moose hunting bans to two regions in the Turtle Mountain area southwest of Winnipeg, on top of six other bans that were already in place across the province.

In August, the province announced stiffer fines for the illegal killing of wild animals, including a $10,000 penalty for moose.

“As wildlife professionals, the recent significant downward trend in moose populations in our province has called us to action in a way we have rarely done in the 35-year history of our organization,” the letter from Nov. 25 states.

The society says its population estimate is based on accounts from its members that was acquired from aerial survey reports, field investigations, research projects and scientific surveys. It says population declines “are substantial and not restricted to any particular region.”

It blames over-hunting, a lack of hunt protection for cows and calves, disease, parasites, predators and increased human access for the drop.

A province-wide strategy, the society says, would complement aboriginal knowledge and practices in moose management. It says the strategy should include more hunting closures, a province-wide moose survey, research on moose diseases and parasites, and allowing forest fires to regenerate habitat.

The government has previously said moose numbers will be monitored and if the population increases to an acceptable level, hunting restrictions may be lifted.

The provincial fines don’t apply to anyone legally exercising a treaty or aboriginal right to hunt.

The society says it recognizes the rights of aboriginal groups for food and subsistence hunting, but says all interested parties must work together to conserve the shared resource.

CARTAGENA, Colombia — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos hailed Saturday the discovery of a Spanish galleon that went down off the South American nation’s coast more than 300 years ago with what may be the world’s largest sunken treasure.

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At a press conference in the colonial port city of Cartagena, Santos said the exact location of the San Jose galleon, and how it was discovered with the help of an international team of experts, was a state secret that he’d personally safeguard. The San Jose originally sank somewhere in the wide area off Colombia’s Baru peninsula, south of Cartagena.

While no humans have yet to reach the wreckage site, the government said autonomous underwater vehicles have gone there and brought back photos of dolphin-stamped bronze cannons in a well-preserved state that leave no doubt to the ship’s identity.

The discovery is the latest chapter in an ongoing saga that began three centuries ago, on June 8, 1708, when the Spanish ship with 600 people aboard sank to the bottom of the sea as it was trying to outrun a fleet of British warships. It is believed to have been carrying 11 million gold coins and jewels from then Spanish-controlled colonies that could be worth billions of dollars if ever recovered.

The ship, which maritime experts consider the holy grail of Spanish colonial shipwrecks, has remained submerged ever since off the coast of Cartagena even as a legal battle has raged in U.S., Colombia and Spain over who owns the rights to the sunken treasure.

In 1982, Sea Search Armada, a salvage company owned by U.S. investors including the late actor Michael Landon and convicted Nixon White House adviser John Ehrlichman, announced it had found the San Jose’s resting place 700 feet below the water’s surface.

Two years later, Colombia’s government overturned well-established maritime law that gives 50 percent to whoever locates a shipwreck, slashing Sea Search’s take down to a 5 percent “finder’s fee”.

A lawsuit by the American investors in a federal court in Washington was dismissed in 2011 and the ruling was affirmed on appeal two years later. Colombia’s Supreme Court has ordered the ship to be recovered before the international dispute over the fortune can be settled.

Santos didn’t mention any salvage company’s claim during his presentation but the government said that the ship had been found Nov. 27 in a never-before referenced location through the use of new meteorological and underwater mapping studies.

Danilo Devis, who has represented Sea Search in Colombia for decades, expressed optimism that the sunken treasure, whose haul could easily be worth more than $10 billion, would finally be recovered.

But he bristled at the suggestion that experts located the underwater grave anywhere different from the area adjacent to the coordinates Sea Search gave authorities three decades ago.

“The government may have been the one to find it but this really just reconfirms what we told them in 1982,” he told The Associated Press from his home in Barranquilla, Colombia.

The president said any recovery effort would take years but would be guided by a desire to protect the national patrimony.

During his presentation, Santos showed an underwater video that appears to show jewels and the cannons. In the footage English-speaking crew members aboard a Colombian naval ship can be seen launching the underwater vehicle into the ocean.

