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

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    More Dead Women Found in Grim Sleeper Case?

    Folks following the "Grim Sleeper" murder case in Los Angeles probably got the same bad feeling I had when police announced they were seeking the public's help in identifying dozens of women in photos found at suspect Lonnie D. Franklin Jr.'s home.

    It seems our concerns were justified.

    Police said they believe Franklin may be responsible for killing two more women whose bodies were found in South Los Angeles in the 1990s. These deaths are in addition to the 10 killings Franklin has been charged with in the serial murder case.

    Franklin has pleaded not guilty to the 10 murders.

    Several of the murder victims were black female prostitutes whom Franklin is believed to have employed. One victim was a black male.

    So when police announced in December that a search of Franklin's home revealed a stash of sexually explicit photos and video tapes of approximately 160 mostly black young women, people started getting nervous.

    Fears grew in the Los Angeles area among people who had lost young black female friends and relatives to the streets in the past two decades. Were they among Franklin's unidentified victims, they wondered?

    Thus far, about 72 women in the pictures have been identified and ruled out as victims and 62 have yet to be identified. Four new missing persons cases have been opened involving women in the photos.

    Franklin was arrested last August when investigators used a controversial technique called a familial DNA search that implicated the former car mechanic through his son's DNA.

    Police believed that Franklin had murdered the 10 women during two separate time frames, from 1985 to 1988 and from 2002 to 2007.

    But if Franklin is indeed responsible for the death of the two additional women whose bodies were found in the 1990s, Franklin may not have taken a 14-year pause from the killings, which is what earned him the nickname the Grim Sleeper.

    The only thing that is certain in this murder mystery is that nothing is certain.


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    Strip Tease: George Wallace Talks Vegas & BV Buzz Offers Best Bets

    He's called 'The New Mr. Las Vegas' and after visiting his sold-out show at The Flamingo Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas, you'll understand why.

    Five nights a week, a melting pot of people fill George Wallace's cabaret-style Vegas room to hear him tell jokes.

    "It's the best 10pm show on the strip," Wallace told

    Wallace's show, which has had an all-star list of people like Jerry Seinfeld, Jennifer Holiday, Chris Tucker and gospel great Dottie Peoples drop in to do surprise performances, has lasted seven years at The Flamingo.

    "I came there to perform for 30 days and I'm still here," he enlightened.

    The 58-year-old comedian said now is the best tiGeorge Wallaceme to visit Sin City.

    "It's the best time in 30 years to come to Las Vegas. Really, you can get a five-star hotel for like $100 a night. I'm talking Bellagio, Aria, VDARA and all of the best of them," he explained. "Then you can eat all day long for like $39 at a buffet. Just sit there and have breakfast, lunch and dinner. Vegas is very affordable now!"

    The Atlanta-bred comic, who is now regularly featured on CNN's 'Weekends with Fredricka Whitfield' each Sunday at 5:45pm ET, confessed he is contemplating leaving Vegas when his contract expires in May.

    "I'm really ready to do some more work in television, movies and on radio. So I'm deciding what to do now," he admitted.

    Wallace said he's currently the only African-American headliner on the strip - "There's a show here called 'Hitsville' but I don't know where they are!" - and would hate leave VeCarrot Topgas that way.

    He would like to see both Gladys Knight and Wayne Brady return to do their respective headlining shows - "They both did well here," he offered.

    As far as a new resident headliner on the strip if he does leave, Wallace has another suggestion.

    "Sinbad could do it," he suggested, before adding: "If he would do the marketing and the advertising, he could definitely do well here in Vegas."

    But for now, Wallace still reins king in Vegas and hopes fans will check him each Tuesday through Saturday at The Flamingo.

    "Instead of going to see the 'Blue Man Group' come and see the Black man," he jokingly closed.

    BV Buzz has some other suggestions of the best places to eat, sleep and relax while visiting Las Vegas.

    Pajama Brunch at Simon, Palms Place: Kerry Simon is billed as "The Rock-N-Roll Chef" and his signature restaurant at the Palms Place Hotel showcases his fun-loving nature and eclectic palate. A mixture of Simon Las Vegastraditional brunch choices and unique items, Simon's pajama brunch offers everything from chicken and waffles, breakfast pizza and omelets (try the Simon omelet with crab, artichoke and havarti cheese); in addition to a bevy of a la carte items. The $38 per-person menu also has interesting buffet stations like the "White Trash" table, a sushi bar, a Candy Bar and a station to make milkshakes out of Captain Crunch cereal. From 10:00am to 4:00pm, a pajama-clad wait staff will serve while you in the main dining area with floor to ceiling views of the Palms Place pool or poolside on the Simon patio. //

    BRAND Steakhouse, Monte Carlo: Looking for a hearty meal? Well BRAND offers impeccable steakhouse dining. Among the highlights menu items include everything from lobster (it's to die for), bone-in Nebraska steaks, large chops (beef and pork), rack of lamb, a BRANDtomahawk rib-eye (wonderful as well) and a double-decker burger with brie and double-smoked bacon. They also offer a variety of house-made sauces like brandy and green peppercorn and shallot red wine bordelaise are among the signature specialties. Whether you opt for the imported Kurabutto pork prime rib, Japanese Kobe beef or the lemon-rosemary free range chicken, BRAND will have your mouth watering and have full as a tick once you're finished. Despite its high-end menu, the restaurant is an open 5,000-square-foot dining room with attached lounge/bar area which has a casually comfortable vibe. //

