August 02, 2012

By ANTHONY McCARTNEY Associated Press

 

More than three years after Michael Jackson’s death, his youngest brother continues to raise questions about the validity of the pop superstar’s will.

On Twitter and cable TV, Randy Jackson has called the five-page document signed in 2002 a fake. The one place he hasn't made the claims is a courtroom, where legal experts say he faces almost insurmountable hurdles to invalidate the will and stiff odds against ousting the men who run the lucrative estate.

In a recent letter, Randy Jackson and three of his siblings called on Jackson’s estate executors to resign and renewed claims that the will is a fake.

The letter states the family was too overwhelmed after the singer's death to meaningfully challenge the will that gave only family matriarch Katherine Jackson and Michael's three children — Prince, 15, Paris, 14, and Blanket, 10 — a stake in the estate.

“At that time we couldn’t possibly fathom what is so obvious to us now: that the Will, without question, it's Fake, Flawed and Fraudulent,” the letter originally signed by Randy, Jermaine, Janet and Rebbie Jackson states.

Recently, Jermaine Jackson rescinded his support for the letter and said it never should have been made public.

The delayed challenge likely dooms any effort to invalidate the will. Even if it was thrown out, it would not alter the stake received by the King of Pop’s three children, experts say and an appeals court has noted.

Randy Jackson has since posted on Twitter that he believes the estate is trying to isolate his mother to the detriment of her health. “It is my fear and belief, that they are trying to take my mother’s life,” Randy Jackson wrote last month.

The estate has denied the accusations. “We are saddened that false and defamatory accusations grounded in stale Internet conspiracy theories are now being made by certain members of Michael’s family whom he chose to leave out of his will,” it wrote in a statement.

Jermaine Jackson said he still has concerns about the estate’s operations but realizes “the way to address such matters is through the proper channels and via a private dialogue, not public conflict.”

Almost from the moment it was filed, the will has been a topic of controversy for some members of the Jackson family. The pop superstar’s father Joe Jackson attempted to get a stipend from the estate, but like his children, he was excluded from any share.

Katherine Jackson explored the possibility of challenging the executors and was given permission by a judge but settled before a full hearing was held.

The document is straightforward and simple, and many key provisions of how Jackson's estate is constructed are set out in a trust. That document has never been publicly released.

Many of the misgivings stem from the will's final page, which bears the signatures of three witnesses who claim Michael Jackson signed the document on July 7, 2002, in Los Angeles. Jackson’s family points out that the singer was in New York on that day, a point the Rev. Al Sharpton recently bolstered by showing video of the “Thriller” singer appearing with him at an event in Harlem that day.

“I don’t think that kind of extrinsic fraud would be enough to overturn the order admitting the will to probate,” said Marshall Oldman, a probate attorney who represented Peter Falk’s wife in a conservatorship proceeding.

He said the only valid argument of Jackson’s siblings is that they did not receive proper notice that their brother's will had been accepted into probate. Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff accepted the will in November 2009. Any challenge would have had to been filed within four months, Oldman said.

The California 2nd District Court of Appeal noted in an October 2010 ruling against the singer’s father that the period to challenge the will had already expired. Even if the will were thrown out, the court noted, California law would require the estate to benefit Michael Jackson’s children.

“I don’t see how you come in three years later, and say, ‘oh, by the way, the will’s a fraud, a forgery, because he wasn’t in LA when he was purported to be,’ ” said Howard Klein, a probate attorney for nearly 50 years and partner in the Los Angeles firm Feinberg Mindel Brandt Klein & Kline. “It’s something that should have been brought up a long time ago.”

Randy Jackson, in comments on Twitter and to Sharpton on his MSNBC show, has repeatedly accused the estate’s executors of criminal conduct. Both Klein and Oldman said even if the executors were charged with wrongdoing, it wouldn’t open the door for more of Jackson’s relatives to gain access to the estate.

Jackson’s children are deemed his heirs without the will, and a 1997 version lodged with the court but never publicly released also doesn’t name the singer’s siblings as beneficiaries of his estate.

Klein said even if Jackson or other siblings try to challenge the document, their bid would likely be rejected because it is too late. The judge could also rule, as he did against family patriarch Joe Jackson, that because he isn’t a beneficiary of the will, he isn’t entitled to contest it.

