Censored: The Top Under-Reported News from the Past Year Print
News/Features - Media
Written by Project Censored   
Thursday, 11 October 2012 05:22

Read about additional censored stories in Kathleen McCarthy’s editorial here.

Each year, Project Censored compiles a list of important news stories that go unreported, under-reported, or misreported by mainstream news outlets. These top-25 “censored” stories from the past year follow, and collectively they paint a much different picture of the world from what you’ll find in daily newspapers and news broadcasts.

As Andy Lee Roth and Mickey Huff write in their introduction to the forthcoming Censored 2013: Dispatches From the Media Revolution – The Top 25 Censored Stories & Media Analysis of 2011-12, Project Censored “holds to account the corporate media who, all too often it seems, would rather be let alone than bothered when it comes to real, important news; and it celebrates the efforts of independent journalists who in 2011-2012 brought forward crucial news stories to stir us from complacency.”

Censored 2013: Dispatches From the Media Revolution will be released October 30. In addition to the stories below, it includes expanded discussions of them in the context of five thematic “clusters”; a section exploring “narratives of power”; and international “censored” stories.

For more information on the book and Project Censored, visit ProjectCensored.org.

(1) Signs of an Emerging Police State

Since the passage of the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act, the United States has become increasingly monitored and militarized at the expense of civil liberties. The 2012 passage of the National Defense Authorization Act has allowed the military to detain indefinitely without trial any U.S. citizen that the government labels a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism, while President Barack Obama’s signing of the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order has authorized widespread federal and military control of the national economy and resources during “emergency and non-emergency conditions.” Since 2010, the Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign has encouraged the public to report all suspicious activity to local authorities, even though actions that the DHS identifies as “suspicious” include the constitutionally protected right to criticize the government or engage in nonviolent protest. (Sources: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/03/fbi-memo-bend-suspend-law; http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter; http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_im_suing_barack_obama_20120116; http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order-national-defense-resources-preparedness; http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/12/31/statement-president-hr-1540)

(2) Oceans in Peril

We thought the sea was infinite and inexhaustible. It is not. The overall rise in ocean temperature has led to the largest movement of marine species in two million to three million years, according to scientists from the Climate Change & European Marine Ecosystems Research project. A February 2012 study of 14 protected and 18 unprotected ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea demonstrated that this previously healthy sea is now quickly being depleted of resources. An international team of scientists conducted the study over a period of three years and found that in well-enforced marine-reserve areas the fish populations were five to 10 times greater than the fish populations in unprotected areas. The work of these scientists encourages the establishment and maintenance of marine reserves. (Sources: http://www.onearth.org/article/the-end-of-a-myth; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8598597/Warming-oceans-cause-largest-movement-of-marine-species-in-two-million-years.html; http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/44102; http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0032742)

(3) Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Worse than Anticipated

Developing evidence from a number of independent sources suggests that the negative consequences of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are far greater than first acknowledged or understood. An estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout in Japan, according to a December 2011 report published in the International Journal of Health Services. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency’s radiation-detection network has serious drawbacks, including a lack of maintenance and equipment that is often improperly calibrated. (Sources: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/medical-journal-article--14000-us-deaths-tied-to-fukushima-reactor-disaster-fallout-135859288.html; http://straight.com/article-491941/vancouver/what-are-officials-hiding-about-fukushima?page=0%2C1; http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/21-0; http://pstuph.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/radnet-or-sadnet-the-epas-failed-radiation-detection-system; http://enformable.com/2011/11/march-23rd-2011-the-epa-took-radnet-down-because-they-were-getting-data-from-more-reliable-sources; http://fukushimaupdate.com/us-radiation-monitoring-may-have-been-handed-off-to-nuclear-industry-lobbyists; http://www.collapsenet.com/free-resources/collapsenet-public-access/item/723-fallout; http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2011/05/19/confirmed-epa-rigged-radnet-japan-nuclear-radiation-monitoring-equipment-report-levels-nuclear-fallout-22823)