    Aria Las Vegas: It's a massive edifice in the middle of the new Las Vegas City Center. The beautiful Aria has 4,004 guestrooms with 568 suites and has breathtaking views of the Las Vegas because of its floor to ceiling windows in each room. It boasts the most advanced in-room technology on the strip (one too many timeAria Las Vegass I pushed the wrong button and caused an in-room blackout). Big plush comfortable beds, spacious modern bathrooms (big ole bathtub and a glorious glass shower) and enough power sockets for all of your gadgets makes you second guess leaving your room. A friendly and knowledgeable staff is often needed as you navigate your way around the super-sized resort. Several dining experiences are offered, among them the decadent tapas establishment Julian Serrano (they have an amazing sangria and my favorites Lobster-Pineapple Skewer and Sautéed Shrimp Gambas). Comfortability, entertainment (the Cirque du Soleil show 'Viva Elvis' is housed there) and of course, the casinos; Aria offers one of the strips best bets for lodging. //

    Silk Road, VDARA: From the moment you walk into Silk Road, you imagine that your wait staff will be the cast of 'Three's Company' and Mrs. Roper will be your hostess. Modernly elegant with vintage décor, this breakfast/lunch establishment offers a surrounding that's as attractiveSilk Road as the attractions on your plate. Chef Martin Heierling (who launched the first-rate Sensi restaurant at Bellagio) has designed an intriguing menu of items including blueberry and ricotta pancakes (super yum); free range turkey hash (amazing); crispy popcorn shrimp come wrapped in lettuce, with mango slaw and sweet chili mayo; the aromatic chicken and coconut soup; and the chicken-and-waffle basket (words can't even explain how good). Delicious food paired with a lively environment, you can understand while reservations are strongly recommended here -- 7am to 2pm on weekdays, 9am opening for brunch on Sundays. //

    Qua Baths & Spa at Caesars Palace: A rejuvenating experience, Caesars Palace Qua Baths & Spa invokes a nature-like experience into its grandiose Vegas setting. Located in the Augustus Tower, the 55,000-square-foot facility features 51 treatment rooQua Baths & Spams, which include 35 massage studios, three deluxe couple's suites and seven facial rooms. Qua also offers two hydrotherapy tubs, three Vichy showers and even a Swarovski crystal body art room. Offering a variety of treatments like Roman bathing rituals, massages (I had a great one), body scrubs and facials accustomed to suit your skin's needs, this unisex facility is just the way to ease the stress of your losses or to splurge on your winnings while taking in Vegas. //

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    Kelley Williams-Bolar

    By now, I'm sure you've read a million and one blog posts about the Ohio mom who was jailed for having her children illegally registered in a school district in which they didn't live. The saga of Kelley Williams-Bolar made the rounds of the black blogosphere this week, before bubbling to the surface and reaching the mainstream media. It's a cause celebre that's risen to a level of interest not seen online since the case of The Jena Six.

    Just in case you've been living under a rock all week, here are the basics of the story:

    An Ohio woman who was jailed for tampering with records to get her children into a better school district has been released from jail a day early, according to a local newspaper. Kelley Williams-Bolar left the Summit County Jail on Wednesday, having served nine days of her 10-day sentence, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

    Williams-Bolar, a single mother living in subsidized housing in Akron, used her father's address to register her two daughters in the high-achieving suburban Copley-Fairlawn school district. Copley-Fairlawn said the improper registration cost it $30,000 in lost tuition and $6,000 in investigative costs.

    The Akron City school district met only four of 26 standards on the latest Ohio Department of Education Report Card and had a 76% graduation rate. Copley-Fairlawn City Schools met 26 of 26 standards and had a 97.5% graduation rate.

    Williams-Bolar told CNN affiliate WEWS-TV that she and her children considered her father's house one of their homes. "My primary residence was both places. I stayed at both places," she said in an interview at the Summit County Jail.

    Williams-Bolar's father, Edward Williams, told CNN affiliate WJW-TV that the children did live with him, so he believed the family was within the law. He said his daughter's Akron neighborhood - where she lives in government-subsidized housing - isn't safe.

    Williams-Bolar, a single mother, works as a teacher's aide at a high school in Akron and is just 12 credits away from earning a teaching degree at the University of Akron, according to the Beacon Journal. Her felony conviction will bar her from being licensed to teach in Ohio.

    Summit County Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cosgrove sentenced Williams-Bolar last week to five years in prison, but suspended all but 10 days. Williams-Bolar also must serve 80 hours of community service and will be on probation for three years.

    The case has drawn national media attention and outrage, much of it due to its racial undertones: Williams-Bolar is black, while the Copley-Fairlawn schools are predominantly white. Williams-Bolar told CNN affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland that she plans to appeal her conviction. The local chapter of the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network is trying to raise money to fund the appeal, the Beacon Journal reported.

    I'm sure I'll catch a bunch of heat for this, but darnit, it needs to be said.

    Could we as a community, please, please, please stop defending criminality?

    Yes, Williams-Bolar's quest to provide her children with a better education than that of their home school district is laudable. Yes, Williams-Bolar's felony conviction and the subsequent loss of a possible career is tragic. Yes, it's unfair that Williams-Bolar's children can't get as good an education in their home district.

    But guess what? When you strip all of that away, the issue remains that a law was broken. Period.

    I've heard many people argue that had Kelley Williams-Bolar not been black, there's a good chance the school district (which is 75% white) would have never gone after her. While that may be the case (there's no proof to substantiate it), it still doesn't change the fact that she knowingly violated a law. As a person employed by a school system, if there's anyone who should know better, it would be her. Just because race is involved doesn't make this a racial story.

    It's about simple economics. By illegally registering her children outside of their designated school district, she took $30,000 in funding from children whose parents worked equally hard to provide a good education for their kids. Yes, the intent is noble, but it's still illegal. If you broke into my house to steal food to feed your children, your best intentions don't change the fact that you took food out of my children's mouths.

