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

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    Prince kicked off his 'Welcome to America' tour on Dec.15 at New Jersey's Izod Center to great praise. But, his return to New York's Madison Square Garden proved a star-studded affair and a full-out party.

    The Minnesota native has enlisted some of his favorite artists to include Esperanza Spaulding, Cassandra Wilson, Lalah Hathaway and Janelle Monae to join him for his latest trek.

    And, although none of the aforementioned ladies turned up at the Dec.18 show, from the start fans of The Purple One were in for a treat.

    Comedian Sinbad introduced Larry Graham and Graham Central Station who opened the show. Graham, the founder and frontman of the group, is best known for being the bass guitar player in the psychedelic funk outfit Sly & the Family Stone.

    The 'Purple Rain' singer sampled their infectious hit 'Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)' for the title track to his 'Musicology' album. As the group exited the guitar-shaped stage singing that song they went through the crowd and Prince surfaced with his band in an all-black get-up playing guitar. It was only 8:30pm and fans went wild as Graham and the Graham Central Station returned to the stage for a jam session with Prince, his band and background singers.

    After a brief intermission, a new song 'Welcome to America' played for a few minutes. Then, Prince made his grand entrance in a silver glitter vest, long-sleeved black top and black and white tuxedo pant running through a string of hits to include 'Let's Go Crazy,' 'Delirious,' '1999' and 'Cream.' Fans on the floor broke out into the electric side when he played 'Cool.'

    And, Misty Copeland, who is the first black female soloist for the American Ballet Theatre and appears in the advertisements for the 'Welcome to America' tour, performed ballet moves during the performance of 'Beautiful Ones.'

    Prince's protégé, Sheila E, appeared on stage for 'You Got the Look' and then performed her breakout single 'Glamorous Life.' Despite her upscale gown, Sheila E showed she still knows how to get down and broke down the song on the drums.

    To close, Prince, who made a quick costume change to a red sequenced number, invited out all of the celebrities in the audience to join him on stage. After she professed her love for him on 'The View,' Sherri Shepherd was one of the first names that he called up. Then, Alicia Keys, Sinbad, Cornell West, Spike Lee and family, Whoopi Goldberg, John Leguizamo, Tavis Smiley, Jamie Foxx, and Naomi Campbell grabbed tambourines and danced around the stage to 'Love Bizarre.'

    Prince's 'Welcome to America' tour will return to Madison Square Garden on Dec.29.

     

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    Before Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Mike Epps and Tracy Morgan became successful comedians and household names, they worked the comedy circuit, touring from city to city, building up a fanbase.

    Eventually, their success led them to the film industry with smaller roles until they were given a bigger spotlight over time.

    Hoping to follow in their footsteps is comedian Kevin Hart, who has a role opposite Ben Stiller in the upcoming film, 'Little Fockers,' the sequel to both 'Meet the Parents' and 'Meet the Fockers.'

    Starring Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Jessica Alba, Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand, the comedy deals with Gaylord 'Greg' Focker (played by Stiller) and his retired CIA agent father-in-law (played by De Niro) in competition with each other as to how to raise Greg's 5 year-old twins.

    While Hart has appeared in numerous films such as 'Soul Plane,'' Scary Movie 3,' 'Along Came Polly,' 'Scary Movie 4,' and 'Death at a Funeral,' this is by far his biggest mainstream film to date.

    Blackvoices.com spoke to the Philadelphia native about his role in the film and his upcoming projects.

    Is it a great thing to be in this movie with all these great actors?

    Kevin Hart: Well, for me it's definitely a big deal. It's actually beyond that. When you start to do things and you look up and you realize, "Wow. Look at the company that I'm in." I mean, I'm in the company Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller and Jessica Alba. I mean it's kind of surreal, especially seeing where I came from. It makes me think to myself where things could possibly be headed if I stay focused and I keep my grind up to an all time high. The sky could be the limit. So it's motivation. It's motivating.

    Did you have to audition for a part?

    KH: Yes, of course. My agency got me a meeting with the director and the producers. I read for them and they fell in love with me and cast me from there.

    What role do you play?

    KH: I play a guy called Louis. I work in the hospital with Ben Stiller's character. I'm basically a nurse, a low level nurse. So I'm like what he used to be when he first started.

    When you're working with Ben Stiller, who's from a family of comedians and is also a writer, did he give you any advice about the business at all?

    KH: Yeah. He's got several stories. He's knowledgeable. He knows what he's done and he knows the roles that he took to get there, and even more importantly, he knows what not to do. So when people like him are sharing knowledge of the business you just be quiet and listen. That's what's I've done.

    Having appeared with Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, and Tracy Morgan earlier this year in 'Death at a Funeral,' would you say that this is the biggest year you've had in your film career?

    KH: This is definitely a great year. The movies have definitely started to grow. From 'Fools Gold' to 'Not Easily Broken' to 'Death at a Funeral' and now this, regardless what the roles are, the company that you're keeping in these films has definitely gotten bigger. It makes me think, "What's next? What am I going to do next? How far can I go? Can I keep pushing and pushing, because if this movie here gets me to the next one I'm supposed to get what's going to happen with the next one?"

    How do you keep your comedic skills up to date?

    KH: I just try to stay relevant. I try to keep myself in the public eye. The best way to do that is to tour. My standup definitely has a lot to do with that. I was selling out everywhere in five thousand feet arenas. So I'm in a happy place with that. So right now, it's just making sure that I stay focused, and like I said, stay on my comedy grind and the sky is going to be the limit.

    Are you ready to do something outside of comedy Are you at that level yet or do you still want to keep making people laugh?

    KH: Right now I'm patient. It's not a race. It's a marathon. So, I plan on being around for a while. I'm quite sure that there will be opportunities for me to do drama. I'm quite sure that there will be opportunities for me to do even more things in the entertainment business. It's just being patient and waiting to find those things and right now that's what I'm doing.

    You've got another film that you've shot that's touring festivals called '35 and Ticking'. What's your role in that movie?

