Saturday, July 11, 2009

Authorities Closing in On Jackson Doc

From TMZ

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ the central target in both the coroner and LAPD investigations into Michael Jackson's death is Dr. Conrad Murray, who was at Jackson's house when the singer went into full cardiac arrest.

Sources say the doctor is not cooperating with authorities, but they have still found evidence linking him to the drug that may have killed Jackson. As we first reported, as a result of Dr. Murray's second interview with police two weeks ago today, the LAPD obtained a warrant to conduct a second search of Jackson's home -- and that's when they found Propofol, a powerful anesthesia that should never be used outside a hospital. There is evidence Propofol was administered to Jackson shortly before his heart stopped beating.

And we're told there is evidence Dr. Murray may have administered the drug. Dr. Murray's lawyer, Ed Chernoff, told TMZ he would neither confirm nor deny if Dr. Murray administered Propofol to Jackson. Law enforcement sources tell us if they conclude the doctor administered the drug it may well lead to manslaughter charges.

Investigators are also suspicious of the delay in calling 911 -- the Dr. says he waited 20 - 30 minutes because he didn't know Jackson's address that would lead paramedics to the house. Jackson lived on one of the most famous streets in the world -- one house above Sunset Blvd.

As the investigation into Jackson's death heats up, there's also an investigation into his life with drugs and the doctor's who fueled it. Sources tell us law enforcement is seriously investigating the prescription practices of several doctors who gave Jackson access to medications. Investigators are particularly interested in doctors who used aliases to write scripts for Jackson. One of the central figures in the investigation -- Dr. Arnold Klein.

We broke the story yesterday how members of Jackson's staff complained that Klein was using the names of employees and others to help Jackson score drugs. One of the names allegedly used -- Frank Tyson, a former Jackson employee. Several powerful meds in Tyson's name were prescribed by Dr. Klein and found at the Neverland Ranch during the 2003 search.

Geithner says strong dollar is U.S. policy

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that a strong dollar remained U.S. policy. "I deeply believe that," Geithner said. "Our commitment is to the world and, of course, the American people that we are going to make sure we put in place the policies that can sustain confidence in this economy and this financial system," Geithner said. The Treasury Secretary said he was not worried about talk of a new global reserve currency. He noted that global demand remains strong for Treasurys. Geithner made the comments in an interview with CNN that is scheduled to be aired on Sunday. A copy of the transcript was obtained from CNN.

Katie Price Suffered Miscarriage Just before Marriage Split

Katie Price has revealed that she suffered a miscarriage just weeks before she and estranged husband Peter Andre split up.

In an interview with Piers Morgan, due to air on ITV1 tonight, Katie admitted that she fell pregnant whilst filming in America but a scan in the UK revealed that she had miscarried the baby.

Katie said:

“Even though [Pete and I] were still bickering and I shouldn’t have gone to America, we were happy because it’s a baby, it’s an amazing thing when you have a baby.”

However when she returned home for her scan it became clear that something was wrong:

She added: “I went in thinking: ‘He’s going to be great, he’s going to see a heartbeat’. And it was on the screen and you know they poke the thing around, he said: ‘No it’s, it’s died, it’s gone’.”

Responding to the revelations, a spokeswoman for Andre commented: “It was Peter’s child as well and Peter is devastated and deeply disappointed that Kate has chosen to speak out about this and their marriage. It is a private matter.”

I’m with Peter on this one, in fact my first response was to wonder whether or not the whole story was fabricated in a bid to win back some of the public’s symapthy. Since splitting with Andre, Price has been photographed draped over many men, in the skimpiest of outfits, whilst Peter is seen to be at home, with his family and children. Public opinion has definitely swung in Andre’s favour and even if this latest story is true, its revelation as part of a tell all interview is a crass attempt to make up for some of Katie’s recent PR disasters. Its becoming easier and easier to despise this woman.

