Northern Lights hit 100-year low point

Northern Lights hit 100-year low point


25 Amazing Food Cures

25 Amazing Food Cures

By David Zinczenko
Sep 27, 2010

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with slabs of meat on my face.

As kids, my brother Eric and I fought like wild animals. He still sports a scar above his lip from a cut I accidentally gave him, and my nose isn’t quite as straight as it might be if I hadn’t taken so many shots to it. We’re as close as can be today, but back in our teen years, we sported many a bruised ego and blackened eye. And the home remedy for the latter? A hunk of steak.

Turns out, a lot of moms don’t have the whole story when it comes to food cures. Cold is good for a bruise, but meat doesn’t do anything more than a bag of ice would. But there are plenty of foods that are effective home remedies for curing everything from pounding headaches to potency issues to procrastination. Take these 25 secret food cures, for instance. Incorporate these wonderfoods into your daily diet, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your body and your mind react.

And best of all? Nobody will laugh and call you “meat head.”


Dark Chocolate1. BE MORE POSITIVE
Dark Chocolate1. BE MORE POSITIVE
Research shows that dark chocolate can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol, and increase the flow of blood to the brain. It also boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, which are associated with improved mood and greater concentration. Look for chocolate that is 60 percent cocoa or higher.


Tuck a few extra cloves into your next stir-fry or pasta sauce: Research has found that enzymes in garlic can help increase the release of serotonin, a neurochemical that makes you feel relaxed.

Caffeinated Coffee
A study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee increased 16 percent over those who drank decaf. Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system by increasing your heart rate and breathing. (Want to know what else coffee is good for? Read 25 Best Nutrition Secrets Ever to find out.)

Chile Peppers
It turns out that capsaicin, the compound that gives chile peppers their mouth-searing quality, can also jumpstart your fat-burning, muscle-building engines. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, eating 1 tablespoon of chopped red or green chiles boosts metabolism by 23 percent.

Fried Eggs

Fried Eggs

Go ahead, crack under pressure: Eating fried eggs may help reduce high blood pressure. In a test-tube study, scientists in Canada discovered that the breakfast standby produced the highest levels of ACE inhibitory peptides, amino acids that dilate blood vessels and allow blood to flow more easily. (For up-to-the-minute tips like these, be sure to follow me on Twitter here. You can lose weight effortlessly and look, feel and live better than ever!)
When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed at work, reach for the Wrigley’s: Chewing gum can help tame your tension, according to Australian researchers. People who chewed gum while taking multitasking tests experienced a 17 percent drop in self-reported stress. This might have to do with the fact that we associate chewing with positive social interactions, like mealtimes.


Omega-3s may calm your neurotic side, according to a study in the journalPsychosomatic Medicine. Researchers found that adults with the lowest blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were more likely to have neuroses, which are symptoms for depression. Salmon is loaded with EPA and DHA, as are walnuts, flaxseeds, and even cauliflower.

The probiotics in yogurt may help you drop pounds. British scientists found that these active organisms boost the breakdown of fat molecules in mice, preventing the rodents from gaining weight. Try the Horizon brand of yogurt—it contains the probiotic L. casei, the same organism used in the study.

Bonus Tip: Don’t let all of your hard work go down the drain: Avoid this shocking list of the 20 Scariest Food Creations of 2010!

Grilled Chicken Breast
The protein in lean meat like chicken, fish, or pork loin isn’t just good at squashing hunger and boosting metabolism—it’s also a top source of energy. University of Illinois researchers found that people who ate higher amounts of protein had higher energy levels and didn’t feel as tired as people with proportionally higher amounts of carbs in their diet.

Kidney Beans


These legumes are an excellent source of thiamin and riboflavin. Both vitamins help your body use energy efficiently, so you won’t be nodding off mid-Powerpoint.

Swedish researchers found that if you eat barley—a key ingredient in whole-grain cereals—for breakfast, the fibrous grain cuts blood sugar response by 44 percent at lunch and 14 percent at dinner.

Clams stock your body with magnesium, which is important in metabolism, nerve function, and muscle function. When magnesium levels are low, your body produces more lactic acid—the same fatigue-inducing substance that you feel at the end of a long workout.

Rooibos Tea
Animal research suggests that this South African tea, also known as bush or redbush tea, may provide potent immunity-boosting benefits. In addition, Japanese researchers found that it may help prevent allergies and even cancer. Adagio offers a wide range of great-tasting rooibos teas.

Penn State scientists have discovered that honey is a powerful cough suppressant—so next time you¹re hacking up a lung, head for the kitchen. When parents of 105 sick children doled out honey or dextromethorphan (the active ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicines like Robitussin), the honey was better at lessening cough frequency and severity. Try a drizzle in a cup of rooibos tea.


The vitamin C in kiwi won¹t prevent the onslaught of a cold, but it might decrease theduration of your symptoms. One kiwifruit provides 117 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.

Foods rich in healthy monounsaturated fats help reduce inflammation, a catalyst for migraines. One study found that the anti-inflammatory compounds in olive oil suppress the enzymes involved in inflammation in the same manner as ibuprofen. Avocados and almonds are also high in monounsaturated fats.

Not just any margarine, mind you—those containing plant sterols. In a Tufts University study, people who ate a butter substitute containing plant sterols with three meals each day saw their LDL (bad) cholesterol drop by 6 percent. How? The researchers say that plant sterols prevent cholesterol from being absorbed by the intestine. Promise Active and Smart Balance HeartRight are two great options.

Popeye was onto something, it seems. Rutgers researchers discovered that treating human muscle cells with a compound found in spinach increased protein synthesis by 20 percent. The compound allows muscle tissue to repair itself faster, the researchers say. One thing to keep in mind, however: Spinach doesn’t automatically make any salad a healthy option. Check out 20 Salads Worse Than a Whopper to see what I mean. You’ll be absolutely shocked!

Green Tea
Brazilian scientists found that participants who consumed three cups of the beverage every day for a week had fewer markers of the cell damage caused by resistance to exercise. That means that green tea can help you recover faster after an intense workout.

Low-Fat Chocolate Milk

Chocolate Milk
Nothing like a little dessert after a long workout. British researchers found that low-fat chocolate milk does a better job than sports drinks at replenishing the body after a workout. Why? Because it has more electrolytes and higher fat content. And scientists at James Madison University found that the balance of fat, protein, and carbs in chocolate milk makes it nearly one-third more effective at replenishing muscles than other recovery beverages.

Bonus Tip: Sign up for the FREE Eat This, Not That! e-mail newsletter, and get super nutrition and weight-loss tips like these delivered straight to your inbox.

According to research published in Nutrition Journal, fish oil can help increase your ability to concentrate. Credit EPA and DHA, fatty acids that bolster communication among brain cells and help regulate neurotransmitters responsible for mental focus. Salmon, trout, halibut, and tuna are also great sources of EPA and DHA.

The antioxidants in bananas, apples, and oranges may help protect you from Alzheimer’s, report Korean scientists. The researchers discovered that plant chemicals known as polyphenols helped shield brain cells from oxidative stress, a key cause of the disease.

Vitamin B12, an essential nutrient found in meat, milk, and fish, may help protect you against brain loss, say British scientists. The researchers found that older people with the highest blood levels of the vitamin were six times less likely to have brain shrinkage than those with the lowest levels.

