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Tony Blair is godfather to one of Rupert Murdoch’s young children, it has emerged in an interview with the media tycoon’s wife Wendi. The former prime minister was reportedly present in March last year when Murdoch’s two daughters by his third wife were baptised on the banks of the Jordan. The information was not made public and its disclosure in an interview with Mrs Murdoch in Vogue will prove highly embarrassing for Mr Blair. His close ties to the Murdochs could explain his reluctance to condemn the News International phone hacking scandal. In July, it was reported that he asked Gordon Brown to put pressure on Tom Watson, the Labour MP who helped expose the scandal, to drop his investigation. Last night, Mr Blair’s spokesman refused to comment, but a News Corp source confirmed that Mr Blair was godfather to Grace, as was Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son. While Mrs Murdoch does not comment on Mr Blair directly, the article states that Miss Kidman, Mr Jackman and Mr Blair are godparents. It claims that Mr Blair attended the Jordanian ceremony “garbed in white” and describes him as one of Mrs Murdoch’s “closest friends”. They have a mutual friend in Queen Rania of Jordan, who hosted the baptism. Both women were recently on the judging panel for a film prize organised by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
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Tamera Medley begged the police officer to stop slamming her head - over and over - into the hood of a police cruiser. Thinking they were helping, passers-by Shakir Riley and Melissa Hurling both turned their cellphone video cameras toward the melee that had erupted on Jefferson Street in Wynnefield, they said. But then the cops turned on them. Riley had started to walk away when at least five baton-wielding cops followed him, he said, and they beat him, poured a soda on his face and stomped on his phone, destroying the video he had just taken. Although it's legal to record Philadelphia police performing official duties in public, all three were charged with disorderly conduct and related offenses, and officers destroyed Hurling and Riley's cellphones, erasing any record of Medley's violent arrest. Echoes of the incident, which was corroborated by a half-dozen witnesses, have been reverberating nationwide in recent years as the combination of cellphone video and police officers has simmered into what is an increasingly explosive formula. The issue is gaining national attention. The American Civil Liberties Union has civil lawsuits pending in Washington, D.C., Florida, Illinois and Maryland. Last week, a federal appeals court in Boston ruled that police had violated the First Amendment rights of a lawyer who was arrested after filming cops arrest a teenager. Suits have been settled in Pennsylvania.
Note: For lots more from major media sources on growing threats to our civil liberties, click here.
At least 35,000 people worldwide have been convicted as terrorists in the decade since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. But while some bombed hotels or blew up buses, others were put behind bars for waving a political sign or blogging about a protest. In the first tally ever done of global anti-terror arrests and convictions, The Associated Press documented a surge in prosecutions under new or toughened anti-terror laws, often passed at the urging and with the funding of the West. Before 9/11, just a few hundred people were convicted of terrorism each year. The sheer volume of convictions, along with almost 120,000 arrests, shows ... that dozens of countries are using the fight against terrorism to curb political dissent. The AP used freedom of information queries, law enforcement data and hundreds of interviews to identify 119,044 anti-terror arrests and 35,117 convictions in 66 countries, accounting for 70 percent of the world's population. The actual numbers undoubtedly run higher because some countries refused to provide information. That included 2,934 arrests and 2,568 convictions in the United States, which led the war on terror — eight times more than in the decade before. More than half the convictions came from two countries accused of using anti-terror laws to crack down on dissent, Turkey and China. Turkey alone accounted for a third of all convictions, with 12,897.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the hidden realities behind the "Global War on Terror", click here.
For the past year the KHOU 11 News I-Team has been investigating the quality of the tap water in Texas. What they found was surprising: That many of the state's communities have a real problem with radioactive contamination in their local drinking water. However, the team also discovered that many of those consuming it didn't know they were also being exposed to a health risk. State scientists found some of Texas’ water could pose a 1 in 400 cancer risk. Neighborhoods across the state have been getting illegal amounts of a particularly damaging form of radiation, an exposure that some say was “covered-up” by Texas officials. Water with under-the-legal-limit amounts of radiation still might not be “safe”. Concentrated "bursts" of radiation could be released into your home ... from water pipes that become "a hidden risk" themselves.
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The CIA’s armed drones and paramilitary forces have killed dozens of al-Qaeda leaders and thousands of its foot soldiers. But there is another mysterious organization that has killed even more of America’s enemies in the decade since the 9/11 attacks. Troops from this other secret organization have imprisoned and interrogated 10 times as many [suspects as has the CIA], holding them in jails that it alone controls in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, this secretive group of men (and a few women) has grown tenfold while sustaining a level of obscurity that not even the CIA managed. “We’re the dark matter. We’re the force that orders the universe but can’t be seen,” a strapping Navy SEAL, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in describing his unit. The SEALs are just part of the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command, known by the acronym JSOC, which has grown from a rarely used hostage rescue team into America’s secret army, routinely [used] to mount intelligence-gathering missions and lethal raids, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in countries with which the United States was not at war, including Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, the Philippines, Nigeria and Syria. The president has also given JSOC the rare authority to select individuals for its kill list — and then to kill, rather than capture, them. JSOC has grown from 1,800 troops prior to 9/11 to as many as 25,000. It has its own intelligence division, its own drones and reconnaissance planes, even its own dedicated satellites.
Note: This article describing JSOC’s spectacular rise, much of which has not been publicly disclosed before, is adapted from a chapter of the newly released Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State, by Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and William M. Arkin. For lots more on the secret realities of the "Endless War" launched by the 9/11 false-flag operation, click here.
Monsanto Co.’s insect-killing corn is toppling over in northwestern Illinois fields, a sign that rootworms outside of Iowa may have developed resistance to the genetically modified crop. Michael Gray, an agricultural entomologist at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said he’s studying whether western corn rootworms collected last month in Henry and Whiteside counties are resistant to an insect-killing protein derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a natural insecticide engineered into Monsanto corn. The insects were collected in two fields where corn had toppled after roots were eaten by rootworms, Gray said today. Planting Bt corn year after year increases the odds that the bugs will develop resistance to the insecticide, he said. While the symptoms parallel bug resistance that’s been confirmed in Iowa, analysis of the Illinois insects won’t be complete until next year, he said. “Whatever is the cause, it is generating a lot of concern.”
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AT&T feted lawmakers at Washington restaurants offering $52 steaks and a $15 “Lobbyist's Libation” made of gin and cucumber puree as the company sought U.S. approval to buy T-Mobile USA. The parties, carrying $1,000 admission charges and aimed at replenishing congressional campaign coffers, were held as the largest U.S. phone company sought regulators' blessing for the $39 billion deal. On Aug. 31, the Justice Department sued to block the transaction, saying it would harm competition. The litigation marks a rare setback for AT&T, long a leading Washington power. The Dallas-based company boosted lobbying spending by 30 percent to $11.7 million in the first six months of 2011 compared with a year earlier, Senate records show. AT&T's political action committee gave $805,500 to federal candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington research group. “The one thing you can say about their losing is that it wasn't for a lack of lobbyists,” Bill Allison, editorial director of the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit that promotes government transparency, said in an interview. “They left no stone unturned.” AT&T's political action committee, which funnels employees' contributions to lawmakers' campaigns, was the most generous corporate PAC this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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.