Life & Times

Prev Next Page:
Chelsea Clinton’s new gig: A multicultural center at NYU

Chelsea Clinton’s new…

Chelsea Clinton has a new job — make that another...

Michelle Obama visits slave quarters

Michelle Obama visits…

Michelle Obama visited the slave quarters at Decatur House —...

After ravages of flesh-eating bacteria, Aimee Copeland uses new bionic hands

After ravages of…

Flesh-eating bacteria amputee Aimee Copeland now uses the latest technology...

Obama to give much-anticipated speech on terrorism, drones

Obama to give…

President Barack Obama will deliver long-promised remarks Thursday explaining the...

Obama to Morehouse Graduating Class: "We've got no time for excuses"

Obama to Morehouse…

President Barack Obama's commencement speech at historic HBCU Morehouse College...

Bright explosion on moon visible from Earth, NASA says

Bright explosion on…

A meteoroid struck the surface of the moon recently, causing...

Training push fails to halt military sexual assault crisis

Training push fails…

Under pressure to fight sexual assault, the U.S. armed forces...

At least one reported dead as tornadoes hammer Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa

At least one…

A tornado half a mile wide struck near Oklahoma City...

AEG lawyer: 'Ugly stuff' to come in Michael Jackson death trial

AEG lawyer: 'Ugly…

AEG Live's lawyer warned jurors that "we're going to show...

Outcry erupts over 1% pay raise proposed for military

Outcry erupts over…

Military families and their advocates are battling an Obama administration...

North Korea diplomacy effort grows, but sides are still far apart

North Korea diplomacy…

A week of critical diplomacy is set to begin in...

Boston Marathon bombings cast shadow on immigration debate

Boston Marathon bombings…

On the surface, the type of heated exchanges that boiled...

Imam: I wouldn’t give Boston suspect last rites

Imam: I wouldn’t…

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died early Friday, and according to the rules...

Arkansas Spill Strengthens Arguments of Keystone Foes

Arkansas Spill Strengthens…

An Arkansas pipeline spill that coated streets and lawns with...

U.N. overwhelmingly approves global arms trade treaty

U.N. overwhelmingly approves…

The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the...

Conrad Murray from jail: 'I was in the wrong place at the wrong time'

Conrad Murray from…

For more from Don Lemon's interview with Conrad Murray, watch...

Congressman Apologizes for #TrailOfTears Tweet

Congressman Apologizes for…

A tweet from a Democratic lawmaker likening a basketball loss...

No End in Sight for North Korea Tensions

No End in…

While North Korea continues to elevate threats against the United...

Superintendent Indicted in Ga. Cheating Scandal

Superintendent Indicted in…

A grand jury indicted about three dozen educators Friday in...

Jim Crow for Kids: Schools Prepare Children for Life Behind Bars

Jim Crow for…

Gone are the days of children dreading a trip to...

Devotees nailed to cross in Philippine folk Catholicism ritual

Devotees nailed to…

About two dozen Filipinos were nailed to crosses on Good...

Obama touts infrastructure in Florida trip focused on economy

Obama touts infrastructure…

President Barack Obama walked into the mouth of a giant...

Muslims vanish as Buddhist attacks approach Myanmar's biggest city

Muslims vanish as…

The Muslims of Sit Kwin were always a small group...

Goofing off on company time? Go for it

Goofing off on…

Wish you could play video games at work? How about...

FBI's 'flying saucers' online memo intrigues public

FBI's 'flying saucers'…

Out of all the case files made public by the...

EPA plans rules on clean gas

EPA plans rules…

The Obama administration is pushing ahead with a plan to...

7,000 warned of potential HIV, hepatitis exposure

7,000 warned of…

Some 7,000 patients of a Tulsa, Oklahoma, dental practice were...

North Korea readies rockets after U.S. show of force

North Korea readies…

North Korea put its missile units on standby on Friday...

ISS may force sweeter MetroPCS/T-Mobile merger

ISS may force…

Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE) will likely be forced to sweeten...

Cyprus bank controls to last a month, minister says

Cyprus bank controls…

Cyprus conceded on Thursday that tight capital controls would remain...

Obama makes impassioned plea for gun control legislation

Obama makes impassioned…

President Barack Obama attempted on Thursday to inject fresh momentum...

Russian-American crew taking short cut to space station

Russian-American crew taking…

Two Russian cosmonauts and a U.S. astronaut took a short...

