Michael Jackson's death was a homicide, coroner rules

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The Los Angeles County coroner has ruled that Michael Jackson's death was a homicide involving a combination of drugs.

"The drugs propofol and lorazepam were found to be the primary drugs responsible for Mr. Jackson's death," said a news release issued Friday by the coroner. "Other drugs detected were: midazolam, diazepam, lidocaine and ephedrine."

The release said Jackson died from "acute propofol intoxication," but said "other conditions contributing to death: benzodiazepine effect."

Lorazepam, midazolam and diazepam are benzodiazepines.

Federal and state agencies also have launched independent investigations into "matters uncovered" by Los Angeles police while looking into Jackson's death, authorities said.

been conducting a criminal investigation of Jackson's death, requested at an interagency meeting last week that federal and state agencies pursue their own investigations, according to statements issued Friday by California's attorney general and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The full and final autopsy report and the complete toxicology report "will remain on security hold at the request of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County district attorney," the release said.

Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal physician, told investigators that he had given Jackson three anti-anxiety drugs -- lorazepam, midazolam and diazepam -- in an effort to help him sleep in the hours before he stopped breathing, according to a police affidavit made public earlier this week.

Murray also told detectives he administered a dosage of the anesthetic propofol, diluted with lidocaine, to Jackson a short time before he stopped breathing, the affidavit said.

The 32-page sworn statement was written by Los Angeles Police detective Orlando Martinez to outline probable cause for warrants to search Murray's offices, home and storage rooms in Texas and Nevada.

Murray told detectives he had been treating Jackson for insomnia for six weeks, giving him 50 mg of propofol, the generic name for Diprivan, diluted with the anesthetic lidocaine every night via an intravenous drip, the affidavit said.

Worried that Jackson might become addicted to the drug, Murray said he tried to wean Jackson from it, putting together combinations of other drugs that succeeded in helping him sleep during the two nights before his death.

But on the morning of June 25 other drugs failed to do the job. Murray recounted the events to detectives in an hour-by-hour account that was detailed by Martinez:

• About 1:30 a.m., Murray gave Jackson 10 mg of Valium (diazepam).

• About 2 a.m., he injected Jackson with 2 mg of the anti-anxiety drug Ativan (lorazepam).

• About 3 a.m., Murray then administered 2 mg of the sedative Versed (midazolam).

• About 5 a.m., he administered another 2 mg of Ativan.

• About 7:30 a.m., Murray gave Jackson yet another 2 mg of Versed while monitoring him with a device that measures the oxygen saturation of his blood.

• About 10:40 a.m., "after repeated demands/requests from Jackson," Murray administered 25 mg of propofol, the document said.

"Jackson finally went to sleep and Murray stated that he remained monitoring him. After approximately 10 minutes, Murray stated he left Jackson's side to go to the restroom and relieve himself. Murray stated he was out of the room for about two minutes maximum. Upon his return, Murray noticed that Jackson was no longer breathing."

Efforts at CPR proved fruitless. Jackson was pronounced dead at UCLA Medical Center at 2:26 p.m.

Murray's lawyer, Ed Chernoff, declined to comment on the coroner's announcement.

Agents from the California attorney general's office also will investigate physicians whose names have come up in the course of the Jackson death probe, Attorney General Jerry Brown said.

The federal drug administration also responded with its own independent investigations "into matters that the LAPD's investigation uncovered that may not be directly related to the cause of death," the agency said.

Last week Drug Enforcement agents executed a federal administrative search warrant at the Mickey Fine Pharmacy in Beverly Hills, California, looking for prescription records relating to Jackson, an agency spokesman said.

The pharmacy sits directly below the offices of Jackson's dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein. Shortly before his death, Jackson visited the building several times to see Klein.

Klein, who treated Jackson for decades, denied in a CNN interview last month that he had given Jackson dangerous drugs.

Attorney General Brown said that agents with his Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement "will review relevant records and documents."

The attorney general's office maintains a computerized prescription drug monitoring system that tracks controlled substances.
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Brazil tops worldwide H1N1 deaths, officials say

Brazil has confirmed 557 deaths caused by H1N1 flu, the highest total in the world, the nation's Health Ministry says.