    Instead of getting all worked up over stories like this, and signing online petitions, I hope we'll learn a lesson from Jena and respond pro-actively, rather than reactively. Rather than bemoan the unfairness of the system that lead this mother to commit a crime, I hope everyone will channel that energy productively by signing up to be a tutor or mentor to kids in schools like the one Williams-Bolar sought to rescue her kids from. Call your congressman and raise a ruckus about the disparity in educational funding. Do something that will really change things for the entire black community, and other communities that are underserved.

    Do something other than sign a lousy e-petition and groveling about a racial aspect to a story that may or may not even be there. We did that with the Jena Six. Based on the trials some of those kids endured once the thousands of marchers and hundreds of bloggers moved on, I'd say we missed the point of that whole expedition.

    Yes, this story (which oddly hasn't showed up on the radar of school choice-advocating conservatives yet) illuminates the disparity in the quality of education those in the inner city receive versus their suburban counterparts. It also highlights that public school systems that are funded based on property taxation virtually insure that poor kids will always be a few steps behind. It is truly a shame that Kelley Williams-Bolar had to resort to such means to give her kids a better shot at life. I have great sympathy for her, and sincerely hope that her probation period is shortened.

    But it doesn't excuse the fact that she still committed a crime. Sorry. And in the black community, sometimes we are too sympathetic towards "working the system," to the point that defrauding the welfare system, cheating on our taxes and even drug dealing is deemed justifiable because of the horrible inequalities that do exist. What would help more would be organized, consistent, pro-active action, instead of sympathizing with desperation. If the Kelley Williams-Bolar case can inspire us to do this, perhaps her crime will not have been in vain.

    Jay Anderson is a freelance writer from Washington, DC, whose work has been featured in the Washington Post and on NPR. When he's not busy talking smack here, he runs the award-winning blog Follow him via Twitter @AverageBro.


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    Dee Rees' debut film, 'Pariah,' which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, has been acquired by Focus Features for theatrical distribution, states

    The film, which stars Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell and Aasha Davis, is a coming-of-age story about a 17-year old African American teen from Brooklyn trying to find her place in the world and coming to terms with her identity as a lesbian.

    Focus has also engaged Rees to write another script with an eye for her to direct. The deal was in the seven-figure range.

    The picture, which started as a short film, was executive produced by indie icon Spike Lee and produced by Nekisa Cooper.

    Rees, a graduate from New York University's Tisch School Graduate Film Program, was one of Filmmaker magazine's 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2008.

    In 2010, Focus acquired 'The Kids Are All Right,' the Lisa Cholodenko-directed feature that premiere at Sundance and starred Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo. It became a indie hit, grossing more than $20 million domestically and nearing $30 million worldwide. The film received four Academy Award nominations, including best picture.


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    Bishop Eddie Long has returned to the public eye. In his first interview since the sexual misconduct allegations were levied against him, Long spoke to Channel 2 News in Atlanta. Of course the media was told that Long would not answer questions about the allegations, but hearing him speak in public was a media attraction nonetheless.

    The event was the Trumpet Awards prayer breakfast at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta. When answering questions, Long only spoke about hope, the future and other relatively vague, light-hearted issues. The mood appeared to be positive, and Long was given an optimistic reception from those in the audience, as well as Corey "CoCo Brother" Condrey, the radio personality who
    introduced Long to the crowd.

    "There's people praying for you, and there's people that in the midst of whatever happens, we love you," Condrey said in front of the crowd.

    "In the midst of adversity right now, we're praying for him and we love him. Ladies and gentleman, Bishop Eddie Long."

    The allegations that Long would not refer to are in reference to a civil suit filed by four young men who are accusing Long of using his influence to coerce them into having sex with him. Since the allegations surfaced, Long has kept quiet in public. Also, mediation in the case is going on behind closed doors, with both sides working to find a mediator. If the mediation is not successful, a jury trial date may be set for next summer.

    "It's a wonderful celebration of a time when our nation needs hope, when people need to see people who rise up and are doing great things and actually making a difference in someone's life," Long said.

    The Bishop Eddie Long sex scandal once consumed the media, particularly within the black community. Long's team is surely comforted by the fact that the public has stopped talking about the issue, and it may even move to the back of the public's collective mind. At that point, I fully expect that the case will be settled and Long to continue with his life.

    It's very interesting how the focus of our outrage one month can be yesterday's news the next. One great example is the BP oil spill last summer. While the world was angry at BP at the time and determined to boycott the company's products, many Americans now have no problem buying BP gas. By 2012, the BP oil spill will be an afterthought, as the world moves from one 24-hour whirlwind news cycle to the next.

    I'm sure Long's team hopes to take advantage of the fleeting attention span of the American public. Also, should Long emerge from the case and perform one or two high-profile deeds, millions of Americans will surely forgive him. The unfortunate consequence of our collective attention deficit disorder is that there may be a group of young men who are permanently scarred for life. That's why the public deserves to know the truth.

    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's commentary delivered to your e-mail, please click here.


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    A lack of major events this week led to pretty standard 'dos among our favorite celebs, and Sundance doesn't count - when you're in chilly Park City, Utah, who has time to get extra primped? This week's best hair is dedicated to the chicks who looked hot simply by keeping it simple.

    We love Kerry Washington because she always manages to keep it simple, yet look super sexy. the actress, here at the 2nd annual Producers Guild Awards, switched from her usual wavy mane and goes for a shiny, curly 'do.

    Johnson Publishing chairwoman Linda Johnson Rice is simply glowing with at the Eunice Johnson Fashion Retrospective unveiling at Macy's Herald Square in New York City. The short, shaggy style really works for her!

    It's hard to pull off two-toned hair, but Angela Simmons seems to know how to make it work. The reality star and Pastry co-owner turned up to the MTV Staying Alive Foundation Dinner with a simple, cute 'do that had a lot of volume.

