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Sweet column: Clooney and Obama on Darfur


Did I mention yet I saw George Clooney yesterday? He is swell-looking. Nice build.

Did I get your attention? You, who may not usually look at what I write -- say, my column on the genocide in Sudan last week?

That's why Clooney is loaning his star power to draw international attention to the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.

"I just try to use the credit you get for being famous,'' he said in that distinctive, flat, drilling voice.

I went to a press conference in the National Press Club on Thursday about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and the Sunday rally to try to get the world to move faster to stop the slaughter, rape, and forced displacement in Sudan.

Twenty-two cameras. A standing-room crowd of about 150 reporters, many of them female and twentysomething.

At a table, Academy Award-winning actor, producer and director Clooney, Emmy-award winning Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and a GOP senator from Kansas, Sam Brownback, who usually toils in relative obscurity.

Obama, from the left, and Brownback, from the right, have teamed up over the past months on Darfur.

Clooney last week was in southern Sudan and neighboring eastern Chad with his father, Nick, the former American Movie Channel host and TV journalist who ran for the House in 2004 from Kentucky. Nick Clooney stood off in a corner of the room.

No stranger to the town (Clooney produced HBO's cinema-verite-type "K-Street'' miniseries in 2003 about Washington's political machinations), he is lending his considerable celebrity to doing something about the genocide that is happening right now.

Not in the past. Today and tomorrow. This is something we know about.

"In the tradition of Hollywood, you all will getting gift baskets,'' Clooney joked.

(Clooney has gray hair, more gray than I would have guessed. He is wearing a gray suit, crisp white shirt, and his trousers almost cover the heel of his shoe. )

What is going on in Sudan is "the first genocide of the 21st century,'' Clooney said, as he called for an international intervention force, much easier said than done.

Clooney made a short documentary with his father of their trip and showed it at the press conference. "Not a lot of news here,'' Clooney said, except that it has been going on for two years.

Obama, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will be traveling to Africa this August and has been active in trying to prod the administration -- which has been doing things -- to do more.

At the heart of the conflict is the escalating violence in the western region of Sudan against ethnic Africans who have been targeted for elimination by Arab Janjaweed militias in collaboration with Sudan's central government in Khartoum.

An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 have died, and forced migrations have displaced about 2.5 million.

The government of Sudan will not let the United Nations in, not that the U.N. has yet authorized a military or found any nations willing to send soldiers. The African Union troops only number 7,000 for a country the size of Texas.

Obama and Brownback want more troops in, though they stopped short of calling for an "intervention'' if Sudan would not welcome NATO or U.N. troops. Intervention is just a euphemism for invasion.

They called for much more, stronger diplomacy.

House International Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) has a bill calling for financial sanctions against those involved with the Darfur slaughter. President Bush issued an executive order seizing the assets of four Sudanese leaders. This afternoon, Bush meets with Darfur advocates in the White House.

On Monday, in Chicago a rally to Save Darfur takes place at 4:30 p.m. in the Federal Plaza.

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You mention a demonstration at Federal Plaza on Monday. The immigration rally will also take place Monday. Where are all these people going to fit in the Loop?

My wife very likes him:-)

Thank you for Barack Obama for visited darfur to make sure . About hte genocide in darfur .Before he come persident of America and all darfur people are your puplicans. and they saw yesterday you win in Iowa. darfur people need you to come persident of stop Omer El Bashir government. for killing darfur people. Thank you again

to stop crzy and crucial work in Darfur need alot of work so international community must force NIF janta to stop genocide in Darfur people

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 28, 2006 8:03 AM.

Rallies to Save Darfur: Obama with George Clooney today. Rally D.C. Sunday. Chicago Monday at 4:30 p.m. was the previous entry in this blog.

Kennedy, Durbin and Reid: Senate Dems join Cardinals Mahony, McCarrick, OMalley to press for broad immigration reform is the next entry in this blog.

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