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Country song about Taliban raises ire

A new country-rock song that compares American Taliban John Walker Lindh to Jesus Christ is drawing a lot of attention _ and indignation _ days after the 21-year-old pleaded guilty to aiding the former Afghan regime. Recorded in Nashville, Tenn., by the maverick Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Steve Earle, John Walker's Blues is a ballad punctuated by the sound of Arabic prayers and refers to Lindh's interest in music videos, boy bands and religious fanaticism.

Over a layered backdrop of electric guitars played backwards, the song serves as a nightmarish, funhouse-mirror version of Fess Parker's classic 1950s Ballad of Davy Crockett.

Some Nashville commentators quickly labeled the song unpatriotic _ par for the course, they say, for an alternative country singer who has challenged the down-home platitudes of mainstream country music.

Jackson slams rap/movie crossovers

Samuel L. Jackson doesn't think much of the trend that's turning rap singers into movie stars.

"To take people from the music world and give them the same kind of credibility and weight that you give me, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker _ that's like an aberration to me," Jackson said.

Jackson has appeared with rappers in supporting roles in films such as the upcoming XXX, and he applauds Will Smith as a rapper who has won some credibility as an actor.

But overall, he dislikes the crossover trend, he told the Sacramento Bee recently.

"I know there's some young actor sitting in New York or L.A. who's spent half of his life learning how to act and sacrificing to learn his craft but isn't going to get his opportunity . . . because of some actor who's been created," the 53-year-old said.

News Emmy nominees announced

The 23rd annual News and Documentary Emmy Award nominees were announced Monday by Peter O. Price, president of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

"This year's awards will pay tribute to the role of broadcast journalists in covering 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan, among the most significant news stories in modern history . . . including the AIDS crisis as a world health problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," said Bill Small, vice chairman for news and documentaries.

The awards, titled 9/11 to 9/11: A Tribute to News Professionals, will be presented on Sept. 10, in New York.

A complete list of the award nominations is available at

_ Times wires