3 Handwritten Wills Found in Aretha Franklin’s Home

Three handwritten wills have been found in the suburban Detroit home of Aretha Franklin, months after the death of the “Queen of Soul,” including one that was discovered under cushions in the living room, a lawyer said Monday. 

The latest one is dated March 2014 and appears to give the famous singer’s assets to family members. Some writing is extremely hard to decipher, however, and the four pages have words scratched out and phrases in the margins.

Franklin was 76 when she died last August of pancreatic cancer. Lawyers and family members said at the time that she had no will, but three handwritten versions were discovered earlier this month. Two from 2010 were found in a locked cabinet after a key was located.

The 2014 version was inside a spiral notebook under cushions, said an attorney for Franklin’s estate, David Bennett. 

Bennett, who was Franklin’s lawyer for more than 40 years, filed the wills on Monday. He told a judge that he’s not sure if they’re legal under Michigan law. A hearing is scheduled for June 12. 

Bennett said the wills were shared with Franklin’s four sons or their lawyers, but that a deal wasn’t reached on whether any should be considered valid. A statement from the estate said two sons object to the wills.

Sabrina Owens, an administrator at the University of Michigan, will continue to serve as personal representative of the estate.

“She remains neutral and wishes that all parties involved make wise choices on behalf of their mother, her rich legacy, the family and the Aretha Franklin estate,” the statement said.

In a separate court filing, son Kecalf Franklin said Aretha Franklin wanted him to serve as representative of the estate in the 2014 will. He is objecting to plans to sell a piece of land next to his mother’s Oakland County home for $325,000. 

Judge Jennifer Callaghan in April approved the hiring of experts to appraise Franklin’s assets and personal belongings, including memorabilia, concert gowns and household goods. The Internal Revenue Service is auditing many years of Franklin’s tax returns, according to the estate. It filed a claim in December for more than $6 million in taxes.

Franklin’s star, meanwhile, hasn’t faded since her death. She was awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize in April, cited posthumously for her extraordinary career. A 1972 concert film, “Amazing Grace,” was released with much praise from critics.

The estate is involved in “many continuing projects … including various television and movie proposals, as well as dealing with various creditor claims and resulting litigation,” Bennett said. 

From: MeNeedIt

3 Handwritten Wills Found in Aretha Franklin’s Home

Three handwritten wills have been found in the suburban Detroit home of Aretha Franklin, months after the death of the “Queen of Soul,” including one that was discovered under cushions in the living room, a lawyer said Monday. 

The latest one is dated March 2014 and appears to give the famous singer’s assets to family members. Some writing is extremely hard to decipher, however, and the four pages have words scratched out and phrases in the margins.

Franklin was 76 when she died last August of pancreatic cancer. Lawyers and family members said at the time that she had no will, but three handwritten versions were discovered earlier this month. Two from 2010 were found in a locked cabinet after a key was located.

The 2014 version was inside a spiral notebook under cushions, said an attorney for Franklin’s estate, David Bennett. 

Bennett, who was Franklin’s lawyer for more than 40 years, filed the wills on Monday. He told a judge that he’s not sure if they’re legal under Michigan law. A hearing is scheduled for June 12. 

Bennett said the wills were shared with Franklin’s four sons or their lawyers, but that a deal wasn’t reached on whether any should be considered valid. A statement from the estate said two sons object to the wills.

Sabrina Owens, an administrator at the University of Michigan, will continue to serve as personal representative of the estate.

“She remains neutral and wishes that all parties involved make wise choices on behalf of their mother, her rich legacy, the family and the Aretha Franklin estate,” the statement said.

In a separate court filing, son Kecalf Franklin said Aretha Franklin wanted him to serve as representative of the estate in the 2014 will. He is objecting to plans to sell a piece of land next to his mother’s Oakland County home for $325,000. 