“It would be a tough sell,” Klein said of any effort by another Jackson relative to challenge the will now.

The executors recently informed a judge that there have been $475 million in gross earnings for the estate since Michael Jackson died in June 2009 from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol. Jackson died with more than $500 million in debts, and the earnings have been used to repay many of the singer’s creditors and provide a spacious hilltop home for Katherine Jackson and the children along with private schooling, staff, security, vacations and other perks.

Katherine Jackson has requested and the estate is recommending approval of a nearly $35,000 a month increase in her stipend so she can retain her own attorney, accountant and homes in Indiana and Las Vegas, court filings show.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 02, 2012

New Orleans police say an arrest warrant has been issued for actor Cuba Gooding Jr. after an incident at a Bourbon Street bar.

Police said in a news release that a bartender told officers that Gooding was there at 3 a.m. on July 31 when he became upset with other patrons who started asking him to take photographs with them.

The bartender told officers that Gooding pushed her after she asked him to calm down, and again after she told him he needed to leave and police had been called.

Gooding left the bar before police arrived. Police issued an arrest warrant for municipal battery, a misdemeanor.

Gooding’s publicist de­clined comment. The actor is in New Orleans filming “The Butler,” a movie about a White House butler who serves eight American presidents.

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August 02, 2012

 

ARIES

 

It’s easy to take it easy! Just slow down and let each moment arrive at its own speed. You’ll get a lot done this week if you get in tune with the rhythm of the week. Each moment has its own beat.  Stay with it.  Soul Affirmation: The wisdom of the ages is revealed as my spirit.

 

 

 

TAURUS

 

Change is near, and it’s going to be good. Clear your desk of pesky tasks this week and get your mind free to receive what life brings. Positive results help you feel even more positive. Soul Affirmation: Someone wonderful is looking to find me.

 

 

GEMINI

 

You are the boss of your week this week, so act like the leader you are and let the week follow you around. Your creativity is soaring; schedule enough time to get some of your brilliant ideas on paper. Soul Affirmation: Trust gives me a deep sense of peace and joy.

 

 

CANCER

 

A steady stream of opportunities is beaming your way, lucky you and they contain endless variations of possibilities. Wear your instincts like a rainbow colored coat this week and gather the good resources that you need. Soul Affirmation: Hope is future’s way of shining on me this week.

 

 

LEO

 

Some down time will work wonders for you this week. You’ve been running fast with your projects, and now it’s time to slow it down. Try to spend time outdoors and with nature. Enjoy! Soul Affirmation: Hope is a beautify jewel. I enjoy owning it.

 

 

VIRGO

 

Center yourself at every opportunity during this busy week and keep your quest for emotional and spiritual balance in the forefront. Make an effort to take your time; that way you’ll recognize opportunity from impulse-control problems immediately. Soul Affirmation: My spirit gives me limitless possibilities.

 

 

 

LIBRA

 

Happiness arrives and sits on your shoulder like a bright butterfly this week. A relationship can make significant progress if you stay open to love. Keep your evening free for romance in a social setting. Soul Affirmation: I give thanks for who I am this week.

 

 

SCORPIO

 

Take charge of a project at work and get it finished up. It’s been languishing on someone else’s shoulders and desk for way too long. A sensible outlook will get you far this week. Forget about all grudges and move forward in love. Soul Affirmation: My hunches work well for me this week.

 

 

SAGITTARIUS

 

You may find yourself faced with many distractions this week but you’ll sail through and accomplish much if you stay focused on each task and take them one at a time. You know you can do it this evening. Soul Affirmation: Money opens doors for friendship to enter.

 

 

CAPRICORN

 

Creativity is favored and yours is especially favored with some project that you’ve been working especially hard on. For the next few days watch for a romance that will bring special gifts. Soul Affirmation: I care deeply about the feelings of others.

 

 

AQUARIUS

 

Your new ideas combine well with your will and skill. You get a lot done at work this week. Be soft and forceful. Make time for family life this week. Your rewards come from those who are related to you by blood. Soul Affirmation: I let positive emotions carry me through the week.

 

 

PISCES

 

Before you spend your money check the quality of the goods. This rule applies to intangible goods as well. Make the first move with your honey this week. Be sweetly aggressive. Soul Affirmation: The enjoyment of good food is high on my agenda this week.

