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Signs of hope: COVID-19 vaccinations hit record high
Signs of hope: CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus on vaccinations, if it's too early to drop COVID-19 restrictions and more.
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Eye Opener: Senate moves forward with COVID bill
A deal has been reached in the Senate, paving the way forward for President Biden's COVID-19 relief bill. Also, several states are easing coronavirus restrictions as Dr. Anthony Fauci and other medical experts say they are worried. All that and all that matters in today's Eye Opener. Your world in 90 seconds.
Deciding votes in an evenly divided Senate
The effort to strike a deal on a package is a careful dance for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. There is little room with 50 members on each side, and often, little appetite for compromise. Christina Ruffini reports from the White House where President Biden is paying close attention to the voting in the Senate.
Canada vowed to protect its Indigenous women. But they are still being blamed for their own deaths
February marked the culmination of a nearly decade-long legal saga that raised national questions about how Canada treats Indigenous women. Cindy Gladue, a 36-year-old Canadian Cree-Métis mother of three, bled to death in a hotel bathtub almost a decade ago.
How a doctor tried to surgically save the human soul — after death
The monkey’s eyelids fluttered after 18 hours under anesthesia. Two medical teams stood by anxiously. Doctors, nurses and a troop of assistants held their breath, waiting for a sign that the delicate operation — actually, two delicate operations — had been a success.  Holding a pair of forceps, Cleveland brain surgeon Robert White gently tapped...
Raya and the Last Dragon and the Limits of an Authentic Fantasy World
Fantasy worlds that mirror real-life cultures have a long history in storytelling. Middle-earth, the Four Lands, Narnia, Westeros, Earthsea: These are fictional places populated by imaginary creatures and characters, but with politics, faiths, and cultural dynamics that resemble our own. They give their creators license to world-build with allegories for contemporary issues, but without worrying too much about fidelity to reality. For Disney’s animated films, such fantasy lands—Wonderland, Neverland, even Atlantis—are part of the studio's cinematic legacy. But when depicting non-Western cultures, Disney has sometimes flattened the various cultures of a region into one stereotype-heavy location. Agrabah, in the animated Aladdin, was a visual mishmash of Middle Eastern cultures, and was originally described in song as “barbaric / But hey, it’s home.” The characterization was more reductive and offensive than blessed by Disney magic.Raya and the Last Dragon, Disney’s first animated film to star a Southeast Asian heroine, attempts to be more culturally accurate than any Disney project before it. Like the team behind Moana, which was inspired by Polynesian cultures, Raya’s filmmakers created a “story trust” of Southeast Asian historians and anthropologists working as consultants to ensure the film’s authenticity. They also recruited the Vietnamese American writer Qui Nguyen and the Chinese Malaysian writer Adele Lim for the script, as well as the Thai artist Fawn Veerasunthorn as their head of story. The directors, Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, trekked through Laos, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, and Malaysia to gather material that would help them sculpt Kumandra, the fantasy world that serves as Raya’s setting.And Kumandra is incredibly detailed. The characters wear draped sabai tops and sampot pants, and wield kris-inspired swords and arnis sticks. The martial-arts choreography incorporates moves from fighting styles such as muay thai and krabi-krabong. There are shots of durian and dragon fruit and the Vietnamese rice cake bánh tét. The fictional kingdom Fang draws on geometric architecture from Indonesia, while Talon is made up of floating markets reminiscent of those in Thailand. The titular last dragon, Sisu (voiced by Awkwafina), is modeled after naga, serpent-like creatures from Southeast Asian folklore. These elements fill every inch of the screen, making Raya an eye-popping, vibrant spectacle. That was the point, Nguyen explained in an interview: “It was like a bunch of Easter eggs culturally for all of us to be able to go, ‘Hey, you find your culture in this movie.’”But culture isn’t a collection of Easter eggs. For all its dazzling details, Raya’s world-building comes at the expense of Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) herself.