Researchers from Harvard found that men who consumed more beta-carotene over 18 years had significantly delayed cognitive aging. Carrots are a tremendous source of the antioxidant, as are other orange foods like butternut squash, pumpkin, and bell peppers.

Ground Flaxseed
Flax is the best source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—a healthy fat that improves the workings of the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain that processes sensory information, including that of pleasure. To meet your quota, sprinkle 1 tablespoon flaxseed on salads or oatmeal once a day, or mix it into a smoothie or shake.

Bonus Tip: Football season doesn’t have to mean burgers and BBQ wings all weekend. Cook up the ultimate party spread with The 35 Best Tailgate Foods!


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Six Scientists tell us about the most accurate science fiction in their fields

By Annalee Newitz

Six scientists tell us about the most accurate science fiction in their fields

What do scientists think about seeing their fields of research pulverized by science fiction? We asked researchers from diverse fields to tell us whether any science fiction gets it right.

Several of the scientists we contacted were simply at a loss when I asked whether they could think of any science fiction that was accurate when it came to their field of study. UC Santa Barbara geochemist David Valentine, who recently published a paper on the natural gas plumes from the Deepwater spill, asked us to let him know if we found any accurate geochemistry in SF. And Steven Pinker, Harvard’sevolutionary psychology superstar, confessed that he doesn’t read science fiction.

We did get some in-depth, and surprising, answers from other scientists, whose fields range from robotics to biology. Here they are.

Ronald Arkin, director of the Mobile Robotics Lab, Georgia Tech:
Realistic depictions of robots are pretty boring, so there’s not much to say on what is accurate or not. No positronic brains, no running amok killing everyone and everything. I guess that’s the fiction in science fiction. You watch enough videos of robots at real research conferences and it’s hard to stay awake…

Anyway, two that come to mind that are a bit more accurate than most:

1) Hal 9000, in 2001, apart from his apparent psychotic episode, is a robotic system that people live inside. Current research agendas, in human-robot interaction, task planning, command and control, etc., could conceivably lead to such an intelligent system.

2) EDI, in the critically panned movie Stealth, an AI wingman Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle, which could eventually be the product of DOD research in many years, also seems plausible and fits in with the Air Force UAV agenda as I see it – again sans the psychotic episode so common in Western writing and cinema for robots.

Less plausible but great reading on dystopian robotics include Brian Herbert andKevin Anderson’s Dune prequel trilogy on the Butlerian Jihad, and the evil (just trying to survive) Klikiss robots from Anderson’s Saga of the Seven Suns series.

Julia R. Greer, Materials Scientist, CalTech:
Nanotechnology is such a broad field that it is hard to pinpoint what it really is, let lone which sci fi works depict it properly. Almost none of the [media] you mentioned do justice to materials science, most likely because it is something whose scope most people do not understand. For nanotechnology, however, the situation is much better since, for example, nearly everyone uses cell phones on TV, as well as in movies and books (the micro-processors in those cell phones are most certainly nanotechnological devices), as are computers, biomedical devices (often used in medical shows on TV), and telecommunication devices.

John Hawks, Paleoanthropologist, University of Wisconsin, Madison:
You know, it seems to me that the best science fiction gets one science concept really right, even if it leads to results that seem unrealistic.

My favorite along these lines is a classic, Cyril Kornbluth’s “The Marching Morons.” It’s the original version of “Idiocracy” — the basic idea is that selection now favors the stupid, and so if we go forward in time, that’s what we’ll see. The concept is simple and well-drawn; the consequences unexpected.

David Barash, Evolutionary Psychologist, University of Washington:
I am hard-pressed to identify any sci-fi works that make use of evolutionary psychology directly, or even that fit neatly into its scientific world-view. Some possibilities include those books that have made use of the concept of selective breeding for particular behavioral inclinations: Dune comes to mind, and of course, before that, Brave New World.

Although evo-psych presumes genetic influence on behavior, it definitely doesn’t imply anything like the genetic determinism found in either of these. In that sense, these books are more like a mis-use of evo-psych, likely to confirm the worst fears of readers who don’t understand the science itself. Another case of this would beMargaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which derived from the author’s mis-reading of what was then called sociobiology – specifically, her assumption that a science that examined male-female differences (among other things) was also prescribing and exaggerating these differences.

Terry Johnson, Bionengineer, UC Berkeley:
I thought that Peter Watts’ Blindsight did a great job of reinventing vampires as an extinct subspecies of humanity. Humanity pieces together what the vampire genome must have been and then resurrects them using genetic engineering. Hilarity ensues.

For synthetic biology, I’ll go with David Brin and Gregory Benford’s “cyanutes” fromHeart of the Comet. These engineered microbes protect the crew from the dangerous levels of hydrogen cyanide found on Halley’s Comet. According to the book, they must possess “…self-limiting reproduction, benign acceptance by thehuman immune system, pH sensitivity…” – all reasonable goals for potential medical applications of synthetic biology.

Dave Goldberg, Physicist, Drexel University:
If we count things like time travel, I’ve long said that (the actual device and the whole traveling nude thing aside) the original Terminator handles time travel better than any other movie I’ve ever seen. The entire thing is a completely self-consistent time loop, from John Conner’s parentage and survivalist training, to the picture of Sarah Conner that finds its way to Kyle Reese. No grandfather paradoxes at all, but there are information paradoxes.

2001 does a great job dealing with things like how long it would really take to get to another planet, and especially with the artificial gravity aspects of things. For that matter, I was kind of surprised to note that if you pay attention to the details, the trip to Pandora in Avatar seems well thought out. They mention (in an off-handed sort of way) how long the trip takes and why the soldiers need to be kept in cryo. It sounds like they’re taking a trip to Alpha Centauri. The whole thing about magical trees and unobtanium, not so much.

TV shows tend to do well in one area or another. Firefly, for example, is good because there aren’t any warp engines. Everything is done with (more or less) ordinary rockets. But they do fall into the familiar trap (or filming necessity, if you like) of introducing artificial gravity. I also like that all of the worlds seem to be terraformed planets in the same solar system. It explains why travel between them is feasible in days rather than in years or longer. What’s not clear is why the sun is so big and bright in the outer worlds. Whedon et al. also seem not to realize how big space is, even within our solar system. You can’t make a blockade in space. To give you an idea, the “asteroid belt” in our own solar system is supposed to be this incredibly dangerous region with rocks everywhere. In reality, the distance between big asteroids is more like a million miles. And that’s not hyperbole.

As for books, I’ve always been partial to Asimov’s Robot series. “Positronic Brain” is just gobbleygook, of course and the idea that the 3 laws MUST be imprinted (for stability reasons) makes zero sense, but the rest is quite good.

Most frustrating TV shows canceled on a cliffhanger

By Charlie Jane Anders

Most frustrating TV shows canceled on a cliffhanger

As the fall TV season starts up, shows are resolving their agonizing summer cliffhangers — but for some unlucky shows, that resolution never arrived. Here are the most frustrating “cancel-hangers,” cliffhanger endings for shows that got cancelled too soon.

