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Black Entertainment, Money, Style and Beauty Blogs - Black Voices

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    Love it or hate it, 2010 marked the resurgence of hip-hop mogul Damon Dash and his newly acquired deal with Roc-A-Fella records. Dash relaunched his 1996 establishment through L.A. Reid and Island Def Jam.

    Find out what inspired the Harlem native to realign himself with the once-platinum-selling label after severing ties with ex-business partner Jay-Z in 2004.


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    Dr. Conrad Murray's Defense Team to Claim Michael Jackson Killed Himself

    The defense team for Dr. Conrad Murray who stands accused of involuntary manslaughter in the premature death of R&B icon Michael Jackson, has now switched gears and will use the theory that the entertainer may have killed himself.

    Dr. Murray, a cardiologist and Jackson's live-in private physician at the time of his death on June 25, 2009, was arrested for allegedly administering a cocktail of drugs, but most notably, a lethal dose of propofol to the King of Pop as a sleeping agent. The drug should only be distributed in a hospital and under the caution and guidance of an anesthesiologist.

    Defense lawyer Michael Flanagan is claiming that the syringes and intravenous drip found at Jackson's bedside should have been adequately examined to determine "the means of who injected Jackson." Dr. Murray is claiming that he is innocent of giving Jackson such a high concentration of the powerful anesthetic.

    Now, it has been suggested that Jackson, in a desperate attempt to get some much needed sleep, may have actually injected himself with more propofol when Dr. Murray stepped out of his room. The physician stands by his claim that he only gave Jackson small amounts of the sedative benzodiazepine along with 25 milligrams of propofol. Flanagan told a Superior Court judge that as much as 150 milligrams of propofol would have to be administered in order to actually kill someone.

    According to Flanagan, a broken syringe with a yet unanalyzed fingerprint on it was found on Jackson's bedroom floor. Investigators also discovered another syringe in an intravenous medication bag. A preliminary hearing will begin on January 4 and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor will decide if there is enough evidence built up against Dr. Murray for a trial.


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    As the year comes to a close, we look back at 10 actors and directors who made a comeback in 2010. Being back in the spotlight can do wonders for a career, so let's hope the work begets more work and more recognition.


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    Fresh off his three Grammy Award nominations, Chris Brown is busy burning up the airwaves and gearing up to release his new single 'Look at Me Now' with Lil' Wayne and Busta Rhymes the to of the year.

    But, Brown is also not to busy for cameros and found time to appear on Young Money rapper Jae Millz's new single.

    The New York MC has teamed with a new website,, which allows members to upload, edit and promote their music video conten, for a new contest.

    Jae Millz debuted his new video 'Green Goblin' featuring Chris Brown on MusicMatrix and now he's kicked off a contest allowing members to edit and create their own version of 'Green Goblin' complete with special effects and using video clips from the actual Antwan Smith-directed video. Celebrity judges will award winners $3,000 worth of electronic devices, including laptops and televisions.

    MusixMatrix also features video contests from other rap artists, including Maino, Gorilla Zoe and Vado.



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    Boney M's Bobby Farrell is Dead at Age 61 (Pic: AP)

    Bobby Farrell, the only male member of the chart topping seventies group Boney M, was found dead in his hotel room in Russia after failing to respond to a wake up call.

    Farrell, whose real name was Roberto Alfonso Farrell, was on tour and had performed the previous evening. Sources say he had complained of breathing difficulties before and after his performance.

    The disco group Boney M was formed in 1975 by Frank Farian, a German record producer and Farrell was one of the original lineup members. The Aruba-born performer, who before joining the group had been a sailor and even an exotic male dancer, was working as a DJ in Germany before being spotted by Farian.

    Liz Mitchell, Marcia Barrett and Maizie Williams soon came on board to make up the group Boney M. Together the members achieved popularity with such European chart-breaking hits as "Daddy Cool" and "Sunny." The group's popularity spread like wildfire throughout the UK, Sweden, Norway and Austria.

    In 1978, Boney M's music hit the United States big time and "Rivers of Babylon/Brown Girl in the Ring" became their most successful single in the U.S. peaking at number 30 on the singles pop charts. This was also the year that Boney M became the first Western music group invited by a Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev, to perform in the Soviet Union.

    Unlike the Milli Vanilli bogus lip-synching fiasco of the late eighties, it was pretty well known that Farrell and Williams were never in the studio providing their actual voices for the recordings. Farian actually provided the male vocals for Farrell and another female singer was brought in for Williams but during live performances both group members were able to make do rather seamlessly. The group also had backup singers which enhanced their singing during live concert performances.

    Farrell was fired from the group in 1981 for being unreliable. Boney M officially disbanded in 1986 but offshoots from the group featuring the different members have been touring the live circuit ever since.

    A flamboyant showman, Farrell continued to burn up performing venue stages under the name "Bobby Farrell's Boney M" where he mixed disco with calypso music.

    Farrell's cause of death is not known but according to the Associated Press, he had been sick on and off throughout a period of ten years.


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    Wherever you plan to be for New Years Eve -- whether it's with friends, at church, at home with family, or dancing the night away -- make sure you look lovely with a little inspiration from your favorite style stars. No matter your shape or style, Black Voices has got you covered with a lineup of the best celebrity inspired New Years outfits. We've found the best dresses for every body type -- from curvy like Serena Williams to trim like Jada Pinkett-Smith -- we'll make sure you look like a million bucks as you ring in the new year!

    Pear Shape Inspiration: Rihanna

    Pear shapes are typically smaller on top and wider through the hips and rear. To look proportional, take a cue from Rihanna, who's known for always dressing the best for her pear shape. The pop princess looked elegant in this strapless gown with a draped panel from her waist through to her thighs. The panel of fabric helped camouflage her wider bottom half and created a more symmetrical look, while the strapless neckline drew the eyes up. Get a similar look and effect with this geometric dress by Karen Millen (, $129.30).

