Jennifer Hudson speaks out for first time about family murders of mother, brother and nephew

A year and a half after the brutal murder of her mother, brother and nephew, Jennifer Hudson has finally broken her silence about the slayings."It's all a blur, it was surreal," she told "Behind the Music." "It was like I was outside of myself."The "American Idol" alum, 28, said the tragedy, which took place in October 2008, sent her into seclusion for weeks."For almost two weeks straight . . . [I was] inside one room with just family and friends coming in and out," she told the VH1 show. "I prayed when I'd get up in the morning and prayed before I lay down at night."The Oscar-winning actress also said she turned down a film role in the wake of the sad events. "I was like, I have to get adjusted to who I am," she said. "I can't be another character if I don't even know who I am."Monday’s "Behind the Music" tell-all marks one of the first times Hudson has spoken out about the triple murder, which was carried out by her brother-in-law, William Balfour. The incident left her mother, Darnell, her older brother, Jason, and her 7-year-old nephew, Julian, dead.She initially acknowledged the killings one month after they occurred, writing on her MySpace page in November 2008, "I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. My sister and I take great comfort and strength from your love and concern."David Otunga has helped her heal. Winnie Mandela biopic "Winnie." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

A first-time voter feels the liberating rush of a civic act

Every year, there are particular days we observe, days we hold dear: Christians have Christmas, Jews have Chanukah, Muslims have Ramadan, etc. These are the particularly special days we value, the days we share with our friends and our families, and which we also cherish for ourselves.Of course, there also are particular days that not many people care for, and which many actually spit upon with contempt: like Election Day.The most important aspect of my experience voting today was that it was my very first time, not my second or third or umpteenth. I view voting as an important civic act. It is something everyone should do when they are of legal age. By casting your vote, you can make your voice heard in an election, and you can create change in your district, in your neighborhood, in your city, in your state and in your country.When I went to vote this morning in the Democratic primaries for mayor, comptroller, public advocate and city council, I felt a tremendous sense of adulthood. It felt as though I had been liberated from the shackles of childhood and thrown in to the fields of maturity.As I carefully scanned my options, thinking about which candidate I wanted to vote for, I realized I had been waiting for this moment for quite a while. Pulling the red lever, I applied some extra force just to make sure it was actually there, that I was indeed voting and not dreaming. Even the act of just departing the curtains was so hard to believe that I needed to blink a few times before actually remembering to step out of the booth. Of course, in the end I remembered that I needed to get to school, so I stepped out and took my school things.Of course, today’s primaries weren’t being held for President, Senator or Representative. However, large scale changes have always begun with smaller events, localized actions which reflected popular demands for reforms. From the pandemonium of the past to the peacefulness of the present, small changes have always bred Continue Reading

Detour forces 83rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to bypass Broadway for first time ever

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade plays off-Broadway for the first time tomorrow, but its famous balloons and floats will still come out in all their glory.The 83rd annual Thanksgiving Day Parade makes the detour to bypass the new pedestrian plazas in Times and Herald squares. "Dramatic changes in the midtown landscape will divert us for the first time from the fabled Broadway route we have followed since our first parade in 1924," said Robin Hall, director of Macy's National Events. "With the street fixtures, lighting and concrete barriers, you couldn't drive anything down those streets," Macy's spokesman Orlando Veras said. The new route is slightly longer - 2.65 miles compared with 2.5 - and has more sharp turns. It rolls down Central Park West from 77th St., makes a left at Central Park South, proceeds down Seventh Ave., turns left at 42nd St., a right onto Sixth Ave. and another right to end at 34th St. and Seventh Ave. The procession of giant helium balloons will include the return of Spider-Man, who had been absent since 1998. "He's been working out so he's a little more muscular," Veras said of the 78-foot-high balloon. Mickey Mouse will appear in its fourth incarnation as a sailor atop an anchor. A balloon of the Pillsbury Doughboy will make its parade debut. The weather should accommodate balloon handlers and spectators alike. Winds are expected to be mild; temperatures will hover in the low to mid-50s under cloudy skies. A crowd of more than 3 million is expected to start lining up far ahead of the 9 a.m. start time. It takes an hour and 10 minutes for the parade to pass any particular spot. Recommended viewing locations include Central Park West between 61st and 72nd Sts. and Seventh Ave. around 50th St. The area near Herald Square, where NBC broadcasts the parade, should be avoided. The jumbo balloons get inflated today. Entrance to the public viewing area is at 79th St. and Columbus Ave. between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Bushwick visits EBC/ENY for the first time since off-court violence mars 2008 meeting

