Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in the Steven Spielberg-directed “Lincoln,” opening nationwide Nov. 9
*With Abraham Lincoln being touted in new GOP ads as a reason for African Americans to vote Republican, a film about his struggle to preserve the union is preparing for a nationwide release on Nov. 9 – with Oscar winner Daniel Day Lewis in the title role and Steven Spielberg calling the shots.
“There are so many things I didn’t know about Lincoln, and so many different points of view about Lincoln,” the director told us at a press conference for “Lincoln,” currently in limited release. “With over 7,000 books written, to find any five books that agree on every single facet of his life is difficult.”
Spielberg chose to base his project on one of President Obama’s favorite books, “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” written by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. The script covers the last four months of his life and his battle to preserve the union by abolishing the cause of the nation’s Civil War – slavery.
Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day Lewis on the set of “Lincoln”
“The thing that really surprised me about Lincoln was that with the weight of his oath he took, the Constitutional oath to preserve the union – and he’s the only president that had the union ripped out from under him and torn in half – the fact that the weight of the war that began over slavery, that he did not himself … just crack up in the middle of his first term.
“With the Civil War raging around him, with over 600,000 lives lost, revised recently upward to 750,000, with his wife on the edge of herself, the loss of his son Willie two years before our film begins, a son lost in infancy before that, the fact that he came through this with a steady moral compass and an even keel just amazes me.”
Below, Spielberg said that Lincoln was also not above doing what he had to do – even if it was less-than-honorable – to get the legislation that he wanted, which in this case was the 14th amendment passed by a reluctant Congress.
*Haiti’s electoral council on Friday ruled that hip hop-artist Wyclef Jean cannot run for president, ending his outsider’s bid to lead the reconstruction of the earthquake-ravaged Caribbean nation.
Council spokesman Richard Dumel said election officials have accepted 19 candidacies and rejected 15 others. The Haitian-born singer’s candidacy was turned down because he did not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Haiti for five years before the Nov. 28 election.
Jean, whose parents brought him to the United States as a child, has lived off and on in Haiti in recent years. In 2007 he was named roving ambassador to Haiti by President Rene Preval, an appointment he had argued qualified him to run for president of the country.
The 40-year-old former Fugees frontman was ensconced in a hotel not far from where the electoral council was deliberating. About an hour before the candidate list was announced, Jean and his entourage left the hotel without speaking to the press.
Wyclef Jean, center, greets supporters from the top of a vehicle after submitting the paperwork to run for president of Haiti in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010.
*Wyclef Jean has written an article in the Wall Street Journal defending his decision to run for the presidency of Haiti.
“While I don’t pretend to be a miracle worker, I wholeheartedly believe that at this important time in Haiti’s history, I am the right person to put the country on the road to the brighter future it so desperately needs and deserves,” Jean wrote in the article published today.
Jean entered the presidential race last week, jetting into the Caribbean nation on a private plane and asking Haitians to give him “power for change.”
While his decision to run has won support in Haiti, where many hail him as a hero, he has also drawn criticism from figures skeptical of a hip-hop star in the national palace. But Jean wrote that Haiti needed a president “who can turn promises into reality — someone who will crisscross the earth and convince world leaders” to help the Haitian people economically.
“We also need to cultivate Haiti’s rich culture of entrepreneurship by increasing the availability of microcredit and simplifying laws and bureaucracy,” the musician stressed.
Jean lives in the New York area but has traveled to Haiti multiple times seeking to defuse gang violence and help the poorest Haitians. He has said his inspiration to enter politics emerged from the devastating January earthquake that left 250,000 people dead and 1.5 million homeless.
Haitian-born singer Wyclef Jean greets supporters after submitting the paperwork to run for president of Haiti in the next elections in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010.
*Accompanied by his wife and 5-year-old daughter, rapper/musician Wyclef Jean has submitted the necessary paperwork to run for president in his native Haiti.
The potential front-runner in Haiti’s Nov. 28 election held a rally in capital Port-au-Prince to announce his candidacy, and spoke with the Associated Press about his vision for the impoverished nation he left as a child.
The ex-Fugee frontman said as president he would encourage donors to invest heavily in education, the AP reported. He also endorsed the economic vision promoted by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.N. special envoy who is in Haiti this week. Those plans include creating jobs in the garment export industry, boosting tourism and building the capacity of Haitian farmers to reduce the nation’s chronic dependence on imports.
Wyclef Jean, center, shows his Haitian ID card as he submits the paperwork to run for president of Haiti at an electoral office in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010.
“President Clinton is focusing on the garment industry and all that. I think that’s great. But also agriculture is involved,” Jean said. “We can work both components at the same time.”
Among other potential investment targets he mentioned mining, an industry whose ramping up amid the rising price of gold and other minerals has sparked controversy in the neighboring Dominican Republic.
He responded directly Thursday to a revelation published this week on the U.S.-based website The Smoking Gun concerning his unpaid U.S. taxes.
