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News Briefs, part 2

Michael Jackson to Undergo 6-8 Weeks Treatment for Addiction

The Washington Post


Michael Jackson's lawyers said Monday that the embattled star will undergo six to eight weeks of treatment for addiction to painkillers at a location outside the United States that they would not reveal.

As the frenzied media search for Jackson continued, inflamed by a reported sighting in the French Alps, the lawyers sought to portray Jackson as twice victimized -- first by allegations of child molestation and now by an addiction brought on in part by stress over those allegations. And they emphatically denied he was remaining overseas to avoid facing questioning.

The singer's legal troubles have "nothing to do with staying outside the United States at all," said Bert Fields, one of Jackson's lawyers. "If he wanted a medical excuse to do that, the very last thing he would do in the world would be to have to face the humiliation of admitting that he's become an addict, a man who has hated drugs all his life."

Jackson announced Friday night in Mexico City that he was canceling the remainder of his worldwide concert tour to "seek professional guidance immediately" for his drug problem. Until Monday afternoon's raucous news conference, Jackson's spokesmen had refused all comment on the statement, released in a tape made while he was in Mexico City.

Scientists Downgrade Chances Of California Earthquake

Los Angeles Times

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, having put Central California on alert for a strong earthquake near the hamlet of Parkfield, Monday downgraded the chance that a magnitude 6 quake would occur by early Wednesday morning.

They said the probability had fallen to one in eight, and would fall to only one in 20 if no such quake occurs by Wednesday.

The assessment represented a major change from Sunday, when -- after a swarm of 25 temblors -- the strongest a moderate magnitude 4.8 -- federal and state authorities declared their highest-level earthquake alert in a seven-county region surrounding the Central California town of Parkfield. Scientists said the odds of a strong earthquake within a 72-hour period were one-in-three.

Geological Survey spokeswoman Pat Jorgenson said instrument recordings along the San Andreas fault segment near Parkfield, 180 miles northwest of Los Angeles, showed very little seismic activity as Monday wore on.

Other instruments in the vicinity -- measuring any creep of the sides of the fault, subterranean strain and water well levels -- also showed normal readings. Jorgenson said the chances of a sizable earthquake would be elevated if anomalies in these categories were to show up, even without an increase in small quakes.

The "A"-level alert issued Sunday in the seven counties -- Monterey, Fresno, San Benito, Kings, Kern, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara -- marked only the second time that the Geological Survey and the California Office of Emergency Services have issued the high-grade warning in an earthquake forecasting experiment begun in 1985.