Obama Says No To Second Stimulus

Despite increasing signs that the stimulus package passed in February has done nothing to turn the economy around, President Obama says he’s not going to ask for a second stimulus package:

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Saturday dismissed the idea the nation might need a second stimulus to jolt the economy out of recession and urged Americans to be patient with his economic recovery plan.

Faced with rising unemployment numbers and criticism from Republicans who have already labeled the $787 billion stimulus a failure, Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address to remind voters that reversing job losses takes time.

He criticized Republicans for opposing the stimulus but offering few alternatives to the worst recession since the Great Depression. And he rejected talk of a second stimulus, an idea that has been discussed by Democrats and even famed investor Warren Buffett.

“We must let it work the way it’s supposed to, with the understanding that in any recession, unemployment tends to recover more slowly than other measures of economic activity,” Obama, who is visiting Ghana on Saturday, said in his recorded message.

The stimulus included $288 billion in tax cuts, dramatic increases in Medicaid spending, about $48 billion in highway and bridge construction and billions more to boost energy efficiency, shore up state budgets and improve schools.

The plan “was not designed to work in four months,” Obama said. “It was designed to work over two years.”

Obama’s problem is that attention spans are typically short, and people may not be willing to wait two years before passing judgment on what will end up being the sole criteria that his Administration is judged on, the performance of the economy.

by Doug Mataconis

Bush Surveillance Program Goes Beyond Congress And 4th Amendment

This is just now coming out?

The Bush Administration built an unprecedented surveillance operation to pull in mountains of information far beyond the warrantless wiretapping previously acknowledged, a team of federal inspectors general reported Friday, questioning the legal basis for the effort but shielding almost all details on grounds they’re still too secret to reveal.

The report, compiled by five inspectors general, refers to “unprecedented collection activities” by U.S. intelligence agencies under an executive order signed by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Just what those activities involved remains classified, but the IGs pointedly say that any continued use of the secret programs must be “carefully monitored.”

The inspectors general interviewed more than 200 people inside and outside the government, but five former Bush administration officials refused to be questioned. They were Ashcroft, Yoo, former CIA Director George Tenet, former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and David Addington, an aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Although the report documents Bush administration policies, its fallout could be a problem for the Obama administration if it inherited any or all of the still-classified operations.

“The notion that basically one person at the Justice Department, John Yoo, and Hayden and the vice president’s office were running a program around the laws that Congress passed, including a reinterpretation of the Fourth Amendment, is mind boggling,” Harman said.

House Democrats are pressing for legislation that would expand congressional access to secret intelligence briefings, but the White House has threatened to veto it.

Let’s see what Obama has to say about this mess.

FDA Approves Blood Thinner From Lilly and Daiichi

Boston (DbTechNo) - A new drug developed by both Lilly and Daiichi has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The drug, known as Effient is a blood thinner and will surely rival Plavix, the leading blood thinner currently on the market.

In clinical trials, the drug showed the ability to prevent more heart attacks than rival Plavix, but was found to increase risk of internal bleeding.

Going by the brand name prasugrel, the drug will come with a blackbox warning of increased risk of fatal bleeding.

The FDA delayed their decision numerous times because of the risks associated with the drug.

Plavix is made by both Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis and is the second most sold drug in the world.

Eridania Rodriguez, Sister Of Bodybuilder Victor Rodriguez, Is Missing

The disappearance of 46-year-old cleaning person Eridania Rodriguez made it into The New York Times. “Wow,” you might find yourself saying, immediately after closing the tab so it doesn’t look like you’re reading Guanabee instead of doing work, “it’s so rare to encounter a missing person report that isn’t about a tiny, blue-eyed white girl. Not that there’s anything wrong with girls who are white, tiny, or blue-eyed.” Indeed! And we hope this means that she is found and safely returned to her kids.

It also turns out that one of Ms. Rodriguez’s brothers is marginally famous. Victor Rodriguez is a highly ranked bodybuilder. And probably not a man on whose bad side you want to get by, say, causing harm to his sister.

