Clem’s Chronicles: MJ Death/CIA Interrogations/Swine Flu

By Clem Lane

Aug 24, 2009 9:40pm

Howdy folks-here's what's happening this evening:

MICHAEL JACKSON'S DEATH/NEW TIMELINE DETAILS-Today we got a look at the search warrant affidavits surrounding investigators’ July 22, 2009 search of Dr. Conrad Murray’s Houston office.Mike Von Fremd said on WORLD NEWS: “The court documents are revealing. Michael Jackson’s doctor said he was trying to wean him off of the potentially lethal pain medication. But that didn’t stop the doctor from administering one last dose that the coroner now says ended Michael Jackson’s life.” The timeline of drugs administered to the pop star is nothing short of disturbing-Von Fremd ticks it off for us: “On the day of Jackson’s death the star once again couldn’t sleep. At 1:30am Murray gives Jackson valium. It doesn’t work. At 2am, Murray gives Jackson another drug-Lorazepam. At 3am…the doctor tries Midazolam. Still Jackson cannot sleep. Then it is other sedatives…all fail…Jackson is still awake into the morning. Then after ‘repeated demands/requests from Jackson’ at 10:40am, Dr. Murray gives him a diluted batch of propofol directly into Jackson’s intravenous drip.” Murray then went to the bathroom and returned to find Jackson no longer breathing. Plenty of questions still out there-among them…will Dr. Murray be charged with homicide? Dana Cole, lawyer and ABC NEWS analyst, was asked by WORLD NEWS anchor David Muir about what these details mean to the doctor in question. Cole: “It could be trouble for the doctor because a homicide is defined as the killing of one human being at the hand of another. So we now know the cause of death is propofol and the question is who killed Michael Jackson. The web of suspicion has always been centered on Dr. Murray. If the coroner is indeed calling it a homicide, then I expect that an arrest could in fact be imminent. Just because it’s a homicide does not mean it’s a murder. It could be an involuntary manslaughter or other types of homicide designations short of murder.”

CIA INTERROGATIONS-A reversal of policy today from the Obama Administration. Attorney General Eric Holder decided today to appoint a special prosecutor to look into a dozen or so cases where CIA interrogators may have violated anti-torture guidelines. This after the Justice Department released hundreds of pages today of a 5-year-old CIA Inspector General’s report detailing harsh interrogation tactics used by the CIA. Why the change in policy? Brian Ross, reporting for WORLD NEWS, noted that “the Attorney General changed course after he read the Inspector General’s report.” Ross ticks off a couple of examples- “The report says CIA officers told 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed ‘we’re going to kill your children’ if anything else happens to the U.S….In an attempt to break one of the men who attacked the USS Cole, the CIA put a handgun and a running power drill next to the head of Abd al-rahim al Nashiri.” Richard Clarke puts the documents in context: “We now have a document that the world can read that shows in excruciating and disgusting detail that the United States violated its own beliefs and turned to the dark side when it didn’t have to.” Going forward, Ross tells us “The Obama White House today also pretty much took the CIA out of the al-Qaeda interrogation business by creating a new unit that would report to the director of the FBI.” Dubbed the “High-Value Interrogation Group”, deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton explained it thusly at today’s WH briefing: “It'll bring together all the different elements of the intelligence community to get the best intelligence possible based on scientifically proven methods and consistent with the Army Field Manual,” Burton said. “The president's view is that intelligence gathering is best left to the intelligence community, and this is a way that the intelligence community can best operate, especially in this high-value instances.” Ross also notes that “more than anyone, it was (FBI Director) Mueller and his agents who first and most strongly objected to the CIA tactics as both counter-productive and a stain on America’s honor.”

SWINE FLU-Health officials say it will likely take until Thanksgiving before a significant number of Americans who get the swine flu vaccine are protected. Roughly 50 million doses of vaccine are expected to be available by mid-October. But health officials say most people will need two shots, spaced three weeks apart, and that it will take a week or two after the second dose before immunity kicks in. That's five or six weeks, in all. This news comes on the same day as government predictions of the impact of swine flu this fall and winter came to light. An August 7th document from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has the skinny and Brian Hartman has seen it: “Plausible scenario outlined in the report is 30-50 percent of population w/ swine flu this fall and winter; as many as 1.8 million hospitalizations; 30,000-90,000 deaths concentrated among children and young adults.” The big difference with the “regular” seasonal flu is that most of the fatalities associated with it are concentrated in people over 65. So the focus is on schoolkids-something noticed today by Ryan Owens who went to the first day of school in Ft. Worth, Texas today. Owens notes: “Kids were barely in their new seats before the first…and perhaps most important..lesson of the year began: ‘wash in between your fingers…get all of that bacteria…We don’t want to get sick now, do we boys and girls?’ Unlike last year, cases of swine flu in schools will not trigger automatic closures-Owens adds “here in Ft. Worth, any child with a suspected case of the flu will be isolated in the nurse’s office until a parent can pick them up.” 
 