    KH: '35 and Ticking' is actually a good film. Russ Parr wrote, produced, and directed the film. It's me, Keith David, Nicole Ari Parker, Meagan Good, Clifton Powell. and Tamala Jones. There are tons of people in it, but it's definitely a good look. I can't wait for it to come out. It's funny. It's a real funny movie that shows a different side of me as well.

    What do you have coming up next?

    KH: I'm shooting 'Laugh at My Pain' the tour. I filmed that special as a TV show for Comedy Central. I also have a movie called 'Let Go.' We got the Air Jordan campaign. It's moving right now. Things are definitely going on upwards.

    With the touring, movies, and raising a family, what keeps you grounded?

    KH: You just said it. My family. You're here working for something else. No matter how good it gets you have to stay focused, stay humble because the sky can be the limit as long as you understand what's real. And right now my kids and my family, that's the most important. So I'm working for a different cause.

    What are your plans for the holidays?

    KH: On New Years I have a show in Chicago. On Christmas I'll be home with the baby, and I'm going to the Lakers/Miami Heat game.

     

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    I don't regularly watch the TV show, "Basketball Wives," but I know enough to know what the show is all about. Effectively, our society not only has a fascination with how the rich and powerful live, but we're equally fascinated with how those who sleep with the rich and powerful are living. Personally, I've never spent much time wondering how to marry rich, and I worry about those who do. But then again, I'll never be a basketball wife, and chances are that you won't be either. For that, I sincerely congratulate you.




    I often feel sorry for the women I see on shows like "Basketball Wives." Many of them find that for the uneducated athlete who doesn't make responsible choices, hitting your thirties and forties effectively leads to one lucid nightmare after another. The fairytale expected while dating these men during college doesn't quite play out to what you thought it would be. There's a nasty culture among professional athletes, and far too many black male athletes (influenced by hip hop culture) think that being able to dribble a basketball means that they are devoid of any mandate for personal responsibility, educational achievement or financial accountability. The glee of professional athletics, in many cases, leaves behind an ugly and unfortunate mess.

    One person that I brought in to discuss this issue is Shanelle Walker, aka Madam Prezident. Beyond being an amazing spoken word and hip hop artist, Shanelle has strong opinions on important matters of social commentary. One thing she's taken issue with recently is the "Basketball Wives" TV show and the examples being set for young black women.

    The interview is below, enjoy!

     

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    While taking a nap the other day, a thought came to mind: Why aren't more hip hop artists speaking out in favor of the Georgia prison strike? I mean, some rappers spend quite a bit of time writing about their experiences in prison, they have friends and family in prison, and prison even becomes a badge of honor for some. Instead of spending so much time promoting the pride of having gone to prison, why not promote the idea of advocating for the human rights of prison inmates? Not to say that everyone in prison is sweet and innocent, but in a nation that incarcerates more of its citizens than any country in the world (a disproportionate number of whom happen to be descendants of slaves), we've got a serious problem. It's not coincidental that the 13th Amendment allows for slavery to exist in the United States, as long as the person is a convicted felon. The historical profitability of forced servitude is why so many inmates are black.

    Well, one rapper isn't taking the path of silence. Roger Suggs, aka Vigalantee, is a Kansas City rapper and community activist who believes in fighting for human rights, civil rights and labor rights. While Roger is committed to teaching youth how to stay out of prison, he also believes in creating avenues of opportunity for those who make mistakes.

    Vigalantee is also from Georgia, which has one of the worst prison systems in the United States. In Georgia, 62 percent of the inmates are black. Also, the state passed a Draconian piece of legislation called SB 400, which gives the state the right to sentence children to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Over 90% of the children sentenced under this law are African American.

    By advocating for human rights for prison inmates, Vigalantee is not trying to be soft on crime. Instead, he argues that when someone makes a mistake, they should be encouraged to improve themselves through education and not be exposed to abuses such as prison rape, beating and the other things that happen on a regular basis. When it's all said and done, those who are sent to prison are eventually expected to return to their communities, and it doesn't help any of us if they are left jobless, uneducated, and unable to provide for their families.

    The interview with Roger is below. If you are interested in being a part of continuous efforts to support the Georgia prison strike and to advocate for human rights of inmates and their families, please click here.




    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 Claims He Was Robbed

    Situations like this makes ya go, hmm.

    Jermaine Jackson was slapped in the not-too-distant past with a court-ordered child support payment of $3,000 a month for his two children with ex-wife Alejandra Genevieve Oaziaza.

    The singer cried broke and petitioned the court to reduce the monthly obligation to a mere $215, because he claimed the original amount was simply not doable.

    Now the crooner is crying a river once again, stating he was robbed out of nearly $200,000 worth of valuables.

    According to TMZ, the heist occurred suspiciously, and perhaps conveniently, just one month after Jackson claimed he couldn't meet his child-support payments.


    Jackson and his wife, Halina Rashid, filed a police report with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, claiming they were robbed of a huge Louis Vuitton bag that contained pricey watches, furs, designer duds and other trinkets. The 56-year-old allegedly noticed the bag was missing around mid-September, the day after he returned home from a vacation.

    Jackson told police that he and his wife had left a door unlocked at his Calabasas mansion the night before the theft occurred.

    According to Sgt. Mark Bock, "There are no clear leads or suspect information at this time," he told the New York Post.

    Jermaine, in the words of your brother Michael:

    "You been hit by, you've been struck by, a smooth criminal."

     

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    Whether you're considering braids or rock them regularly, there are some basic dos and don'ts for maintaining cornrows and extensions. Unlike other styles, braids are slightly more challenging to keep neat, take a lot of time to redo, and can easily look messy if not cared for properly. In fact, long wear and upkeep can get pretty pricey unless you know how to keep your style neat from the minute it is done. Hairstylist Jamika Wilson shared some money-saving tips for keeping braids tight without breaking the bank.
    STEP 1: PREP
    Braids are a great way to transition from chemically-treated hair to a natural look. Or, if you are just in the mood to change up your look, extensions or cornrows offer a nice range of styling options. Before braiding up, prep your mane for the extended wear of one style by doing a deep moisture treatment. Wilson suggests doing regular protein treatments before braiding as a way of packing much-needed hydration into your hair cuticles. Try Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Treatment ($16.49, soap.com) - it's a leave-in conditioner that smooths the hair cuticle and helps fortify hair that breaks easily. This type of conditioner will not only keep your hair healthy, but the smoothing agent in it will keep your style looking neat and lasting longer.

