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Jackson’s doctor charged with manslaughter

LOS ANGELES —Nearly eight months after Michael Jackson died suddenly, his personal physician was charged Monday with involuntary manslaughter for providing him with a powerful anesthetic that was ruled a major factor in his death.

At his arraignment Monday afternoon at a Los Angeles County courthouse, witnessed by several Jackson family members and a crush of news media from around the world, the doctor, Conrad Murray, pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Ed Chernoff. The filing of the charges capped an investigation that revealed Jackson’s heavy reliance on narcotics and propofol, an anesthetic normally used in surgery but administered to Jackson, 50, as a sleep aid.

Murray, a cardiologist with offices in Houston and Las Vegas, had acknowledged giving Jackson the drug shortly before the singer was found unconscious on June 25 in a rented mansion here, according to police affidavits. The coroner determined that Jackson had died from “acute propofol intoxication,” combined with other sedatives.

Murray, 56, has maintained through his lawyer that nothing he gave Jackson should have caused his death. If convicted, he faces a possible maximum four-year state prison term.

Randal C. Archibold, The New York Times

Iran’s nuclear plans prompt new calls for sanctions

PARIS —Iran told the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency on Monday that it would begin enriching its stockpile of uranium for use in a medical reactor, prompting officials from the United States, France and Russia to call for stronger sanctions against Tehran.

Late Monday in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that it had received a letter from Iran declaring its intent to begin enriching uranium up to 20 percent. The agency’s statement gave no date for starting the enrichment, though Tehran said that might come as early as Tuesday.

Tehran’s decision elicited a sharp reaction in the West. In Paris, the visiting U.S. defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, said the Obama administration and its allies had done all they could to entice Iran to negotiate an end to its nuclear program.

“All of these initiatives have been rejected,” Gates said. While “we must still try and find a peaceful way to resolve this issue, ” he said, “the only path that is left to us at this point, it seems to me, is that pressure track. But it will require all of the international community to work together.”

Publishers win a bout in e-book price fight

Could book publishers suddenly be in the position of bossing Google around?

With the impending arrival of digital books on the Apple iPad and feverish negotiations with Amazon.com over e-book prices, publishers have managed to take some control — at least temporarily — of how much consumers pay for their content.

Now, as publishers enter discussions with the Web giant Google about its plan to sell digital versions of new books direct to consumers, they have a little more leverage than just a few weeks ago — at least when it comes to determining how much Google will pay publishers for those e-books.

Google has been talking about entering the direct e-book market, through a program it calls Google Editions, for nearly a year. But in early discussions with publishers, Google had proposed giving them a 63 percent cut of each sale, and allowing consumers to print copies of the digital books and cut and paste segments. After Apple unveiled the iPad last month, publishers indicated that Apple would give them 70 percent of each sale, and allow them to set consumer prices.

According to several publishers who have been talking to Google, the book companies had balked at what they saw as Google’s less generous terms, and basically viewed printing and cut-and-paste as deal breakers.

China fund discloses $9.6 billion in shares in US companies

SHANGHAI —China’s sovereign wealth fund quietly bought more than $9 billion worth of shares last year in some of the biggest American corporations, including Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup.

Although most of the stakes were small, the China Investment Corp., the government’s $300 billion investment fund, now owns stock in some of the best-known American brands, including Apple, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Motorola and Visa.

The detailed list, which contained holdings totaling $9.6 billion as of Dec. 31, was disclosed Friday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission; it lists stakes only in companies traded in the United States.

The filing offers a glimpse of how China is trying to diversify its more than $2 trillion in foreign currency holdings with stock, rather than investing almost entirely in U.S. Treasury bonds and other debt securities issued by governments and by government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China and other officials have expressed worry about how the country’s holdings of Treasury securities could be hurt by inflation or by mounting U.S. debt. By buying the securities of international companies, China is trying to spread its fast-growing wealth more widely. It is also seeking to acquire strategic stakes in companies that could feed its hungry economy with a range of commodities.

The China Investment Corp. was formed in 2007 with about $200 billion. It now has assets of nearly $300 billion.