The United States has counted 522 fatalities through Thursday, and nearly 1,800 people had died worldwide through August 13, U.S. and global health officials said.

In terms of mortality rate, which considers flu deaths in terms of a nation's population, Brazil ranks seventh, and the United States is 13th, the Brazilian Ministry of Health said in a news release Wednesday.

Argentina, which has reported 386 deaths attributed to H1N1 as of August 13, ranks first per capita, the Brazilian health officials said, and Mexico, where the flu outbreak was discovered in April, ranks 14th per capita.

Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and the United States have the most total cases globally, according to the World Health Organization.

The Brazilian Ministry of Health said there have been 6,100 cases of flu in the nation, with 5,206 cases (85.3 percent) confirmed as H1N1, also known as swine flu.

The state of Sao Paulo had 223 deaths through Wednesday, the largest number in the country. In addition, 480 pregnant women have been confirmed with H1N1, of whom 58 died. Swine flu has been shown to hit young people and pregnant women particularly hard.

Many schools in Sao Paulo have delayed the start of the second semester for a couple of weeks, and students will have to attend classes on weekends to catch up. Schools also have suspended extracurricular activities such as soccer, volleyball and chess to try to curtail spread of the disease.

Flu traditionally has its peak during the winter months, and South America, where it is winter, has had a large number of cases recently. The World Health Organization said this week that the United States and other heavily populated Northern Hemisphere countries need to brace for a second wave of H1N1 as their winter approaches.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other U.S. health agencies have been preparing and said this week that up to half of the nation's population may contract the disease and 90,000 could die from it.

Seasonal flu typically kills about 64,000 Americans each year.

A vaccine against H1N1 is being tested but is not expected to be available until at least mid-October and will probably require two shots at least one week apart, health officials have said. Since it typically takes a couple of weeks for a person's immunity to build up after the vaccine, most Americans would not be protected until sometime in November.

The World Health Organization in June declared a Level 6 worldwide pandemic, the organization's highest classification.
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Obama condemns Lockerbie bomber's 'hero's welcome'

WASHINGTON (CNN) The cheering, flag-waving welcome that the convicted Lockerbie bomber received in Libya after being released from a life sentence was "highly objectionable," President Barack Obama said Friday.

His spokesman, Robert Gibbs, also criticized the bomber's reception as "tremendously offensive," echoing a sense of outrage that senior British leaders also have expressed.

Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi had been serving a life sentence for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The bombing killed 270 people, including 189 Americans.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill freed al Megrahi after doctors concluded he has terminal prostate cancer and estimated he has three months to live. A plane returned the 57-year-old to Libya, and video of his reception Thursday at the airport drew harsh responses in the United States and Britain.

"The images that we saw in Libya yesterday were outrageous and disgusting" and are "tremendously offensive to the survivors that lost a loved one," Gibbs said.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said it was "deeply distressing" and "deeply upsetting" to watch video of the convict's return home.

"Obviously, the sight of a mass murderer getting a hero's welcome in Tripoli is deeply upsetting, deeply distressing," Miliband told BBC radio Friday morning. He added that personally, "I find it deeply distressing of course, as well."

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had specifically asked Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi not to give al Megrahi a celebratory welcome, Brown's office at 10 Downing Street said.

Brown wrote a letter to Gadhafi, delivered to the Libyan Foreign Ministry on Thursday, asking the Libyans to act with sensitivity with regard to al Megrahi's return.

The letter was private and therefore won't be released to the media, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

MacAskill released al Megrahi on compassionate grounds, saying he was going home to die. His decision was highly controversial, drawing criticism from the United States and dividing family members of the 270 Lockerbie victims.

Both Brown and Miliband made clear that the decision to release al Megrahi was for the Scottish government to make. But Miliband said Libya must now act responsibly.

"I think it's very important that Libya knows, and certainly we have told them, that how the Libyan government handles itself in the next few days after the arrival of Mr. Megrahi will be very significant in the way the world views Libya's re-entry into the civilized community of nations," Miliband said.

"It is in our interests to stand up for our own principles in the interests of international relations," he said. "Where Libya is willing to abide and engage in the international system in a way that does the right thing for those international principles, we will engage with Libya."