The tiny gym was quiet, aside from the occasional clang of a basketball and the shrill of a whistle. There was no cheering, and spectators were prohibited from attending the game between Brooklyn 'B' East rivals Bushwick Campus and EBC/ENY on Thursday in East New York. The uneasy atmosphere was the residue of a sordid event two years ago that remains fresh in the minds of both teams' players, classmates and coaches. In the minutes following Bushwick's 65-64 win on Jan. 15, 2008, the Tigers left through a side door of EBC, a former sewing factory, into the winter air only to find themselves fighting for their lives. An angry mob lingered on Herkimer Street, waiting for the visitors to emerge. When they did, the players were met with bottles, fists and other objects that seemed to rain down in bunches. "They ambushed us," said Bushwick coach Walter Jordan. "There was a mob of kids waiting for us, throwing bottles, rocks. They chased us back into the building. There were just three school safety officers there, and they were all female." Players from Bushwick left with bruised ribs and busted lips. One person who witnessed the incident, a friend of a Bushwick player, said he was nearly stabbed. Thursday's game marked the first time that Bushwick had returned to EBC since the violent episode, and the players said they were uneasy from the moment they arrived. "The second I walked in the school, I caught a flashback," said Bushwick senior Devon Carr. "I felt some chills, like, here we are again." Added Jahseth Lloyd, a 6-5 senior: "I didn't want to go in there in fighting mode. I was looking around, making sure that everything was safe. I mean, we were trying to play basketball; you don't want to think that you might have to fight." Investigations by the PSAL and NYPD followed the melee, and the Department of Education determined that no one from the EBC team was involved in the fight, Bushwick athletic director Vernon Dye said, though he was unsure Continue Reading

Tests for management jobs on tap for first time since 2005

It's the end of the year and time to catch up on some odds and ends, job openings and other civil service news. For the first time since 2005, the state is holding a Civil Service exam for certain management jobs. The Professional Careers and Professional Careers (Diversity Management) tests will be given in March. Interested applicants need to register by Jan. 5. Even though state officials have talked about slashing jobs, certain posts will continue to be filled, according to the New York State Department of Civil Service. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or plan to earn a degree by Aug. 31, 2009. More details and information about applying online are available on the state Civil Service Web site through the following link: Key fellowship deadline looms The city's Urban Fellows Program gives college seniors and recent graduates an inside look at how city government works. Applications for the 2009-10 program are due Jan. 9. The nine-month fellowship, which is sponsored and administered by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, is designed to foster interest in local government and public service. Fellows work in various city agencies and the mayor's office. They also participate in a seminar series that focuses on urban issues. The application process is complex (essays, recommendations, transcripts, etc. are required) and the competition is fierce. Former fellows include Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs, who was in the 1985-86 class; Robert Walsh, commissioner of the city's department of Small Business Services, who was in the class of 1981-82, and Gene Russianoff, attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group's Straphanger's Campaign, who was in the class of 1976-77. For more information, go to the DCAS Web site at Laughs for good cause Retired city cops and firefighters will be Continue Reading

NO/NO, Faux Fiction and Bo & Airo take the stage at Summerfest for the first time ever

Gabby Kartz kept going over her set list in her head before her Summerfest performance Thursday afternoon.The nerves were understandable; it was her first time playing the Big Gig.Three local groups, including Kartz' band, played at the festival for the first time Thursday as part of the "Milwaukee Bands to Watch: Summerfest Firsts" showcase. RELATED: Live coverage from Summerfest 2017 RELATED: Summerfest 2017 interactive schedule RELATED: Share your Summerfest memories Kartz's band Faux Fiction kicked off the event. The power pop/rock group formed in 2014 and released its debut full-length album, "Staring at the Sun," in 2016. The group is composed of lead singer Kartz, bassist Peter Hair and drummer Paul Tyree.Faux Fiction debuted a few new tracks, including "Full Metal Jacket" and "Trainwreck," during their '90s rock-inspired set.Next up was Bo & Airo's Eris Campbell and William Rose, who performed at their first front-and-center Summerfest show Thursday. The hip-hop and funk-inspired duo have previously played with other groups at the Big Gig, but Thursday was their first time performing their own songs at the event.  Continue Reading

Airbus shows off A350 cabin for the first time

HAMBURG — Airbus showed off the interior of its new Airbus A350 XWB for the first time ever Monday at a press event at its Hamburg facility. Airbus' mock-up of its "MSN002" flight-test version of the A350 featured a an economy cabin laid out in a nine-abreast (3x3x3) configuration. The business-class cabin featured lie-flat seats in a four-abreast (1x2x1) layout. PHOTOS: The first look inside the Airbus A350 XWBWhile the unveiling of the interior is a significant development for the A350, the version showed on Monday is just a mock-up by Airbus that shows potential options its airline customers can choose for their versions of the jet. It will be up to individual airlines to decide both the density and types of seats they'll choose for their A350s. Qatar Airways is scheduled to be the first airline to fly paying passengers in the A350. That carrier is scheduled to take delivery of its first A350 by the end of 2014. TWITTER: You can follow me at Airbus' A350 will seat 250 to 300 in typical configurations, Chris Emerson, senior vice president of marketing at Airbus, said Monday at the unveiling of the A350 interior. But the aircraft could seat as many as 400 in an all-coach, "high-density" configuration that's common among discount carriers.Made largely from carbon composite materials like Boeing's Dreamliner, the A350 made its first flight in June 2013 and is in the process of flight testing so that it can be certified for airlines to fly. The A350 remains on schedule to be delivered to launch customer Qatar Airways by the year's end, Emerson said.As for the passenger experience on the A350, Emerson touted the new jet's wider-than-normal 221-inch cross section. He said the extra width on the wide-body jet would give customers a more-comfortable seat width of 18 inches – provided airlines that buy the jet don't install more than nine seats per row.While that nine-abreast count is the layout Airbus envisions for the economy Continue Reading

