Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (left) shakes hands with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during an official meeting in Tehran last year.
Credit Mario Tama / Getty Images
Shiite worshipers march after cutting their scalps in a ritual display of mourning during an Ashura ceremony outside Kadhimiya shrine in Baghdad on Dec. 6. Shiite festivals such as this were prohibited under dictator Saddam Hussein, a Sunni. Shiite Iran is seeking greater influence in Iraq, and Iraq's Sunni neighbors are doing the same.
Earlier this month, a ceremony took place in Baghdad that was unthinkable under Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein: Ashura, the annual Shiite ritual marking the slaying of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and one of the most revered figures in Shiite Islam.
As the trumpets sounded in Baghdad's notorious Shiite slum of Sadr City, boys and men wearing white shrouds brought swords down onto their shaven heads. Thick red blood gushed onto their faces. Hussein sacrificed for us, the belief goes, and devoted followers are ready to sacrifice for him.
There's been some consternation on the Web about what happened this weekend at a post office in Silver Spring, Md., when three Christmas carolers — all decked out in shawls, bonnets and a top hat (for the guy) — popped in and started singing.
It seems that one of the USPS managers on duty jumped into action, telling the trio that they couldn't do that because they were on government property.
Norwegians are suffering a butter shortage. The Nordic country has to go without, supposedly because of trade barriers imposed by the country's dairy cooperative Tine. And of course, this comes right as the holiday baking season is heating up. Lynn Neary talks with Lovisa Morling, of the Apent Bakeri in Oslo, about how the bakery is getting by.