Friday, June 30, 2006

DJ QUIK IS IN THE (BIG) HOUSE: Rapper sentenced to five months for pulling gun on his sister.

*Compton rapper DJ Quik surrendered to authorities in Fontana, Calif. last week to begin serving a five month jail sentence for assaulting his sister.

In 2003, Quik, whose real name is David Marvin Blake, pulled a gun on his sibling while in the midst of a family argument, reports Allhiphop.com.  Last year, he plead guilty to the assault and was ordered to spend 45 days in jail on weekends, but the artist failed to show up at all, according to the Web site. That’s called a violation probation.

As a result, Judge Keith Davis on June 22 increased his jail time to 150 consecutive days and ordered him to begin serving his time immediately. 

As he sits behind bars, the streets are flooded with new Quik product, including the 20-track album “Greatest Hits Live at the House of Blues,” recorded in February 2006, and an appearance on the west coast remix of Chamillionaire’s No. 1 hit, “Ridin’ Dirty.”

Posted by loni on 06/30 at 01:07 PM
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Why is everyone so hard on Rush Limbaugh?

Maybe it’s because he is hardon himself! Get it?

Rush Limbaugh’s lawyer said the Viagra was labeled with a doctor’s name to protect Limbaugh’s privacy.

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP)—Rush Limbaugh was detained for about 3 1/2 hours at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.

The 55-year-old radio commentator’s luggage was examined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection after his private plane landed at the airport around 2 p.m. from the Dominican Republic, said Paul Miller, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Customs officials found in Limbaugh’s luggage a prescription bottle labeled as Viagra, a prescription drug that treats erectile disfunction, Miller said.

“The problem was that on the bottle itself was not his name, but the name of two Florida doctors,” Miller said.

The matter was turned over to the sheriff’s office, whose investigators interviewed Limbaugh.

“He said he had the Viagra in his possession for his use and that he did obtain it from his doctors,” Miller said.

Sheriff’s investigators confiscated the drugs, and Limbaugh was released around 5:30 p.m. without being charged.

However, the sheriff’s office plans to file a report with the state attorney’s office.

“We believe there may be a second degree misdemeanor violation, which is possession of certain drugs without a prescription, because the bottle does not have his name on it,” Miller said.

A doctor had prescribed the drug, but it was “labeled as being issued to the physician rather than Mr. Limbaugh for privacy purposes,” Roy Black, Limbaugh’s attorney, said in a statement.

Last month, Limbaugh reached a deal with prosecutors who had accused the conservative talk-show host of illegally deceiving multiple doctors to receive overlapping pain pill prescriptions. Under the deal, a single charge commonly referred to as “doctor shopping” would be dismissed after 18 months if he complies with terms that include submitting to random drug tests and continuing treatment for his acknowledged addiction to painkillers.

Posted by SPN on 06/30 at 10:03 AM
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Thursday, June 29, 2006

SerQet.com - Re-Skinned and pMachine Powered

It’s not as advanced as SPN here (I use pmachine free), but I have made the site ‘blog-like’.

You will have to register to submit a post or comment.

There is still some neat house music, with more to come. 

DJ SerQet

SPN and community, comments, suggestions are appreciated.

V up
A down!

Posted by SerQet on 06/29 at 11:46 PM
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Star Jones Removed from “View”

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Date: Thursday, June 29, 2006
By: EURWeb.com

Star Jones Reynolds smiled and held hands with her co-hosts while saying her goodbyes on “The View” Tuesday, only to hit a wall of “oh no she didn’ts” once the hour was over and the real story behind her departure had been leaked by People magazine.

On Tuesday, Star told the audience that she would be leaving the show in July because it was going in a different direction for its tenth season. But, it wasn’t until after Tuesday’s show ended when ABC brass, including “The View’s” executive producer Barbara Walters, learned about the People magazine interview, in which Star said: “What you don’t know is that my contract was not renewed for the tenth season. …I feel like I was fired.”

