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

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    Rumor Control: Omarion's Bisexuality Announcement Is BogusA rep for singer Omarion has confirmed to BlackVoices.com that a press release circulating on the internet claiming that he formally announced he is "bisexual" is a hoax.

    The internet was abuzz Saturday afternoon when several online blogs posted what appeared to be a press release serviced on behalf of Omarion (real name: Omari Ishmael Grandberry) addressing his sexuality.

    The unedited press release read: "I pride myself in being an honest, God Fearing, respectful man. I have kept my personal life private and wanted to keep it that way. Unfortunately, other's are interested in profiting from my anguish; so before they can do that, I will clarify things. I am not at all what certain ex-band members are trying to paint me as, I am however a respectable, mature, proud, bisexual man."

    The fake press announcement was attributed to Sharron Wright at Sony Music; however BlackVoices.com reported exclusively on April 19, 2008 that the singer was no longer affiliated with the label. (See: ''O' No: Singer Omarion Dropped By Record Label')

    The 26-year-old former B2K member's rep, Francoise Blachette of The Purple Agency, promptly responded to BlackVoices.com inquiry for comment on the matter.

    "The previously released statement regarding Omarion is false and was generated for negative publicity by an unknown person. Omarion will not contribute to anything negative said or done against him. Omarion respects all of his fans, no matter religion, sexuality, or race," she said in a statement.

    Omarion then took to his Twitter page to respond as well. (See below)
    Omarion Twitter Response

    Omarion, who is currently in Japan working, remains a judge on Randy Jackson's MTV competition series 'America's Best Dance Crew.'

    The Los Angeles-bred singer's last CD, 'Ollusion' was released on his own record label StarrWorld Entertainment via a partnership EMI on January 12, 2010.


    Related Articles




    Black Music Notes Mar. 19

      3/19/09: Rihanna / Chris Brown
      Contrary to previous claims that Rihanna and Chris Brown reunited in the studio last month to record a new duet, record producer Polow Da Don recently confirmed that the couple recorded the newly surfaced track last year. "The reports are inaccurate," Polow's publicist, Laura Wright, told US magazine. "The duet was recorded long before the incident." According to People, the track, reportedly titled 'Bad Girl,' was intended to be on the soundtrack for 'Confessions of a Shopaholic,' but the song was eventually recorded by the Pussycat Dolls.

      Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

      3/19/09: Kanye West / The Dream
      Seven years ago this month, music heavyweights R. Kelly and Jay-Z released their highly anticipated collaborative album 'The Best of Both Worlds.' Now it appears Kanye West and The Dream are vying to work on a similar project. "Everybody is trying to talk us into it," Dream told 'MTV News' of his and West's friends and business associates. "It was first thought of by me. I was in Miami at the time, and I gave Kanye a call and said, 'The best thing would be for me and you to do an album.'... Let's take the best of both worlds and put it on a CD and try to make something we can sell to the consumers. He says he's with it. We're gonna try to make it happen." For now, you can catch Kanye on Dream's potential third single 'Walking on the Moon,' which is featured on his newly released album 'Love vs. Money.'

      Getty Images

      3/19/09: The Miracles
      Legendary Motown group The Miracles is the latest musical act to receive a Hollywood star on the world-renowned Walk of Fame. The 'Ooo Baby, Baby' singers were presented with the 2,381st star on March 20 by Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, President and CEO Leron Gubler. Motown founder Berry Gordy and Stevie Wonder were also on hand as guest speakers for the ceremony.

      Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

      3/19/09: Chester Gregory
      After several years of blowing audiences away on the 'Great White Way,' Broadway Star and R&B soul recording artist Chester Gregory is preparing the release of his debut album 'In Search of High Love.' The March 31 release finds the multitalented singer introducing himself as a thoughtful and sensitive songwriter blessed with a voice that captivates and demands attention. "While I've thoroughly enjoyed performing on Broadway -- eight shows a week and telling other people's amazing stories -- now it's time for me to share my own," explained Gregory. Highlights of 'In Search of High Love' include the poetic 'Clouds to the Ground,' the crossover-bound 'Say it's Over' and Jackie Wilson's soaring 1967 chart-topper 'Higher and Higher.'

      Jemal Countess, WireImage

      3/19/09: Sammy Davis Jr.
      Altovise Davis, the widow of Rat Pack member Sammy Davis Jr. , recently died at the age of 65. Two days prior to her death, she was admitted to Los Angeles'Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after suffering a stroke. The couple, who met in 1967 on the set of the musical 'Golden Boy,' married in 1970 and remained together until Davis' untimely death of throat cancer in 1990.

      Evening Standard / Getty Images

      3/19/09: Earth, Wind & Fire
      Iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group Earth, Wind & Fire is set to hit the road this summer for a 30-city tour beginning June 5 in Orange Beach, AL. In addition to Maurice White and company gracing the stage will be pop-rock band Chicago, which will perform a full show before joining for a final set together, according to Billboard. The tour will conclude on Aug. 1 in Lake Tahoe, NV.

      Santiago Llanquin / AP

      3/19/09: Kim Burrell
      Gospel vocalist Kim Burrell is on deck to release her first new album in nine years titled 'No Ways Tired.' The project's title is inspired by gospel pioneer James Cleveland's classic of the same name. In addition to covering Cleveland's hit, Burrell also tapped other timeless classics including 'My Faith Looks Up to Thee,' 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus,' 'O Lamb of God,' and 'I Surrender All.' There are also a few originals. 'No Ways Tired' is set to hit stores April 7 via Shanachie Records.

      Zomba

      3/19/09: Mike Jones
      Despite being on hiatus since the release of his debut album 'Who Is Mike Jones?' Houston's own Mike Jones is ready to make his mark on the charts once again with the release of 'The Voice.' Jones' sophomore effort is packed with some of the industry's most talented artist including, Lil' Wayne, T-Pain, Devin the Dude, Hurricane Chris and Twista. He's had recent success with his latest single 'Next To You,' which is currently number 16 on Radio and Records Rhythmic charts. "For the past four years, I have been doing a lot of restructuring, getting this record right, making sure my business is right and more," Jones said of his hiatus. "Now, I am ready to finish what I started. I'm hoping my fans will feel 'The Voice' was worth the wait." Mike Jones 'The Voice' is due in stores April 28.

      Gilbert Carrasquillo, FilmMagic

      3/19/09: Prince
      With the recent announcement that Michael Jackson will return to the stage this summer, another influential artist is also planning to make his return. Beginning March 25, Prince will be performing on the 'Tonight Show with Jay Leno' for three consecutive nights. In addition, the 'Little Red Corvette' singer is also readying the Mar. 29 release of his two new albums 'LOtUSFLOW3R' and 'MPLSoUND.' Prince is the latest artist to promote a release through multiple late-night talk show performances. U2 also recently performed five nights in a row on the 'Late Show with David Letterman' in support of its new album 'No Line on the Horizon.'

