Belafonte carries on work

When Harry Belafonte met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s, he promised to always assist in his mission. Thirty-seven years after King’s death, the actor, singer and activist is still keeping his pledge, reports The Associated Press.

Belafonte met with a group of about 60 people, many of them children, during a celebration of King’s life Saturday at a Boys and Girls Club in Lauderhill, Fla. He said the 13 years he worked side-by-side with King were “the most important of my life.”

“Each and every one of you has the power, the will and the capacity to make a difference in the world in which you live,” Belafonte said. “You should go through life knowing, “I am somebody.”‘

Freedom was the theme of many questions posed by the kids, and one query left the 77-year-old Belafonte particularly reflective. “How does it feel to be free?” 10-year-old Shawn Gordon asked.

Answered Belafonte: “When I get it, I will tell you.”

Belafonte – famous for his blend of rhythm and calypso-inspired music – is well-known for his role as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and as a leader in the civil rights movement.

He has also been a vocal critic of the Bush administration, once saying the president displays a combination “of arrogance and limited intellect.”

“All of the things that Dr. King fought for … are in jeopardy with the Bush administration,” Belafonte said.

To the delight of the children, Belafonte ended his speech with an impromptu rendition of the famous “Banana Boat Song.”

“The children honestly did not know who Mr. Belafonte is other than the Day-O song,” said B.J. Smith, a club director. “But just the mere fact that he had direct contact and worked with Dr. King, this makes him very real and important to them.”

– Knight Ridder Newspapers
Nemcova denies payoff

Supermodel Petra Nemcova has denied reports she was paid $1.5 million by an American magazine to pose for pictures while lying injured in a Thai hospital, reports The Czech catwalk queen broke her pelvis and suffered internal injuries in the tsunami that struck southeast Asia Dec. 26.

Nemcova, who was flown home last week to a hospital in Prague, was snapped by Us Weekly magazine while still in Thailand. But she insists she refused to be paid for the shots, instead asking the publication to donate all money raised from the photos to UNICEF, which is helping children affected by the deadly wave.

Nemcova, meanwhile, is recovering slowly and is still bedridden and unable to walk.

The 25-year-old was on vacation with her photographer boyfriend Simon Atlee in the Thai resort of Phuket over Christmas. She survived by clinging onto a tree for hours after her cabin was destroyed and she was swept away by a wave, but the 33-year-old Englishman is still missing.

– Knight Ridder Newspapers
‘Wire’ offers inspiration

NEW YORK (AP) – David Simon’s HBO series “The Wire” – a fictional account of a police investigation of Baltimore drug dealers – allegedly had some real-life dealers taking notes.

While announcing a crackdown on Friday of a cocaine ring, police said their investigation was hampered by the suspects’ habit of switching cell phones – a technique for evading electronic eavesdropping they picked up from TV.

“Believe it or not, these guys copied ‘The Wire,”‘ one of the investigators, Sgt. Felipe Rodriguez, said at a news conference. “They were constantly dumping their phones. It made our job so much harder.”

Police relied largely on wiretaps to infiltrate the gang, which made up to $15 million a year. The result: 12 arrests and seizure of 43 kilograms of cocaine, 18 handguns, $500,000 cash and five luxury vehicles.

While doing business by cell phone, the suspects often spoke to each other about “The Wire” after it aired on Sunday nights, Rodriguez said. Some of the officers listening to them also were fans.

“If we missed anything, we got it from them Monday morning,” the sergeant said of the television show.

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