After that bombshell, Star’s last day as a member of “The View” turned out to be Tuesday. Sources close to Reynolds confirm that ABC asked her not to return to the set Wednesday morning.

Star’s image was deleted from the show’s opening on Wednesday, leaving only pictures of remaining hosts Walters, Joy Behar and Elizabeth Hasslebeck. Walters addressed the Star situation as soon as they were all seated at the table.

“And then there were three,” the veteran reporter began somberly. “This is truthfully a very difficult day for us and it’s a sad day for us. If you were watching the program yesterday, you would’ve heard Star announce that she’s leaving ‘The View’ and will not be on the program next fall. We didn’t expect her to make this statement yesterday, she gave us no warning, and we were taken by surprise.

“But the truth is that Star has known for months that ABC did not want to renew her contract and that she would not be asked back in the fall. The network made this decision based on a variety of reasons, which I won’t go into now. But we were never going to say this. We wanted to protect Star. So we told her she could say whatever she wanted about why she was leaving, and that we would back her up.

“We worked closely with her representatives and we gave her time to look for another job. We hoped that she would announce it here on the program and leave with dignity. But Star made another choice, and since her announcement yesterday, she has made further announcements that surprised us. So it is becoming uncomfortable for us to pretend that everything is the same at this table. And therefore, regrettably, Star will no longer be on this program, except for some shows that have been pre-recorded.

“‘The View’ helped make Star a star, and Star helped make ‘The View’ the success that it is, and we will never forget that. We wish her well in this new chapter in her life, as we begin a new chapter on ‘The View.’”

Posted by loni on 06/29 at 01:03 PM
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DUPRI EXPLAINS THE KHIA/JANET JACKSON MIXUP:

Producer says rapper is still on the project, but doesn’t actually spit rhymes.

*EUR’s Lee Bailey pulled Jermaine Dupri to the side Monday before the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards and asked him to comment on the hot air blown by rapper Khia, who was under the impression her vocals had been cut from the Janet Jackson album and was trying to start a boycott of Jackson’s songs in protest.

As previously reported, J.D. says Khia still appears on the track, titled “So Excited,” but the producer tells us that the rapper is not actually rapping on the song.

“Khia’s on the record because I’m a producer and I heard a sound that I wanted,” he explains to Bailey. “She don’t actually rap on the record, I’m giving you the exclusive. It’s something that I did with her voice. I mean, a lot or people who hear it, they might not even realize that it’s her.”

“I use textures when I do records and I just wanted her voice texture on this record, and she really made this song,” he continues. “Now she’s been complaining saying she’s been taken off the record, I don’t know where that came from. She’s really foolish to be out here talking [like this]. I’m still gonna keep her on the song because she ain’t know what she was doing.”

Posted by loni on 06/29 at 01:03 PM
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BUSTA RHYMES WRAPS UP BITTER CUSTODY BATTLE:

Rapper’s lesbian ex reaches out to media to ‘set the record straight.’

*Busta Rhymes’ turbulent relationship with the lesbian mother of his three children makes the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” relationship in his latest video seem like the blissful union of Will and Jada. 

According to the New York Post’s Hasani Gittens, the rapper has just ended “one of the nastiest four-year custody battles in hip-hop history - rife with allegations she had lesbian sex in front of their children, that she does drugs in the house and that she’s an absentee mom.”

The woman in question, Rhymes’ ex-girlfriend Joanne Wood, was Busta’s high school sweetheart and had a roller-coaster romance for 10 years, a relationship that bore three children. Then, Wood decided to come out of the closet and all hell broke loose. 

She tells the Post in an exclusive interview that the rapper’s hate for her is rooted in his manhood being challenged after she left him for a woman. 

“His ego is definitely hurt,” she said. “If he’s being emotional, then let him just be emotional - that’s like the b*tch in him. If you want to be emotional, I don’t have a problem with that,” but “he’s wearing his emotions on his sleeve.”