First of all, let me apologize for giving away spoilers for last week’s Warehouse 13in my post on best cliffhangers — I should have realized that many people wouldn’t have had time to see the episode yet, and I should have been more careful. Sorry about that — I’ll be more careful next time. That said… tonight’s season finale, in which Artie reveals that the new Warehouse 14 is ready in the trunk of his car, and then a hundred dinosaurs come attacking over the horizon — is awesome! (Just kidding. Or am I??) That said, there are spoilers for some long-cancelled TV shows below.

With that out of the way, here goes:

Criminally unresolved cliffhangers:

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanThe show ended with Lois and Clark discovering a baby left for them — a storyline which was supposed to continue on into a fifth season. Executive producerBrad Buckner told Kryptonsite the baby would have grown up rapidly and turned out to be exiled Kryptonian royalty, who would have needed to learn to use his powers responsibly.

Sliders A psychic named Mark who sees the Sliders’ future makes a dire prediction — the next time they “Slide,” they’ll die. But the gang manages to open a vortex using Kromagg technology, but they decide to send only one person — Rembrandt injects himself with an anti-Kromagg biological weapon, leaving himself the logical choice. But after he jumps through, Mark dies, leaving the gang no way of knowing if he survived.

Invasion The aliens are taking women into the water — and after Larkin gets shot and is dying, Tom sees no choice but to put her in the water as well, so the aliens can take her. Tom is left standing there on the shore, while Russell and Mariel demand to know what he’s done. Sadly, we never got to see what happened next.

Dark Shadows The 1992 revival of this long-running soap opera ended on a storyline where Victoria traveled back to 1791 and met her counterpart from 200 years earlier, who was put on trial for witchcraft. And then she traveled back to 1991, and met Barnabas… still alive after all this time. In the original show, Victoria never knew that Barnabas was a 200+-year-old vampire, so fans were curious to see how the show would deal with this departure. But the continuation never came.

Kings It’s finally official that David is annointed by God as the new king, but then he has to flee to Gath to get away from the vengeance of King Silas. And meanwhile, Jack is trapped in a loveless marriage until he produces an heir. Sadly, even a host of divine butterflies couldn’t get this show a second season.

V: The Series Kyle stows away on a shuttle that’s carrying the Starchild — unaware that Diana has left a little “present” on board it — a bomb. Oh noes!

Odyssey 5 Just as we start to get some answers, this show fades to a caption that says “TO BE CONTINUED.” If only! Karen is kidnapped by the A.I.s, and we learn the truth about the mysterious Cabal, and its relationship to the impending destruction of the Earth — just as the show ends forever. Bah.

The Dead Zone The sixth season ended with a vision of nuclear armageddon, and the hint that it could be partly Johnny’s fault. The season finale revealed that Johnny’s father was alive, and brought up a zillion new plot threads — none of which we ever got to see resolved.

Earth 2 This show ended with the colonists getting sick from an unknown illness — including Devon Adair, who gets stuck into suspended animation until she can be cured. To add insult to injury, the episodes aired out of order, so the season-ending cliffhanger actually aired as the third-to-last episode, with no explanation.

VR.5 This mid-1990s series ends with Sydney discovering a virtual realm called VR.7, where she rescues her mom and sister before being trapped herself. She’s stuck in a coma — and it’s not clear if she would have woken up at all, if the show had gotten a second season. One fan theory is that her sister Samantha might have replaced her.

Threshold According to Wikipedia, the producers found out the show was canceled halfway through shooting the final epsiode,”Alienville,” and so they changed the ending. In the aired version, Molly has a dream in which a boy tells her that her plan will succeed in defeating the alien invasion, but she won’t live to see it. Molly wakes up and tells Baylock, “I’m just getting started.”

Surface The city is flooded by a huge tsunami, and then our heroes see a giant sea monster swimming around nearby. “It’s a whole new world,” says Laura — but we never get to see it develop.

Tru Calling Tru almost finds out that Richard and Jack are working together against her — but Jack uses his “rewind day” to tell Richard to cover his tracks, so she never learns the truth. OMG major cliffhanger! To make matters worse, the final episode, a Christmas-themed outing, didn’t even air for a few years in the U.S.

Carnivale The show ended with a bunch of stuff unresolved: Ben is wounded and unconscious in Management’s trailer, and even if he survives, he’ll be a changed man. HBO decided to pull the plug on this show at the last minute, depriving it of the chance to finish telling the story of the carnival and the preacher.

Space: Above And Beyond This show ended with the 58th still fighting the aliens, but a whole bunch of plot threads were left up in the air. What was that mysterious explosion? What happened to Vansen, Damphousse, and Wang? Did the women make it safely to the planet’s surface and get rescued? We’ll never find out. The war was just beginning, but it’ll have to go on without us.

Forever Knight Fans are still upset about the cliffhanger that ended this series. Knight bites Natalie in the hopes that it’ll make him human — but instead it brings her close to death. So Knight asks LaCroix to stab him with a stake.

Mork And Mindy The show ends with an evil alien, Kelnik, pursuing Mork and Mindy. Mindy’s home gets destroyed in explosion and Mork’s secret is revealed to the entire world, and then Mork and Mindy attempt to escape using his magic shoes — but they’re damaged, and although the alien is defeated, the couple ends up lost in the time vortex, with Mork desperately shouting, “Whatever happens, we’ll have each other.” Because the network aired the episodes out of order, this was actually shown as the penultimate episode, but the last aired episode does nothing to address the huge cliffhanger. According to a poster on the Straight Dope message boards, the episode ends with a disturbing image:

The final shot is (presumably) a primordial Earth. Mork and Mindy are facing the camera and holding hands, but their bodies are…altered. They still have their hair and their clothes, but their flesh has been transformed into either goo or ice. Their faces are gone.

Whoa. Actually, you can watch the final moments here, and it sounds like the Straight Dope person was not in fact using the right kind of dope while watching this episode — it’s clearly a cave painting of Mork and Mindy. But nevertheless, this still is a weird cliffhanger to end a series on.

Kyle XY This one still bugs me. We find out in the very last minute that Cassidy is Kyle’s real father… and then the show ends. Forever. Plus we never get to see what would have happened between Kyle and Jessi, with their weirdly ambiguous sibling/lover relationship.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles And then there’s this one — I can’t believe some people felt this was a good ending for the show. John Connorjumps forward in time to a future that’s never heard of him, where his father and uncle are still alive. And Allison from Palmdale is there too! Season three of this show would have been beyond epic.

Shows that got some resolution after cancellation:

Jericho actually got brought back for a second season after being cancelled for the first time, and we got a ton of answers in a fairly short time. But then also, we got a comic book that continues the story after season two as well.

ALF ends on a weird cliffhanger where the cutest alien gets captured by the Alien Task Force (ATF) — but then we got a TV movieProject ALF, in which he gets rescued before he can be executed.

Farscape also ended with a huge cliffhanger, in whichJohn Crichton and Aeryn Sun were “crystallized” — but a mini-series, The Peacekeeper Wars, picked up the story and showed how they were restored and finally found a measure of happiness togehter, with their son.

Pushing Daisies is another series that got cancelled with a huge cliffhanger — Chuck reveals she’s still alive to her mom and aunt — but there’s going to be a series of comic books to explain what happened.

Alien Nation got a series of five TV movies to resolve its cliffhanger ending, in which a genetically engineered infection, designed to wipe out the alien Newcomers, hits Susan Francisco and her daughter Emily.