(4) FBI Agents Responsible for Majority of Terrorist Plots in the United States

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has embarked on an unusual approach to ensure that the United States is secure from future terrorist attacks. The agency has developed a network of nearly 15,000 spies to infiltrate various communities in an attempt to uncover terrorist plots. However, these moles are actually assisting and encouraging people to commit crimes. Many informants receive cash rewards of up to $100,000 per case. (Sources: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/fbi-terrorist-informants; http://rt.com/usa/news/fbi-terror-report-plot-365-899/print)

(5) First Federal Reserve Audit Reveals Trillions Loaned to Major Banks

An audit of the First Federal Reserve reveals $16 trillion in secret bailouts to major American and European banks during the height of the global financial crisis, from 2007 to 2010. Morgan Stanley received up to $107.3 billion, Citigroup took $99.5 billion, and Bank of America $91.4 billion, according to data from Freedom of Information Act requests, months of litigation, and an act of Congress. (Source: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/08/28-3)

(6) Small Network of Corporations Runs the Global Economy

A University of Zurich study reported that a small group of companies – mainly banks – wields huge power over the global economy. The study is the first to look at all 43,060 transnational corporations and the web of ownership among them. The researchers’ network analysis identified 147 companies that form a “super entity,” controlling 40 percent of the global economy’s total wealth. The close connections mean that the network could be prone to “systemic risk” and vulnerable to collapse. (Sources: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2051008/Does-super-corporation-run-global-economy.html; http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0025995)

(7) 2012: The International Year of Cooperatives

The United Nations named 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. According to the UN, nearly one billion people worldwide are co-op member-owners, and the co-op is expected to be the world’s fastest-growing business model by 2025. Worker-owned cooperatives provide for equitable distribution of wealth and genuine connection to the workplace, two key components of a sustainable economy. (Sources: http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/2012-the-year-of-the-cooperative; http://www.rebuildthedream.com/blog/2012/03/09/american-dream-2-0-can-worker-owned-coops-end-poverty)

(8) NATO War Crimes in Libya

Although the rationale of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for entry into Libyan conflict invoked humanitarian principles, the results have proven far from humane. In July 2011, NATO aircraft bombed Libya’s main water-supply facility, which provided water to approximately 70 percent of the nation’s population. And, in a failed attempt to appear unbiased and objective, the BBC has revealed – almost a year after the information was relayed by independent media – that British Special Forces played a key role in steering and supervising Libya’s “freedom fighters” to victory. (Sources: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=27092; http://dailycensored.com/2011/11/02/smoking-guns-war-crimes-in-libya; http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25861; http://english.pravda.ru/news/world/23-07-2011/118577-nato_war_crimes-0; http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/08/08/where-have-libyas-children-gone; http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23957; http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/mar2011/pers-m28.shtml; http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29001)

(9) Prison Slavery in Today’s USA

The U.S. comprises less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet U.S. prisons hold more than 25 percent of all people imprisoned globally. Many of these prisoners labor at 23 cents per hour, or similar wages, in federal prisons contracted by the Bureau of Prisons’ UNICOR, a quasi-public, for-profit corporation that is the U.S. government’s 39th-largest contractor. As incarceration rates explode in the U.S., thousands are placed in solitary confinement, often for having committed minor disciplinary infractions within prison. (Sources: http://www.workers.org/2011/us/pentagon_0609; http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/03/201137125936219469.html)

(10) HR 347 Would Make Many Forms of Nonviolent Protest Illegal

In March 2012, President Obama signed into law HR 347, the Federal Restricted Buildings & Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. The law specifies as criminal offenses the acts of entering or remaining in areas defined as “restricted.” Although pundits have debated to what extent the new law restricts First Amendment rights or criminalizes Occupy protests, it does make it easier for the Secret Service to over-use or misuse existing laws to arrest lawful protesters by lowering the requirement of intent in the prosecution of criminal activity. (Sources: http://dailycensored.com/2012/03/05/many-forms-of-occupy-protests-subjected-to-new-bill-making-protests-illegal; http://mediaroots.org/enacting-the-ndaa-limiting-protesters-rights; http://reason.com/blog/2012/03/01/bill-passes-house-protests-near-secret-s)

