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With Saddam Hussein’s recent execution, we have been promised that the former dictator’s end spells the dawn of democracy in Iraq. Yet Hussein continues to haunt Iraq, from the Kurds who remain tormented by their inability to convict the dictator of genocide, to the sectarian violence engulfing the country. From the martyrs to the victims to the criminals to ordinary people, the past infiltrates the present, not just in Iraq, but around the world as we embark on 2007.

In this issue of ITF, we inaugurate our new site, InTheFray.ORG, with the publication of more of the high-quality, inspiring, and groundbreaking writing and art you have come to associate with ITF. Here we examine the many ways the past informs the present.

We begin in New York, where Vidya Padmanabhan discovers how cabbies — many homesick for their native India or Pakistan — find belonging and business advice in the city’s Cabbie joints, South Asian restaurants. And in Brooklyn, a former police officer’s granddaughter grows nostalgic for accountability and responsibility as Alexis Clark considers the police brutality responsible for Sean Bell’s death in Lead by example.

Afterwards, we visit Chicago’s north shore, where Beth Rooney captures the colorful lives of African refugees as they attempt to rebuild their war-torn lives on a Strange shore. Halfway across the globe, Melissa Lambert sees a civil war’s toll when she ventures On the edge of Mozambique, where rebuilding remains a complicated process, one that breathes life, however mysteriously, into tourists’ fantasies of beauty and belonging.

Reflecting on the roots of her own ignorance about Africa, OFF THE SHELF Editor Nicole Pezold reviews Charlayne Hunter-Gault’s book New News Out of Africa. As she reveals how many of the continent’s countries are embracing democracy and eliminating poverty and disease, Hunter-Gault offers strategies for the media to highlight the “real” Africa.

Meanwhile, in Amman, Jordan, Best of ITF So Far writer Rhian Kohashi O’Rourke takes A sip of Egyptian Tea as she recounts how an older doorman finds humor and camaraderie in a young, clumsy American woman. Back in the United States, Larry Jaffe, the International Readings Coordinator for the United Nations Dialogue among Civilizations through Poetry program and the Co-Founder of Poets for Peace/United Poets Coalition, reflects on growing up Jewish in Sub Urban America and muses on the intolerance and ignorance that loom today. Speaking of coming of age, Megan Hauser reminisces about the realities of using optical illusions to protect herself in Bad eyewear can mark a child.

Rounding out this month’s stories and launching our newest department — the Activist’s Corner — is Folklore photography, former ITF Travel Editor Anju Mary Paul’s interview with photographer Martha Cooper about documenting urban culture and using the camera to inform, transform, and inspire awareness and change. Each month the Activist’s Corner will feature an interview concerning the challenges faced by contemporary activists and offer ideas for how busy people can improve their communities. This department will also feature links and other resources from grassroots organizations of interest to you, our readers.

Along with the Activist’s Corner and a more aesthetically pleasing site, InTheFray.ORG allows readers to post their own profiles, connect with other members, set up personal blogs, and upload images and video and audio files. In coming months, we plan to launch additional features, including video and audio podcasts.

Now that we’ve launched the new site, we’re looking for testimonials from readers aboutwhat InTheFray means to them. If you can help us, please emaileditors-at-inthefray-dot-org with any words you want to share. Pleasemake sure to include your full name and city.

We hope you enjoy our new home and encourage you to email us at editors-at-inthefray-dot-org with feedback on the new site.

Happy New Year!

Laura Nathan
Buffalo, New York

P.S. We would like to dedicate this new site to Oya Hadimli, a friend of InTheFray, who passed away in November. Thank you for inspiring us with your vision and passion for a world without borders.

In The Fray is a nonprofit staffed by volunteers. If you liked this piece, could you please donate $10?