    STEP 2: MOISTURIZE
    Once done, "the best way to care for your braids is to make sure they are well moisturized," says Wilson. Because there is so much tug and pull on your mane when wearing braids, giving your scalp a little extra TLC is essential to help prevent your hair from breaking off. Greasing your scalp regularly will not only help maintain the elasticity of your hair cuticles, but it will also keep your scalp from getting dry and flaky. It's harder to hide a dry scalp when you have a style like cornrows, so make sure that all parts in between braids are well greased. Look for a leave-in treatment like DermOrganic Leave-In Treatment with Organic Argan Oil ($25, drugstore.com). It is a non-greasy hair moisturizer that will keep your roots from drying out.

    STEP 3: FIGHT FRIZZ
    Braids can get frizzy on the exterior, and once that happens, it's hard to revive them without redoing them. Adding a braid spray will keep your style sleek and frizz-free. Try African Royale BRX Braid & Extensions Sheen Spray ($4.50, Walgreens.com); it conditions extensions and cornrows and also adds a light sheen throughout. Also, be sure to protect the style while you sleep. "At night, tie a satin scarf around your braids to prevent frizzing," Wilson suggests. With the right preparation, moisture and protection, your braids can last a lot longer and ultimately save you money.

    STEP 4: REMOVAL
    Removing braids can add a lot of unnecessary tension to your hair, so when you're ready to take them out, be careful not to tug too much. Remember: just by wearing braids, your hair is already under stress, so adding a little bit of water helps make the removal process easier on your strands. "The best way to take out your braids is to wet them first and then begin taking them out," says Wilson. Once the cornrows or extension are removed, "always make sure you comb hair out before shampooing to prevent hair from matting."

    STEP 5: DEEP CONDITION

    Before re-braiding or styling, revive any locks that may have become brittle from the braids by re-moisturizing. Try a deep conditioning hair mask like Fekkai Protein Rx Reparative Treatment Mask ($29, sephora.com); the anti-breakage formula helps restore strands that may have already been damaged from processing or from wearing braids that weren't cared for properly, and it helps prevent future breakage.

    Braided ladies: what are your special techniques for maintaining your 'dos?

     

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    Rohan Marley Maced and Placed in Chokehold Outside of Hollywood Club

    For many people, when the words "choke" and "Bob Marley" are uttered in the same sentence, thoughts of marijuana smoke instantly come to mind.

    However, for Rohan Marley, the son of the legendary reggae artist, choking means he'll be pressing charges against the LAPD for unnecessary violence.
    TMZ
    is reporting that Marley plans to press charges against an off-duty police officer who was working at the West Hollywood nightclub Voyeur on Saturday night for allegedly spraying mace in his face and putting him in a headlock.

    A source claims Marley -- a former University of Miami linebacker who has five children with reclusive hip-hop and R&B superstar Lauryn Hill -- mistook someone outside the club for a valet. The patron was insulted, words were exchanged and a scuffle ensued, prompting the alleged incident with the officer.

    Marley tells TMZ he was simply defending himself and feels the off-duty cop "went overboard."

    "I can't just let this go," Marley says.

    Well, he needs to try. If two grown intimidating men hyped off adrenaline are fighting outside of a nightclub, what exactly was the officer supposed to do? Politely tap him on the shoulder, and say, "Ummmm, excuse me, Mr. Marley? Would you mind stopping the violence, sir? I would really hate for someone to get hurt."

    Maybe the chokehold was slightly excessive, and maybe not; I'm sure it depends on who you ask. After seeing the video, it looks to me that the officer acted in a reasonable manner and Mr. Marley's pride was probably hurt more than anything else.

    So sorry, Rohan, but you get an L for this one, and probably not the kind that had you thinking you could fight in front of the club and not be restrained.


     

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    Today, black boy bands seem to be nearly extinct, but in the 1990s, Bad Boy's Grammy Award-winning group 112 topped the R&B charts with its love songs. Quinnes Parker of the Atlanta-based quartet was known as the heartthrob of 112 and continues to keep his sexy figure by staying fit. He's currently focusing on recording his solo debut, 'Q Parker: The Manual,' despite the group's breakup.

    Nowadays, Q (as he is known to many) tours the world with his band mate Michael Keith performing 112 hits. He's also just released a new calendar complete with workout tips and healthy facts.

    BlackVoices.com got him to share his thoughts on the new Bad Boy, Diddy and why boy bands aren't doing so well. Here's 20 Questions with Q Parker.

    BlackVoices.com: Why did you decide to show off your body for this calendar?
    Q Parker:
    Anybody and everybody who knows me knows that from the beginning of 112 and our career, I've always been into athletics. Early on, it was instilled in us by Puffy that as R&B singers, you have to look the part, and I always took it upon myself to be the guy in the group who was the sex symbol. I'd always have to take my shirt off and show the abs and stuff like that (laughs).

    BV: So, did you have the idea for the calendar or did someone suggest you do it?
    QP:
    I've been doing a lot of research, and I've realized that, as African Americans, we already have adversities like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, so my whole frame of mind was let's all do something. Everybody can't have the luxury of a full gym and workout facilities. Recording artists are role models, so in that platform, I thought, 'What can I do to spread the word on being healthy, eating right, exercise as a part of your daily regime and water intake?'

    BV: What's your workout?
    QP:
    I work out five days a week even when I'm on the road. I travel with resistance bands and ab wheels, and I make sure no matter where I'm performing that the hotel has a nice gym or there is a nearby health facility where I can get a nice workout. I give myself Saturday and Sunday off, because just like any other thing your body needs rest. My workout consists of weight training, cardio, yoga and the most important part is the eating side of it. My diet consists of five healthy meals a day and a gallon of water a day.

