September 26, 2013


Associated Press


LOS ANGELES — A lawyer for Michael Jackson’s family on Tuesday portrayed concert promoter AEG Live LLC and Jackson’s doctor as mercenaries who sacrificed the pop star’s life in a quest to boost their own fortunes.

Attorney Brian Panish made the claims while delivering his closing argument at the long-running negligence case, asking jurors: “Do people do things they shouldn’t do for money? People do it every day.”

A $150,000-a-month contract to care for Jackson was a lifeline to help Dr. Conrad Murray climb out of his financial troubles, Panish told jurors, saying the doctor was $500,000 in debt and about to lose his home.

AEG Live, meanwhile, had only one interest — launching a world tour for the King of Pop that would yield untold millions in profits, the lawyer said.

The lawsuit filed by Katherine Jackson, the singer’s mother, accuses AEG Live of negligence in hiring Murray and seeks as-yet unspecified damages for the singer's family.

Panish told a packed courtroom that Murray’s woes were unknown to AEG Live when Jackson proposed the cardiologist as his private physician because the company did not research his finances.

He also said Murray’s willingness to close his medical offices to take the job could have raised a red flag if AEG Live had investigated the cardiologist.

“Obviously, he was incompetent and unfit,” Panish said. “He caused the death of Michael Jackson.”

Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter after giving Jackson an overdose of the anesthetic propofol as he tried to sleep during preparations for his “This Is It” concerts in London.

Attorneys for AEG will present their closing argument Wednesday.

The company has claimed that Jackson insisted that Murray treat him because the doctor was giving him propofol as a sleep aid. The drug is not meant to be used outside operating rooms.

AEG Live drafted a contract for Murray’s services, according to testimony, but it was only signed by Murray. Still, Panish said, the contract was valid because it was the result of oral negotiations with Murray.

Panish urged jurors to act as the conscience of the community and award damages to Jackson’s family. Jackson’s mother, Katherine, her daughter Rebbie and nephews Taj and TJ, sat in a front row as Panish delivered his remarks.

The trial had been moved to a larger courtroom to accommodate media, spectators, lawyers and Jackson fans. A delegation of justice officials from Thailand also observed from the gallery.

The plaintiffs, who have the burden of proof, were expected to tell jurors on Thursday that they are seeking more than $1 billion. Experts have testified that Jackson had a long, lucrative career ahead of him when he died at 50.

On Monday, Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos gave the jury legal instructions. Everyone has biases, she said, but they must not be swayed by prejudice, sympathy or public opinion while deliberating.

If the jury finds that damages should be assessed, the judge said they must not consider such issues as the grief endured by the Jackson family or the wealth of both sides in the bitterly fought case.

A unanimous verdict is not required. Only nine of the 12 jurors must agree.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

September 26, 2013

By Kam Williams

LAWT Contributing Writer


“There have been many marches since, and several before, but no other march to the nation’s capital captured our collective imagination like the March on Washington of August 28, 1963… The momentous pilgrimage showcased an inspired… Martin Luther King, Jr., the celebrated leader of black America who hadn’t yet delivered an entire speech that the nation had listened to…

Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson… encouraged her friend to depart from paper… “Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin,” she bellowed from the background. And respond to her call King did… King cast aside his prepared speech… to weave the dream metaphor into the tapestry of the nation’s self-image, and in the process he grafted black folk to the heart of American democracy.”

Excerpted from the Essay by Michael Eric Dyson (pgs. 1-5)


“Leonard Freed’s photographs of the March on Washington depict

both the march and the marchers… For the participants, this was both a serious and a happy occasion, a chance to exercise their rights and to petition their government for a redress of ancient grievances. The marchers are at once sober, somber, and gleeful—proud to be present as they sense history is being made.”

Excerpted from the Foreword by Julian Bond (page ix)


When you think of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, what automatically comes to mind for most people is Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. And while Dr. King’s remarks certainly deserve every bit of recognition they have garnered over the years, it is also important to remember that hundreds of thousands of ordinary American citizens committed to civil rights had descended on the National Mall to attend the event.

I was only a child at the time, but I can still readily recall the palpable concern in the air about the folks from the neighborhood boarding buses for DC. After all, the press had been speculating about the prospect of rioting and arrests if the crowd were unruly, so those participating were doing so with the prospect of considerable personal risk in mind.

Fortunately, the glorious gathering went of without a hitch and came to represent a watershed moment in U.S. History. Now, a half-century later, we are lucky to have an opus like “This Is the Day” available to remind us of that high point in the nation’s non-violence movement.

The book is essentially a photographic essay chronicled by Leonard Freed (1929-2006) before, during and after at the March. His beautiful black & white images are rarely of the leaders (only one of Dr. King), but rather are evocative portraits of the movement’s hopeful foot soldiers who’d trudged from all over the country to petition the government for equal rights.

A few of the photos captured are wide-angle panoramas which give a sense of the mammoth scale of the demonstration. But most are intimate snapshots which afford you an opportunity to read each of the earnest subject’s faces.

Besides the timeless stills, the tome is devoted to the reflections of civil rights leader Julian Bond, who was at the March, as well as to a very colorful essay recounting the day by Michael Eric Dyson, written with a profusion of the popular professor’s trademark rhetorical flourishes. It also features a postscript by Paul Farber analyzing the gifted Freed’s approach to his craft.

Overall, this timely tome is a perfect way to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of one of the most important landmarks in African-American history.            


Book Information:


This Is the Day

The March on Washington

Photos by Leonard Freed

Foreword by Julian Bond

Essay by Michael Eric Dyson

Afterword by Paul Farber

J. Paul Getty Museum Publications

Hardcover, $29.95

120 pages

ISBN: 978-1-60606-121-3   

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

September 26, 2013

Associated Press


Paul George wanted to keep playing in Indiana. Larry Bird made sure he wasn't going anywhere.