    Plus Size Inspiration: Amber Riley

    If you haven't caught on to the 'Glee' phenomenon yet, you should, if only to watch the powerhouse singer that is Amber Riley. She's covered everyone from Jasmine Sullivan to Whitney Houston on the show and gets better and better with each episode. The plus-sized beauty has also been improving her fashion game, stepping up from a minor player to a full on fashionista. We can't wait to see what Amber has in store for next year, but in the mean time, follow her lead with this stylish red carpet look. Perfect for any New Year's Eve gala or fancy fete, this floor length, strapless red gown is great for the plus-sized woman who has major plans. The cinched waist creates an hourglass shape and drapes nicely over a full shape. Monif's C (, $235), popular convertible dress offers a more affordable option for you to try.

    Skinny Shape Inspiration: Ciara
    If you're a skinny mini, look to Ciara for your New Year's Eve style inspiration. The R&B beauty stays thin and trim thanks to all those intense dance moves in her videos, but doesn't have many noticeable curves. If you're like Ciara and want to create some extra shapes, follow her lead and get a cutout dress. Ciara's Jasmine de Milo dress has cutouts along the sides that work to create an hourglass shape, and the body hugging fabric allows her natural shape to shine through. Try a similar look with this Cherry Bomb dress (, $78)

    Curvy Inspiration: Viola Davis
    Ring in the new year celebrating your curvy shape! Stars like Viola Davis do this all the time, like when she strutted the red carpet in this figure flattering little black dress. The Tony Award-winning actress wore a black satin dress that accented her bustline and strong arms, while the ribbon under her rib cage highlighted her small waist. The star was smart to choose an A-line dress that flowed over her bottom half without hugging every single curve. To look sassy and sexy on New Year's Eve like Viola, try an Illusion Tank Dress from White House Black Market (, $168).

    Small Bust Inspiration: Zoe Saldana
    If anyone has a year to celebrate, it's Zoe Saldana. The Dominican diva went from working actress to A-List star overnight with her hit movie 'Avatar'. After seeing Zoe on red carpet after red carpet, one thing became clear -- the lovely Latina loves to flaunt her small bust. While many women with a similar shape often look for the latest and greatest push-up bra to amp up their assets, Ms. Saldana works with what she's got and looks great. So great, in fact, that she won a coveted contract with Calvin Klein underwear to model their latest lingerie. If you're looking to embrace your smaller bust like Zoe Saldana did in this fun black dress by Balmain, try this winter white version by French Connection (, $82.75), and add your own gold belt.


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    MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann went out of his way to take the war with Fox News to an entirely different level the other day. On his Twitter account, Olbermann repeatedly tweeted the words "Fox News is 100% Bullsh*t." He also spent much of his time specifically aiming at Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, stating that "I don't have as much hate or as many lies in me as O'Reilly."

    Olbermann's latest stunt surely pleased most of his fans, many of whom hate Fox News as much as he does. I personally appreciate the candor of Olbermann's comments, and it's hard to disagree with him. The truth is that Fox News disrespects the entire concept of journalistic integrity and represents a part of America that many thought had disappeared long ago.

    I am especially appreciative toward Olbermann for defending me in the past when Bill O'Reilly spent an entire week on his show trying to get me fired from Syracuse University. Olbermann rightly pointed out that O'Reilly used lies to attack me, and provided the quote to prove it. Olbermann's efforts didn't really work, however, as many of my Syracuse colleagues were so spooked by O'Reilly's electronic terrorism (he even sent a reporter to stalk the chancellor) that I spent the next two years dealing with underhanded shenanigans from scholars who share O'Reilly's disdain for African American scholarship. No matter who you are, the life of a black scholar is never easy and there are thousands of horror stories to prove it.

    Another interesting aspect of this on-going dispute is that while we're all riled up over the feud between Fox and MSNBC, the truth is that it's all about "the Benjamins." O'Reilly earns tens of millions of dollars every year by engaging in exactly what Olbermann is complaining about: Misleading rhetoric that is designed to incite racial animosity and political feuds, which may lead our nation to eventual civil war and anarchy. Fox loves when we complain about their network, for it fuels the fire of racial hatred on which our nation was founded.

    But the same way Batman needed the Joker, Olbermann and MSNBC benefit handsomely from Bill O'Reilly's existence. By having O'Reilly as a consistent rival and getting the rest of us pumped up about it, MSNBC has seen it's ratings climb significantly over the past couple of years. So, the last thing that Keith Olbermann would want is for Bill O'Reilly to go off the air, for every hero needs a villain.

    But while the two big name anchors fight it out at the top of the pile, one group that is consistently left behind in the rhetoric is the African American community. As much as MSNBC might seem to be a friend to African Americans, the truth is that they have the exact same number of branded night time hosts as Fox News (zero). Well, actually Fox can now claim to own the infamous Juan Williams, one of the few black men in America willing to stand alongside those who hate African Americans.

    Rev. Al Sharpton refers to the lack of African Americans on any of the "Big Three" cable news networks as "All white, all night." So, while Keith Olbermann was correct to point out the BS in the Fox News approach to making news, he may want to take a look at his own network. None of us are innocent in the game of racial oppression.
    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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    Gridiron offensive tackle Brandon Joyce (pictured above) was shot on Christmas Eve, three days later taken off life support and pronounced dead in an alleged drug deal gone bad.

    The 26-year-old former Minnesota Vikings player was reportedly trying to purchase drugs from four men outside a St. Charles, Missouri Bass Pro Shop. According to a police statement, Joyce and a friend had planned to buy drugs from the suspects Cory J. Brooks, 21 (pictured above, right), Tory T. Brooks, 21 (pictured above, left), and Deveon C. Shockley, 21 (pictured above, center).

    The men had allegedly tried to rob Joyce and when an altercation broke out in the parking lot, the fourth suspect Jevon Little, 20 (pictured below), pulled out a gun and shot the NFL player once in the head. Little fled the scene after the shooting but was apprehended four days later.

