August 29, 2013

By Alan Duke

CNN Wire Service


LOS ANGELES — A drug addiction expert who testified that Michael Jackson suffered a “quite extensive” drug addiction ack­nowl­edged there was no evidence the singer used more painkillers than medically necessary.

Dr. Petros Levounis testified Tuesday and Wednesday for AEG Live in its defense of the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Jackson's mother and children.

Lawyers for the concert promoter want to convince jurors that the singer was a secretive addict responsible for his own death from an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol. Their executives had no way of knowing the singer was in danger when he was preparing for his comeback concerts in 2009, they contend.

Jackson lawyers contend AEG Live executives are liable because they negligently hired, retained or supervised the doctor who used propofol to treat Jackson’s insomnia as he prepared for his comeback concerts during the last two months of his life.

The conclusion that Jackson was dependent on painkillers was not a revelation, considering Jackson himself announced it when he cut his “Dangerous” tour short to enter a rehab program in 1993.

“If he announced it to the world it's not very private, is it?” Jackson lawyer Michael Koskoff asked Levounis.

“At that moment, he was not secretive,” Levounis replied.

Jackson’s drugs of choice were opioids, painkillers given to him by doctors repairing scalp injuries suffered in a fire and during cosmetic procedures to make him look younger, Levounis testified.

Labeling Jackson an addict could tarnish the singer's image among jurors, but its relevance to AEG Live’s liability is questionable. Opioids played no role in Jackson’s death, according to the Los Angeles County coroner. His June 25, 2009, death was ruled a result of an overdose of propofol.

Dr. Conrad Murray told investigators he infused the singer with propofol for 60 consecutive nights to treat his insomnia so he could rest for rehearsals. The judge would not allow Levounis to testify if he thought Jackson was addicted to propofol.

Levounis said addiction happens when a chemical “hijacks the pleasure-reward pathways” in your brain. “You remain addicted for the rest of your life,” Levounis testified.

“Michael Jackson’s addiction was quite extensive and I have very little doubt that his pleasure-reward pathways had been hijacked and he suffered from addiction,” he said.

Levounis conceded he saw no evidence that Jackson used pain­killers after he left rehab in 1993 until 2001 or between July 2003 and late 2008.

He said it is not inconsistent for an addiction to go into remission.

Under cross examination Wed­nes­day morning, Levounis conceded that he never saw evidence that Jackson injected himself with narcotics, ever sought or used illegal drugs such as cocaine, meth or heroin, or abused drugs to produce euphoria or get high.

There was also no evidence Jackson used more painkillers than doctors prescribed, he said.

Jackson lawyers have never disputed the singer’s drug dependence. In fact, they contend that AEG Live executives, including one who was Jackson’s tour ­manager when he entered rehab, were negligent for paying a doctor $150,000 a month just to treat Jackson. The high salary created a conflict for the debt-ridden Murray, making it difficult for him to say no to Jackson’s demands for drugs.

Paul Gongaware, the AEG Live co-CEO who was in charge of Jackson’s 2009 “This Is It” tour, was also tour manager for his “Dangerous” tour in 1993. Levounis acknowledged in testimony Wed­nes­day that there was evidence that Gongaware knew about Jackson’s painkiller addiction 15 years before his death.

Levounis’ testimony about the dangers of a doctor being too friendly with an addicted patient, which he said Murray was, could help the Jacksons’ case.

“A very close friendship between an addicted patient and a doctor is problematic,” Levounis testified. “It makes it much easier for a patient to ask for drugs and it makes it more difficult for a provider to resist.”

The medical records of Murray’s treatment of Jackson between 2006 and 2008 — when the singer lived in Las Vegas — showed no painkillers prescribed during seven visits. Murray’s notes did show he treated Jackson’s complaints of insomnia with a sedative in 2008.

Wednesday was the 76th day of testimony in the trial, which is expected to conclude near the end of September.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 29, 2013



If you seem spaced out this week don’t worry about it. Fill your mind with a vision of love for the entire planet. Use your gifts to assist others in seeing the world as you do, in glorious color. Check the details on paperwork that you have to do, dreamer. Soul Affirmation: Emptiness inside creates the space that I can fill with love. Lucky Numbers: 17, 21, 29



 Heavy vibrations could cause you to slow down and think a lot. That’s good, because slowing down is just what you need. Remember to think of the positive. Reject the negative and you’ll have a wonderful week. Soul Affirmation: The slowness of my week gives me time to refresh my energy. Lucky Numbers: 8, 29, 30



 Give your busy brain a rest and work your body this week. It’s a great week for physical activity that can loosen up muscles and relieve tensions. Also think about your weight problem if you have one. You’ll receive some practical advice from a distant relative. Soul Affirmation: I let my mind go slack and tighten up my body Lucky Numbers: 23, 29, 40



