Short Takes: News From All Over

A Choice for Darfur
By Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times
In his Sunday Op-Ed column, Nicholas Kristof warned of the imminent — and perverse — possibility that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir could be appointed head of the African Union. John Kufuor of Ghana was ultimately chosen, but worth noting is the response to Kristof’s piece, which called for readers to suggest ways of combating the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Those ideas included: divesting in the Fidelity financial group, channeling Bill Gates’ funds, enacting an economic boycott, enlisting the help of Nelson Mandela, Bono, Barack Obama, or the president of Liberia, and pressuring China to withdraw support by boycotting the 2008 Olympics. One reader noted: ‘this information must go further than your oped [sic].’ The call is one the Times itself could heed, given that they have inconveniently put the column and the bounty of good ideas it generated behind a paywall. — Elizabeth Ryan

Editorial: A Tribute for Molly Ivins
By Becky O’Malley, BerkeleyDaily Planet
We were saddened to learn Thursday morning that Molly Ivins had died. The Berkeley Daily Planet project described below is ongoing.
Famed journalist, humorist, and tenacious Bush foe Molly Ivins was recently hospitalized for a third time due to breast cancer. In honor of Ivins’ prolific career, the Berkeley Daily Planet is calling for submissions ‘about what’s wrong with Bush’s war and what should be done to set things right.’ Articles will be posted on the Planet‘s website, and the best 600-800 word pieces will run in its print edition and be distributed to other publications. The idea is to evoke Ivins’ humorous style of writing — ‘since skewering serious subjects with humor is what Molly does best’ — and to fill in for her while she’s out. — Bennett Gordon

The Hearts of Darkness: How European Writers Created the Racist Image of Africa
By Milton Allimadi, Black Agenda Report
In 1959 New York Times reporter Homer William Bigart was sent to West Africa to cover de-colonization from European countries. Instead, at the encouragement of his editor, he came back an ‘expert’ on cannibalism, witchcraft, and ‘other phenomena indigenous to darkest Africa,’ emboldening stereotypes that Africans were barbaric and uncivilized. Such was one of the findings of Milton Allimadi, whose 2003 media study, The Hearts of Darkness, is being serially released by the Black Agenda Report. In this initial excerpt, Allimadi lays out his compelling argument that white journalists in the 1950 and ’60s perpetuated a ‘prism of bigotry’ that still plagues white writers today. — Mary O’Regan

If Dante Had Come with Illustrations
By Sohrab Mohebbi, Bidoun
At exactly 10:45 p.m., seven days a week, millions of people in the Islamic Republic of Iran rush home to watch the show Narges on state-run television. Narges‘ plots may be surprising to American news consumers, but not to our soap opera addicts. The show chronicles the embattled love lives of its characters and even touches on taboos like HIV. But, Sohrab Mohebbi writes, while Narges may be more exciting than most of the ‘garbage’ found on Iranian television, the show’s ‘version of reality is a carefully managed one.’ Thus, the cops are always ‘righteous’ and nonbelievers are always scoundrels. — Bennett Gordon

America‘s Best Eco-Neighborhoods
By Karen Romer, Natural Home
Those desiring to live the green life would do well to consult Natural Home‘s showcase of the top 10 eco-neighborhoods across the country. These areas boast co-ops, farmers markets, community programs, locally owned business, gardens, and green buildings. The list details each locale’s ‘curb appeal’ and includes specific neighborhoods within cities such as Chicago, Denver, Seattle, and Minneapolis. You don’t even have to head to the big city — try downtown Bozeman, Montana, for a taste of eco-bliss. — Elizabeth Ryan

Double Dipping: Doughnuts Laced with Caffeine
By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience
If the prospect of ‘decaf’ anything reeks of sacrilege to you, caffeinated bagels and doughnuts might be worthy of your reverence. Thanks to years of experiments by a molecular biologist, the patented process of caffeinating pastries merely awaits an investor before we’ll be able to bite into the latest wake-me-up. Though likely to be high in trans fat, each baked goodie will contain a dose of caffeine equivalent to that of one or two cups of coffee. — Jenna Fisher

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