(11) Members of Congress Grow Wealthier Despite Recession

The net worth of the members of Congress continues to rise regardless of the economic recession. An analysis of financial-disclosure forms by Roll Call magazine, using the minimum valuation of assets, showed that members of the House and Senate in 2010 had a collective net worth of $2.04 billion, a $390-million increase from the $1.65 billion held in 2008. Disclosure forms do not include non-income-producing assets. (Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/congress-net-wealth-incomegap_n_1069377.html)

(12) U.S. Joins Forces with al-Qaeda in Syria

The U.S., Britain, France, and some conservative Arab allies have funded and armed the Syrian rebellion from its start in 2011. In fact, the U.S. has been funding groups against Bashar al-Assad since the mid-1990s. However, the anti-Assad ranks include members of al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other groups that the United States lists as terrorist organizations. (Sources: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29524; http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30908.htm; http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29395)

(13) Education “Reform” a Trojan Horse for Privatization

Public education is the target of a well-coordinated, well-funded campaign to privatize as many schools as possible, particularly in cities. This campaign claims it wants great teachers in every classroom, but its rhetoric demoralizes teachers, reduces the status of the education profession, and champions standardized tests that perpetuate social inequality. The driving logic for such reform is profits. (Sources: http://www.randomlengthsnews.com/images/IssuePDFs/2012-feb/rl_02-09-12.pdf; http://www.dailycensored.com/2011/08/08/poverty-and-testing-in-education-the-present-scientifico-legal-complex)

(14) Who Are the Top 1 Percent and How Do They Earn a Living?

The richest 1 percent of the country now owns more than 40 percent of the wealth and takes home nearly a quarter of national income. Evidence based on tax returns indicates that this super-elite 1 percent consists of non-financial executives, financial professionals, and members of the legal, real estate, and medical professions. Earnings at this level correlate with deregulation and the other legal changes that brought on the financial crisis. While the 99 percent deal with the direct consequences of that crisis, the 1 percent increasingly have left behind deteriorating neighborhoods in favor of wealthy enclaves, further isolating themselves, according to a 2011 Stanford University study. (Source: http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/who-are-the-1-and-what-do-they-do-for-a-living)

(15) Dangers of Everyday Technology

Recent research raises compelling concerns about two commonplace technologies, cellular phones and microwave ovens. Heavy, long-term exposure to cell-phone radiation increases risks for certain types of cancer, including leukemia, and in males impairs sperm production. Prenatal exposure to cell-phone radiation has been shown to produce blood-brain barrier leakage, and brain, liver, and eye damage. The microwave radiation that heats food also creates free radicals that can become carcinogenic, while the consumption of microwaved foods is associated with short-term decreases in white blood cells. The Food & Drug Administration has yet to recognize studies that indicate microwave ovens alter foods’ nutritional structure, and, as with the dangers of cell-phone use, most studies indicating minimal or no health risks are, in fact, industry-sponsored. (Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/devra-davis-phd/cell-phone-radiation-_b_828330.html; http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120315/srep00312/full/srep00312.html; http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/blog/?p=13736; http://news.menshealth.com/breaking-cell-phones-could-hurt-your-sperm/2011/08/16; http://news.menshealth.com/cell-phone-safeguards/2011/08/04; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/devra-davis-phd/cell-phones-cancer_b_874361.html; http://www.naturalnews.com/031929_microwaved_water_plants.html; http://www.naturalnews.com/023011_microwave_food_oven.html; http://www.health-science.com/microwave_hazards.html)

