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You might have heard probiotic bacteria help keep your gut healthy, but could they be good for your brain, too? A study out this week suggests the answer is yes, at least for mice, because mice on a probiotic diet for a couple of weeks were more relaxed than their counterparts who were not. They showed fewer visible signs of anxiety, lower levels of stress hormones, even chemical changes in the brain. Sounds a little like valium, doesn't it? Other than signals telling you when you're hungry or full, what connection is there between the intestinal tract and the brain? And why would it be there? It's been long known that the brain and the gut communicate. What's becoming clearer over the last while is that this brain-gut communication [is] bidirectional, [and that the microbial] flora within the gut can actually also play an important part in regulating this. So we can now describe what we call the microbial gut-brain axis, and this is coming across in a whole variety of studies in [many new and] different ways. We've known for a long time that if you're feeling sick, or you've got a bad bacteria, like a food poisoning, the [vagus] nerve will signal to the brain to allow you express the sickness behavior. So it's kind of like the good side of what we've already known. We were able to get such a pronounced effect, and similar effects as if the animals had been given some pharmaceutical agents that are used to treat anxiety and depression.
Note: The above is a summary of an NPR interview with John Cryan, discussing findings published in PNAS by his research team. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Twenty-five of the 100 highest-paid U.S. CEOs earned more last year than their companies paid in federal income tax, a pay study by a Washington think tank said [on August 31]. The Institute for Policy Studies said it also found many of the companies spent more on lobbying than they did on taxes. The institute compared CEO pay with current U.S. taxes paid, excluding foreign, state and local taxes that may have been paid, as well as deferred taxes, which can often be far larger than current taxes paid. The group's rationale was that U.S. taxes paid are the closest approximation in public documents to what companies may have actually written a check for last year. It said deferred taxes may or may not be paid. Among the companies topping the IPS list: •EBay, whose CEO John Donahoe made $12.4 million, but which reported a $131 million refund on its 2010 current U.S. taxes. •Boeing, which paid CEO Jim McNerney $13.8 million, sent in $13 million in federal income taxes and spent $20.8 million on lobbying and campaign spending. •General Electric, where CEO Jeff Immelt earned $15.2 million in 2010, while the company got a $3.3 billion federal refund and invested $41.8 million in its own lobbying and political campaigns.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from major media sources, click here.
Britain and other European governments have helped the US commit “countless” crimes by colluding with torture and illegal rendition operations in America’s war on terror, Europe’s human rights watchdog has said. Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s rights commissioner, accused governments of being “deeply complicit” in illegal activities carried out by the US over the last 10 years, since the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. “In attempting to combat crimes attributed to terrorists, countless further crimes have been committed in the course of the US-led 'global war on terror’,” he said. “Many of those crimes have been carefully and deliberately covered up.” A 2007 Council of Europe (COE) report by Dick Marty, Swiss MP, accused Britain and 13 other European governments of allowing the CIA to run secret detention centres, of turning a blind eye to torture and the illegal abductions of terror suspects. Mr Hammerberg accused Europe’s governments of blocking investigations into rendition in line with Washington’s wishes. “So far Europe has granted effective impunity to those who committed crimes in implementing the rendition policy. An urgent rethink is required to prevent this misjudged and failed counter terrorism approach from having a sad legacy of injustice,” said Mr Hammerberg.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the hidden realities behind the "Global War on Terror", click here.
Propelled by an increase in prescription narcotic overdoses, drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in the United States, a Times analysis of government data has found. Drugs exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing at least 37,485 people nationwide, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While most major causes of preventable death are declining, drugs are an exception. The death toll has doubled in the last decade, now claiming a life every 14 minutes. By contrast, traffic accidents have been dropping for decades because of huge investments in auto safety. Public health experts have used the comparison to draw attention to the nation's growing prescription drug problem, which they characterize as an epidemic. This is the first time that drugs have accounted for more fatalities than traffic accidents since the government started tracking drug-induced deaths in 1979. Fueling the surge in deaths are prescription pain and anxiety drugs that are potent, highly addictive and especially dangerous when combined with one another or with other drugs or alcohol. Such drugs now cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
The starting pistol has been fired on bids by Britain and other western powers to secure a slice of the oil prize in Libya when France said it was "fair and logical" for its companies to benefit. Alain Juppé, the French foreign minister, [told] the Guardian ... that BP was already holding private talks with members of Libya's interim government. Rebel leaders had already made clear that countries active in supporting their insurrection – notably Britain and France – should expect to be treated favourably once the dust of war had settled. [But] the new Tripoli government has denied the existence of a reported secret deal by which French companies would control more than a third of Libya's oil production in return for Paris's support for the revolution. The letter referring to the reported deal [was published] in the French daily newspaper Libération. It purported to show an undertaking by the National Transitional Council (NTC) to reserve "35% of total crude oil in exchange for the total and permanent support for our council".
