April 04, 2013

LAWT News Service


In response to current reports regarding the R&B group En Vogue and the legal proceedings between founding members Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron, and Maxine Jones, my client Dawn Robinson would like to make it very clear that she is not, nor has she ever been in a legal battle over the use of the En Vogue name.

Ms. Robinson left the group many years ago, and at that time gave up the legal right to use the name En Vogue for personal performances.  She is currently in production on the new reality series R&B Divas LA; a spin-off of the popular reality series R&B Divas Atlanta, she is also working on new music, and authoring a book.

Although Ms. Robinson is saddened that her former band members are in the midst of court proceedings, she wishes all of the ladies well and hopes they can move forward and allow the En Vogue brand to continue to represent talent, class, and dignity.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 04, 2013

By Kenneth Miller

LAWT Contributing Writer


The jury selection for the trial of giant concert promoter AEG live began this week with Katherine Jackson, the mother of late music icon Michael Jackson and his children seeking $40 billion in damages. Nearing the four-year anniversary of the pop superstar’s death and following the manslaughter conviction of physician Conrad Murray, the latest and perhaps final legal saga will focus on the culpability of AEG in the hiring of Murray as Jackson’s physician. It was Murray’s ill-fated propofol treatment that led to Jackson’s death on June 9, 2009.

While he is in prison for Jackson’s death, the civil trial will question if AEG should be held liable for the doctor’s criminal mistreatment of Michael Jackson. Katherine Jackson and Michael’s children are alleging that AEG Live should be held responsible although a contract between Murray and AEG was not signed until the final month prior to singer’s demise.

The case is expected to last three months. Once the Los Angeles jury is empaneled it will be required to sort through medical records and contracts of both Jackson and Murray for the “This Is It” concert tour.

At question is whether it was Jackson or AEG Live who hired Murray, and whether or not it was possible for AEG to predict that Murray would administer a fatal dosage of propofol.

If the jury determines that AEG was responsible, then it would be required to determine how much in damages should be assessed against AEG.

Katherine Jackson and her lawyers claim that AEG Live hired, supervised and controlled Dr. Murray, “putting its desire for massive profits from the tour over the health and safety of Michael Jackson.”  AEG Live says that only Michael hired the doctor and it had no responsibility for how Dr. Murray treated Michael.

Originally, the heirs’ attorneys brought many different wrongful death claims against AEG Live, its parent corporation, and others associated with it.  But the defendants asked the judge to dismiss the claims for various reasons.  The judge agreed that AEG Live breached no direct duties of care to Michael Jackson and could not be legally responsible for Dr. Murray’s actions as an employee.  But the judge allowed one claim to proceed to trial.

AEG Live will focus on Michael Jackson’s troubled past, including his child molestation trial, in an effort to shift the blame onto Michael.  Its legal team will try to focus on Michael’s drug addictions and say he — not AEG Live — was responsible for compelling Murray to administer so much propofol.

The Jackson heirs will rely heavily on key e-mails between AEG executives, including ones that stated that AEG, not Michael Jackson, was paying Dr. Murray, and another that stated that AEG had checked out Dr. Murray, who was “extremely successful”.  Further, other emails showed that someone within AEG was so concerned with Michael’s health and well being in the months leading up to his death that he recommended immediate psychological intervention.  The head of AEG Live denied that request.

Court resumes on April 10.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

March 28, 2013

By Chris B. Bennett

Special to the NNPA from The Seattle Medium


Ghettopoly – a racially insensitive game modeled after the popular monopoly board game – is stirring up controversy once again. The game, which uses stereotypes often related to African Americans as the butt of its humor, was removed from the shelves from Urban Outfitters in 2003 after a nationwide protest by the NAACP that ultimately led to the game being barred from sale in the United States after Hasbro, makers of the game monopoly, sued the inventor of the game, David Chang, for copyright infringement.According to Kathy Carpano, a spokesperson for Hasbro, “the company was successful in obtaining a default judgment against Mr. Chang and in June of 2006, the Court issued a permanent injunction against the Ghettopoly game and Hasbro was awarded both damages and costs.”

However, despite the permanent injunction, the game, which features a pimp, a hoe, a 40-ounce bottle, a machine gun (oozie), a marijuana leaf, a basketball and a piece of crack as game pieces, is once again available for sale — most notably through Seattle-based, online retail giant Amazon at a premium price of $114.99.

The game’s official website automatically re-directs visitors to the page where the product is sold on Amazon’s website.

According to a domain registration search, the domain is registered under Ghetto Poly Inc. The domain registration was last updated in August 2012, and lists Chang as both the administrative and technical contact.