©2015

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. – Val Sweeting made it count when it mattered at the 2015 Canada Cup.

The Edmonton skip responded from being dispatched to a tiebreaker by Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones on Friday with a 5-3 semifinal victory on Saturday in a rematch.

Team Sweeting will play Rachel Homan’s Ottawa-based team in Sunday’s women’s final. Homan ran a 5-1 record to finish first in the round robin and an automatic entry into the championship match.

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“They’re (Homan’s team) playing well, but I thought we had really great day today so regardless of how well their team is playing we have to make our shots,” said Sweeting. “We’ve just got to focus on ourselves and make our shots the best we can and see where it falls.”

Sweeting — third Lori Olson-Johns, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachelle Brown — will be seeking their second straight Canada Cup title, having won the 2014 version in Camrose, Alta.

Earlier in the day, Sweeting defeated Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., 7-3 in the tiebreaker to earn her chance at a rematch against Jones.

Despite the loss, Jones — the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts Canadian women’s champion — will be back in Grande Prairie in late February for the 2016 Scotties as Team Canada.

“We’re thrilled to be coming back. Hopefully the ice will be as good as it was this week because it was fantastic,” said Jones.

Homan and Sweeting will battle for the top prize of $14,000, in addition to direct-entry berths to the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Ottawa — the event that will decide Canada’s four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea — and trip to Las Vegas to be part of Team North America for the 2016 Continental Cup in January.

In the men’s semifinal, Calgary’s Kevin Koe used an extra end to defeat Toronto’s John Epping 7-6.

Koe, who last won the title in 2008, never trailed, but needed the extra end after Epping scored a deuce in the 10th to tie it 6-6.

“It feels good for sure. That was a big game,” said Koe, who plays with third Marc Kennedy, second Brent Laing and lead Ben Hebert. “We were always in control, never down, but they just never went away. It was a good battle for us and nice to pull it out.”

Koe will meet Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen in the men’s final.

McEwen, the defending Canada Cup champion, and Koe, the 2010 and 2014 Tim Hortons Brier champ, were tied for first at 5-2 after the round robin, but McEwen was awarded top spot by virtue of his win over Koe during the eight-team round-robin format.

“It’ll be tough,” said Koe of the final. “We actually had a great game with them in the round robin. They played great. I don’t know what their percentages were, easily over 90 as a team I’m guessing. We played good all week with the exception of one game in the round robin and we’ve had a good year and we’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

Both the women’s and men’s finals are set for Sunday.

SAN FRANCISCO – It was the first set of the day at Mavericks, a once-secret surf spot near San Francisco, and Andrea Möller was out charging big waves when her surfboard hit her in the cheek.

It was a shock. It hurt. But the Brazilian had flown to California to ride the legendary Mavericks break, and that was what she intended to do.

She hopped a jet ski for a ride to the marina for Super Glue and duct tape. Using her skills as a paramedic, she patched her cheek so she could keep surfing but get stitches later.

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Some say women aren’t quite ready to compete in the invitation-only Titans of Mavericks. But the California Coastal Commission recently gave a boost to their campaign, telling organizers that they should have a plan for including women if they want a permit to hold the event next year.

The competition is held when the surf is just right, between Nov. 1 and March 31. Waves can rise to 60 feet (18 metres).

“Women have been progressing at big wave surfing for many years, but they always lacked the recognition and trust from the man-dominated sport,” Möller, 36, said. “Times have changed. There are no more reasons to exclude them from any event.”

READ MORE: Surfer lost most of leg following Hawaii shark attack

Commissioner Mark Vargas of Southern California made the motion to require the contest to craft a plan for women.

“They are utilizing a public resource, and we are giving them permission,” he said. “If they are going to use that public resource, then there ought to be some sort of consideration for equal opportunity, or at least transparency for their selection process to ensure there is no discrimination.”

Arguments that Mavericks is too tough for women – two men have died surfing there – don’t hold up with Vargas. Participation by women “will encourage the next generation of girls to want to become women big wave surfers,” he said. “If they don’t see it, they won’t do it.”

