- - Thursday, September 29, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Guard: Jackson doctor collected vials before 911 call

LOS ANGELES — One of Michael Jackson’s bodyguards had barely stepped into the singer’s bedroom when he heard a scream: “Daddy!” Jackson’s young daughter cried.

A few feet away, the singer lay motionless in his bed, eyes slightly open. His personal doctor, Conrad Murray, was trying to revive him when he saw that Jackson’s eldest children were watching.

“Don’t let them see their dad like this,” Dr. Murray said, the first of many orders that bodyguard Alberto Alvarez testified Thursday that he heeded in the moments before paramedics arrived at Jackson’s home in June 2009.

What happened next - after Mr. Alvarez said he ushered Jackson’s eldest son and daughter from the room - is one of the key pieces of prosecutors’ involuntary manslaughter case against Dr. Murray.

Mr. Alvarez said Dr. Murray scooped up vials of medicine from Jackson’s nightstand and told the bodyguard to put them away. Mr. Alvarez complied. He also placed an IV bag into another bag. On the third day of the trial, prosecutors tried to show that Dr. Murray, who has pleaded not guilty, delayed calling authorities and that he was intent on concealing signs that he had been giving the singer doses of the surgical anesthetic propofol.

KANSAS

Judge refuses to block abortion insurance law

WICHITA — Women seeking abortions in Kansas will have to pay for the procedure or get extra insurance after a judge refused to block a new law that restricts insurance coverage for abortions.

The law prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage as part of general health plans, except when a woman’s life is at risk. Women who want abortion coverage must buy supplemental policies.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state, arguing that lawmakers’ true intent was to create obstacles for women seeking abortionsand also charging sex discrimination. It was seeking a temporary injunction, but a judge ruled Thursday that the group failed to prove its claims.

U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown told the ACLU it could try again, noting his decision wasn’t a final ruling on the merits of their claims. He also ordered an expedited schedule so the case would move more quickly through the courts.

LOUISIANA

Former archbishop who gave JFK eulogy dies

NEW ORLEANS — Former Archbishop Philip Matthew Hannan, who gave the eulogy for President Kennedy and later served more than three decades as the head of the New Orleans Roman Catholic Archdiocese, died Thursday. He was 98.

The archdiocese said he died peacefully shortly after 3 a.m. He had been in declining health for years.

He was the 11th archbishop in New Orleans history and one of the most active. When he turned 75 and had to retire as archbishop, he became president of WLAE-TV, the public television station he founded.

Assigned to New Orleans in 1965 from Washington, where he had been auxiliary bishop since 1956, he found the old St. Louis Cathedral, in the middle of an area of the French Quarter crowded with tourists, street performers, tarot card readers and musicians, to be a unique pleasure for a churchman.

He also was touched by the plight of the city’s poor, especially those affected by Hurricane Betsy the year he arrived, said Gordon Wadge, president of New Orleans’ Catholic Charities.

NEW YORK

Medicaid panel proposes sex change, hormones funding

ALBANY — A panel advising Gov. Andrew Cuomo on ways to revamp Medicaid has proposed that the program that pays for low-income residents’ health care cover sex-change surgery and hormone therapy for transgender New Yorkers.

Mr. Cuomo earlier this year appointed a task force to overhaul the Medicaid system, which paid $53 billion for medical care in New York last year, and cut costs. A group of health care professionals examining disparities in coverage is expected to decide next week where the transgender proposal fits on its list of priorities. The proposal says: “Provide Medicaid coverage for transgender surgery/hormone replacement therapy and treatment.”

Spokesman Josh Vlasto said Thursday the governor’s office has not yet reviewed the transgender proposal, and the panels’ recommendations have not actually been made yet.

“It doesn’t seem to be appropriate,” Republican Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon told the New York Post, which first reported the transgender proposal Thursday.

OREGON

Faith-healing parents guilty of manslaughter in child’s death

OREGON CITY — A couple who prayed and rubbed olive oil on their sick infant rather than seek medical care for the dying boy was convicted Thursday of manslaughter, becoming the latest members of an Oregon faith-healing church to be blamed in their child’s death.

Dale and Shannon Hickman, both 26, are members of the Followers of Christ Church, which has a history of rejecting medical care for congregants’ children and relying instead on techniques such as prayer and anointing the sick with oils.

Five other church members have been convicted in Clackamas County for crimes related to the rejection of medical care for their children, said Greg Horner, chief deputy district attorney.

The Hickmans’ conviction on second-degree manslaughter charges typically requires a mandatory minimum sentence of six years in prison. But because of a religious exemption in state law at time of the crime, the couple likely will face no more than 18 months in prison and a $250,000 fine when they are sentenced Oct. 31.

TEXAS

Federal court order blocks state’s redistricting

AUSTIN — A federal judge has ordered Texas not to move forward with redistricting plans for congressional and state legislative seats until they are approved by the courts.

A coalition of Democratic politicians, minority groups and civil rights activists have sued the state over the plans. They say the Republican majority drew the new political lines in a way that discriminates against minorities.

The Department of Justice has also argued against the new congressional, state House and state Senate maps.

State law requires that the new districts be implemented on Oct. 1. The restraining order issued by a San Antonio-based judge on Thursday will stop the new districts from going into effect.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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