Family responsibilities may feel like a chore this week. If you relinquish control of the situation, a natural order will occur, and things will organize themselves. You can let people be who they are. That makes it easier for you to be who you are. Soul Affirmation: I let go and let the spirit run my life this week Lucky Numbers: 41, 54, 55



 Be on the look out for love from a distance source, not just romantic love but the warm glow that comes from someone who cares deeply for you. Think hard about who your lover is. Make a few phone calls. The instant you hear the voice you’ll know –this is the one. Soul Affirmation: Truth is revealed in the smallest grain of sand. Lucky Numbers: 18, 29, 27



 Work calls and you’re not completely happy with current divisions of labor. Do your part as a member of the team and you’ll be glad that you did. Others will notice that you are a committed team player. Look for financial rewards from your hard work. Soul Affirmation: Joy is my houseguest this week. Lucky Numbers: 42, 44, 45



Business looks good this week as you discover a new way of increasing exposure to your product. Let hope and optimism lead you into new beginnings and fresh starts. All vibes are good, go! Take a good friend with you for help and company on your journey into newness. Soul Affirmation: Make-believe is real while I believe it. Lucky Numbers: 12, 36, 49



 This will be one of those weeks that seem like one you’ve lived before. Good! Make some changes in the way you see things and you’ll make the old new, the routine will become exciting. Communications skill should be excellent. Have some good long talks with relative.  Soul Affirmation: I find happiness by making those around me happy. Lucky Numbers: 26, 34, 52



Travel has been on your mind for some time. Buy the tickets. Fuel the car. New surroundings will bring fresh ways of looking at things, which is exactly what you need. A trip that involves creative expression is called for. Soul Affirmation: I give myself a chance to see how good I can be. Lucky Numbers: 24, 51, 52



Keep a low voice. Let your presence supply the power, not your words or deeds. Great reward can come from travel with a friend or sweetheart. Remember something that a co-worker has been saying. There is a blessing in it. Soul Affirmation: I let go of all resentment and love my life. Lucky Numbers: 18, 32, 55



Rev up your engines. This is a fine week for making progress with projects that you’ve got in the works. Your energy is high and your mind is clear. Use every advantage this week to finish up your works. Soul Affirmation: When I feel good about myself, the world feels good to me. Lucky Numbers: 6, 15, 22



 A spirit of competition may be troubling you. Let it go. Celebrate differences and get on with the work of creating new hope in the world! Your tendency to speak without considering the full impact on others should be checked this week. Soul Affirmation: I seek the lighthearted flavor of love this week. Lucky Numbers: 3, 18, 19

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 29, 2013

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A gigantic new Disney studio planned for oak-studded ranchland north of Los Angeles has won the approval of Los Angeles County — a milestone in the effort to build the half-million square feet of new production space in a state hard hit by runaway production.

County supervisors signed off on Tuesday on the Golden Oak Ranch project in the Santa Clarita Valley, although it still needs state and federal approval, the Los Angeles Times reported ( ).

Disney/ABC Studios has spent the past four years attempting to build a high-tech production center in the area that Walt Disney selected decades ago to be the backdrop for his movies and television shows.

Rural and a short drive from major studios, the site has been depicted as a jungle, the Old West and other locations in productions such as "Old Yeller," ''Beverly Hills 90210" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End."

Golden Ranch would be one of the largest studio developments in more than a decade, with six pairs of soundstages along with shops, prop and costume storage areas, offices, writers' bungalows and a commissary.

Disney estimates the project would create $533 million a year in economic activity — a healthy jolt as California fights runaway production that has cost it more than 36,000 jobs since 1997, according to a 2010 Milken Institute Report.

"Many of the film production companies are now going out of state," Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said before the 4-0 vote. "This is an opportunity to increase film production in Los Angeles County."

A handful of environmentalists testified against the project, voicing concerns about pollution, loss of wildlife habitat and the need to cut down 158 oak trees. However, more than 100 supporters were on hand, including nearby residents and business and political leaders.

Disney said the 58-acre development will cover less than 7 percent of the 890-acre Golden Oak Ranch property. Disney plans to retain most of the natural settings.

Despite runaway production, local demand for studio space remains high. TV shows, commercials and new media productions financed by companies such as Netflix and Amazon have helped keep the average occupancy rate for Los Angeles County soundstages at 70 percent to 90 percent, said Carl Muhlstein, managing director for Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate service provider.

ABC, which produces 14 to 18 TV shows at any given time in the Los Angeles area, has outgrown the space at its studio in nearby Burbank and rents other soundstages to accommodate the work.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 29, 2013

By Breeanna Hare

Wire Service


Kanye West has been called many things, but these days the best description — according to him — is family man.