Judge Jennifer Callaghan in April approved the hiring of experts to appraise Franklin’s assets and personal belongings, including memorabilia, concert gowns and household goods. The Internal Revenue Service is auditing many years of Franklin’s tax returns, according to the estate. It filed a claim in December for more than $6 million in taxes.

Franklin’s star, meanwhile, hasn’t faded since her death. She was awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize in April, cited posthumously for her extraordinary career. A 1972 concert film, “Amazing Grace,” was released with much praise from critics.

The estate is involved in “many continuing projects … including various television and movie proposals, as well as dealing with various creditor claims and resulting litigation,” Bennett said. 

From: MeNeedIt

CDC: Measles Cases in US Continue to Rise

Federal health officials report 41 new cases of measles across the U.S. last week, bringing the number of total cases for the year to 880 — the highest number recorded since 1994.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports outbreaks in 24 states, with only the very Deep South and Northern Plains spared.

The CDC says outbreaks in several states, including California, Georgia, Michigan and New York, are linked to travelers who are suspected of bringing back the virus from countries with large measles outbreaks, such as Israel, the Philippines and Ukraine.

The CDC recommends vaccinations for everyone older than 12 months, except those who already had the disease as children and have become immune.

The virus has spread among school-age children whose parents have chosen not to vaccinate them. Parents who do not vaccinate their children often cite religious beliefs or the concerns the vaccine may cause autism or other health problems, despite scientific studies that have debunked such claims.

The World Health Organization says parents who refuse to inoculate their children against such diseases is one of the top 10 threats to global health.

The measles vaccine, first available in the 1960s, is considered safe and effective by most public health experts, who say that it also can save lives.

The measles virus is highly contagious and is spread primarily by coughing and sneezing.

It is still a common disease in many parts of the world. It was declared eradicated in the United States in 2000 with only a handful of cases reported in the U.S. most every year since then.

Last week, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) released an update on measles activity in the Americas. It said 12 countries have reported cases in 2019: Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, the U.S., Uruguay, and Venezuela.

From: MeNeedIt

CDC: Measles Cases in US Continue to Rise

Federal health officials report 41 new cases of measles across the U.S. last week, bringing the number of total cases for the year to 880 — the highest number recorded since 1994.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports outbreaks in 24 states, with only the very Deep South and Northern Plains spared.

The CDC says outbreaks in several states, including California, Georgia, Michigan and New York, are linked to travelers who are suspected of bringing back the virus from countries with large measles outbreaks, such as Israel, the Philippines and Ukraine.

The CDC recommends vaccinations for everyone older than 12 months, except those who already had the disease as children and have become immune.

The virus has spread among school-age children whose parents have chosen not to vaccinate them. Parents who do not vaccinate their children often cite religious beliefs or the concerns the vaccine may cause autism or other health problems, despite scientific studies that have debunked such claims.

The World Health Organization says parents who refuse to inoculate their children against such diseases is one of the top 10 threats to global health.

The measles vaccine, first available in the 1960s, is considered safe and effective by most public health experts, who say that it also can save lives.

The measles virus is highly contagious and is spread primarily by coughing and sneezing.

It is still a common disease in many parts of the world. It was declared eradicated in the United States in 2000 with only a handful of cases reported in the U.S. most every year since then.

Last week, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) released an update on measles activity in the Americas. It said 12 countries have reported cases in 2019: Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, the U.S., Uruguay, and Venezuela.

From: MeNeedIt

WHO Chief Pitches Universal Health Coverage

In opening this year’s World Health Assembly, WHO General-Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the importance of universal health coverage as an essential component in the quest for a healthier, safer, fairer world.  Nearly 4,000 delegates from WHO’s 194 member states were on hand to hear the WHO chief outline the main health achievements of the past year, and current as well as future challenges.

Tedros campaigned vigorously for the adoption of universal health coverage in the run-up to last year’s election for WHO director-general.  Now a year later, he told delegates attending the World Health Assembly that great progress toward achieving national health systems has been made under his watch.