    Joyce's friend was not identified in court documents. Police records state that the friend ran away from the heated confrontation and called 911.

    The suspects are charged with second-degree murder, attempted robbery and two counts of armed criminal action. They were booked Tuesday at the St. Charles County Jail in lieu of a $1 million cash bail each.

    Joyce, the son of 70's NFL St. Louis Cardinals punter Terry Joyce was on the off-season roster for the St. Louis Rams from April until late July, just before the start of training camp for this season.

    The Joyce family are upset by the drug allegations report that has been released by the St. Charles Police Department which is casting shadows on Brandon's character. Lindsay Joyce, Brandon's sister, is referring to her brother as a hero for trying to save his friend's life by taking a bullet for him. The family contends that any drug involvement on Brandon's part is completely untrue and out of character, the grieving sister told KSDK News.


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    New SBA Programs Help African Americans

    With black unemployment holding at double digits, the catastrophic cut off of capital to black-owned businesses is just one more disturbing trend in what is shaping up to be the Great Black Depression.

    A recent study found that in some parts of the country banks decreased lending to black-owned businesses by over 80 percent. And that's not just loans to get businesses off the ground, but also the financing needed by black businesses to continue operating and make payroll.

    In light of criticisms that previous attempts at spurring small business lending actually tied small businesses and lenders in knots of red tape while increasing costs, the Small Business Administration recently introduced two new loan initiatives: Small Loan Advantage and Community Advantage. Although these programs will not be available until March 2011, the SBA promises that they will target lending in under-served communities by promoting small dollar loans, providing higher loan guarantees to banks and streamlining the approval process.

    I spoke with Marie Johns, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration to find out if these two new programs would benefit the African American community. Here is her perspective.

    Conventional wisdom is that lenders aren't lending -- so how do we know that lenders are going to be more inclined to lend under this program than they were under previous programs?

    Deputy Administrator Marie Johns: Through the Recovery Act and the Small Business Jobs Act we were able to increase our lending even when traditional small business lending was pretty stagnant, but we know that with these new programs, we're going to have even more opportunities to help small businesses. They reduce paperwork for the lenders. They offer the highest guarantee that we offer -- 85% on loans under $150,000 and 75% on loans higher than that. The initiatives are pegged at the smaller dollar loans, $250,000 or less, which is a part of the small business lending market that has generally been tough to address.

    Gina: According to a a recent study by the California Reinvestment Coalition, small business lending for African Americans plummeted 81 percent for African American owned businesses between 2007 and 2009. How do these new programs address a decline being attributed to African Americans having less collateral and more limited credit histories?

    Deputy Administrator Johns: This clearly is an issue that is very important to me and its very important to the Agency and led us to think about how we could have a better response to these critical capital needs for businesses, particularly for African American businesses and other businesses in communities of color. SBA loans are three to five times more likely to go to a woman-owned or a minority-owned small business. But we've seen lending tighten up across the board particularly in traditionally under-served communities. We know that those communities have been disproportionately hard hit by the recession. As a result of that, the overall share of SBA loans going to small businesses and entrepreneurs in under-served communities has dropped over the past two years. That's why we wanted to add these two new loan initiatives into our tool kit.

    What we were hearing from lending partners is that some of our SBA paperwork was burdensome and too complicated. We developed the Small Loan Advantage program with the specific focus on making sure it was as streamlined as possible. Basically, it's a two page form so that they can quickly make loans available to small businesses who qualify. That's one response to the challenge that you raised.

    In addition, we thought that it was very important to bring into SBA 's network of lending partners a new category -- what we refer to as "mission lenders." When you talk about the notion of African Americans having issues related to collateral or credit history, the benefit of the mission lenders who we'll be working with to deliver the Community Advantage program, is that these lenders are often community development financial institutions, SBA approved microlenders, or certified development companies and financial institutions who have tremendous experience in working in underserved markets. In addition to providing loans, they also provide very robust technical assistance. In additional to the capital these lenders are providing the counseling that often is the critical ingredient for businesses to ensure their success. These lenders will be partners for the first time in 7A loan program. We're excited about what we think is going be a tremendous improvement in our efforts to reach businesses in underserved areas.

    Gina: What steps should a small business take if they are interested in obtaining a loan under one of these new programs?

    Deputy Administrator Johns: Our new website allows a small business person to log on and the website will lead you to one of our 68 district offices . You can go into one of our 68 offices and you can talk to someone and they can tell you what your next steps should be.

    Gina: Black people got hammered economically in 2010. Do you have any predictions for how things might change or what role the SBA will play in 2011?

    Deputy Administrator Johns: I'm not good at the crystal ball exercise. What I can commit to you is that we're going to work as hard as we possibly can. We come in every day on fire to figure out what we can to do to support small business growth and development so that those small businesses can create the jobs that the economy must have. We talk bout the critical role that small businesses play -- they are the engines for our economy's growth. To the extent that we can create tools for small businesses to start, grow and create jobs, that helps the entire economy to grow stronger. What I can predict is that we will continue to have a team at the SBA that comes in every day to figure how to do what we do better and serve small businesses more effectively.

    Deputy Administrator Johns also wanted emphasize that the Small Business Administration offers a number of services to small businesses in addition to their loan programs including small business counseling, assistance with becoming a government contractor, and disaster assistance. You can find our more by going to

    Gina McCauley is the CEO of the Blogging While Brown Conferenceand the blogsMichelle Obama Watch and What About Our Daughters. She is currently completing her first book, 'Michelle Obama Watch.'


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    Jamie Scott who along with her sister Gladys Scott
    Jamie and Gladys Scott have sat behind bars for nearly two decades over a robbery that netted just $11 dollars. The two women also dispute the fact that they even participated in the robbery, and many wondered if there were political motivations behind the magnitude of their original sentence. But the Scott sisters, who are 36 and 38 years old, were released this week when Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour suspended their sentences indefinitely.