      Kevin Winter, NCLR / Getty Images

     

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    giffords, palin,  tucson, loughner

    When you campaign using rhetoric that mentions weapons, cross-hairs and reloading against your political enemies, some would argue that you risk inciting violence among those who take your words too seriously.

    That's the criticism being thrust against Sarah Palin and the Right Wing, after the recent shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

    Giffords was shot in the face at point blank range, in addition to a child and judge who were killed on the scene.

    Giffords is in the hospital in critical condition.

    Shortly after Giffords' shooting, critics of Sarah Palin pointed out that the Republicans had put Giffords on her "target list" of Democrats that she wanted to get rid of during the midterm elections. Palin even created a map, with cross-hairs on the districts of these politicians, as if they were target practice.

    Even months before Giffords' shooting, critics said that Palin's rhetoric may cause violence and put the lives of these political leaders in danger.







    In addition to issuing the map with cross-hairs on it, Palin told her supporters on Twitter:

    "Don't Retreat, Instead-RELOAD!"

    After Giffords' shooting, some of Palin's critics attacked her directly on her Facebook page:

    "What a hypocrite you are," said a critic by the name of Kathy Henn. "You targeted this woman - literally with a target on her district - one of your freaky Fox followers hunted her down - and now you try to distance yourself from blame."

    "A child was killed today by someone who can't tell the difference between 'inspiring' speech and a call to arms. I was appalled by your violent speech before, I'm horrified now," said Kirsten Sherk.

    This is not the first time that Giffords' life has been in danger.

    In August 2009, someone dropped a gun at one of her rallies, leading to the police being called. Around the time that Palin told her supporters to "reload," someone shot out the window of Giffords' office. Giffords' staffers also said that she was receiving violent and nasty phone calls.

    Even actress Jane Fonda blamed Palin for what happened to Giffords. On her Twitter page, Fonda said:

    "Progressive Arizona Rep Gabrielle Giffords is shot. In her ads, Sarah Palin had her targeted in a gun site. Inciting to violence."

    I mentioned recently that the rhetoric being spewed by the Right Wing since the start of the Obama Presidency tests the integrity and stability of our entire Democracy.

    The United States is a nation that is spoiled enough to believe that we are guaranteed the right of peaceful transfers of power and that our great nation can never sink to the depths of chaos and civil war like so many other countries around the world.

    The truth is that the structure of our government was already designed by the founding fathers in such a way that it facilitates division rather than unity, and the further fragmentation of cable news and Internet media only serves to exacerbate this problem. Rather than getting news from objective sources like Walter Cronkite, people can get their "facts" from the side who sees the world the way they do.

    Additionally, as the Right Wing capitalizes off of long-standing racial divisions, they risk resurrecting the very same lynch mob mentality that nearly tore our nation apart 150 years ago.

    While the fiery rhetoric of Palin, Birther and Tea Partiers points toward their disdain for liberal values, the truth is that these standard political divisions have been accelerated by their deep-seated resentment of having to take orders from a black man.

    To some extent, a bad economy, media fragmentation and racial animosity have created the perfect storm of destruction for America as we know it. If someone doesn't reign things in soon, it's going to get incredibly ugly.

    I made a conscious decision three years ago to stop appearing on FOX News, and it wasn't just because the network is a disgrace to modern journalism.

    I was also uncomfortable with the hundreds of nasty death threats I'd receive in my e-mail, after each appearance on the network.

    Given the number of threats I received from my appearances, I can't imagine how many death threats President Barack Obama must get, and there is no reason that anyone should be subjected to this kind of hatred.

    Does Sarah Palin have blood on her hands? Some would say she does. At the very least, I am hopeful that the relatively thoughtless politician will take some time to realize that she is responsible for the words that come out of her mouth. Had the rhetoric not become what it is, the little girl who was murdered on Saturday might still be alive.


    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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    With the new Republican-led Congress comes the excited arrival of Birthers, Tea Partiers and other strange characters who are seeking to undermine the political stability of our great nation. The week ended with the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, with the sheriff of the town implying that racial animosity and divisive rhetoric of the Right Wing played a role in creating the atmosphere where a political leader was shot in the face and a little girl was killed.

    The language of the Tea Party has consisted mostly of thinly-veiled animosity thrust toward the black man in the Oval Office who doesn't seem to know his place. The idea of "taking back America" and "returning America to its roots," can be translated to saying that America isn't a country that's supposed to be run by that " hoity-toity, high fallutin, black guy with the Muslim name."

    So, what better way to celebrate new-found Republican power than to read the United States Constitution out loud in the chambers of Congress? Sure, we might bore the heck out of a few lawmakers and waste a day that could be spent doing something productive, but why aim for substance when symbolism is a far better marketing tool?

    Most interesting is that those who seemed so enthusiastic about reading the Constitution were not so eager to read the parts of the document that made reference to slavery. They also skipped sections that reminded them that women were not allowed to vote, or that the country once considered black people to be three-fifths of a person. Their decision to overlook the political poison on which they've been feeding is reflective of their insistence that their attacks on Obama and black America have nothing to do with race. So, as the Right Wing seeks to restore its connection to the founding fathers of this nation, they are less than willing to admit that they've also inherited the crippling biases that plagued those who wrote the document they worship so much. In other words, they are saying "I inherited all the good genes from my father, but none of the bad ones."

    Let's break it down in an honest way: The relentless pursuit of liberty and American freedoms that Tea Partiers, Birthers and Right Wingers claim to embrace came from the revolutionary spirit instilled by America's founders. America is one of a small number of countries in the world where all of us are free to express our discontent with political leaders without fear of significant retribution. At the same time, the lynch mob mentality that Tea Partiers have used to attack the first black president and paint him as an unqualified, bumbling, unAmerican buffoon was also inherited directly from those who once dragged black men out of their homes and burned them alive in front of their families. So, the Tea Partiers, Birthers and a large portion of the Right Wing represent some of the most beautiful traditions in American history, as well as some of the ugliest.

    To members of the Republican Party: If you're going to read the Constitution out loud, read the entire thing and read it with full accountability. You cannot inherit the assets of an institution without also taking on its liabilities. Intelligent conservatives understand in the back of their minds, that America owes reparations to African Americans, that it has not treated us fairly for 400 years, and that the two-tiered society in which we live was created and sustained by traditions similar to the ones they are celebrating right now. If you are truly committed to making America great, you will honestly confront the sins of your father and make amends, rather than selectively altering language in order to pretend that your father was perfect. You can't make genuine progress on America's future by maintaining a dishonest and delusional view of its past. That's as illogical as Sarah Palin trying to become president.