    BV: What's the biggest advice you would give to one of your fans trying to change their workout and eating habits?
    QP:
    I hope people can be motivated through the calendar and get some words of inspiration to get up and do just a little bit. One of the facts that pops out is just water intake. We've been told all throughout our years that water is necessary for your body, and in my research and being serious about health and fitness, I've learned you have to drink a lot of water to stay nourished, hydrated and it's the best liquid you can put in your body. For singers, drinking cold water is better for burning more calories than room temperature water.

    BV: Did 112 officially disband or are you all just take a break?
    QP:
    Initially, the vision was to take a break from each other two years ago because after 16-plus years of being together, you mature. We all agreed we would take the time to explore everyone's individuality but at the same time knowing that there is a relevant brand I couldn't just sit back idle and allow the brand to be on the shelf. So, myself and Mike still tour as the representation of 112. Even though it's the two of us, everyone is equally talented.

    BV: How different has it been with just one-half of 112 touring together?
    QP:
    The obvious difference is Slim and Daron are not present. A lot of times when groups disband and are no longer together. The initial thought is, there is beef. Just for the record, there's no beef. We are just exploring our individuality. I will tell anybody, Slim has an album in stores still, go get it. Daron is doing his production and go support him.

    BV: So there is no drama between you all?
    QP:
    At the end of the day, we're all representing the brand, which is 112. Life without them has really given me time to focus on Q Parker and get my whole image and total package together so people can get to know who I am. For years, I'd just been one-fourth of a song, one-fourth of the video, one-fourth of the interview and the heartbeat of 112. Our records were bigger than the individuals, but now I'm letting people inside of who I am.

    BV: Are you still planning to release a solo album?
    QP:
    I'm working on a solo album, which should be out next summer called 'The Manual.' As a male solo artist who caters to women I just felt you needed someone to step up because a lot of the artists singing the records to women, it's almost like chivalry is dead and it's not. It's a how-to for women to realize how you are supposed to be treated and for the guys to know how to treat you. Intimacy isn't all about the intercourse. It's mental, too. It's not, "Let me just get it real quick, and I will holler at you later."

    BV: Do you think you'll go to a major label with your solo album?
    QP:
    In a perfect situation, I would love to remain independent but have major distribution. I am not particularly a fan of the 360 deals. I'm not a fan of going into the major system, unless the situation gives me the opportunity to do things the way I need to do it. I'm not closing any doors if it's the right situation.

    BV: How has music changed since you all came onto the scene in the Bad Boy era?
    QP:
    As a fan of R&B music, I've watched how it has just transformed. When we first came in, it was all about substance and timeless, classic music. I think it has become more so about the image and not the music. I'm a fan of autotune and like it when it's used properly as an enhancement, how it was intended. Somewhere we've lost the true meaning of R&B music. I think a lot of people are making music just for today. Our song 'Cupid' is 13 years old, and even if you hear it today it has the same feeling as 1997. Some of the records today, you can't play next year, they will be wack and outdated because lyrics are just about what's going on right now.

    BV: What are your thoughts on R&B male groups today?
    QP:
    I think that groups in general are becoming extinct. Artist development and A&R are no longer at the labels. There was something set in the foundation before they became big. 112 shared the same car and went to school together. We were friends and developed a brotherhood before the fame. In the day and age of reality TV, it's hard to sustain a group when you have one guy from Chicago, one from L.A. and one from Atlanta. They have individual personalities and don't really know each other so when adversity comes, they have nothing to fall back on because they were just put together.

    BV: Are you talking about the MTV 'Making the Band' groups?
    QP:
    No, but they would fall under that definition. Even some girl groups are put together that way. here is no longevity in it because no matter who you are adversity is going to come. If you don't have a strong foundation, you won't make it. What did they have one album?

    BV: They had two albums.
    QP:
    Did they? Okay, well, I stand corrected (laughs).

    BV: Well, you're right they weren't together that long, but you think groups are really over?
    QP:
    The longevity for the average artist is about five years. One to two albums or five years, whichever happens first. Dru Hill, Jagged Edge, 112, Boys II Men, Jodeci and New Edition, they were pretty much the last of the groups. For girls, Destiny's Child, 702, TLC. We were the last class of successful groups and there haven't been any set on that criteria since.

    BV: In terms of Bad Boy and your old label home, do you think Diddy had a part in the demise of groups?
    QP:
    I'm not going to necessarily say that it was Puff, because the one thing I can say about him is he's going to give you a great platform, promotions, marketing, radio, all of that. I think Bad Boy today is different from the Bad Boy days of 112.

    BV: How so?
    QP:
    The staffing is totally different, and I know during the time that 112, Faith, Total and Carl Thomas, the staff was the bomb and we worked with the best of the best. With expansion and the development of other labels, Puff wasn't able to maintain the team, and the artists started to be affected by that. I'm not sure who's over there now, but the groups haven't been as successful over there lately. Running a label is so much bigger than the guy at the helm, especially when you're trying to break a new artist.

    BV: Are you a fan of Diddy Dirty Money?
    QP:
    I ain't gonna lie. I love their records. I have my differences with Puff, but at the end of the day, he's a businessman. He's been able to sustain his career for years and years, and obviously he's doing something right. As a music lover, I get it. I think they have a nice little mix.

    BV: What are your thoughts on K-Ci and Jo-Jo and their reality show?
    QP:
    I've heard some things about the show, but I haven't seen it. I'm a believer in redemption, and I'm proud that they can admit their flaws. I don't know if I could do it publicly, but kudos to them a second time for not only being able to admit it, but trying to resurrect it on television. So, I applaud them as black men owning up to [it], especially those guys. They've influenced so many people. We auditioned singing a Boys II Men and a Jodeci and a Silk song.

