Some music and show business heavyweights refuse to give up on Leonard Peltier.
On Friday, Harry Belafonte and Peter Coyote introduced a lineup of Oglala Sioux Nation tribal leaders, human rights activists and musicians calling on President Obama to free the ailing American Indian prisoner before Christmas. The fundraising concert was held at New York's Beacon Theatre
Imprisoned since 1976 for murdering two FBI officers during a shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Peltier, who is nearing 70, will serve time through 2040 unless the president commutes his sentence. Two codefendants were acquitted.
According to Rolling Stone magazine, folk tunes and Native American spirituals stretched over four hours, beginning with several never-performed verses of "Turn! Turn! Turn!" that 93-year-old Pete Seeger said he recently found in a batch of lyrics he'd written 60 years ago: "A time for dirt, a time for soap/A time for hurt, a time for hope," he gently wavered while strumming his acoustic guitar.Gershwin Prize for a Natural Woman
Carole King has a friend in the Library of Congress. She's the first woman to win the library's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. In her five decades of songwriting, King's hits have included "You've Got a Friend," "So Far Away" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." The library said Thursday that King will be the fifth person to receive the prize. Prior recipients include Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney. Librarian of Congress James Billington says King's work has been recorded by many artists to communicate universal human emotions like love, joy and pain. King will receive the prize in the spring and says she looks forward to performing in Washington. Honorees are typically saluted at the White House.
PENN ON HAITI: As the three-year mark approaches of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, actor-activist Sean Penn describes life in the capital city. In the January issue of Esquire magazine, Penn says a child with a fever in the U.S. gets medicine, a cold bath or a trip to the emergency room. In Haiti, he says, parents wait "to see if he's going to die or not." Penn founded a relief organization in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He spends about half his time there.
HIT, RUN AND PAY: Actress Amanda Bynes has escaped prosecution in two criminal cases involving alleged hit-and-runs after she paid civil settlements to the drivers. A Los Angeles County Superior Court last week dismissed the misdemeanor counts on two hit-and-runs, in April and in August, after her attorney reached deals with the drivers she was accused of hitting.