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TRIAL DATE SET IN R. KELLY CHILD PORN CASE

R. Kelly will go on trial next month, five years after he was charged with child pornography. Judge Vincent Gaughan set a Sept. 17 date for the start of a jury trial, according to the Cook County, Ill., state's attorney's office. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on its Web site that the date was set after a lengthy meeting Wednesday among the judge, the lead prosecutor, the R&B singer and his lawyers. Kelly, who was born Robert Sylvester Kelly, has pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of child pornography. He was charged in 2002 and is accused of engaging in videotaped sex acts with an underage girl. Kelly's attorneys haven't conceded that he is on the tape, saying his likeness may have been computer-generated. They have also tried to raise doubts about the identity and age of the girl.

New U.S. poet laureate named

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Charles Simic, who was born in Yugoslavia, will be the new U.S. poet laureate, the Library of Congress said Thursday. Simic won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1990 for his book of prose poems, The World Doesn't End. He also is an essayist, translator, editor and professor emeritus of creative writing and literature. "I am especially touched and honored to be selected because I am an immigrant boy who didn't speak English until I was 15," Simic said.

Baldwin has soft spot for manatees

Alec Baldwin wants Floridians to be more aware of the plight of manatees. He has recorded two 30-second public service announcements for the Save the Manatee Club, which was founded by Jimmy Buffett and former governor and Sen. Bob Graham in 1981. It's not the first time Baldwin has spoken for manatees. In 2005, he voiced a marine biologist character on The Simpsons who was passionate about manatees.

Obama clarifies his comments on rap

In a profile for the 14th anniversary issue of the music glossy Vibe, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama clarifies his views on rap. Though he had a high-profile meeting with rap star Ludacris last fall, he was quoted by the Associated Press in April as saying rappers were "degrading their sisters. That doesn't inspire me." Obama told Vibe he was misquoted - he was talking about the culture as a whole, not rappers in particular.

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