    BV: Do you look up to any group that broke up and might have gotten back together?
    QP:
    The only group that I know that was able to separate, do solo records and still maintain was New Edition. If I had to pattern what 112 was going through, it would be New Edition. I believe talent-wise we are more than capable of doing it. There are some folks where you can see one or two guys in the forefront and doing successful solo careers, but I believe 112 can definitely do that and if we follow anybody it would be New Edition.

    BV: Do you think all the four members of 112 will come back together? At one point Mike wasn't going to come back, then he did. And Slim wasn't going to come back. Could you get everyone back together?
    QP:
    I think destiny and chemistry are undeniable. 112 and the four original members have something very special, and we've seen how special it is because of the response we continue to get after 16 years. I think 112 will do another record. I can't put a timetable on it, but I think there will be a reunion situation where we will perform together and do shows.

    Q Parker's solo debut, 'The Manual,' is set for a spring 2011 release. His calendar is on sale now at www.QParkerFitnessCalendar.com.

     

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    Grammy-nominated reggae artist, actor and now author Ky-Mani Marley, son of the world-renowned musician and activist Bob Marley, grew up vastly different than most would think for someone who bears his famous last name. Marley left the serene familiarity of his childhood in Jamaica for Miami, and has since traveled around the world performing.

    In his memoir, 'Dear Dad,' an imprint of Farrah Gray Publishing, Marley candidly writes about growing up as the son of a music legend, his trials and tribulations, and leaving his own legacy. BlackVoices.com spoke with Marley recently about the book, his music and his family. Excerpts of the conversation are below.

    BlackVoices.com: Your upbringing was drastically different from your siblings. You grew up poor but very rich in the sense that you grew up around a lot of love. How do you respond to those who say you're airing dirty laundry with this memoir?
    Ky-Mani Marley: I stated exactly what my upbringing was, and at no time did I fault any of my siblings for that. They have no control of that. I've always stated that even through our differences, I know I have a family that, at the drop of a dime, is there if I need them. It wasn't about airing out dirty laundry. In writing the book, it was a way for me to explain the individual that I am and my trials and tribulations. This book wasn't vindictive or about pointing the finger. It's just me telling my story.

    BV: You were raised in Falmouth, Jamaica, until about the age of 7, and then you went to Miami's Liberty City. Did the idea of the American dream seize you before you came here, and how did your reality measure up with your assumptions?
    KM: I come from the countryside of Jamaica. I came from an atmosphere of being able to walk anywhere with no fear at all, because I knew that in each house that I passed there was an individual in that home looking out for me. I had a free and open lifestyle in Jamaica. The few times that we were able to look on the TV station, we would see what America looked like. We saw all the big pretty houses, the nice paved streets and all the wonderful things that you wanted but didn't see in Jamaica.

    I remember coming and realizing this was not what I expected. I woke up one morning, and the freedom I was so used to was now gone. My first day in my new home a shootout took place right through the back of my yard. It was definitely not what I was looking forward to. But we're from a family that you have to survive. You're either prey or predator.

    BV: You seem to embody your father's "one love" philosophy. Despite all the hardships and disappointments throughout your life, you're unfaltering in your passion to help the next person.
    KM: My heart beats to that rhythm right there. It's hard for me to understand why everybody doesn't share the same philosophy. My legacy, where I'm coming from and what my father spoke of definitely impacted me. But outside of that, this is who I am. This is what drives me and what I enjoy. I enjoy being able to help someone. I don't enjoy bringing people my burdens. Throughout all the issues that I've faced, I've never once spoken to an individual and told them what was in my heart and what I was feeling. Maybe I should have. Instead, I wrote it all in a book. And a lot of the people that I wanted to express these feelings to got it. The only thing is that the rest of the world got it, too (laughs).

    BV: For those who may not know, early on in your music career you opened up for the rock band Van Halen. Many scratched their heads and wondered how that would work, because your music seemed to not appeal to a Van Halen audience. Obviously, they were wrong because you ended up getting a standing ovation your first night out. Was that a confidence booster for you musically?
    KM: It was another mark that let me know I was on the right path. I went on tour for five months and basically performed recordings that I had. I had some lyrics and some melodies, and I decided I would take those songs and go on the road with them. No one had heard that particular music before. Playing those songs for the first time, along with some of my father's music, and getting the reaction that I got after each and every song was definitely a confidence booster.

    BV: What's your relationship like with your own kids?
    KM: My children and I have a very close relationship. We have a father-son-daughter relationship, but we're also very close friends. My kids come to me and talk to me about everything. They definitely keep me grounded. We all go through times where we feel like giving up. And you feel the weight of the world on you shoulders. To be able to see my children's faces eases that pressure. I'm grounded and remember that this is not all about me. I still have other people depending on me. I have to make sure at all times that they see their father as a fighter and not as a quitter.

    BV: Any New Year's Resolutions?
    KM: To be a better man than I was last year.

     

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    Another singer/songwriter has expressed his disdain with Michael Jackson's posthumous album, 'Michael,' which came out last week.

    Ne-Yo was out and about in New York City this weekend and wasn't shy about sharing his thought's on the new release.

    "If Michael was still alive ... I don't think the album would be out yet," the Grammy Award winner told TMZ.com.

    He told TMZ that he was not interested in listening to the new album because his idol was a perfectionist and he'd prefer to "stick to my old Mike."

    Before the King of Pop died, Ne-Yo had been contacted by Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am. to collaborate on Jackson's new album. The 'So Sick' singer has previously written tracks for Whitney Houston, Beyonce, Rihanna, Celine Dion and Ciara, to name a few. He previously performed a tribute to the 'Thriller' hitmaker at the 2009 BET Awards just days after Jackson's passing.

    Ne-Yo previously said that he hoped Jackson's family would do a compilation or tribute album with the songs that he wrote, which Jackson hand-picked to appear on his next album. The Def Jam crooner has vowed not to release them or try to give the songs to anyone else because "they were written for Michael [and] that would be disrespectful."

    This news comes on the heels of Will.i.am's interview with Rolling Stone magazine, where he told the magazine that the idea of putting out the ten previously unreleased tracks "disgusts" him.