The Lone Gunmen. We did get to find out their fate on their parent show, The X-Files. (Although it wasn’t a particularly happy fate.)

Dark Angel James Cameron himself directed this show’s 90-minute season finale, but it wasn’t enough to save the show from being yanked off the air, leaving viewers hanging. The show ended with a stand-offbetween cops and transgenics, which it seemed unlikely that all of Max’s people would make it out of alive. Luckily, Max Allan Collins’ novels do help to explain what happened after this episode aired.

The 4400 also got some tie-in books, written by Greg Cox and David Mack, which went some way towards answering our unresolved questions after the showended with Baldwin deciding whether to take the superpower-causing drug Promycin.

Shows whose cliffhangers actually served as a great ending:

Angel Some people will argue that this show ended on a terrible cliffhanger — and for those people, there are comics which do continue the story. But to me, the final moments of “Not Fade Away” are the perfect ending to this series, including Angel’s “personally, I kinda want to slay the dragon. Let’s go to work.” The show ends, but the fight goes on. What more could you ask for? Okay, I would kill a few TV execs for a sixth season — but this is a fine ending.

Blake’s 7 I’ve said it before — this is one show that when you know how the series ends, it actually makes all the earlier episodes better. It’s only open-ended in that you don’t see Avon’s inevitable demise after the screen goes black — Avon has already shot his friend and erstwhile leader, Blake, to death, and all of his other friends appear to be dead as well. It’s as final as you can get really. There is actually a terrible novel,Afterlife by Tony Attwood, that does continue the story with Avon and Vila still alive.

Twin Peaks We covered this cliffhanger ending the other day — but it’s actually a great twist-the-knife ending


Sapphire & Steel Some people list this show as having ended on a cliffhanger — but the ending is by far the best thing about this show in which the guy fromThe Man From U.N.C.L.E. and the woman fromAbFab go around solving time rifts. The show is mostly pretty forgettable, but this ending — in which they get trapped in a time-space trap — will stick in your mind forever.

Heroes Many of us were glad to see this show end — but even the haters have to admit that the final moments of the show were a fitting ending. The big issue of the show was whether the mutants should “come out” or live in secrecy, and Claire finally settles the question, in a scene that’s a call-back to her videotaped suicide attempts in the first season. It’s a good way to go out, resolving the show’s main dilemma.

Sources: All of the commenters on this earlier post were a huge help. AlsoAskvilleAxedOnACliffhangerShareTV forumThe Straight DopeTo Be Discontinued, and

Commonwealth Games in doubt after bridge collapse

Commonwealth Games in doubt after bridge collapse

AP – An Indian man looks at the collapsed bridge near Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, …

By C. RAJSHEKHAR RAO, AP Sports Writer – Tue Sep 21, 10:16 am ET

NEW DELHI – A footbridge being built near the main stadium for theCommonwealth Games collapsed Tuesday, injuring 23 construction workers and putting the event in further jeopardy less than two weeks before the opening ceremony.

The accident was the latest setback to New Delhi’s troubled preparations for the games, which bring together more than 7,000 athletes and officials from the 71 countries and territories in the commonwealth every four years.

Of the 23 workers who were hurt, five were seriously injured and taken to hospitals after the collapse of the footbridge, said police officer H.G.S. Dhaliwal.

The bridge connects the JawaHarlal Nehru Stadium — the site of theopening and closing ceremonies and the track and field competition for the Oct. 3-14 games — with a parking lot.

Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Earlier in the day, Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell contacted the Indian government and urged them to finish work on the athletes’ village, which many have called “unlivable.”

“Many nations that have already sent their advanced parties to set up within the village have made it abundantly clear that, as of the afternoon of September 20th, the Commonwealth Games Village is seriously compromised,” Fennell said in a statement. “The CGF has asked the Cabinet Secretary to immediately deploy the necessary resources to fix all the outstanding issues to an acceptable level.”

The athletes’ village is due to open Thursday. The Times of India reported that only 18 of 34 residential towers at the village are complete.

New Zealand team manager Dave Currie, speaking before the bridge collapse, said the games may not go ahead.

“In the time frame that is left, unless there is tremendous effort and energy and problem-solving ability to get it done, it’s going to be extremely hard to get across the line,” Currie told New Zealand radio network newstalkZB. “If the village is not ready and athletes can’t come, obviously the implications of that are that (the event) is not going to happen.”

Currie said New Zealand would consult with other countries before deciding on whether to participate.

“That’s not a decision that we’ll make (alone), but there are some realities,” he said.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the areas of concern “aren’t insurmountable, although there are real concerns about whether they can be achieved in the time frame.”

He added it was “unlikely that New Zealand would make a call that other countries weren’t prepared to make.”

The buildup to the Commonwealth Games has been plagued by construction problems, causing concern over the safety and quality of the buildings and speculation about corruption in awarding of contracts and structural compliance certificates.

Those construction delays have been overshadowed more recently by safety concerns, heightened over the weekend after two gunmen on a motorcycle shot and wounded two tourists near the Jama Masjid, one of India’s biggest mosques.

Other countries also voiced concern about conditions in the athletes’ village.

Commonwealth Games Scotland said the area allocated to the team was “unsafe and unfit for human habitation,” while Commonwealth Games England said “there is a lot to be done in the village and this needs to be done with some urgency so that it is ready for the arrival of our first athletes on Friday.”

Australia’s chef de mission, retired marathon runner Steve Moneghetti, said Indian organizers “have got two days to do what’s probably going to take about two weeks.”

Fennell said advance parties from the international Commonwealth Games Associations had been impressed with the international zone and main dining area in the village, but the condition of the residential zone shocked most of them.

“Despite (the CGAs) attempts to work with the organizing committee in a constructive manner since arriving on Sept. 15, significant operational matters remain unaddressed,” Fennell said. “The problems are arising because deadlines for the completion of the village have been consistently pushed out. Now, the high security around the site, while vital, is slowing progress and complicating solutions.”

CGF chief executive Mike Hooper said organizers had not lived up to their promises.

“The conditions continued to be appalling and so we felt the matter needed to be elevated. That is why our chairman spoke to top Indian government officials,” Hooper said. “Organizing committee chairman SureshKalmadi now tells me that the Cabinet secretary took a round of the village and assured that everything possible would be done.”

Newspaper reports of human excrement around the village were true, Hooper said, but organizing committee secretary general Lalit Bhanot said the situation at the village was normal.

“All games face such problems and they will be resolved before the athletes come in,” Bhanot said. “These are not going to affect the games in any way as all venues are ready to host the games.”


AP Sports Writer Steve McMorran in Wellington, New Zealand, contributed to this report.

The Garden of Gethsemane


Coordinates: 31°46′46″N 35°14′25″E / 31.779402°N 35.240197°E / 31.779402; 35.240197

Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane, 1914

Gethsemane (Greek ΓεΘσημανἰ, Gethsēmani Hebrew:גת שמנים, Aramaic:גת שמני, Gath-Šmânê, Assyrian ܓܕܣܡܢ, Gat Šmānê, lit. “oil press”) is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem most famous as the place where Jesus and his disciples prayed the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.


