Vatican Accepts Extraterrestrials, Iraq Corruption, Nanoparticle Health Threats
Revealing News Articles
May 15, 2008
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the Vatican's statement that it accepts extraterrestrials as "brothers", Congressional testimony regarding extensive corruption in Iraq, serious potential health threats posed by a wide array of commercial products containing nanoparticles, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. Key sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
Vatican: It's OK for Catholics to Believe in Aliens
May 13, 2008, Fox News
There could be alien life forms and believing they exist isn't contradictory to having faith in God, the top astronomer at the Vatican said in an interview published Tuesday. In the Vatican newspaper piece, titled "The Extraterrestrial Is My Brother," the Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes said the expansiveness of the universe means there could be life on planets other than Earth. "In my opinion this possibility exists," Funes, the director of the Vatican Observatory, told L'Osservatore Romano. "Astronomers believe the universe is made up of 100 billion galaxies, each of which consists of 100 billion stars. Life forms could exist in theory even without oxygen or hydrogen." Funes said that there might even be other intelligent life out there, but believing in its existence doesn't pose a problem for those of the Catholic faith. "It is possible. So far we have no proof. But certainly in a universe so big we can not exclude this hypothesis," he told the paper. "As there is a multiplicity of creatures on earth, so there may be other beings, intelligent, created by God. This does not conflict with our faith, because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom of God." He said human beings could even consider another life form an "extraterrestrial brother" because it, too, would be one of God's creatures. "How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?" Funes said. "Just as we consider earthly creatures as 'a brother,' and 'sister,' why should we not talk about an 'extraterrestrial brother'? It would still be part of creation."
Note: For a fascinating summary of evidence presented by government and military professionals for the possible presence of extraterrestrials here on Earth, click here.
Ex-Officials: Bush Admin. Ignored Iraq Corruption
May 13, 2008, ABC News/Associated Press
The Bush administration repeatedly ignored corruption at the highest levels within the Iraqi government and kept secret potentially embarrassing information so as not to undermine its relationship with Baghdad, according to two former State Department employees. Arthur Brennan, who briefly served in Baghdad as head of the department's Office of Accountability and Transparency last year, and James Mattil, who worked as the chief of staff, told Senate Democrats ... that their office was understaffed and its warnings and recommendations ignored. Brennan also alleges the State Department prevented a congressional aide visiting Baghdad from talking with staffers by insisting they were too busy. In reality, Brennan said, office members were watching movies at the embassy and on their computers. The staffers' workload had been cut dramatically because of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's "evisceration" of Iraq's top anti-corruption office, he said. The State Department's policies "not only contradicted the anti-corruption mission but indirectly contributed to and has allowed corruption to fester at the highest levels of the Iraqi government," Brennan told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. The U.S. embassy "effort against corruption – including its new centerpiece, the now-defunct Office of Accountability and Transparency – was little more than 'window dressing,'" he added. Mattil, who worked with Brennan, made similar allegations. Specifically, he said the U.S. "remained silent in the face of an unrelenting campaign" by senior Iraqi officials to subvert Baghdad's Commission on Public Integrity.
Note: For many powerful exposures of government corruption from reliable, verifiable sources, click here.
Nanoparticles scrutinized for health effects
May 12, 2008, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Windows cleaned by raindrops, white sofas immune to red wine spills, tiles protected from limescale buildup -- new products created from minute substances called nanoparticles are making such domestic dreams come true. Based on tiny particles 10,000 times thinner than a strand of hair, ... nanoparticles are showing up in everything from fabric coatings to socks to plush teddy bears. But some scientists are concerned that these seemingly magical materials are hitting the market before their effects on human health and the environment have been sufficiently studied. The few scientific reports available suggest that nanoparticles can pose a threat to human health and to the environment. For example, fish swimming in water containing modest amounts of fullerenes, soccer-ball-shaped nanoparticles made out of 60 carbon atoms, showed a large increase in brain damage. These are the same types of fullerenes being used in various skin products. From the skin, they can travel through the lymphatic duct system to lymph nodes and eventually end up in organs such as the liver, kidney and spleen. When inhaled, nanoparticles will go deeper into the lungs than larger particles and reach more sensitive parts. Because of that, scientists are particularly concerned about nanoparticles being used in spray products. "We have research showing that as a material shrinks in size, it becomes more harmful to the lungs. Nanoparticles tend to be more inflammatory to the lung, and it seems as if the lung has to work harder to get rid of them," said Andrew Maynard, chief science adviser at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies in Washington.