Eridania’s co-workers say they grew concerned when Eridania did not meet them for their dinner break while cleaning a building in lower Manhattan. When they went to look for her, all they found was her mop and hair clip. Her clothing and purse were found hanging on the building’s 10th floor, and her cleaning cart on the 8th. Given Eridania was not in the habit of leaving her things overnight, her co-workers began to suspect foul play. Video surveillance from that Tuesday night last show Eridania, in the blue jumpsuit she used while on the job, pushing her cleaning cart into an elevator between 7 and 7:30. At 7:30, she telephoned her daughter.

Investigators have learned that a moving crew was working on one of Eridania’s floors the night of her disappearance, and that she had also expressed fear over a fired worker who kept returning to the building. Sketch.

Eridania’s other brother, Cesar, says it’s hard to lay blame on himself for her disappearance because he got her the job at this particular building through his connections as a security guard.

Police, however, are anticipating the worst and have begun combing a Pennsylvania landfill were trash and debris from the office building are taken.

Congressman on Provost murder and DADT: the military 'doesn't want that discussion to take place'

The reason for the lack of information being released by the Navy and the Marine Corps about whether sailor August Provost's murder was a hate crime related to his sexual orientation is because, according to a U.S. Congressman from California, it would raise questions about consequences of DADT and the inability for any gay or lesbian to report harassment without outing themselves. Here is the Navy Times take on the status of the case.

A sailor remained the top suspect in the June 30 murder of a fellow sailor with Assault Craft Unit 5 at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

...Navy officials said they don’t believe the shooting was gang- or terror-related.
They also continued to dispute rumors that Provost was killed because he was gay, despite contentions raised by several relatives and gay advocacy groups who claim the sailor had been harassed at the unit because he was open about his homosexuality.

While Navy officials have denied that the shooting was a hate crime, Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., has asked Navy and Marine Corps officials for additional investigations into Provost’s death. Provost “made the selfless and courageous decision to serve his country, regardless of his sexual orientation; he should be treated with honor and respect,” Filner wrote in letters to Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway; Col. Nicholas F. Marano, who is Camp Pendleton’s base commander; and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., who chairs the House Armed Services Committee.

Filner said he was frustrated with a lack of information from the Navy and the Marine Corps, particularly over the suspicion that Provost’s sexuality might be connected to his death, which would raise questions about consequences of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
“They don’t want that discussion to take place,” he said.

There is zero incentive for the Pentagon to admit this was a sexual orientation-related hate crime. I do hope that all of the relevant information comes out, because clearly there is no national security risk if the facts come out. The real risk out there is the one the Pentagon put the country in by discharging qualified gay and lesbian personnel.

How the Federal Government is Preparing for Possible Swine Flu Emergency

It’s unknown whether the swine flu virus will mutate to a more deadly strain in the coming year, but the federal government is preparing for the worst in case the pandemic continues to spread. At yesterday’s flu summit at the National Institutes of Health, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius revealed the government’s provisions for a possible swine flu emergency.

The campaign to combat the swine flu is different from the strategy usually employed against the seasonal flu. One reason is that the swine flu appears to be most deadly to children and young adults, while the seasonal flu traditionally is most fatal to the elderly. Therefore, if mass vaccination becomes necessary, school-aged children will be among the first to be immunized; this likely will occur at school, in a manner reminiscent of the 1950s polio vaccination campaign. “We are likely to have a different target population,” Sebelius said. “We will be seeking partnerships with schools potentially and other vaccination sites.” Time will have to be spent writing consent forms so parents are not blindsided when schools ask to vaccinate their children, Sebelius said [Reuters]. States should also prepare a plan for closing schools if needed.

Producing enough vaccine to prepare for a possible emergency will be no simple feat. The federal government should get about 100 million doses of vaccine by mid-October, if the current production by five companies goes as planned. But enough vaccine for wide use by the 120 million people especially vulnerable to the newly emerged strain of H1N1 influenza virus will not be available until later in the fall [Washington Post]. Besides children, those for whom the government considers swine flu vaccination especially urgent are adults with chronic diseases, health-care workers and pregnant women.

