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A court case against a translator who leaked US government secrets was conducted in secret because it centred on the revelation that the FBI had eavesdropped on Israeli embassy phone calls, it was revealed yesterday. The extraordinary limitations in place for the prosecution of Shamai Leibowitz, who was sentenced to 20 months in prison for disseminating classified information, meant that even the judge sentencing him did not know what he was supposed to have leaked. "All I know is that it's a serious case," Judge Alexander Williams said last year. "I don't know what was divulged other than some documents, and how it compromised things, I have no idea." But now Richard Silverstein, the blogger to whom Leibowitz passed his information, has come forward to defend his source. Leibowitz passed him about 200 pages of verbatim records of phone calls and conversations between embassy officials, saying that he believed the documents revealed Israeli officials trying unlawfully to influence US policy and edging towards military action against Iran. There has been dismay among civil liberties and open government advocates who point to pledges made by Mr Obama before his election to seek new transparency in Washington. Instead, his administration has launched a record number of prosecutions under the Espionage Act – five including the Leibowitz case. Previously, there had been only four such prosecutions opened by all previous administrations.
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If you think that on the 10th anniversary you know the whole story of 9/11 - and here I'm addressing conspiracy-minded "truthers" and the 13 percent who approved of the job Dick Cheney did as vice president - actually, you don't. The dictum of famed investigative reporter I.F. Stone about all governments - i.e., they lie - is no less true about 9/11 than any other event. Here are [some] questions about 9/11 that remain unanswered. Who killed five Americans with anthrax in fall 2001? Forensics showed that the biological weapon came from American stockpiles. In 2008, the government announced that its ... prime suspect - a scientist at Maryland's Fort Detrick named Bruce Ivins - had committed suicide and that the case was considered closed. But is it? Remarkably, a disputed U.S. Justice Department filing just this July claimed that Ivins didn't have access to the equipment needed to execute the attacks, causing some members of Congress to call for a new probe. Why did so many Bush officials fixate on Iraq in the hours after the attacks? Despite a lack of any evidence tying Saddam's Iraq to 9/11, Bush administration officials looked immediately toward Baghdad. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld questioned whether to "hit S.H." - Saddam - "at the same time" while the Pentagon was still on fire, and Bush immediately pressed Clarke on whether there was an Iraqi connection.
Cruising in their custom wheelchairs, Chili and Arlo are the center of attention wherever they go. But for patients at the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas, these two canine caregivers are also an inspiration. “Many of the patients are new to wheelchairs,” Linda Marler, the program’s director [said]. “When they see Chili and Arlo, they say, ‘If those dogs can do it, so can I.’ ” Chili and Arlo are the only dogs with disabilities among the 90 specially trained therapy dogs that participate in Baylor’s Animal Assisted Therapy program. The canine volunteers make weekly visits to lift the spirits of patients who have suffered traumatic injuries or a stroke. “We use the dogs to create more of a home atmosphere and also to get a response,” Marler said. She’s found that animals will often elicit a reaction when every other method has failed. “For head injury patients, a dog has been the first thing they respond to when emerging from a coma,” Marler said. “For others, being with a dog is what motivates them to speak or throw a ball.” Or use a wheelchair. Marler says some of the patients who had been reluctant to use one are willing to give it a shot after spending time with Arlo and Chili.
It was early afternoon on Friday, Aug. 17, 2001. Special Agent Harry Samit of the FBI’s Minneapolis field office [sat] across from ... Zacarias Moussaoui, a 33-year-old French-born student arrested the day before for overstaying his visa. Samit, a former intelligence officer at the Navy’s celebrated Top Gun flight school, felt sure the man across the desk from him was a Muslim extremist who was part of a plot to hijack a commercial jetliner filled with passengers. That same day [at] FBI headquarters ... in Washington, counterterrorism supervisors were treating Samit’s first reports about Moussaoui with skepticism, even contempt. New disclosures about Samit’s story suggest that FBI agents in Minneapolis were much closer to unraveling the 9/11 plot than previously known. The officials directly involved in the case were denied access to a key internal memo —- prepared for outgoing FBI Director Louis Freeh —- that could have allowed the Minneapolis field office to connect the dots and possibly preempt the attacks. Their efforts were thwarted by a group of arrogant, slow-moving supervisors at FBI headquarters. There is no clear reference to the Freeh memo in the 9/11 commission’s report.
Step aside, Saudi Arabia and Alaska. A major oil boom is under way in the U.S. lower 48 states and Canada. Oil rigs are sprouting across American corn fields and backyards, bringing a surge in greenhouse gas emissions and new public worries about local environmental effects. Oil companies and their supporters are grandly predicting a new age of North American petroleum, and it's no lie. U.S. reserves of oil that is ultra-heavy ... add up to more than 2 trillion barrels, with 2.4 trillion more in Canada - far greater than the conventional Middle Eastern and North African reserves of 1.2 trillion barrels. For decades, these supplies of ultra-heavy oil were viewed as exorbitantly expensive to extract. But in the past few years, a revolution in oil-field technology has made a significant portion of these reserves accessible at competitive costs. [In] 2005 the country's net petroleum imports peaked at 60.3 percent of total consumption. Net imports [shrank] to 49.3 percent by 2010. The number of rigs drilling for oil in the [US] is eight times greater than a decade ago. Already, the price gap between the international oil benchmark ... and the U.S. standard ... has grown in the past year alone to about $20 per barrel. Peak oil ... may be in the offing internationally but is nowhere to be seen in North America. Beckoning are two visions of our future. On one side is a surge of dirty oil that is likely to embolden a new crop of business-as-usual politicians. On the other is the emerging gamut of technologies for energy efficiency and renewable power that have already made California a clean-tech leader. Can America go beyond oil, or will it embrace the old status quo?
Note: Though it may be encouraging that peak oil is not an imminent threat, let us hope that clean energy technologies replace oil-based energy generation before too long.
This is the American era of endless war. America’s embrace of endless war [has unfolded] in the 10 years since Sept. 11, 2001. In previous decades, the military and the American public viewed war as an aberration and peace as the norm. Most soldiers and Marines in today’s military have seen their entire careers consumed by combat. During last year’s 9/11 anniversary, Lt. Col. Christopher M. Coglianese accompanied his second-grade daughter on her school’s annual Freedom Walk outside Fort Hood, Tex. “Basically the whole student body walks around the grounds of the school wearing patriotic garb and carrying signs about freedom,” Coglianese recalled in an e-mail from Iraq, where he is on his third tour. “To be honest there was a certain surrealism about it,” Coglianese wrote. “For this very small slice of American children this way of life is completely normal.” The long stretch of war has also isolated the U.S. military from society. Top military officials fret that the troops are developing a troubling sense that they are better than the society they serve. “Today’s Army, including its leadership, lives in a bubble separate from society,” wrote retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan, in an essay for the Web site of Foreign Policy magazine. “This splendid military isolation — set in the midst of a largely adoring nation — risks fostering a closed culture of superiority and aloofness. This must change if the Army is to remain in, of, and with the ever-diverse peoples of the United States.”
Note: For lots more on all facets of America's endless war, click here.
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.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the realities of intelligence agency operations, 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.