Rhymes has been taking verbal swipes at his former flame while promoting his new album, “The Big Bang,” which entered Billboard last week at No. 1. According to the Post, “he’s called her names from dangerous to crazy to gold digger to other unmentionables.”

In her first interview to address the situation, Wood, 32, wants everyone to know that Rhymes did not turn her away from men. 

She explains: “A relationship is a relationship. It happens. I have nothing negative to say as far as our relationship, whether it was good or bad, sexually, or not. That had nothing to do with me doing what I did [becoming a lesbian]. It’s not like I spitefully did it.”

“He had a problem with everything,” she laughed. “He’s a Taurus - he’s a real arrogant person, he has a problem with everything. But on the other hand, he’s soft-hearted - he’s a softy, at times, when we’re together. I don’t know what happened.”

For the past four years, the couple has been embroiled in a bitter custody dispute over their sons, T’Ziah, 13, T’Khi, 6, and Trillian, 5. Rhymes, whose real name is Trevor Smith, won custody of the kids in December when Judge Burton Joseph in Nassau County Family Court ruled he was a more fit parent. 

In making his decision, the judge made more than a few references to Wood’s “lover” and “lifestyle,” leading her legal camp to believe she was the victim of discrimination. 

Meanwhile, Wood says Rhymes’ recent remarks in the press “pretty much makes me out to be a crazy person. He said what he had to say and that’s fine. I don’t have any problem with that. 

“But my kids can read, they can see the negativity that he’s saying about me. He needs to focus on his music and hope that his album goes double platinum or whatever, because you know at this point in his career if you don’t make it now, that’s it.”

Wood currently has visitation rights twice a week and every other weekend to see her kids, who now live with Rhymes’ mother in New York while he tours. She is currently trying to gather enough funds to appeal the custody decision. 

“Honestly, the kids are the one that got hurt through this entire ordeal,” she said. “As you get older and you have kids, they change your life, and honestly, I thought that they would have changed Trevor’s life, but it didn’t.

“He’s a great father, when it comes to sitting down, talking to the kids. And we can agree on certain things, but I have to say, this fighting me because your ego is hurt, you’re not hurting me, he’s hurting the kids. They know exactly what’s going on, which bothers me. But I can say they’re happy, we spend good times together. I know they don’t see their father as much as he claims he does.”

Posted by loni on 06/29 at 12:59 PM
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The Senate upholds “Freedom of Speech” rights.

Although I find flag burning image objectionable, this form of protest should NEVER be allowed to be banned by law.  Once we outlaw even the most objectionable forms of free speech we take a jog the oft invoked slippery slope.  I also find it interesting that the government would vote to ban flag burning, but not even discuss cross burning image I’ll go on the record now to say that burning the cross is more objectionable to a larger number of people that flag burning.  I’ll even go so far to say that I’m sure that most of the Patriotic Americans congressmen that voted FOR the flag burning amendment don’t have much of a problem with cross burning.  I wonder why ... ?

Aren’t you supposed to burn the Stars and Stripes when it becomes soiled or unservicable?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006; Posted: 8:56 a.m. EDT (12:56 GMT)

The Senate defeated by one vote a constitutional amendment banning desecration of the American flag.

WASHINGTON (CNN)—The Senate by a single vote Tuesday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban desecrating the American flag.

The measure would have rolled back a 1989 Supreme Court decision allowing it. The vote was 66-34.

A two-thirds majority is needed to pass a proposed constitutional amendment. It then would need ratification by 38 of the 50 states.

The measure was the latest in a series of controversial election-year votes engineered by the chamber’s GOP leaders in an effort to entice the party’s conservative base to the polls in November.

Fourteen Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, voted in favor of the measure. Three Republicans, including majority whip Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voted against it. (Watch how the Senate decided on the issue—2:11)

Senators began debating the amendment Monday, along with an alternative proposal from Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and Bob Bennett, R-Utah. They wanted to ban flag desecration by law rather than by constitutional amendment. That proposal, too, was shot down Tuesday, 64-36. (Full story)

A constitutional ban on flag burning is seen as being more widely popular than the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriages. A gay-marriage ban was defeated earlier this month and was seen as another attempt by the GOP to mobilize its conservative base before November.