    Okay, so it's a wig - so what? It's some form of hair, right? Veteran songstress Stephanie Mills rocks a cute bob at the Amateur Night at the Apollo 2011 Season Opening Night. - 108378630


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    Obama Budget Cuts

    This is the face of the extreme budget cuts taking place nation wide in our fire departments, our school systems and our public health facilities. Renee Muhammad, pictured here, used to be a fire fighter in Camden, New Jersey before she had to turn in her gear recently, emotionally surrendering a career in which she undoubtedly saved many lives. Muhammad is one less person in Camden who will be on the ground should an emergency arise. She is also one less person who will be paying into the tax base that supports her community. As a country, we had better be prepared to lose more people in public service like her in the name of the popular call for government budget cuts that is sweeping the nation, with the new Obama budget cuts poised to be enacted.

    We have a lot to lose if cutting government budgets leads to higher unemployment, even worse public schools, and endangered public safety. Unemployment has led to the inevitable defunding of the tax base. That cannot be denied. The public sector cuts that have already taken place as a result have sharply harmed our quality of life. Is there any question that New York City's poor response to December's storms, which caused avoidable deaths, was caused by this attempt at saving money? Tragic loss is the trap at the end of a road paved with public sector budget cuts. The proposed Obama budget cuts are just a first step in that direction.
    An economic "solution" like this cries out for a life-sustaining alternative.

    The Guardian UK has outlined an obvious fix to the situation we are facing. Raising taxes on businesses and the richest Americans by 10-15% would create enough revenue to reduce the deficit and balance budgets without hurting economic growth, or human beings. Even Reagan himself raised taxes and saw the economy grow. Women like Renee Muhammad could keep her job, paying desperately needed taxes into the system while keeping us safe. The wealthy and the business community would also be able to rely on solid services even they need like fully-funded police. So why are our leaders (and many citizens) obsessed with slashing monies for essential services? Because of a recurrent lie being told.

    And we in particular can't fall for the lie that cutting taxes for the rich will help the economy. As African Americans, a larger portion of our community is employed in the public sector compared to the general population. Many of our elders and others in vulnerable positions are reliant on the kinds of programs whose spending leaders are planning to cut or freeze. If America has a lot to lose through austerity programs, black America will lose a whole hell of a lot. The black unemployment rate is already twice that of the general population. We just can't take anymore willful economic destruction.

    If we don't demand that our local and federal officials stop draining public budgets and raise taxes on the rich instead, they will never do it. And we will be the ones who suffer in the end when public sector jobs and social services disintegrate to the point that the basic security we enjoy as American citizens today becomes a luxury.

    What do you think we should do? Should America just tighten its belt even further and take the risk that even without a strong public sector our social fabric will remain intact? Or do we demand that our government tax the rich -- who can afford it?

    I have a feeling that the founding fathers would be on our side.

    Leave your comments below!


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    Thandie Newton looked like she was ready for spring when attending the InStyle "Best of British Talent" party in London. The 'For Colored Girls' actress looked lovely in a spring 2011 Jonathan Saunders light-blue-and-gray mini dress. She added an offbeat black-and-yellow belt, mini clutch and white shoes for a pop of unexpected color.

    Kerry Washington nailed the nude trend on the red carpet for the 22nd annual Producers Guild awards. Kerry wowed in a sheer and sexy Herve Leger bandage dress, choosing Rene Caovilla beaded sandals and soft curls to complete the look.

    Mo'Nique was pretty and polished at the 83rd Academy Awards nominations announcements in a figure-flattering silver scoop neck by Tadashi Shoji and peep-toe pumps. The Oscar-winning actress highlighted her bouncy curls with oversize earrings and accessorized with a simple bracelet.

    Iman rocked a young and colorful outfit when she visited Martha Stewart's radio show in New York City. The timeless beauty wore a bright-green-and-teal jacket by Chris Benz, cropped gray pants, a cream blouse, black booties and a tribal-inspired gold necklace.

    We think all four women looked wonderful, but we want to know what you think. Who had the best look of the week?


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    Last night, we spoke on CNN's AC 360 about the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar, the single mother who was sent to jail for sending her kids to the "wrong" school district. Since we first hit the issue on AOL Black Voices, it has set off a national firestorm of interest, with officials at the highest levels now becoming concerned with the case. Many are starting to see the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar as a microcosm of all that is wrong with the educational system in America, and rather than this case being reflective of one woman's struggle (which is certainly a concern), the broader impact of the case is what will ultimately affect millions of Americans.

    After trudging through snowy Syracuse, New York to speak with Soledad O'Brien last night, I took some time to have a conversation with a man that I respect, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Congressman Jackson reiterated his long-standing commitment to improving educational access in our country. We also seemed to be in agreement that our nation has a great deal of work to do when it comes to ensuring that our children have access to an equal and high quality education.

    After hearing Congressman Jackson's position on the issue, we both realized that Kelley Williams-Bolar is effectively a modern day version of Rosa Parks. The same way that Rosa violated the law in order to get access to the front of the bus, Kelley Williams-Bolar also violated the law in order to get access to the same educational system that is enjoyed by people in the suburbs. Congressman Jackson brought up the notion of moving this issue to the federal government and seeking to amend the United States Constitution. I'll admit that this never crossed my mind, but I certainly like the idea a lot.

    Jackson made a clear point that rather than having thousands of municipal and city-based solutions to the educational problem, there must be one meaningful solution provided at the federal level. The case of Kelley Williams-Bolar can be used to educate others about the depth of this problem and our elected officials must step forward in order to make things right. While some schools serve as pathways to a liberated life, far too many schools are statically-proven pipelines to feed the prison industrial complex.