In a 2003 interview with The Seattle Medium, Chang, who emigrated at age eight from Taiwan with his family, said he views the game as humorous and not degrading.

 “Ghettopoly is controversial because its both fun and real life,” Chang told The Medium. “The graphics on the board depict every race in the country and both genders. It draws on stereotypes not as a means to degrade, but as a medium to bring together in laughter. If we can’t laugh at ourselves and how we each utilize the various stereotypes, then we’ll continue to live in blame and bitterness.”

According to a press release promoting the game, Chang did his market research by watching MTV and studying the lyrics of rap and hip-hop music, and video games provided him insight into the culture of the ghetto allowing him to come up with the names of the properties of the game in just a few hours.

Chang doesn’t feel that the game depicts any single group, rather that it pokes fun at everything associated with the ghetto.

 “The playing of the game is not to offend people, that’s not my intention,” stated Chang. “It’s a satire. If they can’t see that there is nothing I can do about that. I’m not here to convince them otherwise.”

However, many African American leaders found the game to be offensive, as it allows players to buy crack houses and projects instead of houses and hotels. Property names include: Ray Ray’s Chicken and Ribs, Harlem, Busta Rap Recording, Malcolm X Ave., Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Hernando’s Chop Shop. In addition, instead of having railroads like the original monopoly game, players can purchase liquor stores. One of the Ghetto Stash cards (equivalent to Monopoly’s Community Chest cards) reads: “You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50 from each player.”

Carl Mack, former president of the Seattle/King County NAACP, did not find the game funny or amusing.

 “Everything about the game is degrading,” said Mack during an interview with The Medium in 2003. “It promotes every insensitive and racial stereotype that America has been in the forefront of creating with Black folks.”

Mack and a former Seattle/King County NAACP member, Eric Dawson, were the catalyst of the 2003 nationwide protest of the game when they went into the Downtown Seattle Urban Outfitters store and demanded that they game be taken off the shelf.

The recent discovery that the game is once again available for sale has many in the African American community questioning the availability of the game through a retailer like Amazon.

The Medium contacted Amazon regarding the sale of the game on their website. According to Amazon’s website, ‘listings for items that Amazon deems offensive are prohibited on Amazon.com. Amazon reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of listings on its site, and remove any listing at any time.’ Examples of prohibited listings include, ‘Products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.’

When asked by The Medium, if this game [Ghettopoly] would fall under this category? And If so, why is it allowed to be sold on amazon.com. Amazon responded by saying, “Amazon will not be releasing comment.”

 “All that this is, is another example of a company that is willing to make money off of a product regardless of the racial indignity or racial insensitivity of that product,” said Mack of Amazon’s response. “Amazon is just as guilty as he is [David Chang]. If they know about it and don’t do a thing about it then they are just as racially insensitive as this guy, David Chang, is.”

 “Here is their policy about racially insensitive material,” continued Mack. “Given their policy, they still don’t appear to have a problem with selling this [game]. In our minds they don’t value diversity, and they certainly don’t value the dignity of Black folks as clients.”

As of press time, six days after being contacted, the game is still available through Amazon’s website.

 “It appears to me that they [Amazon] will not do the right thing until they are forced to do the right thing, and that is something that we should always remember,” said Mack.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

March 28, 2013

Special to the NNPA from the New Pittsburgh Courier


Just a few days ago, it was announced by Michael Baisden that he was leaving his popular radio show.  The announcement stunned observers, since the show was doing so well.  It also appeared that Baisden was leaving on his own accord, and that he would have a few days to say goodbye to listeners before heading off the air.

But these reports are being contradicted by Access Atlanta, who says that Baisden has been locked out of his studio and can’t even finish out the show on his own terms.  Here is the original tweet that Baisden sent out to the public.

At 3pm ET today, Michael and George (Willborn) will begin saying goodbye after 10 years on radio. Tell everyone to tune in and call in to show some love for the most thought provoking, funny, and socially active shows ever to come to radio!

Baisden’s tune changed later on when it was revealed that he’d been locked out of the studio and couldn’t come in to properly finish off the show before leaving.

In the words of Rodney King, “Can’t we all get along?” Just because we couldn’t come to an agreement is no reason to deprive the listeners, our affiliates, and our advertisers of only 9 days to say goodbye and show our appreciation.

All their action does is make me more determined than ever to come back! And next time there will be no middlemen between me, my affiliates, and my listeners. Lesson learned!

I’ll miss you family, stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter for my daily inspiration post and updates on the return of The MB Show! The journey continues!!!]

