Report: News of the World hired investigators to spy on the lawyers of its hacking victims

November 7, 2011

“The News of the World hired a specialist private investigator to run covert surveillance on two of the lawyers representing phone-hacking victims as part of an operation to put pressure on them to stop their work.
The investigator secretly videoed Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris as well as family members and associates. Evidence suggests it was part of an attempt to gather evidence for false smears about their private lives.
The News of the World also took specialist advice in an attempt to injunct Lewis to prevent him representing the victims of hacking and attempted to persuade one of his former clients to sue him.
The surveillance of Lewis and Harris occurred during the past 18 months, when Rupert Murdoch’s son James was executive chairman of the paper’s parent company, News International. He is due to give a second round of evidence to a House of Commons select committee on Thursday, and is likely to face intense questioning about the quality of his leadership.
Neither lawyer would comment but friends say they are furious at what they see as an attempt at “blackmail” and are considering suing the News of the World for breach of privacy. They have previously had to reassure clients that their private lives would not be exposed if they dared to sue the paper.
A News International spokesperson said : “News International’s enquiries have led the company to believe that Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris were subject to surveillance. While surveillance is not illegal, it was clearly deeply inappropriate in these circumstances. This action was not condoned by any current executive at the company.”

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North Texas medical researchers working to create the “ultimate flu shot”

November 7, 2011

“North Texas researchers are on the brink of revolutionizing the way we fight the flu.

Every year, scientists try to guess which strain of the flu will cause the most people to get sick. They use that particular flu bug to make a flu vaccine. But what if you could get one shot that would tackle every single type of flu?

Dena Rushing from Little Elm has not had the flu in years. “Overall, we’re a very healthy family, and very active,” she said. But it is not because she gets the flu shot. She used to get it, but said that she would always get sick. “I can’t remember a year I didn’t, and then I stopped taking it and I stopped getting the flu.”

Rushing believes that the inactive virus – which makes up the shot – is what is responsible for making her sick. Most doctors say that is not the case. But for her, experience speaks volumes. “We haven’t got it and we haven’t got the flu,” Rushing said.

Now, researchers in North Texas say that this fear could soon become a thing of the past.

“We are in the front line of discovery,” said Dr. Beatrice Fontoura. She and her team at UT Southwestern have discovered a compound that works to fight multiple strains of the flu, including the deadly Spanish Flu that killed millions of people around the world in 1918.

“What we are doing is something different,” said Fontoura, explaining her research. “We are actually stimulating our own response which is already there – boost it – to fight an infection.”

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#DrudgeDisparity – Drugde Report vagueness allows site to bundle unrelated headlines about economics and national defense

November 7, 2011

Another example of the Drudge Report’s lack of clarity meant to incite emotion in the reader and decrease factual awareness.

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McDonald’s CEO: Cut taxes and government spending to kick-start economic recovery

November 6, 2011

“America must cut taxes and reduce government spending in order to kick-start an economic recovery, Jim Skinner, the chief executive of McDonald’s, has warned. “We pay some of the highest [corporate] taxes around the world. There needs to be some levelling.”

Asked about federal borrowing, he said: “It’s not a good story… the government has to spend less. We have to grow the economy, grow GDP… and you have to be able to do it in an organic way and not through borrowings and increasing debt.”

McDonald’s army of blue-collar customers need more clarity on core issues, such as healthcare, he said. “Until all of that is all defined and certain… we’re going to continue to have a fragile environment for consumer confidence.”

Skinner’s intervention will be seized upon by President Obama’s opponents amid a fierce debate in Washington over the country’s deteriorating finances and high unemployment. As Democrats and Republicans fire up their 2012 election campaigns, the focus is on the “9pc nightmare”, with both the US budget deficit and jobless total at that level.”

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U.S. Census Bureau: Highest level of extreme poverty since agency began measuring poverty in 1964

November 6, 2011

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty than they have ever measured before. In 2010, we were told that the economy was recovering, but the truth is that the number of the “very poor” soared to heights never seen previously. Back in 1993 and back in 2009, the rate of extreme poverty was just over 6 percent, and that represented the worst numbers on record. But in 2010, the rate of extreme poverty hit a whopping 6.7 percent. That means that one out of every 15 Americans is now considered to be “very poor”. For many people, this is all very confusing because their guts are telling them that things are getting worse and yet the mainstream media keeps telling them that everything is just fine. Hopefully this article will help people realize that the plight of the poorest of the poor continues to deteriorate all across the United States. In addition, hopefully this article will inspire many of you to lend a hand to those that are truly in need.”