    I am hopeful that Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama will get directly involved in the issue. This is not a matter of saying that what Kelley did was legal. We must remember that we live in a nation where it was once illegal for slaves to learn how to read. Violating an unjust law is sometimes quite an ethical sacrifice, for it often opens the door to making the uncomfortable changes necessary for our society to function at a higher level. So, just like Rosa Parks broke the law for good reason during the Civil Rights Movement, Kelley Williams-Bolar is inspiring all of us to demand what is right for our children. It's time to modify the United States Constitution so that all of our kids are valued equally.

    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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    It seems no one can get enough of the first lady. In fact, even one of the most distinguished fashion designers in the world is not satisfied.

    Oscar De la Renta recently made some comments criticizing the striking red and black Alexander McQueen gown that Michelle Obama wore to the state dinner honoring Chinese President Hu Jintao last Wednesday. "My understanding," as de la Renta was quoted as telling WWD, "is that the visit was to promote American-Chinese trade - American products in China and Chinese products in America. Why do you wear European clothes?"
    This is not de la Renta's first quip about what the first lady has donned at an important gathering. The designer also made a comment in 2009 about Obama's choice to wear a cardigan to Buckingham Palace for the G20 summit, insinuating that the look was not high fashion, and that she, therefore, was not supportive enough of the idea that her showcasing American design at significant international events was key in helping turn around the slumping economic state of the US fashion industry.

    "I'm not talking about my clothes, my business. I'm old, and I don't need it. But there are a lot of young people, very talented people here, who do," he told WWD.

    But the first lady does support young, talented designers at major affairs. A lot. The dress and matching jacket that Obama wore to her husband's Presidential swearing-in was by Cuban-American designer Isabel Toledo. Jason Wu, an American designer who was born in Taiwan, created her inaugural gown. And, most recently, Obama selected designer Rachel Roy, also American, to dress her for this week's State of the Union address. Her diverse choices in American design, perhaps, distracted the American, yet Dominican Republic-born de la Renta.

    Michelle Obama, style-wise, is perhaps the most-watched first lady since Jacqueline Kennedy. Knowing this, she and her camp work hard to consider the nature of an event and its special attendee(s) when deciding the designer she will wear. Overall, however, the first lady's style choices are her own, and McQueen was a discerning selection.

    Perhaps, we should forget for a moment that de la Renta is an extremely accomplished fashion designer, and remember that he is a part of the loving, yet critical American public - ready to praise or chastise, sometimes seemingly on whim.

    Or, maybe, de la Renta simply feels snubbed.

    What do you think about de la Renta's fashion commentary?


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    Free Life Insurance for College Expenses

    All parents worry about their children -- about their personal happiness, providing a good education for them, and of course, about their financial futures. For low-income parents and single parents in particular, financial worries can loom especially large.

    That's why I was pleasantly surprised to recently come across an offer for free life insurance for parents earning $40,000 or less who also have children under the age of 18. The life insurance offered is a $50,000 term-life insurance policy, and it covers the higher education expenses of your kids in the event of your death. If you pass away, the $50,000 gets paid directly to the school your kid is attending, to pay for things like tuition, books, fees and educational supplies.

    I know, I know. It sounds too good to be true. But it isn't. This offer comes compliments of a well-known and respected mutual life insurance company, MassMutual, which has been around for 160 years and is based in Springfield, Massachusetts. So far, more than 11,500 people nationwide have received $575 million worth of free life insurance as part of MassMutual's LifeBridge Free Life Insurance Program.
    Here's how it works.

    Under the program, MassMutual pays all the insurance premiums for a $50,000, 10-year term life insurance policy. That insurance policy gets issued to a trust at no cost to the insured individual. But if an insured parent or legal guardian passes away while the policy is in force, the trust pays $50,000 in educational costs for the deceased person's children. And your children have up to 10 years after your death, or until age 35 (whichever is later) to use this educational benefit.

    To qualify for the insurance, you have to meet these criteria:

    -You must be between the ages of 19 and 42.
    -You must be the parent or legal guardian of one or more dependent children under the age of 18.
    -You must be a permanent, legal resident of the U.S.
    -You must be employed full or part-time and earning between $10,000 and $40,000 annually.
    -You must be the only parent or legal guardian in your household who has applied for the insurance; and,
    -You must be in good health as determined by MassMutual's underwriting guidelines.

    Apparently, the program is proving popular, especially among workers at government agencies. For example, in Fulton County, Georgia, 60 employees in the Fulton County Defined Contribution 401(a) Plan have each signed up for the free life insurance, garnering a total of $3 million in free coverage from MassMutual.

    Interestingly, you don't have to participate in a retirement plan administered by MassMutual or be a client of MassMutual's to apply.

    "MassMutual offers this great program, not just to its retirement plan clients, but to any working parent in the country who qualifies. Our MassMutual retirement plan relationship manager made us aware of this program and we're thrilled that so many of our employees have been able to take advantage of it," says Tammy Goebeler, Investment Officer of Fulton County. "As a parent, you want the best education possible for your children. This program can give a parent peace of mind in the event that something unexpected happens."

    If you're like me, you may be wondering how MassMutual can afford to do this, and maybe even why they're doing it. Well, I'm no actuarial. But I have to imagine that the odds are in MassMutual's favor that they won't have to pay a lot of claims. For one thing, by keeping the age range for eligible applicants confined to between 19 and 42, that limits the company's exposure. After all, someone in their 20's, 30's or early 40's is statistically far less likely to pass away than someone in, say, their 60's, 70's or early 80's.

    Additionally, the 10-year limit on this term policy means that MassMutual won't bear the risk forever of having to pay out claims.

    Finally, they do require you to be in good health, making it far less likely that policy holders will be stricken with some kind of fatal illness or disease during the decade that the policy is in force.

    Still, in an era where so many financial institutions seem to care about only one thing -- making money -- it's refreshing to see this insurance company offering something free of charge that can be a huge benefit to a family in need.