In 1999, Sarah Gerhardt, 41, became the first woman to ever surf the Mavericks break. She has been included in a long list of potential contestants but never made the short list. No woman has.

The organizers, she said, are not really being inclusive. “They are gesturing, but (women surfers) don’t actually make it to the top 24 and (will) never be able to compete with the men. If there are going to be women in the event, they should have their own heat,” Gerhardt, a college professor, said.

Organizers say it’s not realistic to have women compete directly with the men, although that day is coming.

“Our intent is not to put aside a special class just for women but have the women go head-to-head with the men,” said Cassandra Clark, the wife of contest founder Jeff Clark, who discovered the surf spot at age 17.

“We have women we are starting to see now, and I can’t wait to see them surf at that level,” she told the commission.

Still, it may take some time.

“At this point, we haven’t seen that kind of performance,” Jeff Clark said.

WATCH: Viral video: Motorcycle surfing Tahiti wave has BC connection

There also are logistical problems with adding a separate women’s heat, organizers say. There just isn’t time, they say, in what already is a daylong contest for two dozen surfers riding the same monstrous peak.

San Francisco surfer Grant Washburn has competed in each of the nine competitions that have been held since 1999, and he sees both sides of the dilemma.

“It would be great for the women, and I totally understand the interest,” Washburn, 47, said.

But he understands what organizers are up against when “the call” to Mavericks comes. The wave size, wind and swell direction need to be just right to summon surfers from all over the world.

“There’s so much to organize already, so to add (women) could make it impossible,” he said. “Even in the perfect scenario, we are rushing and we barely get it done.”

©2015

Santa Shuffle celebrates 25 years in Edmonton

Posted by admin on 16/07/2019
Posted in 长沙夜网 

EDMONTON — It’s an annual event that’s perhaps one of the most festive of the season. The Santa Shuffle was held in Hawrelak Park Saturday morning.

Now in its 25th year, the Santa Shuffle raises funds for the Salvation Army. Participants, most of whom dress up for the occasion, took part in a one-kilometre elf walk or a five-kilometre fun run.

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    Hundreds shuffle through Hawrelak Park for a great cause

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“It’s an exciting morning,” said John Stanton, founder of the Running Room. “The Salvation Army is always there for people. It’s a great community resource for people, whether it’s a flood or disaster of some sort. The Salvation Army people are always first there.

“At Christmastime there’s so much need that it’s a great time for the (Salvation) Army to have that extra income come in.”

The Santa Shuffle started as a single race in Edmonton in 1990. It became a national event in 2001 and is now held in 41 cities across Canada.

“It’s always about team work, and success is never one person,” Stanton said of the success of the race.

About 700 people were expected to take part in Saturday’s event. They were in luck as temperatures hovered just below the freezing mark. During the 2013 run, the wind chill made it feel like -40C at race time.

Last year, the Santa Shuffle brought in $300,000 for the Salvation Army.

Global Edmonton’s Nancy Carlson hosted and took part in the event.

©2015

FIQ reaches deal with provincial government

Posted by admin on 15/06/2019
Posted in 长沙夜网 

MONTREAL – The Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la Santé du Québec (FIQ), representing 66,000 healthcare workers, has accepted a deal in principle with  Quebec’s Health Minister, Gaetan Barrette.

It’s a deal both parties are calling historical.

“It’s clear we paved the way for the negotiations in the healthcare system,” said Roberto Bomba, a spokesperson for the FIQ.

These negotiations have been in the works since March when collective agreements for thousands of government workers expired. And negotiations haven’t been easy.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec nurses protest for better working conditions

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Discussions were tainted by rotating strikes and tense moments at the bargaining table.

READ MORE: Quebec nurses walk away from negotiations with government

Today the mood was different.

Relief was in the air as the nurses’ union and the provincial government reached a compromise on several aspects of their working conditions.

“We were able to get gains that were important to our members,” said Bomba.