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During Obama’s tenure, big banks have become bigger and Wall Street has profited more under Obama than it did under the entire Bush administration

November 6, 2011

“President Obama calls people who work on Wall Street “fat cat bankers” and his reelection campaign will try to harness public frustration with Wall Street. Financial executives, for their part, say the president’s pursuit of new financial regulations are punitive and “holding us back.”

But both sides face an inconvenient fact. During Obama’s tenure, Wall Street has roared back even as the larger economy has struggled.

The largest banks are larger today than when Obama took office and are returning to the level of profits they were making before the depths of the financial crisis in 2008, according to government data.

Wall Street firms — either independent companies or the high-flying trading arms of banks — are doing even better. They’ve made more profit in the first 21 / 2 years of the Obama administration than they did during the entire Bush administration, industry data show.

Behind this turnaround are government policies that saved the financial sector from collapse and then gave banks and other financial firms huge advantages on the path to recovery. For example, the federal government invested hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars in banks, money that the firms used for risky investments on which they made huge profits.”

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5.6 Magnitude Earthquake rocks Oklahoma with 14 aftershock tremors

November 6, 2011

“The weekend’s earthquake swarm continues with 14 aftershocks recorded Sunday morning in Oklahoma. The latest aftershock was magnitude of 3.3 recorded at 12:26 p.m. located 10 miles northeast of Shawnee.

These following the strongest quake in the state’s history – one with a magnitude of 5.6 -which rocked the stands at the Oklahoma State University game at 10:53 Saturday night.

It could be felt throughout the state and in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, northern Texas and some parts of Illinois and Wisconsin, said geophysicist Jessica Turner at the U.S. Geological Survey.

There were no reports in the hours after the quakes of any severe injuries or severe damage.”

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MF Global finds “missing $658 million” in a JP Morgan Chase custodial account

November 6, 2011

“In a matter of days MF Global was shopping itself, filed for bankruptcy, couldn’t place $600 million worth of client money, spurred investigations of insider trading and announced the resignation of its CEO, Jon Corzine. Quite a week for the commodities and derivatives brokerage firm. All of that went down after the firm revealed it had $6.3 billion of bets on Eurozone sovereign debt and reported a quarterly loss of $191.6 million last week.
Now it seems that $600 or so million has been found. Bloomberg reports that the firm has located $658.8 million of customer money that was deemed missing. It was sitting in a custodial account at JP Morgan Chase, Bloomberg reports. The account actually held over $ 2 billion at the end of October and included both the firm’s and customers’ money.”

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Twenty-Nine Banks worldwide to hold more capital for stability

November 6, 2011

“Twenty-nine banks, including JP Morgan, Citigroup, Bank of China, will need to hold more capital and put in place a plan allowing their winding up without taxpayer help, if needed.

The Financial Stability Board named these banks’ following a decision in this regard at the G20 summit at Cannes.

The G20 endorsed a core capital requirement surcharge starting at 1% of risk-weighted assets and rising to 2.5% for the biggest banks – which would be phased in over three years from 2016. The aim is to ensure taxpayers are never again called to foot the bill in a major banking crisis.

FSB, the international industry watchdog, also said the 29 banks need to meet resolution planning requirements, dubbed ‘living wills’, by the end of next year. National authorities can extend this requirement to other banks at their discretion.”

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‘Huge’ asteroid expected to pass by the Earth a mere 201,000 miles away at 6:28 pm Eastern Time on Tuesday

November 6, 2011

A huge asteroid will pass closer to Earth than the moon Tuesday, giving scientists a rare chance for study without having to go through the time and expense of launching a probe, officials said.

Earth’s close encounter with Asteroid 2005 YU 55 will occur at 6:28 p.m. EST (2328 GMT) Tuesday, as the space rock sails about 201,000 miles from the planet.

“It is the first time since 1976 that an object of this size has passed this closely to the Earth. It gives us a great — and rare — chance to study a near-Earth object like this,” astronomer Scott Fisher, a program director with the National Science Foundation, said Thursday during a Web chat with reporters.

“The best time to observe it would be in the early evening on November 8 from the East Coast of the United States,” Yeomans said. “It is going to be very faint, even at its closest approach. You will need a decent-sized telescope to be able to actually see the object as it flies by.”

“These sorts of events have been happening for most of the lifetime of the Earth, about 4.5 billion years,” Fisher said.