    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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    You may have read about Golf Digest ending its 13-year relationship with golf superstar Tiger Woods earlier this week. Woods had spent years as the "exclusive playing editor" for the company, who decided that it was time to move in a different direction. The relationship began in 1997, when Woods was just a newcomer to the PGA Tour. This month will be the last column Woods will contribute, which offers golf tips to its 1.65 million readers.

    Just add Gillette, Gatorade, AT&T and Accenture to the list of companies that have run from Tiger like the plague since his car crash and sex scandal that began in November 2009.

    Another area of Woods' life that has been infected by his personal problems is his golf game. The PGA Season is starting this week with the Maui event known as the Tournament of Champions. Woods almost never plays in this event, where he hasn't appeared since 2005. The interesting thing about this year is that Tiger wouldn't be allowed to play even if he wanted to, since the tournament is only open to those who won an event the previous year.

    Tiger's opponents have smelled the juicy blood in the water as it pertains to Woods' downfall. He is no longer the number one player in the world, and other players are starting to rack up wins of their own. The New York Times quoted another golfer, Dustin Johnson, as politely stating that Woods is "one of the best players in the world." The author at the Times was correct to note that Johnson used the words "one of the best" rather than 'the best," which people have been using to describe Tiger since the start of his career.

    There was a time when it seemed inevitable that Tiger would rise back to the top of his game and conquer the world once again. Now, it seems that the young, idealistic superstar has become an old guy with serious problems and a life that is more important than golf. Woods' transition to the complexities of adulthood can be considered by some to be healthier than a one-dimensional focus on winning at all costs. However, there is the disturbing fact that Tiger may have racked up a few distracting vices on his way to stardom. Once the innocence of youth is gone, it's hard to get back, so I don't ever expect to see the old Tiger Woods on the golf course again.

    Tiger may find his way to a few more wins and perhaps more major championships. He may still have a great shot at breaking the "untouchable" record of 18 majors, set by Jack Nicklaus. I actually expect that Woods is going to break Nicklaus' record, but he could have broken it by now had he waited to get married and kept his personal life under control. But then again, Tiger may have simply gotten tired of doing what it takes to be the best golfer in the history of the world, which requires an unimaginable amount of hard work. Another possibility is that we've seen the best of Tiger Woods and this scandal represents the end of one of the greatest eras in sport. I enjoyed the ride immensely, but it ended far too soon for comfort. Perhaps Tiger will regain some of his swag this year.



    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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    When it comes to keeping New Year's fitness resolutions, you've tried it all to no avail. Gym memberships. The latest diet craze. Support groups.

    But have you tried God? Yes, God.

    Fitness guru Donna Richardson Joyner finds that people tend to stick with their exercise routine longer when it's faith-based. "At the end of the day we will waive on a lot of things in our life but won't waive on our faith," says Richardson Joyner, creator of the 'Body Gospel' workout DVD and member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN).

    Spiritually-based fitness goals provide a foundation for people to change their mindset and when their minds are changed, their thoughts and actions will follow, she explains. It's about overall wellness. It's not about creating an out to blame God if the program fails. Richardson Joyner is very clear about one thing: Faith without works is dead.

    "You have to put your faith to work. You have to take action, fight for it. It's like anything else in your life. Take the steps."

    It also comes down to making your health a priority.

    We've all heard the you-have-money-for- (fill in the blank)-but-don't-invest-in-your-health speech. But she cautions: "If you don't make a small investment in your health now, you're going to spend a whole lot of money later because of that doctor bill or that hospital bill."

    To help you start 2011 off with bang, Richardson Joyner has compiled nine actionable steps that will assist you in accomplishing your fitness goals this year.


    1. Have the desire to change. You have to want to change more than you want to stay the same. Period. Once you decide to start a new exercise program, stay committed to that program.

    2. Admit your present condition and create an action plan. Most people are in denial and "try to fit into that dress when that dress is two sizes smaller," Richardson Joyner says. Instead, accept where you are and develop a plan and vision for yourself otherwise you can't accomplish your goal.

    3. Set new goals: short term and long term. Fitness experts say set SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Just saying 'I want to lose weight this year' isn't a smart goal because it's not specific. "You didn't even say how many pounds, you didn't say how long you're going to take to lose that weight," Richardson Joyner points out. If you're not completing your goals, maybe you aren't being realistic. Tweak them. Don't quit!

    4. Be committed & be productive. You can talk about it but if you aren't committed fulltime, you aren't going to achieve your goals. Remember, this is a lifestyle journey so it's important for you to plant good seeds of health and let them take root.

    5. Stay Motivated. Load your iPod with uplifting music or workout with a BFF to keep you inspired about exercising. "If you're not motivated you're not going to stay with it," Richardson Joyner warns. Need more motivation? Consider creating a vision board to help reinforce your fitness goals.

    6. Combine healthy eating with physical activity.
    Eating healthy low-calorie meals and burning more calories through exercise is the best way to lose weight.

    7. Challenge yourself. It's important to challenge yourself because you'll get bored. The F.I.T. principle says you have to change your frequency, intensity and the time of your workout. Richardson Joyner also adds changing the type of workout you do. "Just by changing it, that will keep you motivated and add extra challenge," she says.

    8. Be patient.
    You didn't get to your current size overnight so don't expect to shed those pounds in one day. Avoid comparing yourself to others because you don't know what they did to get their physique. "All you see is the outcome," Richardson Joyner says.

    9. Love yourself no matter where you are.
    It may sound hokey, but it's extremely important to accept where you are. Start by nourishing yourself and knowing that your decision to improve your body is a step in the right direction. "Look in the mirror and say 'I love myself.' And know, what you don't like, you can change," Richardson Joyner says.

    What are your workout secrets? Check out a sample of the 'Body Gospel' workout below!

     

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    The recent unemployment data issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was met with some degree of optimism by the Obama Administration. The discussion centered around the fact that the unemployment rate for the nation dropped to 9.4 percent, it's lowest since May of 2009. Good news, right? Well, it's very good news if you're white.

    A closer analysis of the data reveals some interesting and disturbing trends. First, white males were the greatest and primary beneficiaries of the dip in unemployment, as their rate declined from 9.1 percent to 8.5 percent, the steepest drop among men or women of black or white ethnicities. White women also saw a significant decline in their unemployment rate, from 7.5 percent to 7.3 percent (they already had the lowest unemployment rate of men or women from both ethnicities).

    That's not all. Even though blacks and whites both saw a decline in their unemployment rates, whites saw a dip that was three times greater than that for African Americans. The overall white unemployment rate dropped from 8.9 percent to 8.5 percent, while the black unemployment rate dropped slightly from 16 percent to 15.8 percent. The raw differences are only double when compared directly, but are far more significant when considering the fact that white unemployment was already a little more than half of that for black Americans. Therefore, the absolute value of the difference is double for whites, but becomes three times greater than blacks when considering the relative change. The point is that (as President Obama so famously put it) the "rising tide" is not raising all ships, and the gap is actually growing.

