May 17, 2012
PlayDisco Queen Donna Summer Dead At Age 63
By Wendy Geller

Donna Summer, whom millions of fans revered as "the Queen of Disco," has died at the age of 63 in Florida after a battle with cancer, the Associated Press confirmed with the singer's family Thursday morning.

The news comes as a surprise to those who were not aware that she was ill. The legendary superstar was publicly active as recently as last June, when she appeared as a guest panelist on Bravo's music reality show Platinum Hit.

However, a report by TMZ, which initially broke the story, notes that those close to the singer--known for mega-hits including "Last Dance" and "Bad Girls"--revealed she had been trying to hide how sick she was. A source said that Summer did not seem to be in that bad of shape two weeks ago.
[Related: No More Tears: Remembering Donna Summer's 10 Greatest Tracks]
She is survived by her adult daughters Mimi (by her first husband, actor Helmuth Sommer), Brooklyn and Amanda (by second husband Bruce Sudano)

In addition to her status as a pioneer in the dance music genre, Summer was a five-time Grammy Award winner, the first artist ever to score three back-to-back No. 1 double albums, and was nominated--but not chosen--for induction into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. She is credited with influencing stars ranging from Madonna and Michael Jackson, to Beyonce and Rihanna. Her last album, Crayons, was released in 2008.

May 21, 2012
G8 pledges to lift 50 million Africans out of poverty

G8 leaders on Saturday pledged to lift millions of Africans out of poverty by promoting investments in sustainable agriculture.

"Today we commit to launch a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture, take to scale new technologies and other innovations that can increase sustainable agricultural productivity, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities," the Group of Eight major industrial nations said.

"This New Alliance will lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade."
The ambitious announcement, contained in a final communique released after a high-profile gathering on a range of topics, came a day after President Barack Obama reached out to the private sector for financial support for the cause.

The initiative also comes as pledges expire from 2009 in L'Aquila, Italy, where the G8 promised more than $20 billion over three years to improve food access to Africans and others hit by the high prices and a global slowdown.
Civil society observers appeared skeptical about the endeavor's success.

"The G8 have offered warm words on food security but have failed to make a specific pledge to simply maintain L'Aquila level financial commitments going forward," said Katie Campbell, senior policy analyst for ActionAid USA. "In failing to deliver this, they have turned their backs on the women smallholder farmers who are so vital to food security in Africa."

Oxfam claimed that input from those directly concerned had not been taken into consideration.
"Poor countries have presented the G8 country-led, sustainable, and coordinated plans for food security and agricultural development, but today the G8 gave them the cold shoulder," Lamine Ndiaye, the group's Pan Africa Head of Economic Justice, said in a statement.

According to the G8 communique, the initiative would, among other things, be guided by "a collective commitment to invest in credible, comprehensive and country-owned plans."

The Norwegian global firm Yara has said it would build Africa's first major fertilizer production facility as part of the initiative. Companies including Pepsi and Dupont have also pledged to invest in Africa's small-scale farmers.

May 21, 2012
Whitney Houston’s Final Recording ‘Celebrate’ Released
By Abena Agyeman-Fisher


The much-beloved pop icon Whitney Houston recorded a duet with fellow actress and singer Jordin Sparks just four days before her untimely demise. Now, Whitney fans can hear the diva show off her rehabilitated voice in her final song.
SEE ALSO: Billboard’s Best Music Moment

Singing alongside Sparks for a tune called “Celebrate,” Houston sounds like her old self. The song is for the upcoming movie “Sparkle,” which is a 1976 remake of the original “Sparkle” that starred Philip Michael Thomas, Irene Cara, and Lonette McKee.

“Sparkle” chronicles the lives of a girl group in the 1960s who struggle with drug abuse and fame. The remake, starring the aforementioned Houston and Sparks, will also star Cee Lo Green, Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, and Derek Luke, among others.

For the song, movie producer Harvey Mason Jr. gushed about Houston’s performance of the song, adding that Houston’s recording session was “really positive” and Houston herself was overjoyed by her performance:
“We ended the session dancing around the control room while she said ‘Turn it up! Turn it up!’ She was so fun-loving.”