In a CNN poll earlier this month, 56 percent of people surveyed said they supported the measure rejected Tuesday by the Senate, while 40 percent of respondents opposed it. The poll surveyed 1,031 adults and has a sampling error of 3 percentage points. (Poll)

The House passed the measure and sent it to the Senate, where the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, approved the proposal, 11-7, earlier this month.

All 10 Republicans on the committee and one Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, supported it.

From the Senate floor Monday, Specter compared flag desecration to libel and child pornography, forms of expression he said have no “social value.”

“Flag burning is a form of expression that is spiteful or vengeful,” the five-term senator said. “It is designed to hurt. It is not designed to persuade.”

But Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont sided with the 1989 Supreme Court decision, which voted 5-4 in Texas v. Johnson that flag burning was a political statement and that state laws banning it were unconstitutional.

The First Amendment was designed precisely to protect this sort of expression, Leahy said.

“The First Amendment never needs defending when it comes to popular speech,” Leahy said. “It’s when it comes to unpopular speech that it needs defending.”

He called the efforts to pass the amendment “electioneering rallying cries.”

The Texas v. Johnson case came to the court five years after Gregory Lee Johnson burned a flag at City Hall during a political demonstration at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas.

Johnson was convicted of violating state law, sentenced to a year in prison and fined $2,000. The Supreme Court ruled his arrest was unconstitutional.

Writing for the majority, Justice William Brennan stated, “Johnson was not, we add, prosecuted for the expression of just any idea; he was prosecuted for his expression of dissatisfaction with the policies of this country, expression situated at the core of our First Amendment values.”

Congress’ attempt to overturn a Supreme Court decision by amending the Constitution is “extremely rare,” said CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, but it’s in line with how the American system of government was designed to work.

“The only way to overrule a Supreme Court precedent is by changing the Constitution,” Toobin said. He added that legislators backing the flag-burning amendment are operating “exactly the way the framers of the Constitution intended when they want to change something for all time.”

Posted by SPN on 06/29 at 09:46 AM
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

BOW WOW TO HANG UP THE MIC AT AGE 19?:

Rapper says his upcoming LP may be his last.

(June 27, 2006)

*Bow Wow ain’t been in the rap game but a minute and already he’s looking to bow out.

It was just yesterday when the youngster announced he was dropping the “Lil” from his rap moniker to signify his transition into manhood. His maturity, the rapper says, also brings with it new interests that are drawing his attention away from recording.

The star of “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” told MTV.com that Hollywood is beckoning, and his upcoming fifth album “might be the last one.”

“[If so], we’re going to go out with a bang,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be the biggest album that I’ve ever done.”

Due sometime around Halloween, the Jermaine Dupri-produced as-yet-untitled set already has a first single. 

“It features Chris Brown and it’s called ‘Shorty Like Mine,’ so that definitely could be the biggest record of my career,” he said. 

Describing the album’s style, he says: “I’m going for a more edgy, kinda mature sound. Now that I’m 19, I’m able to talk about a lot of things that I’ve experienced in my life.”

As for acting, Bow Wow says offers are “coming into the office daily so I’m reading, trying to pick the next one.  There’s actually one in negotiations right now, but they don’t want me to say. But definitely get ready to see me in at least two more movies. Last year I promised myself I’d do three movies and this ["Tokyo Drift"] is one right here.”

Posted by loni on 06/28 at 01:03 PM
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Vandross record coming out after death

I’ve heard “Shine” and its sounds like its from his disco days but its still a good song. 

Date: Monday, June 19, 2006
By: Associated Press, APonline

LOS ANGELES (AP) - There’s new Luther Vandross music on the way. Fans of the legendary singer, who died in July, can enjoy two new tracks when “The Ultimate Luther Vandross” collection is released Aug. 22.