    The sisters were given two life sentences in 1994 when they allegedly ambushed a man, hitting him in the head with a shot gun and making off with $11 dollars. Nancy Lockhart, an activist, fought tirelessly for the women to be released, and there were rallies held in Mississippi on their behalf. She was finally successful when the governor made the decision to release them.

    One interesting aspect of the release conditions for the Scott sisters is that they are actually required to share a kidney or will be asked to come back to prison. While bizarre as a request, this doesn't seem to be a problem, given that Gladys offered to share her kidney with her sister. Governor Barbour cited the high cost to the state of Jamie's kidney condition (she has complete kidney failure), and also noted that he doesn't feel that the sisters are a threat to public safety.

    The same way that politics may have played a role in the sentencing of the Scott sisters (Nancy shared much of this with me last year), politics also plays a role in their release. Governor Haley Barbour has an interest in running for president in 2012 and has been heavily criticized for a series of very public racial embarrassments. I suspect that his decision to release the Scott sisters is an attempt to try to make things right with African Americans. Unfortunately for Haley Barbour, his consistent and unprofessional attacks on the nation's first black president have already ruined the presidential prospects of the governor of arguably the most historically racist state in America.

    We should all celebrate the release of the Scott sisters, and I am personally very happy for them. But one thing that also holds true is that there are hundreds of thousands of prison inmates across America who've received sentences that are clearly out of proportion with the magnitude of their crimes. Also, justice systems like that in the state of Mississippi are guilty of continuing the slave trade by incarcerating tens of thousands of people (a large percentage of whom happen to be black and brown) and forcing them to do work for which they are either unpaid or poorly compensated. The release of the Scott sisters is but one symbolic victory in a very long "to do list" for the entire criminal justice system. NAACP President Ben Jealous was good to provide a comment on the matter for the New York Times, and it is my hope that he will pick up the torch to help inspire Attorney General Eric Holder to push his staff to investigate the nature of this system of modern day slavery.

    The state of the criminal justice system is not in debate by African American leadership. (Everyone knows it is a modern day holocaust of unthinkable magnitude.) The only question, at this point, is who will have the courage to confront it. I hope that those who fought for Jamie and Gladys will continue to fight for everyone. I also hope that the NAACP will confront the justice system in its entirety, for it is truly a life-or-death issue for millions in the African American community. Our children need us to be strong, focused, determined and uncompromising on this issue, for their futures depend on what we do.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a co-founder of the Never Going Back initiative to reform the criminal justice system. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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    A Look Back at Black...Omarosa & Michael Clarke Duncan Fall In Love!
    Reality TV's resident bad girl Omarosa was in the midst of a whirlwind promotional tour to promote her TV One reality series, 'Donald Trump presents The Ultimate Merger,' a dating show that had twelve bachelors vyA Look Back at for 'The Apprentice' star's affection.

    Before the finale even aired, Omarosa was photographed attending a Los Angeles Lakers game with Oscar nominee Michael Clarke Duncan ('The Green Mile') which immediately began speculation that the two were a couple. In an exclusive interview with the BV Buzz, Omarosa proclaimed her love for the actor.


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    Gilbert Arenas' Baby Mama Accuses Him of Abandonment

    Four months pregnant Laura Govan, who already has three children with NBA superstar Gilbert Arenas, is now accusing him of abandoning his family by abruptly putting an end to their nine-year relationship.

    Laura Wright, a publicist for Govan, told the Washington Post that Arenas has not only put the brakes on the relationship but left Govan and their three children without a penny. The former Washington Wizards now Orlando Magic guard has also not been in contact with Govan, who is the sister of famed VH-1 reality hit show "Basketball Wives" diva-with-a-serious-'tude, Gloria Govan.

    In an e-mailed statement to the Washington Post, Wright commented that Arenas did not communicate with Govan throughout the entire month of December. "Govan and the children feel like they have been abandoned." The publicist went on to divulge that Arenas left his family with "no money to purchase food or Christmas gifts."

    Reportedly the couple hit the skids around Thanksgiving. The baller also recently alluded to the fact that he had been staying with his former fellow Wizards teammate Nick Young. After his December 20 debut with the Magic, the 28-year-old player told a Washington Post reporter that after he was traded to Orlando, he hightailed it and bought a same-day ticket to Florida. "I went to the airport and left. I didn't have a chance to say bye to anybody. I didn't even say bye to the kids. I'm going somewhere I wanted to be. I couldn't ask for more."

    The young couple were primarily known to be homebodies. They've also experienced a few public battles like after 31-year-old Govan gave birth to their daughter Izela in 2005. There was a knock-down, drag-out child support battle after the birth which resulted in a reconciliation of the two. Two years later, another baby entered into the picture, son Alijah. Just months after the birth, another bitter public breakup ensued with a makeup a year later in 2008 followed by a proposal from Arenas to his beloved sparring partner.

    Arenas threw a super elaborate engagement party complete with gourmet chefs, DJ, pool, moon bounces, ice sculptures, and he even blogged about the gathering. Arenas stated on his website at the time the reason why he knew Govan was "the one": "I've done kicked her out of my house almost every weekend, yet she's still here and she still believes in me," he wrote.

    Last year Arenas and Govan's relationship was strained by a few, again, very disturbing public situations. Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton drew guns on each other in the team's locker room during a Christmas Eve dispute over a gambling debt. Reportedly, Arenas drew his gun first and Crittenton brandished his firearm afterwards. Arenas was arrested and charged with a felony gun possession and then suspended from his team. Luckily Arenas avoided jail time but received two years of supervised probation and 30 days in a halfway house.

    Rumors ran amok also last year when Govan was accused of allegedly having an affair with the then very married basketball great Shaquille O'Neal. Govan and Shaq have allegedly been friends in public and more than friends in private for the past 5 years. Supposedly they've been flying to each others' towns and meeting up at different events. They even allegedly spent time together last Christmas when Shaq was still playing in Phoenix.

