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Jackson father concerned over death circumstances

The father of Michael Jackson says he remains concerned about the circumstances of his son’s death as the tragic pop icon’s personal doctor protested his innocence.

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In a surprising first public appearance since the death of his superstar son, family patriarch Joe Jackson appeared on the red carpet of a Los Angeles awards show dedicated to the African-American entertainment industry.

The Jackson family is reportedly angry at the “unanswered questions” concerning the role of doctor Conrad Murray in the final hours of Michael Jackson’s life.

Lawyers for Murray insist he has been cleared of wrongdoing.

However, speaking to a CNN reporter at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards, Jackson, 79, said he continued to harbour misgivings about the sudden death of his son at the age of 50.

“I have a lot of concerns. I can’t get into that, but I don’t like what happened,” Jackson said, before directing questions to a family lawyer who declined to comment further.

“We can’t talk about that now,” lawyer Londell McMillan said. “There is a second autopsy that is underway and we’ll let that process take its course at this time. We’ll have more detail at a later point.”

Joe Jackson said his grandchildren – two boys and a girl – were his first priority now. “They’re fine. They’re with us,” he said.

The children know their father has died, he said. Los Angeles police conducted a second interview with Murray on Saturday but cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing, the doctor’s lawyers said.

The 51-year-old cardiologist, who became part of Jackson’s staff in March to help the singer prepare for a concert comeback in London, has faced intense speculation amid reports he injected Jackson with the potent prescription painkiller Demerol just before he died.

However, a lawyer for Murray said that reports of an injection were “absolutely false”, the first time the allegation has been denied.

“There was no Demerol. No OxyContin,” Edward Chernoff, a lawyer for Murray was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times, adding that Murray had discovered Jackson unconscious in the bedroom of his home.

“(Murray) was the one who suggested the autopsy to the family while they were still in the hospital.

He didn’t understand why Michael Jackson had died,” Chernoff was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Jackson’s family have yet to finalise funeral plans and were due to meet activist Reverend Al Sharpton on Sunday to discuss plans for a tribute.

Sharpton was cited in several media reports as saying Jackson’s family was considering a series of simultaneous memorials around the world to reflect the huge appeal of the late King of Pop.

“Reverend Sharpton will discuss with the family ideas that people from around the world have sent him about how they would like to memorialise Michael Jackson,” a spokeswoman for Sharpton said.

However, an unofficial memorial appeared to already be underway at Los Angeles’s famous Shrine Auditorium, where the cream of the African-American music, acting and sporting worlds was gathering for the BET Awards.

A galaxy of stars paid tribute to Jackson as they walked the red carpet, hailing his role as a star who had helped break racial barriers.

While Jackson’s incredible influence stretched across genres, races, and cultures, he had a very unique place in the world of black entertainment.

His influence is arguably most visible in urban music, seen in stars like Usher who mimic his dance moves, to Ne-Yo, whose music is marked by its Jackson-isms.

But that influence went beyond music: Jackson was black America’s biggest star, who broke racial barriers that allowed for so many other superstars to follow.

Foxx kicked off the show with a re-enactment of the choreography from Jackson’s iconic Beat It video in front of the star-studded crowd, on its feet from the start of the show.

Throughout the night, Foxx wore some of Jackson’s signature looks, like the wide-collar black leather outfit from Billie Jean.

“You know, my man is the greatest,” hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy Combs” told CNN. “He’s one of the reasons why Barack Obama’s president … He started the change in the world about how African-Americans are perceived.”

“We miss him and we love him and we just feel devastated,” said soul singer Alicia Keys, urging people to remember Jackson in a “respectful, positive way”.

Asked how Jackson had influenced her, Keys replied: “In every way. How could he not influence us to break the barrier and to think bigger, and to try new things and to break the rules?

“Tonight is a true memorial for him. It’s really about honouring him.” Thousands of Jackson devotees continued to gather outside the singer’s star on the walk of fame as well as the Jackson family’s home in Encino, where makeshift shrines of flowers and cards have grown rapidly since Friday.

Jackson’s death has sent fans scrambling to stock up on his music across the world. British chart officials said a compilation album of the star’s greatest hits had rocketed to the top of the charts on Sunday.

A spokesman for music retailer HMV said there had been an 80-fold increase in demand for Jackson’s music “almost overnight” after the singer’s death — the biggest one-day rise in sales seen for any artists, including Elvis Presley and John Lennon.

Scientists closer to beating cancer

The researchers say that the therapy uses a nanocell, dubbed the ‘Trojan horse’, which can destroy drug-resistant cancer cells.

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The Sydney scientists say they’ve developed world-first technology to fight the biggest threat to the long-term survival of cancer patients: cancer cells that develop a resistance to chemotherapy drugs.