Zimmerman's lawyer worries brother's tweets could hurt defense

Zimmerman's lawyer worries…

George Zimmerman's attorney says he's worried about the effect the...

Mandela 'responding positively' to treatment in hospital

Mandela 'responding positively'…

Former South African President Nelson Mandela is "responding positively" to...

Pope Francis washes youths' feet at detention center

Pope Francis washes…

Pope Francis washed the feet of a dozen prisoners, including...

Record Wall Street boosts sentiment but activity subdued

Record Wall Street…

Asian shares edged higher and the euro steadied on Friday...

Dionne Warwick, down to $1,000 cash, files for bankruptcy

Dionne Warwick, down…

Dionne Warwick, one of the most recognizable pop voices of...

Wal-Mart may get customers to deliver packages to online buyers

Wal-Mart may get…

Wal-Mart Stores Inc is considering a radical plan to have...

What's Kim Jong Un up to?

What's Kim Jong…

North Korea's saber rattling again shook the world Wednesday. Pyongyang...

Five Justices Appear Receptive to Gutting Defense of Marriage Act

Five Justices Appear…

A majority of justices raised questions in oral arguments Wednesday...

Colorado Theater Shooting Suspect Offers to Plead Guilty

Colorado Theater Shooting…

Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes has offered to plead guilty...

Mom: Down Syndrome doesn't change my dreams

Mom: Down Syndrome…

"What kind of sneakers is she going to have to...

Mississippi's 'Anti-Bloomberg' bill

Mississippi's 'Anti-Bloomberg' bill

In Mississippi, you will never be denied a colossal soda...

Obama: 'Peace is possible,' but see the world as Palestinians do

Obama: 'Peace is…

Jerusalem (CNN) -- President Barack Obama tried Thursday to invigorate...

N.Y.'s minimum wage increase could push Congress to act

N.Y.'s minimum wage…

Congressional lawmakers who back an increase in the national minimum...

Ed Reed leaving Ravens to join Texans

Ed Reed leaving…

Ed Reed snagged his final interception as a member of...

Obama urged: act tough on Israel or risk collapse of two-state solution

Obama urged: act…

Barack Obama begins his first official visit to Israel on Wednesday amid growing...

U.S. Said to Look Into Microsoft Bribery Allegations

U.S. Said to…

SEATTLE — Federal authorities are examining Microsoft’s involvement with companies...

Activists at Colleges Network to Fight Sexual Assault

Activists at Colleges…

 Frustrated and angry over the handling of sexual assault cases...

LAFD delays key emergency response reforms

LAFD delays key…

The Los Angeles Fire Department has delayed two reform measures...

Rand Paul Embraces…

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s decision to back a pathway to...

When Lindsey Vonn made fun of Tiger Woods' sex addiction

When Lindsey Vonn…

When Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn officially announced their relationship...

Life & Times menu

Life & Times menu (53)

Chelsea Clinton has a new job — make that another new job.  At the tender age of 33, the former first daughter has racked up an extensive resume: Management consultant, hedge-funder, broadcast journalist, education activist, doctoral student — now co-founder of a multicultural center at NYU, where she worked as an assistant vice provost. Clinton is co-director of the new Of Many Institute created to “reach across faith boundaries to solve social problems.” The inspiration was her marriage to investment banker Marc Mezvinsky: She’s Christian, he’s Jewish.

 

Unclear what she’ll be doing at the new institute, and her position was kept under the radar until the New York Post reported the news Tuesday. A NYU spokesman was tightlipped about her new role, saying only that Clinton “is co-chair of the board, which helps guide the work of the institute.” Maybe she’ll share more Wednesday when she addresses graduates at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

 

How, you ask, can Clinton fit in yet another job? “Mainly I work really hard, she told the Chronicle of Higher Education last year. “I really believe in the work I’m doing, and so I work seven days a week.”

There’s her gig as a special correspondent for NBC, where she mostly does feel-good segments on health and education around the globe. But she’s branching out: Four weeks ago, they let her interview the Geico Gecko.

Plus her work with the Clinton Foundation, which announced Tuesday that she’s traveling to Cambodia next week to visit HIV/AIDS programs. Last month, she and her dad headlined the Clinton Global Initiative University for 1,000 college students. Clinton also serves on several boards and shows up at various star-studded social events in New York.