In total, U.S. government officials and manufacturers are preparing to produce as many as 600 million doses of vaccine against the new H1N1 virus, an effort that would dwarf seasonal-flu campaigns [The Wall Street Journal]. The federal government is also setting aside $350 million to help state and local health care systems accommodate the possible increase in immunizations and hospital admissions. That’s on top of the $8 billion already invested thus far on the vaccine and other tools to combat the pandemic.

Civil Rights Group May Boot Leader For Supporting Marriage Equality

The LA chapter head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Rev. Eric P. Lee, may be kicked out for supporting same-sex marriage. The SLCL was founded over 50 years ago by Martin Luther King, Jr. and is one of the most noted civil rights groups in American history.

Mr. Lee’s opposition to Proposition 8 “created tension in my life I had never experienced with black clergy,” he said. “But it was clear to me that any time you deny one group of people the same right that other groups have that is a clear violation of civil rights and I have to speak up on that.” In April, Mr. Lee attended a board meeting of the civil rights organization in Kansas City, Mo., and found himself once again in the minority position among his colleagues on the issue of same-sex marriage, but was told, he said, by the interim president of the civil rights organization, Byron Clay, that the group publicly had a neutral position on the issue. So a month later, Mr. Lee said, he was surprised to receive a call from the National Board of Directors summoning him immediately to Atlanta to explain why he had taken a position on the same-sex marriage issue without the authority of the national board. Explaining that he was unable to come to Atlanta on such short notice, Mr. Lee then received two letters from the organization’s lawyer, Dexter M. Wimbish, threatening him with suspension or removal as president of the Los Angeles chapter if he did not come soon to explain himself.

Ryan Reynolds is The Green Lantern

Earlier Friday, it had been reported that Reynolds, Bradley Cooper and Justin Timberlake had made the final cut as Warner Bros. prepared to cast the lead in its DC Comics-based Green Lantern movie. Screen tests were reviewed by studio execs and director Martin Campbell, who earlier this month gave a thumbs-down to Michael Fassbender, Henry Cavill and Jared Leto, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Cooper is on a hot streak as a star of hit comedy The Hangover, while Reynolds did a credible job as Deadpool in Fox’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The dark horse was pop star Timberlake, who showed off some decent dramatic chops as a teen killer in Alpha Dog but has yet to anchor a tent-pole flick.

Alright, alright, enough talk about tent-poles. Let’s back up a bit. Reynolds did “a credible job as Deadpool”? How about giving Ryan credit for confidently and single-handedly salvaging X-Men Origins: Wolverine from being a total waste of green screen. Empire agrees that “Reynolds can do headstrong and cocky in his sleep.” Step back Timberlake. There’s a new go-to guy for bringing sexy back.

As already mentioned, master Bond rebooter Martin Campbell has signed on to direct, Greg Berlanti wrote the exceptional screenplay, production is set to begin next January for a June 17th, 2011 release, with a budget I’ll bet tops $200 million.

What? You wanted more story? Nope, just another gratuitous six-pack shot of Ryan Reynolds. The pairing below is Variety’s version, but where else will you find matching graphic shirtless superheros on the main page?

Obama declares to Africa: End tyranny, corruption

America's president and Africa's son, Barack Obama dashed with pride onto the continent of his ancestors Saturday, challenging its people to shed tyranny, corruption and conflict in favor of peace. Campaigning to all of Africa, he said "Yes you can."

"I say this knowing full well the tragic past that has sometimes haunted this part of the world," Obama told a riveted Ghanaian Parliament. "I have the blood of Africa within me."

The emotional touchstone of his visit: a tour of Cape Coast Castle, the cannon-lined redoubt where slaves were kept in squalid dungeons, then shipped in chains to America through a "Door of No Return" that opens to the sea.