It includes the previously unissued songs “Shine,” produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and “Got You Home.”
The collection features 16 other songs from Vandross’ two decades of music-making, including the hits “Here and Now” and “Endless Love.”

Vandross sold more than 30 million albums during his award-winning career. Vandross, who began his career as lead singer of the group Change, made his solo recording debut in 1981 with the album “Never too Much.” In 2005, he was nominated for a Soul Train Music Award for a duet with Beyonce on “The Closer I Get to You,” which is on the new collection.

Posted by loni on 06/28 at 12:57 PM
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

JERMAINE DUPRI LAUNCHES SO SO DEF CELL PHONES: Can you hear me now

What next?  Not mad at him though do your thing Jermaine!

(June 27, 2006)
*Tonight marks the official launch of the Limited Edition So So Def FUSIC phone by LG, a joint effort between So So Def founder Jermaine Dupri and LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc. 

“As I am constantly pushing the envelope with my music and other different business enterprises, this marks the perfect timing for us to fuse our brands and celebrate our mutual success together,” said Dupri, who will celebrate the new enterprise at a launch party tonight in Hollywood with his girlfriend Janet Jackson and guests Dem Franchize Boyz, DJ AM and more.

“This party promises to be even bigger and better than the last and will also raise funds for the Jermaine Dupri Foundation, which I started as a way of giving back to the kids in local communities around the U.S.,” he said. “There is no better feeling to me than being able to raise money to support our future generations...and if I can have a good time while doing it—that’s even better.”

A press release notes the phone “looks, feels and plays like a portable music player with the convenience of downloading full songs over-the-air.” FUSIC by LG is the first mobile phone in the U.S. to feature an FM Transmitter for listening to music through a radio or car stereo.

Posted by loni on 06/27 at 12:59 PM
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Kool & the Gang guitarist dies at 57

The Associated Press, APonline
Friday, June 23, 2006

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Claydes Charles Smith, a co-founder and lead guitarist of the group Kool & the Gang, has died. He was 57.

Smith died in Maplewood, N.J., on Tuesday after a long illness, publicist David Brokaw said Thursday. Brokaw did not know the cause of death.

“We’ve lost a member of our family, as well as an infinitely creative and gifted artist who was with the band from the very beginning,” band manager Tia Sinclair said in a statement.

Kool & the Gang grew from jazz roots in the 1960s to become one of the major groups of the 1970s, blending jazz, funk, R&B and pop. After a downturn, the group enjoyed a return to stardom in the ‘80s.

Smith, who was known as Charles Smith, wrote the hits “Joanna” and “Take My Heart,” and was a co-writer of others, including “Celebration,” “Hollywood Swinging” and “Jungle Boogie.”

Born on Sept. 6, 1948, in Jersey City, N.J., he was introduced to jazz guitar by his father in the early 1960s.

Later in that decade he was in a group of New Jersey jazz musicians, including Ronald Bell (later Khalis Bayyan), Robert “Kool” Bell, George Brown, Dennis Thomas and Robert “Spike” Mickens, who became Kool & the Gang. Other members would include lead singer James “JT” Taylor.

Illness forced Smith to stop touring with the group in January.

Smith is survived by his six children, Claydes A. Smith, Justin Smith, Aaron Corbin, August Williams, Uranus Guray and Tyteen Humes, and nine grandchildren.

Posted by loni on 06/27 at 12:54 PM
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Dallas Austin held in Dubai on drug charges

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Grammy-winner Dallas Austin has produced pop music hits for more than a decade, two movies and the “ATL” theme song for the city of Atlanta.

Since mid-May, Austin has been jailed in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly possessing drugs, one of his lawyers and police in the emirate of Dubai confirmed Monday.

No news of the Atlanta-based producer’s May 19 arrest had circulated publicly before Friday, when a gossip column in New York took note of it. And details of the unfolding drama are murky — even to the nature of a possible court appearance today and another Sunday.

