Saturday, July 4, 2009

Jackson Docs Can Run But Can't Hide

As law enforcement officials comb through medical records to determine who supplied and administered the anesthesia Propofol and other drugs to Michael Jackson, we've learned there may be a fail-safe way of getting at the truth.

It's no secret -- especially in a celebrity town like L.A. -- some doctors use pseudonyms for celebrity patients and sometimes their medical charts somehow get "lost." But we've learned most doctors leave an indelible footprint when it comes to treating patients.

Many doctors -- especially ones with big practices -- use medical software systems from MD Systems, NexTech and other companies. These companies provide the software that makes it easy to input billing data.

Doctors typically input the patient's name, billing amount, type of treatment, type of drugs prescribed and administered, and date of service. Here's the thing -- that data cannot be deleted from the server.

The system allows doctors to add other data like medical charts, and those things can be deleted. But if someone deletes that info, the software shows the name of the user who did it and the date it was done.

Bottom line -- the basic billing information will not go away.

As we reported days ago, law enforcement found Propofol inside Jackson's house. Propofol is an anesthesia, which should never be administered outside a hospital, and it's looking like that drug killed Jackson. If cops find who supplied it and who administered it, the docs could well be prosecuted for manslaughter.

Serena remains No. 2 despite another major title

— Even with three of the last four Grand Slam titles in her possession, Serena Williams will stay behind No. 1 Dinara Safina when the WTA rankings are released Monday.

The second-ranked Williams beat older sister Venus in the Wimbledon final on Saturday, adding to the major championships she won at the U.S. Open in September and at the Australian Open in January. Still, Serena remains No. 2 in the rankings.

"My motivation is maybe just to win another Grand Slam and stay No. 2, I guess," she said after beating Venus 7-6 (3), 6-2 for her third Wimbledon title and 11th Grand Slam championship overall. "I'd rather definitely be No. 2 and hold three Grand Slams in the past year than be No. 1 and not have any."

Safina rose to No. 1 in April. She lost to Serena in this year's Australian Open final, and then won titles in Rome and Madrid before falling to 0-3 in Grand Slam title matches by losing at that stage of the French Open last month. In the Wimbledon semifinals, the Russian was beaten 6-1, 6-0 by No. 3 Venus — the most lopsided loss ever by a reigning No. 1 woman.

"Dinara did a great job to get to No. 1. She won Rome and Madrid," Serena said before rolling her eyes and laughing loudly.

Serena reached the quarterfinals at the French Open before losing to eventual champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Players get ranking points by winning tour-level matches and can be rewarded for entering more tournaments.

Both Williams sisters spent time at No. 1, each first reaching that spot in 2002, but they dropped down the rankings after reducing the amount of tournaments they play. Serena got back to No. 1 last year and briefly this year.

"For several years now, at least three or four years, I just really wanted to focus on tennis, and I've really been doing that. I feel like this is where I want to be, and this is my chance to capitalize on everything," Serena said. "I really enjoy it. I even started playing more doubles because I enjoy being out on the court so much. I think it's pretty much all paying off."

After Safina was routed by Venus at Wimbledon on Thursday, she defended the ranking system.

"Well, I've been in last four Grand Slams, I reach at least semifinal," Safina said. "I mean, they haven't been in the semifinal of the French Open. I think this is the result of how you play the whole year. It's not about one, two tournaments how you play. It's a result of tournament by tournament, day to day that you play."

Venus was asked about the rankings after beating Safina.

"I respect Dinara Safina immensely, and I think you should, too," she replied.

Palin keeps low-profile after plan to resign

Where is Sarah Palin? A day after surprising even her closest friends by announcing she would step down as Alaska governor more than a year before her term was up, the controversial hockey mom was keeping a low profile. Her spokesman, David Murrow, said Palin told him she was flying to Juneau, the state capital, for the Fourth of July weekend, but he wasn't sure what activities she planned to attend.

The governor didn't show up at a 50th anniversary statehood celebration. She wasn't in the Capitol's office. And no one answered the door at the governor's mansion.

The only sign of Palin came on the social networking site Twitter, where she indicated she was watching the Juneau Fourth of July parade: "Lots of celebration of Independence & Alaska's 50th Anniversary of Statehood." But not even the parade director knew she had attended, and only a few people spotted her on the sidelines.

That left mounting questions about her plans for the future shrouded in mystery. Will she lay the groundwork for a 2012 presidential bid? Will she find a high-profile place in the private sector, maybe on the speech circuit? Will she drop out of the limelight and focus on her five children?

Her constituents, for one, wanted to know, especially in Juneau, where she has struggled to win over residents.

"I think she owes it to Alaskans to tell us why," said state Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, the son of Alaska's first governor, Bill Egan.

In fact, the only peep out of Palin on Saturday came on the social networking site Twitter, where she told military families: "Most special July 4 shout-out to you! Spouses, kids, parents, families of troops - THANKS for supporting our true heroes."

At the same time, Palin informed Murrow early Saturday that someone using the name "exgovsarahpalin" on Twitter was spreading a false rumor that there was to be a party at her suburban home in Wasilla, outside Anchorage. Palin was afraid her home would be mobbed, and security was dispatched, Murrow said.

Juneau parade director Jean Sztuk said Palin rode a convertible last year and was invited again to this year's event. She never responded, but parade organizers drew up banners in case she showed and was willing to take part.

