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Jackson patriarch plugs company after son’s death

Michael Jackson’s father, who had an uneasy relationship with the superstar, has angered fans by making a commercial plug at his first appearance since his son’s death.

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Joe Jackson, the 79-year-old patriarch of the musical clan, made a surprise showing on the red carpet at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards, which had transformed into a remembrance for the pioneering King of Pop.

During a live interview on CNN television, Jackson introduced an unidentified man who appeared to be a business partner, saying he wanted to make “a real good statement”.

“Marshall and I have — we own a record company. Talking about Blu-ray technology. That’s the next step,” Jackson said.

The blogosphere was instantly buzzing with outrage.

Warren Ballentine, an African-American motivational speaker and radio show host, said that he was flooded with angry messages over Jackson’s comments.

“Joe Jackson and his lack of sensitivity and respect disgusts me,” said one posting on Jezebel, a blog geared toward women.

Another person wrote on Jezebel that Joe Jackson’s behaviour was “almost too ghastly to consider: a man seems pursued pretty much to the grave by the demons his father planted in him, and even in death the (expletive) ghoul is still hustling his son’s corpse.”

Jackson, a steelworker in the industrial city of Gary, Indiana, reared his nine children into musical sensations starting from the Jackson 5 to the phenomenal careers of Michael Jackson and his younger sister Janet Jackson.

Michael Jackson later said that his father would beat him when he missed a note and emotionally humiliate him, contributing to the future star’s psychological fragility but also planting in him the will to succeed. Joe Jackson has acknowledged he would whip his children but denied it was abuse.

Despite the frequent recriminations, the entire family reunited earlier this year in Las Vegas to celebrate Joe and Katherine Jackson’s 60th wedding anniversary.

Honduras new leader orders curfew

The newly appointed leader of Honduras Roberto Micheletti has ordered a 48-hour curfew after denying there had been a coup d’etat on deposed President Manuel Zelaya.

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At dawn troops had roused Zelaya in his pajamas and flew him out of the country, ending a bitter power struggle with the military as parliament swiftly voted in a new leader.

Zelaya insisted when he arrived in regional neighbor Costa Rica that he remained the president of his Central American nation, but just hours later the Congress voted in the parliamentary speaker as the country’s new leader.

“A curfew begins today and ends on Tuesday,” Micheletti said at his first press conference, as worldwide condemnation for the action, led by the United States, continued.

“We recognize Zelaya as the duly elected and constitutional president of Honduras. We see no other,” a top US State Department official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Micheletti, a member of Zelaya’s own Liberal Party, maintained however after being sworn in by Congress that he “came to the presidency not by a coup d’etat but by a completely legal process as set out in our laws.”

The first such major upheaval in several decades in the impoverished country was triggered by a tense political standoff between Zelaya and the country’s military and legal institutions over his bid to secure a second term.

“I will never give up since I was elected the president by the people,” Zelaya said from San Jose, accusing Honduran troops of kidnapping him and denouncing what he called a “political conspiracy.”

But Congress said it voted unanimously to remove him from office for his “apparent misconduct” and for “repeated violations of the constitution and the law and disregard of orders and judgments of the institutions.”

Micheletti was appointed to serve out the rest of the term, which ends in January. New general elections are planned for November 29.

Zelaya, elected to a non-renewable four-year term in 2005, had planned a vote Sunday asking Hondurans to sanction a future referendum to allow him to run for re-election in the November polls.

The planned referendum had been ruled illegal by the country’s top court and was opposed by the military, but the president said he planned to press ahead with it anyway and ballot boxes had already been distributed.

The Supreme Court said Sunday that it had ordered the president’s ouster in order to protect law and order in the nation of some seven million people.

The drama unfolded at dawn on Sunday when some 200 troops swooped on Zelaya’s home. He was bundled away in his pyjamas and flown out of the country.

A leading government official, Armando Sarmiento, told AFP that at least eight cabinet members were also detained including Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas. As planes and helicopters overflew the capital, several hundred Zelaya supporters ignored warnings to stay home and flooded onto the streets of Tegucigalpa shouting out, “We want Mel,” the president’s nickname.

But the demonstration was halted in front of the presidential palace when the way was barred by a cordon of troops and armored vehicles.

US President Barack Obama said he was deeply concerned about the events in Honduras, as US officials said they recognized Zelaya as the country’s legitimate president. UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he wanted Zelaya to be reinstated and human rights in the country to be fully respected.