    "I knew this man," he said. "And he was very critical about every single detail. He stood in the studio himself, mastering and mixing everything. How can you release a record without that Michael Jackson? It's not Michael Jackson."

    Meanwhile, 'Michael' producer Teddy Riley, who produced Jackson's 1990s megahits 'Remember the Time' and 'Jam,' was brought in to enhance Jackson's vocals on certain tracks from the new album.

    The former Guy singer told MTV News, "This feels like Michael, this feels like the spirit of Michael."

    'Michael' is in stores now.




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    Phillip Greaves, like many other struggling authors, decided to self-publish a book and put it on Amazon.com. The style of book Greaves chose to write landed him in hot water with authorities, and eventually led to him being arrested.

    Greaves wrote a book entitled, "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct." The book taught potential and practicing pedophiles how to have sex with children and rape them. Greaves was arrested this week in Colorado and will be extradited to Florida.

    "You cannot engage or depict children in a harmful relationship," said Polk County, Florida, Sheriff Grady Judd. Judd was explaining an obscenity statute in Florida which precludes individuals or groups from distributing obscene materials depicting minors in harmful situations.

    Greaves was arrested in Pueblo, Colorado this week after Florida authorities received a copy of his book in the mail. He will face charges in the state of Florida for publishing the book. The book was published on Amazon.com, which faced a significant backlash and threats of a boycott for refusing to take the book off the website. They eventually gave in and took the book down after experiencing significant public pressure.

    According to Judd, the book contain examples of molestation involving boys that were 9 and 13-years old. Florida is the only state that can prosecute Greaves for writing this book, since it is the only state that goes beyond freedom of speech laws in its prosecution.

    After the initial publicity of Phillip Greaves' book, sales shot through the roof. The book went from number 158,221 on the Amazon.com best-seller list to number 146 in just one day. The book brings up questions regarding just how far our country should go when it comes to protecting our citizens from being exposed to harmful or dangerous speech. It also reminds parents of the fact that there are quite a few adults in the world who have an interest in this kind of deplorable behavior.

    Freedom of Speech is introduced in Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights, which states that: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

    Commonly-accepted limitations on freedom of speech is language that is deemed to be harmful or pornographic. It appears that Greaves' book may fall under both categories. It is puzzling to some, however, why the book was not illegal in states other than Florida. Greaves says this about his book:


    "This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian rules for these adults to follow. I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter sentences should they ever be caught."

    One of the freedoms granted in the age of the Internet is the ability to self-publish books. Anyone with a sales-worthy idea and a marketing plan can push a book without anyone's permission. At the same time, there is the challenge that books may be released without sufficient quality control, as appears to have been the case for Mr. Greaves. I'm sure that no publisher would have allowed such a book to be written, and his ideas would have been filtered long before his arrest.

    This book is also difficult to accept in a world where far too many children are victimized by those attempting to have sex with them. There are the cases of young boys being raped by men, but also the far more frequent instances of the 13-year old girl getting impregnated by the 29-year old man (you may know one in your neighborhood). While some would argue that the first case is more serious than the latter, the fact is that pedophilia continues to be one of the untold secrets of the black community.

    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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    Focus Features has released the trailer to the action film, 'Hanna,' starring Saoirse Ronan as the title character of this adventure thriller.

    Directed by Joe Wright, the film also stars Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Jason Flemyng, Tom Hollander, and Olivia Williams.

    Hanna (played by Ronan) is a teenage girl. Uniquely, she has the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a soldier; these come from being raised by her father (played by Bana), an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of Finland. Living a life unlike any other teenager, her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own (played by Blanchett). As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence and unexpected questions about her humanity.

    The film hits theaters on April 8, 2011.

     

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    Outgoing NY Governor's Final Disgrace; David Paterson & Yankees Tickets

    On the surface, the transgression doesn't sound like much.

    It's no big deal that New York Governor David Paterson asked for and got five free tickets to the 2009 World Series from the New York Yankees, is it?

    Or that he lied when he said he was going to pay for them, according to his own staff, Yankee officials and other evidence in the case?

    Yep, on the surface it may not sound like much but scratch just a layer down and the stink of one last disgraceful public episodes in the failed administration for New York's first black governor fills the room.

    Clumsy, dishonest, ethically challenged are all terms that can be applied to Paterson's years in office. But remember, it seemed so hopeful at the start.

    Paterson, son of longtime New York political power broker Basil Paterson, rode in on a white horse to rescue the governor's mansion that had been sullied by Elliot Spitzer and his sex scandal.

    Having overcome blindness to become the second ranking Democrat in the state, Paterson entered office with the well wishes of most -- especially in New York's white liberal and minority communities.

    But no sooner than he entered office did Paterson feel the need to announce that he had cheated on his wife and that she had cheated on him.

    I don't remember anyone asking him about that. Maybe, he figured that in light of Spitzer's problems, it made sense to come clean about his sexual flaws.

    Either way, it became the first very questionable move from Paterson. And it sure wasn't the last.

    Far too infrequently, Paterson showed the stuff that got him to the governor's mansion.

    To depressurize the controversy over the Ground Zero Mosque, Paterson offered a well-reasoned solution to give the mosque builders a substitute parcel of land in the city that would raise no objections from New Yorkers. Unfortunately, the mosque builders refused.

    Paterson was also unfairly targeted by the city's tabloid newspapers which helped whip up public sentiment against him. Being lampooned on "Saturday Night Live" didn't help.

    Far too often, however, Paterson found himself in situations like "Ticketgate" in which he will have to pay a $62,125 fine to the state ethics commission.

    I mean, shouldn't the New York governor have a seat in a heated box with the team owners for the World Series? The fact that he had to ask for comp tickets like some average Joe shows he simply didn't get it.

    Paterson's legal problems aren't over. The Albany County district attorney is deciding whether to charge him with perjury.

    I say just let him go about his business and exit the public spotlight as quick as possible.