    A gossip website even posted some inappropriate emails that went on between Govan and Shaq. The relationship between the alleged paramours reportedly sparked Shaunie, who had been married to Shaq for nearly seven years to file for divorce. It was also reported that Arenas demanded that one of his children be subjected to a paternity test as well.

    And the drama continues...stay tuned.


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    Yes, there is more to leave behind in 2011. Hopefully you have checked out yesterday's list and here is the rest!

    But first, here are some Honorable Mentions that didn't make the cut, but still need to be left behind as well.

    Antoine Dodson
    Skinny jeans on Men
    All news articles about single black women
    Blue tooth devices in your ear
    Celebrities in tax trouble

    Now where did I leave off?

    12. Fake A** Disability (FAD)

    There is no doubt that there are some people who have disabilities that render them unable to work. HOWEVER, if I meet one more person who is on disability for a "learning disability" or because your back is too bad from that accident "back in 1986," I'm gonna scream. Never mind, since you've been on FAD you've had two kids. You can get arrested on an assault charge for fighting in front of your building, but can't get a job? Somehow you and your ilk feel as though you should be living off the rest of us workers and I am sick of it. Where's your pride? In 2011 please say no to FAD.

    13. Law & Order Spin-Offs

    It's been like 78 years. Special Victims, Criminal Intent, Los Angeles, United Kingdom. You've had a good run. Just let it go.

    14. Obesity

    Big and beautiful my a**. At least one person, Michelle Obama, has had the balls to come forward and actually tell the American people to their faces: "You are too fat and so are your dumb kids." Good for her. It is true! Hey everybody, I implore you to take 5 minutes and look at yourself in a three-way mirror. I want you to take full account of what you see. I even challenge you to take a picture of yourself in that mirror with one of your fancy phones. I then want you to ask yourself, "Do you like what you see?" Not, does my man like it, or does my woman like it? But do YOU really like what you see? Or is it actually pretty gross?

    It's time we all embraced our health and and decided we want to live long, strong vibrant lives. All this "thick" and "stocky" and "husky" and "big beautiful woman" and "whole lotta man" foolishness was real cute in 2010 but in 2011, its time to decide that we want to toss out destinies tied to diabetes and blood pressure meds and finally proclaim that we want to live better.

    If your friends, your man, your woman, your mama, your daddy, your friends won't tell you, I will: Obesity. is. not. hot.

    15. Tattoos about the face or neck

    What is really the big disconnect here? When did tattoos on your neck and face become hot? And are they REALLY hot on anyone other than a professional athlete, rapper or ex-con? And even in that group, in ten years they will look just as stupid. With that in mind I want to let you know that all of you grown people, who have chosen to get tattoos above your clavicle, look a hot a** ghetto mess.

    I'm just saying it because no one really wants to tell you, because unlike clothes or a hair style or even a gold toof in front, you can't change it, and you're stuck, so telling you will really accomplish nothing except making you feel bad. But please know, without any shadow of a doubt, tattoos about the face or neck are the precise reason why your a** cannot get hired. It's not discrimination, it's not the recession, its because you have a DUMB A** PAIR OF LIPS ON YOUR NECK. I wouldn't hire you either. Grow up in 2011.

    16. Drug Commercials

    It seems that every week, there is some new ailment that I need a new drug for, that I am supposed to ask my doctor about. Nowadays if my mouth is dry, or my legs are restless or my eyelashes aren't full enough, I'm supposed to ask my doctor to give me some drugs. We've become a nation of wusses who treat the side effects of one drug with another drug. Was it really that difficult to get to sleep in 2010 that we needed 5 different sleeping pills? Never mind many of the drugs have side effects worse than the problem they are treating. Are you really willing to withstand side effects like compulsive gambling, suicide, night terrors, or eating raw bacon, just to remove the dark circles under your eyes? Forget the drugs, I have an idea, next time you're sleepy: count sheep, b**ches.

    17. 3D-F*cking- Movies

    There was a time when a movie being in 3-D was a special event. You were so excited to wear your little red & blue 7-11 paper glasses to a picture show. 3-D was a huge deal and going to see a 3-D movie was a momentous occasion, you never knew when the next 3-D would come out so you made sure you didn't miss this one.

    Now I can tell you when the next 3-D movie is coming out: ANY FRIDAY OF 2010.

    I mean, good lord. I actually find it hard to recall movies that WEREN'T in 3-D anymore. Don't get me wrong, 3-D is cool but I thought it was intended to be used in films where its novelty and effect would best complement the on-screen content. Like Jason, in Friday the 13th, shooting that friggin' arrow in your eye in Part 3. Now THAT's 3-D. Having some asexual animated creature merely appearing in front of me for shits and giggles, I could do without. Call me when you can put Idris Elba in my lap. Now THAT would be a special feature. But I digress...

    And now, 3-D television is around the corner. Soon we'll have Bad Girls fighting, Idol auditions, and Jersey Shore trash getting drunk right in our living rooms. Can't wait.

    18. Closeted and Con-men Clergy

    First of all, do not hate on my alliteration. What more is there to say? From the Catholic priests having butt-sex with little boys to mega churches allowing their members to be foreclosed upon while the pastor drove Bentleys, it's been a rough year for religion in 2010. Decent people who run decent churches have been eclipsed by the hit parade of creeps, crooks, and crazy men proclaiming to be messengers of God who have proceeded to craft a message, not for the benefit of the congregants, nor for the benefit of God, but for the benefit of himself. The preacher offers to pray for those being foreclosed and in return he'll "pray for you." A growing number of these bastards are leading to the disillusionment of a generation and a community who sees churches as institutions who exploit the very communities that support them.

    19. Crazy, Dumb and/or Retarded Political Candidates

    Lord knows I love reading up on the fanciful exploits of former senatorial-candidate AKA my future baby daddy (oops!) Alvin Greene. No, it isn't lost on me that Greene isn't the coldest beer in the fridge. And usually, someone like Greene is an anomaly, but this year, he barely even stood out among the groundswell of kooks suddenly deciding to run for office. Greene, O'Donnell, Angle... PLEASE, go back to whatever you were doing in 2009, we can't take you anymore.