    As of November, 2010, black unemployment was 80 percent higher than white unemployment. After December, the gap rose to a scaled differential of 86 percent. The white/black unemployment gap grew for both black men and black women. For men it grew the most: In November, black men had an unemployment rate that was 82 percent higher than whites (16.6 percent to 9.1 percent), and as of December, there was a scaled differential of 94 percent (16.5 percent to 8.5 percent).

    For black women, the gap between black and white females grew from 75 percent last month (13.1 percent to 7.5 percent) to 81 percent this month (13.2 percent to 7.3 percent). So, the racial unemployment gap grew for both genders, with black men getting the worst of the divide.

    The only group of African Americans that saw a significant scaled decline in their unemployment rate were black teens, who saw a drop from 46.3 percent to 44.2 percent unemployment. The gap between black and white teens narrowed, from 119 percent to a 96 percent difference. The improvements for black teens are tempered by the fact that black teenagers continue to have the highest unemployment rate of any subgroup of the population, and they are also the greatest victims of racial disparities in unemployment data. So, at best, we can say that a horrible situation was made slightly less horrible than it was before.

    As I prepare to speak with NPR tomorrow and Rev. Al Sharpton about these data and my open letter to President Obama just a few months ago, a few thoughts come to mind. This must be the year that our elected officials are continuously reminded of the fact that dealing with unemployment for the entire nation is not the same as dealing with economic inequality. While I am not always in complete sync with my respected colleague Michael Eric Dyson, who gave Obama a C- on black issues, I am certainly inclined to agree with Professor Dyson on the fact that neither the president nor any of the Chicago cronies he's hired in Washington are in a position to care in the least bit about the urban poor. Obama's decision to hire Bill Daley as his Chief of Staff speaks to the reality that neither this White House nor this Congress seems concerned about dealing with economic inequality in America.

    Unless the day comes where targeted policies are created to close the employment and wealth gaps, we are going to continue to live in a world where African Americans are asked to remain silent about double-digit employment, while White Americans are privileged enough to yell and scream about seven percent joblessness. Perhaps it's time for us to wake up and smell the disparity.

    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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    Jermaine Jackson Can't Leave Africa Due to Child Support Debt in U.S.

    Jermaine Jackson is visiting Africa but is stuck and he can't leave. Why?

    Since Jackson owes double-digit thousands of dollars in back child support, the U.S. government will not issue him a new passport until he pays up.


    The 56-year-old entertainer is currently in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in West Africa. Jackson's ex wife and the mother of his two sons, Alejandra Genevieve Oaziaza, got a child support order back in May 2008 that demanded $3,000 a month in payments. Jackson, who has cried broke almost since the beginning of the court order went into arrears because he claimed that his monthly income falls below $1,100.

    The former Jackson 5 member went to the L.A. County Superior Court and petitioned to have the monthly support payments lowered to $215 but unfortunately for him, the monthly obligation did not budge. His claims that Oaziaza was in a much better financial situation than he was fell on legal deaf ears.

    So as it stands, Jackson, whose passport expired while visiting Africa, owes his ex a whopping $91,921 in back child support payments. California law states that if a person owes more than $2,500 in back child support, the State Department of Child Support Services immediately reports it to the FBI. The agency then red flags the delinquent parent's passport and once it expires it cannot be renewed until the outstanding account is paid in full. Translation, Jackson is stuck in Africa until he can hatch a plan to get out.

    At this point, the American Embassy could still come to Jackson's rescue. In situations like these, temporary papers can be issued to help get a person back to the U.S. but this is usually done on a case-by-case basis.

    Wasn't it only last month that Jackson also had his driver's license confiscated over his failure to pay child support?

    Well for one thing, Jackson would want to come back to attend the preliminary hearing of Dr. Conrad Murray, who is stands accused of killing his brother Michael. The hearing began on January 4 and will go on for approximately two weeks at the L.A. County Superior Court where a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to hold a full trial.

    In the meantime, "Pay up Jermaine and you'll be sprung!"




     

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    Teena Marie: Private Memorial Service Details
    The life of R&B singer Teena Marie will be celebrated during a private memorial service on Monday, Jan. 10.

    The 54-year-old singer, who died unexpectedly in her sleep on Dec. 26, will be laid to rest at Forest Lawn Cemetery's Liberty Hall at 1pm PST.

    An estimated 700 people are expected for the invite-only Catholic funeral service.

    Singers Smokey Robinson, Shanice and Stevie Wonder are slated to sing for the memorial, while names like Kym Whitley, New Edition, singer Shirley Murdock and otheTeena Mariers are scheduled to attend.

    The Santa Monica, Calif.-bred singer was cremated. The cause of death remains undetermined.

    Marie would have celebrated 32 years in entertainment this year.

    In 2009, she celebrated 30 years in the music business by releasing her 13th CD, 'Congo Square' on Stax Records.

    That year she was also featured on TV One's 'Unsung,' which remains the highest-rated episode among the series franchise.

    More recently, the Rick James-protege had signed with the hip-hop label Cash Money Records for a second time.

    She had planned to release her 14th CD on the label in 2011. Cash Money released Marie's 2004 CD, 'La Dona.'


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    A typical New York City super-talent would be Asa Lovechild. Asa is a singer and actress who performs on the spot for anyone who will listen and has a slew of performance credits under her belt. I've seen her perform and found myself stunned by the grace with which she uses her voice and energy to captivate her audience. Her performance left a permanent impression on me, which is why Asa Lovechild is our Dr. Boyce Watkns Spotlight on AOL BlackVoices:

    1) What is your full name and what do you do?


    Asa Lovechild (pronounced Ace-a) Singer/Actress

    2) You have a vast amount of experience as an actress in New York and other places. Tell us about your talent.

    I've been acting since I was 12 years old. My first role ever was Candy in Judi Ann Mason's Livin' Fat. But it really was not until I got to college that my love affair with acting truly took shape. Playing Dorothy in The Wiz was the turning point for me. I knew that I could not live without being an actress. When I am on the stage or in front of a camera, I am able to lose myself in the character and speak to my own and someone else's reality. I like to do pieces that really speak to life and lately I feel that real art has been overshadowed by reality television. I feel that we as producers, directors, and actors need to get back to basics with our craft. With that said, I have ventured out and started writing material of my own that centers around real and true life issues. I applaud some of my fellow colleagues that have taken the initiative to get back to basics like RayMartell Moore (Finding Me & Finding Me Truth), Mos Def, Anthony Mackie, Suzette Azariah Gunn( Spare Change), Albert Brooks (Dir. Mooz-lum), etc.

    3) Tell us about your latest album, where we can listen to it and why we should want to hear it.