[Read: The invisible artistry of Asian actors]Raya even spends the opening minutes of the film running down the extensive backstory of Kumandra: The land once existed as a unified region where humans lived alongside dragons, until purple smoke monsters called Druuns, which turn living beings to stone, showed up. The dragons saved the humans, but in the process sacrificed themselves to the Druuns. The humans, left on their own, began fighting one another, splitting Kumandra up into five kingdoms, each named after parts of a dragon: Fang, Heart, Talon, Spine, and Tail. Given their different climates and values, each one developed a distinct lifestyle, refusing to reunify as one Kumandra. Raya embarks on a quest to stitch together the kingdoms, collects a motley crew of wayward Kumandrans, and forms a found family that teaches her that trust is key to unity.As gorgeous as Kumandra may be, Raya’s story feels empty and irrelevant compared with the world around her. She acts like a tourist, hopscotching from kingdom to kingdom in search of pieces of a dragon gem to stop the Druuns, which transformed her father, the chief of the Heart kingdom. Sure, she engages with people from the kingdoms, but they mostly provide comic relief, rather than act as fully formed characters—one of them is a baby who can only babble and produce slapstick gags. In the desert land of Tail, Raya grabs the gem piece from the skeleton of the kingdom’s chief. Raya is a quick-witted adventurer, but her character scantly reflects the filmmakers’ sweeping cultural research; Disney’s attention to authenticity becomes little more than window dressing.Better fantasy worlds make their cultural specificity essential to the hero’s journey. In Black Panther, Wakanda represents Black excellence, and thus serves T’Challa’s arc, as a man trying to earn his position as a ruler. The world of Avatar: The Last Airbender is based on Asia, and that’s woven into the narrative of its protagonist, the monk Aang. His plot incorporates Buddhist rituals and themes of harmony; he travels to four kingdoms not to pick up souvenirs, but to learn from each nation’s philosophies and lifestyles. The world of Moana draws on Polynesian cultures, in particular the tradition of wayfinding, which is pivotal to the lead character’s story. She sails across the ocean to protect her home island and connect her people to their heritage as voyagers.[Read: Why fashion is key to understanding the world of Black Panther]In Raya, the world doesn’t so much serve the story; the story twists itself in knots trying to serve the world. This muddies the film’s message. With so little attention paid to the people of Kumandra’s kingdoms, anyone outside of Raya’s home world of Heart—including the thinly drawn ambassador of each kingdom—is defined by disunity, greed, and mistrust. Raya’s attempt to re-form Kumandra comes off less as a pursuit of unity, and more as her own attempt to flatten five disparate cultures into one.The composite fantasy world as a storytelling device has evolved. It’s heartening to see animation move past the crude cultural appropriation of Aladdin’s Agrabah or the beyond-loose interpretation of the Incan empire in The Emperor’s New Groove, and to have a fantasy world that does not treat people of color as the exception. But the spectacle of a fantasy world can do only so much; a beautiful setting can’t compensate for a superficial story line. Raya loses sight of its heroine’s own connection to the cultures that the filmmakers had put so much care into depicting authentically. As the Vietnamese American writer Hoai-Tran Bui pointed out in her review, “Seeing a familiar dish and hearing a familiar word doesn’t have quite the [same] effect as recognizing a family dynamic onscreen.”Raya, as the sole Southeast Asian Disney title, will become the de facto Southeast Asian narrative for Disney’s entire fairy-dusted dominion. Already there are Raya dolls, Sisu plushies, Kumandra-related toys; maybe later there’ll be a sequel or series, like the recently announced one for Moana. Why the filmmakers would want so badly to get it all right, down to the last frame, is understandable. But aesthetic accuracy has its limits. Raya and the Last Dragon is, in the end, named after Raya, not Kumandra. If the intention is to truly, fully depict a culture, then the people represent it better than any architectural style, costume choice, or fruit ever could. Ignore them, and the result is something like the dragons consumed by the Druuns: eye-catching but ultimately lifeless.
Detroit's mayor and Covid vaccine roulette
Detroit's Democratic mayor, Mike Duggan, caused a major headache for the White House and public health officials when he declined an allotment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for his city, arguing that Detroiters would be better off for now with Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
Maryland is hoping its hiccup at Northwestern doesn’t mean its winning formula is flawed
The Terps have figured out the way they need to play to give themselves a chance to win most nights.