May 31, 2012
Sierra Leone: Taylor to Spend Rest of His Life in Prison

Al Jazeera television news records the moment Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years' jail by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague on Wednesday.

Cape Town — The Special Court for Sierra Leone has sentenced former Liberian president Charles Taylor to 50 years' imprisonment for aiding and abetting war crimes in Sierra Leone.

He is expected to serve his sentence in a high security prison in the United Kingdom for his role in the 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone, which claimed about 50,000 lives.

Sentence was passed in The Hague in the Netherlands on Wednesday by a trial chamber of the court comprising Justice Richard Lussick, Justice Teresa Doherty and Justice Julia Sebutinde. Justice Sebutinde, who also serves on the International Court of Justice, is a Ugandan jurist who qualified at Makerere University. The court was set up jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations.

Passing sentence, Justice Lussick recalled testimonies of brutality from witnesses during the trial. In one he cited, a witness said she was forced to carry a bag filled with human heads dripping with blood.

Another witness said she was gang-raped and her mother's eyes were pulled out by rebels.

Amputees who had their limbs cut off in the war will now survive on charity, the judge said. Futhermore, child soldiers and young girls who were raped face stigmatization.

Taylor denied direct involvement in the war crimes and asked the judge to show mercy, since he is 64 years old and can no longer be a threat to society.

Justice Lussick said the court viewed Taylor's crimes with "the utmost gravity". It rejected a number of defence pleas for mitigation, among them that Taylor had played a substantial role in the peace process and had secured the release of peacekeepers and other hostages during the war. The court said that while Taylor publicly professed to work for peace, he was secretly instigating conflict, and his help with hostages was not a significant mitigating factor.

Nor was Taylor's public service a mitigating factor, the court found, and the sympathy he expressed for victims of the war did not constitute "remorse that would merit recognition for sentencing purposes." The court found as an aggravating circumstance the fact that Taylor exploited the conflict for financial gain.

However, Justice Lussick rejected the prosecution plea for an 80-year prison sentence on the grounds that Taylor was not convicted on the most serious charges he faced. When convicting Taylor, the judges did not accept the prosecution's contention that Taylor had effective command and control over the Sierra Leone rebels he supported.

Before announcing sentence, the judge said there was no precedent for sentencing Taylor. Although his conviction was limited to planning, aiding and abetting crimes, as a head of state, he was "in a class of his own," the judge said, and "the gravity of his betrayal of public trust" had weighed with the court.

The case was heard in The Hague for fear that a trial in Sierra Leone could destabilise the region.

May 31, 2012
Black mayors come to Atlanta for 38th annual convention

By Jeremiah McWilliams
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

More than 250 mayors and state and federal officials are scheduled to be in Atlanta through Sunday for the National Conference of Black Mayors' 38th annual national convention.

The gathering is billed as a forum in which rural and urban mayors can exchange ideas. The Atlanta convention is expected to deal with job creation, housing, health, sustainability, green technology, international trade, good governance and ethics and broadband.

"As leaders of large urban cities and rural areas, mayors play a vital role in ensuring the future economic growth and safety of our nation as we address challenges at home and increasing global competition from emerging economies," Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement. “Crumbling transportation infrastructure, joblessness and failing public schools are issues that mayors tackle on a daily basis."

Reed will serve as official host of the meeting. He plans to welcome the officials on Thursday night with a reception at City Hall.

It's a high-profile event for the 42-year old mayor, who has received doses of national exposure on CNN and Meet the Press and in forums organized by the Aspen Institute and other groups.

Atlanta’s history as the cradle of civil rights and its evolution into an "economic and political powerhouse" led the group to select the city as its meeting place, said Robert L. Bowser, president of the NCBM and mayor of East Orange, New Jersey. The conference will be held at the Marriott hotel in Buckhead.

Founded in 1974, the National Conference of Black Mayors represents more than 650 African-American mayors across the United States.

Valerie B. Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, is scheduled to be there. So are Rep. John Conyers and Ambassador Andrew Young, former mayor of Atlanta. Representatives from Senegal, Colombia, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago are also expected to attend.