Last week Zelaya sacked the country’s top military chief, General Romeo Vasquez and also accepted the resignation of Defense Minister Edmundo Orellana, after military commanders refused to distribute ballot boxes for Sunday’s vote.

The heads of the army, marines and air force also resigned.

The Honduran Supreme Court then unanimously voted Thursday to reinstate Vasquez and hundreds of troops massed late last week in the capital Tegucigalpa.

Zelaya, who was elected as a conservative, has shifted dramatically to the left during his presidency.

He is the latest in a long list of Latin American leaders, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, to seek constitutional changes to expand presidential powers and also ease term limits.

Chavez also denounced Sunday’s arrest as a “coup d’etat” and alleged that the United States had a hand in Zelaya’s overthrow.

And he warned that if Venezuela’s envoys to Honduras were harmed he would be prepared to intervene militarily.

‘Rough week’ won’t touch Turnbull

Liberal frontbenchers Tony Abbott and Andrew Robb have dismissed suggestions coalition MPs will attempt to oust Malcolm Turnbull as opposition leader in the coming weeks.

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Abbott conceded the coalition had endured a nightmare week over the OzCar scandal, which has seen the party’s popularity slump with voters in three polls out on Monday.

Andrew Robb added his voice to those supporting Turnbull, saying he has “no doubt” Turnbull will lead the coalition to the next federal election.

He blamed the “soap opera-type atmosphere” of the OzCar affair for Turnbull’s loss of popularity in the polls, but expected government debt and unemployment to be the deciders in the next election.

Sharpest popularity crash in Newspoll history

A Newspoll shows the Liberal leader suffered the biggest drop in support in the poll’s 25-year history, with voter satisfaction crashing from 44 to 25 per cent.

Nielsen and Galaxy polls also indicate the affair has hurt Turnbull rather than the prime minister.

However, Abbott said leading coalition MPs were simply “getting on with their jobs and are not focusing on a leadership challenge”.

“I think people need to take a bit of a cold shower about the polls. When you’ve had a tough week you get bad polls,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“Labor threw everything bar the kitchen sink at us last week, but Malcolm Turnbull has not flinched and the party has not flinched.

“Polls go up and down, but what won’t go away is the fact that Labor has not improved things.”

When asked if there would be a leadership challenge to Turnbull, Abbott said “we’re just getting on with our jobs. I’m very happy with my position, with my portfolio.

“What could be more important than families and indigenous affairs?”

Mr Abbott also conceded he had a lot to learn before he could rise further up the party’s ranks.

“I’ve made mistakes in parliament recently and that had made me realise I’ve got some work to do, some swatting up to do,” he said.

People ‘sick of smear politics’

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has refused to comment on Turnbull’s plummeting support, but says Australians are sick of smear politics.

However, he would not comment on whether he thought Turnbull would lose his leadership of the Liberal party.

“The government is getting on with the business of jobs and supporting business amidst the worst recession in 75 years,” Rudd told reporters after a sod turning ceremony at a Sydney primary school.

“I think the Australian people are just tired of the politics of fear and smear.”

Some senior Liberal Party members have told The Australian newspaper that had parliament been sitting this week there would have been moves to replace Mr Turnbull with Hockey.

A Nielsen poll also shows a sharp decline in voter support for Turnbull, while Rudd’s approval rating rose three points to 67 per cent.

A Galaxy poll found 51 per cent of people believed Turnbull was dishonest or somewhat deceitful over the OzCar controversy.

Government ‘will serve full term’

Though Labor has widened its winning gap over the coalition, it has no intention of calling an early election, Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese said.

“We’re determined to pursue our agenda for the full term,” he told Fairfax Radio Network.

Mr Albanese says there is unrest in coalition ranks about Turnbull’s judgment.

“Many of their backbenchers were certainly muttering around the corridors … shaking their heads,” he said.

Black entertainment awards honour Michael Jackson

Top black performers paid tribute to Michael Jackson at the BET Awards where his sister Janet Jackson and father Joe Jackson made their first public appearances since the singer’s death.

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The show’s most moving moment came in a final tribute when Janet, a pop star in her own right, took the stage to thank the audience for turning out to honor her dead brother.

“To you, Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family, and he will forever live in all of our hearts,” said Jackson, her voice choking as she held back tears. “On behalf of my family and myself, thank you for all of your love. Thank you for all of your support, we miss him so much.”