Al Megrahi always maintained his innocence, complaining that he had to spend years in prison for something he did not do.

"The remaining days of my life will have to be spent under the shadow of the wrongness of my conviction," he said in a statement issued Thursday through his attorney.

He also offered sympathy to the families of the victims.

Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie four days before Christmas in 1988 while traveling from London to New York. All 259 of those aboard the plane and 11 people on the ground were killed.
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Missing ship 'found' off Africa

A missing merchant ship with 15 Russian crew members on board has been spotted off the coast of West Africa, unconfirmed reports say.

The Arctic Sea had last been sighted in the Bay of Biscay on 30 July.

Reports citing coastguards suggested it had been seen some 400 nautical miles north of the Cape Verde islands.

However amid continuing uncertainty, a Russian official was later quoted in Russian media as saying "this information did not prove to be true".

Russian navy ships have been searching for the 4,000-tonne Maltese-flagged vessel, which had been carrying timber.

Observers have suggested the ship was hijacked, possibly because of a Russian commercial dispute.

Following the reported sighting, a spokesman for the French defence ministry told the BBC that the Arctic Sea was thought to be in international waters.

The spokesman said his information came from the Cape Verde coastguard, who said the ship was outside its jurisdiction.

However, the spokesman said there was a "high possibility" that the ship had been located. French intelligence officials also believe they have found the ship in the same area, he said.

The Russian ambassador to Cape Verde, Alexander Karpushin, told Associated Press news agency that a Russian frigate was heading to the area but had no information on the Arctic Sea's location.

However, Russia's RIA news agency later quoted Mr Karpushin as saying the information that the Arctic Sea was spotted "400 nautical miles north of the island of Santo Antao... did not prove to be true".

He cited a meeting with the head of Cape Verde's armed forces.

Five Russian warships and other vessels have been searching the Atlantic for the vessel.

Attack reports

Carrying timber reportedly worth $1.8m (£1.1m), the Arctic Sea sailed from Finland and had been scheduled to dock in the Algerian port of Bejaia on 4 August.

The crew reported being boarded by up to 10 armed men as the ship sailed through the Baltic Sea on 24 July, but the intruders were reported to have left the vessel on an inflatable boat after 12 hours.

There are also reports of the ship being attacked a second time off the Portuguese coast. However the ship's operators said they had no knowledge of the incident and Portugal said the ship was never in its territorial waters.

The last known contact with the crew was when the Arctic Sea reported to British maritime authorities as it passed through the Dover Strait.

On Friday, the European Union Commission spokesman Martin Selmayr said: "From information currently available it would seem that these acts, such as they have been reported, have nothing in common with 'traditional' acts of piracy or armed robbery at sea."

Nato was monitoring the situation due to the unusual nature and location of the attacks, but was not directly involved in the search.

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Helicopter and plane in NY crash

A tour helicopter and a light aircraft have collided near New York City and crashed into the Hudson River, the US Coast Guard says.

The collision occurred between Hoboken, in New Jersey, and Manhattan, just across the river.

Divers are searching for survivors. Reports suggest one person has been found; their condition is unknown.

Television footage showed rescue craft heading to the site from both sides of the Hudson River.

"It hit the water like a stone," a woman told local television station NY1.

"I saw a piece of metal, I saw a helicopter, the helicopter went down, and that was it. I heard no noise, and no smoke or fire."

Other witnesses described seeing debris - including the plane's wing - falling into the water.

"We saw the helicopter propellers fly all over," said Hoboken resident Katie Tanski.

The helicopter was operated by Liberty Helicopters, a sightseeing company that flies tourists around sites such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Six people were believed to be on board, US media reports said.

The light plane took off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, aviation officials said. It is not known how many people were on the plane.

The weather at the time of the collision, noon local time (1600 GMT), was said to be clear and mild.

In January, a passenger plane with 155 people aboard ditched into the Hudson River without loss of life, after apparently hitting a flock of geese.

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HSBC global profits halve to $5bn

Banking group HSBC saw pre-tax profits halve to $5bn (£2.98bn) in the first six months of 2009.