Gethsemane appears in the Greek of the Gospel of Matthew[1] and the Gospel of Mark[2] as Γεθσημαν (Gethsēmani). The name is derived from the Assyrian ܓܕܣܡܢ (Gaṯ-Šmānê), meaning “oil press”.[3] Matthew (26:36)and Mark (14:32) call it χωρον (18:1), a place or estate. The Gospel of John says Jesus entered a garden (κπος) with his disciples.[4]


  This section appears to contradict itself. Please see its talk page for more information. (September 2010)

While tradition locates Gethsemane on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives, the exact spot remains unknown. According to the New Testament it was a place that Jesus and his disciples customarily visited, which allowed Judas to find him on the night of his arrest.[5] Overlooking the garden is the Church of All Nations, also known as the Church of the Agony, built on the site of a church destroyed by the Sassanids in 614, and a Crusader church destroyed in 1219. Nearby is the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Mary Magdalene with its golden, onion-shaped domes (Byzantine/Russian style), built by Russian Tsar Alexander III in memory of his mother.

Pilgrimage site

Andrea Mantegna‘s Agony in the Garden, circa 1460, depicts Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane

According to Luke 22:43–44, Jesus’ anguish in Gethsemane was so deep that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” According to the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition, Gethsemane is the garden where the Virgin Mary was buried and was assumed into heaven after her dormition on Mount Zion. The Garden of Gethsemane became a focal site for early Christian pilgrims. It was visited in 333 by the anonymous “Pilgrim of Bordeaux”, whose Itinerarium Burdigalense is the earliest description left by a Christian traveler in the Holy Land. In his Onomasticon, Eusebius of Caesarea notes the site of Gethsemane located “at the foot of the Mount of Olives”, and he adds that “the faithful were accustomed to go there to pray”. Ancient olive trees growing in the garden are said to be 900 years old.[6]




A neighborhood in Bethlehem

Municipal Seal of Bethlehem


Arabic بيت لحم
Name meaning house of meat (Arabic); house of bread (Hebrew)
Governorate Bethlehem
Government City (from 1995)
Also spelled Beit Lahm[1] (officially)Bayt Lahm (unofficially)
Coordinates 31°42′11″N 35°11′44″E / 31.70306°N 35.19556°E / 31.70306; 35.19556Coordinates: 31°42′11″N 35°11′44″E / 31.70306°N 35.19556°E / 31.70306; 35.19556
Population 25,266[2] (2007)
Head of Municipality Victor Batarseh[3]

Bethlehem (Arabic: بَيْتِ لَحْمٍ‎, Bayt Laḥm (help·info), lit “House of Meat”; Hebrew: בֵּית לֶחֶם‎, Beit Lehem, lit “House of Bread;” Greek: Βηθλεέμ Bethleém) is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank, approximately 10 kilometers (6 mi) south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people.[4][5] It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism.[6][7] The Hebrew Bible identifies Beit Lehem as the city David was from and the location where he was crowned as the king of Israel. The New Testament Gospels of Matthew and Luke identify Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. The town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, though the size of the community has shrunk due to emigration.

The city was sacked by the Samaritans in 529 AD, during their revolt, but was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. Bethlehem was conquered by the Arab Caliphate of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb in 637, who guaranteed safety for the city’s religious shrines. In 1099, Crusaders captured and fortified Bethlehem and replaced its Greek Orthodox clergy with a Latin one. The Latin clergy were expelled after the city was captured by Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and Syria. With the coming of the Mamluks in 1250, the city’s walls were demolished, and were subsequently rebuilt during the rule of the Ottoman Empire.[8]

The British wrested control of the city from the Ottomans during World War I and it was to be included in an international zone under the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. Jordan annexed the city in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Since 1995, Bethlehem has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority.[8]

Bethlehem has a Muslim majority, but is also home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. The Bethlehem agglomeration includes the towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, as well as the refugee camps of ‘Aida and Azza. Bethlehem’s chief economic sector is tourism which peaks during the Christmas season when Christian pilgrims throng to the Church of the Nativity. Bethlehem has over thirty hotels and three hundred handicraft work shops.[9] Rachel’s Tomb, an important Jewish holy site, is located at the entrance of Bethlehem.


The first historical reference to the town appears in the Amarna Letters (c. 1400 BC) when the King of Jerusalem appeals to his Lord, the King of Egypt, for help in retaking “Bit-Lahmi” in the wake of disturbances by the Apiru.[10] Since the Jews and Arabs had not yet arrived in the area it is thought that the similarity of this name to its modern forms inidicates that this was a settlement of Canaanites who shared a Semitic cultural and linguistic heritage with the later arrivals.[11]

Biblical era

Bethlehem, located in the “hill country” of Judah, may be the same as the Biblical Ephrath,[12] which means “fertile”, as there is a reference to it in the Book of Micah as Bethlehem Ephratah.[13] It is also known as Beth-Lehem Judah,[14] and “a city of David”.[15] It is first mentioned in the Tanakh and the Bible as the place where the Abrahamic matriarch Rachel died and was buried “by the wayside” (Gen. 48:7). Rachel’s Tomb, the traditional grave site, stands at the entrance to Bethlehem. According to the Book of Ruth, the valley to the east is where Ruth of Moab gleaned the fields and returned to town with Naomi. Bethlehem is the traditional birthplace of David, the second king of Israel, and the place where he was anointed king by Samuel.[16] It was from the well of Bethlehem that three of his warriors brought him water when he was hiding in the cave of Adullam.[17]

Roman and Byzantine periods

View of Church of the Nativity in 1833, painting by M.N.Vorobiev

Between 132–135 the city was occupied by the Romans after its capture during the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Its Jewish residents were expelled by the military orders of Hadrian.[18] While ruling Bethlehem, the Romans built a shrine to the mythical Greek cult figure Adonis on the site of the Nativity. A church was erected in 326, when Helena, the mother of the first Byzantine emperor Constantine, visited Bethlehem.[8]

During the Samaritan revolt of 529, Bethlehem was sacked and its walls and the Church of the Nativity destroyed, but they were soon rebuilt on the orders of the Emperor Justinian I. In 614, the Persian Sassanid Empire invaded Palestine and captured Bethlehem. A story recounted in later sources holds that they refrained from destroying the church on seeing the magi depicted in Persian clothing in a mosaic.[8]

Birthplace of Jesus

Further information: Church of the Nativity and Nativity of Jesus 

Silver star marking the place where Jesus was born according to Christian tradition

Two accounts in the New Testament describe Jesus as born in Bethlehem. According to the Gospel of Luke,[15] Jesus‘ parents lived in Nazareth but traveled to Bethlehem for the census of AD 6, and Jesus was born there before the family returned to Nazareth.

The Gospel of Matthew account implies that the family already lived in Bethlehem when Jesus was born, and later moved to Nazareth.[19][20] Matthew reports that Herod the Great, told that a ‘King of the Jews’ has been born in Bethlehem, ordered the killing of all the children aged two and under in the town and surrounding areas. Jesus’ earthly father Joseph is warned of this in a dream, and the family escapes this fate by fleeing to Egypt and returning only after Herod has died. But being warned in another dream not to return to Judea, Joseph withdraws the family to Galilee, and goes to live in Nazareth.

