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From CBS News:

A daughter of Malcolm X has been sentenced to five years of probation for stealing the identity of an elderly family friend to run up big credit card bills. Prosecutors say Malikah Shabazz (shuh-BAHZ') made $55,000 in illegal purchases.
  

South Sudan Enters the World Stage

With the birth of a nation comes the birth of its embassy.

Phil Moore/AFP/Getty ImagesWritten by Emily WaxIt's 9 p.m. and Sarah Chan's high heels are clacking at top speed across this Woodley Park hotel lobby. She's rushing hundreds of her South Sudanese brethren into cabs so they won't miss President Salva Kiir, who's speaking at a hotel a mile away.With the birth of a nation comes the birth of its embassy, a powerful emblem of its legitimacy and an assertion of the country's identity on the world stage. South Sudan will soon officially join Washington's 190 embassies, and Chan is one of 14 employees working for the fledging mission, whose first big undertaking is Kiir's mid-December visit here as part of a U.S. government-hosted South Sudan development conference.It was a grand, two-day coming-out party for the world's newest nation, with a speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and meetings with a lineup of elites from Washington's international, political, diplomatic and aid-and-trade communities.Kiir's location wasn't announced until the very last minute, a reminder that not everyone was eager to welcome the new country, whose July 9, 2011, independence redrew the map of the world."Sisters, brothers -- hurry! Our president has arrived! We have to go!" Chan called out.Tonight, Chan commands attention. That's partly because she's the daughter of Sudan People's Liberation Army commander Chan Dak, who was killed while fighting in the region's long struggle for independence.Newly emerged from a brutal 25-year conflict that killed an estimated 2 million people, South Sudan is still building its foreign diplomatic service. While some of the Washington mission's top envoys are trained in diplomacy, others, like Chan, are homespun talent.What they lack in polish, they make up for in pathos. 

Remembering Etta James

From doo-wop to soul to gospel to blues, her 50-year career was the mature sound track for several generations.

  • By: Paul Devlin | Posted: January 20, 2012 at 11:49 AM

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Music has lost another icon, the miraculously voiced Etta James, whose sultry soul, going back to the 1950s, provided a mature sound track for several generations.The 73-year-old singer died Friday, Jan. 20, of complications from leukemia, her friend and manager, Lupe de Leon, told CNN. She would have turned 74 on Jan. 25. Her leukemia was declared incurable in early December, according to a report by the Associated Press. Court records in a probate case indicated that she also suffered from dementia and kidney failure.Known for her incomparable ballad skills, James could also sing the heck out of the blues, not to mention gospel. The heyday of her music career was in the late 1950s and early 1960s, although after she was thrust back into the spotlight by the 2008 biopic Cadillac Records, in which her character was played by Beyoncé Knowles, James had begun to receive the recognition that was long overdue. (Her influence spanned the pop-and-rock spectrum. Check out young Christina Aguilera singing "Sunday Kind of Love" in 1988.)While the film, which depicted the rise of Chess Records, didn't put up spectacular numbers at the box office, James' music ("At Last" in particular) certainly found a new audience and was rescued from the lucrative purgatory of overplay in commercials. The disassociation of her mega-hit "At Last" from the many products it's been used to sell couldn't have hurt, either.And yet when Beyoncé sang "At Last" as Barack and Michelle Obama danced at their inaugural ball in 2009, James stepped back into the spotlight for the wrong reason. It was probably a poor choice of song, given its overuse in advertising, coupled with Desiree Rogers' infamous statement about Obama being a "brand."James reacted by saying she couldn't "stand Beyoncé" for singing the song she'd been "singing forever" on "big ol' President Day." This was so unfortunate (not to mention unfair to Beyoncé, who needed James less than James needed her in terms of contemporary music promotion). It prompted James' son, Donto, to tell CNN a year later that his mother had been suffering from "drug-induced dementia" at the time. As the singer's health faded, her offspring and her husband battled over control of her $1 million estate.Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins (now, there's a cool stage name: the reverse of a real name) in Los Angeles in 1938 to a 14-year-old single mother, Dorothy Hawkins. James would later claim that her father was the infamous white pool hustler Rudolph Wanderone, first known as "New York Fats" and later known as "Minnesota Fats" after the character Jackie Gleason made famous in The Hustler.There is strong circumstantial evidence, not to mention an oral tradition, to back the unusual claim. James' mother had told her that her father was a white boy, "one of those real slick white boys." The actor Willie Best later confirmed that it was Minnesota Fats. The billiards historian R.A. Dyer, who has written two books about Wanderone, seems to support the idea. Dyer writes, "In photographs both [Wanderone and James] look startlingly alike with their wide faces, their tiny tulip mouths, their small but piercing eyes."I don't know if I'd go so far as to co-sign "startlingly" alike, but the plausibility is there. If true, it's another sad chapter in the long history of mixed-race children in America unacknowledged by their white fathers. But at least young Jamesetta seemed to have inherited some swagger. But without a father, she surely struggled mightily with her teenage mother until she was discovered by the great Johnny Otis.Unfortunately, she became close to Best, who gave her the lowdown about her father but who was also someone she got to know through drug addiction. Heroin plagued her and so many musicians of those years (so memorably captured by Jamie Foxx in Ray).But her addiction also led her to be immortalized in what many critics have called one of the best books of 2010 (and best books of many years), the exceptional memoir Life, by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. (James mentions her respect for Richards in her 1995 memoir The Rage to Survive: The Etta James Story.) Richards memorializes her lovingly in his book, and his statement will surely, along with her music, outlast the Beyoncé controversy:Another great singer and a girl after my own heart -- as well as my bride in a rock-and-roll "marriage" -- is Etta James. She'd been making records from the early '50s, when she was a doo-wop singer. She's expanded into every range since then ... Now, Etta had been a junkie. So we found reciprocation almost immediately ... It takes one look in the eye for one to know another. Incredibly strong, Etta, with a voice that could take you to hell or take you to heaven. And we hung in a dressing room, and like all ex-junkies, we talked about the junk. And why did we do this, the usual soul-searching. This culminated in a backstage wedding, which in show business terms is like, you get married but you're not really married. You exchange vows and stuff, on the top of the backstage stairs. And she gave me a ring, I gave her a ring, and actually that's where I decided her name's Etta Richards. She'll know what I mean.  