Notably adding more permanent positions as only a third of licensed practical nurses have steady jobs.

“Ultimately this will result in more stable work teams and improve the quality of care and continuity of care,” added Bomba. “And all this is being done without any additional costs to the healthcare system.”

Another major point is reducing the patient/nurse ratio by working on a pilot project.

“We look at the clinical status of the patients on a specific unit and also look at the number of patients,” said Bomba.

“On a regular basis, we adjust the need of healthcare professionals, on any given unit, on a period of 24 hours.”

The overlap period, a 15-minute voluntary period where nurses report on the status of the patient, will now be compensated.

“It’s a historic moment in terms of negotiations,” said Quebec’s Health Minister Gaetan Barrette.

“We’ve addressed issues that were not addressed in the past.”

Although Barrette is satisfied with the agreement, he recognizes more work is ahead on the salary issue.

“Discussions over that are ongoing at this time,” he said.

“I had a conversation this morning with my colleague Mr. Coiteux and it is my understanding things are going well in that aspect.”

Both parties are optimistic negotiations will wrap up before the holidays.

©2015

PARIS —; It’s the option climate negotiators here are loath to talk about.

What if they fail to curb global warming and the environment gets so dangerous that someone decides to do something drastic and play mad scientist? Should nations purposely pollute the planet to try to counteract man-made warming and cool the world? Scientists are pretty sure they can do it, but should they?

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The issue is called geoengineering – purposely tinkering with the planet as opposed to the unintentional warming that’s happening now. The most talked about and advanced method involves putting heat-reflecting particles high in the air, but there also have been proposals to seed clouds other ways, put mirrors in space and seed the oceans with iron.

Scientists noticed a temporary but pronounced cooling after the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. What’s in mind would be, essentially, an artificial and constant man-made volcano with material released by aircraft or cannons.

READ MORE: Paris climate deal drafted but still long way to go

No one is talking about doing it – yet. But some scientists want to study it to find about side effects and other issues. And earlier this year, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences said small-scale and controlled experiments could be helpful to inform future decisions.

Even geoengineering’s most ardent research supporters aren’t proposing it instead of cutting back heat-trapping emissions from burning fossil fuels. But they say someday it may be needed. However, it doesn’t solve all climate change problems, just the temperature part.

Stanford University climate scientist Ken Caldeira isn’t advocating seeding clouds with sulfur particles any time soon, but he does fear a failure in climate talks and believes that at some point in the future, drastic options will look more palatable. He thinks scientists need to prepare now.

“I think of it as kind of symptomatic relief,” Caldeira said in an interview on the sidelines of the U.N.-led Paris talks. “I’m thinking like morphine for the cancer patient.”

But others inside the negotiations shudder at even talking about the issue.

WATCH: Dire warnings in new climate change reports

“The emissions and the climate change that we’re causing with that is already a massive experiment on our world that we don’t really know the outcome of,” said U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Janos Pasztor. “So I don’t think we should start another set of experiments and go into geoengineering. I think we should get our act together and reduce our emissions.”

Joe Ware, a spokesman for the faith group Christian Aid, was even more blunt.

“It’s probably playing God a bit too much for the faith community,” Ware said Friday. He said the world needs more wind farms and solar power instead.

Harvard scientist David Keith has been working on plans to test what he calls solar geoengineering in the atmosphere at a very small scale. Year one would involve balloons putting small amounts of sulfate in the air and tracking changes and side effects. Although he has received interest from private individuals, he has been unable to get the federal government to pay attention, he said.

“You can’t uninvent this technology,” Keith said. “The next generation of our kids will make decisions about this as we deal with climate risk, whatever we do. If we decide not to have a research program, we give them the gift of ignorance.”

READ MORE: Slow going at Paris climate negotiations

One problem, Keith and others said, is that there are no rules, nationally or internationally, that tell people what they can or cannot do. Pasztor said there are no plans for any international bans of the idea.

Marcia McNutt, the former U.S. Geological Survey chief who was tapped to be the next head of the National Academy of Sciences, led an academy panel that looked at the issue and recommended very cautious and small-scale research.