 

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Category: Arts & Culture

August 02, 2012

By MESFIN FEKADU Associated Press

 

Snoop Dogg says he was “born again” during a visit to Jamaica in January, is changing his name to Snoop Lion and is ready to make music that his “kids and grandparents can listen to.”

The artist known for gangster rap is releasing a reggae album called “Reincarnated” in the fall.

The West Coast rapper held a news conference in New York on earlier this week. Later he played five songs for a small crowd, including one called “No Guns Allowed.” It features his daughter.

The album will be followed with a documentary of the same name. It features him making music and will include some personal elements of his life, a producer of the film said. It will debut at the Toronto Inter­national Film Festival in September.

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Category: Arts & Culture

July 26, 2012

By DON BABWIN,

Associated Press

 

Struggling to contain his anger, a Chicago judge on Tuesday July 24, sentenced Oscar-winner Jennifer Hud­son’s former brother-in-law to life in prison for killing her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in what prosecutors say was a fit of jealous rage.

In blistering comments, Cook County Circuit Judge Charles Burns rejected William Balfour's claims that he was innocent of the crimes.

“You have the heart of an arctic night,” Burns told Balfour. “Your soul is as barren as dark space.”

Balfour was convicted in May of first-degree murder in the 2008 shooting deaths of Hudson’s 57-year-old mother, Darnell Donerson; her 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson; and her 7-year-old nephew, Julian King.

During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Balfour, who was married to Hudson’s sister, Julia Hudson, as a jealous estranged husband who often stalked the Hudson family home after he moved out in early 2008. Balfour’s attorneys suggested someone else committed a crime in the family’s three-story house in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.

Burns’ harshest comments came in regards to Julian’s death. The judge’s voice cracked as he recounted how terrified the child must have been in the second before he was shot twice in the head.

“I have no doubt in my mind he looked to you when you put bullets in his head,” the judge said.

Hudson, who attended every day of Balfour’s trial earlier this year, sat next to her sister and dabbed her eyes with a tissue a couple of times during the hearing, including the 10 minutes in which Burns put his own anger into words. She did not make a statement to the judge and left the courtroom without commenting.

Balfour offered his condolences to the Hudson family while maintaining that he didn’t kill their relatives.

“My deepest prayers goes out to Julian King. I loved him. I still love him,” he said. “I’m innocent, your honor.”

Burns, however, said he had no doubt “whatsoever” that Balfour committed the crimes, including the shooting of a little boy “just because he was there.”

“I don’t think you have one ounce of remorse in your soul; I really don’t,” Burns said.

Illinois does not have the death penalty, and Balfour faced a mandatory life sentence. The judge sentenced Balfour to three terms of life in prison plus 120 years on other charges, a largely symbolic move but one that underlined the judge’s feelings.

The killings occurred the morning after Julia Hudson’s birthday, and prosecutors said he became enraged when he stopped by the home and saw a gift of balloons in the house from her new boyfriend.

After his estranged wife left for work on the morning of Oct. 24, 2008, prosecutors said Balfour went back inside the home with a .45-caliber handgun and shot Hudson’s mother. He then allegedly shot Hudson’s brother twice in the head as he lay in bed.

Prosecutors said Balfour then drove off in Jason Hudson’s SUV with Julian, Julia’s son, and shot the boy several times in the head as he lay behind a front seat. His body was found in the abandoned vehicle miles away after a three-day search.

“Three days under a tarp,” Burns said of the time the boy’s body lay in the backseat of the SUV. “Just as if you threw out the trash and left it to rot.”

Although the sentence means Balfour will likely die in prison, the judge made a point of telling Balfour the sentences would run one after another, followed by an additional 120 years for his other convictions, including home invasion, aggravated kidnapping and possession of a stolen vehicle.

The only family member to speak was Julian’s father, Gregory King, who told of the three days of hoping that his son might be alive only to find out he was dead. He also spoke about what had been taken from him by his son’s death, of the everyday moments that make up a relationship between a father and a son.

“I miss picking Julian up from the school bus,” King said. “I miss going on field trips with him. ... I even miss his bugging me about Sponge Bob Square Pants, a cartoon character he was kind of afraid of.”

Jennifer Hudson chose not to make a statement. During the trial, the Academy Award-winning actress for her role in the 2007 film “Dreamgirls” testified that she had known Balfour since the eighth grade and always disliked him.

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