Note: The descent of the corporate vultures on the corpse of Libya clearly exposes the profiteering which motivates modern war. For key reports on corporate and government corruption from major media sources, click here and here.
News organizations in dozens of countries are panning for nuggets in the latest and largest dump of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, which last week suddenly accelerated its posting of the confidential State Department documents. Over a few days, the group made public nearly 134,000 cables — more than six times the total number published by WikiLeaks and many news organizations over the past nine months. On top of the new WikiLeaks posting, news media reports have suggested that a file containing all 251,287 diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks last year might soon be made public. Late Wednesday, WikiLeaks accused the British newspaper The Guardian of revealing a secret password that could lead to the exposure of the entire cable collection. In a statement, the group said it was that expectation that prompted its release of the cables. WikiLeaks has been a magnet for controversy since it began large-scale disclosures of American documents last year, and the new release stirred the same strong emotions. A cyberattack took down the main WikiLeaks Web site for a time on Tuesday, and speculation about possible perpetrators ranged from a number of governments to former WikiLeaks associates now estranged from Mr. Assange. The State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, while declining to confirm the cables’ authenticity, denounced the disclosure of classified information. Most of the cables are unclassified, but some are classified up to the level of “secret.”
Note: For lots more on government secrecy from reliable sources, click here.
Ever since 9/11, counterterrorism has been the FBI's No. 1 priority, consuming the lion's share of its budget—$3.3 billion, compared to $2.6 billion for organized crime—and much of the attention of field agents and a massive, nationwide network of informants. After years of emphasizing informant recruiting as a key task for its agents, the bureau now maintains a roster of 15,000 spies—many of them tasked ... with infiltrating Muslim communities in the United States. In addition, for every informant officially listed in the bureau's records, there are as many as three unofficial ones, according to one former high-level FBI official, known in bureau parlance as "hip pockets." The bureau now maintains a roster of 15,000 spies, some paid as much as $100,000 per case, many of them tasked with infiltrating Muslim communities in the United States. The FBI regularly taps all of them as part of a domestic intelligence apparatus whose only historical peer might be COINTELPRO, the program the bureau ran from the '50s to the '70s to discredit and marginalize organizations ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to civil-rights and protest groups. Throughout the FBI’s history, informant numbers have been closely guarded secrets. Periodically, however, the bureau has released those figures. A Senate oversight committee in 1975 found the FBI had 1,500 informants. In 1980, officials disclosed there were 2,800. Six years later, following the FBI’s push into drugs and organized crime, the number of bureau informants ballooned to 6,000, the Los Angeles Times reported in 1986. And according to the FBI, the number grew significantly after 9/11.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the realities of intelligence agency operations, click here.
The city of Bonn has begun collecting taxes from prostitutes with an automated pay station similar to a parking meter, proving again that German efficiency knows few if any bounds. Bonn is not the only city in Germany to charge such a tax, but it is the first to hit upon the idea of a ticket machine that prints out receipts for the nightly flat fee of 6 euros (currently about $8.65) for the privilege of streetwalking. The meter went into service over the weekend, and by Monday morning had collected $382 for the city’s coffers. Prostitution is legal in Germany; the Reeperbahn in Hamburg is one of the largest red-light districts in Europe. Attempts are often made to regulate the industry, unionize the workers and tax the proceeds, but they are not always effective, given both the discretion and the unpredictability that are inherent in the business. Street prostitution as practiced in Bonn, once the capital of West Germany and a town better known for sleepiness than sexiness, would be unfamiliar to many people outside Germany for its unusual degree of organization and institutionalization. The Siemens-built meter machine ... cost $11,575 including installation.
Note: Prostitution is legal and regulated in Germany and seven other European countries.
An engineered virus, injected into the blood, can selectively target cancer cells throughout the body in what researchers have labelled a medical first. The virus attacked only tumours, leaving the healthy tissue alone, in a small trial on 23 patients, according to the journal Nature. Researchers said the findings could one day "truly transform" therapies. Cancer specialists said using viruses showed "real promise". Using viruses to attack cancers is not a new concept, but they have needed to be injected directly into tumours in order to evade the immune system. The virus, named JX-594 ... was injected at different doses into the blood of 23 patients with cancers which had spread to multiple organs in the body. Prof John Bell, lead researcher and from the University of Ottawa, said: "We are very excited because this is the first time in medical history that a viral therapy has been shown to consistently and selectively replicate in cancer tissue after intravenous infusion in humans. Intravenous delivery is crucial for cancer treatment because it allows us to target tumours throughout the body as opposed to just those that we can directly inject."
Note: With millions of people dying of cancer every year, why isn't this being fast tracked like the AIDS drugs were? For exciting information from reliable sources on promising new cancer cure possibilities, click here.
A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi. The unclassified cable, which was posted on WikiLeaks' website last week, contained questions from a United Nations investigator about the incident. U.S. officials denied at the time that anything inappropriate had occurred. But Philip Alston, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a communication to American officials dated 12 days after the March 15, 2006, incident that autopsies performed in the Iraqi city of Tikrit showed that all the dead had been handcuffed and shot in the head. Among the dead were four women and five children. The children were all 5 years old or younger. Alston said that as of 2010 - the most recent data he had - U.S. officials hadn't responded to his request for information and that Iraq's government also hadn't been forthcoming. He said the lack of response from the United States "was the case with most of the letters to the U.S. in the 2006-2007 period," when fighting in Iraq peaked. Alston said he could provide no further information on the incident. "The tragedy," he said, "is that this elaborate system of communications is in place but the (U.N.) Human Rights Council does nothing to follow up when states ignore issues raised with them."
Note: For lots more on the atrocities and secret realities of the "Endless War" launched by the 9/11 false-flag operation, click here.
Details of shadowy CIA [rendition flights] have emerged in a ... New York courthouse in a billing dispute between contractors. The court documents offer a rare glimpse of the costs and operations of the controversial rendition program. For all the secrecy that once surrounded the CIA program, a significant part of its operation was entrusted to very small aviation companies whose previous experience involved flying sports teams across the country. In the process, the costs and itineraries of numerous CIA flights became part of the court record. The more than 1,500 pages from the trial and appeals court files appear to include sensitive material, such as logs of air-to-ground phone calls made from the plane. These logs show multiple calls to CIA headquarters; to the cell- and home phones of a senior CIA official involved in the rendition program; and to a government contractor, Falls Church-based DynCorp, that worked for the CIA. Attorneys for a London-based legal charity, Reprieve, which has been investigating the CIA program, discovered the Columbia County case and brought the court records to the attention of The Washington Post. “This new evidence tells a chilling story, from the CIA’s efforts to disguise its illegal activities to the price it paid to ferry prisoners to torture chambers across the world,” said Cori Crider, Reprieve’s legal director.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the hidden realities behind the "Global War on Terror", click here.
Guatemala has tracked down five survivors from a shocking US government research project on sexually transmitted diseases that killed scores of its people. On [August 29], a presidential panel disclosed new details of the medical experiments done in Guatemala in the 1940s, including a decision to re-infect a dying woman in a syphilis study. The Guatemala experiments are already considered one of the darker episodes of medical research in U.S. history, but panel members say the new information indicates that the researchers were unusually unethical, even when placed into the historical context of a different era. "The researchers put their own medical advancement first and human decency a far second," said Anita Allen, a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. From 1946-48, the U.S. Public Health Service and the Pan American Sanitary Bureau worked with several Guatemalan government agencies to do medical research - paid for by the U.S. government - that involved deliberately exposing people to sexually transmitted diseases. The researchers apparently were trying to see if penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent infections in the 1,300 people exposed to syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid. Those infected included soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients with syphilis. The commission revealed ... that only about 700 of those infected received some sort of treatment. Also, 83 people died.
Note: For a long list of verifiable information on experiments where human were used a guinea pigs, click here.
The triple meltdown and its aftermath at the Fukushima nuclear power plant [have] elevated Japan into unknown, and unknowable, terrain. Across the northeast, millions of people are living with its consequences and searching for a consensus on a safe radiation level that does not exist. Experts give bewilderingly different assessments of its dangers. Some scientists say Fukushima is worse than the 1986 Chernobyl accident, with which it shares a maximum level-7 rating on the sliding scale of nuclear disasters. Chris Busby, a professor at the University of Ulster ... said the disaster would result in more than 1 million deaths. "Fukushima is still boiling its radionuclides all over Japan," he said. "Chernobyl went up in one go. So Fukushima is worse." Slowly, steadily, and often well behind the curve, the government has worsened its prognosis of the disaster. Last Friday, scientists affiliated with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the plant had released 15,000 terabecquerels of cancer-causing Cesium, equivalent to about 168 times the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the event that ushered in the nuclear age. [But] Professor Busby says the release is at least 72,000 times worse than Hiroshima.
U.S. government researchers who purposely infected unwitting subjects with sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala in the 1940s had obtained consent a few years earlier before conducting similar experiments in Indiana, investigators reported [August 29]. The stark contrast between how the U.S. Public Health Service scientists experimented with Americans and Guatemalans clearly shows that researchers knew their conduct was unethical, according to members of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. “These researchers knew these were unethical experiments, and they conducted them anyway,” said Raju Kucherlapati of Harvard Medical School, a commission member. At least 5,500 prisoners, mental patients, soldiers and children were drafted into the experiments, including at least 1,300 who were exposed to the sexually transmitted diseases syphilis, gonorrhea and chancroid, the commission reported. “This is a dark chapter in our history. It is important to shine the light of day on it. We owe it to the people of Guatemala who were experimented on, and we owe it to ourselves to recognize what a dark chapter it was,” said Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania, the commission’s chairwoman.
Note: For a long list of verifiable information on experiments where human were used a guinea pigs, click here.
Some people give a bit back to their community. Then there’s Fresno County School Superintendent Larry Powell, who is giving back $800,000, his compensation for the next three years. Until his term expires in 2015, Powell will run 325 schools and 35 school districts with 195,000 students, all for less than a starting California teacher earns. “How much do we need to keep accumulating?’’ asks Powell, 63. “There’s no reason for me to keep stockpiling money.’’ Powell’s generosity is more than just a gesture in a region with some of the nation’s highest rates of unemployment. As he prepares for retirement, he wants to ensure that his pet projects survive California budget cuts. And the man who started his career as a high school civics teacher, who has made antibullying his mission, hopes his act of generosity will help restore faith in the government he once taught students to respect. Powell’s answer? Ask his board to allow him to return $288,241 in salary and benefits for the next three and a half years of his term. He technically retired, then agreed to be hired back to work for $31,000 a year - $10,000 less than a first-year teacher - with no benefits.
What if we stood up for Main Street? Corporations and elected officials are making decisions that are impacting our lives, and we are at their mercy. Americans, many [of] whose lives have been destroyed by the 2008 subprime mortgage market disaster, resent the lack of accountability on the part of Wall Street for its role in this scandal. Few have been indicted for the market collapse and resulting meltdown of the global economy. After the federal government bailed out the financial institutions, it is back to business as usual. Corporate profits are accumulating and bonuses are raining down on the very players who created the bubble and crash in the first place. On the other hand, the taxpayers who bailed out Wall Street aren't doing so well. Instead of bonuses, we are suffering from unemployment and underemployment of epic proportions. Homeowners continue to lose their homes to foreclosure, and homelessness is on the rise. Public services, public safety and public welfare funding is being cut back or cut out. Public education has been decimated. American corporations have lost all sense of responsibility for U.S. citizens. While the U.S. economy fights to survive, corporations have turned their backs on those whose tax dollars kept our ship of state from sinking. Sending jobs overseas might improve corporate profit margins, but at what expense to the workforce and U.S. economy? These decisions have devastated American workers' lives. So, what needs to be done? What if we begin to stand up for Main Street?
Note: For a treasure trove of reports detailing the criminal collusion between the federal government and Wall Street financial corporations, click here.
Conspiracy theories have proliferated following the attacks in the US on 11 September 2001. An opinion poll ... for BBC's The Conspiracy Files in 2011, found that 14% of people questioned in the UK and 15% in the US did not believe the official explanation that al-Qaeda was responsible, and instead believed the US government was involved in a wider conspiracy. Among 16 to 24-year-olds that belief rises to around one in four. Ten years on from the attacks [conspiracy theories] now question every aspect of the official account. The starting point for 9/11 conspiracies is that many people find it hard to believe 19 young men, armed with just knives and box-cutters, could casually walk through airport security, hijack four commercial planes and then within the space of 77 minutes destroy three of the iconic symbols of America's power, in the face of the world's most powerful and technologically-advanced military superpower. It is a similar argument that questions whether a lone gunman could have killed President John F Kennedy, then the most powerful and best-protected man on the earth, or how someone so special as Princess Diana could die in a car crash. "We don't know the full story of exactly what happened," says American radio talk show host Alex Jones. "It needs to be investigated."
A decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, federal and state governments are spending about $75 billion a year on domestic security, setting up sophisticated radio networks, upgrading emergency medical response equipment, installing surveillance cameras and bombproof walls, and outfitting airport screeners to detect an ever-evolving list of mobile explosives. But how effective has that 10-year spending spree been? "The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It's basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year," said John Mueller, an Ohio State University professor who has written extensively about the balance between threat and expenditures in fighting terrorism. "So if your chance of being killed by a terrorist in the United States is 1 in 3.5 million, the question is, how much do you want to spend to get that down to 1 in 4.5 million?" he said. The vast network of Homeland Security spyware, concrete barricades and high-tech identity screening is here to stay. The Department of Homeland Security, a collection of agencies ranging from border control to airport security sewn quickly together after Sept. 11, is the third-largest Cabinet department and — with almost no lawmaker willing to render the U.S. less prepared for a terrorist attack — one of those least to fall victim to budget cuts.
Note: For a powerful article that goes much deeper into huge sums of money wasted in the war on terror by journalist Glenn Greenwald, click here.
A once-secret CIA history of the Bay of Pigs invasion lays out in unvarnished detail how the American spy agency came to the rescue of and cut deals with authoritarian governments in Central America, largely to hide the U.S. role in organizing and controlling the hapless Cuban exile invasion force. The most powerful people in Central American embassies were the CIA station chiefs. Ambassadors step aside and allow the CIA to negotiate deals for covert paramilitary bases in a newly released portion of the CIA’s “Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation.” “What you’re reading in this report shows again that in the hypocritical name of democracy the United States and CIA were willing to prop up some of the most cut-throat dictatorships,” says researcher Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive at George Washington University. He sued the CIA for release of the Top Secret document that dissects one of the agency’s greatest failures. Using secret interviews, cables and memos, CIA historian Jack B. Pfeiffer wrote the classified account of the disastrous operation to topple Fidel Castro. It’s unusually candid because nobody except spies were expected read it. Both the Eisenhower and Kennedy governments wanted to be able to deny responsibility for the invasion.
Note: To read the formerly-secret CIA history of the Bay of Pigs operation, just released by the National Security Archive, click here.
Thursday night’s “Secret Access” report by The History Channel — “UFOs On The Record” — is the sort of crisp advocacy journalism one might easily envision in PBS’ “Frontline” rotation. Devoid of the tripe that too often characterizes network programming on this issue, “UFOs On The Record” is a foundational model for jump-starting a national conversation so desperately overdue. The 96-minute documentary, built upon Leslie Kean’s UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record, was produced by filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sudberg. Like Kean, they made no unsubstantiated claims and dispensed with the uninformed ruminations of so-called UFO skeptics that pass for “balance” in mainstream formulas. Instead, they mined official documents and eyewitnesses to build a compelling case for the serious disconnect between reality and American public policy. For Kean’s readers, the “Secret Access” treatment covered familiar turf: the Phoenix Lights, the Rendlesham Forest incident, the 1989-90 Belgian wave, etc. But watching many of the players in the book — like former Federal Aviation Administration accidents division chief John Callahan, and retired Belgian Gen. Wilfried De Brouwer — as they physically reconstructed complex interactions between UFOs and jet planes brought the enormity of the transactions to life.
Note: We don't usually use newspapers of smaller cities as a reliable source, but as no other major media reported on this most powerful documentary on UFOs, we're including this one here. To watch this astounding documentary free online, click here. For another detailed article on the program, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.