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Michael Jackson’s body released to family

In Entertainment News, World News on June 27, 2009 at 07:27

The Associated Press LOS ANGELES — Most of Michael Jackson’s family members have gathered in their Encino compound where they are contemplating funeral arrangements, caring for his three children and feeling confused, upset and angry by the lack of information about those who were around the pop superstar in his final days, a person close to the family told The Associated Press. Jackson’s family wants to know more specifics about what role AEG, the concert promoter that was staging his 50-date concert series at London’s 02 Arena, was playing in his life, said the person, who requested anonymity because of the delicate nature of the situation. They also want to know more about the role of his advisers and representatives, who they believe were put in place by the promoter. Randy Phillips, AEG Live president and chief executive, said earlier Friday that it was Jackson who insisted that Dr. Conrad Murray, a financially troubled cardiologist who was with the entertainer when he collapsed Thursday, be put on the tour payroll. “As a company, we would have preferred not having a physician on staff full-time because it would have been cheaper without the hotels and travel, but Michael was insistent that he be hired,” Phillips said. “Michael said he had a rapport with him.” Jackson collapsed Thursday at his rented home in Los Angeles. Police seized Murray’s car in search of evidence, but have insisted that the doctor has been cooperative and do not consider him a criminal suspect. Records reveal years of financial troubles for Murray, who practices medicine in California, Nevada and Texas; his Nevada medical practice, Global Cardiovascular Associates, was slapped with more than $400,000 in court judgments, and he faces at least two other pending cases and several tax liens. Jackson never communicated to his family who he had in place to handle his business affairs, the person close to the family said, adding that they were told by the singer’s phalanx of advisers that the singer likely had a will, but it may be many years old. The family is distrustful of what they are being told — but they are determined to find out more, the person said. “There are decisions going down without the family being in the loop; it’s becoming an issue,” the person said. The person said that while there were reports that the singer was distant from his family, he spoke with his mother Katherine quite regularly and his father, Joe, had seen his son shortly before his death. His other eight siblings, including fellow superstar Janet, may not have talked to him recently but were not estranged. Much of the family was holed up Friday inside the Jackson family’s Encino compound, including his three children, according to the person, who described them as doing looking “pretty good.” “I don’t think it’s fully set in yet,” the person said. No family members were present in the mansion when Jackson died Thursday, the person close to the family said. In the 911 call released by fire officials Friday, an unidentified caller tells a dispatcher that Jackson’s doctor is performing CPR. Asked by the dispatcher whether anyone saw what happened, the caller answers: “No, just the doctor, sir. The doctor has been the only one there.” Coroner’s officials said they released Jackson’s body to his family late Friday night. The family is still trying to determine what kind of memorial to have for Jackson and when, and are debating between the idea of having a private ceremony or a grand celebration open to the public, the person close to the family said. Jackson appeared to have suffered a heart attack, another person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity told the AP on Friday. A heart attack is a blocking of the arteries that deprives the heart of adequate blood and can cause cardiac arrest. Jackson’s brother Jermaine said Thursday that it was believed the pop singer went into cardiac arrest, an interruption of the normal heartbeat that can be caused by factors other than heart attack. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office, which completed its autopsy Friday, said there were no signs of foul play or trauma, but determining the cause of death will require further tests that will take six to eight weeks. Phillips said AEG Live held multiple insurance policies covering cancellation of the shows, and that some time in February Jackson submitted to several hours of physicals that the insurance underwriter insisted upon, and that Jackson passed them all. “We had pretty good coverage, but a lot of it is going to depend on the toxicology results,” he said. “We need to know what the cause of death was.”


Statistics Canada: 9 in 10 satisfied with life

In Canadian News, Uncategorized on June 26, 2009 at 19:17

// The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Adults often reflect on their teen years as the best time of their life – before the stresses of middle age begin to pile up – and new figures released Thursday by Statistics Canada seem to bear that out.

The Canadian Community Health Survey of 2008 found that 91 per cent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with life.

But the highest rate of life satisfaction, at 94 per cent, was among those aged 12 to 19, with boys slightly more satisfied than adolescent girls. However, this statistic seems “quite high” amid the tales of teen angst we are accustomed to hearing, one expert on mood disorders suggested.

As Canadians reach middle age, things tend to change as people take on more family and career responsibilities. More than 28 per cent of the 35-to-54 age group reported daily stress in their lives last year. And overall only 82 per cent of people who found their days quite or extremely stressful were satisfied or very satisfied with life.

“We know, of course, that this is the life stage where there’s a lot of competing demands and priorities,” said Vincent Dale, assistant director of the Health Statistics Division at Statistics Canada.

“So I think it’s reasonable to speculate that that’s a source of some of the stress.”

By contrast, just 10 per cent of seniors found their days stressful.

Among those satisfied with life, 63 per cent said their overall health was very good or excellent. And 54 per cent of those dissatisfied with life reported poor or fair health.

Dale said the questions were asked throughout the year, and there was no indication that the economic downturn that hit Canada in the late summer had an impact on life satisfaction responses.

“It may be that life satisfaction is driven by a number of things, not just the economy but personal relationships, family, neighbourhood, those types of factors,” he observed.

Data on life satisfaction, stress, mood disorders, weight, drinking, smoking and leisure time were released Thursday. Much of the data remained similar to previous years, with the exception of mood disorders.

The survey found that 6.8 per cent of respondents reported they’d been diagnosed with a mood disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder or mania, up from 5.3 per cent in 2003.

Phil Upshall, national executive director of the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, said the rise probably reflects the fact that people are being more honest and knowledgeable about depression and bipolar disorder.

“One of the reasons that I expect that it’s jumped is the fact that people are talking more and more about mental health issues, and it’s becoming safer for people to disclose the fact that they live with a mental illness,” he said from Ottawa.

He also noted that the Statistics Canada survey is anonymous, and the respondents might not tell their employer or close relatives the same thing because of the stigma associated with mental illness.

The survey found that 8.5 per cent of women reported a diagnosed mood disorder compared to five per cent of men. Upshall speculates that the questions would not have facilitated honest answers from men.

“Males and females are conditioned entirely differently in our society – women are far more readily willing to deal with, publicly and openly, their emotions,” he said.

Upshall also raised questions about the high number of people reporting life satisfaction, suggesting that there needs to be further investigation of what is meant by this, and how to get at underlying conditions that aren’t addressed.

“Are some of these responses that are elicited quick responses rather than well-thought-out responses?” he asked.

“Because we all know that a significant portion of Canadian youth are struggling with identity issues. They may not be depressed, but they’re struggling with identity issues, their future prospects and all the things that bedevil children and youth.”

“So the number to me, to be honest, is quite high, and does not reflect the experience that we see with children and youth.”

In terms of physical health, the report said obesity rates in adult men rose from 16 to 18 per cent from 2003 to 2008, and 15 to 16 per cent in women.

Body mass index calculations involving reported height and weight are used to determine obesity. For example, a 221-pound person who is six feet tall would be considered obese.

More tests required in Jackson autopsy: coroner

In Entertainment News, World News on June 26, 2009 at 18:19
Craig Harvey, Los Angeles chief coroner investigator, briefs the media on Friday, June 26, 2009.

Craig Harvey, Los Angeles' chief coroner investigator, briefs the media on Friday, June 26, 2009.

It could be another four to six weeks before the world knows exactly what killed Michael Jackson.

An autopsy was conducted on the pop singer’s body on Friday, but officials in Los Angeles said additional tests are needed before an official cause of death can be released.

Though officials said that Jackson was taking prescription drugs — with some reports suggesting he was addicted to Oxycontin — no specific drug use has been confirmed.

Still, there was no trauma on the body and no sign of foul play during the three-hour autopsy Friday, said Craig Harvey, Los Angeles’ chief coroner investigator.

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter was with the Jackson family, according to Harvey, who added that release of additional autopsy information will be controlled by a security hold.

The body will be released once the Jackson family picks a final resting place, said Harvey.

Earlier in the day, officials released a chilling 911 call which recorded Jackson’s final moments.

A man’s voice is heard frantically calling for help in the audio recording, referring to Jackson as a 50-year-old man who urgently needed help because efforts to resuscitate him weren’t working.

Transcript of redacted audio recording, released by the L.A Fire Dept:

Caller: I need an ambulance as soon as possible sir.

911 operator: Okay sir, what is your address?

Caller: Los Angeles California. 90077. Carolwood Drive.

911 operator: Tell me exactly what happened.

Caller: Sir, we have a gentleman here that needs help and he’s not breathing. We’re trying to pump him but he’s not breathing.

911 operator: How old is he?

Caller: He’s 50 years old.

911 operator: 50… Okay. He’s unconscious? He’s not breathing?

Caller: Yes, he’s not breathing sir.

911 operator: Okay, and he’s not conscious either?

Caller: He’s not conscious sir.

911 operator: Alright, do you have him on the floor? Where is he at right now?

Caller: He’s on the bed.

911 operator: Get him on the floor. I’m going to help you with CPR now. We’re on our way there now. I’m going to do what I can to help you over the phone. Did anybody see him …

Caller: We have his personal doctor here with him sir.

911 operator: You have a doctor there?

Caller: Yes, but he’s not responding to anything. He’s not responding to CPR, anything

911 operator: Oh, okay. We’re on our way there. If your guy is doing CPR instructed by a doctor then he is a higher authority than me. Was anybody with him when this happened?

Caller: No, just the doctor sir. The doctor was the only one here.

911 operator: Okay, so the doctor saw what happened?

Caller: Ah, doctor did you see what happened? (inaudible). Sir, if you please …

911 operator: We’re on our way. I’m just asking these questions … they’re on their way sir.

Caller: Thank you sir. He’s pumping, he’s pumping his chest but he’s not responding to anything.

911 operator: Okay, okay. We’re on our way. We’re less than a mile away we’ll be there shortly.

Caller: Thank you.

The 911 call came as Los Angeles police revealed they are searching for one of Jackson’s personal doctors, whose car was left outside the home of the legendary singer.

Police towed away the vehicle, which was left behind Thursday after Jackson died. Police said the vehicle could possibly contain drugs or other evidence relating to the pop star’s death.

On Friday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times identified the doctor as a cardiologist, Dr. Conrad C. Murray, who practices in California, Nevada and Texas.

The Associated Press reports that a woman who answered the phone Friday at Murray’s Houston clinic confirmed that Murray was Jackson’s cardiologist. But she would not confirm the Los Angeles Times report that Murray was performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Jackson when paramedics arrived at Jackson’s home on Thursday.

Police said the doctor was not under criminal investigation, but coroner’s investigators wanted to contact him.


The autopsy, meanwhile, is being carried out by the Los Angeles Coroners Office and will take several hours.

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter told a crush of reporters that “once all tests are done the body will be released to the family.”

He said a coroner and pathologist will be doing a full examination of the body, and conducting a battery of toxicology tests to try and determine exactly how and why the 50 year old “King of Pop” died after suffering cardiac arrest at his Los Angeles home.

Jackson died at UCLA Medical Center, despite frantic efforts by doctors to resuscitate him.

The autopsy could clear up the intense mystery surrounding Jackson’s death, including whether prescription drugs could have played a factor.

A news conference is scheduled for later Friday, but the L.A. Coroners Office dampened speculation about early results.

“A lot of the tests have to run their course and they are time consuming and the doctors have to study the results,” Winter said, adding that it could take up to eight weeks to get the full toxicology results.

Speculation of drug use

There is growing speculation Jackson was taking powerful prescription painkillers.

Brian Oxman, a former lawyer for Jackson, said Friday he was concerned about Jackson’s use of painkillers, and claimed he warned the singer’s family about possible abuse.

“I warned everyone, and lo and behold, here we are. I don’t know what caused his death. But I feared this day, and here we are,” Oxman said.

Oxman claimed Jackson had prescription drugs at his disposal to help with pain suffered when he broke his leg after he fell off a stage and for broken vertebrae in his back.

Celebrity website TMZ claims a close member of Michael Jackson’s family told them the singer received a daily injection of Demerol, and the dosage he got Thursday was “too much” and that’s what caused his death.

Singing legend Liza Minnelli also chimed in, saying Friday “when the autopsy comes, all hell’s going to break loose, so thank God we’re celebrating him now.”

Around the world, meanwhile, waves of grief.

Heartbroken fans by the millions are paying tribute to the singer who smashed sales records, and defined the music of a generation.

They continue to lay flowers, and say silent prayers, at makeshift memorials outside his home, and at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Jackson was planning a massive comeback with a series of 50 shows scheduled for London’s O2 Arena — which would have ended years of seclusion.

The 13-time Grammy-winner, who has sold more than 750 million albums over his career, had not embarked on a major tour since 1997.

Tributes pour in

Giants of the music industry joined fans in paying homage Friday to Michael Jackson:

“I can’t stop crying, this is too sudden and shocking. I am unable to imagine this. My heart is hurting. I am in prayer for his kids and the family.” — Singer Diana Ross.

“I am so devastated by this terrible news. From the beginning of my career he was my idol in show business. He was a genius and an incredible artist.” — Canadian Singer Celine Dion

“The incomparable Michael Jackson has made a bigger impact on music than any other artist in the history of music. He was magic. He was what we all strive to be. … I love you Michael.” — R&B singer Beyonce Knowles.

“He broke barriers, he changed radio formats. With music, he made it possible for people like Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama to impact the mainstream world. His legacy is unparalleled.” — Hip-hop artist Usher.

Details of death

A fire department official said Jackson was not breathing when paramedics arrived at his rented Bel Air mansion at 12:26 p.m.

Paramedics reportedly tried to resuscitate Jackson for 45 minutes, then rushed him to hospital where doctors took over.

“It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home. However, the cause of his death is unknown until results of the autopsy are known,” his brother Jermaine Jackson said.

Cardiac arrest is occurs when an abnormal heart rhythm stops the heart from pumping blood to the body. The condition can occur after a heart attack or can be a result of other heart problems.

Jackson was treated at UCLA Medical Centre, just a six-minute drive away. But hospital officials were unable to revive him. Jermaine said doctors pronounced his brother dead at 2:26 p.m.

“A team of doctors, including emergency physicians and cardiologists, attempted to resuscitate him for a period of more than one hour. And they were unsuccessful,” he told reporters.

Jermaine asked media to respect his family’s privacy “during this tough time, and may Allah be with Michael always.”

With files from The Associated Press