As the last of the parade's clowns and marching bands headed past her, Sztuk gave up on Palin. "What governor wants to be at the end of the parade?" she asked.

On Friday, Palin was in Wasilla, where she called a last-minute news conference to announce that not only was she not going to seek re-election as Alaska's mayor, she wasn't going to stick around and finish out her term.

She plans to step down on July 26, and Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell will take her place.

Palin, Republican John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential race, hasn't given many details about her future. But she has hinted she has bigger plans in mind, leaving open the possibility she would seek the presidency in 2012.

Friday afternoon, on Twitter, she promised supporters more details: "We'll soon attach info on decision to not seek re-election ... this is in Alaska's best interest, my family's happy ... it is good. Stay tuned."

But so far, there have been no new details. And even her closest friends say they don't know what she's up to.

Egan, hosting a 50th anniversary statehood ceremony, said he was disappointed Palin decided not to finish out her term, which was scheduled to end in 2010.

"It's sad she abandoned us at this critical time," said Egan, who was appointed by Palin to an open seat on the last day of the legislative session in April, after a protracted battle with Senate Democrats.

Palin's departure can't come soon enough for Laurel Carlton, a waitress at the Capital Cafe in the Baranof Hotel, where the city's political movers and shakers meet every morning before walking a few blocks to the Capitol.

"I think she has a game plan that's not Alaska, and hasn't been for awhile," Carlton said.

She noted Palin has a book deal, and seems headed for the national stage.

"If you're really not going to stay and do your job every day, you should leave anyway, and so the sooner the better so somebody can step in and actually do the job," Carlton said.

And as far as Carlton is concerned, Palin doesn't need to explain why she's leaving.

"We don't care. We just want her gone," she said.

Palin, whose popularity in Alaska has waned amid ongoing ethics investigations, gave many reasons for stepping down: She didn't want to be a lame-duck governor; she was tired of the tasteless jokes aimed at her five children, including her son Trig, who has Down syndrome; she felt she could do more in another, still-to-be-defined role.

McCain didn't rule out a return to politics for his former running mate, saying Saturday he believes "she will continue to play an important leadership role in the Republican Party and our nation." He gave no other details.

Even Parnell, who plans to run for re-election after finishing out Palin's term, said he was shocked at first when he learned of his boss' decision.

"But then as she began to articulate her reasons, I began to understand better," he said. "And nobody — unless they've been in her position and understood what she has gone through and dealt with and who she is as a person — really understands."

Former NFL quarterback McNair killed in Tennessee

Former NFL quarterback Steve McNair and a woman were found shot to death Saturday inside a residence in Nashville, police said.

Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron confirmed that authorities were called to a condominium and found McNair and a woman shot to death inside. Aaron said police don't yet know the circumstances of the shootings.

"I don't have any answers for you now as to what's happened, who's responsible," Aaron said.

Aaron said police tentatively have identified the woman but did not release her name.

"There are persons who were around the complex today, visitors, who have been taken to headquarters for questioning, just to see what they know, what they may have seen," Aaron said. "No one is in custody right now."

The condominium where the bodies were found is one that McNair was known to frequent, but police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford could not say whether he was the owner.

Detectives from the police department's centralized homicide unit were on the scene.

McNair played 13 seasons in the NFL and led the Titans within a yard of forcing overtime in the 2000 Super Bowl, which they lost 23-16 to the St. Louis Rams. He also played for the Baltimore Ravens before retiring in April 2008.

"We don't know the details, but it is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the families involved," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

"We are saddened and shocked to hear the news of Steve McNair's passing today," Titans owner Bud Adams said in a statement. "He was one of the finest players to play for our organization and one of the most beloved players by our fans. He played with unquestioned heart and leadership and led us to places that we had never reached, including our only Super Bowl."

About 50 people crowded just beyond police tape outside the complex in the upscale Rutledge Hill neighborhood, some wearing Titans hats. The condominium is located within walking distance of an area filled with restaurants and nightspots, just a few blocks from the Cumberland River and within view of the Titans' stadium.

McNair began his career in 1995 with the Houston Oilers, who eventually became the Titans, and finished with 31,304 yards passing and 174 touchdowns. McNair played with pain for several years, and the injuries ultimately forced him to retire.

The highlight of his playing time might have been a five-game stretch at the end of the 2002 season when he was so banged up he couldn't practice. McNair started all five games and won them all, leading the Titans to an 11-5 finish and a berth in the AFC championship game for the second time in four seasons.

McNair played all 16 games in 2006, his first season in Baltimore, and guided the Ravens to a 13-3 record. But he injured his groin during the season opener last season and never regained the form that enabled him to earn a berth in four Pro Bowls.

"I am deeply saddened to learn of today's tragic news regarding the death of Steve McNair. He was a player who I admired a great deal," said New England Patriots senior football adviser Floyd Reese, who was GM of the Titans when McNair played there. "He was a tremendous leader and an absolute warrior. He felt like it was his responsibility to lead by working hard every day, no matter what.

"I don't think there was a player who played with him or against him that didn't look up to him and respect him," Reese said. "My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, his friends and the many teammates who loved and admired him."

Titans coach Jeff Fisher was out of the country, taking part in the first NFL-USO coaches tour to Iraq.