    As for the "why" question, MassMutual is offering this freebie as part of the company's community programs and charitable donations initiative. MassMutual has even set a big community responsibility goal for the program: the insurer says it intends to give away $1 billion in free insurance coverage. It's already more than halfway toward reaching that goal.

    To learn more about the LifeBridge Free Life Insurance Program or to apply for this coverage, call (800) 272-2216 or visit

    Having life insurance is always a good idea when you have minor children. But for those who qualify, getting insurance coverage at no cost is an even sweeter deal.

    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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    Brazilian-born designer A.Z Araujo has been making waves on the New York fashion scene since he launched his colorful and intricately-crafted swimwear line in February 2010 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York. But, no city showcases beachwear essentials quite like South Beach Miami, Florida, where Araujo recently showcased his spring/summer 2011 collection at the famed Nikki Beach Club during Mercedes-Benz Miami Fashion Week Swim.

    Araujo's feminine silhouettes and sultry cuts caught the attention of Bravo's 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' (RHOA), who made a special trip to Miami for some sun and catwalk fun on episode 15 that aired this week. Newbie 'Housewives' star Cynthia Bailey strut her stuff down the runway at Araujo's show to the applause and cheers of NeNe Leakes, Sheree Whitfield, Kim Zolciak, Kandi Burruss and Lisa Wu Hartwell. "I asked Cynthia to walk in my show because she has such a strong editorial presence. She is a beautiful Black woman with such an angelic face," says Araujo, whose designs appeal to the jet-setting woman. "I love the fact that she represents a real woman's size and she looks great in anything you put her in!"

    For spring/summer 2011, Araujo went for chic sophistication using collages of whites and blacks suits, beach dresses with hand sewn details, scientifically advanced materials, such as rayon-lycra jersey and stretch mesh fabrics, and a touch of embellishment (Swarovski crystal and beading) that was eye-catching, but not overdone.

    Araujo also launched a new jewelry line at the show in collaboration with Gossip Accessories LTD. "Looking glam should be effortless and accessories really make a swimsuit look standout," says the emerging swimwear designer. "Don't be afraid to get dressed for the beach because you will undress once you hit the sand. Jewelry, sunglasses, beach bag and towel are all key components to a fabulous beach outfit!"


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    Brazilian-born designer A.Z Araujo has been making waves on the New York fashion scene since he launched his colorful and intricately-crafted swimwear line in February 2010 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York. But, no city showcases beachwear essentials quite like South Beach Miami, Florida, where Araujo recently showcased his spring/summer 2011 collection at the famed Nikki Beach Club during Mercedes-Benz Miami Fashion Week Swim.

    Araujo's feminine silhouettes and sultry cuts caught the attention of Bravo's 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' (RHOA), who made a special trip to Miami for some sun and catwalk fun on episode 15 that aired this week. Newbie 'Housewives' star Cynthia Bailey strut her stuff down the runway at Araujo's show to the applause and cheers of NeNe Leakes, Sheree Whitfield, Kim Zolciak, Kandi Burruss and Lisa Wu Hartwell. "I asked Cynthia to walk in my show because she has such a strong editorial presence. She is a beautiful Black woman with such an angelic face," says Araujo, whose designs appeal to the jet-setting woman. "I love the fact that she represents a real woman's size and she looks great in anything you put her in!"

    For spring/summer 2011, Araujo went for chic sophistication using collages of whites and blacks suits, beach dresses with hand sewn details, scientifically advanced materials, such as rayon-lycra jersey and stretch mesh fabrics, and a touch of embellishment (Swarovski crystal and beading) that was eye-catching, but not overdone.

    Araujo also launched a new jewelry line at the show in collaboration with Gossip Accessories LTD. "Looking glam should be effortless and accessories really make a swimsuit look standout," says the emerging swimwear designer. "Don't be afraid to get dressed for the beach because you will undress once you hit the sand. Jewelry, sunglasses, beach bag and towel are all key components to a fabulous beach outfit!"


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    Minority Business School Faculty


    American business schools, much like American businesses, have some catching up to do when it comes to minority hiring.

    Stymied by a lack of minorities in the PhD pipeline and growing competition for minority faculty, progress in hiring African American, Hispanic American, and Native American faculty at U.S. B-schools has been slow. Bernard J. Milano, president of the PhD Project, an organization based in Montvale, N.J., that aims to increase the diversity of corporate America by increasing the diversity of business school faculty, says just 3.5 percent of B-school faculty and administrators come from such underrepresented minority groups. "When you think about the changing demographics of this country," Milano says, "that's tragic."

    Since 1994, when the PhD Project launched, the number of underrepresented minorities-excluding Asian Americans-at U.S. business schools has more than tripled, from 294 to 1,061 in 2010. The number of underrepresented minority doctoral students grew from fewer than 175 to 385 over the same period, according to the PhD Project.

    For B-schools, the lack of minorities among the faculty is a real problem, making it difficult to recruit minority students and to satisfy corporate recruiters seeking minority MBA talent."We like to be reflective of the world we live in," says Sachin Gupta, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of marketing at Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management (Johnson Full-Time MBA Profile). "We want the community here to reflect diversity in the real world. This is important because it's what constituents-from students to recruiters-want."

    Read more about minority business school faculty on


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    This weekend, media mogul Oprah Winfrey celebrates her 57th birthday. And while she is one of the richest and most influential people in the world, life for her "ain't been no crystal stair." Like the Langston Hughes poem, her journey has had tacks in it, pulled up boards, and splinters; but it's also had plenty of shining moments.

    Her life has been filled with seemingly insurmountable odds -- poor, pregnant by age 14, molested by relatives. It is often said that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and as a testament to this saying, Winfrey has excelled as a media mogul, branding herself in film, TV, publishing, and radio.