    My latest project is entitled Asa Lovechild: Love's Experience (Steve Wallace Edition), available for download on Amazon.com, ITunes, and EMusic.com. It is also in rotation on Select Sould in the UK and 98.1FM in Lagos, Nigeria. What inspired me to do this album was my own personal love relationships and the relationships of family members and friends. The album itself is a fusion of what I like to term neo jazz hip-hop that takes you on a journey of love lost, love gained, love imagined, and love experienced with the sultry sound of "Sunshine", the hip-hop infused "Smooth" , the seductive nature of "Vybe", and the moving sound of "Fly". It's funny because I have been called anything from the reincarnate of Billie Holiday to the long lost musical daughter of Patti LaBelle. I love the comparison, it just pushes me to do more. This whole album plays out as my life on wax.

    4) What projects are you working on right now?

    Currently I am now completing a one woman theatre piece (Untitled) which fuses my music from the album and different female life experiences into one, definitely following the many facets of experiencing love in all it's beautiful glory and pain. For those in the New York area, you can catch me at Ashford & Simpson's Sugar Bar on January 28th, for an intimate show. Also look out for my 1st video from the album coming soon. You can follow me on twitter @asalovechild,hit me up on the Facebook fan page (Asa Lovechild), or at www.asalovechild.com

    5) What are the toughest lessons you've learned as an aspiring entertainer?

    I would say the toughest lesson that I have learned as an entertainer,is that you are the one that measures the capacity of your success. Be your authentic self. I'm just me, Asa Lovechild. The only one that holds you back is you. You have to make every move and direction in this business count by staying consistent and on top of your game.

    6) Is there anything else you'd like to share with our AOL Black Voices audience?

    Love is infinite! Live life! Love life!


    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the bookBlack American Money To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To suggest a subject for a Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight, please click here.

     

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    The language of woman can be so complicated that we doubled back to help those who need even further assistance. It's baffling for a man to hear a woman say 'yes' and mean 'no,' or say 'no' but really mean 'yes.' So in an attempt to crack the code, here is a simple guide to understanding the language of women, or what we like to call the Female Dictionary Part 2. In case you missed Part 1, click HERE.


    'I'm A Free Spirit'
    Usually used as code when a woman wants to discreetly express her sexuality. Meaning she's really promiscuous and proud of it. Free spirit sounds much better than hoe any day.
    Ex: Yes I saw James in the morning and Mike that same night, but you know I'm a free spirit.

    'Of Course I Miss You'
    If a woman gives this response after being questioned as to whether or not she missed a man, trust - she really didn't. If a woman missed a guy she would tell him without having to be asked. Sadly, this statement really means she didn't want to hurt your feelings.

    'He's Not Right For Me'

    Excuse used by women when they are trying to decide whether or not they should date someone. Usually said after seeing the person for a significant amount of time, and what it really means is that she likes you but is trying not to.
    Ex.: I like him a lot, but he has three baby mothers. He's just not right for me.

    'When Are We Hanging Out?'
    Woman are socialized to be chased, not to pursue. If she becomes impatiently inquisitive about when you two will be in each others presence, she's really asking when are we having sex?
    Synonyms: When are you coming over; I haven't seen you in forever; I don't have any plans tonight

    'I Like Older Guys'
    Whether a woman is 24 or 37, if she turns you down because she says she likes older men, she's telling you're not established or rich enough to deal with her. Keep it moving.

    'Who Is She?'

    Woman want to know in detail about all women in your life, including your mother. However, most men fail to realize that when this question is asked, what it really means is that she's already done her due diligence and knows everything about the woman in question, and therefore wants to see if you will lie.
    Ex: I saw that a Tiffany is your Facebook friend now; who is she?

    'You Make The Plans'
    If you are dating a woman and she puts the pressure on you to plan the date, she is pleading for you to step up your game. What she's really asking you to do is finally impress her.
    Ex: I picked the restaurant the last two times. Tonight, you make the plans.

    'You So Nasty'

    Usually flirtatiously said to a man in a sexual context. When used, she really means she likes what you are doing and doesn't want you to stop. Do not let this confuse you when you actually do something gross, like fart or burp.
    Synonyms: Stoooooop

    'I Have A Yeast Infection'
    Made popular when used in an episode of the hit show 'Girlfriends,' this phrase is said when a woman can't think of any other excuse as to why she doesn't want to to have sex with you at that particular time. Last resort.

    'How Do I Look?'
    A humble way of a woman trying to figure out why she took five hours to get ready and you still haven't complimented her. She is fishing for a compliment and really is asking, "why haven't you noticed how good I look yet?"
    Synonyms: Do you like my hair/outfit/nails/perfume?

    'I Have Nothing To Wear'
    Your woman probably has way more clothes than you do, so if a woman says she has nothing to wear especially after an invitation from a man to go out, it's a subtle request to go shopping in attempts not to look like a gold digger.
    Ex: Wow, how nice of you to invite me that concert! Too bad I have nothing to wear.

    'It's Complicated'
    Usually when a single woman tells a man she's is free to date but that her situation is complicated, what she's trying to say is she's still in love with an old flame. Single is single, involved is involved, and there is no gray area unless a woman hasn't let go of her ex.
    Synonyms: I have a lot on my plate; I'm trying to see what the future brings

    Ladies, what phrases would you like to add to the Female Dictionary? Guys: does your woman tell you things you don't understand? Tell us!

     

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    loughner

    Jared Loughner, the man who shot an Arizona congresswoman and killed several others, is being painted as a troubled youth with a nihilistic view of the world who was obsessed with the government controlling his life.

    During an event with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whom he would eventually shoot in the head at point-blank range, Loughner asked a nonsensical question:

    "What is government if words have no meaning?" the Associated Press reported.

    "He was, like, 'What do you think of these people who are working for the government and they can't describe what they do?'" one friend told the Associated Press on Sunday. "He did not like government officials, how they spoke. Like they were just trying to cover up some conspiracy."

    It was probably these same beliefs that led Loughner to go on his killing spree. Friends and family described him as an increasingly troubled man who seemed to grow further and further out of touch with reality as time moved on.

    And all of the signs were there.




    Loughner also posted his nonsensical antigovernment rants on the Internet. He had a run-in with police for his disruptive behavior at the community college he attended and apparently drank to the point of blacking out.

    Finally, Loughner began expressing a sudden interest in guns, going with some friends who were bottle shooting in the dessert despite never having expressed an interest in target practice before.


    "He appeared to be to me an emotional cripple or an emotional child," said Don Coorough, a student in one of Loughner's poetry classes. "He lacked compassion, he lacked understanding and he lacked an ability to connect."

    Not surprisingly, police say Loughner is not cooperating.

    Sadly, Loughner's path to this horrible killing is becoming so typical in this country that we are becoming numb to it.

    Here's how it usually goes down: A troubled person begins slipping down the dark tunnel of mental illness. He or she begins having all these run-ins with police and there are reports of strange behavior, but no one seems to be able to intervene.