May 31, 2012
Whoa! ‘Taxpayers’ Want Diddy’s Son To Give Back His Scholarship?
May 31, 2012 22 By Dr. Boyce Watkins

There is an article in Yahoo Finance that claims that “taxpayers” are asking that Diddy’s son Justin return his $54,000 scholarship to UCLA so they could give it to students who need the money more than he does. Apparently, Diddy’s massive fortune precludes his son’s right to earn a scholarship like everyone else, even if he has a 3.75 GPA and happens to be a great athlete.

Not everyone agrees that Justin should have to give back the dough, since the scholarship was athletic and not academic.
“He’s done what he needs to do to be successful, and in ‘Ameritocracy,’ we have to accept that no matter who your father is, whether he be rich, poor, or absent, that you can in fact be successful on your own merit,” said educator Steve Perry.

Diddy definitely doesn’t need a scholarship to send his son to college. Just this year, he has earned $45 million from his various endeavors and was on the Forbes list of richest celebs. The $54,000 that Justin received to go to UCLA might be spent by Diddy on one night out at the club or on a new pair of sneakers for his cat. So one can easily understand the frustration of seeing him get any sort of financial aid.

While I can appreciate the sentiment of those who are keenly aware that Diddy doesn’t need the money for his son, the fact is that critics are wrong.

There’s something about being Black that makes others far more aware of when you’re allegedly milking the system in ways that would be overlooked if you were White.

The “outrage” over Justin’s scholarship would make sense if Justin was the first wealthy kid to ever receive an athletic scholarship. It’s not as if Justin got the money based on need or even based on his minority status. He got it for playing football and being pretty good at his sport. Mind you, I wouldn’t be surprised if his father’s connections helped him to jump a bar that he wouldn’t be able to jump if he were some regular kid from the ghetto.

But I guess that’s the benefit of having a Father who’s made millions by feeding bottles of liquor to Black people all over the world and making a lot of mediocre music (Seriously, Diddy hasn’t made hot music since Biggie was alive 15 years ago, and you know it).

With that being said, Justin’s scholarship is a non-issue and a non-conversation topic. When every rich kid in America gets his scholarship taken away, then we can talk. Until then, let the boy go to college like everybody else, he earned it.

June 13, 2012
Homeless man allowed to keep $77,000 he stumbled upon
By Jason Sickles | The Sideshow – 3 hrs ago

A homeless man is $77,000 richer after being awarded the cash and gold coins he stumbled upon in a Texas park earlier this year.

Timothy Yost, 46, reportedly discovered the loot in January while going to wash his feet in the Colorado River. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Yost told police he kicked a bag he'd spotted and it jingled. Inside was a mound of wet cash and South African coins.

A bank teller called police after he tried to swap the damp dough for fresh bills. Yost showed officers where he made the discovery, but the city of Bastrop kept the money so police could investigate whether a crime had occurred and try to find the owner.

"Under common law in Texas, typically if it is buried and we are not able to find the rightful owner for the funds within the prescribed time period, then the finder of the funds can petition to be awarded those funds," Bastrop Police Chief Michael Blake told Austin's Your News Now.

On Tuesday night, the City Council voted unanimously to give the bounty back to Yost.
"It is a great day for Bastrop; it is a great day for Mr. Yost," his attorney, Aleta Peacock, told the American-Statesman.

Yost was not present. The newspaper reports he's since been jailed for public intoxication and criminal trespass.
But he told Austin's Fox 7 last month that his first purchase would be a car.
"I've been walking for so long," he said.

Here's hoping he makes bail and is behind the wheel of a new ride soon.

August 31, 2012
The last remaining original “American Idol” judge, Randy Jackson, is reportedly stepping down from his current gig on the show and will instead serve as a mentor to the contestants, according to TMZ.

As to who will fill Jackson’s judging role, mum’s the word from the show’s officials thus far but tongues are wagging. There will be four judges when the show returns in January 2013 and word has it that one will hail from the world of country music.

But stop the presses! An unnamed source told TMZ that the Idol head honchos are a little worried that Jackson might not have what it takes to fill the mentor role. They do however realize that he is a necessary factor and the tie that binds the show and keeps it together.

The wildly popular primetime show has had quite a bit of shake up recently, starting with judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler’s unexpected exits.