    But she's also used her name and resources to open doors for so many others.

    Born into a family of meager financial means in Kosciusko, Mississippi, Winfrey learned early on in life that the world was often a cruel place for young, black girls.

    Like the characters portrayed in the novels of some of the black women authors she came to admire later in life, such as Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, Oprah yearned to be seen and to be loved.

    And through all of her adversity, she found her voice. And it would prove to be her bread and butter. After graduating with a degree in Speech and Performing Arts from Tennessee State University, she became an ABC news affiliate in Baltimore, Maryland.

    Her talent in front of the camera took her from news anchor to television talk show host; the most successful talk show host in history to be exact.

    Realizing how valuable she was to the television market, she strategically began to brand and position herself to exceed talk show host status. This meant creating her production company, Harpo Productions as well as her own TV studio, Harpo Studios. This also meant that she would become a household name, and remain one for no less than 25 years to come.
    Rather than ask what has Oprah done, a better question to ask is what hasn't she done?

    From launching the successful careers of Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray, to helping President Barack Obama make history and unveiling her very OWN TV network, Oprah is a woman who has done it and is doing it all.

    Join celebrating the life and times of the powerful woman born Orpah Gail Winfrey.


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    HuffPost Global Black

    From the Atlanta Post:

    Arianna Huffington and BET co-founder Sheila Johnson recently announced that they will be partnering to launch a new website section on Huffington Post that will be called, "HuffPost Global Black." This new section, which will likely launch in March, will purportedly "focus on current events and cultural trends from a black perspective from across the globe-from politics and economics to music and sports-and will feature content ranging from dynamic storytelling to investigative reporting."

    Since the abovementioned news was promulgated, there has been a vast range of opinions marked with strong dichotomy. Some critics wholeheartedly believe that African-Americans are getting a "separate water fountain" from the elitist left. Conversely, there are certain commentators who think that the strategic partnership is necessary because stories of importance to the black community need more exposure. Who is right in their assessment?

    Is the proposed HuffPost Global Black merely a sign of liberal condescension and arrogance? Is the very nature of this venture somehow racist in scope? Also, is this new website section really necessary, when there are already a plethora of good African-American websites and media outlets that already cover current events, cultural trends, politics and other important topics from a black global perspective?

    First, in examining the opinions of the critics of the proposed HuffPost Global Black, are African-Americans truly getting "back of the bus" treatment from affluent progressives on the HuffPost staff? Without prevarication, HuffPost is arguably the nation's leading news website and content blog from a liberal perspective. With over 3,000 bloggers including a large host of celebrities covering a diverse array of subjects such as politics, media, business, entertainment, living, comedy, green issues and style, HuffPost does have a significantly large following with over one million comments made each month. One would reason that within this robust framework that commentaries presented on HuffPost would already present a wide range of ethnic perspectives and implications on the aforementioned topics. Thus, there would not be a need for a separate black or Hispanic-focused section-which also will be released later this year-on HuffPost. Unfortunately, upon thorough analysis, one will find that most of the coverage on the site does not embody how particular issues will affect different ethnic groups both here and abroad. Is this necessarily racist in context? Absolutely not. In the scope of continual improvement, the proposition of HuffPost Global Black could plausibly be seen as HuffPost's recognition of this fact and its effort to finally diversify their writing staff, ultimately bringing forth those forgotten voices and perspectives.

    Read the rest on The Atlanta Post.


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    I met a guy a year ago in college and we instantly became friends, although he wanted more. I wasn't ready to move on from my last relationship, but he didn't care. In his words, he loved me. After about six months I "gave in" realizing I really liked him. We've been in a relationship for five months now and this is the only relationship he's ever been in. I, on the other hand was in a five year relationship prior. I seem to expect more from him as far as "showing me love" and confronted him about this before. He says it's because he's never been in a relationship before and that he's clueless on how to be, but I think that it's common sense when it comes to making someone else happy. Are some guys really that clueless and don't know how to consider someone's feelings other than their own, or is he just not ready to be in a relationship? Sometimes I feel like I need to let him go to get him to realize I am special, and to make him want to do more thoughtful things for me. Keep in mind, that I don't expect much. For example, when I stay at his house, I wish he would offer me a drink or make me breakfast since we're at his house. Hospitality, manners, and consideration are the main things I want, but they don't seem easy for him. Without trying to "change him," what should I do?

    Train him! It's obvious he is a novice, and just as you had to be potty trained to use a toilet, this boy needs to be love trained to know how you want to be loved. At the inception of any new relationship, couples have to learn how to fulfill each others needs, wants, and desires, but this can't be done without clear communication. What we forget to utilize though, is our physical communication. You don't know what he likes or dislikes until he tells you, or physically gives you a sign--a contorted face and spitting out of food sends the message that something is rotten. You have unreasonable expectations, because you are asking someone who hasn't learnt how to crawl to go run a marathon. Cut him some slack and recognize that this is a great opportunity to get exactly what you need in a relationship. It will take time, patience, creativity, and the use of both verbal and physical communication, but the rewards will be great.

    First, understand that training is not a bad word. As human beings we are trained to function in the world everyday. If you hold your arm out in the street in NYC, a cab driver will pull over to pick you up. You've been trained to hail, and the cab driver has been trained to recognize that physical cue and responds by pulling over. Embrace training. Second, training is not bossing. Don't boss your man around, and make sure to release any feelings of superiority you may have surrounding his lack of experience in relationships. Approach him as if he is an inexperienced swimmer who needs to be taught the butterfly.