    Maybe he turns on the radio or television and hears some of the crazy anti-government rhetoric coming from someone like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin.

    The mentally ill person gets a gun and goes on a shooting rampage. Maybe we get lucky and people are just wounded or only one person is killed. This cycle continues because we tolerate it. We don't have the systems in place to help those who have mental illness. I wonder what steps Loughner's parents took to try and get him help. Did anyone help them before this situation got out of hand?

    Guns are so readily available that it's only a matter of time before another Loughner gets ahold of one. And not just any gun but a semiautomatic with an extended clip that allowed him to shoot 19 people, including a 9-year-old girl, in a matter of minutes.

    We've accepted mass shootings as a part of life in this country when they don't have to be.


     

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    New Films Cinema has released the trailer to Christopher B. Landon's 'Burning Palms,' which features an ensemble cast including Zoe Saldana, Dylan McDermott, Lake Bell, Jamie Chung, Nick Stahl, Paz Vega and Rosamund Pike.

    Opening in select theaters on January 14th, 2011, 'Burning Palms' is a dark comedy that interlaces five stories set in different Los Angeles neighborhoods, where no taboo is left unexplored as each character careens toward a dark and often comic fate.

     

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    Sudan


    Twenty police officers were slain in a disputed section of the Sudan, causing concern that the historic vote for independence this week could be marked by increased bloodshed.

    Arab tribesmen and government-supported militia are being blamed for the attack in Abyei, which is in southern Sudan.

    Early reports say the voting is peaceful even though 40 people had been killed over the weekend in election-related fighting. In portions of the south, according to a New York Times report, voters are dancing and singing in anticipation of new contruction and jobs they believe will come if the south successfully breaks away from the northern part of the country.



    Related Articles



    Sudan's vote, which began Sunday, could end up breaking the huge nation into two separate countries: north and south. Over seven days of voting, election observers are expecting a vote to split the nation.




    Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said he would follow the vote results, even if the government-controlled North, based in Khartoum, would lose control of the vast oil revenues in the South.


    But the dispute over the oil-rich Abyei region in the central part of the nation could give al-Bashir the cover he needs to hold on to the south. That region had also been promised an independent vote, but it has yet to take place.

    It's hard to tell exactly who is to blame for the increased violence in Abyei, with representatives from the north and south pointing at each other.

    The election has drawn the interest of influential international observers, such as actor George Clooney and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

    While high-profile election watchers like Clooney and Carter will bring additional news media attention to the Sudan vote, I hope they understand that media attention alone won't stop greed from ruling the day.

    Why would the heavily-armed North allow the oil-rich South to waltz away from their union without further bloodshed?

     



     

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    Christina Mendez
    One of the saddest myths being taught to young girls is that you can't weigh more than 90 pounds if you ever want anyone to love you. We see time and again, the most beautiful actresses in black America sent to Hollywood where they are promptly turned into stick figures who can hide behind any telephone pole. Not that there's anything wrong with being thin, but there's definitely something wrong with not being YOU. In fact, I've always argued that the most beautiful thing about black and brown women is that they don't look like anyone else. Rather than allowing that individual style to be suppressed, it should be celebrated.

    Meet Christina Mendez, one of America's great emerging plus size superstars. She has graced the covers of Glamour magazine, The Source, Essence.com and others. She has also made national television appearances on 'The Rachel Ray Show,' Fox News, BET and quite a few other networks. Christina not only possesses the looks and talent necessary to succeed in the competitive world of modeling, she is also determined to use her platform for the greater good by taking stands for families affected by autism. I met Christina a few months ago when she appeared on my show. I was so impressed with her that after seeing her career experience such remarkable growth, I decided to make her the Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight on AOL Black Voices:

    What is your full name and what do you do?
    My name is Christina Mendez and I am a plus size model/actress and a Spokesperson/Activist for Autism Awareness.

    What are some of your greatest achievements as a model thus far?
    I consider every assignment a great achievement because I came into this industry with very little expectations. I am a mother of a child with a disability and I am older and less experienced than most models so I wasn't expecting anything but a good time. However, I am the most proud when I am able to work side by side with my son, Damian. Last year, we did a photo shoot/interview for The Source Magazine about Autism Awareness. It was a truly amazing feeling to see Damian in the magazine as well as seeing his reaction to his first published photo shoot.


    What are some of the most difficult lessons you've learned in the industry?
    The most difficult lesson I've learned is that everyone is very competitive in this industry and unfortunately I've come across a few individuals who used unruly tactics to achieve their goals. It was always hard to see newly formed friendships disappear due to my success. However, my life experience has taught me to appreciate the journey, good or bad... I welcome the lessons.

    Christina Mendez

    What advice would you give those who'd like to become successful in the plus size modeling industry?
    The Internet can be your friend. You can get information on reputable agencies in your city, height/size requirements, and even read stories from plus size models that are currently in the industry. In addition, I strongly recommend that you research casting information in your area and if possible do a few reputable non-paid assignments. If you work with a talented photographer or designer on a few non-paid assignments, most likely you'll be the first person thought of for a paid assignment next time! Like anything, practice makes perfect. Also, I cannot stress enough to anyone interested in modeling, NEVER pay to join an agency! If an agent believes you are marketable, they will bring you aboard with no hidden fees.

    What projects are you working on right now?
    Currently you can see me on the Ashley Stewart and Daphne Larger Sizes websites. My good friend, Qristyl Frazier of Qristyl Frazier Designs and I are working on an exciting new project and I am one of the celebrities partnering with Autism Speaks to promote the new fund raising initiative, Puzzle Builder.

    Is there anything else you'd like to share with our AOL Black Voices audience?
    I want to thank everyone for their continuous support and lovely emails. It feels great to do something that inspires and touches others to reach their maximum potential. God is good!

    To find out more about Christina Mendez, you can visit ChristinaMendez.com.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the bookBlack American Money To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To suggest a subject for a Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight, please click here.

     

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    "I hate violence." Those are the latest words from Sarah Palin on the tragic shooting in Tucson, Az., of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others that has once again placed the former Alaska governor in the middle of the national political discussion.

    The words were part of an e-mail exchange read by conservative commentator Glenn Beck on his syndicated radio show and first reported by Jonathan Martin on Politico.

    Here is the full e-mail as read by Beck:

    "I hate violence. I hate war. Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence. Thanks for all you do to send the message of truth and love. And God has the answer. -- Sarah"

    Palin's comments come amid the swirl of rhetoric concerning the most discussed "crosshairs" in political memory. On her Facebook page last year, Palin posted a map of 20 Congressional districts being targeted by her political action committee, SarahPac, in the 2010 midterm election. Gifford's Arizona district was one of them.

    At the time Giffords herself responded.

    "When people do that, they've gotta realize there are consequences to that action," she told MSNBC.

    Source: ABC News


    Kevin Eason is a freelance editorial cartoonist and illustrator from New Jersey. His brand of satire covers news events in politics, entertainment, sports and much more. Follow him on Facebook.