Then out of left field, songbird Mariah Carey signed on as a judge for the upcoming season. Fans of the show have been wondering about the much reported search for judges and who would accompany Carey. The names Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban have been popping up as replacements and, reportedly, they are in the final stages of a negotiations deal to become permanent fixtures on the show.

Rumor has it that Carey is not fond of Minaj. So if the hip-hop performer gets the spot, viewers can expect lots of divatude!

August 21, 2012
Black Panther leader dies

Mr Ture was jailed more than 30 times

The Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael, who made "black power" a rallying cry in America, has died of cancer at the age of 71.
He died at his home in Guinea where he lived under his African name, Kwame Ture.

As leader of the Black Panther Party, Mr Ture was one of the most fiery and visible activists in the American black rights movement in the 1960s.

US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, who visited Mr Ture last week, described him as a committed opponent of racial apartheid.

"He wanted for his last days to be in Guinea ... amongst the people of Africa,'' Mr Jackson said.

Mr Ture made ''black power'' a rallying cry
"He was one of our generation who was determined to give his life to transforming America and Africa.

"He was committed to ending racial apartheid in our country. He helped to bring those walls down."

Mr Ture was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996.

An ardent socialist, he was treated in Cuba and received financial help for his treatment from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Freedom ride to prison

Mr Ture was born in Trinidad on 29 June, 1941, but moved to New York with his parents when he was 11 where he moved in middle-class white circles.

In 1960 he enrolled at Howard University in Washington, where he studied philosophy and plunged into the civil rights revolution.

At that time black college students were being beaten and arrested for daring to sit at whites-only Southern lunch counters.

Mr Ture joined the first of the freedom rides - bus trips aimed at desegregating public transport.

And he suffered the first of about three dozen jailings when he reached Mississippi.

He was elected national chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1966.

Mr Ture raised the cry of "black power", meaning political and economic empowerment, as he led a freedom march in Mississippi.

"We want control of the institutions of the communities where we live and we want to stop the exploitation of non white people around the world," he explained.

In 1968, he left the SNCC for the Black Panthers, but broke with that urban-guerrilla movement the following year because it favoured working with radical whites.

He said history showed such alliances had "led to complete subversion of the blacks by the whites''.

Mr Ture moved to Guinea with his then-wife, South African-born singer and activist Miriam Makeba.

There, with a new name taken from the African leaders Kwame Nkrumah and Ahmed Sekou Toure, he organised the All-African People's Revolutionary Party.

He continued preaching black power and championing socialism while condemning America, capitalism and Zionism.

Banned from Trinidad

Mr Ture was banned from Trinidad and Tobago in 1970 by a black-led government which feared he would further the islands' own "Black Power" revolt.

The government eventually quelled the uprising after jailing several black activists.

One of those activists, Khafre Kambon said: "He lived a life of poverty although he raised millions of dollars for his party."

August 21, 2012
Michael Jordan probably doesn't have to sweat losing $1.5 million in a gym investment -- which is good for him because it could happen soon, reports say.

A Jordan-backed Chicago workout emporium that attracted superstars such as Kobe Bryant and Donovan McNabb is close to foreclosing. A bankruptcy bid by Tim Grover, the owner of Attack Athletics Gym in Chicago, was rejected by a judge last month, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. That means the mortgage holder is free to pursue foreclosure.

A pending appeal by Grover's company, Attack Properties, could take a month or so, wrote the Chicago Tribune.

Another former NBA player, Michael Finley, is also listed as a creditor, the paper said, after he guaranteed a $2 million loan.

The 65,000-square-foot gym, formerly known as Hoops, had four basketball courts and a 10,000-square-foot weight room, according to ESPN. Grover developed relationships with Jordan and other jocks such as Dwayne Wade and Tracy McGrady to build his business.

The entrepreneur, who was Jordan's personal trainer at the star's peak, was credited with attempting to revitalize Chicago's West Side and having a positive influence on hundreds of athletes, Yahoo wrote. But business apparently hasn't been good -- either in the gym or in legal procedure. Outlets say Attack Properties LLC never submitted the required monthly operating reports to seek bankruptcy and faces liens totaling $12 million.

"The record shows no plausible route out of this predicament,” said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge A. Benjamin Goldgar, reported the Sun-Times.