June 29th, 2009
04:18 PM ET

Reflections on growing up with Michael Jackson

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/06/28/michael.jackson/art.jacko.gi.jpg caption="Singer Ne-Yo (L) and host Jamie Foxx pay tribute to Michael Jackson at 2009 BET Awards in Los Angeles."]
Mallika Chopra

It is with a sad heart today that I write this blog. My brother, Gotham Chopra, and my father, Deepak Chopra, have both written beautiful articles remembering our friend, Michael Jackson. I debated writing something or not, and in the end decided to write for my own healing process.

My brother and I had a magical childhood, and much of this was because of Michael. For us, Michael let us visit Neverland like it was our own – from movies to playing video games to bumper car rides to playing with the chimps to eating amazing chocolate chip cookies, we were able to take our cousins and friends to this magical place and just have pure fun. Eating meals with Michael in those days – almost 20 years ago now – was always an experience. He would start humming a tune and then excuse himself. When he came back, he would giggle with delight, explaining how music just came to him and he had to record it to save what came, he always said, came from some place else. Every moment we were with Michael, I would be utterly comfortable and utterly in awe at the same time.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Michael Jackson
June 29th, 2009
04:14 PM ET

In Jackson’s death, black ambivalence fades

Program Note: Marcus Mabry joins us on AC360º tonight at 11 P.M. ET. Tune in to hear what he has to say about Michael Jackson's effect on the black community.

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Marcus Mabry
The New York Times

Jamie Foxx, the host of the Black Entertainment Television music awards, was unequivocal on Sunday night.

“We want to celebrate this black man,” Mr. Foxx said of Michael Jackson. “He belongs to us and we shared him with everybody else.”

Around the world, Mr. Jackson was celebrated Sunday, but there was a special fervor in black neighborhoods and churches.

At the First African Methodist Episcopal church in South Los Angeles, the 10 a.m. service opened with the strains of “I’ll be There” by the Jackson 5, over a video tribute to Mr. Jackson. The congregation clapped and cheered.

“He may not be the king of kings,” the Rev. Carolyn Herron said, “but he’s the King of Pop.” He was, Ms. Herron said, “a gift from God.”


Filed under: 360° Radar • Michael Jackson • Race in America
June 29th, 2009
04:03 PM ET

High on fame: Michael Jackson and enabling doctors

Program Note: See Deepak Chopra, who knew Michael Jackson for over 20 years, tonight on AC 360º at 11 P.M. ET and hear what he has to say about the singer's health history and circumstances that may have led to his death.

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Deepak Chopra and Dr. Drew Pinsky
The Huffington Post

A tragic case like Michael Jackson's reinforces the recurring story of addicted celebrities and their enabling doctors. Being a celebrity does not change the simple fact that the user is a drug addict. And having an M.D. after your name does not change the fact that if you supply the addict you're still a drug pusher. But to be famous and addicted does make treatment much more difficult.

Whether or not Michael Jackson's sudden death was directly caused by prescription drugs, this tragedy highlights the need to crackdown on M.D.s who become enablers of addiction. It's no exaggeration to say that they are basically drug pushers or at least suppliers. Their role although perhaps well meaning can become genuinely sinister, for it's not just a matter of joining a star's entourage by virtue of a prescription pad. Physicians are quite aware of the potential for addiction with opiate/opioid pain medication. The same narcotics like Demerol and OxyContin that became a regular part of Michael's life also lead to high addiction rates among physicians themselves. In the celebrity culture, some doctors become co-dependent and enmeshed with the stars to whom they hitch themselves, creating a mix of compulsions for fame, approval, power, and self-indulgence. As with other enablers in their entourage, the doctor is unable to set limits, frustrate and confront the celebrity lest the physician be banished and another eager medical provider step in. But the bottom line is always the same: the standard of care has not been maintained; pain and potentially treatable conditions are overlooked. And their oaths as physicians have been violated. These doctors are doing harm.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Michael Jackson
June 29th, 2009
03:50 PM ET
June 29th, 2009
03:49 PM ET
June 29th, 2009
03:01 PM ET

Iran’s sons and daughters will win

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/29/iran.britain/art.tehran.embassy.afp.gi.jpg caption="Iranian students protest outside the British embassy in Tehran on June 23."]