MAINE RESCUES-More information out today on the extraordinary rescue effort conducted yesterday by rangers at Acadia National Park in Maine. As a crowd of people watched the large waves from the rocks, three of them were swept into the water. John Berman notes the timeline:
“11:58am-the Emergency call comes into the Coast Guard
12:10pm-their rescue vessel is underway…racing against the clock. With water temperature at 55 degrees, hypothermia, et al can hit within an hour.
12:37pm-rescuers arrive at the scene
12:55pm-they pull a 12-year-old girl, alive, from the water. Shortly after a man, Peter Axilrod was saved…but sadly 7-year-old Clio Axilrod did not.”
Not helping matters yesterday…15 foot waves. Berman went out on the Coast Guard lifeboat today that led the rescue. Berman asked Petty Officer Taylor Sweeney how hard it is to pull in the heavily-panicked victims. Sweeney: “Extremely difficult. No way to train for the dead weight of someone who is hypothermic, unconscious, maybe even deceased.” So while friends and family mourn the loss of 7-year-old Clio, Berman reminds that “Tonight 2 people pulled from the water are recovering in the hospital, lucky to be alive.” 

SHUTTLE-Space Shuttle Discovery will be making a trip to the International Space Station. It is due to take off early tomorrow morning (1:36:04am ET)—weather may be a factor. Gina Sunseri reports “This is a 13 day mission to the space station to swap out crew members and deliver nearly 10,000 pounds of cargo.” Jose Hernandez, one of the seven astronauts on board Discovery, is the son of migrant workers. Hernandez detailed his upbringing in a WORLD NEWS First Person: “I didn’t have anything, we couldn’t join little league because I couldn’t afford it, couldn’t take those field trips, all those things is what motivated me to say, the way to get out of this situation is to get a good education.” With that education he becomes one of a special few to float in space. Discovery is also carrying a 5 million dollar treadmill named after Mr. Stephen Colbert. Mission control is keeping their fingers crossed that the storm clouds in the area will clear out before launch. (thanks to Faisal Jamil for this entry)

GREECE FIRES: Massive wildfires continued today.Simon McGregor-Wood, reporting for WORLD NEWS, notes that “flames up to a hundred feet high have consumed dozens of homes and destroyed more than 30 thousand acres of woods and olive groves. ”  Luckily tonight, strong winds that have helped fan the flames are dying down.  Greek Fire Brigade spokesman Yiannis Kappakis said there were "no significant active fronts" left of the fire, which for days has sent a pall of smoke over the capital city Athens. Kappakis said more than 1,000 firefighters and soldiers would remain on duty in case the blazes revived. (thanks to Faisal Jamil for this entry)

GAS/OIL PRICES-From Dan Arnall: “For the second week in a row the Energy Department says gasoline prices have fallen, although not by much. The national average price of a gallon of regular unleaded fuel is now $2.63 – a penny less than the average price a week ago. The price is now 29% lower than the price a year ago ($3.69) when the nation was muddling through record high gas prices.
The two weeks of little gas price fluctuation is likely to end soon. Oil prices are shooting up to levels not seen in nearly a year. The price of a barrel of crude oil settled up $0.48 to $74.37 after coming within $0.19 of the $75 mark. We’ve seen an 11% increase in oil prices in the past week – and analysts say we’ll start seeing that at the pump in the coming weeks.
What’s driving the price of oil higher? Speculation is one possibility. Another is the possibility that the global recession is coming to an end. All depends on which expert/analysts you’re talking to. It’s most likely a combination of both things.”

OTHER STUFF-
PLAXICO BURRESS-ESPN’S Jeremy Schaap sat down for an exclusive interview today with former NY Giant Plaxico Burress, who will be sentenced Sept. 22nd on a weapons charge. Burress has already agreed to two years-with time off he is expected to do a minimum of 20 months. Schaap will be live from Bristol, CT for GOOD MORNING AMERICA.
AFGHAN ELECTION PRELIMINARY RESULTS- Election officials said they will release preliminary returns from the vote on Tuesday, although the final result will not be known for weeks. Nick Schifrin filing a debrief for GOOD MORNING AMERICA.

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