He cited ambitious initiatives which have been implemented or are in the process of being enacted in countries as diverse as Kenya, South Africa, the Philippines, Egypt and El Salvador.  

But he noted that universal health coverage is not possible without primary health care.  He said primary health care is where the battle for human health is won or lost.

“Strong primary health care is the front line in defending the right to health, including sexual and reproductive rights.  It is through strong primary care that countries can prevent, detect and treat noncommunicable diseases.  It is through strong primary health care that outbreaks can be detected and stopped before they become epidemics,” Tedros said

Over the past year, Tedros said significant progress has been made against many of the world’s causes of death and disease.  He said a historic milestone has been achieved with the rollout of the world’s first malaria vaccine in Malawi and Ghana.  

He said a new initiative was launched to eliminate cervical cancer, which kills more than 300,000 women every year.  He said battles have been won against a number of infectious and noncommunicable diseases.

At the same time, he noted many emergencies remain to be addressed.  Among them, he said, is the fight to contain the deadly Ebola virus in conflict-ridden North Kivu and Ituri provinces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

He said the risk of Ebola spreading to other areas remains very high, even though better tools than ever, such as preventive vaccines, are available to fight this deadly disease.

“But we are not just fighting a virus.  We are fighting insecurity.  We are fighting violence.  We are fighting misinformation.  We are fighting mistrust.  And we are fighting the politicization of an outbreak,” he said.

Tedros noted Ebola treatment centers have been attacked by armed men, and a WHO doctor was killed in one of these attacks.  Despite the many dangers, he said WHO and its staff remain undeterred and will continue their work until the job is finished.

 

From: MeNeedIt

Women Honored at Cannes as Gender Parity Drive Draws Scrutiny

Movie stars including Salma Hayek and Eva Longoria celebrated the role of women in cinema at a glitzy gala in Cannes on Sunday, amid a drive to promote gender equality in the industry that is still falling short of what many campaigners hoped for.

Cannes’ film festival, the world’s most important cinema showcase, last year signed a pledge to get an equal number of men and women in its top management by 2020 that is gradually gathering momentum at similar European and U.S. events.

Actors and filmmakers participating in this year’s edition have joined activists in warning that while industry attitudes were changing, progress was still slow.

“We have so much work to do and I just think we can’t let up,” Longoria told journalists at the Women in Motion dinner at Cannes, part of a program set up by luxury group Kering to push for gender equality in cinema.

“Whenever we see something improving we can’t just say ‘Oh OK let’s relax, the momentum’s going to go that way’. It won’t continue to go that way, we have to continue to change the industry for ourselves.”

Chinese actress Gong Li, the star of “Farewell My Concubine”, was awarded a prize for her career at the event.

At Cannes, four women are contending for this year’s top Palme D’Or film prize, including Franco-Senegalese Mati Diop and France’s Celine Sciamma, out of 21 entries – or just under 20 percent of the total.

Elsewhere, the proportion has sometimes been higher, with over 40 percent of the films competing at Berlin’s festival in February made by women.

“We hear a lot about how times are changing and improving, and it’s true. The idea is to support that trend. (But) the figures still don’t look good,” said Delphyne Besse, a film sales specialist and one of the founders of 50/50 by 2020, the collective behind the gender parity pledge signed by Cannes.

Of the 47 film festivals that have so far backed the drive globally, 38 percent have female heads, according to the lobby group’s figures.

Short shrift

Industry insiders said the slow progress was reflected in everything from the short shrift female directors still got in the media to their under-representation at industry events.

“Women have been making films for 11 decades now,” British actress and star of zombie movie “The Dead Don’t Die” Tilda Swinton told a news conference earlier this week.

“There are countless films by women. The question is why don’t we know about them,” she said, adding that even obituaries for female filmmakers tended to be dwarfed by those dedicated to men.