She said that someday a nation in crisis, such as in a long-term devastating drought, might feel the need to do something. But, she asked, what if it hurts other nations?

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said there’s “just a plethora of dangerous and unsolved problems that makes (geoengineering) very, very unattractive.”

Putting sulfates in the world is a “tremendously bad idea,” and is a huge gamble for the world, Sachs said.

Dana Fisher, director of the University of Maryland’s Program for Society and the Environment, said “geoengineering seems very American to me.” That’s because it’s an option that doesn’t seem to involve sacrifice or change and takes advantage of technology.

“Technology makes us happy and sets us free,” Fisher said. “But there are unintended consequences.”

WATCH: Reality check: What impact have climate promises made?

©2015The Associated Press

DAKAR, Senegal – A triple suicide bombing Saturday at a market on an island in Lake Chad killed at least 15 people and injured 130, Chad’s government said. A top police official blamed the carnage on Nigeria’s Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

The three explosions on Koulfoua were carried out by females, said Chad police spokesman Paul Manga.

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Police, military and local officials had earlier said at least 27 people were killed and 90 injured. The government on national radio later said at least 19 died, including four attackers, in three explosions. It said a medical team has rushed to the scene.

READ MORE: Multinational force free 900 hostages held by Boko Haram

The Lake Chad region, which straddles the borders of Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria, has been regularly targeted by the extremists. Chad’s government in November imposed a state of emergency in the area.

Chad’s director general of the gendarmerie, Gen. Banyaman Cossingar, said Boko Haram was suspected in Saturday’s attacks.

Two suicide bombings also by women killed at least three people in November in Ngouboua village near Lake Chad. Five co-ordinated suicide bombings in October killed at least 36 people and wounded 50 others in the western village of Baga Sola near Lake Chad that is home to thousands of Nigerians who have fled the extremists’ violence.

READ MORE: Boko Haram claims suicide bombing of Shiite procession that killed 21

Boko Haram’s 6-year uprising has killed some 20,000 people. The Nigeria militants have this year expanded attacks into Cameroon, Chad and Niger, countries contributing troops to a regional force formed to wipe out the extremists. Forces from Nigeria and neighbouring Chad earlier this year drove the extremists out of cities and towns in northeaster Nigeria where they had proclaimed an Islamic caliphate.

Troops from Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Benin had last week launched operations in the Lake Chad region and the Sambisa Forest, arresting 100 militants, killing 100 others and freeing 900 hostages, according to Cameroon’s government.

The bombings in Chad come as Nigeria’s intelligence agency says it has arrested nine alleged Boko Haram extremists plotting attacks on Abuja, the capital, over the holiday season. Saturday’s statement follows a warning Friday from the U.S. Embassy that extremists may be planning attacks on hotels favoured by Westerners.

One of the nine men arrested was carrying out surveillance of a “high-profile hotel,” said Nigeria’s Department of State Security. It said all nine were detained in the past month and had infiltrated Abuja, the capital in central Nigeria, from the country’s northeastern area where most extremist attacks occur.

©2015

New poll suggests most Albertans opposed to Bill 6

Posted by admin on 15/06/2019
Posted in 长沙夜网 

A new poll suggests most Albertans are opposed to the NDP government’s proposed legislation aimed at protecting farm workers. 

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On Saturday, figures were released from a new poll by Mainstreet/Postmedia that show 60 per cent of Albertans are against Bill 6. “We’ve seen many protests over the last few weeks and rightly or wrongly, Albertans are responding to the message that Bill 6 unfairly targets family farms and small business with red-tape,” said Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet Research. On Thursday, about 1,500 people gathered at the Alberta Legislature to voice their anger over the bill. It was the third such protest in less than a week.  Opposition to Bill 6 is concentrated in rural Alberta: 66 per cent of respondents outside of Calgary and Edmonton either strongly disapproved or somewhat disapproved of the bill. The survey also shows the controversial bill is seeing the least opposition in the city of Edmonton, where 50 per cent of respondents said they support the proposed farm safety law. 

