Actor and human rights activist George Clooney made a quiet visit to a volatile border region between Sudan and South Sudan last week ahead of testimony he's giving before a U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday. Clooney made the dangerous crossing from South Sudan into Sudan's Nuba Mountains region, Jonathan Hutson, a spokesman for the anti-genocide group the Enough Project, said Tuesday. Clooney saw burned-out villages and met with residents forced to seek shelter in caves because of aerial attacks by Sudan's military.
Violence has flared along the Sudan-South Sudan border since South Sudan seceded last year, and some experts worry the conflict could grow. South Sudan shut down its oil industry this year after accusing Sudan of stealing its oil.
Wednesday's hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will examine the oil dispute and the limited access aid groups are being given to Sudan's southern regions. Aid experts say people who live in Sudan's Nuba Mountains will soon face a hunger crisis because they haven't been able to plant crops amid fear of attacks from Sudan.
Alan Jackson heading to State Fair
The State Fair has announced its first two acts -- Alan Jackson on Aug. 24 and the Happy Together Tour on Aug. 27 with the Turtles, Micky Dolenz, Gary Puckett, the Grass Roots and the Buckinghams. Happy Together played the fair last year, but Dolenz of the Monkees and Puckett did not participate. Tickets -- $40 for Jackson, $18 for Happy Together -- will go on sale March 24. Tickets are available at mnstatefair.org or etix.com or by calling (800) 514-3849. In other concert news, Flogging Molly rocks the Brick on May 31, Anders Osborne performs May 23 at the Varsity and the English Beat returns April 15 to the Cabooze. Moondance Jammin Country Fest has announced its lineup for June 22-23 in Walker, Minn.: Neal McCoy and Billy Currington headline, with Kix Brooks, Bomshel, Chris Cagle and Morgan Frazier also scheduled. -JON BREAM
Doobies' drummer dies
Longtime Doobie Brothers drummer Michael Hossack, whose work is heard on the hits "Listen to The Music" and "China Grove," died of cancer at age 65, his manager said. Hossack died Monday at his home in Dubois, Wyo., manager Bruce Cohn said in a statement. Hossack played with the group from 1971 to 1973 and rejoined in 1987. He stopped performing with the band two years ago while struggling with his health.