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Watching the World

Watching the World

Israel, Jordan, and Palestine

The Dead Sea is shrinking at the rate of about three feet (1 m) per year. Some fear that the lake could dry up completely by the year 2050. Officials are seeking a solution. One option under study is to desalinate water from the Red Sea for human consumption and then pipe the desalination by-product, brine, into the Dead Sea. Critics fear that the scheme will harm the unique ecosystem of the Dead Sea.


On Christmas Day, about one third more heart-attack patients are admitted to hospitals than at any other time of the year, according to one survey by an insurance company. The company suggests that increased stress when searching for Christmas gifts and unreasonably high expectations on the part of family and friends are the principal causes.


British scientists have announced that an Icelandic mollusk thought to be about 405 years old was actually 507 years old at its untimely death in 2006. This makes it the longest-lived animal * on record. The clam died when researchers froze it in order to transport it to their lab.

Latin America and the Caribbean

At a summit held in Havana, Cuba, earlier this year, the 33 member nations of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States declared their lands to be a ‘peace zone’ by agreeing to resolve conflicts between themselves without the use of force. Among those present was United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

^ par. 7 Here the term “longest-lived animal” excludes colonial organisms, such as coral, which are thought to have lived for thousands of years.