Early Christians interpreted a verse in the Book of Micah[21] as a prophecy of the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem.[22] Many modern scholars question whether Jesus was really born in Bethlehem, and suggest that the different Gospel accounts were invented to present the birth of Jesus as fulfillment of prophecy and imply a connection to the lineage of King David.[23][24][25][26] The Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of John do not include a nativity narrative or any hint that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and refer to him only as being from Nazareth.[27] In a 2005 article in Archaeology magazine, archaeologist Aviram Oshri pointed to the absence of evidence of settlement of the area at the time when Jesus was born, and postulates that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Galilee.[28] Opposing him, Jerome Murphy-O’Connor argues for the traditional position.[29]

The antiquity of the tradition of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is attested by the Christian apologist Justin Martyr, who stated in his Dialogue with Trypho (c. 155–161) that the Holy Family had taken refuge in a cave outside of the town.[30] Origen of Alexandria, writing around the year 247, referred to a cave in the town of Bethlehem which local people believed was the birthplace of Jesus.[31] This cave was possibly one which had previously been a site of the cult of Tammuz.[32]

Islamic rule and the Crusades

The Mosque of Omar (Umar) was built in 1860 to commemorate the Caliph Umar‘s visit to Bethlehem upon its capture by the Muslims. It is Bethlehem’s only mosque.

In 637, shortly after Jerusalem was captured by the Muslim armies, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb, the second Caliph Bethlehem and promised that the Church of the Nativity would be preserved for Christian use.[8] A mosque dedicated to Umar was built upon the place in the city where he prayed, next to the church.[33] Bethlehem then passed from the control of the Islamic caliphates of the Ummayads in the 8th century, then the Abbasids in the 9th century. Persian geographer recorded in the mid-9th century that a well preserved and much venerated church existed in the town. In 985, Arab geographer al-Muqaddasi visited Bethlehem, and referred to its church as the “Basilica of Constantine, the equal of which does not exist anywhere in the country-round.”[34] In 1009, during the reign of the sixth Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the Church of the Nativity was ordered to be demolished, but was spared by local Muslims, because they had been permitted to worship in the structure’s south transept.[35]

In 1099, Bethlehem was captured by the Crusaders, who fortified it and built a new monastery and cloister on the north side of the Church of the Nativity. The Greek Orthodox clergy were removed from their Sees and replaced with Latin clerics. Up until that point the official Christian presence in the region was Greek Orthodox. On Christmas Day 1100, Baldwin I, first king of the Frankish Kingdom of Jerusalem, was crowned in Bethlehem, and that year a Latin episcopate was also established in the town.[8]

A painting of Bethlehem, 1882

In 1187, Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt and Syria who led the Muslim Ayyubids, captured Bethlehem from the Crusaders. The Latin clerics were forced to leave, allowing the Greek Orthodox clergy to return. Saladin agreed to the return of two Latin priests and two deacons in 1192. However, Bethlehem suffered from the loss of the pilgrim trade, as there was a sharp decrease of European pilgrims.[8]

William IV, Count of Nevers had promised the Christian bishops of Bethlehem that if Bethlehem should fall under Muslim control, he would welcome them in the small town of Clamecy in present-day Burgundy, France. As such, The Bishop of Bethlehem duly took up residence in the hospital of Panthenor, Clamecy in 1223. Clamecy remained the continuous ‘in partibus infidelium‘ seat of the Bishopric of Bethlehem for almost 600 years, until the French Revolution in 1789.[36]

Bethlehem—along with Jerusalem, Nazareth and Sidon—was briefly ceded to the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem by a treaty between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and Ayyubid Sultan al-Kamil in 1229, in return for a ten-year truce between the Ayyubids and the Crusaders. The treaty expired in 1239 and Bethlehem was recaptured by the Muslims in 1244.[37]

In 1250, with the coming to power of the Mamluks under Rukn al-Din Baibars, tolerance of Christianity declined; the clergies left the city, and in 1263 the town walls were demolished. The Latin clergy returned to Bethlehem the following century, establishing themselves in the monastery adjoining the Basilica of the Nativity. The Greek Orthodox were given control of the basilica and shared control of the Milk Grotto with the Latins and the Armenians.[8]

Ottoman and Egyptian era

A street in Bethlehem, 1880

View of Bethlehem, 1898

From 1517, during the years of Ottoman control, custody of the Basilica was bitterly disputed between the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.[8] By the end of the 16th century, Bethelem had become one of the largest villages in the District of Jerusalem, and was subdivided into seven quarters.[38] The Basbus family served as the heads of Bethlehem among other leaders during this period.[39]

Bethlehem paid taxes on wheat, barley, and grapes. The Muslims and Christians were organized into separate communities, each having its own leader; five leaders represented the village in the mid-16th century, three of whom were Muslims. Ottoman tax records suggest that the Christian population was slightly more prosperous or grew more grain as opposed to grapes, the former being a more valuable commodity.[40]

From 1831 to 1841, Palestine was under the rule Muhammad Ali Dynasty of Egypt. During this period, the town suffered an earthquake as well as the destruction of the Muslim quarter in 1834 by Egyptian troops, apparently as a reprisal for the murder of a favored loyalist of Ibrahim Pasha.[41] In 1841, Bethlehem came under Ottoman rule once more and remained so until the end of the World War I. Under the Ottomans, Bethlehem’s inhabitants faced unemployment, compulsory military service and heavy taxes, resulting in mass emigration particularly to South America.[8] An American missionary in the 1850s reports a population of under 4,000, ‘nearly all of them belong to the Greek Church.’ He also comments that ‘there is a fatal lack of water’ and hence it could never become a large town.[42]

Twentieth century

Bethlehem was administered by the British Mandate from 1920 until 1948.[43] In the United Nations General Assembly‘s 1947 resolution to partition Palestine, Bethlehem was included in the special international enclave of Jerusalem to be administered by the United Nations.[44]

Jordan annexed the city during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.[45] Many refugees from areas captured by Israeli forces in 1947–48 fled to the Bethlehem area, primarily settling in the what became the official refugee camps of ‘Azza (Beit Jibrin) and ‘Aida in the north and Dheisheh in the south.[46] The influx of refugees significantly transformed Bethlehem’s Christian majority into a Muslim one.[47]

Jordan retained control of the city until the Six-Day War in 1967, when Bethlehem was occupied by Israel, along with the rest of the West Bank. On December 21, 1995, Israeli troops withdrew from Bethlehem,[48] and three days later the city came under the complete administration and military control of the Palestinian National Authority in conformance with the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1995.[49]

Second Intifada

Bethlehem Catholic Church

During the Second Palestinian Intifada, which began in 2000-01, Bethlehem’s infrastructure and tourism industry were severely damaged.[50][51] In 2002, it was a primary combat zone in Operation Defensive Shield, a major military offensive by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).[52]

During the operation, the IDF besieged the Church of the Nativity, where about 200 Palestinian militants took the Church hostage. The siege lasted for 39 days and nine militants and the church’s bellringer were killed. It ended with an agreement to exile 13 of the wanted militants to various European nations and Mauritania.


A map indicating Bethlehem’s location

Bethlehem is located at 31°43′0″N 35°12′0″E / 31.716667°N 35.2°E / 31.716667; 35.2 Bethlehem stands at an elevation of about 775 meters (2,543 ft) above sea level, 30 meters (98 ft) higher than nearby Jerusalem.[53] Bethlehem is situated on the southern portion in the Judean Mountains.