William & Mary men’s basketball team aims to end NCAA Tournament drought and go dancing for first time ever

Thomas Jefferson never got to spray-paint his body green and gold and go to an NCAA tournament game in his undergraduate days at the College of William & Mary. Neither did Sandra Day O’Connor, former chancellor, or Jon Stewart, a more recent alum of the nation’s second oldest university. Sometimes, in the course of human events, it is time for historic oh-fers to end. William & Mary’s men’s basketball team has a major star with a Richard Sherman hairdo (but not a Richard Sherman mouth); a do-it-all forward with deep New York roots; a 6-8 AD who goes back to the 1969 NBA draft with Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a coach who transformed a glorified intramural program into a perennial conference power and wouldn’t be here without the late Dean Smith. It could be that the school’s pursuit of bracket happiness finally reaches fruition this weekend. Or as that AD, Terry Driscoll, the former Boston College star who was selected three picks after Big Lew in the ’69 draft, put it, “We keep knocking on the door. Eventually they have to let us in.” It’s a fascinating cast of characters in Williamsburg, Va., where student-athletes actually stay in college for four years — and graduate! — and where there is no academic machinery to steer ballplayers into a cupcake major to ensure their continued eligibility. So even if you’re rooting for St. Francis of Brooklyn, the No. 1 seed in the Northeast Conference, to make it to its first NCAA Tournament this weekend, well, it doesn’t mean you can’t salute the school from a little town famous for three-cornered hats, a Colonial Restoration and Marcus Thornton, a kinetic, 6-4 senior guard who Florida coach Billy Donovan called “as good a guard as we'll see this year.” Thornton is the Colonial Athletic Association’s player of the year two years running, and figures to get some serious NBA looks. He recently Continue Reading

WWE bringing SummerSlam to Barclays Center for first time

WWE’s biggest Superstars and Divas will be pile-driving their way back to the Big Apple this summer. After six years on the West Coast, WWE is bringing its powerhouse pay-per-view event, SummerSlam, to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the first time, the Daily News has learned. The main event, to be held Sunday, Aug. 23, will conclude a week-long "celebration" of wrestling and entertainment. "SummerSlam in New York matches one of the most iconic sports and entertainment celebrations with one of the world's greatest cities," John Saboor, WWE executive vice president for special events, told the Daily News. The official announcement will be made later Thursday. It’s a return to SummerSlam’s roots after the event sold out the Staples Center in L.A. for six straight years. New York, after all, is the city where the event first hit the mat, with the inaugural SummerSlam at Madison Square Garden in 1988. "We thought it made great sense to come back to the East Coast," Saboor said, "and we could not think of a better host city." “Brooklyn is an international brand and is the perfect stage for a major global event like WWE SummerSlam,” Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said. The last time WWE wowed Big Apple wrestling fans with one of its marquee events was in 2013, when WrestleMania29 invaded MetLife Stadium. “It’s not just a one-day celebration,” Saboor promised. Fans will also be able to meet their favorite stars at autograph signings and other fan events. WWE also plans to organize anti-bullying rallies, hospital visits and other community outreach programs. Tickets go on sale March 14 at 10 a.m. Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton stops in New Hampshire for first time since NYC launch rally, talks about vow for universal pre-k programs

CONCORD, N.H. — She's her own woman — and she says she'd be her own President, too. Hillary Clinton hit the campaign trail in the Granite State Monday for the first time since her big New York City launch rally, promising New Hampshire voters that she respects the policies of her predecessors — but will do things her own way if she wins. "I'm not running for President Obama's third term or my husband's third term: I'm running for my first term," Clinton said after a rally at Carter Hill Orchard. "I will pay attention to what they did — which I think on balance was good for the country. I'm very proud of the 22 million new jobs created when my husband was president, and I'm very proud that President Obama basically saved us from falling into a Great Depression," the former first lady and secretary of state told reporters. "So I will do what works ... and I will be laying out policies that will give you a very clear idea of the direction I will head," Clinton said. "I want it to be about me. I want it to be about our country and our future." Clinton's Monday barnstorm of early voting New Hampshire marked her first return to the state since the relaunch of her campaign over the weekend on Roosevelt Island. New Hampshire is something of a touchstone in the history of Clinton's quest for the White House: She famously "found her voice" and won the state in the 2008 Democratic primary after a painful loss to Obama in the Iowa caucuses. Clinton, who had three stops scheduled in New Hampshire — an early childhood education summit in Rochester, the Concord rally, and a Flag Day dinner in Manchester — also tamped down questions about whether her personal wealth distances herself from the average Americans she says she wants to help. “I’m very grateful for the success that Bill and I have had. We both come from hard-working families, and we have worked really hard Continue Reading