The Pacers star forward agreed this week to a long-term contract, according to a person with knowledge of the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because it won't be officially announced until Wednesday. Terms were not immediately available, but he is eligible for a five-year deal worth between $80 million to $90 million, depending on the salary cap.

George's rookie deal was set to expire after next season and the 23-year-old All-Star almost certainly would have been one of most attractive players on the free-agent market. There was speculation the Los Angeles area native might return to California and team up with Kobe Bryant to restore the luster to the Lakers proud franchise.

But publicly and behind the scenes, George repeatedly said his sole intention was to win a championship with the Pacers.

Bird was so determined to get the deal done before training camp opened Saturday that he left his golf clubs at home Monday instead of playing in the annual Pacers Foundation outing. Instead, he returned to the office to continue negotiating.

"It's always good to have the leverage, but the number has got to be the number we both like and that's what it's all about," Bird said then. "It's all about money. Yes, he wants to be here. He's told me that a million times. We want him here, so let's just find a number for both."

By Tuesday afternoon, everything fell into place and the Pacers get a cornerstone player for the future.

The 6-foot-8 forward has made dramatic improvement in each of his first three NBA seasons.

He was a key player off the bench as a rookie, then emerged as a solid starter in his second season and last year averaged career-highs of 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists. George's numbers actually increased during the playoffs as he led Indiana past Atlanta and New York and into the Eastern Conference finals. The Pacers pushed the defending champs to Game 7 before eventually losing at Miami.

He was a third-team All-NBA selection, a second-team all-defensive pick, was named the league's most improved player and earned a second straight trip to USA Basketball camp this summer. But all he really wanted to do keep was win a title with the team that brought him into the league and is convinced he's going to become one of the game's most complete stars.

"I think there's a tremendous amount of upside," coach Frank Vogel said Monday. "He's probably the best wing defender in the game already and he's only 23, and when you have the work ethic and drive he has, there's tremendous upside there."

Signing George also means the Pacers will keep their core group for at least three more years.

Last summer, center Roy Hibbert and point guard George Hill both signed lucrative, long-term deals. Power forward David West joined the club this summer when he agreed to a three-year, $36 million deal. Now George is locked up, too.

The contracts of two other key players - shooting guard Lance Stephenson and former NBA All-Star Danny Granger - are set to expire after next season. Stephenson will become a restricted free agent because he's still on his rookie deal.

But for a team that came within two games of taking out Miami in the 2012 playoffs and one win last year and now believes it significantly upgraded its bench, getting the George deal might be the last big piece to the championship puzzle.

"There's no doubt we've got a great core here," Vogel said. "Roy is going to be here, George (Hill) is going to be here, David West is going to be here, hopefully, Lance and Danny will be here for years to come. But when you have Paul as one of your core pieces, that's a pretty good place to start."

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

September 26, 2013 

By Edward Rice, III

LAWT Contributing Writer


With more than 300,000 people expected to attend the Taste of Soul, the event offers a unique opportunity for corporate entities and community partners to connect up close and personal with the people they serve. Each year KTTV Fox 11 Los Angeles nightly news anchor, Christine Devine seizes that opportunity and has become one of the station’s most popular ambassadors at the Taste of Soul.

“I look forward to it every single year. Fox hosts a booth there where we get to mingle and meet everybody and have the food, you do know I’m there for the food,” said Devine with a chuckle. “I think it’s just a great way to bring everyone together for a good time. I mean I can’t believe the amount of people there. It’s just a really good time.”

Devine, a 16 time Emmy winning journalist, has covered everything from the LA Riots, to elections and earthquakes. However, it’s her adoption segment Wednesday’s Child, which has captured the hearts of Taste of Soul regulars. “I find the people to be so loving and supportive, especially of Wednesday’s Child,” claimed Devine. “I can’t tell you how many hugs I get from people saying I love Wednesday’s Child. Just to get the support and love on that feels so good and I’m so appreciative.”  Wednesday’s Child is a showcase of children in foster care who need to be adopted. Not all children in foster care do, according to Devine, but a small portion find themselves in that position. “It’s a very small percentage but it’s a ruling by the court that ties be severed between birth family and children when there is no hope for unification,” she explained. As fate would have it Wednesday’s Child started out as an assignment, but it was the perfect assignment given the fact that Devine’s family had fostered and adopted children growing up. “I felt like I really understood the kids and their journeys and the families too,” she stated.

It’s evident for Christine that serving the community she covers is more than passion. Her deep commitment to the communities of LA derives from something that was instilled in her as a child. “My mother was in the Peace Corp in Brazil and my step father was in Tanzania. It’s that kind of philosophy that they came home with and they became educators—award winning educators,” she said proudly. “When I came to LA I knew absolutely no one so being involved in the community was a way to learn about the cities I was reporting on.” Apparently during that time she learned a lot about the communities she’d eventually cover and thankfully was moved to action. In addition to her involvement in Wednesday’s Child, Christine is also actively involved in The Good News Foundation. The Good News Foundation is an organization she founded along with four other Los Angeles newswomen that aims to make a difference and leave a legacy in Los Angeles through efforts such as building computer labs, a park and a library.

For the Arizona native, Taste of Soul is another chance to come from behind the anchor’s desk and come together with the people of LA. “I think the more we can bring the community together on a positive note, on a supportive note, on a ‘we can do this together note’ the better,” she insists.  “You know when you walk around people are laughing and smiling, enjoying the sun, enjoying the food, supporting the vendors and that’s what it’s all about, that’s what success is all about. So it’s a successful event by the people, for the people.”  Christine added, “I think its proof that people can come together on a positive note and have a really good time together.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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