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Picture 1272Fragile Calm Holds in Darfur After Years of Death
The changes across the landscape here would have been hard to imagine just a few years ago. The rebel groups that started the war in Darfur in 2003, catalyzing a conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, almost seem to have gone into hibernation. So, too, have the infamous janjaweed, the marauding bandits who raped, killed and terrorized countless civilians. And this planting season, for the first time since 2003, United Nations officials say that tens of thousands of farmers who had been seeking refuge in squalid displaced persons camps returned to their villages to plant crops, a journey many Darfurians would have considered suicide until recently. (Continue Reading..)

Setti Warren makes history in Mass.
The city of Newton has inaugurated the first black mayor to be elected in Massachusetts by a popular vote. Setti Warren was installed Friday as Newton\’s first new chief executive in 12 years. Warren, an Iraq war veteran and former aide to U.S. Sen. John Kerry, was voted into office in the affluent Boston suburb when he defeated state Rep. Ruth Balser. He succeeds David Cohen, who chose not to seek re-election after three terms. In his inauguration speech, Warren said Newton\’s true wealth was its character, and commended the passion and commitment of city residents. (Continue Reading…)

Report: NBA players armed in locker room standoff
Two Washington Wizards basketball players drew guns on each other during a heated Christmas Eve gambling debt dispute, the New York Post reported Friday. Law enforcement authorities said they were investigating an incident but gave no details. Wizards teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton both brandished firearms in the team’s locker room, the Post reported, citing NBA league sources. The dispute erupted when Arenas, a three-time NBA all-star, refused to pay up on a debt owed to Crittenton, the Post stated, citing an anonymous league source. (Continue Reading…)

Despite Black princess, Disney’s race record mixed
Tiana, the Walt Disney Co.’s first black heroine, had a difficult transition from storyboard to movie screen: The Princess and the Frog, released late last year, came after months of focus groups, revisions and even a name change. Still, there are some who question how far the studio has really progressed when it comes to race. Scott Foundas, film editor and critic for LA Weekly, was one of the critics who weren’t cheering Disney, writing a piece for The Village Voice titled “Disney’s ‘Princess and the Frog’ Can’t Escape Ghetto.” “People who want to say, ‘Oh, it’s only a movie,’ that’s really ignoring the impact that films have on the broader culture,” Foundas tells NPR’s Michele Norris. “Children watching Disney animated films learn something from them about these characters, and how these characters function in society and what they are entitled to and what they’re not, and that makes an impression on an impressionable mind.” (Continue Reading…)

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