    I guarantee you, most of these folks weren't thinking about politics, nor could they spell it, before a black man became elected president.

    20. Fussing and Fighting

    This year we have we have witnessed unprecedented efforts on the part of some that some to create disharmony. In 2011, we must make a decision to work together.

    Whether it's in the halls of Congress, your kid's school, your job, your relationship, your family or your neighborhood -- we've all seen the progress we make when we agree to work together.

    Not sell out, not give in, but compromise. In a country where we've created a cottage industry of disagreement, if we have learned anything in 2010, it's what can happen if we actually put away our ultimatums and pouty whines and actually work together. We can never get what we want all the time (except maybe if you're Rihanna, Beyonce, or Jay-z).

    So... in the interest of creating the best lives we can for ourselves in the best country in the world, I encourage you to work together in the coming year.

    I know you hate him or you hate her. I know you should have had that job. I know that guy ripped you off. I know they lied to you and that car was a piece of crap.

    But consider what peace of mind is worth to you?

    Is it really that bad if your daughter gets home 30 mins later than your custody agreement?

    Is it really a capital offense if your woman spoke to her ex as she passed him by at a restaurant last week?

    What is peace worth?

    That's what we should ask ourselves as a society.

    Whether it's a domestic disagreement or world affairs, at the end of the day, we must all ask ourselves how do I want to live? Is being right more important than being happy? Is a political victory worth your integrity? Is winning that argument worth another night of strife? Is your ego worth the adoration of your son or daughter? I don't know about you, but I'll take peace any day.

    Why don't we all try for peace in 2011? I have a feeling if we all try for peace, we can't lose.

    Happy New Year People.


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    Among the many tragic deaths this year, one that struck a cord within the Jazz community was the passing of singer-songwriter Abbey Lincoln. Lincoln's distinctive voice has spawned comparisons from Billie Holiday to Chaka Khan.

    "She was one of the last of the Billie [Holiday], Sarah [Vaughan] and Carmen [McRae] generations," proclaimed R&B singer Ledisi. "Her legacy will live on like all the great ones. I hear them all in voices such as Patti Austin, Dianne Reeves and, of course, Chaka Khan." See what else the four-time Grammy Award-nominee had to say about Lincoln's legacy.


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    Former Destiny's Child member LeToya Luckett has reportedly landed a recurring role on the new HBO drama 'Treme,' states a spokeswoman for Luster's Pink Brand Smooth Touch.

    Set in post Katrina New Orleans, 'Treme' follows the daily lives of a group of residents trying to rebuild after the devastating effects of hurricane. Cast members include Khandi Alexander, Wendell Pierce, Rob Brown, Clarke Peters, Kim Dickens, and John Goodman.

    The Houston native just completed filming 'From the Rough,' which also stars Taraji P. Henson, Ving Rhames and Tom Felton. The film is schedule for a fall 2011 release.

    Earlier this year Luckett starred in the movie 'Preacher's Kid' with Tank and had a small role in the film 'Killers,' which starred Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl.

    On April 13, 2010, after the series premiered two days earlier, HBO had renewed 'Treme' for a second season. The first season will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 29, 2011.

    'From The Rough' is a drama inspired by the life of Dr. Catana Starks (played by Henson), the first female head coach of an NCAA Division I Men's golf team at Tennessee State University.


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    The recent spoof claiming that the late Tupac Shakur was killed by Suge Knight got my mind racing back to 1996, the year that Tupac was murdered. Some might say that Tupac was the greatest rapper in history. I don't agree, but then again, my pick for "the greatest" changes with my mood. I can say that I listened to Tupac every morning and found his energy to be contagious. He represented a type of fearlessness, creativity and (most of the time) intelligence that led him to sell 75 million albums worldwide (he makes more money as a dead man than most of us will ever make in life). I am not here to pretend that Tupac was perfect, for he was flawed in quite a few significant ways. But he was certainly a legend and well-ahead of his time.

    As we approach 2011, the year that most of us thought would never arrive, I thought I would list some quick reasons that Tupac wouldn't necessarily enjoy being here with us. Sure he would probably rather be alive, but he might be a bit disappointed with what he saw. Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

    1) The ridiculously screwed up state of hip hop: I dream of the day that hip hop is used as the powerful socio-political tool that it can be. Instead, the standardization of media outlets around the nation has led to hundreds of stations playing music with the same formula: money, sex, drugs, violence and wasting your life running back and forth to the club. Commercialized hip hop has become a recipe for black youth to ruin themselves and it shows in growing HIV rates, homicides, teen pregnancy, mass incarceration, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. The absolute worst thing that the powers that be in corporate America could do is provide a large and powerful platform to an artist as self-destructive as Lil Wayne (who doesn't seem to care if he lives or dies). Intelligent and productive behavior has been abandoned in favor of a business model which teaches black males to marginalize themselves.

    2) The state of the black man in America is getting worse: In one of Tupac's greatest songs, "Only God Can Judge Me," the rapper dropped this interesting rhyme:

    "No more hesitation each and every black male's trapped and they wonder why we suicidal runnin round strapped.

    Mista, Po-lice, please try to see that it's a million motherf*ckers stressin just like me.

    Only God can judge me."

    Yes, I went to graduate school and got a PhD, but I understood those lyrics better than you can ever imagine. There were days in my teenage years when I was suicidal and frustrated by a world that is designed to exterminate me. I failed my classes in public school and saw my best friend shot in the head the same year that Tupac was murdered. When my friend was killed, the media ignored his death, writing it off as a drug deal gone bad (he wasn't a drug dealer). At the same time, a white woman from the suburbs was killed and had her murder splashed all over the six o'clock news for two weeks. It was made clear to me right then that my life as an African American male was meaningless to nearly everyone.