    Paterson isn't the first politician to bitterly disappoint us. Sadly, he won't be the last.




     

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    She's all for cutting flabby government, but Sarah Palin wants Michelle Obama to butt out of keeping kids from getting fat.

    The moose-munching Tea Party darling is picking a fight with the First Lady - over dessert.

    "Where are the s'mores ingredients?" the sharp-elbowed hockey mom growled in Sunday's episode of her outdoorsy TLC show "Sarah Palin's Alaska."

    "This is in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert," Palin said mockingly as she rummaged through her kitchen cupboards for graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate.

    The former vice presidential candidate was apparently referring to a speech in which Michelle Obama did not quite put a ban on sweet treats.

    "As I tell my kids, dessert is not a right," Obama told the NAACP in July, touting her "Let's Move" campaign to combat childhood obesity.

    While Obama's program does not explicitly tell parents to avoid dessert, it suggests cutting back on sugar.

    It was the second time in a month Palin has bashed the First Lady's calorie-curbing movement.

    "What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat," the ex-Alaska governor told radio host Laura Ingraham last month.

    "Instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician's or politician's wife's priorities, just leave us alone . . . "

    The White House declined to comment on Palin's barbs, or her appetite for s'mores.


    Source: NY Daily 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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    Don't Let Holiday Tipping Make You Go Broke
    In the holiday season, it seems everybody wants to play Santa. Ever notice how the tips at restaurants get a lot bigger in December? Or how the cash starts to flow (almost effortlessly) from some people's wallets as Christmas, until New Year's Day rolls around? Perhaps nowhere is this phenomenon seen more than in the area of tipping, or giving someone a little something extra for a job well done.

    While some celebrities with deep pockets, like golfer Tiger Woods, are said to be notoriously bad tippers, other folks in the spotlight, like actor Johnny Depp and singer Mary J. Blige, have been known to be extremely generous tippers. Depp once gave a $4,000 tip to a waiter at Gibson's, a Chicago steak house. Meanwhile, Mary J. last year had some tequila at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York, and then left a $500 tip. Even Bernie Madoff's son, Mark Madoff, who recently hanged himself, reportedly tipped a valet at a parking garage $400 the day before committing suicide.

    But it's not just the rich and famous, actors, athletes or "ballers" who are free-wheeling with the dollars in December. Average Americans also take it upon themselves to play "Big Daddy" and "Big Momma" as the holiday season gets in full swing. I've always suspected this; now I have some empirical proof.
    A new study out from Liberty Mutual, called the Liberty Mutual Responsibility Project Survey, shows that most Americans get tip-happy (and spend-happy) during this time of year.

    Who gets tips? According to the survey, lots of people, including:

    -Teachers (55%)
    -Babysitters (41%)
    -the Gardner (41%)
    -the Housekeeper(41%)
    -the Hair stylist (41%)
    -the Mail carrier (41%)
    -and Pet sitters too (23%)


    Moreover, when we're not tipping someone during the holidays, chances are we're thinking about for whom we'll buy gifts. The Liberty Mutual survey found that:

    -57% of Americans will gift their co-workers
    -42% of Americans will gift their boss
    -31% of Americans will gift direct reports at work-
    37% will gift their Pastor, Priest, or Rabbi

    And even though 71% of Americans say it's important to set an agreed-upon spending limit for gifts between family members or friends, 35% of Americans have nonetheless spent beyond their financial means when buying gifts, the survey revealed.

    All of this, of course, suggests that we should think more carefully about how we're doling out our dollars. A $5, $10, or $20 tip here or there might not seem like an awful lot, but if you keep tipping like that long enough -- in addition to spending money you may not have - all those dollars will really add up. Just ask M.C. Hammer and other celebrities who've gone bankrupt from over-spending.

    Tipping and even showing generosity in gift-giving is fine, of course: if you have the means and the desire to do so, and if you know when enough is enough. But if you tip yourself or spend your way into being broke, then that's just showboating and foolishness.



    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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    BlackVoices.com wants you to help us finish counting down the days until Christmas. We are looking to bless some of our lucky readers with the opportunity to win holiday gifts each day leading up to Christmas Day. Each day, we will highlight a new contest product of the day for our avid readers. So be sure to check back daily to see what we are giving away!

    GIFT OF THE DAY
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    In addition to a Ralph Lauren Polo Gift Set, one lucky winner will also receive (1) 'West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology'; (1) 'Christmas with The O'Jays' CD; (1) Soul Train 3-DVD set; (1) Steve Harvey's new book 'Straight Talk, No Chaser'; (1) George Wallace Comedy DVD, and (1) Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 3-DVD concert package. The total value of the package is $258.92.



    "How do I win?" you ask?

    All you have to do is 'Fan' us on Facebook by simply clicking the 'Like' button on our page and posting this hashtag: #BV12Days today by 11:59 p.m. PST for your chance to win. Winners will be selected at random. One winner will be announced via our social network platforms each day at 3 p.m. EST. Check out more contest details below.

    -Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
    -Enter to win by simply following the contest instructions for that specific day. Only winners who follow the contest instructions in full will be selected.
    -All winners will be announced on BlackVoices.com and via our social networks on Monday, Dec. 27.
    -Winners will be selected in a random drawing. A team member from BlackVoices.com will contact you for detailed contact information.
    -The giveaways will be sent to the winners before Dec. 31, 2010.

     

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    New York City radio show jocks are known for ruffling some feathers. But a joke gone wrong just cost Hot 97's DJ Cipha Sounds his gig.

    On Dec.18, the hip-hop shock jock went on 'The Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg Show' and stated that he was HIV negative because he steers clear of having sexual intercourse with Haitian women.

    "The reason I'm HIV negative is 'cause I don't mess with Haitian girls," the Bronx native, born Luis Diaz, said.

    An onslaught of Haitians flooded the station's lines with their complaints and disapproval via Twitter and Facebook. Then yesterday (Dec. 21), activists and community leaders led a protest outside the Hot 97 West Village offices.

