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Horrific acts can often force people to take new directions.

A string of massacres in Kosovo has awakened Europe to the need to act. It will try to hold peace talks this weekend outside Paris. Even Germany, slowly emerging from military passivity, is willing to use force. In the Bosnia crisis, Europe came away embarrassed after America took the lead by holding the Dayton talks.

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In Africa, the act of female circumcision in traditional villages has compelled outsiders, including Hillary Clinton, to seek an end to its practice. But in Senegal, popular backlash against a new law banning the ancient rite has forced many to rethink what might be the best approach.

The group charged with the 1995 gas poisoning of Tokyo subways is back, and its attempt to settle in a small town has triggered an unusual backlash (this page). Quote of note: "Many Japanese people still think that this is a homogenous - one-race and one-culture - country." - Kenichi Asano, Doshisha University professor.

The death of a black man in police custody has many of Britain's 3 million blacks asking for an end to police racism.

- Clayton Jones World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *BIRACIAL IN BERLIN: Lucian Kim, who reports today on German attitudes toward its black minority, knows something about getting along in traditionally homogenous German society. Born in Illinois to Swiss and Korean parents, he grew up multilingual and projects what he calls "an American attitude" toward ethnicity and nationality: that they're wholly independent of one another. Lucian credits that outlook as one reason he's never felt the sting of discrimination living in Berlin. He's even had a hard time persuading people that he's not German. Once in an interview he asked an elderly woman for which party she was voting. She asked him the same question, and when Lucian said he was American she ignored the claim, insisting - Lucian thinks it was his buttoned-down look - that he was a supporter of the conservative Christian Democrats.

*SOCIABLE PROTEST: In reporting today's story about opposition to the religious group Aum Supreme Truth, Tokyo correspondent Cameron Barr spent time with villagers in Kitamimaki as they kept a vigil against Aum members moving into their village. Local men and women warmed themselves around bonfires under falling snow and freezing rain. At first it seemed an onerous task - the Japanese Alps can be pretty chilly. But soon, amid the camaraderie and conversation of the bonfire, it seemed to Cameron that there was a hidden reason why many of the villagers were turning out to keep Aum at bay: They hadn't had so much fun in years.

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