    The black male lies at the bottom of the barrel in every quality of life category imaginable. Brothers loved Tupac because he spoke up for us and reminded us to be strong. I sincerely hope that other artists will pick up Tupac's mantle and speak for the black and brown men being subjected to egregious human rights abuses within the prison industrial complex (demanding that our politicians do something about this issue). Lupe Fiasco is the only high-selling artist who speaks on the importance of being positive and educated, and it's sad that other artists like him can't get record deals. Instead, they are told to rap about going to the club with a gun on your hip and having sex with every girl in the world while you're high. While you can certainly hold these men accountable for their behavior, we must also remember that mainstream media serves as the world's largest classroom, and black males are the only group presented with so many one-dimensional, counter-productive images of one another. In other words, black male professors, doctors and lawyers can't get on CNN nearly as quickly as the brother who shot a police officer.

    3) Materialism of his former colleagues: I have tremendous respect for Jay-Z's music, but I can't get into his intense, empty obsession with rubbing elbows with the powerful and important in America. For many artists, their claim to fame is how many fancy cars they own or how big their house is. Unfortunately, the bulk of our hip hop artists today have not climbed the ladder of evolution and self-confidence sufficiently enough to realize that your greatness as a man goes far beyond the size of your bank account. No man wants to be broke, but a selfish obsession with "stackin yo chips" makes you a non-entity in the history of human kind. Perhaps if Jay-Z knew that he was already an important human being before he got all the fancy jewels and expensive cars, he wouldn't need these things to validate him. Yes Diddy, I'm also talking to you.

    4) The way he's been overblown and immortalized: Let's be clear - Tupac was an amazing artist. But there are other artists since him who are just as talented. I hate what Lil Wayne stands for, but he's incredibly good. Also, the rappers T.I., Nicki Minaj and even the old school rapper Spice 1 (among others) could give Tupac a run for his money. This idea that Tupac is The Pope and that it's a sin to compare yourself to him is silly. He should be given his respect and that's it. He wasn't the last nor the first great artist in the deep and rich history of hip hop and I expect that he would be irritated by people trying to kiss his butt all the time. Whether we're discussing Tupac Shakur or significant civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, the best way to remember them is to carry on their legacy, not to sit back and worship them. We're not waiting for the next Tupac Shakur; we're actually waiting for something better.

    I am roughly the same age that Tupac would be if he were alive today. The entire East Coast/West Coast feud was an overblown fabrication which led to unfortunate incidents and untimely deaths. I expect that the day will come when black men stop allowing media to control our reality and embrace the idea of thinking for ourselves and redefining what it means to be strong and capable. Actually, there are millions of black men who are already on that path, and I encourage them to use their voices with courage.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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    The Hawaii Reporter has attempted to calculate the total cost of President Barack Obama's family vacation. The cost information is not released by the White House, but the newspaper pulled together some data to make an estimate. The cost of Air Force 1, the president's plane, as well as the cost of housing for he and his staff can make the tab quite high.

    The government must also pay the Secret Service for protection and overtime for local police. These are just a few of the costs that come with protecting the world's most powerful human being.

    Some of the cost estimates presented by the newspaper include the early trip to Hawaii for Mrs. Obama (who flew out before the president), at $63,000. There is President Obama's round trip, estimated to cost $1 million. Local police need an extra quarter million for overtime costs and there is the $134,000 estimated cost of housing the president's staff.

    While $1.4 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the multi-trillion dollar economic problems of our nation, there are surely going to be critics who give the president a hard time for how much he spends on his vacation. The good thing for President Obama, however, is that the Republicans can't give him too much trouble in light of the fact that they worked overtime to obtain multi-billion dollar tax cuts for the wealthy this past month. After pulling a stunt for the rich at the expense of the working class of America, the Republicans' ability to provide credible commentary about the economic state of our nation has been sorely diminished.

    I'm sure President Obama is happy to be on vacation. He's spending time with his family and now has the opportunity to get away from all the stress factors in Washington. Part of me wonders if he ever regrets taking this job. Only a few times in American history has it been this difficult to be President of the United States (the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II might be examples). But one thing's for sure: no president has ever had to deal with the Herculean task of being the first black man in the Oval Office. In a country with a racist history like America, that is a challenge like no other.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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    Legitimate Work-From-Home Opportunities
    A recent study from Right Management showed that 84% of U.S. workers plan to quit their jobs and seek new employment in 2011. If you'd like a better job in the New Year, and have gotten tired of working the typical 9 to 5 gig, you may be on the lookout for work-from-home opportunities or other jobs that offer great flexibility.

    While the freedom to work from the convenience of home and set your own schedule sounds nice, beware of any employment offers that request a fee upfront, ask you for any bank account information, or otherwise try to solicit unnecessary personal and financial data from you. Those are red flags for potential scams.

    Instead, consider the following five legitimate jobs that let you work from any location on your own time. This list comes courtesy of LiveOps, which hires virtual workers from all around the U.S.

    Answering Service Agent
    If you've ever tried to get your doctor's advice or schedule an appointment after-hours, you know that most of the time it's a lesson in futility... until a friendly voice gleefully answers the phone. Little known fact, but these answering service agents typically work from a home office, taking calls for doctors and dentist offices, vets, and other businesses - later recording the caller's information and forwarding it along to the "customer."

    Answer MTI is a company that hires work at home agents to take calls for everything from basic name and number gathering to complete order-taking. While the hours may be late, it's the perfect way to make some extra money after putting the kids to sleep.

    If you've ever been on a conference call or listened to a speech at an event or on TV, you may often wonder how the transcript gets created so quickly. Sometimes an intern or executive assistant has to put their typing and listening skills to the test, but more frequently companies outsource the transcribing to a skilled transcriber through services offered by companies like Tigerfish that allow people to do the work from the comfort of their own home.

    Sales & Customer Service Agent
    Remember the last time you ordered something from an infomercial or called a customer service line? Believe it or not, the person on the other end of the phone line was probably taking that call from their home. Thanks to companies like LiveOps that contract with individuals from across the nation, most customer service representatives are now afforded the flexibility to work from the convenience of their homes, and you could too.