    You need to lead him through the approximations of expressing love the way you want it. Essentially, be specific and tell him your needs using baby steps. When you walk through the door of his home, tell him "I'm really thirsty. Can you grab me a glass of water please?" When he brings it back, give him a kiss or a hug and say "Thank you. You are the best". This is positive reinforcement for the action you want him to do. Do this over and over until he is trained, and automatically starts offering or just bringing you a glass each time you come in the door. Positive reinforcement is a great tool to establish a behavior and make it stick. Ask for what you want and when he does it, give him a treat. Kind words of praise, a kiss or hug, his favorite food, or if he does something big, get him a gift. Whether you want a massage, breakfast in bed, cuddles, or chicken soup when your sick, apply the use of positive reinforcement to every behavior you want from him. His mind will link the action he does to the reward he receives and he will automatically take pleasure in doing these things for you.

    If you find that he isn't doing something you want, don't get angry or upset. In fact don't have any reaction to a behavior you don't like. Punishment doesn't work in relationships so huffing and puffing, or giving the silent treatment are ineffective ways to communicate what you want. Instead remain emotionless, and then keep your eyes peeled for behavior you do like and reinforce it.

    You have the chance to help this young man grow into a loving, giving partner. Just as you were trained to kiss your mother when she looked you in the eye, puckered up and said "kiss, kiss", he too can be trained to be an exceptional lover.

    Follow Brody on Twitter @LuvCoach

    Rebecca Brody is a relationship coach and columnist in NYC. She hosts, and works with private clients. Send your questions to or visit her at


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    Tracy Morgan's comments about Sarah Palin left TNT executives red-faced Thursday night.

    The "30 Rock" star, appearing on "Inside the NBA" before the Knicks and Heat tipped off at Madison Square Garden, told Charles Barkley that the former Alaska governor was "good masturbation material."

    The cable network released a statement shortly after the unscheduled interview condemning Morgan's comments.

    "It's unfortunate Mr. Morgan showed a lack of judgment on our air with his inappropriate comments," Turner spokesman Jeff Pomeroy told USA Today.

    Morgan was invited onto the show by analysts Kenny Smith and Barkley in hopes that the brash comedian could settle an argument. Smith and Barkley asked Morgan who was better looking? Morgan's "30 Rock" co-star Tina Fey or Palin.

    "Yo, let me tell you something about Sarah Palin," said Morgan. "She's good masturbation material. The glasses and all of that...great material."

    The remarks left Smith and Barkley laughing nervously while "Inside" anchor Ernie Johnson was rendered speechless before bashfully trying to move the show in a different direction.

    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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    Jon Burge, Ex-Cop Convicted of Lying About Black Male Torture, to Keep $3,000 Monthly Pension

    If authorities are looking for a way to erode the small amount of trust African Americans have in the criminal justice system, they seem to have struck gold.

    Ex-Chicago cop Jon Burge, recently sentenced to four and a half years in prison for lying about a police torture ring that may have victimized more than 100 black men, will be allowed to keep his $3,039 per month pension, the police pension board has ruled.

    Their reasoning is absolutely ludicrous: Burge's conviction, they decided, had nothing to do with his job as a police officer.

    That's like saying LeBron James' job has nothing to do with dunking basketballs or that a teacher's job has nothing to do with whether students learn.

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    Kenneth Hauser, president of the pension board, said Burge's conviction "had nothing to do with things he did when he was on the job. He was retired 10 years when they convicted him. ... It wasn't on charges of what he did when he was a police officer. It was on a lie that he made in front of a civil jury," the Chicago Tribune reported.

    Another member of the board, Micheal Shields, had this to say: "This question all comes down to one issue: Did Jon Burge have any law enforcement duties when he was accused of this perjury? In 2003, he did not."

    You see, although dozens of men have accused Burge of leading a ring of officers that took black men to a secret location and tortured confessions out of them by doing things such as shocking their testicles with a cattle prod or placing loaded guns in their mouths, Burge could not be put on trial for torture because the statute of limitations has expired.

    And why did the statute of limitations expire? Simple. For years, Chicago ignored the complaints of dozens of black men who said they were victims of abuse.

    I'm not sure how being implicated in leading a heinous criminal enterprise while still on active duty as a police officer does not have anything to do with Burge's duties as a police officer.

    Now, Burge, if he survives his prison term, will have a nice pension to come home to based on his years of police work.

    Nevertheless, Burge has long been suspected of being involved in the abuse, a charge he continues to deny. A 2006 investigation found that Burge and a fellow officer coerced confessions from at least 12 men, but that statute of limitations on the abuse had expired.

    Burge was fired from the police department after one such allegation and some of the victims have filed and won lawsuits based on their charges of abuse against Burge and other officers. One of the reasons Illinois' death row was emptied was because of some of the allegations against Burge.

    If that is not proof enough that Burge committed activities that violated the public trust and forfeited his pension as a result, then I do not know what is.

    It is a benefit he does not deserve because he abused the badge and made a mockery of the powers -- literally, life and death -- vested in him by the state that thousands of officer across the country take seriously.

    "To say that he should still be paid is mind-boggling," Flint Taylor, an attorney who represents some of Burge's victims, told the Tribune. "It is a total slap in the face to the entire city and particularly the African American community."

    The four officers who voted in favor of Burge keeping his pension are retired officers who were appointed by the Chicago police. The four members who voted against Burge were appointed by outgoing mayor Richard Daley. It would have taken five of the eight votes for Burge to lose his pension.

    Now black residents in Chicago have another reason to believe that police who are hired to protect and serve them are unwilling to do so. Someone who witnessed a crime has another reason not to cooperate. The healthy relations between the community and police that are needed to help rid our neighborhoods of crime has just suffered another devastating blow.

    All for a lousy $3,039 per month.


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    Everyone is entitled to their own relationship preferences, but is excluding someone because of their complexion going too far? Rebecca Brody and Mason Jamal discuss the longstanding color complex issue in the black community. Check it out below!


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