Cannes’ organizers have said they were not planning to introduce quotas dictating the gender balance of the films selected to compete at the festival.

“Cannes is only at the end of the chain. This needs to start with encouragement at film schools,” festival director Thierry Fremaux said last week.

The cinema showcase is looking to include more women its board, however, and the festival jury this year was more balanced.

“Atlantics” director Diop said festivals were still a logical starting point to highlight women’s work in the industry.

“It starts with the films, there is no festival without films, so it is an extraordinary exhibition that will give the films much bigger exposure,” she told Reuters in an interview.

 

From: MeNeedIt

Women Honored at Cannes as Gender Parity Drive Draws Scrutiny

Movie stars including Salma Hayek and Eva Longoria celebrated the role of women in cinema at a glitzy gala in Cannes on Sunday, amid a drive to promote gender equality in the industry that is still falling short of what many campaigners hoped for.

Cannes’ film festival, the world’s most important cinema showcase, last year signed a pledge to get an equal number of men and women in its top management by 2020 that is gradually gathering momentum at similar European and U.S. events.

Actors and filmmakers participating in this year’s edition have joined activists in warning that while industry attitudes were changing, progress was still slow.

“We have so much work to do and I just think we can’t let up,” Longoria told journalists at the Women in Motion dinner at Cannes, part of a program set up by luxury group Kering to push for gender equality in cinema.

“Whenever we see something improving we can’t just say ‘Oh OK let’s relax, the momentum’s going to go that way’. It won’t continue to go that way, we have to continue to change the industry for ourselves.”

Chinese actress Gong Li, the star of “Farewell My Concubine”, was awarded a prize for her career at the event.

At Cannes, four women are contending for this year’s top Palme D’Or film prize, including Franco-Senegalese Mati Diop and France’s Celine Sciamma, out of 21 entries – or just under 20 percent of the total.

Elsewhere, the proportion has sometimes been higher, with over 40 percent of the films competing at Berlin’s festival in February made by women.

“We hear a lot about how times are changing and improving, and it’s true. The idea is to support that trend. (But) the figures still don’t look good,” said Delphyne Besse, a film sales specialist and one of the founders of 50/50 by 2020, the collective behind the gender parity pledge signed by Cannes.

Of the 47 film festivals that have so far backed the drive globally, 38 percent have female heads, according to the lobby group’s figures.

Short shrift

Industry insiders said the slow progress was reflected in everything from the short shrift female directors still got in the media to their under-representation at industry events.

“Women have been making films for 11 decades now,” British actress and star of zombie movie “The Dead Don’t Die” Tilda Swinton told a news conference earlier this week.

“There are countless films by women. The question is why don’t we know about them,” she said, adding that even obituaries for female filmmakers tended to be dwarfed by those dedicated to men.

Cannes’ organizers have said they were not planning to introduce quotas dictating the gender balance of the films selected to compete at the festival.

“Cannes is only at the end of the chain. This needs to start with encouragement at film schools,” festival director Thierry Fremaux said last week.

The cinema showcase is looking to include more women its board, however, and the festival jury this year was more balanced.

“Atlantics” director Diop said festivals were still a logical starting point to highlight women’s work in the industry.

“It starts with the films, there is no festival without films, so it is an extraordinary exhibition that will give the films much bigger exposure,” she told Reuters in an interview.

 

From: MeNeedIt

Frenchman Pagenaud Takes 1st Indianapolis 500 Pole

Simon Pagenaud turned a stressful weekend into an unforgettable celebration.

Pagenaud earned his first career Indianapolis 500 pole with a four-lap average of 229.992 mph, edging three-time pole winner Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot on Sunday. He is the first Frenchman to win the Indy 500 pole in 100 years.

Carpenter, also the team owner, will start second while Pigot, the fastest qualifier Saturday, completes the front row and Chevrolet sweep of the top three spots.