With speculation mounting about her mother’s 2016 presidential chances, the once super-private political scion has even cracked the door on a possible run for office herself — if “I thought that I could make a disproportionately positive impact,” she told Parade last month.

How much does Clinton pull in from these various pursuits? Plenty, we’re guessing, and her husband is loaded, too. Two months ago, the couple traded their $4 million starter apartment for a $10.5 million condo in Manhattan, according to several media reports.

 

So, yeah, nice work if you can get it.

Thursday, 23 May 2013 01:29

Michelle Obama visits slave quarters

Written by

Michelle Obama visited the slave quarters at Decatur House — a red-brick structure that sits in the shadow of the White House — that once housed the black men and women who served 19th century politicians, military and business leaders who lived in the property. The first lady, who is the nation’s only first lady to have descended from people held in slavery, made the stop as part of an announcement that the historic Decatur House, which is located 150 yards from the White House, would receive a $1 million grant from American Express to preserve the house and accompanying slave quarters.

During remarks before she toured the quarters, Obama recalled the slaves “who spent their lives within shouting distance of one of the most powerful buildings on the planet — a bastion of freedom and justice for all,” noting that their “stories that are a part of so many of our families’ histories, including my own.”

 

The house and slave quarters are co-managed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the White House Historical Association, and used for educational programs. Obama reflected on the importance of preserving and sharing the stories of the enslaved people who once lived there.

 

“Yet, within this very place, about 20 men and women spent their days serving those who came and went from this house and their nights jammed together on the second floor of the slave quarters, all the while holding onto a quiet hope, a quiet prayer that they, too, and perhaps their children, would someday be free,” Obama said. “These stories of toil, and sweat, and quiet, unrelenting dignity — these stories are as vital to our national memory as any other.  And so it is our responsibility as a nation to ensure that these stories are told.”

After her remarks, Obama walked through the house and to the second floor slave residences, which housed the enslaved men and women in four small rooms. She visited several rooms in Decatur House, which rivals the White House in its ornate woodworking. American Express chief executive Kenneth Chenault accompanied Obama on the tour.

Sixth grade students from a Fairfax elementary school were participating in an interactive learning session as they walked through. The students dressed in period clothing and reenacted scenes from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation that are part of a White House Historical Association play called “Paths to Freedom.”

 

“Great job!” Obama told the students.

Flesh-eating bacteria amputee Aimee Copeland now uses the latest technology in prosthetic hands to chop vegetables, pick up tiny items like Skittles, and comb and iron press her hair.

With the bionic hands, Copeland is looking forward to cleaning her house -- she's a neat freak, she tells CNN -- and cooking her own food. She's something of a foodie but has been able to eat only microwaveable foods, she adds.

 

"I really want to be able to get back in the kitchen and start cooking some delicious vegetarian meals for myself," she said as she used the hands in a demonstration for media outlets this week.

 

"It just mimics so well a natural hand that it really just reminds me of before the accident, how I would have done things," she added. "I never thought I would actually be able to hold a knife and cut something. That's just incredible."

 

The "i-limb ultra revolution" hands can cost up to $120,000 each, said a spokesman for manufacturer Touch Bionics. Copeland demonstrated the prosthetic hands at the firm's office in Hilliard, Ohio, showing how hand positions can also be remotely set with an iPad application using a blue-tooth connection. The "bioism" software can also be downloaded to an iPhone and iPod, the spokesman said.

 

On May 1, 2012, Copeland, a University of West Georgia graduate student, was outdoors with friends at the Little Tallapoosa River, about 50 miles west of Atlanta when the homemade zip line she was holding snapped. She fell and got a gash in her leg that required 22 staples to close.

 

Three days later, still in pain, she went to an emergency room, and doctors eventually determined she had necrotizing fasciitis caused by the flesh-devouring bacteria Aeromonas hydrophila.

 

Doctors performed amputations to save her life.

 

She lost parts of all limbs: her hands, a leg and a foot.

 

After the surgery, her family home in Snellville, just east of Atlanta, added a 1,956-square-foot "Aimee's Wing," donated by a builder.

 

In other upcoming milestones, Copeland, whose story raised the nation's awareness of flesh-eating bacteria, will receive a service dog this summer, when she will work with amputee children in a wilderness camp.

 

She is hoping to receive a prosthetic leg later this year as well. Walking will be a dream come true, she said.