Note: For a treasure trove of health reports from major media, click here.
Domestic spying far outpaces terrorism prosecutions
May 12, 2008, Los Angeles Times
The number of Americans being secretly wiretapped or having their financial and other records reviewed by the government has continued to increase as officials aggressively use powers approved after the Sept. 11 attacks. But the number of terrorism prosecutions ending up in court -- one measure of the effectiveness of such sleuthing -- has continued to decline, in some cases precipitously. The trends, visible in new government data and a private analysis of Justice Department records, are worrisome to civil liberties groups and some legal scholars. They say it is further evidence that the government has compromised the privacy rights of ordinary citizens without much to show for it. The Bush administration has been seeking to expand its ability to gather intelligence without prior court approval. The [Justice] department ... reported a sharp rise in the use of national security letters by the FBI -- from 9,254 in 2005 to 12,583 in 2006, the latest data available. The letters seek customer information from banks, Internet providers and phone companies. They have caused a stir because consumers do not have a right to know that their information is being disclosed and the letters are issued without court oversight. Civil liberties groups say the new data reveal a disturbing consequence of the government's post-Sept. 11 expanded surveillance capabilities. "The number of Americans being investigated dwarfs any legitimate number of actual terrorism prosecutions, and that is extremely troubling," said Lisa Graves, deputy director of the Center for National Security Studies, a Washington-based civil liberties group.
Note: For many reports from major media sources that question the reality of the "terror" threat, click here.
360 post-9/11 workers have died, including 80 of cancer
May 8, 2008, New York Daily News
More than 360 workers who dealt with the aftermath of the World Trade Center disaster have died, state health officials said Wednesday. Officials have determined the cause of death of 154 of the responders and volunteers who toiled at Ground Zero, the blocks nearby and at the Fresh Kills landfill, where debris from the site was taken. Of those, 80 died of cancer. "It's the tip of the iceberg," said David Worby, who is representing 10,000 workers - 600 with cancer - who say they got sick after working on rescue and recovery efforts. "These statistics bear out how toxic that site was," Worby said. Most of the deadly tumors were in the lungs and digestive system, according to the tally from the state's World Trade Center Responder Fatality Investigation Program. Other deaths were traced to blood cancers and heart and circulatory diseases. Five ex-workers committed suicide, said Kitty Gelberg, who is tracking the deaths for the program. Gelberg said ... there is an overall undercount of workers who have died. Last year, the head of Mount Sinai Medical Center's monitoring and treatment program, Dr. Robin Herbert, predicted a "third wave" of 9/11-related deaths from cancer. Cathy Murray, whose husband, Fire Lt. John Murray, died of colon cancer April 30, "absolutely" connects his disease to his work at Ground Zero. He was diagnosed in June and was 52 when he died, she said. "He was perfectly healthy," said Cathy Murray, 53, of Staten Island. "He never smoked a day in his life, and neither did I. It happened so quick and so aggressive. He was responding at first, but then he wasn't," she added. "And now he's gone."
Note: For a powerful summary of reports from major media sources questioning the official story of what happened on 9/11, click here.