A new Mainstreet/Postmedia poll suggests the majority of Albertans are opposed to Bill 6.

Mainstreet/Postmedia

 The opposition Wildrose Party, whose support has traditionally been rooted in rural parts of the province, has been vocal in its opposition to Bill 6, suggesting it wouldn’t distinguish between small family farms and large corporate operations. The party also said Albertans weren’t properly consulted on the legislation. On Saturday, Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt is hosting a town hall in Bassano to discuss the issue with farmers and ranchers. The numbers also appear to show older Albertans are more likely to support the legislation than younger Albertans. Of those polled, 64 per cent of respondents aged 18 to 34 said they disapproved of Bill 6 while only 49 per cent of respondents aged 65 and older said they disapproved. Most respondents were opposed to applying the new legislation to family members working on the farm but the majority of those polled did support applying the proposed law to paid farm workers. In the face of mounting opposition, Premier Rachel Notley penned an open letter on social media in an effort to address concerns over the proposed legislation. She said Bill 6 is aimed at preventing workplace deaths and injuries on farms and to provide farmworkers with the same rights as other workers in Alberta. The poll gathered opinions from 3,017 Albertans and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.78 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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©2015

BETHLEHEM, Palestinian Territory – With Christmas only weeks away and the latest Israeli-Palestinian violence showing no signs of abating, gloom has descended on the century-old Jacir Palace hotel in Bethlehem, famed for its soaring stone archways and wrought iron balconies.

The traditional Christmas party has been nixed and reservations are down 50 per cent. Empty tear gas canisters litter the street in front of the hotel and charred stains mark spots where protesters burned tires.

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After almost three months of absorbing stones and rubber bullets, nearly every front window of the hotel is cracked. When Palestinian youths clash with Israeli troops outside, guests are forced to use the back entrance to dodge plumes of smoke and tear gas.

“We have had tremendous difficulty,” said Johnny Kattan, Jacir’s maintenance manager. “But we’ve seen worse times.”

Much of Bethlehem is in a similar funk.

Christmas Eve is a major event for the biblical town, drawing thousands of foreign tourists each year and giving a huge jolt to local businesses. This year, the holiday spirit will be harder to find.

READ MORE: Christian pilgrims descend on Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations in 2014 

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, scheduled to perform in December, has called off his visit. Sellers of olive wood souvenirs say they have nearly no customers, and Bethlehem hotel owners are struggling to fill their beds, especially after 11 new hotels opened in the last three years.

Mayor Vera Baboun said the city would only decorate Manger Square, home to the church that hosts the traditional birthplace of Jesus, and two nearby streets, instead of all of downtown.

“Every year, when we light the tree, usually there is a huge display of fireworks, but this year we will ring church bells instead,” said Baboun. The bells, she added, will remind everyone “that we exist despite all the catastrophes.”

The latest wave of violence, which erupted in mid-September, has killed 19 Israelis, mostly in Palestinian stabbings and shooting attacks. At least 106 Palestinians, including 71 said by Israel to be attackers, have been killed. The rest died in clashes with Israeli forces.

READ MORE: 2 Palestinians killed after attacking Israeli troops

Palestinian killed after ramming car into group of Israelis: Police

00:38

Palestinian killed after ramming car into group of Israelis: Police

01:09

Palestinian women attack Israeli with scissors

02:28

Pair of Palestinian attacks kill 5 in Tel Aviv and the West Bank

01:19

Palestinian man killed after Israeli forces raid hospital dressed as locals

01:27

Palestinian youths clash with Israeli forces in West Bank

00:52

Palestinians and Israeli troops clash in Hebron

00:40

Palestinian president seeks help from EU to ease crisis with Israel

01:04

Violence continues between Israeli troops, Palestinians in West Bank




Israel blames the violence on incitement by Palestinian leaders and on social media sites. Palestinians say the attacks stem from a lack of hope for gaining independence after years of failed peace efforts.