The technique involves sending in a so-called ‘Trojan horse’ nanocell – derived from bacteria – into the cancer cell to switch off the drug-resistant protein.

“Once it’s outside the front door of the cancer cell, it will then lock onto the cancer cell because it’s got the specific-targetting and will be swallowed by the cancer cell, and once inside, spill its contents and the cancer cell really commits suicide” Dr Jennifer Macdiarmid said.

A second wave of nanocells then carry in the chemotherapy drug to kill the cancer cells.

The researchers say it’s worked with mice, dogs and monkeys.

The first small human trials are due to start at three Melbourne Hospitals in the next few months.

The scientists say that if the human trials mirror the success of animal trials, it could change the one-size-fits all approach to chemotherapy treatment.

They say that the new treatment should be cheaper, because it uses smaller drug doses, as well as avoiding side effects, like hair loss.

“We are bombarding the body, with various drugs consequently we are knocking down a lot of normal cells as well as cancer cells, Dr Himanshu Brahmbatt said.

The Cancer Council says the technology provides hope for progress in treating patients.

“If you can overcome drug resistance and also deliver higher doses drug directly to the cell that pushes through that barrier that faces cancer therapy at the moment,” Dr Andrew Penman, from Cancer Council NSW said.

The researchers say it’s critical to constantly keep thinking of new ways to attack cancer cells, in order to win the battle against the disease.

Fewer see Turnbull capable of leadership: survey

The news doesn’t get any better for Malcolm Turnbull with a fourth opinion poll questioning his ability to lead the opposition, his honesty and his vision for the party.

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The weekly Essential Research online survey found Mr Turnbull’s disapproval rating spiked to 57 per cent, up from 49 per cent in May, while his approval rating was down six points to 24 per cent.

At the same time, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s approval rating with 1,145 respondents is steady at 62 per cent, with just 27 per cent – down two points – disapproving of his performance.

Labor improved its two-party preferred position by one point to 58 per cent as the coalition dipped to 42 per cent.

Respondents saw Mr Turnbull as intelligent and hard working, but only 39 per cent regarded him as a capable leader, down from 60 per cent in September last year.

Nearly 70 per cent regard him as arrogant, two out of three feel he is out of touch with ordinary people while about half say he is too inflexible and narrow-minded.

One in six respondents viewed him as honest, compared to one in four previously.

Mr Turnbull was also marked down on whether he would be good in a crisis (32 per cent) and whether he was a visionary (26 per cent). Mr Rudd, seen as slightly more intelligent and hard working than his opposite number, was regarded as a capable leader by 72 per cent of respondents.

But more respondents than a year ago detect an arrogance about the prime minister.

The percentage of people who think Mr Rudd is arrogant has risen to 47 per cent from 25. The good news is that more people than not think he’s good in a crisis.

The OzCar affair, in which Mr Turnbull demanded the resignations of Mr Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan, has prompted nearly one in two people to view the opposition leader more negatively.

Mr Rudd did not escape unscathed from the affair with one in five seeing him more negatively against one in four who saw him in a more positive light.

Mr Swan’s negative ratings (27 per cent) from OzCar slightly exceeded the positive views (25 per cent).

But in both Mr Rudd and Mr Swan’s case recent political events had no impact on one in two respondents.

Frontbenchers rally around embattled Turnbull

Senior Liberals have dismissed speculation of a leadership challenge and rallied around Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull after his disastrous showing in a series of opinion polls.

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Mr Turnbull’s personal approval ratings plummeted in the wake of last week’s ill-judged call for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s resignation over his relationship with a Brisbane car dealer in the OzCar affair.

While Labor increased its lead over the coalition, the polls released on Monday also found a majority of voters thought Mr Turnbull was arrogant and not altogether honest.

Mr Turnbull made no public comment on the polls, while a number of his frontbenchers spoke in his defence. Opposition leader in the Senate, Nick Minchin, acknowledged they’d had “a pretty tough week” but he said they would be competitive at the next election, due late next year.

He said the polls were a rollercoaster and urged his colleagues to keep their feet on the ground.

“I don’t want an opposition leader who’s too scared to get out of bed in the morning,” Senator Minchin told Sky News on Monday.

“Malcolm is a risk-taker and sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don’t and when they don’t you get a bad poll.”

Senior Liberal Tony Abbott also stood behind his leader, saying the opposition had a bad week but Mr Turnbull would be leader going into the next election. “Just as Malcolm didn’t flinch last week it’s important that the party doesn’t flinch this week,” Mr Abbott said.

But Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was unforgiving after last week’s bruising battle in parliament, saying people were tired of politics of “fear and smear”.

“The government’s getting on with the business of jobs and supporting business in the midst of the worst recession in 75 years and I think the Australian people are just tired of the politics of fear and smear,” Mr Rudd told reporters in Sydney.

And Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese ruled out any temptation on the part of the government for an early election, saying it intended to serve its full term.

The polls are bad, particularly The Australian’s Newspoll which shows Mr Turnbull’s approval rating has been slashed from 44 per cent in mid-June to 25 per cent while his disapproval rating rose from 37 per cent to 58 per cent. A similar story was told by the Fairfax/Nielsen poll in which the disapproval rating for Mr Turnbull had leapt 13 per cent to 60 per cent since mid-May.

News Limited’s Galaxy poll, published in metropolitan daily newspapers, showed that a total of 51 per cent of people thought Mr Turnbull was somewhat deceitful and dishonest.

Newspoll found 68 per cent of people thought Mr Turnbull arrogant while a poll by Essential Research found 69 per cent of people thought he was arrogant, a rise of 13 per cent.

Overall, Labor improved its two party preferred vote lead over the coalition by three points to 56 per cent in the Newspoll, while the coalition’s retreated by three points to 44 per cent.

The Nielsen poll also saw Labor increase its two party preferred lead by five points to 58 per cent while the coalition’s fell by three points to 42 per cent.

Opposition education spokesman and manager of opposition business in the house, Chris Pyne, dismissed any call for a leadership change.

“It would be bizarre, weak-kneed and pathetic if the Liberal Party were to, at the first sign of an ill wind, decide to change its leader for no other reasons other than getting some bad press over a week’s period,” Mr Pyne told reporters in Adelaide.

Opposition spokesman for workplace relations Michael Keenan said they had taken a hit but now needed to concentrate on holding the government to account. “As for changing leaders and everything, I think that’s just a ludicrous suggestion, it’s not seriously being considered,” Mr Keenan told AAP.

Victorian Liberal senator Mitch Fifield said there were no rumblings within the party for a change.

“The only conversations that I’ve had with colleagues are that Malcolm is the best person to lead us and that he should lead us to the next election,” Senator Fifield said.

Hewitt stages epic recovery

Lleyton Hewitt has admitted he played through the pain barrier to complete a famous Wimbledon fightback as the Australian came from two sets down to reach the quarter-finals with a 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Czech 23rd seed Radek Stepanek.

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Hewitt suffered a thigh strain in the first set and was completely out-played for the first two sets, but the 2002 Wimbledon champion showed tremendous reserves of stamina and steel to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time in three years.

Just a month after overhauling a two-set deficit to defeat Ivo Karlovic at the French Open, Hewitt once again found a way to come back from the dead and will face either Andy Roddick or Tomas Berdych for a place in the semi-finals.

“I had a bit of a strain midway through the first set. It caused me a couple of issues and I wasn’t able to move as well as I would have liked,” Hewitt said.

“I got some treatment and managed to put it out of my mind but I still had a bit of pain. I had a bit more treatment during the rain delay. I just wanted to give myself a chance to compete.

“I hope it will be OK for the next match. Hopefully I didn’t do anymore damage to it.”

The unseeded 28-year-old is currently ranked below the top 50 after a lengthy spell out of action following hip surgery. But the All England Club’s grass courts have always been perfectly suited to his game.

“I’ve always been fit and hungry enough to keep fighting with that never-say-die attitude,” he said.

“It was tough because I was trying to get the third set under my belt rather than look at the big picture of winning in five sets.

“Even though I lost the first two sets I felt I was getting a quite a few looks at his serve. I felt if I could get a few returns I would get back in the match and that’s what happened.”

After his surprise win over fifth seed Juan Martin Del Petro in the second round, his confidence has gone through the roof and he hadn’t dropped a set en route to the last 16.

However, Stepanek got the crucial break to take the first set and then pushed home his advantage after Hewitt called for an injury timeout at 2-4 down in the second set to deal with the thigh problem.

Hewitt was able to resume after treatment but immediately dropped his serve again as Stepanek eased into a two-set lead.

But there has never been any doubting Hewitt’s tenacity and refused to surrender. Roared on by a large gathering of Australian fans on Court Two, he broke twice early in the third set before rain halted play.

The momentum was still firmly in Hewitt’s favour after the delay. He closed out the set and then broke again at the start of the fourth set.

Hewitt was unleashing winners from all over the court. In contrast, Stepanek, previously so dominant, was lost in a fog of unforced errors.

A blistering service return gave Hewitt another break that effectively wrapped up the set. The defiant “come on” that accompanied it underlined his determination to go the distance.

There were no signs of fatigue from Hewitt but Stepanek needed treatment on his back before the start of the final set.

By now Hewitt was reading Stepanek’s serve perfectly and a pair of sublime returns set up a break in the first game.

Stepanek’s morale was crushed and one more beautifully judged Hewitt return sealed a second break and, with it, one of his most memorable Wimbledon wins.