Fawaz A. Gerges
Special to CNN

As the dust settles on battered Iranian streets, the ultra-conservative ruling mullahs appear to have won the first round against reformist rivals. But far from vanquished, the reformist movement has gained momentum, confidence, assertiveness and many new followers.

Overcoming political apathy and fear, Iranians of all walks of life took to the streets, making their voices heard and insisting that their votes mattered. Once again, Iranians have surprised the world with their dynamism and vibrant civil society.

Contrary to the stereotypes of the Islamic Republic prevalent in the West and stressed by the ruling mullahs, Iranians are not a monolith but a diverse and complex society with competing interests and differing conceptions of their country and others.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Iran
June 29th, 2009
02:39 PM ET

Questions about Obama’s leadership

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David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

Across America and much of the world, opinion of Barack Obama as president continues at levels rarely seen in recent decades. Sure, there has been sniping from the right and a little slippage in the polls, but mainstream opinion – both in the polls and the press – has generally been lavish in praise.

That is why it has been jarring to read two of the most influential and mainstream newspapers in the world over the past few days, both of them harshly critical.

In editorials, columns and news stories on Saturday and again this morning, the Financial Times castigates the President for passive leadership. Among the headlines: “President Obama needs to lead”; “Obama is choosing to be weak”; “Cap-and-trade mess”; and “Punch-drunk Obama needs middle way on Tehran”. Meanwhile, the Economist spoke out in its new issue with a full-page column entitled, “The senator-in-chief: Barack Obama is too deferential to his former colleagues on Capitol Hill”.

The essence of their argument about his domestic leadership is that the President has assigned out to Congress primary responsibility for writing major legislative bills and then has stood by passively as the bills have been so watered down or become so flawed that they fall far short of what is needed.


June 29th, 2009
02:28 PM ET

Photo Gallery: Michael Jackson at one of his last rehearsals

Editor's Note: In these handout photos provided by AEG/Concerts West choreographer/director Michael Jackson rehearses for his 'This Is It' tour. See images from some of his final rehearsals at the Staples Center on June 24th, and May 6, 2009 in Burbank, California with choreographer/director Kenny Ortega. Tune in tonight to see more from Michael Jackson's final rehearsals.

June 29th, 2009
01:19 PM ET

Michael Jackson broke down racial barriers

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/06/28/michael.jackson.black.community/art.jackson.1992.afp.gi.jpg caption="Michael Jackson was one of the first black global superstars."]

Debra Alban

Michael Jackson was an international superstar, and many in the black community herald him for breaking down racial barriers in the music industry.

"Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of color way before Tiger Woods, way before Oprah Winfrey, way before Barack Obama," said the Rev. Al Sharpton. "Michael did with music what they later did in sports and in politics and in television. And no controversy will erase the historic impact."

As the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson and his brothers "became a cutting-edge example of black crossover artists," said Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of black popular culture at Duke University's Department of African and African American Studies.

"You basically had five working-class black boys with Afros and bell bottoms, and they really didn't have to trade any of that stuff in order to become mainstream stars," Neal said.

Young Michael Jackson was the first black "bubblegum teen star" in the vein of Monkees singer Davy Jones, Neal said.

Jackson continued as a pioneer in the black culture when he broke barriers by appearing on MTV, and by breaking sales records with the 1982 album, "Thriller."

"At the time that he releases 'Thriller,' I always argue that MTV was arguably the best example of cultural apartheid in the United States," Neal said.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Black in America • Michael Jackson
June 29th, 2009
12:32 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Madoff gets 150 years

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/06/26/madoff.sentence/art.madoff.gi.jpg caption="Prosecutors said the sentence would ensure chairman will stay in prison for the rest of his life."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Bernard Madoff, the 71-year-old convicted mastermind behind the largest and most sweeping Ponzi scheme ever, has been sentenced to a 150-year prison term.

Judge Denny Chin of U.S. District Court in New York announced the sentence just moments after Madoff apologized to his victims.

"I live in a tormented state for all the pain and suffering I created," Madoff said. "I left a legacy of shame. It is something I will live with for the rest of my life."

Victims had urged a judge to hand down the maximum life sentence against Madoff. Many of Madoff's investors were wiped out financially by the scam and sent letters to Judge Chin requesting he spend the rest of his life behind bars.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Finance
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