The week that was: June 22-27
Published: Sunday | June 28, 2009
LOS ANGELES (AP):
Michael Jackson, the sensationally gifted child star who rose to become the 'King of Pop' and the biggest celebrity in the world only to fall from his throne in a freakish series of scandals, died on Thursday. He was 50.
Jackson died at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Ed Winter, the assistant chief coroner for Los Angeles County, confirmed his office had been notified of the death and would handle the investigation.
The circumstances of Jackson's death were not immediately clear. Jackson was not breathing when Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to a call at his Los Angeles home about 12:30 p.m. local time (3:30 EDT, 1930 GMT), Captain Steve Ruda told the Los Angeles Times. The paramedics performed CPR and took him to UCLA Medical Center, Ruda told the newspaper.
Jackson's death brought a tragic end to a long, bizarre, sometimes farcical decline from his peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music's premier all-around performer, a uniter of black and white music who shattered the race barrier on MTV, dominated the charts and dazzled even more on stage.
His 1982 album Thriller, which included the blockbuster hits Beat It, Billie Jean and Thriller, remains the biggest-selling album of all time, with more than 100 million copies worldwide. He is also known for touching ballads, such as Gone Too Soon, dedicated to his friend and AIDS victim, 18-year-old Ryan White.
The public first knew him in the late 1960s when as a boy, he was the precocious, spinning lead singer of the Jackson Five, the music group he formed with his four older brothers. Among their No. 1 hits were I Want You Back, ABC and I'll Be There.
He was perhaps the most exciting performer of his generation, known for his feverish, crotch-grabbing dance moves and his high-pitched voice punctuated with squeals and titters. His single sequinned glove, tight, military-style jacket and aviator sunglasses were trademarks second only to his ever-changing, surgically altered appearance.
"For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words," said Quincy Jones, who produced Thriller.
Jackson ranked alongside Elvis Presley and the Beatles as the biggest pop sensations of all time. In fact, he united two of music's biggest names when he was briefly married to Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie.
But as years went by, Jackson became an increasingly freakish figure, a middle-age man-child weirdly out of touch with grown-up life. His skin became lighter, his nose narrower, and he spoke in a breathy, girlish voice.
Jackson was preparing for what was to be his greatest comeback. He was scheduled for an unprecedented 50 shows at a London arena, with the first set for July 13. He was in rehearsals in Los Angeles for the concert, an extravaganza that was to capture the classic Jackson magic: show-stopping dance moves, elaborate staging and throbbing dance beats.
Also in the news:
End draws nigh
An end to the latest round of the bitterly fought dual-citizenship battle raging between the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) is looming large, with an outcome likely to materialise as early as this week.
A seemingly re-energised PNP signalled on Wednesday that it was in the process of hammering out an agreement with the JLP.
Such a resolution would be a welcome respite for the PNP ahead of the July 24 court hearing in the North West Clarendon dual-citizenship affair involving the JLP's Michael Stern and the Opposition party's Richard Azan.
Government has reached a deal for the sale of the Trelawny and St Thomas sugar companies, as a first step in divesting the country's assets in the sector.
Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton made the announcement in Parliament on Tuesday.
It is the first positive move to divest the assets of the debt-ridden Sugar Company of Jamaica since Brazilian company Infinity Bio-Energy's failure to consummate a deal with Government to purchase the five state-run factories and Petrojam Ethanol Limited earlier this year.
The factories are being sold to local private entities Fred M. Jones Estate Limited, Seprod and Everglades, for less than their commercial value.
The Ministry of Health is insisting there is no need for panic, despite the closure of all 69 primary and secondary schools in Manchester following the confirmation of two cases of the influenza A (H1N1) infection.
The cases include a student at a preparatory school in Mandeville, where 13 per cent of the school population has reported flu-like symptoms.
After investigating reports of irregularities during the Grade Six Achievement Test, the education ministry has blacklisted a veteran presiding examiner for interfering with the proceedings and misleading students during the communication task component of the exam.
While the ministry admits there was a breach at St John's Primary in Spanish Town, St Catherine, Gleaner sources have revealed that another indiscretion by an invigilator occurred at a Kingston-based primary and junior-high school.