 

Copeland is working to complete her master's degree before the end of the year.

President Barack Obama will deliver long-promised remarks Thursday explaining the legal framework behind the decisions he makes to use drones against terrorist threats and further detail the administration’s counterterrorism policy, according to a White House official.

 

In his speech at the National Defense University, the president also plans to review the state of threats the country currently faces and efforts to close down Guantanamo Bay's detention facility, the official said.

 

After facing a barrage of criticism from both parties about the administration's secretive drone policy, Obama pledged in his February State of the Union address to work with Congress on the issue to ensure "that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances."

 

He also vowed to make the administration's efforts "more transparent to the American people and to the world."

 

A controversial memo leaked from the Justice Department in February confirmed the Obama administration considers drone attacks legal when it entails American citizens involved with al Qaeda or one of its affiliates overseas. While the policy paper had been shown to the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees last June, it only became public earlier this year.

 

Separately, the Obama admiration faced more pressure from Senate Republicans in March to further detail its drone policy when it comes to hypothetical situations involving suspected American terrorists on U.S. soil.

 

After a 13 hour talking filibuster from Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who demanded answers on whether the administration considers a drone attack in such suspects legal, Attorney General Eric Holder responded in a three paragraph letter, saying the president does not have the authority to use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil.

 

The use of armed drones to target and kill suspected terrorists has increased dramatically during the Obama administration. But the president said he struggles with the tactic to target terrorists.

 

"That's something that you have to struggle with," Obama said in a CNN interview at the White House conducted for the documentary "Obama Revealed: The man, The President" by this reporter. He continued, "if you don't, then it's very easy to slip into a situation in which you end up bending rules thinking that the ends always justify the means. That's not been our tradition. That's not who we are as a country."

President Barack Obama's commencement speech at historic HBCU Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA was a personal, sometimes poignant but relevant speech to the 500 strong all-male graduating class. Tying nearly 150 years of history to that one moment that each of the graduates would cherish and remember for the rest of their lives, he implored them to not make excuses for any failings they might have in the future.

 

"We've got no time for excuses — not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven't," he said, acknowledging that racism is still alive today. "It's just that in today's hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven't earned."

 

The themes of personal and community responsibility were very resonant as he spoke about being better fathers, husbands, partners and mentors to young black children, saying,  "Keep setting an example for what it means to be a man. Be the best husband to your wife, or boyfriend to your partner, or father to your children that you can be. Because nothing is more important."

 

You can watch the commencement speech below.

 

 

A meteoroid struck the surface of the moon recently, causing an explosion that was visible on Earth without the aid of a telescope, NASA reported Friday. But don't be alarmed if you didn't see it; it only lasted about a second.

 

"It exploded in a flash nearly 10 times as bright as anything we've ever seen before," said Bill Cooke, of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.

 

NASA astronomers have been monitoring the moon for the past eight years, looking for explosions caused by meteoroids hitting the lunar surface. It's part of a program to find new fields of space debris that could hit Earth. NASA says it sees hundreds of detectable lunar meteoroid impacts a year.

 

None however can match the size of the explosion they say they saw March 17. NASA says the meteoroid was about 40 kilograms and less than a meter wide, and it hit the moon's surface at 56,000 mph. It glowed like a 4th magnitude star, NASA says, thanks to an explosion equivalent to 5 tons of TNT.

 

"It jumped right out at me, it was so bright," said Ron Suggs of the Marshall Space Flight Center.

 

Cooke says Earth was pelted by meteoroids at about the same time, but they hit the moon because it has no atmosphere to protect it.

 

None however can match the size of the explosion they say they saw March 17. NASA says the meteoroid was about 40 kilograms and less than a meter wide, and it hit the moon's surface at 56,000 mph. It glowed like a 4th magnitude star, NASA says, thanks to an explosion equivalent to 5 tons of TNT.

 

"It jumped right out at me, it was so bright," said Ron Suggs of the Marshall Space Flight Center.

 

Cooke says Earth was pelted by meteoroids at about the same time, but they hit the moon because it has no atmosphere to protect it.

 

"We'll be keeping an eye out for signs of a repeat performance next year when the Earth-moon system passes through the same region of space," Cooke said.

 

If you're wondering how there can be an explosion on the moon, without oxygen, NASA has the answer for you. It says the flash of light comes not from any type of combustion -- as we typically think of explosions -- but rather by the glowing molten rock at the impact site.