“First of all, owing $2.1 million to the IRS shows you how much money Wyclef Jean makes a year,” he said, pledging to publish an accounting of his finances online and to repay the money he owes.
The singer also fumed when aides told him that actor Sean Penn, who has been managing an earthquake-survivor camp in the Haitian capital since the spring, had accused Jean of not spending enough time in Haiti after the quake and misappropriating $400,000 of the $9 million his charity, Yele Haiti, raised after the disaster. [See video below.]
“I just want Sean Penn to fully understand I am a Haitian, born in Haiti and I’ve been coming to my country ever since (I was) a child,” he said. “He might just want to pick up the phone and meet, so he fully understands the man.”
Jean stepped down from his chairmanship of Yele on Thursday ahead of his run for office. The organization has been accused of pre-quake financial improprieties that benefited the singer.
On Thursday, Jean took the stage at his rally as supporters sang a traditional pro-Aristide song, replacing the exiled leader’s name with Jean’s. Asked what prompted that particular tune, Jean replied he hadn’t picked it.
Angelina Jean, left, daughter of Wyclef Jean reaches out to her father as he arrives to the electoral office to submit the paperwork
The singer ultimately sees himself as an advocate for Haiti’s struggling youth. Officially running under the banner of the Viv Ansanm party — whose name means “live together” — Jean is more heavily promoting his youth movement called “Fas a Fas,” meaning face-to-face.
“Even if I lose, I win,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to be a voice to speak to government about what happens.”
• Before campaigning can begin, Jean must be cleared to run by Haiti’s eight-member provisional electoral council. Among the requirements he must fulfill are proving he has never renounced his Haitian citizenship by holding another — namely, U.S. — passport; and that he has been a resident of Haiti for the last five years — which by most accounts he has not.
• The campaign will argue that Jean’s status as a Haitian ambassador-at-large, a post he was awarded in 2007, exempts him from having not spent more time in the country of late.
*Wyclef Jean has resigned as leader of Yele Haiti, the embattled aid group he founded, as he prepares to formally declare his candidacy for the Haitian presidency, reports the AP.
The move, which was effective immediately Thursday, also comes as the IRS hits Wyclef with $2.1 million in tax liens, according to the website Smoking Gun.
The Brooklyn, N.Y.-raised singer was en route to his native Haiti and was expected to officially file his election papers Thursday afternoon at the provisional electoral council in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.
“I am not stepping down in my commitment to Haiti. On the contrary, regardless of what path I take next, one thing is certain: My focus on helping Haiti turn a new corner will only grow stronger,” Jean said in a statement.
Businessman Derek Q. Johnson will take up the helm of the organization.
Jean helped found Yele Haiti five years ago to raise money and build awareness of the myriad problems in his impoverished homeland. It raised $9 million in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed a government-estimated 300,000 people. Of that, it has spent $1.5 million on food, water, tents, clothes and other products for quake survivors, Tanenbaum said.
The organization often partnered with the United Nations and other agencies to implement its programs, lending its name and Jean’s cache to help raise funds. But Yele came under criticism when post-quake scrutiny revealed alleged improprieties including that it had paid Jean to perform at fundraising events and bought advertising air time from a television station he co-owns.
Jean tearfully defended the organization in a news conference weeks after the quake. Yele also hired a new accounting firm after the allegations surfaced.
Wyclef Jean is overcome with emotion while discussing the earthquake ravaged cities and defending Yele Haiti's relief efforts, Monday, Jan. 18, 2010, in New York.
On Wednesday, The Smoking Gun website posted documents indicating Jean personally owes $2.1 million in back taxes to the U.S. government.
In May, the IRS filed a $724,332 tax lien against Jean. Last July, the agency filed a $599,167 lien against the performer. And a $792,269 lien was lodged against Jean in July 2007. The liens cover taxes due on Jean’s individual 1040 returns for 2006, 2007 and 2008. Copies of the liens, which were filed at the Bergen County clerk’s office in New Jersey, can be viewed at left.
In 1998, Jean–whose given name is Nel Wyclef Jean–purchased a $1.85 million home at 8 Cameron Road in Saddle River, where he lives with his wife Claudinette and their family. The three IRS liens were filed against Nel W. Jean at the Cameron Road address.
Other records show that Jean, 37, has previously been the subject of two smaller tax liens filed against him by the State of New Jersey and the New York State Tax Commission, both of which were eventually satisfied.
*The American people have been wishy washy over the job that President Obama has done over the last year. Now that he’s embarking on the second year in his presidency, he is taking the demand for jobs back up to the #1 priority.
His report card should exhibit something between an A- and a B+ as he has taken on the insurmountable job of Bush’s failed policy and the country’s worst mismanagement.
The country is saying that he hasn’t taken the economy serious enough and that the lack of jobs speaks volumes to a veering off from his campaign promises. The majority of us would like to rant and rave that the banking industry and the car industry (more…)