The 36-year-old rapper appeared on Kris Jenner”s daytime talk show “Kris” on Friday to discuss his relationship with Jenner’s daughter, Kim Kardashian, and their new addition, North.

But if Kanye was smart, he’d hire Jenner as part of his PR team. The reality TV momager, who has extended her family’s brand from E! to Fox with this test run of her talk show, reiterated several times that the stone-faced and difficult Kanye portrayed in the media is not the man she’s come to know. (Kanye, after all, is now living in her home.)

“I’m so excited that I’ve gotten to know you like I have,” Jenner said. “There are a lot of things that people don’t know about you that are so interesting to me that I want other people to hear.”

Kanye spoke about the effect of the birth on his outlook.

“To me it’s such a blessing, and I feel like it’s going to give me the stability that I need to really create and really do God’s work in the way I should,” Kanye, wearing a “what would Jesus do” bracelet, told Jenner.

“Someone to be accountable, someone to be responsible for. After I lost my mother there were times I felt like I would put my life at risk, I felt like sometimes I didn’t have something to live for. Now I have two really special people to live for, a whole family to live for. I want people, when they remember me and my family, their thought association to be someone who helped, someone who brought joy.”

He did bring plenty of joy to Jenner’s show, as she beamed while displaying North’s photo for the audience. North, who was born June 15, has her mother’s eyes and father’s cheeks, according to Jenner.

“The thing I think about as a dad is just protection. That’s my only goal, to Kanye said his goal is “to protect my daughter. That’s my instinct.”

“To give my daughter as many opportunities to just be a child. Of course, a big thing that plagues us is this idea of the paparazzi chasing a 5-year-old around and screaming at them. ... You have enough things to deal with and to learn being a new parent and you add that on top of it, and it becomes really intense.”

According to Jenner, Kanye’s been into his girlfriend for a long, long time, and would even use Photoshop to draw himself into the yearly Kardashian-Jenner Christmas card. (Seriously — Jenner showed proof.)

Although he couldn’t quite remember the first time he met Kardashian, 32, Kanye did know it was love at first sight.

“I’m trying to remember if the first time we met was her being in the studio when she was Brandy’s assistant, and I think she brought us in, like, something to drink,” he said. “Or it might’ve been when I was doing Brandy’s video and I remember asking my manager, ‘Who is that girl right there?’ ... I was in love with her before I even got to talk to her.”

Kim, he said, was always someone he dreamed about being with, but more importantly, he feels that they’re “equally yoked.”

“Being in the limelight, you have to have a match, or someone that’s equally yoked,” he told Jenner. “It’s difficult, because there’s people that you would date who would try to date you to maybe be more famous, or people who would want you to be less famous than you were, and just not accept who you are in life. And when I would be on the phone with her, even at my lowest moments, she’d give me energy and remind me of who I was. And I needed that support at all times.”

Kanye knows that there are those who think he and the Kardashian family wouldn’t have much in common. But he’s trying to grow both spiritually — “I’m a Christian,” he said, “That’s what’s important to me, that I grow and walk and raise my family with Christian values.”

“People feel that me and my girlfriend’s mother are of different brands in a way,” he said. “But it’s not about any of us being at odds, it's about us helping each other and improving each other. I might be one of the only guys in the world that knows how to pick out a pair of shoes for a girl, but I have improvements that I need to make as a human being ... the way that I talk to people, being too sharp with people, or being too edgy. As a creative guy, sometimes it’s hard for me to small talk. ... And that’s something that (the Kardashian) family and Kim are teaching me, helping me to be a better person.”

Given the negative press he’s had — from that infamous mic-jacking at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards to more recent run-ins with the paparazzi — does he have any regrets? Not exactly.

While there are things he wishes he could change, he also believes that “everything happened for a reason, and I’ve grown from it,” he said. “I feel that I’m very, very, very blessed, and with that comes great responsibility. With the way my parents raised me and the information that they gave me and this feeling that I have that I want to help, I think anything that could be considered a mistake will help me to make better decisions in the future.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 22, 2013

(AP) — Sony says it will launch its latest video game console, the PlayStation 4, on Nov. 15 in the U.S. and Canada.

Sony Corp. said Tuesday that the gaming system will launch in Australia and European countries including Austria, Germany, Sweden and the U.K. on Nov. 29. The PS4 will also go on sale that day in 10 Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

The PS4 will cost $399. Microsoft Corp.'s rival Xbox One will cost $499. Microsoft has not announced an exact launch date.

The two consoles will be the first major gaming systems since Nintendo's Wii U went on sale last November.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

Market Update

1 DOW 17,039.49
+60.36 (0.36%)    
2 S&P 1,992.37
+5.86 (0.29%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,532.10
+5.62 (0.12%)