FBI Backs Off From Secret Order for Data After Lawsuit
May 8, 2008, Washington Post
The FBI has withdrawn a secret administrative order seeking the name, address and online activity of a patron of the Internet Archive after the San Francisco-based digital library filed suit to block the action. It is one of only three known instances in which the FBI has backed off from such a data demand, known as a "national security letter," or NSL, which is not subject to judicial approval and whose recipient is barred from disclosing the order's existence. NSLs are served on phone companies, Internet service providers and other electronic communications service providers, but because of the gag order provision, the public has little way to know about them. FBI officials now issue about 50,000 such orders a year. The order against the Internet Archive was served Nov. 26, and the nonprofit challenged it based on a provision of the reauthorized USA Patriot Act, which protects libraries from such requests. The privacy advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation represented the archive in the suit, which was joined by the American Civil Liberties Union. The archive also alleged that the gag order that accompanied the data demand violated the Constitution. As part of their settlement, the FBI agreed to drop the gag order and the archive agreed to withdraw the complaint. The case was unsealed Monday. Yesterday, redacted versions of key documents were filed, allowing the parties to discuss the case. "We see this as an unqualified success," said Brewster Kahle, the archive's co-founder and digital librarian. "The goal here was to help other recipients of NSLs to understand that you can push back."
You've Seen the YouTube Video; Now Try the Documentary
May 10, 2008, New York Times
There is a moment of foreshadowing at the end of "Battle at Kruger," the eight-minute African safari video that has drawn more than 30 million views on YouTube. David Budzinski, a tourist from Texas, has just recorded a stunning scene straight out of a wildlife documentary. A small pride of lions and a crocodile have pinned down a cape buffalo calf, prompting an angry herd of buffalo to fight off the predators and save the babe. A fellow traveler remarks, "You could sell that video!" After returning home, Mr. Budzinski tried, but National Geographic and Animal Planet were not interested. Only after the battle – alternately terrifying and heart-warming – became one of the most popular videos in YouTube's history did the buyers come calling. Last summer the National Geographic Channel purchased the television rights to the video, and on Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern time, it will devote an hour to a documentary deconstructing the drama. Adhering to the short-form spirit of YouTube, the complete tale concludes in slightly more than eight minutes. Mr. Budzinski tried unsuccessfully to sell it to television networks. "They all told us the same thing – they don't accept any footage from amateurs,"he said. For almost three years the film essentially sat on the shelf. But a year ago, when Mr. Schlosberg used YouTube to share the video with a friend – it was easier than making a DVD copy and mailing it, he said – "Battle at Kruger" started spreading virally on the Internet. Before long, National Geographic [called].
Note: To watch this amazing 8-minute clip of a highly unusual battle between lions and water buffalo, click here.
Woman Who Can't Forget Amazes Doctors
May 9, 2008, ABC News
What would you do if you couldn't forget anything in your life? For the woman formerly known to the world as simply "A.J.," her memory is so powerful that it dominates her life. In her first television interview, 42-year-old Jill Price told [ABC News' Diane] Sawyer, "I am in the moment, but I also have ... this split screen in my head. I always explain it to people like I'm walking around with a video camera on my shoulder. And every day is a videotape. So if you throw a date out at me, it's as if I pulled a videotape out, put [it] in a VCR and just watched the day. As it happened. From my point of view. I walk around with my life right next to me," she said. Price, who lives in California and works as an assistant at a religious school, has been remembering her life like this almost every day since she was 14. Eight years ago, she reached out to memory specialists at the University of California-Irvine for help. Dr. James McGaugh led a team who studied her for six years, and says he was stunned. "She wrote down the dates of the last 20 Easters, and she was off, I think, by two days on one of them," he said. "And she's Jewish!" McGaugh and his team tested Price with questions from a master list in an historical almanac. Dr. Larry Cahill works with Dr. McGaugh and questioned Price about a Christmas special on "Murphy Brown." "The Christmas episode was my personal jaw-dropping moment," he said. "I corrected her. I said, 'Well, actually my list here says it was a Brady Bunch Christmas special.' And like that, she corrects me. 'No, that was the week before.' Just like that. And later, we found out she was right and my book was wrong."
Note: For powerful insights into the nature of reality from reliable sources, click here.
