LOS ANGELES

Jackson doctor’s defense shifts strategy on key point

Dr. Conrad Murray’s defense on Wednesday abandoned a theory that it touted for over a year that Michael Jackson swallowed the drug that killed him, an abrupt shift in strategy that potentially undermines its case.

The reason was clear: The defense had learned that its claim that the singer swallowed the anesthetic propofol while Murray was out of the room in June 2009 can’t be supported with scientific evidence.

The developments, along with a medical expert’s repudiation of Murray’s medical skills, suggested that the defense must recoup significant lost ground in its bid to acquit him of involuntary manslaughter.

TAURANGA, New Zealand

Break in weather allows crew to assess listing ship

A salvage crew on Thursday finally managed to board a cargo ship that has spilled hundreds of tons of oil since striking a reef off New Zealand, and was racing to assess whether oil can be pumped from the ship before the vessel breaks up.

Heavy seas had kept the critical salvage team away for days, but a break in the weather allowed three crew members to be winched on board the Liberian-flagged Rena, which ran aground Oct. 5 on Astrolabe Reef off North Island. About 88 containers have fallen off the deck of the 775-foot vessel as it has listed increasingly in stormy ocean conditions, and the vessel has been fractured by a large crack.

MOSCOW

Activists petition president to reject plan for stray dogs

Animal rights activists urged Russia’s president Wednesday to reject a plan by Moscow authorities to send 26,000 stray dogs to a facility outside the city that critics say will be cramped, spread disease and mean certain death for many.

About 50 activists lined up outside the presidential administration building to submit signed petitions to President Dmitry Medvedev denouncing the move. 

— From news service reports