Will the Pandemic Spawn a New Genre of Cult Classics? Barb and Star Suggests Yes
If you subscribe to Netflix or any other streaming service, you know—or you’re at least made to feel—that even if you’re not yet ready to return to theaters, you’ll never run out of things to watch. That should be exciting. So why isn’t it? The unending supply of that thing with the deeply unromantic name…
CBS '48 Hours' spotlights Aniah Blanchard murder case; Walt Harris, wife appear on show
The tragic story of Aniah Blanchard will be back under the national spotlight.       Related StoriesVideo: What's your dream MMA-boxing crossover matchup right now?UFC 259 discussion threadUFC 259 discussion thread - Enclosure
In Las Vegas, this hot dog cart is one of the few things that's sacred
Patrons love the hot dogs so much, South Point had to put a limit on the number they could buy at one time: three.
U.S. shelters received more than 7,000 migrant children in February
On Friday, the Biden administration authorized shelters for unaccompanied children to return to their pre-pandemic bed capacity, citing "extraordinary circumstances."
1000 Years of Droughts in America
Dating back to the "megadrought" of the 10th century and ending with the droughts that plague us today, take a look at some of the worst droughts in American history.
Impact of Capitol riot looms over efforts to overhaul policing in the District
The acting police chief says he needs a larger force to help combat new threat of domestic terrorism.
Help! I’ve Developed a Crush on My New Mom-Friend.
I feel like I’m being unfaithful to my spouse.
Bloomingdale’s and Stella McCartney launch Stellabration pop-up shop
Bloomingdale’s is celebrating Earth Month a little early with its newly launched Stellabration shop. The pop-up shop features items from Stella McCartney’s newest collections, including her genderless Shared capsule. It also includes eco-friendly picks inspired by McCartney’s work in sustainability. “For us at Stella McCartney, change has always been about being more in tune with...
Opinion: Death Of A Teenage Protester in Myanmar
A teenager, Kyal Sin, also known as Angel, was killed during recent protests in Myanmar. NPR's Scott Simon considers her final moments and her legacy.
Pandemic Inspires More Than 1,200 New German Words
Germans have a knack for stringing lots of words together to create new words. From Mundschutzmode to Coronamutationsgebiet, the pandemic has spawned a plethora of them.
This comparison website ensures you won’t pay more for car insurance
Paying for car insurance can sometimes feel pointless–until you suddenly need it. After all, there’s a reason why driving a car on the road without insurance is illegal. Not only will you have to spring for damages on your vehicle in the event of an accident, but you may also be financially responsible for anything...
Go from guitar zero to guitar hero with these expert-led classes
Learning to play guitar or another musical instrument is hardly an uncommon goal. What’s uncommon is actually going on to take lessons and master some of the skills required to play well. It takes time and a good teacher to learn the skills required to become a proficient musician. And, the benefits of learning an...
17 heaters, A/C units, air purifiers and humidifiers on sale for up to 72 percent off
There is nothing quite like a good night’s sleep. That’s why we rounded up 17 best-selling heaters, A/C units, air purifiers, and humidifiers that will help you wake up feeling your best. With savings of up to 72% off, you are bound to find a gadget that you love for a price that doesn’t break...
Extensive offseason work has raised Chicago's Zach LaVine's game to an All-Star level
The Bulls' absence from the bubble restart gave Zach LaVine an unusual amount of time to analyze his game on video and then work on it in the gym.
Pope, top Iraq Shiite cleric hold historic, symbolic meeting
The meeting was months in the making, with every detail painstakingly discussed and negotiated between the ayatollah’s office and the Vatican.
This teen was offered over $1 million in scholarships when she applied to colleges
Shanya Robinson-Owens, a 17-year-old student at George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science in Philadelphia, applied to somewhere between 25 to 30 different colleges and was offered over $1 million in scholarship money.
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Division III star Quinn Meinerz prepared for NFL draft in Canada wilderness, learned center in backyard
Wisconsin-Whitewater offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz is getting attention from NFL teams and might become the highest drafted player from the school.       
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Coronavirus FAQ: Does It Make Your Hair Fall Out?
The term "hair loss" has been googled a lot during this pandemic. What's going on?
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Stop Blacklisting Republicans Who Denied Joe Biden's Election Win, Business Leaders Say
The Chamber of Commerce has previously supported all eight senators who voted against President Biden's win.
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Opinion: NFL owners keep rejecting Black head-coaching candidates. Is it time for legal action?
Nothing has moved the needle with NFL owners like taking them to court. That could be next step in addressing league's failure in diversity hiring.      
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Thousands of students have dropped out of school due to Covid-19. These are the educators trying to track them down
The first thing you need to know about dropping out of school is that it doesn't happen all at once. Educators say students don't just wake up one day and decide that's it, no more school. It happens slowly. They get a little behind, they get more behind, they can't imagine catching up, so they give up.