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REST IN PEACE: Former 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney dead at age 92

November 5, 2011

“Andy Rooney, the “60 Minutes” commentator known to generations for his wry, humorous and contentious television essays – a unique genre he is credited with inventing – died Friday night in a hospital in New York City of complications following minor surgery. He was 92.”

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CBS 60 Minutes Reporter Steve Kroft stuns Speaker Boehner, former Speaker Pelosi with questions on their personal investments

November 4, 2011

Q: Madam Leader, I wanted to ask you why you and your husband back in March of 2008 accepted and participated in a very large IPO deal from Visa at a time there was major legislation affecting the credit card companies making its way through the House. Did you consider that to be a conflict of interest?

Leader Pelosi. I don’t know what your point is of your question. Is there some point that you want to make with that?

Q: Well, I guess what I am asking is do you think it is all right for a Speaker to accept a very preferential, favorable stock deal?

Leader Pelosi. Well, we didn’t.

Q: At a time when there is major legislation affecting that company in the House?

Leader Pelosi. Well, first of all let me say this. What we are talking about is an industry. What we are talking about is a Congress that passed more protections for credit card holders. The [Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights] bill, you know Carolyn Maloney has been our champion on, to the point where the industry spent $3 million to try to defeat her last time.

So the issue that you are talking about, first of all, what you are contending is not true. But second of all, we are very proud of our record of what happened.

Now, what Congressman or Senator Durbin was able to do in the Senate is quite remarkable, and when he was able to achieve that, then it was on this same issue, it was included by our Chairman Barney Frank in the bill.

Q: Mr. Boehner, do you believe that members of Congress, particularly members of the leadership should be allowed to trade in stocks at a time when the companies they’re trading have major interests before the body?

Boehner: I think there are plenty of rules of the House and certainly rules from the SEC that members should follow and I believe do follow.

Q: You made a number of trades going back to the health care debate; you bought some insurance stock right before you declared the public option dead. Did you make those trades based on non-public information?

Boehner: I have not made any decisions on day-to-day trading activities in my account and haven’t for years – I do not do it, haven’t done it and would not do it.

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Google makes big changes to its search algorithm trying to make results more timely

November 4, 2011

“The new algorithm is a recognition that Google, whose dominance depends on providing the most useful results, is being increasingly challenged by services like Twitter and Facebook, which have trained people to expect constant updates with seconds-old news.

It is also a reflection of how people use the Web as a real-time news feed — that if, for example, you search for a baseball score, you probably want to find the score of a game being played at the moment, not last week, which is what Google often gave you.

“This is the result of them saying we need to find a way to more effectively get fresh content up,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land and an industry expert. “It does help with the issue of people thinking, ‘Wow, if I need to find out about something breaking, I’ll go to Facebook or Twitter for that.’ ””

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Unable to afford lighting, officials from Highland Park, Michigan save the city $4 million a month by turning off and, in some cases, removing street lights

November 4, 2011

“In late August, contractors from DTE Energy Co. began rolling through the streets, taking out two-thirds of the light poles.

“It is a winning proposition, but that doesn’t make it a winner with the citizens who find themselves in the dark,” Woodard added. “We had to watch our backs when we got out of our cars before. Now we have to watch them even more closely.”

Unless the government gets an unexpected infusion of cash or sees an uptick in its dying tax base, many parts of Highland Park will remain beneath a shroud every night.

The city’s monthly electric bill has been cut by 80 percent. The amount owed DTE Energy goes back about a decade, but utility executives hesitated to turn off the juice.”"

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Detroit city bus services shut down as bus drivers, fearing for their safety, refuse to show up for work

November 4, 2011

“WWJ Newsradio 950?s Scott Ryan spoke with Henry Gaffney, spokesman for the D-DOT bus drivers union AFL-CIO Local 26, who said this was not an organized maneuver by the union.

Gaffney said it’s a matter of bus drivers fearing for their safety, citing an incident that happened Thursday afternoon.

“Our drivers are scared, they’re scared for their lives. This has been an ongoing situation about security. I think yesterday kind of just topped it off, when one of my drivers was beat up by some teenagers down in the middle of Rosa Parks and it took the police almost 30 minutes to get there, in downtown Detroit,” said Gaffney.

Speaking live on WWJ, Mayor Dave Bing spokesman Stephen Serkaian said they are working hard to resolve the matter and get drivers back on the road.”

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