She was followed by host Jamie Foxx and R&B singer Ne-Yo singing a tender duet of Jackson 5 hit “I’ll Be There,” while pictures of Jackson were displayed on a giant video screen.

A member of 1970s brother band the Jackson 5 and a musical sensation, Jackson’s 1982 smash “Thriller” is the best-selling album of all time, and Jackson was a major influence on R&B, hip hop and many other forms of music for 40 years.

Jackson died suddenly from cardiac arrest at age 50 in his Los Angeles home on Thursday. The BET Awards, which annually honor African American singers, actors, actresses and athletes, transformed into a tribute to the pop superstar.

In the front row, Joe Jackson watched performances by the likes of Beyonce, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and the O’Jays, most of whom either gave testimonials to Jackson or in some way highlighted his influence on their own careers.

‘He belongs to us’

Ahead of the show, Joe Jackson told Reuters that if his son were there, “He would have said, ‘I love you all,’ that’s what he would have said. “I love you all,” and he would’ve loved everybody … I only wish that he could’ve been here to see all this,” Joe Jackson said.

Show host Jamie Foxx put the program in party mode from the start, dancing Jackson’s famous moonwalk, singing his hit song “Beat It” and wearing a classic King of Pop costume — red leather jacket and one white glove.

“We’re going to celebrate this black man. He belongs to us, and we shared him with everybody else,” Foxx told the crowd.

Two inspiring moments came when Beyonce sang a version of Ave Maria in an angelic white dress, and later when accepting her award for best female R&B artist, she held her trophy up.

“This is for you, Michael Jackson,” she said, thanking him for being an inspiration and a “hero” to her. Later in the evening, Beyonce also won the award for best video.

Many performers sang Jackson songs and dressed as he did when he was on stage — leather jackets, high pants, white socks, uniform-like costumes and a single white gloved hand.

Some of the winners included best male R&B singer Ne-Yo, best actress Taraji P. Henson, best male hip hop artist Lil Wayne, and best male athlete, basketball star LeBron James.

While the 50-year-old Jackson was loved by many, he lived a reclusive life in his final years, and in the 1990s he was twice accused of child molestation — charges never proven.

His death continues to be shrouded in questions of prescription drug use and, although an autopsy was performed, it will be four to six weeks before an official cause of death can be determined after toxicology tests are completed.

But music mogul and rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs set the tone for the night on the red carpet, telling reporters Jackson “is one of our heroes. As African Americans, we are not going to let everybody beat him up.”

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; editing by Anthony Boadle)

UN mission hears of Gaza war horrors

Monday’s public hearings are part of the UN Human Rights Council mission’s investigation into alleged war crimes during the 22-day offensive launched in late December that killed about 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

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The group is headed by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge who previously served as chief prosecutor for international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

On Monday the panel heard from Dr Iyad Sarraj, a child psychologist who described the war’s impact on children living in the impoverished territory of 1.5 million people.

Sarraj estimated that 20 per cent of children in Gaza suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome brought on by witnessing violent acts.

“The amount of killing and blood that they have seen or that their relatives have suffered from… it’s a huge amount, and this leads to negative psychological feelings, to radicalism and a cycle of violence,” he said.

More than half of Gaza’s population is under 18 years of age.

On Sunday, the mission heard a wheelchair-bound man describe how an Israeli shell hit his home, killing 11 of his relatives and cutting off his legs. Another man described a strike on a mosque that killed 17 people.

The group was expected to look into several allegations of human rights violations that emerged in the aftermath of the assault, which Israel said was aimed at stemming Palestinian rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled enclave.

Israeli authorities have so far refused to allow the investigators into the country and have accused the mission of bias against the Jewish state.

“The mandate is so one-sided, no fair, thinking person could see it as objective,” government spokesman Mark Regev said on Sunday.

“The UN Human Rights Council has over the last months and years totally discredited itself as a serious vehicle for advancing human rights.”

The 47-member council voted by a large majority in January to probe accusations of “grave” human rights violations by Israel but the team was later given a broader mandate to deal with “all violations” during the war.

Israel has insisted it made every effort to spare civilians, including dropping thousands of flyers warning residents to flee ahead of strikes.

It has also said that Palestinian fighters and rocket launchers operated in crowded residential areas, using civilians as human shields, a charge also lodged by rights groups against the Islamist Hamas movement ruling Gaza.

The group plans to hold similar hearings in Geneva in which they will interview witnesses and experts on alleged violations in Israel and the occupied West Bank, and to issue a final report by September 12.