     

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    A number of celebrities have made headlines in recent months for having enormous debts and tax problems or because they've filed for bankruptcy protection. Actor Eddie Murphy's ex-wife, Nicole, reportedly owes millions of dollars, including five IRS tax liens of just under $850,000. Singer Toni Braxton recently went bankrupt for the second time, with debts between $10 million and $50 million. And rapper Xzibit - who is said to owe nearly $1 million to the IRS - also headed into bankruptcy court in December 2010, after two previous attempts to wipe out his debts failed.

    But celebrities with huge financial woes aren't the only ones going broke. More than 1.53 million Americans filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010, a 9% increase over 2009 levels, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. With credit card debt and unemployment running high, experts predict that consumer bankruptcies will continue to rise in 2011 - following a trend that's been growing since 2005.

    If you or someone you know is contemplating bankruptcy, here are five important questions you must ask before heading into court to seek financial relief:

    1. How much will it cost me?
    Most people who file bankruptcy use a lawyer, and doing so isn't cheap. Expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to as much as $4,000, depending on the complexity of your case, where you live and the experience of the attorney you choose.

    2. What type of bankruptcy should I file?
    The form of bankruptcy you file plays a role in your costs and the overall process. Chapter 7, also called a "straight bankruptcy" or a "liquidation," is the most common form of personal bankruptcy. To file Chapter 7, you must meet an income test and a means test imposed by the court. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is known as a "wage earner's plan." You have to have a job and you must show the court that you will be able to repay at least some of your debts over a period of three to five years. Those who want to save their home from foreclosure should file Chapter 13, not Chapter 7.


    3. Which of my debts will be discharged - and which will remain?
    Too many people go into bankruptcy thinking that it will automatically "wipe the slate clean" and eliminate all their financial obligations. But that's not true. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can get your credit card debt, medical bills and various unsecured debts and consumer loans wiped out. However, other serious bills will remain - even after a bankruptcy case. Among the debts that generally can't be wiped out in bankruptcy are: student loans, child support payments and federal taxes.

    4. What happens if I apply for bankruptcy but the judge rejects it?
    Sometimes people petition the court for bankruptcy but find that their case gets denied or rejected for some reason by a judge. That's what happened - not once, but two times - to Xzibit, the rapper and former host of the canceled MTV show 'Pimp My Ride.'

    There are numerous reasons a bankruptcy might be denied. Your paperwork might be incomplete, incorrect or in some way out of compliance with court rules. Also, your bankruptcy petition can be rejected if it's deemed as abusive or fraudulent - perhaps because you went out ran up a bunch of debts with the intention of getting them wiped out in bankruptcy (that's defrauding your creditors). Lastly, if you've neglected to disclose all assets (whether intentionally or accidentally), the courts might deny your bankruptcy request.

    When a rejection happens, you can try to fix the problem by addressing the root cause of the denial. If a denial was issued due to flawed paperwork, and you handled your own bankruptcy paperwork, the best solution is to get a lawyer involved to correct the outstanding issues and make sure your paperwork is letter-perfect. If fraud is alleged, you'll have some -must-ask-before-filing-chapter-7-or-chapter-13-bankruptcyexplaining to do to the courts (and your creditors). And if your bankruptcy was denied because you've omitted assets, go back and re-file a petition with the correct information.

    The lesson here is two-fold: only supply honest, complete and accurate information to the court. Also, get everything done right the first time to avoid extra costs, hassles, time delays and a possible rejection of your bankruptcy petition.

    5. What will my financial afterlife be like?
    If you're contemplating bankruptcy, it's only natural that you would be concerned about your financial afterlife. Some people mistakenly think that if they file bankruptcy they will forever be treated like a pariah by banks, employers and various creditors. Fortunately, that's not the case.

    While it's true that a bankruptcy filing stays on your credit reports for 10 years, where it will be listed as a public record, it's also true that you can successfully rebound from bankruptcy in about two or three years - as long as you handle your finances responsibly following the bankruptcy. That's why many people who file for bankruptcy protection are able to get credit cards, mortgages and other loans just two years or so after their bankruptcy. In fact, you can still be in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and get a government-insured FHA loan.

    Therefore, if your economic circumstances truly call for bankruptcy, don't needlessly fret over your prospects for landing jobs, re-establishing credit or getting loans in the future.

    As I explain in my book, Perfect Credit, bankruptcy should only be initiated as a last-ditch option, when all other alternatives have been exhausted. And when it's necessary, the decision to file for bankruptcy protection often feels like a personal, emotional or moral decision to an individual. Yet it is important to also view the choice as both a legal and a business decision.

    After all, bankruptcy proceedings are administered only via court process and are governed by a slew of laws. Additionally, anyone seriously contemplating bankruptcy would be wise to take into consideration the very real economic ramifications as well as the credit implications of bankruptcy.

    The good news is that even your worst credit problems - including bankruptcy - probably won't haunt you as long as you might have feared.



    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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    Currently online is the trailer to 'S.W.A.T: Firefight,' starring Gabriel Macht, Carly Pope, Kevin Phillips, Shannon Kane, Robert Patrick, Giancarlo Esposito, Gino Pesi, Nicholas Gonzalez, Micah Hauptman and Matt Bushell.

    Directed by Benny Boom ('Next Day Air') and based on the hit TV show of the same name, 'S.W.A.T.' follows Paul Cutler (played by Macht), an officer sent to train the Detroit S.W.A.T. team on new antiterrorism and homeland security techniques. As an outsider, Cutler is having a hard time settling in to his assignment and often encounters resistance from his new captain and the team he must lead. But as he adjusts to his new job, he finds himself in a budding romance with police psychologist Kim Byers (played by Pope).

    Unexpectedly, a routine hostage call turns deadly, and a relentless ex-government agent named Walter Hatch (Patrick) vows revenge on Cutler and the entire team. Cutler must use his considerable training and knowledge to save his teammates and defeat a trained killer.

    Kane and Phillips play members of the elite squad unit, while Esposito plays Cutler's reluctant Detroit team leader.

    Kane, who currently plays Natalia, Jesse Hubbard's daughter on 'All My Children,' was last seen on the big screen opposite Richard Gere in Antoine Fuqua's 'Brooklyn's Finest.'

    Phillips played Mark Pitts, co-manager of the late rapper Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace in 'Notorious.' The New York native is also set to star opposite Terrence Howard and Bryan Cranston from TV's 'Breaking Bad' in the upcoming film 'Red Tails,' a story written and produced by George Lucas that chronicles the Tuskegee Airmen.

    Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release 'S.W.A.T. Firefight' direct-to-video on March 1.

     

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    Keri Hilson
    What is your name and what do you do?
    Keri Hilson and I'm a R&B/Pop Singer and also write songs for other artists.