Pagenaud will try to become the 18th Indy 500 winner for Team Penske and second consecutive to sweep the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Will Power of Penske did it last season.

“This is incredible, this is the biggest race in the world,” said Pagenaud, who snapped a 21-race losing streak last week with a win on Indy’s road course.

This month has been every bit as memorable for Pagenaud as it has been for Roger Penske, who is celebrating the 50th anniversary of making his first 500 as a team owner.

But Pagenaud came to the party on shaky footing because his job status with Penske is believed to be unsecure.  But the road course win was his first since the 2017 season finale and now Pagenaud has his first pole since 2017 and momentum heading into next weekend’s race.

“We gave it everything we had and it balanced well,” he said. “We trimmed (the car) more than yesterday but the car was just outstanding.”

Penske’s other drivers couldn’t even come close to Pagenaud, who moved up two spots from Saturday.

Defending race winner Power qualified sixth at 228.645. Josef Newgarden, the 2017 series champ, qualified eighth at 228.396 and three-time 500 champion Helio Castroneves did not make the nine-car pole shootout.

All three of Carpenter’s cars were fast and Ed Jones will start fourth as the trio went 2-3-4 behind Pagenaud.

“That’s the way this series is now, everything is thousandths and hundredths of a second all the way through,” Carpenter said. “You’ve got to be perfect to really put it together because if you’re not, you’re going to slide down.”

Rookie Colton Herta was the top Honda-powered driver at fifth with a speed of 229.086.

Sebastien Bourdais was seventh at 228.621 and Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indy winner, was ninth at 228.247. Bourdais drives for Dale Coyne with Vasser-Sullivan and Rossi is the only Andretti Autosport driver in the first three rows.

From: MeNeedIt

Frenchman Pagenaud Takes 1st Indianapolis 500 Pole

Simon Pagenaud turned a stressful weekend into an unforgettable celebration.

Pagenaud earned his first career Indianapolis 500 pole with a four-lap average of 229.992 mph, edging three-time pole winner Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot on Sunday. He is the first Frenchman to win the Indy 500 pole in 100 years.

Carpenter, also the team owner, will start second while Pigot, the fastest qualifier Saturday, completes the front row and Chevrolet sweep of the top three spots.

Pagenaud will try to become the 18th Indy 500 winner for Team Penske and second consecutive to sweep the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Will Power of Penske did it last season.

“This is incredible, this is the biggest race in the world,” said Pagenaud, who snapped a 21-race losing streak last week with a win on Indy’s road course.

This month has been every bit as memorable for Pagenaud as it has been for Roger Penske, who is celebrating the 50th anniversary of making his first 500 as a team owner.

But Pagenaud came to the party on shaky footing because his job status with Penske is believed to be unsecure.  But the road course win was his first since the 2017 season finale and now Pagenaud has his first pole since 2017 and momentum heading into next weekend’s race.

“We gave it everything we had and it balanced well,” he said. “We trimmed (the car) more than yesterday but the car was just outstanding.”

Penske’s other drivers couldn’t even come close to Pagenaud, who moved up two spots from Saturday.

Defending race winner Power qualified sixth at 228.645. Josef Newgarden, the 2017 series champ, qualified eighth at 228.396 and three-time 500 champion Helio Castroneves did not make the nine-car pole shootout.

All three of Carpenter’s cars were fast and Ed Jones will start fourth as the trio went 2-3-4 behind Pagenaud.

“That’s the way this series is now, everything is thousandths and hundredths of a second all the way through,” Carpenter said. “You’ve got to be perfect to really put it together because if you’re not, you’re going to slide down.”

Rookie Colton Herta was the top Honda-powered driver at fifth with a speed of 229.086.

Sebastien Bourdais was seventh at 228.621 and Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indy winner, was ninth at 228.247. Bourdais drives for Dale Coyne with Vasser-Sullivan and Rossi is the only Andretti Autosport driver in the first three rows.

From: MeNeedIt