• No Ice Cream Now: Correspondent Sam Dagher was in the town of Khalis in Iraq's Diyala Province exactly one year ago. At the time, he was embedded with a US military unit. "I strolled through its bustling market with US soldiers. I chatted to vendors and shoppers. Everything from watermelons to DVD players was on sale," he recalls. "We even bought ice cream, which most Iraqis refer to as "Motta," after a famous Italian brand."
While he was there, Sam says, he interviewed Sheikh Ali al-Jumaili, a Sunni tribal leader from a village on the outskirts of Khalis. The Sunni sheikh was a moderate who vowed not to let sectarian violence spread. He told Sam: 'Four Shiites in my village were threatened, but I did not allow that. This is nonsense, my two wives are Shiites.'
Today, as Sam reports (see story) sectarian cleansing has redrawn the province's map. The Khalis market is shuttered. No "Motta" anywhere.
And Sheikh Ali? "I was told that he was murdered a month ago," he says.
• Spiritual Quest in China: In addition to the newfound popularity of Confucius (see story), staff writer Peter Ford also saw evidence of a Chinese thirst for spirituality during his May Day holiday. "We visited Wutai Shan, a complex of Buddhist monasteries in Shanxi. We could not move for the crush of Chinese visitors. Some were cultural tourists, but others were clearly there in search of a spiritual experience," says Peter.
"Some were genuflecting at a Buddhist alter, not quite knowing what they were doing. The monks were showing them what to do, and taking a few coins in return," he says.
Peter's favorite Confucius quote? "As long as his father lives, a son should study his wishes; after he is dead, he should study his life." It's the nugget Peter plans to share with his two teenage sons.
– David Clark Scott