    What are some of the misconceptions people have about celebrities and their money?
    People tend to think that celebrities are impenetrable to making mistakes, that because they see you in a video with expensive things that your life revolves around that. I've found that my strongest foundation has been my family and friends now more than ever.

    What has been the scariest/funniest/best moment in your career?
    The best moment in my career is every time I'm on stage, going over lines and about to perform and I think, "Wow. I'm actually awake. I'm living my dream!"

    What surprised you the most about the financial side of your industry?
    I wasn't very surprised, but you have to be very involved in your finances. There are people that are waiting to take advantage of you. I think that's a lesson for any industry, but when you're in something that can potentially be lucrative you have to always be careful and knowledgeable.


    How has Twitter helped you in building your brand and running business?
    Twitter has given me the opportunity to connect with my fans directly, to directly hear from them when something is wrong, or when they love something. It is a good personal barometer. When your fans feel like they truly know you, they support you even more. I have the best "twam"(twitter fam) as I call them in the world and I love hearing from them. They get to see the "real" Keri.

    Do you have any financial and professional advice for aspiring celebs out there?
    Don't aspire to be rich or famous, aspire to do something you love. That will ultimately make you happy. It takes lots of hard work, determination and patience to reach your dreams, but if you put in the work it will work always work itself out.

    What upcoming projects do you have in store for us?
    'No Boys Allowed,' in stores now, is my focus right now. It's been a personal statement to empowering women to embrace themselves even more.

    Is there anything else you'd like to share with our AOL Black Voices audience?
    Happy New Year AOL BV and thanks for always supporting Miss Keri Baby!

     

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    Martin Luther King


    Born Michael King Jr., the man known to the world as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has continued to be an enigma. Both revered and reviled, he has been a force to be reckoned since he led the historic march in Selma, Ala., in 1965 and continues to be so even in death.

    'Sexual degenerate' and 'communist' are not terms often associated with this revered non-violent revolutionary who spearheaded the Civil Rights Movement.

    Yet, Brett Reese, a member of the Greeley-Evans School District 6 Board of Education, is broadcasting just such an attack on Dr. King submitted by a listener to his 104.7 FM pirate radio show.


    "Just a sexual degenerate, an America-hating communist and a criminal betrayer of even the interest of his own people," Reese reads during his radio broadcast.

    Share


    When asked if this was an appropriate broadcast for a school board member, Reese responds:

    "It's ... you know what? That's a good question."

    Reese says he agrees with the essence of the letter, and despite calls for his resignation, he will continue broadcasting the commentary every day up to the MLK holiday on Jan. 17th.

    While parents are in an uproar over the insulting letter, the fact remains that it is the opinion of a listener and has every right to be publicized.


    Dr. King was not perfect, and I believe it diminishes his legacy to attempt to paint him as such.

    In 1989, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, a close friend of Dr. King's, published And the Walls Came Tumbling Down an autobiography in which he alleges plagiarism and womanizing on the part of the civil rights icon. Abernathy's assertions-- and other accounts of King's less than charitable views toward women-- are hotly disputed. However, it is not hard to believe than one of our many legends has feet of clay (we all do).


    Regardless of Dr. King's shortcomings his impact on racial relations and standards of equality cannot be dismantled by one person's opinion or even thousands.

    The world is different and better because of the visionary teachings of Dr. King.

    We have a tendency to elevate our leaders to hero status and usually are disappointed when they tumble from that pedestal. Countless people have been called to service because of the transformative message of Dr. King, and that cannot be denied. Even while I oppose many of his views, he taught me that regardless of ideology we should all be able to agree to disagree, and that is a message as effective in our homes as it is in our government. He gave us the tools to create our future in this country. What we have done, and continue to do with them, is our responsibility. He HeHE

    A man doesn't have to be perfect to make a difference.

    So as January 17th draws near, let us honor the man who forever changed the course of the United States. Let us honor the man who told us we didn't have to sit at the back of the bus, and inspired a generation of people to rebuke racism, and judge people on the "content of their character and not the content of their skin."

    Dr. King's legacy is too vast to be placed in jeopordy by one listener's ignorant rant.

     

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    Oprah's OWN Network Lacks Diversity
    Last week, Oprah found herself being criticized after the launch of the OWN network because it is not offered as part of basic cable service in some areas. Some thought that this was rather elitist in a time when millions of people are facing shrinking budgets, making OWN something of a luxury outside of easy reach for all. Now Oprah Winfrey is coming under fire from someone who knows a thing or two about launching a successful network, BET co-founder and fellow billionaire Shelia Johnson. EURWeb reports:

    Have you taken a look at Oprah's OWN? Naturally some critics are certainly having a good-ol-time cracking on the media mogul's new channel due to the lack of diversity, specifically Black faces.

    BET co-founder Sheila Johnson had a mouth full to say about it on NPR's "Tell Me More."

    "The only advice that I say, let's open up your circle a little bit more. You know, we love the Dr. Phils. We love the Suze Ormans. Let's open up. There are other people. And there's also African-American experts out there that I think she should start bringing on her show that can reach even a wider audience."

    Host, Michel Martin commented about the Whiteness on the programming and lack of diversity is a bit confusing to some.

    "No. Yes," replied Johnson. "And I think she really should do that and not be afraid to do it. There's really a lot of great experts out there that really know the businesses at hand. And I'd like to see her open up her circle to do that."



    While that makes perfect sense, this is interesting coming from a woman who made her fortune by displaying the most narrow slice of black life in America in the most raucous manner possible. Yet, it's impossible to knock Shelia Johnson and her ex-husband Bob for what they did. This dynamic duo tried to offer diverse programming when BET was founded, but quickly found that the news and educational programming (that the black community knows it needs) could not keep the lights on at the company during its fledgling stages. In the end, the Johnsons had to give the public what it wanted, even if it did not represent the true diversity of African American experiences. Hence a channel of rap music and infomercials.

    Sure, OWN might not offer racial diversity, but in the end Oprah Winfrey has to stay true to what has made her an empowering brand for millions. Her selection of experts who have been a huge hit on her eponymous show is an obvious first step in that direction. Rather than criticizing Oprah, perhaps Shelia Johnson might sympathize with the tough choices Winfrey has to make in order to play to her crowd. Perhaps when OWN is more established, Oprah might be able to take more risks. Ironically, as BET became a household mainstay, as an organization it took fewer chances -- and then sold to the highest bidder.

    To be fair, Shelia Johnson is doing amazing things with the money she earned peddling booty-shaking videos. She is working diligently as a philanthropist in support of education, and is a prominent fighter against the spread of AIDS in the black community. But she must know more than anyone that it is much easier to be an idealistic purist when you are out of the media game. Should she cut Oprah some slack?

    Or do you think Oprah should be called to task for a lack of diversity on her new OWN network? Leave your comments below!

    (via The Root)

     

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