"It reminds us of the capacity of human beings to commit great evil," Obama said, the ramparts and the ocean behind him. Speaking in the company of his family, he said it was important that his girls, in their privileged upbringing, see that history can take such cruel turns.

The White House said Obama held no big public events in a city frenzied to see him because Obama wanted to put the light on Africa, not himself. But in the faces of those who lined the streets and in many of Obama's own words, this trip was about his presence, the first black U.S. president coming to predominantly black sub-Sahara Africa for his first time in office.

Obama billboards dotted the roads. Women wore dresses made of cloth bearing his image. Tribal chiefs, lawmakers, church leaders, street vendors — to them, it felt like history.

"All Ghanaians want to see you," lamented Ghana's president, John Atta Mills, before feting Obama to a breakfast banquet of hundreds of guests at the coastal presidential castle.

To their disappointment, most people did not see him. The lack of open events and the heavy security kept many in this West African nation away from Obama. They watched him on TV.

Yet there was no dampening the overall tone of joy. Headlines screamed of Obama fever.

"It makes us proud of Ghana," said Richard Kwasi-Yeboah, a 49-year-old selling posters of the American president. "We're proud he chose us. It proves that Ghana is really free."

At the heart of Obama's message here: African nations crippled by coups and chaos, like Ghana has been in the past, can reshape themselves into lawful democracies. He said it takes good governance, sustained development, improved health care.

And that the moment is now.

"Africa doesn't need strongmen," Obama said. "It needs strong institutions."

The son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, Obama bluntly told Africa to take more responsibility for itself but proclaimed: "America will be with you."

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the poorest places in the world.

Obama also got openly personal — recalling the grandfather who endured being called "boy" as a cook for the British in Kenya, the father who once herded goats in a small Kenyan village. Not mentioned was the path of his wife, Michelle, who is a descendant of slaves.

In essence, Obama's history with Africa seemed to give him freer license to speak about the continent, as if he were being honest with a friend. He gave an unsentimental account of squandered opportunities, brutality and bribery in postcolonial Africa.

About every time Obama cited his basic argument — that democracy is about more than holding elections, that Africa resist the drug trade and enforce a rule of law — members of Parliament raucously cheered him on. Then again, this audience was friendly. When Obama left, a choir sang a song to his campaign theme of "Yes we can," a line he used himself.

Evoking the memory of American civil rights giant Martin Luther King Jr., Obama noted that King was in Ghana in 1957 to hail Ghana's independence from the British. He quoted King as calling the moment a triumph of justice, and told young Africans they must remember that.

"You can conquer disease, end conflicts and make change from the bottom up," Obama said. "You can do that. Yes you can. Because in this moment, history is on the move."

All together, Obama was spending less than 24 hours in Ghana. But they packed in personal moments, in contrast to his summit-heavy travels across Russia and Italy over the last week.

At a maternal health clinic in Accra, he turned into a sentimental dad when he met a group of mothers holding newborns. "This is the highlight of the trip," he said, beaming.

By afternoon, he was contemplating the human capacity for evil at the castle, which served as a headquarters for the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Obama walked with his arm around Malia, 11. The first lady held the hand of Sasha, 8.

"Hopefully one of the things that was imparted to them during this trip was their sense of obligation to fight oppression and cruelty wherever it appears," the president said.

Ghana and the U.S. have something of a diplomatic kinship. Obama is the third straight U.S. president to visit this tropical nation; George W. Bush was here just last year.

That reflects just how much the United States, which dwarfs Ghana's size, wants this country to be a model of democracy and invests tens of millions of tax dollars to help it.

But what the Obama White House did not want on this trip was the Bill Clinton moment. In 1998, on a blisteringly hot day, a crowd at a Clinton rally nearly caused a horrific trample.

That also affected why Obama did not hold an outdoor event of his own.

Obama will be back to Africa. But he suggested that he won't go for the traditional model of devoting a trip to Africa alone, as if it is separated from world affairs. Instead, African nations might be wrapped into his multinational travels more often.

"What happens here," he said, "has an impact everywhere."