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Daily Archives: October 27, 2008

Sister of ‘Dreamgirls’ star pleads for safe return of son

by Louise Daly*

Julia Hudson, the older sister of "Dreamgirls" star Jennifer Hudson, has pleaded for the return of her missing son after two members of her family were gunned down at their Chicago home.
A tearful Julia Hudson faced the media at a Baptist church on Chicago's South Side Saturday and begged for her seven-year-old son, Julian King, to be reunited with her.
"Give me my baby back. That's all I ask," she said. "I know he's out there. Put him on the side of the street. Just let him go."
The sensitive youngster, who is affectionately known as "Juicebox" or "Dr. King," has been missing since Friday, when his grandmother, Darnell Donerson, 57, and her son Jason Hudson, 29, were found shot to death inside their Englewood neighbourhood.
Police issued an all points bulletin, or Amber Alert, for King, and said he might have been abducted by a suspect in the double homicide. The bulletin also said they were searching for a white Suburban Chevrolet truck that was missing and apparently belonged to Jason Hudson.
Authorities asked the public to be on the lookout for William Balfour, who according to his MySpace page is married to Julia Hudson and step-father to Julian King.
The couple had recently separated amid some acrimony due to a dispute over a car, according to neighbours and news reports.
Balfour was taken into custody by police late Friday, according to news reports and his mother. Chicago police declined to confirm those reports. A spokesman said investigators are questioning several people of interest.
On Saturday, Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said that the department had called on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to help with the hunt for the missing youngster in case he had been taken over state lines.
"We're doing that as a precautionary measure," Weis told CNN. "We're pursuing this relentlessly." Balfour's mother told reporters that her son was not involved in the slayings or the disappearance of King.
"My son had nothing to do with this — and I'm very upset with the police because they are refusing to let me see my son," Michele Davis Balfour told reporters, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Saturday.
"Whoever has Jennifer Hudson's nephew or Julia Balfour's son, I'm begging you, me and my family, are begging you to return that son," she said.
Balfour has convictions for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possession of a stolen motor vehicle, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
He was released from prison in May 2006 and is still on probation, according to the website. Julia Hudson made no mention of her estranged husband Saturday.
Flanked by the father of her child, Greg King, 29, she pleaded over and over again for her son to be brought home as she spoke from the lectern at Pleasant Gift Mission Baptist Church in the city's Kenwood neighbourhood.
"Please just let my baby go. He doesn't deserve this," she said.
And speaking directly to her son through the cameras, she added: "I love you and momma's looking for you. I'm not going to stop until you come home."
Hudson, a school bus driver, said her famous sister had jetted home to back home from Florida when she heard about the tragedy. She†went straight to the morgue to identify her mother and brother, according to the Sun-Times.
"She flew in right away and we have been together ever since," said Hudson.
"We are still in a state of shock," she added. "It's hard. We are together. We sit and we pray. Nothing else to do but pray."
Jennifer Hudson catapulted to fame on American Idol, the wildly popular television talent show, in 2004.
In 2007, she earned an Oscar for best supporting actress for her turn in "Dreamgirls," alongside Beyonce Knowles and Jamie Foxx.



Obama, McCain take potshots in Wild West


by Stephen Collinson*

Front-runner Barack Obama and a scrapping John McCain fought a pitched battle over western states that could pave the way to the White House, a tantalising nine days before the election.
Obama played to vast crowds in New Mexico and Nevada after flying back to the mainland from paying an emotional farewell to the ailing grandmother in Hawaii who brought him up but may not live to see election day on November 4.
McCain, desperately needing to reverse Obama's momentum claimed the Democratic nominee was arrogantly banking on victory before votes were cast.
But he faced a new rash of painful headlines about his running mate Sarah Palin, amid signs finger pointing typical of losing campaigns was beginning to afflict his White House effort.
Obama made a fresh bid to shackle Senator McCain to President George W. Bush's unpopular economic legacy.
"John McCain's mad at George Bush, so opposed to George Bush's policies, that he voted with him 90 percent of the time for the past eight years," Senator Obama said in a mass rally before at least 35,000 people here.
"That's right, he decided to really stick it to George Bush 10 percent of the time."
"John McCain attacking George Bush for his out-of-hand economic policy is like (Vice President) Dick Cheney attacking George Bush for his go-it-alone foreign policy," he said, noting that Bush cast an advance ballot for the Republican nominee on Friday.
"It's like Robin getting mad at Batman."
At three stops in Nevada and New Mexico, Obama, who is vying to become America's first black president, thanked wellwishers at his three rallies for a stream of flowers sent to his 85-year-old grandmother Madelyn Dunham's apartment.
"I just want you to know it meant the world to her, it means the world to me," Obama said. "Thank you everybody for being so gracious."
McCain jumped on a report in the New York Times that Obama's transition chief had already drafted an inaugural address for the Illinois senator, suggesting he was hubristic and took voters for granted.
"Senator Obama's inaugural address is already written," McCain told a crowd of around 2,000 people at Mesilla's historic plaza. "I'm not making it up. A lot of voters are undecided but he's decided for them."
"There's still 10 days left — maybe he'll have written the State of the Union address before this thing is finished. I may be old-fashioned about these things, but I prefer to let the voters weigh in.
The Obama camp responded that the report that transition chief John Podesta had penned an address, which has already been published in a book, were false.
"While this charge is completely false and there is no draft of an inaugural address for Senator Obama, the last thing we need is a candidate like John McCain who just plans on rereading George Bush's," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.
Reports quoting fuming campaign insiders meanwhile suggested that a standoff was developing between Palin and McCain's senior aides.
The website cited four Republicans close to Palin as saying she was frustrated by her campaign handlers, whom supporters blame for a series of public relations gaffes and was willing to disregard orders.
The Alaska Governor's supporters accused McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt and senior aide Nicolle Wallace of already attempting to blame Palin for the failure of the campaign.
"These people are going to try and shred her after the campaign to divert blame from themselves," a McCain insider was quote by Politico as saying.
When asked to comment on the Politico story, Wallace said in an email: "I have no comment other than what's in the story, if people wish to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the graceful thing to do is to lie there."
A unnamed source meanwhile hit out at the Alaska governor to CNN.
"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," the McCain source said. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else."
McCain is desperate to stop Obama making a clean sweep of western states Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico which could give the Democrat breathing room as he chases key battlegrounds in the east.
National polls have Obama up anywhere from four to 14 percentage points and with a solid lead in most battleground states, but some surveys show McCain has made up some ground in Ohio, Florida and must-win Pennsylvania.