Unidentified sources with the LAPD confirmed what we all knew in our hearts, The King of Pop's death was no accident. LA's coroner has reportedly determined that Jackson's death was more than just another junkie accidentally overdosing. And make no mistake, whatever MJ once was, he was by the end of his life a junkie. The LA Times reported this week that Jackson spent the last hours of his life pleading with his personal physician Conrad Murray for his "milk" - Jackson's pet name for the powerful sedative propofol. Jackson had recently gotten hooked on the drug (with the help of Murray) as a sleep aid.
Murray told police investigators that Jackson repeatedly pleaded with him for an IV dose of the drug on the night he died. Murray relented around 11 p.m. and added the drug to a cocktail of other sedatives. Within an hour Jackson stopped breathing and never regained consciousness. Police have interviewed a handful of other physicians and pharmacists who treated/abetted Jackson in his final months, but it looks like Murray, whom Jackson had on a $150,000-a-month retainer as part of his contract with concert producer AEG, is the one who is going to be left holding the IV bag. Hopefully this will kill the market for Jackson murder conspiracy theories and spare us the Marilyn Monroe style who-dunnit books and Dateline investigations. We're still trying to figure out who killed Elvis, fer crissake.
General Accountability Issues
U.S. Attorney General Erik Holder announced Monday that he was launching an investigation into the CIA's interrogation methods under George W. Bush. The announcement came as the intelligence agency was compelled to release a 2004 report detailing some of the questionable techniques that it used to elicit information from detainees in the "War On Terror" a.k.a. The Bush Global Assault on Civil Liberties. While most of the report is blacked out what remains is shocking to all but the most hardcore Bush supporters/Jack Bauer fans. Among other things, interrogators reportedly staged mock executions, physically assaulted detainees and in one case threatened to kill a detainee's children if another attack on Americans occurred - his children were in the custody of U.S. and Pakistani authorities at the time.
Holder who appears to be going against the wishes of the president by launching the investigation said that he had no choice after reviewing the facts. However, he came under fire from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle immediately, including Oregon's senior senator Ron Wyden, a ranking member of the Senate Intelligence committee.
Wyden told the NY Times that he didn't want to see a repeat of the Abu Ghraib investigation where senior officials in the Bush Administration were given virtual amnesty and rank and file troops were "hung out to dry."
Upfront agrees - up to a point. But the idea that we'll just pardon en masse all the faceless interrogators who beat, choked, and terrorized suspects because they were "just following orders" reeks of the Third Reich and not in the bullshit health-care-town-hall way.
On The Comeback Trail
Back in good old Central Oregon summer slogs forward and folks keep looking for positive signs in the local economy, or at least a pulse. (I think a house sold last month somewhere around here.) In Crook County the unemployment rate has reportedly dropped from its high of more than 20 percent (Yikes!) down to around 18.7 percent (yikes). That's the good news. Now the bad news, the dropping rate isn't necessarily tied to job growth, rather folks have just quit looking for jobs, according to employment analysts interviewed for a report on KTVZ this past week.
Down in La Pine folks were seeing good news in the announcement that McDonald's will soon be opening a restaurant in Central Oregon's favorite wayside/town. According to one chamber official the arrival is a vote of confidence in La-P's economy because the granddaddy of fast-food chains does "extensive" research on its markets before opening a new store.
Yeah? And so does Wal-Mart, they just happen to be looking for things like low-income levels and indiscriminating shoppers. I mean does anyone think that the ability to afford an item off the Dollar Menu is a sufficient stress test for your local economy?
Speaking of the Recession
Retailers and employees aren't the only ones who have been hit by the prolonged economic backslide. As has been reported previously by various local media outlets, including the trusty tsweekly, non-profits have been battered in the current climate as individual and corporate giving has waned. Working Wonders Children's Museum is the latest organization to go public with its woes. The interactive learning center is sort of a free range Montesorri environment with a dose of gender neutral Home Ec for five year olds. The museum, which is located on the top floor of the Old Mill District near Regal cinema, charges for admission, but it's relied heavily on sponsorships and other donations to fund its operating budget. Facing a shortfall this summer the museum is going to the public with a last-ditch fundraising effort to keep the lights on. The goal is to raise $200,000 by October, according to a recent press release. The campaign is reportedly off to a good start. For more information on the campaign, or to donate, check out the museum's website. www.workingwonders.org. Better yet, go down and check out the museum for yourself, I think you'll find it beats the hell out of plopping your kids down in front of the TV for an hour.