Safaa Eadi, 31, a founding member of the Happy Family Team, told how the group had been threatened by gunmen, who objected to them giving drama classes to children of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. A handwritten note had been left on the windscreen of the group’s van, the usual method that the militias employ to warn a target.
“We didn’t take them seriously, so we carried on,” Mr Eadi said. “The next day the building was burnt down.” Then, on the eve of the festival, Mr Radi, 20, and Mr Jawad, 25, were returning to their homes in the Amirayah district of western Baghdad, the heartland of Sunni insurgents.
They were in the van, so they made an easily identifiable target. They had offered to drive a woman friend to hospital on their way. Their vehicle came under a barrage of gunfire on a main road. Mr Jawad and the woman passenger died instantly. Mr Radi was dragged from the van and beaten to death.
For nearly 2,000 years, the contour and coastline of the Dead Sea remained virtually unchanged from the days when the famous Dead Sea scrolls were stashed in nearby cave. But in the last 50 years, since the great diversions upstream to irrigate a growing economy, the river flow that fed the lake has decreased to 8 percent of its former pour. The Dead Sea is dropping about a yard a year, and its surface area is just a third of what it once was. The Global Nature Fund has declared the Dead Sea "Threatened Lake of the Year" for 2006.
Moving down the road, past a parade of "Danger" signs, we come to a place that looks like a detonated mine field. It is a garden of sinkholes: As the lake has receded, it has sucked the water from the underbelly of the shoreline, causing the earth to collapse. There are over 1,000 sinkholes on the west side of the Dead Sea, and more appear every day.
Planners once envisioned a string of resorts along the Dead Sea, but there is a ban against development now. Sinkholes have swallowed campgrounds, closed a military camp, and caused the evacuation of a date plantation.
BEIJING, China (AP) -- China on Thursday denounced comments by Canada's foreign minister that Chinese spies were stealing his country's industrial and high-tech secrets and warned that the accusations could strain ties between the two nations.
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said in an interview last week with Canada's CTV News that his government was "very concerned about economic espionage."
"It is something we want to signal that we want to address, and to continue to raise with the Chinese at the appropriate time," MacKay said, according to CTV's Web site.
But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said MacKay's remarks were "groundless and irresponsible."
"China has not been engaging in any so-called economic espionage activities in Canada," Qin said at a regular briefing. "China expresses great concern over this. We hope the Canadian government can make a clear distinction between what's true and false and do more to help the healthy development of the China-Canada strategic partnership."
According to the CTV report, intelligence files suggest that about 1,000 Chinese agents and informants operate in Canada, including visiting students, scientists and business people told to steal cutting-edge technology.
MacKay said one example was China's Redberry, an imitation of the popular Blackberry handheld e-mail device, created by the Waterloo, Ontario-based Research in Motion Ltd.
Figures released last month in Canada show that Canadian exports to China have tripled to more than $7 billion.
Suicide bombing is no longer just a cult activity. It is no longer merely a failure. It has become a failure on a monumental scale, the very symbol of the culture of failure that keeps a state of Palestine and idea and not a reality.
Palestinians said early in the intifada that it was suicide bombing that put their cause back on the world map. That may well have been true at the time. What is clear now, however, is that it is suicide bombing that has kept Palestine off the world map. It has, at the same time, markedly shrunk the map of the Palestinian West Bank, by providing the rationale and the defense for the route of the fence that makes the Green Line 1967 border a fading memory.
The political culture of the Palestinians, steeped in naqba [catastrophe], haunted by 1967, furious with intra-Palestinian corruption and misrule, has become a culture of failure which prizes the grand gesture of spectacular futility, whether it is pushing the detonator switch, or refusing to recognize Israel - even as you (Hamas) prepares to petition the Israeli High Court of Justice to allow Hamas legislators to keep their Israeli-issued personal documents.
After all, if partial success, like Oslo or Camp David, is viewed as failure and grounds for armed revolt, why not fail all the way?