The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has created a competition to redesign toilets with hopes of aiding countries without modern sanitation; NBC is cashing in on the American public’s addiction to war and reality TV by combining both in a new show; and, although the effects of the radiation spill during the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown haven’t shown up in humans, they’ve started to appear in mutant butterflies. These discoveries and more below.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that have found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

The links below open in a new window. Newer ones are on top.

New toilet technology after 150 years of waste These aren’t your typical loos.

Poland peels back layers on secret CIA prison for suspected terrorists On an idyllic lake surrounded by woods and a double row of mesh-and-razor-wire fences about 100 miles north of Warsaw, there stands a secluded villa that the CIA once used to interrogate – and allegedly torture – top al Qaida suspects.

Israel media talk of imminent Iran war push Israel’s prime minister and defence minister would like to attack Iran’s nuclear sites before the U.S. election in November but lack crucial support within their cabinet and military, an Israeli newspaper said.

South Africans Advised to Avoid Israel Because of the treatment and policies of Israel towards the Palestinian people, we strongly discourage South Africans from going there,” South Africa’s deputy minister of international relations and co-operation has told the Mail & Guardian.

Don’t Bogart That Scientific Evidence For the second time in recent months, a scientific paper published in a peer-reviewed journal has thoroughly rebutted the present Schedule I status of cannabis under US federal law, which states that the plant and its organic constituents possess a “high potential for abuse,” and that they lack “accepted medical use” and “accepted safety … under medical supervision.”

Is collecting art the new gold? As the world economy began to tank about five years ago, a curious thing happened at the top level of the international art market: It started to boom.

Wondering How Far Magazines Must Fall Making a weekly newsmagazine has always been a tough racket.

NBC’s war for fun and profit A new reality show of soldiers and celebrities playing war games showcases our national religion: military worship.

Mutant Butterflies Are Flitting Around Fukushima Of all the horrors of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, the radiation released from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was not the worst.

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig