- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 22, 2006

Adoption flap

The father of a Malawian boy pop diva Madonna is trying to adopt did an about-face yesterday, saying he had been misled about the process but stopping short of saying whether he would seek his son’s return.

“My understanding was not that Madonna would keep the child for good,” Yohane Banda, a poor farmer, told Agence France-Presse by telephone from his village of Lipunga near the Zambian border.

“I was never told the adoption means that David will no longer be my son,” he said, speaking in Malawi’s Chichewa language. “If I was told this, I would not have allowed the adoption.”

Madonna, 48, who had 13-month-old David Banda flown out of Malawi last week to join her in London, has been roundly criticized in the southern African nation and internationally over the adoption process.

The toddler’s father had earlier blasted Madonna’s critics, saying to the British press: “Where were these people when David was struggling in the orphanage? These so-called human rights groups should leave my baby alone.”

Yesterday, however, he told AFP he had not understood the adoption papers he had signed “because they were in English.”

The Human Rights Consultative Committee, a coalition of 67 Malawian rights groups, is challenging the adoption, saying adoptive parents from overseas are required by law to live in the country for 18 months.

They also have raised questions over Madonna’s credentials as a parent, evoking times when she recorded some steamy videos and had a raunchy public image.

Madonna says she and her British filmmaker husband, Guy Ritchie, began the process several months ago and acted “according to the law like anyone else who adopts a child.”

“I expect to be given a hard time about many of the things I do,” Madonna told People magazine. “I know they are provocative, and I prepare myself, but I did not expect the media, the government or any human rights organizations to take a stand against me trying to save a child’s life.”

Pacino honored

Al Pacinocan add another acting accolade to his collection.

The 66-year-old actor will receive the American Film Institute’s highest honor, the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, it was announced Friday.

Howard Stringer, chairman of the AFI board of trustees, called Mr. Pacino “an icon of American film.”

The 35th AFI Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Mr. Pacino at a tribute dinner in Los Angeles on June 7. Past recipients include Sean Connery, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Elizabeth Taylor.

A two-time Tony winner and eight-time Oscar nominee, Mr. Pacino won an Academy Award in 1992 for his role in “Scent of a Woman.”

He was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996 by the Independent Feature Project. The Hollywood Foreign Press presented Mr. Pacino with its Cecil B. De Mille Award at the Golden Globes ceremony in 2001.

Where is Wesley?

When actor Wesley Snipes was indicted on eight counts of tax fraud on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Paul I. Perez said Mr. Snipes had not been arrested because authorities did not know where he was.

However, the TV show “Inside Edition” found Mr. Snipes in Namibia, where he is renting a house for $6,000 a month while he films the movie “Gallowwalker.” He has been in the southern African nation for seven weeks, the show reported.

Prosecutors say Mr. Snipes fraudulently claimed refunds totaling nearly $12 million in 1996 and 1997 on income taxes already paid. The star of the “Blade” trilogy and other films, including “Jungle Fever” and “White Men Can’t Jump,” also was charged with failure to file returns from 1999 through 2004.

If convicted on all the charges, Mr. Snipes, 44, faces up to 16 years in prison.

Compiled by Kevin Chaffee from wire reports.

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