Radio Facts claims that the negotiations between Baisden and Cumulus did not go well and that they are upset that he released information to the public before getting their permission to do so.  Negotiations were still pending, but it appears that Baisden walked away from the table.

Baisden said more about the situation on his Facebook page:

Who would have ever thought that a Black man from the South Side of Chicago, with no college degree, no formal training in radio, TV, or writing, and the youngest son to a single 17 year-old teenaged mother with three children, would one day lead civil rights protest and help to elect the first Black President. Life is truly amazing!

I am proud of what I have accomplished with my life and look forward to what is to come next. Life is full of new beginnings, whether it’s a new relationship or a new business venture; change is the one constant…and we must learn to embrace it.

For years I’ve encouraged you to step out on faith to live your dream, to never compromise your principles, and most importantly, not to be afraid to try something new, but above all else, dare to be different. Well, it’s time for me to practice what I preach!

When I began writing books in 1993, my only goal was to have a positive impact and challenge people to think outside the box. In 1995 I took that leap of faith and left my job with a four-year-old child to support, three thousand dollars in my pocket, and a dream. And as strange as this may sound, there was never a doubt in my mind that I would make it.

Call it cockiness or confidence, but I was determined that no force on earth was going to stop me from realizing my dreams. And after five best selling books, two stage plays, two televisions shows, three DVDs, and one of the most successful radio programs in history, I’m just getting started!

No, it was not my intention to leave radio, I had plans for The Michael Baisden Live Tour, my 10-year anniversary party in DC in July, and I was looking forward to being on the air this summer to get justice for Trayvon Martin and his family.

But sometimes fate, the universe, God, or however you want to label that undeniable force, has it’s own plans. Someone once told me that the greatest experiences in life are unplanned ones. I guess I’m about to test that theory.

We wish Michael the best of luck in his new endeavors.  We’re sure they will be successful.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

March 28, 2013



You may find that discussions at home have taken a sudden, spiritual orientation. Give everyone room to express their personal beliefs without trying to preach your point of view.  Your open-mindedness helps you with deep learning this week. Soul Affirmation: The winner is me. I smile for the cameras.



Feeling bold, are we? Well, go with the flow of your feelings! No other sign can call on inner courage as easily as you. Whether at home, at work, or out on the town, let your personal statements be stylish and bold! Soul Affirmation: This week is the week the Lord has made. I rejoice in it.



Tempers may flare around you this week but it’s nothing personal, so keep your mind on your own work and let others act up. You’ll be doing yourself a big favor if you get some exercise this week! Soul Affirmation: I change the way I look at business this week.



Restless feelings may arise over health matters, or perhaps education or the lack of it. Do what you need to do to feel comfortable with yourself. If it involves seeing a dentist or taking a class, what’s stopping you? Self-improvement can be a very enjoyable game! Soul Affirmation: Hope is future’s way of shining on me this week.



Set a limit on what you can do for others this week. You’ll enjoy your feelings more if you are straightforward about refusing a less than appetizing assignment. Trust your feelings and say “No, I won’t.” Clear boundaries help you define yourself. Soul Affirmation: I get joy from giving good things.



Let happiness flow inside and outside of you this week. Refuse to be drawn into any pseudo-crisis and you’ll stay happy. Stay quietly on task and you’ll have accomplished much by the end of this busy week. Soul Affirmation: I flavor my life with good wishes towards everyone this week.



A dream in which you already are what you hope to be will offer much insight into your current situation. Take some practical steps to keep the focus on this wonderful vision. You know you can be what you see! Soul Affirmation: I am a giver of good words this week.



Do you realize that you are the only one who can tell you what to think and how to feel? Let go of any behaviors that are keeping you from achieving the things you want to achieve. Be creative and positive this week. Soul Affirmation: I focus on long-range financial security this week.



You can be very efficient this week if you set your will to the task. New ideas will occur to you as you are working steadily, so keep pencil and paper nearby to jot down your latest brilliance! Soul Affirmation: I give love and love gives to me.



Avoid getting involved in any office politics or family feuds this week. The week’s energy is excitable, but not necessarily exciting. Do your own thing and be proud of what you do. Let others do their own thing, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. Soul Affirmation: Money opens doors for friendship to enter.



A message this week may necessitate travel on your part, and you may feel obligated to do something you don’t want to. Let the energy flow past you and do what you think is best. Who you are is who you are—be glad about it! Soul Affirmation: I fill my mind with visions of love this week.



You wake up feeling peaceful and wise. Discussions with a close friend may reveal the source of your inner freedom in a very tangible way. So talk about it. You’ve got everything good to gain. Soul Affirmation: I let my mind go slack and tighten up my body.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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