The city is located 73 kilometers (45 mi) northeast of Gaza and the Mediterranean Sea, 75 kilometers (47 mi) west of Amman, Jordan, 59 kilometers (37 mi) southeast of Tel Aviv, Israel and 10 kilometers (6 mi) south of Jerusalem.[54] Nearby cities and towns include Beit Safafa and Jerusalem to the north, Beit Jala to the northwest, Husan to the west, al-Khadr and Artas to the southwest, and Beit Sahour to the east. Beit Jala and the latter form an agglomeration with Bethlehem and the Aida and Azza refugee camps are located within the city limits.[55]

Old city

In the center of Bethlehem is its old city. The old city consists of eight quarters, laid out in a mosaic style, forming the area around the Manger Square. The quarters include the Christian al-Najajreh, al-Farahiyeh, al-Anatreh, al-Tarajmeh, al-Qawawsa and Hreizat quarters and al-Fawaghreh — the only Muslim quarter.[56] Most of the Christian quarters are named after the Arab Ghassanid clans that settled there.[57] Al-Qawawsa Quarter was formed by Arab Christian emigrants from the nearby town of Tuqu’ in the 18th century.[58] There is also a Syriac quarter outside of the old city,[56] whose inhabitants originate from Midyat and Ma’asarte in Turkey.[59] The total population of the old city is about 5,000.[56]


Bethlehem has a Mediterranean climate, with hot and dry summers and cold winters. Winter temperatures (mid-December to mid-March) can be cold and rainy. January is the coldest month, with temperatures ranging from 1 to 13 degree Celsius (33–55 °F). From May through September, the weather is warm and sunny. August is the hottest month, with a high of 27 degrees Celsius (81 °F). Bethlehem receives an average of 700 millimeters (27.6 in) of rainfall annually, 70% between November and January.[60]

Bethlehem’s average annual relative humidity is 60% and reaches its highest rates between January and February. Humidity levels are at their lowest in May. Night dew may occur in up to 180 days per year. The city is influenced by the Mediterranean Sea breeze that occurs around mid-day. However, Bethlehem is affected also by annual waves of hot, dry, sandy and dust Khamaseen winds from the Arabian Desert, during April, May and mid-June.[60]



Year Population
1867 3,000-4,000[61]
1945 8,820[62]
1961 22,450
1983 16,300[63]
1997 21,930[64]
2004 (Projected) 28,010[1]
2006 (Projected) 29,930[1]
2007 25,266[64]

In the PCBS’s 1997 census, the city had a population of 21,670, including a total of 6,570 refugees, accounting for 30.3% of the city’s population.[64][65] In 1997, the age distribution of Bethlehem’s inhabitants was 27.4% under the age of 10, 20% from 10 to 19, 17.3% from 20-29, 17.7% from 30 to 44, 12.1% from 45-64 and 5.3% above the age of 65. There were 11,079 males and 10,594 females.[64]

According to a PCBS estimate, Bethlehem’s population was 29,930 in mid 2006.[1] The 2007 PCBS census, however, revealed a population of 25,266, of which 12,753 were males and 12,513 were females. There were 6,709 housing units, of which 5,211 were households. The average household consisted of 4.8 family members.[2]

According to Ottoman tax records, Christians made up roughly 60% of the population in the early 16th century, while the Christian and Muslim population became equal in the mid-16th century. There were no Muslim inhabitants by the end of the century, with a recorded population of 287 adult male tax-payers. Christians, like all non-Muslims throughout the Ottoman Empire, were required to pay the jizya tax.[38] In 1867 an American visitor describes the town as having a population of 3,000 to 4,000; of whom about 100 were Protestants, 300 were Muslims and “the remainder belonging to the Latin and Greek Churches with a few Armenians”.[61]

In 1948, the religious makeup of the city was 85% Christian, mostly of the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic denominations,[66] and 13% Sunni Muslim. By 2005, the proportion of Christian residents had decreased dramatically, to about 20%.[67] The only mosque in the Old City is the Mosque of Omar, located in the Manger Square.[33]

Christian population

See also: Palestinian Christian 

Four Bethlehem Christian women, 1911

The majority of Bethlehem’s Christian inhabitants claim ancestry from Arab Christian clans from the Arabian Peninsula, including the city’s two largest: al-Farahiyya and an-Najajreh. The former claims to have descended from the Ghassanids who migrated from Yemen to the Wadi Musa area in present-day Jordan and an-Najajreh descend from the Arabs of Najran in the southern Hejaz. Another Bethlehem clan, al-Anantreh, also trace their ancestry to the Arabian Peninsula.[68]

The percentage of Christians in Bethlehem has been steadily falling, primarily due to continuous emigration. The lower birth rate of Christians than Muslims also accounts for some of the decline. In 1947, Christians made up 75% of the population, but by 1998 this figure had declined to 23%.[66] The current mayor of Bethlehem, Victor Batarseh told the Voice of America that, “due to the stress, either physical or psychological, and the bad economic situation, many people are emigrating, either Christians or Muslims, but it is more apparent among Christians, because they already are a minority.”[69]

Palestinian Authority rule following the Interim Agreements is officially committed to equality for Bethlehem area Christians, although there have been a few incidents of violence against them by the Preventive Security Service and militant factions.[70]

The outbreak of the Second Intifada and the resultant decrease in tourism has also affected the Christian minority, leaving many economically stricken as they are the owners of many Bethlehem hotels and services that cater to foreign tourists.[71] A statistical analysis of why Christians are leaving the area blamed the lack of economic and educational opportunities, especially due to the Christians’ middle-class status and higher education.[72] Since the Second Intifada, 10% of the Christian population have left the city.[69]

A 2006 poll of Bethlehem’s Christians conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Research and Cultural Dialogue, found that 90% reported having Muslim friends, 73.3% agreed that the Palestinian National Authority treats Christian heritage in the city with respect and 78% attributed the ongoing exodus of Christians from Bethlehem to the Israeli travel restrictions in the area.[73]

The Hamas government’s official position has been to support the city’s Christian population, though the party at times has been criticized by some anonymous residents for increasing the Islamic presence in the city by, for example, activating the call to prayer at a previously unused local mosque in a Christian neighborhood. According to the Jerusalem Post, under Hamas, the Christian population faces a lack of law and order which has left it susceptible to land theft by local mafia who take advantage of ineffective courts and the perception that the Christian population is less likely to stand up for itself.[74][75][76]


Central Bethlehem

Shopping and industry

Shopping is a major sector in Bethlehem, especially during the Christmas season. The city’s main streets and old markets are lined with shops selling handicrafts, Middle Eastern spices, jewelry and oriental sweets such as baklawa.[77]

The tradition of making handicrafts in the city dates back to its founding. Numerous shops in Bethlehem sell olive wood carvings — for which the city is renowned — made from the local olive groves.[78] The carvings are the main product purchased by tourists visiting Bethlehem.[79] Religious handicrafts are also a major industry in Bethlehem, and some products include ornaments handmade from mother-of-pearl, as well as olive wood statues, boxes, and crosses.[78] The art of creating mother-of-pearl handicrafts was introduced to Bethlehem by Franciscan friars from Damascus during the 14th century.[79] Stone and marble-cutting, textiles, furniture and furnishings are other prevalent industries. Bethlehem also produces paints, plastics, synthetic rubber, pharmaceuticals, construction materials and food products, mainly pasta and confectionery.[80]