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, who asked Austin to produce the “ATL” song as part of the city’s marketing campaign, said Monday, “I don’t know anything about it.” The offices of several members of the Georgia congressional delegation, including those of the state’s two U.S. senators, also said they knew nothing of Austin’s detainment abroad. And friends, colleagues and employees in Atlanta have either expressed surprise or denied the reports of Austin’s arrest since rumors about it began circulating Friday.

The 35-year-old Austin was reportedly arrested at Dubai International Airport on May 19 for allegedly possessing a banned drug, Bahraini lawyer Qays Hatem Al Zu’bi told the Associated Press and the Gulf News, a Dubai-based English-language newspaper. Dubai Public Prosecution sources also told Gulf News that Austin is charged with possessing drugs for personal use.

Austin’s Atlanta attorney, Joel A. Katz, declined to comment Monday. His New York publicist, Michelle Benson, would not comment when reached Friday, and has not responded to inquiries made since then.

News of Austin’s arrest began circulating Friday, when an item based on anonymous sources ran in the New York Daily News’ Daily Dish column. The item said Austin had gone to the tiny Persian Gulf country last month to attend supermodel Naomi Campbell’s three-day birthday party.

Attorney Al Zu’bi, who, along with another UAE lawyer, Mohammad Al Reda, is defending Austin, said Austin “was visiting Dubai for tourism and to attend some music concerts.”

The lawyers confirmed that Austin is being detained but did not disclose other details, including what type of drugs authorities alleged were in their client’s possession. They also would not give details on his legal status. According to the lawyers, he has been questioned at the Dubai Court of First Instance. He is reportedly scheduled to appear in court Sunday, and may have another appearance as early as today.

Dubai, a Rhode Island-sized city-state that is part of the United Arab Emirates, has become a top destination for wealthy tourists and celebrities. Although an Islamic country, it has developed numerous luxury hotels and resorts that offer Western tourists every amenity, including alcohol, which is banned for followers of Islam.

Still, the U.S. State Department warns travelers to the U.A.E. to be mindful of its conservative Islamic customs — and about its tough drug laws.

“Persons violating UAE laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned,” the State Department says on its Web site. “Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the UAE are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.”

People in Atlanta close to Austin contacted Friday and Saturday either declined to comment or said they did not know that Austin had been arrested. Calls to his Atlanta studio Friday were returned by longtime friend and co-worker Dave Gates, who said he had “no comment about the situation. ... It’s business as usual at Rowdy and DARP [Dallas Austin Recording Projects]. And I talk to Dallas every day.”

Also Friday, two Austin employees outside the Trabert Avenue recording studio and office space denied the news reports and defended their boss. Neho Worthy, who helps develop new artists for Austin, said, “He’s like a brother to me. I’ve got no comment.”

One public hint of his predicament was his absence from a star-studded benefit roast for actress Jane Fonda held June 1 at the Georgia Aquarium. Austin was scheduled to be one of the speakers but didn’t make the event. Fonda told the crowd that Austin was “stuck in Dubai.”

Austin, who now lives in Sandy Springs, is a longtime force on the Atlanta music scene who has become a major figure in the pop music industry.

His first major success came in 1991, with multiplatinum teen rap group Another Bad Creation. A year later, he helped launch the group he is most frequently associated with — TLC.

Though it was a female R&B trio, Austin often referred to himself as the fourth member because he was so heavily involved in its music. Austin produced such TLC hits as “Ain’t 2 proud 2 Beg,” “Creep” and “Unpretty.” He earned his first and only Grammy in 1999, for best R&B album, TLC’s “Fanmail.” He has a son with TLC member Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas.

Among his other musical credits are a remix of “They Don’t Care About Us,” performed by Michael Jackson, “Secret” by Madonna and “Just A Little While” by Janet Jackson. Most recently, he’s worked with R&B legend Natalie Cole.

