News Wrap: Jury Finds Doctor Guilty in Michael Jackson’s Death
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HARI SREENIVASAN: A Los Angeles jury convicted Michael Jackson’s doctor of involuntary manslaughter today. Dr. Conrad Murray was found guilty of administering a deadly amount of a powerful anesthetic, and then leaving the pop star unattended.
Murray’s defense team claimed Jackson gave himself the fatal dose when the doctor wasn’t watching.
District attorney Steve Cooley said the jury saw the truth and sent a message.
STEVE COOLEY, Los Angeles County District attorney: In this particular town, Los Angeles, we see many examples of high-profile people succumbing, giving up their lives because of their addiction to prescribed medications. And they’re oftentimes aided and abetted by unscrupulous and corrupt doctors. So, fair warning to them.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Jackson died on June 25, 2009, at the age of 50. Murray is 58. He now faces up to four years in prison.
A federal judge in Washington has temporarily blocked a mandate that cigarette packages carry graphic images of smokers. The Food and Drug Administration had ordered that the images begin appearing next year. They include a dead smoker and a man exhaling smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his throat. Five tobacco companies brought suit, charging the label rule violates their free speech.
The focus of the European debt crisis turned to Italy today. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faced mounting pressure to step down, as fears grew that Italy will not be able to keep its creditors at bay for much longer.
We have a report from Laura Kuenssberg of Independent Television News.
LAURA KUENSSBERG: Down, but not yet out. Silvio Berlusconi has survived claims of corruption, sex scandals and accusations of fraud. But with his country’s economy on the edge of chaos, could his time finally be up?
As rumors built that he was about to resign, he took to Facebook to deny he was off. “Rumors of my resignation are groundless,” he wrote. But many now believe his leadership is beyond a joke.
“We do not have to allow anybody to laugh at Italy,” an opposition politician said. “We should have the strength to defend the dignity of our country.”
A transport strike left much of Rome at a standstill, bewildering tourists.
WOMAN: Are you serious?
WOMAN: Serious? No wonder.
WOMAN: You know what? When in Rome.
WOMAN: We have to get to the Vatican. Excuse us.
LAURA KUENSSBERG: But Italy’s economy has only crawled along for many years. The problem now is the steep rise in how much it costs the government to borrow.
Like many countries, Italy relies on money from the markets to keep cash flowing, but because of doubts over whether it will be able to pay its huge debt, what the country has to pay for credit has had an almost vertical rise.
ALAN CLARKE, Scotia Capital: Investors don’t want to lend to the Italian government because they don’t think they will get their money back. It’s above 6.5 percent interest rate now, rising close to that 7 percent threshold which has been the point of no return, where countries like Portugal and Ireland have needed bailouts in the past. And Italy is a much, much bigger country, so it’s worrying.
LAURA KUENSSBERG: In Greece, too, those costs went over the top. They had to be bailed out, and the crisis has sent people on to the streets. There is a new government being put together, but the next leader has still yet to be unveiled.
Italy’s economy is very different. But pressure on its leader is building all the time. Silvio Berlusconi once said he was the right man in the right job. More and more of his countrymen now think he was wrong.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Uncertainty about the situation in Europe kept Wall Street in check for much of the day until a late rally. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 85 points to close at 12,068. The Nasdaq rose nine points to close at 2,695.
In Syria, government troops kept up an assault today on the rebellious city of Homs, going house to house to make arrests. Activists reported more than 110 people have been killed in the last week. Over the weekend, troops fired on unarmed protesters with heavy weapons. Tanks also roamed through Homs and the capital, Damascus, in a bid to keep people indoors. One opposition group called Homs a disaster area and pleaded for international intervention.
Violence has erupted in Liberia on the eve of a presidential runoff election. Supporters of opposition candidate Winston Tubman fought with police in Monrovia today. At least one person was killed. Tubman has alleged voting fraud in the first round of the election, and vowed to boycott the runoff. Incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who shared this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, is leading in her bid for a second term. The troubled runoff is testing a fragile peace that ended a 14-year civil war in 2003.
President Obama announced new efforts today to help military veterans find work. He said he is ordering the Labor Department to provide six months of personalized career counseling for vets. He also called again for Congress to pass a package of tax credits for companies that hire unemployed veterans.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.