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Former British prime minister Tony Blair ‘advised Murdoch executives over hacking’

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Former British prime minister Tony Blair advised a key executive in Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire days before she was arrested over phone hacking at the News of the World, a court heard on Wednesday.

Blair also offered to be an “unofficial” advisor to Murdoch and his son James at the height of the scandal which led to the closure of the tabloid in July 2011.

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An email written by Rebekah Brooks, then chief executive of Murdoch’s British newspaper group, News International, described an hour-long phone call with Blair in which he allegedly told her to “tough up”.

The email was shown to the jury at the end of almost four months of prosecution arguments in the phone-hacking trial, in which Brooks is expected to take the stand later this week.

The 45-year-old denies charges of conspiring to illegally access voicemails, bribing public officials and trying to hide evidence from police.

Brooks’ email was addressed to James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s son and then chairman of News International, and was dated July 11, 2011, the day after the scandal-hit News of the World published its final edition.

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Writing in note form, Brooks described how Blair allegedly told her: “Keep strong and definitely sleeping pills. Need to have clear heads and remember no rash short-term solutions as they only give you long-term headaches.”

He also reassured her that “it will pass. Tough up”.

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On July 15, Brooks resigned and on July 17, she was arrested for the first time on suspicion of phone hacking.

Brooks wrote that Blair said he was “available to you (James Murdoch), KRM (Rupert Murdoch) and me as an unofficial adviser but needs to be between us. He is sending more notes later”.

The email also says Blair recommended that Brooks set up an independent inquiry to investigate senior News of the World managers.

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Brooks wrote that Blair told her to “publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept shortcomings and new solutions and process and part two when any trials are over”

– Brooks prepares to testify –

Brooks is expected to give evidence on Thursday when lawyers for the seven defendants begin making their case. They were due to begin on Wednesday but were delayed by legal arguments.

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Brooks denies conspiring to hack phones while she edited the News of the World between 2000 and 2003, specifically conspiring to illegally access the voicemails of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered.

The allegation in 2011 that Dowler was targeted proved the final straw in a slow drip of revelations about phone hacking at the News of the World, prompting Murdoch to summarily shut down the 168-year-old Sunday tabloid.

Brooks, once one of the most powerful women in British media and so close to Murdoch that commentators dubbed her his “fifth daughter”, is among three defendants facing charges of phone hacking.

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The others include Andy Coulson, her former lover and deputy at the News of the World, who replaced her as editor in 2003, and former managing editor Stuart Kuttner. They all deny the charges.

Prime Minister David Cameron will be watching closely when Brooks and Coulson take the stand, given his once close ties to both journalists — and the huge potential embarrassment.

Cameron frequently socialised with Brooks and her husband and hired Coulson as his communications chief after he left the News of the World in 2007.

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In related charges, Brooks is accused of hiding evidence from the police, allegedly aided by her husband, former PA Cheryl Carter and head of security Mark Hanna.

She faces a further charge of conspiring to pay a defence ministry official for stories.

Coulson is also accused of bribery along with Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s former royal editor who was jailed for hacking in 2007. They both deny the charges.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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2020 Election

Democrats could flip the Texas state house in 2020 — and reshape the national map

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Blue Texas? Democrats have long dreamt of winning Texas’s 38 electoral votes in the presidential election. That may still be a long shot, but a recent “Texodus” from Congress has given new talk to a political transformation across the Lone Star State that could have massive ramifications down the ballot and for decades to come.

This article was originally posted at Salon.

Four of the state’s GOP members of Congress have announced their retirements in recent weeks, an unusual torrent of departures signaling that a storm is coming. And evidence shows that it’s not just hitting Texas’s federal delegation. It’s coming to Austin, too.

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‘There’s an awful lot of really good Republicans out there’: Joe Biden at Cape Cod fundraiser

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Former Vice President Joe Biden defended Republican lawmakers in DC as "decent people" during a campaign fundraiser held at Cape Cod.

"There’s an awful lot of really good Republicans out there," Biden argued, according to Washington Post reporter Matt Viser.

"I get in trouble for saying that with Democrats, but...every time we ever got in trouble with our administration, remember who got sent up to Capitol Hill to fix it? Me," he said.

”Because they know I respect the other team. I do. They’re decent people," Biden claimed. "They ran because they care about things, but they’re intimidated right now.”

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Neo-Nazi ‘Atomwaffen Division’ holding live-fire militia trainings at ‘The Base’ near Spokane: report

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One sign of the growing white nationalist crisis in America is a new outreach effort for paramilitary training.

"A neo-Nazi group focused on providing paramilitary-style training to far-right extremists has been conducting a massive recruitment drive and claims to have already conducted live-fire training with its members," Vice News reports.

"The Base, which is connected to extreme-right groups the Atomwaffen Division and the Feuerkrieg Division, has been promoting its growth on social media with photos announcing its presence in major cities across North America, including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and in Europe, South Africa, and Australia," Vice reported. "The images often include a small contingent (typically one to three) of masked, camo-clad men holding weapons standing in front of The Base's flag, a black flag with three white lines running down the centre."

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