Under pressure to fight sexual assault, the U.S. armed forces in recent years rolled out education programs about proper sexual conduct through methods like role playing and video games.

 

The increase in education has nevertheless failed to prevent what the nation's top general called last week "a crisis" after the Pentagon reported a 37 percent jump in the estimated number of sexual assault cases in 2012.

 

Moreover, the military suffered deep embarrassment when personnel who worked on preventing sexual assaults were themselves accused of sex crimes this month.

 

On Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gave top brass a week to come up with a plan for discussing the problem with all troops and ensuring proper training and credentials for those who deal with new recruits and sexual assault victims.

 

Education campaigns teach service members basics like how to make sure the other party is a willing participant in intimate contact, or how to step in as a bystander if an alcohol-fueled situation looks like it could lead to inappropriate conduct.

 

The Army is in the fifth year of its "I Am Strong" sexual assault prevention campaign, under which all new soldiers are drilled on a set of 10 "sex rules."

 

All members of the Air Force are required each year to have one hour of face-to-face sexual assault prevention training from a sexual assault response coordinator.

 

While all the military services have programs on avoiding sexual assault, critics say training may never be enough to do away with the problem. What is needed, says former Marine Captain Anu Bhagwati, is a shake up in the military judicial system.

 

"The military cannot train its way out of this problem," said Bhagwati, who is now executive director of the Service Women's Action Network, which campaigns for women's issues in the armed forces.

 

She urges the military to take prosecution of sexual assault cases away from the chain of command, making it easier for victims to seek justice, an idea echoed in a Senate bill last week.

 

"I think even today the training is not meaningful, certainly not in a significant way that causes behavior change," said Bhagwati, who helped implement sexual assault prevention training before she left the military in 2004.

 

General Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, said it will take time and diligence to see progress from sexual assault prevention training.

 

"The experts tell me we have to be careful ... because sometimes programs that are successful in this area will take a long time to show results," he told reporters at the Pentagon.

 

"This is not going to be a rapid fix," Welsh said. "It's got to be a constant attention to detail."

 

'BEHEMOTH ORGANIZATIONS'

 

While more than half the victims of sexual assault in the military are men, women in the services are still more likely to be accosted sexually.

 

There are nearly 205,000 women in the active duty military, nearly 15 percent of the total, and women will be integrated in frontline combat roles by 2016.

 

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week the military is losing the confidence of women members because of the sexual assault "crisis."

 

Changing the culture in an armed forces of 1.4 million people is an enormous challenge.

 

"These are behemoth organizations. They are enormous. They have attempted to deal with the very difficult problem of sexual assault," said Anne Munch, a former prosecutor who has worked as a consultant on sexual assault issues with the military for more than a decade.

 

"You have to attack the problem in a lot of different ways, and there's no one answer and there's no silver bullet."

 

The Army has a live, interactive program called "Sex Signals" in which soldiers watch actors role play dating scenarios on stage and discuss whether the participants correctly understand how their actions are viewed.

 

The Army also makes use of a video game called "Team-Bound" in which players witness a potential sexual harassment incident as it unfolds.

 

Soldiers and officers receive sexual assault prevention training at all levels. New recruits are drilled on a set of 10 rules, from "sexual assault is a crime" and "no always means no" to "stop sexual hazing, bullying and assault" and "be a leader, not a passive bystander."

 

To some, the training can come off as half-hearted.

 

The Protect Our Defenders victims' advocacy group said an Air Force officer told them that a course he took consisted of being given two brochures to read and being told to sign a paper saying he had come to the class.

 

The treatment of victims often leaves a lot to be desired, despite efforts to help those who have experienced sexual assault, said the Air Force's Welsh.

 

One story that Welsh says hit him "like a ton of bricks" was that of a service member who had been raped in another country. When she went to a base hospital for testing, a technician came out to the waiting room and said in a loud voice, "OK, now who was the sexual assault victim?"

 

The Air Force started a program in January in which victims are assigned an attorney to guide them through the process and keep them from having to go over their testimony repeatedly. Welsh said early statistics on the victims' counsel program show the percentage of people willing to proceed with prosecutions is up substantially.

 

Among those who initially report their cases only on condition it not be pursued as a criminal matter, only about 13 percent shift and agree to prosecute. But in a group of 300 people with special victims' counsels, 55 percent of those who did not want to pursue the case criminally have shifted and agreed to prosecute, Welsh said.

A tornado half a mile wide struck near Oklahoma City on Sunday, part of a massive storm front that hammered the central United States. News reports said at least one person had died.

 

By early Sunday evening, 19 tornados had touched down in parts of Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas, according to the National Weather Service and local news reports.

 

Fox News reported that one person was killed in Shawnee, Oklahoma, east of Oklahoma City.

 

Police in Shawnee could not immediately be reached to confirm the report.

 

Officials of the National Weather Service in Oklahoma issued a series of increasingly urgent warnings in the late afternoon and evening, including an alert on Twitter about a tornado striking Pink, a town on the edge of Oklahoma City.

 

"Large tornado west of Pink!" the post read. "Take cover RIGHT NOW in Pink! DO NOT WAIT!"

 

An extreme weather system stretching from north Texas to Minnesota had been building for hours on Sunday when a "large tornado" touched down near Wichita, Kansas at 3:45 pm Central Standard time, according to a weather service alert.

 

Another alert warned of the likelihood of "exceptionally powerful, severe thunderstorms capable of destructive hail as large as baseballs," especially over southeast Kansas in the evening.

 

Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa are all in the path of the storm system capable of producing winds of up to 80 miles per hour, large hail stones and violent tornadoes.

 

The storm prompted an unusually blunt warning from the central region of the National Weather Service, which covers 14 states.

 

"You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter," it said. "Complete destruction of neighborhoods, businesses and vehicles will occur. Flying debris will be deadly to people and animals."

 

A tornado also touched down in southwest Wichita at 3:45 p.m. Central time, moving northeast at about 35 miles per hour toward Topeka, said Pat Slattery, spokesman for the National Weather Service for the U.S. Central region.

 

In northeast Oklahoma, the Lincoln County sheriff's office reported three tornado touchdowns in that region, NBC News said reported early on Sunday evening.

 

Slattery said the potential severity of the storm prompted the weather service to issue the stark advisory, which is part of a new warning system being tested in the U.S. Central region after a violent tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011, killing 158 people and injuring hundreds.

 

Slattery said the new advisory was reserved for severe tornadoes with the potential to form into "supercell" storms, which produce powerful winds and flash flooding. Supercells are considered to be the most dangerous of four categories of storms because of the extreme weather they generate.

 

A recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration assessment of the Joplin storm found that "when people heard the first tornado warning, they did not immediately seek shelter. They looked for a secondary source to confirm the tornado," Slattery said. "That got some people killed."

Wednesday, 08 May 2013 20:43

Community - Influence Her Awards

Written by

Community - Influence Her Awards

 

AEG Live's lawyer warned jurors that "we're going to show some ugly stuff" as he began the defense's opening statement in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial Monday.

 

The concert promoter has no choice to reveal Jackson's "deepest, darkest secret" because the company must defend itself from the accusation from Jackson's family that it is responsible for the pop icon's death, Marvin Putnam said.

 

Before Putnam began, a Jackson lawyer played for the jury a sentimental song Jackson wrote and recorded for his three children titled "You Are My Life."

 

"You are the sun, you make me shine more like the stars that twinkle at night,

 

You are the moon that glows in my heart,

 

You're my day time, my nighttime,

 

My world. You are my life."

 

Katherine Jackson, his mother, wiped tears from her face as her late son's soft voice filled the small courtroom.

 

And so begins a trial, which could last several months, that promises dramatic revelations and legal fireworks. With opening statements delivered, the Jackson's call their first witness Tuesday morning -- Orlando Martinez, the Los Angeles Police detective who investigated Jackson's death.

 

AEG Live executives are "ruthless guys" who ignored Michael Jackson's health problems and his doctor's ethical conflicts, which led to the pop icon's death, a Jackson family lawyer argued Monday.

 

Jurors earning $15 a day will decide whether one of the world's largest entertainment companies should pay Jackson's mother and three children billions of dollars for its liability in the pop icon's death.

 

Randy and Rebbie Jackson, Michael's siblings, were with their mother in the front row, just a few feet away from jurors.

 

"There will be no question in your mind that they were ruthless and they wanted to be No. 1 at all cost," Jackson lawyer Brian Panish said.

 

AEG executives knew that Jackson was emotionally and physically weak, Panish told jurors.

 

Jackson was in an "obvious sharp decline" in the weeks after Murray began working as his personal doctor while he prepared for his comeback concerts.

 

Another warning sign should have been that Murray asked for $5 million for the job and eventually agreed on $150,000 a month, Panish said. Another doctor had told AEG he would do the job for $40,000 a month as long as Jackson was "clean," meaning not on drugs, he said.

 

Panish played for the jury a video of an AEG expert who agreed that Murray's pay demand was "outrageous."

 

"That raised red flag because it was an enormous sum of money," defense expert Marty Hom said.

 

"AEG ignored the obvious red flags, and they hired Dr. Murray," Panish said.

 

Later in the trial, jurors will hear Michael's oldest son and daughter describe their father's last days. But they will also endure weeks of testimony from medical and financial experts offering opinions about the singer's health, addiction and career.

 

Only 16 journalists and a few members of the public will be allowed inside the courtroom because many of its 45 seats are reserved for parties involved in the trial, including the Jackson family. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos denied CNN's request to televise the trial.

 

The central issue

 

The central issue is simple: Did AEG Live, the company promoting Jackson's comeback concerts in 2009, hire or supervise Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's June 25, 2009, death?

 

Jackson died two weeks before his "This Is It" comeback concerts, organized by AEG Live, were to have debuted in London. The coroner ruled Jackson died from a fatal combination of sedatives and propofol, a surgical anesthetic that Murray told investigators he used to put Jackson to sleep almost every night in the month before his death.

 

The Jacksons argue that AEG executives knew about the star's weakened health and his past use of dangerous drugs while on tour. They're liable in his death because they pressured Jackson and the doctor to meet their ambitious schedule to prepare for the London shows despite that knowledge, their lawyers contend.

 

A cornerstone of their case is an e-mail AEG Live Co-CEO Paul Gongaware wrote 11 days before Jackson's death. The e-mail to show director Kenny Ortega addressed concerns that Murray had kept Jackson from a rehearsal the day before: "We want to remind (Murray) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary. We want to remind him what is expected of him."

 

Jackson lawyers argue the e-mail is evidence that AEG Live used Murray's fear of losing his lucrative job as Jackson's personal physician to pressure him to have Jackson ready for rehearsals despite his fragile health.

 

Gongaware, in a video deposition played in court Monday, said he could not remember writing the e-mail, which the Jackson lawyers call the "smoking gun" in their case.

 

"They put Dr. Murray in a position where if he said Michael can't go or can't play, if he said I can't give you those drugs, then he doesn't get paid," Panish told jurors Monday.

 

Gongaware, who managed two of Jackson's tours in the 1990s, knew that Jackson relied on addictive opiates during his concert tours, Panish said.

 

He played a video of one doctor who said he warned Gongaware about it in 1993.

 

"We felt that we needed to an intervention," Dr. Stuart Finkelstein said. "We needed to do detox."

 

AEG's lawyer argued Monday that Gongaware and other AEG executives had no way of knowing about Jackson's use of propofol to sleep.

 

"AEG knew nothing about this decade-long propofol use," Putnam said. "They were a concert promoter. How could they know?"

 

He promised that Jackson's ex-wife and mother of his two oldest children, Debbie Rowe, will testify that she assisted in administering propofol to Jackson in the 1990s when she was a nurse.

 

She saw several doctors put Mr. Jackson to sleep in hotel rooms while on tour," he said, including in Munich, London, Paris.

 

"The truth is Mr. Jackson fooled everyone," Putnam said about Jackson's porpofol use. "He kept those who might have helped him at a distance and no one knew his deepest, darkest secret."

 

Jackson's ability to keep his private side private meant AEG could not see any red flags warning of Jackson's destruction, Putnam said.

 

"They didn't see this coming," he said. "They had no idea."

 

Putnam said Jackson family members will testify about their failed attempts at intervention and their lack of knowledge about what was happening.

 

"If they didn't know what was going on, how could someone else think there was even a problem," he said.

 

AEG contends that Jackson was responsible for his own demise, that he chose Murray to be his full-time doctor and that his drug addiction led him to a series of fatal choices.

 

"This case is about personal choices," Putnam said. "People have responsibility for their personal choices. It was not a tragedy of AEG Live's making."

 

Murray was never an AEG employee but rather was chosen and paid by Jackson for nearly four years until Jackson died, AEG lawyers contend.

 

"AEG Live never paid Dr. Murray anything, ever," Putnam said.

 

He played a snippet from Murray's interview with Martinez two days after Jackson's death.

 

"I am an employee for Michael Jackson but paid through AEG," Murray told police.

 

Jackson, not AEG chose Murray, he said.

 

Child molestation accusations against Jackson, for which he was acquitted after a trial, are relevant because they resulted in an increase in his drug use, Putnam said.

 

He focused on Jackson's doctor shopping for drugs, displaying a chart of 40 doctors and nurses who Jackson sought drugs from.

 

Jackson's family seeks billions

 

Just before Monday's session began, the judge issued a series of rulings that will allow Jackson expert witnesses to testify but limit some of their opinions.

 

The lawsuit seeks a judgment against AEG Live equal to the money Jackson would have earned over the course of his remaining lifetime if he had not died in 2009. Jackson lawyers denied media reports that they were seeking $40 billion in damages if AEG Live is found liable, but it could cost the company several billion dollars, according to estimates of Jackson's income potential.

 

AEG Live is a subsidiary of AEG, a global entertainment company that was up for sale recently with an $8 billion asking price.

 

Palazuelos reversed an earlier tentative decision Monday that would have limited the amount of damages the Jacksons could argue AEG should pay if found liable in the singer's death.  The decision raises the potential damages by about $1 billion.

 

One of the Jacksons' experts, certified pubic accountant Arthur Erk, estimated that Michael Jackson could have earned $1.4 billion by taking his "This Is It" tour around the world for 260 shows. AEG executives discussed extending the tour beyond the 50 shows scheduled for London, Jackson lawyers said.

 

Jackson lawyer Perry Sanders, in arguing for the judge to allow Erk's testimony, said when "This Is It" tickets went on sale in March 2009, there was the "highest demand to see anyone in the history of the world. No one has ever come close."

 

"There was so much demand, they filled 2 million seats in hours," Sanders said, quoting an e-mail from AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips sent to AEG's owner.

 

"We would have had to do 100-plus shows to fill the demand" in London, he said Phillips wrote. Jackson could have packed the Tokyo Dome several times in a world tour, he said.

 

But AEG lawyer Sabrina Strong called it "very speculative" that Jackson would have even finished the 50 London shows before dying.

 

AEG lawyers argued that Jackson didn't perform 260 shows and make that much money even in his prime. "He never came anywhere close to that," Strong said. "No one other than Cher has ever done that."

 

Erk also calculated Jackson would have followed with four more world tours before he turned 65.

 

Palazuelos weighed in during a hearing on Thursday, noting that the Rolling Stones are still touring into their 70s.

 

The Jacksons will also try to convince jurors that he would have made a fortune off of a long series of Las Vegas shows, endorsements, a clothing line and movies.

 

Strong argued that Jackson had a history of failed projects and missed opportunities, calling Erk's projections "a hope, a dream, and not a basis for damages."

 

Erk, under the new ruling, will be able to tell jurors about the "loss of earning capacity" suffered by the family because of Jackson's death.  This means the jury can consider the Jackson argument that he could have earned millions with a clothing line, endorsements and movies. The expert's estimate that Jackson would have completed five world tours before he was 65, if he had lived, can also be considered.

 

AEG can argue, however, that Jackson's past failures diminished the potential earnings.

 

None of the Jackson experts can offer an opinion on the question of whether Murray was hired by AEG.

 

The witness lists include many members of the Jackson family, including Katherine Jackson. Other celebrity witnesses on the list are Sharon Osbourne, Quincy Jones, Spike Lee, Ray Parker Jr., Lisa Marie Presley, Diana Ross and Lou Ferrigno.

Page 1 of 4
Prev Next
Celebrity Colour Formula, Emily Blunt

Celebrity Colour Formula, Emily Blunt

Ever wanted to know how to give your clients the...

Farouk Brings on Andre Chiavelli as New VP

Farouk Brings on Andre Chiavelli as New VP

ndre Chiavelli, a beauty industry veteran, has just been announced...

Best Golden Globes 2013 Hair

Best Golden Globes 2013 Hair

All was set a-glow at the 70th Annual Golden Globes....


@J'AdoreMagazine on Twitter
Follow JadoreMagazine on Twitter