Rising bad debts in the US, Europe and Asia forced it to write-off $13.9bn - 39% more than the same period in 2008.

Earlier Barclays also announced pre-tax half-year profits of £2.98bn boosted by its investment banking arm.

HSBC is in the process of closing most of its retail lending operations in the US, having taken hefty losses from mortgages which went unpaid.

Its US consumer lending business, Household International, which is being wound down after being devastated by the credit crunch, saw a $2.9bn pre-tax loss for the period.

But HSBC gained from record investment banking profits of $6.3bn during the first half of the year.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said its profits were a story of "resilience in the face of extraordinary losses on loans".

"Of all the big banks in the US and UK, HSBC is the one that comes closest to being able to claim - without stretching credibility too much - that it's a proper commercial operation, not too reliant on finance or insurance from taxpayers," he said.

Unlike many of its peers, HSBC has not had to go to governments for extra cash.

It decided instead to ask existing shareholders for more money through a rights issue in April, which raised $17.8bn.


The bank said results were better than it had expected in an "unprecedented" economic climate.

Chairman Stephen Green added it was likely that "we have passed, or are about to pass" the bottom of the cycle in financial markets.

But he said: "The timing, shape and scale of any recovery in the wider economy remains highly uncertain."

HSBC has tried to increase its share of the the UK mortgage market, as rivals remain less willing to lend, or have withdrawn altogether.

The bank has committed £15bn for new mortgage lending in the UK - and said that £6.7bn had been lent during the first half of the year.

Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland will report their half-year results later this week.

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Scientists find new strain of HIV

Gorillas have been found, for the first time, to be a source of HIV.


Previous research had shown the HIV-1 strain, the main source of human infections, with 33m cases worldwide, originated from a virus in chimpanzees.

But researchers have now discovered an HIV infection in a Cameroonian woman which is clearly linked to a gorilla strain, Nature Medicine reports.

A researcher told the BBC that, though it was a new type of HIV, current drugs might still help combat its effects.

HIV originated from a similar virus in chimpanzees called Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV).

Although HIV/Aids was first recognised by scientists in the 1980s, it is thought to have first entered the human population early in the 20th Century in the region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The virus probably originally jumped into humans after people came into contact with infected bush meat.

SIV viruses have been reported in other primates, including gorillas.

Unusual case

French doctors treating the 62-year-old Cameroonian woman who was living in Paris said they initially spotted some discrepancies in routine viral load tests.

Further analysis of the HIV strain she was infected with showed it was more closely related to SIV from gorillas than HIV from humans.

She is the only person known to be infected with the new strain, but the researchers expect to find other cases.

Before moving to Paris, she had lived in a semi-urban area of Cameroon and had no contact with gorillas or bush meat, suggesting she caught the virus from someone else who was carrying the gorilla strain.

Analysis of the virus in the laboratory has confirmed that it can replicate in human cells.

Co-author Dr David Robertson, from the University of Manchester, said it was the first definitive transfer of HIV seen from a source other than a chimpanzee, and highlighted the need to monitor for the emergence of new strains.

"This demonstrates that HIV evolution is an ongoing process.

"The virus can jump from species to species, from primate to primate, and that includes us; pathogens have been with us for millions of years and routinely switch host species."

The fact the patient had been diagnosed in France showed how human mobility can rapidly transfer a virus from one area of the world to another, he said.

New problems 'unlikely'

Speaking to the BBC's Wold Today programme, Dr Robertson said there was no reason to believe that existing drugs would not work on the new virus.

"If some day we do manage to develop a vaccine, there's no reason to believe it wouldn't work," he said.

"There's no reason to believe this virus will present any new problems, as it were, that we don't already face."

Professor Paul Sharp, from the University of Edinburgh, said the virus probably initially transferred from chimpanzees to gorillas.

He said the latest finding was interesting but perhaps not surprising.

"The medical implication is that, because this virus is not very closely related to the other three HIV-1 groups, it is not detected by conventional tests.

"So the virus could be cryptically spreading in the population."

However, he said that he would guess it would not spread widely and become a major problem.

"Although the patient with this virus was not ill, there is no reason to believe that it will not lead to Aids," he added.

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