Bethlehem has a wine-producing company, Cremisan Wine, founded in 1885, that currently exports wine to several countries. The wine is produced by monks in the Monastery of Cremisan, and the majority of the grapes are harvested from the al-Khader area. The monastery’s wine production is around 700,000 liters per year.[81]


The Church of the Nativity

Tourism is Bethlehem’s primary industry and unlike other Palestinian localities before 2000, the majority of the working residents did not work in Israel.[50] Over 25% of the working population was employed directly or indirectly in the industry.[80] Tourism accounts for approximately 65% of the city’s economy and 11% of the Palestinian National Authority.[82]

The Church of the Nativity is one of Bethlehem’s major tourist attractions and a magnet for Christian pilgrims. It stands in the center of the city — a part of the Manger Square — over a grotto or cave called the Holy Crypt, where Jesus supposedly was born. Nearby is the Milk Grotto where the Holy Family took refuge on their Flight to Egypt and next door is the cave where St. Jerome spent thirty years translating the Hebrew Scriptures into Latin.[8]

There are over thirty hotels in Bethlehem.[9] Jacir Palace, built in 1910 near the church, is one of Bethlehem’s most successful hotels and its oldest. It was closed down in 2000 due to the violence of the Second Intifada, but reopened in 2005.[83]

Economic conference

Main article: Palestine Investment Conference 

Bethlehem hosted the largest ever economic conference in the Palestinian territories on May 21, 2008. It was initiated by Palestinian Prime Minister and former Finance Minister Salam Fayyad to convince over 1,000 businessmen, bankers and government officials from throughout the Middle East to invest in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, although Fayyad admitted the territories were “far from the perfect business environment”, being directly linked with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nonetheless, 1.4 billion US dollars was secured for business investments in the Palestinian territories.[84]



See also: Palestinian costumes 


A woman in Bethlehem. Her headdress and short jacket are typical of the Bethlehem area.

Before the establishment of Israel as a state, Bethlehem costumes and embroidery were popular in villages throughout the Judaean Hills and the coastal plain. The women embroiderers of Bethlehem and the neighboring villages of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour were known to be professional producers of wedding costumes.[85] Bethlehem was a center for embroidery producing a “strong overall effect of colors and metallic brilliance.”[86]

Less formal dresses in Bethlehem were generally made of indigo fabric and a sleeveless coat (bisht), made from locally woven wool, was worn over top. Dresses for special occasions were made of striped silk with winged sleeves and the short taqsireh jacket, known throughout Palestinian as the Bethlehem jacket, was worn over it. The taqsireh was made of velvet or broadcloth, usually with heavy embroidery.[85]

Bethlehem work was unique in its use of couched gold or silver cord, or silk cord onto the silk, wool, felt or velvet used for the garment, to create stylized floral patterns with free or rounded lines. This technique was used for “royal” wedding dresses (thob malak), taqsirehs and the shatwehs worn by married women. It has been traced by some to Byzantium, and by others to the more formal costumes of the Ottoman Empire’s elite. As Bethlehem was a Christian village, local women were also exposed to the detailing on church vestments with their heavy embroidery and silver brocade.[85]

Mother-of-Pearl carving

Craftsmen working with mother-of-pearl, early 20th century

Main article: Mother-of-Pearl carving in Bethlehem 

The art of mother-of-pearl carving has been a Bethlehem tradition since the 14th century when it was introduced to the city by Franciscan friars from Damascus.[87] Bethlehem’s position as an important Christian city has for centuries attracted a constant stream of pilgrims. This generated much local work and income, also for women, including making mother-of-pearl souvenirs.[88] It was noted by Richard Pococke, who travelled there in 1727.[89]

Present day products include crosses, earrings, brooches,[87] maps of Palestine,[90] and picture frames.[91]

Cultural centers and museums

Catholic procession on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, 2006

Bethlehem is home to the Palestinian Heritage Center, established in 1991. The center aims to preserve and promote Palestinian embroidery, art and folklore.[92] The International Center of Bethlehem is another cultural center that concentrates primarily on the culture of Bethlehem. It provides language and guide training, woman’s studies and arts and crafts displays, and training.[7]

A branch of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music is located in Bethlehem and has about 500 students. Its primary goals are to teach children music, train teachers for other schools, sponsor music research, and the study of Palestinian folklore music.[93]

Bethlehem has four museums located within its municipal borders. The Crib of the Nativity Theatre and Museum offers visitors 31 3D models depicting the significant stages of the life of Jesus. Its theater presents a 20-minute animated show. The Badd Giacaman Museum, located in the Old City of Bethlehem, dates back to the 18th century and is primarily dedicated to the history and process of olive oil production.[7]

Baituna al-Talhami Museum, established in 1972, contains displays of the culture of Bethlehem’s inhabitants.[7] The International Museum of Nativity was designed by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the purpose of showing works of “high artistic quality in an evocative atmosphere”.[7]


Christmas pilgrims, 1890

Christmas rites are held in Bethlehem on three different dates: December 25 is the traditional date by the Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations, but Greek, Coptic and Syrian Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 6 and Armenian Orthodox Christians on January 19. Most Christmas processions pass through Manger Square, the plaza outside the Basilica of the Nativity. Catholic services take place in St. Catherine’s Church and Protestants often hold services at Shepherds’ Fields.[94]

Bethlehem, like other Palestinian localities, participates in festivals related to saints and prophets that are attached to Palestinian folklore. One such festival is the annual Feast of Saint George (al-Khadr) on 5–6 May. During the celebrations, Greek Orthodox Christians from the city march in procession to the nearby town of al-Khader to baptize newborns in the waters around the Monastery of St. George and sacrifice a sheep in ritual.[95] The Feast of St. Elijah is commemorated by a procession to Mar Elias, a Greek Orthodox monastery north of Bethlehem.

Education :

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), in 1997, approximately 84% of Bethlehem’s population over the age of 10 was literate. Of the city’s population, 10,414 were enrolled in schools (4,015 in primary school, 3,578 in secondary and 2,821 in high school). About 14.1% of high school students received diplomas.[100] There were 135 schools in the Bethlehem Governorate in 2006; 100 run the Education Ministry of the Palestinian National Authority, seven by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and 28 were private.[101]

Bethlehem is home to Bethlehem University, a Catholic Christian co-educational institution of higher learning founded in 1973 in the Lasallian tradition, open to students of all faiths. Bethlehem University is the first university established in the West Bank, and can trace its roots to 1893 when the De La Salle Christian Brothers opened schools throughout Palestine and Egypt.[102]


A street in Bethlehem lined with taxis


Bethlehem has three bus stations owned by private companies which offer service to Jerusalem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, Hebron, Nahalin, Battir, al-Khader, al-Ubeidiya and Beit Fajjar. There are two taxi stations that make trips to Beit Sahour, Beit Jala, Jerusalem, Tuqu’ and Herodium. There are also two car rental departments: Murad and ‘Orabi. Buses and taxis with West Bank licenses are not allowed to enter Israel, including Jerusalem, without a permit.[103]