    With just a telephone line and an Internet connection, you could create your own business from your home, taking sales or customer service calls for reputable companies like 1-800-Flowers, Pizza Hut and Kodak.


    Speak a second language? Through services like and the American Translators Association you can put those language skills to use as an online or phone translator. In addition to your knack for a second language, all you need is your computer, an Internet connection and a quiet work space. You'll be able to work from home and be present for important activities in your children's lives.

    Even though you're not in school anymore, that doesn't mean you can't exercise your brain power. If you're a teacher, professor, traditional tutor, or even an expert in some field, online coaching through may be the best avenue for you to start your own work-from-home business. Unlimited by geography, you can coach individuals across the nation and set hours that are the most convenient for you -- allowing plenty of time for family needs.

    These work options are great not just for those seeking better jobs, but for the millions of Americans who are currently unemployed too. If you are employed, but are seeking greater work flexibility or additional income that you can conveniently earn in your spare time, consider these legitimate work-from-home professions in 2011.

    Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, an award-winning financial news journalist and former Wall Street Journal reporter for CNBC, has been featured in the Washington Post, USA Today, and the New York Times, as well as magazines ranging from Essence and Redbook to Black Enterprise and Smart Money. Check out her New York Times best seller 'Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom.'


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    The oldest black church in DeKalb County had to recently shut its doors after facing foreclosure proceedings on its building. Flat Rock Community Church is 150 years old. According to Binita Miles, a senior pastor, the church is now having to deal with significant financial problems as a result of declining membership.

    The church's mortgage is $6,500 and parishioners are now meeting in a local elementary school.

    The challenges being faced by Flat Rock are being felt nation-wide. Quite a few black churches have found themselves to be victims of the recent foreclosure crisis and are working to find a way to pay the bills. African Americans at large were disproportionately impacted by the economic downturn and many of us are on the brink of homelessness. Not only do African Americans have the highest unemployment rates in America, we have less wealth to fall back on in the event of economic problems.

    The average white family home is worth $60,000 more than that of the average African American family. Also, less than half of all black families own a home, compared to three-quarters of all white families. Additionally, a Brandeis University study found that while white family wealth rose from $22,000 to $100,000 over the past 23 years, black family wealth rose by just $3,000 to $5,000. Such disparities in wealth not only apply to individuals and families, but also to our ability to sustain institutions such as churches and universities.

    It's been made clear that the gap in wealth between black and white Americans will never be addressed by our political leaders. But it is important that all of us pick up the torch on this important issue to ensure that it is a point of discussion among those who can help to manage the imbalance. Part of the disparity can be addressed by attacking financial literacy within the black community (so our kids aren't getting financial advice from rappers who tell them to waste their money on stupid material items). The other part of the imbalance comes from systemic policies in both government and other American institutions that discriminate against minorities and keep us in the poor house. These institutions and norms must be challenged on a consistent basis in order for us to make things right for our children.

    Racial inequality is not maintained by people simply choosing to be racist. We are also perpetuating racial inequality by supporting historic processes and procedures of institutions built on a racist foundation. At the end of the day, we must all work to help clean up the mess in order for our country to move forward.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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    Carol Moseley Braun has finally emerged as the last black candidate standing in the interesting mayoral race in the city of Chicago. Before the recent announcement, Moseley Braun was fighting for air with two other candidates, Danny K. Davis and James Meeks. The decision to throw their support behind one candidate was announced after a four-hour meeting brokered by Rev. Jesse Jackson at the Rainbow Push headquarters in the South Side of Chicago.

    I personally found the move surprising, given that Moseley Braun was not the leading black candidate in the first place. According to a recent Chicago Tribune/WGN poll, Davis was ahead of the other black candidates with 9 percent of the vote, while Moseley Braun actually brings up the rear with just 6 percent. Meeks had 7 percent of the vote, but withdrew from the race after making controversial comments about affirmative action (a no-no in politics, which is why I will never be elected for anything).

    One factor that may have played a role in the group's decision to put all of their support behind Moseley-Braun is her fund-raising ability. In my email inbox yesterday, there was a press release stating that Moseley Braun was set to receive significant financial support from prominent African American business leaders. I imagine that the release was timed to argue that Moseley-Braun is the one best-equipped to carry the banner for black Chicagoans. The case was compelling, given that Davis walked out the door just a couple of days later.

    "We are making a financial commitment based upon Moseley Braun's exemplary leadership and her strong positions on public safety, education and jobs," Moseley Braun's Finance committee co-chair, Elzie Higginbottom said. "We know that she will be a mayor who builds coalitions and is sensitive to the needs of people and who is also dedicated to the economic viability and development of our great city."

    There is no question about whether or not Moseley Braun is experienced enough to run the city of Chicago. At this point, the question is whether or not she can defeat front-runner Rahm Emanuel, former Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama. A meeting of the minds among black candidates is likely being applauded by African American voters in the city of Chicago, who constitute one-third of the population.

    Another interesting dimension of the Chicago mayoral race are the racial sensitivities likely to be sparked as Rahm Emanuel uses the Clinton/Obama connections to outshine his African-American opponents. President Bill Clinton is planning to come to Chicago to campaign for Emanuel, and Rep. Davis went as far as actually warning Clinton that coming to Chicago would jeopardize his relationship with the African American community. Yes, it would be odd for a man who accepted the title as "first black president" to come to Chicago and campaign against the candidate being supported by the majority of the African Americans in Chicago. Blackness has always been an arbitrary convenience for the Clintons, but Davis and Moseley-Braun have had no choice but to be black all their lives.

    Even worse would be for President Obama to step into the race. Any support for Emanuel would create an awkward scenario in which the President of the United States appears to be abandoning the best interests of the African Americans to instead support one of his cronies from Washington. While it's not illegal for Obama to support Emanuel, the truth is that it would just seem a wee bit awkward.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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