In October, 27-year-old Moataz Zawahra, one of Jacir’s waiters, was shot and killed by Israeli troops at the hotel’s entrance. The Israeli military says he threw a firebomb at the soldiers; his colleagues say they did not see him attacking troops. He was off duty when he was shot.

On Friday, Palestinian youths dragged metal garbage cans across the street in front of Jacir, hurled rocks at the Israeli guard tower and set tires on fire so the grey smoke would help hide them.

As the troops fired the first round of tear gas and the acrid smell reached the courtyard lobby, Kattan paced the reception area, checking to make sure no guests were nearby and that the staff had followed his instructions.

“Everyone knows what to do,” Kattan said. “It has become routine.”

He went through the motions of calling the Palestinian police, which he said would not arrive. Then he went on lunch break.

Outside, 19-year-old protester Ahmad Sarahat from Bethlehem covered his mouth with the sleeve of his sweatshirt to shield himself from the tear gas. “We want them to leave,” said Sarahat, pointing at the Israeli watchtower. “We are not afraid.”

Kattan and others at the hotel hope it will weather the storm, as it has so many times in the past.

This Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015 photograph shows burnt tire marks in front of the Intercontinental hotel, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. The century-old Jacir Palace hotel, with its soaring stone archways and wrought iron balconies, was once a symbol of Bethlehem’s wealth and tourism potential. Today, the property reflects the city’s dour mood ahead of the crucial Christmas season after months of unrest that has taken more than 100 lives, including a Palestinian waiter from the hotel.

AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed

Built as a palace in 1910 by Mayor Suleiman Jacir who used French architectural blueprints and local pink and white stone, the estate was once surrounded by olive groves. The nearest structure was Rachel’s Tomb, a shrine Jews revere as the burial place of the biblical matriarch and where once a mosque stood, Muslims say.

After the Jacir family went bankrupt, the palace became a prison, then British military headquarters and a school, according to Nada Atrash, a Bethlehem architect. In 1948, when Israel was formed, Palestinian refugees streamed into a refugee camp behind the palace; today it’s a maze of concrete homes, with laundry lines stretched across the narrow streets.

After Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993, Palestinian businessmen invested $50 million to transform it into a hotel. The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat laid the hotel cornerstone in 1998. The Denham, England-based InterContinental Hotels Group signed a 15-year contract with the local investors.

“Everything looked nice and beautiful and everybody thought now this is time to make some money,” said Kattan.

The optimism was short-lived. Doors to the 250-room hotel opened in May 2000 but shut within months as the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, began. Israeli troops used the hotel as a military base, sandbagging the windows and surrounding Rachel’s Tomb with concrete slabs to prevent Palestinian gunmen from attacking Jewish visitors.

The hotel reopened in 2005 as tourism began to recover but the last two years have been a challenge. In 2014, roughly 4,500 foreign tourists visited Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, half the number from the year before because of a summer war between Israel and Hamas.

Kattan, the manager, said he is grateful for the timing of the current protests at least – it’s too cold to use the pool now and most of the clashes happen in the afternoon, when guests are out sightseeing.

The hotel staff do their best, he said. All the steel shutters on the front windows close at first signs of skirmishes and the guests are escorted out of the airy courtyard that quickly fills up with tear gas. The guestrooms are in the back of the property, far from the melee. No guests have been hurt in clashes, he said.

In a blow, the InterContinental Hotels Group did not renew its contract with Jacir Palace last year. Pascal Gauvin, InterContinental’s Chief Operating Officer of India, Middle East and Africa, said they had no choice because the hotel was not able to operate normally “most of the time, due to the volatility in the region.”

Still, a week ago, the staff strung boughs of holly across the courtyard. Kattan said they expected a full house for Christmas Eve, in part due to generous discounts.

Maria Uribe, a tour guide from Richmond, California, was dining at the hotel last Saturday with her group of 11 visitors who are following in the footsteps of Jesus in the Holy Land.

“We feel safe,” Uribe said. “The people are very kind.”

©2015The Associated Press