In 2002 Austin began stretching into other media. He served as executive producer of the coming-of-age movie “Drumline.” Loosely based on Austin’s life, the Nick Cannon film earned critical praise and was considered a box-office success.

Austin’s venture into TV was less fortunate. His late-night talk program on FX, “The Orlando Jones Show,” was canceled after three months. His most recent effort as movie producer, “ATL,” hit the No. 3 position, earning $12.5 million its first week in theaters.

Austin has also been an active community supporter. He donated $25,000 in recording equipment to King Middle School, and started a band scholarship at Clark Atlanta University. He led a “keynote conversation” with Bernice King during a holiday celebration of her father, the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted by loni on 06/27 at 12:49 PM
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Saturday, June 24, 2006

If I were a criminal I would wait until 2008 to start stealing.

I guess that a lifetime of effects from Agent Orange and disrespect are only worth a year of credit monitoring.

That’s fair.*

WASHINGTON — As many as 17.5 million veterans whose personal information was stolen last month will receive a year’s worth of credit monitoring paid for by the government, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson said Wednesday.

There’s no indication that the data have been misused, but the veterans deserve “peace of mind,” Nicholson said. “Free credit monitoring will help safeguard those who may be affected.”

Nicholson said the VA also will hire a company to study the stolen database and watch for broad patterns of misuse.

On May 3, thieves took a laptop computer and external hard drive that held as many as 26.5 million names, birthdates and, in about 17.5 million cases, Social Security numbers from a VA data analyst’s home. Besides former servicemembers, as many as 1.1 million active-duty troops and nearly 1.1 million National Guard and Reserve personnel may be affected.

The credit monitoring service will be offered to vets whose Social Security numbers may have been in the stolen data.

The VA will take bids from credit monitoring companies this week, Nicholson said. Veterans who want their credit records monitored for unauthorized use must enroll and will be mailed instructions and access codes by mid-August, he said.

“It’s about time,” said Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Filner has criticized the VA for the pace of its response to the data theft. The department did not disclose it publicly for 19 days.

Filner called the decision to provide free credit monitoring “a giant step forward” and urged the VA to evaluate the service to ensure it’s effective.

Veterans groups applauded the move but also agreed it took too long. “We wish it could have happened earlier in the process,” said Joe Davis, spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Davis said the government should not finance the credit monitoring by raiding veterans benefits.

Nicholson said the funding “will not come out of other VA programs.”

The VA has spent $7 million to send letters to veterans who might be affected and another $7 million to operate a call center to answer their questions. VA spokesman Matthew Burns said the call center costs $200,000 a day.

Businesses and government agencies have reported several large cases of theft of personal and financial data this year. Hotels.com offered 243,000 customers free credit monitoring after an auditor’s laptop was stolen. 

Posted by SPN on 06/24 at 09:26 AM
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Friday, June 23, 2006

What is wrong with me?

When I took my strength test with the United Stated Marine Corps waaay back in ‘83, I was able to do nine pullups in a row.  A few months ago and many pounds since, I tested myself with pullups.  I was only able to do five pullups!  I am almost 70 pounds heavier than I was when I was 17 years old.  I’ve also not been as physically active as I had been in high school.

I’ve been doing pullups at least once or twice a week since that first devastating day a few months back and yesterday, I am proud to report, I did 13 pullups.  So, it looks like I am either getting stronger or I have better technique.

My highest number of pullups while in boot camp was 19.  The USMC physical fitness test gives the maximum score for 20 pullups, so I am happy that I was able to do 19.  Some of you might be disappointed with 19 pullups.  So what!

I’ll let you know if I ever make it to 20.

Oh yeah, I’ve been riding my bike to work too.  I want my weight to dip below 200 pounds this year.

Posted by SPN on 06/23 at 09:14 AM
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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Those crazy Koreans!  What will they think of next?

Check out the wildest group of break dancers this side of the solar system.  Pay special attention to the dancer’s control displayed at minute 3:02!


Posted by SPN on 06/22 at 11:38 AM
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