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Asylum Seekers Are Entering The U.S. Again — But Many More Migrants Are Left Behind
Many are fleeing crime and poverty in Central America and rushing to the U.S.-Mexico border. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this week called the situation a "stressful challenge."
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The Democrats who could take Cuomo's place
With Cuomo wounded, next year could get very interesting.
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Trump’s last national security advisor to return to LA law firm
Robert O’Brien has also considered a 2024 presidential run.
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Op-Ed: Why Dr. Seuss' evolution is the right lesson for us all
Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced it will stop publishing six of his books. His oeuvre shows the author's work evolved and he was willing to learn from past mistakes.
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'It's win or go home': Duke begins final push for NCAA Tournament against North Carolina
Duke will likely need to win the ACC tournament to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995. First, the Blue Devils face UNC.       
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5 books not to miss: Imbolo Mbue's 'How Beautiful We Were,' Brian Alexander's 'The Hospital'
Imbolo Mbue, author of "Behold the Dreamers," returns with new novel "How Beautiful They Were," plus more of this week's new releases.       
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Video: What's your dream MMA-boxing crossover matchup right now?
Boxers trying MMA ... MMA fighters wanting to box ... crossing over is all the rage these days.       Related StoriesUFC 259 'Embedded,' No. 6: Behind the scenes at tense faceoffsVideo: Which UFC 259 title fight will be most talked about come Sunday?Twitter Mailbag: If Israel Adesanya becomes champ-champ at UFC 259, then what? 
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As its All-Star Game approaches, the NBA trudges on. And on. And on. And on.
The best thing about this exhausted and exhausting NBA season is that it's half over.
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'It was one after another': Tight-knight Massachusetts family, ravaged by COVID, looks to honor those they lost
The Valdovinos family has been praying for months now. The tight-knit family, rocked by tragedy after tragedy, has leaned on prayer like never before.       
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Nicolas Batum's story of redemption aligns with that of the Clippers
Nciolas Batum was deemed dispensable by Charlotte after his career-worst 12th season in the NBA. He was drawn to the Clippers because of their similar arc.
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I Was Constantly Arguing With My Child. Then I Learned the “TEAM” Method of Calmer Parenting
Three years ago, I sat at the Cancun airport in a state of paralysis. I stared outside, trying to figure out if what I had just witnessed could possibly be true. Could parenting be that effective? Could children be that helpful and respectful? More to the point: Has Western culture forgotten the best way to…
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50 Best Value Public Colleges in America
From Baruch College in New York City to Oregon Institute of Technology, find out which public schools prospective students can apply to that will allow them to maximize their educational potential.
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25 Human Foods Dogs Should Never Eat
Chocolate, caffeine, macadamia nuts, grapes and some other fruits can cause severe reactions when ingested by dogs.
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A ‘city father’ tried to erase a Black neighborhood. Now the neighborhood wants to erase him.
Melvin Hazen is the latest D.C. segregationist under fire for a racist past.
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Inspired by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, a new play ponders race, gender and inclusion
Steppenwolf Theatre begins streaming Vivian J.O. Barnes’s “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” on March 10.
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Pope Francis holds historic meeting with revered Shia cleric
Pope Francis has held a historic meeting with revered Shia Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on the second day of the pontiff's visit to Iraq.
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Democrats and Republicans are battling over voting rights in Congress and at statehouses. Which side will win?
As Republicans propose measures to limit access to voting, Democrats are pushing sweeping legislation to expand access to the polls.      
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UFC 259 play-by-play and live results (5:15 p.m. ET)
Check out live play-by-play and official results from UFC 259 in Las Vegas.      Related StoriesUFC 259 breakdown: What could be Megan Anderson's path to longshot win vs. Amanda Nunes?Defining Fights: UFC 259 co-headliner Megan AndersonDefining Fights: UFC 259 co-headliner Amanda Nunes 
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UFC 259 discussion thread
UFC 259 takes place Saturday in Las Vegas, and you can discuss the event here.       Related StoriesUFC 259 discussion thread - EnclosureUFC 259 play-by-play and live results (5:15 p.m. ET)UFC 259 'Embedded,' No. 6: Behind the scenes at tense faceoffs 
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