India's Future: Balancing Old and New Worlds
April 7, 2008, ABC News
At age 21, [Nisha] Mehta has five people -- all older than she is -- working under her. And her boss says the sky's the limit. This is a seismic change in a country where women have, until recently, been restricted to traditional family roles. And it's a change that has transpired within one generation in one household. Mehta's mother never went to college, doesn't work and cannot make major decisions without the consent of her husband. Mehta says she has no desire to live the way her mother does -- and her mother has actively encouraged her not to follow in her footsteps. Mehta is conducting an interesting -- and seemingly effortless -- balancing act between two very different worlds. On the one hand, she lives at home, as most unmarried Indians do, in a tiny, two-room apartment. She shares a pull-out couch with her little brother. On the other, she is financially independent and also insistent that she will not submit to an arranged marriage, as the vast majority of young Indians do. Mehta says she wants a "love match." But, she says that she'll get her parents' consent before marrying and that she won't marry anyone from outside her community. The changes going on in India right now -- the breaking down of old barriers of gender, religion and caste -- are incredibly exciting. But it's important to realize that these changes -- as of right now, at least -- are only affecting a minority. India's exploding middle class is estimated to be 300 million people -- roughly the size of the U.S. population! -- But there are still 600 million people living on less than $2 a day.
Note: For video clips of this fascinating series of interviews with 21-year-olds from around the world, click here.
Jamie Johnson On "The One Percent"
February 20, 2008, Forbes magazine
For most of the moneyed class, an inquiry into their wealth elicits silence and cringes. Not so with 28-year-old Jamie Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune. For the Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker, wealth is the focus of his life's work. In Johnson's first documentary, Born Rich, he exposed how 10 children from families like the Trumps and the Newhouses spent their time--and their fortunes. Now he turns the camera on his own family in The One Percent. Johnson's documentary, which [premiered] on Cinemax Feb. 21, offers a rarefied view of the scandalously secretive world of "the one percent," a small segment of the U.S. population that owns roughly 40% of the country's wealth. Through a series of interviews with high-profile figures like Bill Gates Sr., U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and economist Milton Friedman, Johnson explores the disparity of wealth in America. Forbes.com: You got your own father, as well as other phenomenally wealthy people, to talk to you. How did you get these folks to open up about such an intensely private topic? [Johnson:] It wasn't easy. A lot of patience -- there was a lot of waiting around. [Forbes:] I imagine you'll have critics who will call this "rich boy's guilt." What do you say to them? [Johnson:] That both liberal and conservative economists agree that there is a growing wealth gap, and that it's a problem. It's important to get wealthy people to think about this and think about solving this problem. They are the most influential people in our society and therefore, they should be working on treating this and coming up with a solution.
Note: The films of Jamie Johnson give very rare views into the lives of the upper crust that are incredibly revealing. For another article at CNN on his excellent documentary Born Rich, click here. To see revealing video clips, click here.
Key Articles From Years Past
Father-son duo are world class competitors, despite odds
November 29, 1999, CNN
When Rick Hoyt was 15, he communicated something to his father that changed both their lives. "Dad," the mute quadriplegic wrote in his computer after his father pushed him in a wheelchair in a five-kilometer race, "I felt like I wasn't handicapped." Rick, now 37, has had cerebral palsy since birth. But he has always been treated simply as one of the family, included by his now-divorced parents in almost everything brothers Rob and Russell did. "They told us to put Rick away, in an institution, (because) he's going to be nothing but a vegetable for the rest of his life," his father remembers. "We said, 'No, we're not going to do that. We're going to bring Rick home and bring him up like any other child,'" says Dick Hoyt, 59, a retired lieutenant colonel with the Air National Guard. "And this is what we have done." For more than 20 years, Dick has either towed, pushed or carried Rick in a string of athletic challenges including every Boston Marathon since 1981 and, most recently, last month's Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii. But mental determination and physical stamina tell only part of the Hoyt story. A message of independence and acceptance typed by Rick on his computer complete the picture: "When I am running, my disability seems to disappear. It is the only place where truly I feel as an equal. Due to all the positive feedback, I do not feel handicapped at all. Rather, I feel that I am the intelligent person that I am with no limits. I have a message for the world which is this: To take time to get to know people with disabilities for the individuals they are."
Special note: For a powerfully inspiring 6-minute video which will awaken you to the realities of different lifestyles here on planet Earth, click here. For how you can help the amazing young man in this video, click here. And for an excellent resource on asbestos and mesothelioma, click here.
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Vatican Accepts Extraterrestrials, Iraq Corruption, Nanoparticle Health Threats