    Brooklyn councilman Mathieu Eugene told local television station, NY1, that the Haitian community would take a harsh stance against Hot 97 until Diaz suffered strong repercussions for his actions.

    "Mr. Diaz said that he made a joke. That was not a joke. That was a serious insult, not only to Haitian women, but also to the entire Haitian community, and to all women, regardless of your nationality," Eugene said. "And today, we are here together, to ensure that Mr. Diaz be removed from the station."

    Executives at the radio station's parent company, Emmis Communications, have now decided on a three-part plan to address the fiasco.Cipha Sounds has been suspended indefinitely, and according to a press release, the former MTV VJ "will immediately undertake sensitivity training focused on the Haitian community and specifically, the challenges the Haitian community has faced in terms of the HIV epidemic."

    Hot 97 will also partner with local community leaders to use the influence of HOT 97 and to increase awareness of HIV and community programs to address the HIV epidemic.

    "The Haitian community is an important part of our listenership whom we respect and value," stated senior vice president and marketing manager Alex Cameron. The suspension is an indication of the importance we place on delivering a product that respects our Haitian audience."

    This is a stark contrast from an e-mail statement that Cameron previously sent to The New York Daily News, which read, "He will not be fired. He's a young man who made a mistake, does not have a track record of any malice and we are handling this as an internal matter."

    "Cipha made an immediate public apology and recognizes his insensitivity and the negative impact his comments have on all Haitians," Cameron clarified in the new press release. "It's a very regrettable and unfortunate circumstance for all involved and particularly because we know this is not the nature of this young man who has been an advocate of the Haitian community and a big part of our fundraising efforts for Haiti."

    "He is committed to working with the Haitian community to make a difference and turn this negative incident into an opportunity for increased learning and awareness," he added.

    Just a few hours after his harsh remarks, the 34-year-old radio personality apologized for making the unflattering comments. "I made a stupid, tasteless joke that was a one-liner that was taken totally the wrong way," he said. "I want to say sincerely that I apologize. I do nothing but rep for the Haitian people, but I said something stupid that I'm embarrassed about."

    There's no word on whether DJ Cipha Sounds will return to Hot 97 after his sensitivity training.



     

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    Crack Addict Robs Catholic Churches to Get Back at Priest Child Molesters

    A man addicted to crack is accused of burglarizing Catholic churches in the Bronx, N.Y., in retaliation against Catholic priests.


    Man Accused Of Robbing NYC Churches: MyFoxNY.com


    Nathaniel Linden (pictured), who claims to have witnessed his mother's murder as a child and was handed over to foster care, told police that just walking by a Catholic church ignites his ire, "I am angry at the church for molesting children. That's why I started going after churches. I don't case them out," he said. "I just walk by and get angry."

    According to the 51-year-old's friends, though, while Linden is a known addict, he has never brought up his disdain for Catholic churches:

    "He never said anything about the Catholic Church," said pal Dennis Perrington, who lives in Linden's Kingsbridge Heights building, to the NY Daily News. "He was robbing from the poor. That's despicable."

    Linden did apologize to investigators for urinating outside one of the churches he hit, then continued to ramble on to police about his modus operandi with regards to the burglaries.

    Police also suspect Linden is guilty of robbing nine other churches since November 6th in addition to the two that he is accused of ripping off. Thus far, investigators estimate that Linden has stolen thousands of dollars that had been earmarked for families in various Bronx communities.

    Linden appears to be a serial church burglar.

    On November 4th, he was released from prison, after doing a five-year stint for committing the very same crime he is currently accused of doing.

    Linden is being held on a $50,000 bond.

     

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    First Lady Michelle Obama is one classy lady who knows how to dress the part. Whether its speaking to students at a school or attending a charity event, Michelle always turns to the perfectly put together look that's both sophisticated and fun. Take for example, last Friday, when the First Lady participated in a ceremony that honored the nation's museums and libraries. Michelle Obama opted for a modern take on a classic corporate outfit, matching a basic black pencil skirt with a black and white polka dot bow blouse and a strand of pearls.

    Michelle Obama's modern look is perfect for the office, but this week, as you go from work to play at your company holiday event, it's easy to take her look and step it up a notch. Simply add a pair of sassy pumps, a pretty pair of earrings and a fun red clutch for a punch of color and you're ready to go. Get Michelle Obama's look for less with these options:

    1.) Dillards Printed Bow Blouse ($21.60, dillards.com) 2.) Lasonia Platform Pump ($35.95, endless.com) 3.) Kimchi Blue Bow Clutch ($18, urbanoutfitter.com) 4.) Banana Republic Pearl Chain Necklace ($49.50, bananarepublic.com)
    5.) Crystal Bow Earrings ($38.00, whitehouseblackmarket.com) 6.) Charter Club Pencil Skirt ($39.98, macys.com)

     

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    Shane Mosley to Fight Manny PacquiaoShane Mosley to Fight Manny Pacquiao


    In the aching void that has been left by Floyd Mayweather's personal foibles, boxing fans are yearning for a showdown. While not quite the showdown we would get with Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao (pictured right), a Shane Mosley (pictured left) and Pacquiao fight has been set for May 7, 2010, in Las Vegas.



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    Anyone who saw Pacquiao pummel Antonio Margarito in November knows that while Shane is a great champion, he has a Sisyphean task in trying to defeat Pacquiao.

    Promoter Bob Arum told the AP last night that the deal will be done after Mosley's lawyers approve the final paperwork for the WBO welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

    Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) has shown that you can be the master of many trades. The 32-year-old Filipino has won 13-straight fights, while claiming world titles in an astonishing eight weight classes; made albums as a singer in his country; and works a day job as a Congressman.

    Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs), at nearly 40-years-old, is a tough sell for promoters, but the champion still has skills and speed.

    An equally thrilling bout would be Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez is likely the only opponent, besides Mayweather, that could give Pacquiao a run for his money.

    But we'll see May 7th, maybe there's still a little steam left in Mosley and we might get our money's worth with him and Pacquiao too.

     

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