Obama Croons to Harlem Supporters' Delight

At the Apollo to raise funds, he treated them to a little Al Green -- and a pitch for four more years.

President Obama (Getty Images)Who knew President Obama could sing?He caught a sold-out audience of Democratic supporters off guard last night at the historic Apollo Theater in New York's Harlem community when he broke out into a bar of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." Following opening acts by india.arie and Green, President Obama began his remarks by crooning -- on-key -- "I'm so in love with you." As the gathering of more than 1,500 cheered with delight, he looked around and noted with a grin that the Apollo's beloved Sandman hadn't come with his hook to shoo the president offstage.As if. Even if the beloved tap dancer of Showtime at the Apollo had somehow been resurrected (he died in 2003) to let President Obama know his time was up, he'd have had to tackle a phalanx of Secret Service agents and an audience that fell solidly in the president's political base. The racially diverse gathering of uptown movers and shakers had come to see history: the first time a sitting president has appeared at the Apollo Theater.Democratic Reps. Charlie Rangel and Jerrold Nadler were among those on hand to enjoy the added treat of an impromptu presidential performance, which followed a concert featuring  india.arie's upbeat set ("There's Hope" and the new "6th Avenue" were among her selections) and soul legend Green, who kept the crowd on its feet with "I'm Still in Love With You" and "Let's Stay Together."  

Heidi Klum And Seal Divorce Over This 'Deal Breaker,' What's Yours?

First Posted: 01/23/2012 2:07 pm 

Heidi Klum is leaving Seal, her husband of seven years, but not for the reason many celebrities split. According to TMZ, individuals close to the couple say infidelity was not to blame, but rather Seal's temper: "Seal's inability to control his anger has become too much for Heidi to take, in no small part because it's affecting their children." The two were raising four kids together: Leni, 7, from Klum's previous relationship, Henry, 6, Johan, 5 and Lou, 2. The couple was known for their public displays of affection, lavish Halloween parties and annual renewal of their marriage vows, so news of the separation was received with shock, the Telegraph reported. If it's true that Seal's temper caused the split, it sounds like anger, for Klum, was a deal breaker that outweighed her spouse's good points. Dr. Bethany Marshall argued in her 2007 book, "Deal Breakers," that recognizing what you can't take is a good thing. "Identifying your deal breaker ... holds out the possibility of helping you to understand where the relationship has gone wrong, what needs to be done in order to make it better, and when to walk away because you're doing more work than him to fix it," she wrote. It's worth noting, however, that a person's deal breakers can change based on her experiences, at least according to dating expert April Beyer. Beyer told CBS News in a 2009 interview: "If you are looking for, at 45, what you were looking for at 25, then you might have a problem." She identified the most common deal breakers for men as a woman who who is extremely independent (interesting, considering that TMZ also suggested Klum's entrepreneurial success might be a factor in the split), inflexible, or who doesn't take care of her appearance (probably not the issue here). Women's most common deal breakers, Beyer said, are a man being too frugal, lacking an overall plan, and cheating or lying.   

Drake At Sundance: Three Hours Late, Stars Party Hard At Performance

First Posted: 01/22/2012 10:41 am 

There was a blizzard in Park City, Utah on Saturday night, but Drake kept a celeb-packed party blazing hot -- once he was finally able to show up, anyway.It was an internet-favorite extravaganza at the Bing Bar, Microsoft's branded hangout at the Sundance Film Festival, as the hip hop star headlined a buzzy event that featured the standup comedy of "Parks and Rec" star Aziz Ansari as his opening act. Ansari was the victim of a rowdy crowd whose pitch threatened to drown out his act; according to Twitter witnesses, as the crowd began to boo the normally beloved comedian, "Red Tails" star Cuba Gooding Jr. rushed the stage to admonish the audience.Ansari's response? "I'm not that upset, Cuba Gooding Jr."The crowd was kept waiting for Drake -- Ansari's publicist, Lewis Kay, tweeted, "Drake is to punctuality as Casey Anthony is to good parenting" -- and about three hours later than scheduled, the "Degrassi" alum finally arrived. He had a good excuse, too, telling the crowd, "I almost lost my life 6 times getting here. My flight was delayed 6 hrs. Some of the curviest roads I've ever been on."Immediately, his trademark style was critiqued. GQ senior editor Logan Hill tweeted, "Drake arrived at his dundanve party in middle of a near-blizzard and is NOT WEARING A SWEATER"; Vulture also noted his lack of warm overshirt, but did add that he was wearing a parka.Stars such as "Breaking Bad's" Aaron Paul, Ansari's "Parks and Rec" co-star Aubrey Plaza, "Man on a Ledge" star Anthony Mackie, and "SNL" alums Will Forte and Chris Kattan were on hand to revel in the scene; check out the photos of the event below.  

State Of The Union Guest List: Michelle Obama Continues A 30-Year Tradition Of Extraordinary Americans

First Posted: 01/24/2012 1:23 pm 

When Sara Ferguson, an elementary school teacher from Pennsylvania, and Alicia B. Davis, a General Motors plant manager from Michigan, join First Lady Michelle Obama in her viewing box during Tuesday's State of the Union Address, they will be taking part in 30 years of presidential history.Every president since Ronald Reagan has looked up during his speech and into the rafters to give a shout-out to special invited guests. These guests have included everyday Americans, war heroes, schoolteachers, celebrities and small business owners."For nearly three decades, extraordinary Americans who exemplify the themes and ideals laid out in the State of the Union Address have been invited to join the First Lady in her viewing box," Kevin Lewis, a White House spokesman told The Huffington Post's Black Voices via e-mail Tuesday morning. Tuesday night, as President Barack Obama uses his speech to lay out his plan for moving America forward and beyond these tough economic times, he will be joined by Ferguson and Davis, as well as Bryan Ritterby, a lab technician from Grand Rapids, Mich., and Debbie Bosanek, the secretary of multi-billionaire Warren Buffet, who famously proposed "The Buffet Rule," which calls for the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share of taxes. Mark Kelly, the former astronaut and husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (R-Ariz.), is also among the president's invited guests. Ferguson, who teaches literacy and math at Columbus Elementary in Parkside, Pa., is a third generation educator who vowed to continue teaching her students as the school district faced bankruptcy earlier this year when the state made drastic cuts to education. "We are adults; we will make a way," she said, according to Lewis, the White House spokesman. "The students don't have any contingency plan. They need to be educated, so we intend to be on the job."Davis, who was recently appointed plant manager at General Motors Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping, rose through the ranks of General Motors and was the company's first African American woman to be appointed a general manager when she headed its Arlington assembly plant.Ferguson and Davis are the latest in a string of African Americans to be honored with a special invitation to the White House during the speech, perhaps more of an honor under the country's first black president. Last year's black guests included Ursula M. Burns, the CEO of Xerox Corporation, tapped by the president to help lead a White House campaign on science, technology, engineering and math; and Brandon Ford of Philadelphia, then a junior at West Philadelphia High School who lead a team of young engineers to the final rounds of a national automotive engineering contest which pitted them against corporations, universities and other well-funded organizations.The tradition of inviting everyday Americans to hear the president address the nation during the State of the Union dates back to 1982 when President Reagan invited Lenny Skutnik, a Congressional Budget Office employee. Skutnik dove into the icy Potomac River to rescue passengers of a downed airplane.Reagan invited Skutnik to sit with First Lady Nancy Reagan during his speech, and heralded him for exemplifying "the spirit of American heroism at its finest."The presidential guests have since been called "Skutniks."In the early 1990s, President George H.W. Bush invited Alma Powell and Brenda Schwarzkoph, whose husbands, Gens. Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkph, were heading up military operations in Iraq.President Bill Clinton invited baseball great Hank Aaron and now-sullied home run legend Sammy Sosa, as well as Richard Dean, a Social Security Administration employee who searched through the rubble of the Oklahoma City bombing to rescue survivors.Later, President George W. Bush also invited war heroes and their families and people who helped thwart terror attacks against the United States, including a pair of flight attendants who helped foil "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid.Obama has used his invitations to also highlight American heroism, perseverance and ingenuity during these tough economic times. Last year's guests included Daniel Hernandez, Giffords' former congressional intern, who is credited with helping to save her life after a shooting in her district. "The guests of the First Lady each have uniquely American stories to tell, and in many cases their stories highlight not only the challenges we've overcome," Lewis said, "but some of the ways in which we can move forward together as a nation and create an America built to last."

Racial Disparity In Presidential Pardons: What Can Be Done?

Justice Department

First Posted: 12/ 9/11 06:56 PM ET Updated: 12/ 9/11 07:37 PM ET

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