Belgian King Albert to step aside for son
Weighed down by the years, Belgium’s King Albert announced Wednesday that he will hand the throne of his fractious kingdom to his son, Crown Prince Philippe, on the country’s national holiday, July 21.
The move had been rumored for weeks and will end nearly two decades of steady reign over a country increasingly torn apart by political strife between northern Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking southern Wallonia.
Belying his frailty and 79 years of age, Albert stood upright and confident as he delivered the nationwide message to the cameras. Behind him, a massive portrait of Leopold I, the nation’s first king in 1831, sternly looking down on him.
Albert said his age and health no longer allowed him to carry out his functions as he’d want to. “I would not fulfill my duties,” he said, “if I clung at all cost to my position in these circumstances.”
Steve Martin’s wallet found, returned
Steve Martin is known as a wild and crazy guy, but he’s also a lucky one: A stranger found his wallet on a Pennsylvania street and returned it to the entertainer.
Martin apparently lost his wallet while bicycling before performing Tuesday night in Wilkes-Barre. Will Beekman, programming director at the concert hall where Martin performed, said a man working on a city street found the wallet. He knew Martin’s bluegrass show was in town, so he contacted the concert hall to say he’d found it.
Beekman said Martin insisted on thanking the man in person, but he wasn’t sure whether the man got a reward. The wallet had Martin’s driver’s license and credit cards but no cash. Beekman says he didn’t get the man’s name.
50 Cent charged in altercation
The rapper 50 Cent was charged Wednesday in connection with a domestic violence incident in which authorities say his former girlfriend, who is the mother of his child, was injured.
Born Curtis Jackson, the rapper allegedly began destroying the woman’s property during an argument June 23. When she locked herself in her bedroom, Jackson kicked open the door and kicked her, authorities said. Jackson was charged with five criminal counts, including one count of domestic violence and four counts of vandalism.
If convicted on all counts, Jackson could face up to five years in jail and $46,000 in fines for allegedly injuring the woman and destroying $7,100 in property during the altercation.
The birthday bunch
Actress Eva Marie Saint is 89. Actress Gina Lollobrigida is 86. Playwright Neil Simon is 86. Singer Bill Withers is 75. Broadcast journalist Geraldo Rivera is 70. Singer John Waite is 58. Actor Al Madrigal is 42. Presidential daughter Malia Obama is 15.