(16) Sexual Violence against Women Soldiers on the Rise and Under Wraps

The 2005 death of U.S. Army Private LaVena Johnson, officially ruled a suicide by the Department of Defense, in fact exemplifies the sexual violence that female soldiers encounter while serving their country. Johnson’s autopsy revealed wounds inconsistent with suicide, including chemical burns that many believe were intended to destroy DNA evidence of rape. The Pentagon has tried to intimidate reporters and editors working on stories about Johnson. Johnson’s case is among at least 20 in which female soldiers have died under suspicious circumstances. The mysterious deaths coincide with an increase in sexual violence against women in the military. According to the Department of Defense, in 2010 there were 3,158 total reports of sexual assault in the military. The DOD estimates that this number represents only 13.5 percent of the actual assaults, making the total number of military rapes and sexual assaults in excess of 19,000 for the year. (Source: http://www.towardfreedom.com/women/2474-sexualviolence-against-women-in-the-us-military-the-search-for-truth-and-justice)

(17) Students Crushed By $1 Trillion in Student Loans

In April 2012, U.S. student-loan debt topped $1 trillion, more than credit-card debt. Although corporate media dutifully reported this milestone, they underplayed its significance and ignored one promising solution. Student-loan debt is the only form of consumer-loan debt that has increased substantially since 2008. The threat of massive student-loan defaults requiring another taxpayer bailout is a systemic risk as serious as the bank failures that brought the U.S. economy to the brink of collapse in 2008. The Federal Reserve could introduce a new quantitative-easing program to remove student-loan debt, giving the economy a boost similar to that created by the GI Bill. (Sources: http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/a-jubilee-for-student-debt; http://www.alternet.org/story/152809/the_$1_trillion_student_loan_rip-off%3A_how_an_entire_generation_was_tricked_into_taking_on_crushing_debt_that_just_enriches_banks/?page=1)

(18) Palestinian Women Prisoners Shackled During Childbirth

Female Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons are treated inhumanely and often denied medical care and legal representation, acnd are forced to live in squalid conditions. The conditions and violations faced by women in Israeli jails need to be addressed from a gender perspective, according to the United Nation’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. (Source: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11852.shtml)

(19) New York Police Plant Drugs on Innocent People to Meet Arrest Quotas

A host of stories document how the New York Police Department operates outside the very laws it is charged with enforcing. In October 2011, a former NYPD narcotics detective testified that he regularly saw police plant drugs on innocent people as a way to meet arrest quotas. The NYPD’s controversial “stop and frisk” program has invested $75 million to arrest suspects for possessing minimal amounts of marijuana. Each arrest costs approximately $1,000 to $2,000. Although NYPD use of unlawful restraints and disproportionate force to arrest peaceful Occupy protesters has received some news coverage, police brutality directed against people of color continues to go underreported. (Sources: http://gothamist.com/2011/10/13/nypd_narcotics_detective_testifies.php; http://www.alternet.org/story/150263/new_york_city_wasting_$75_million_a_year_on_marijuana_arrests)

(20) Stealing from Public Education to Feed the Prison-Industrial Complex

A systemic recasting of education priorities gives official structure and permanence to a pre-existing underclass composed largely of criminalized poor people of color. The rise of corporate-backed charter schools and privatized prisons cannot be understood apart from the record closures of public schools across the country. (Source: http://www.ips-dc.org/blog/stealing_from_the_mouth_of_public_education_to_feed_the_prison_industrial_complex)

(21) Conservatives Attack U.S. Post Office to Break the Union and Privatize Postal Services

The U.S. Postal Service has been under constant assault for years from conservative Republicans who aim to eviscerate the strongest union in the country. Under the 2006 Postal Accountability & Enhancement Act, USPS must fully fund retiree health benefits for future retirees – including the retirement packages of employees not even born yet. No other organization, public or private, has to pre-fund 100 percent of its future health benefits. Thus, the post office’s oft-reported $9-billion deficit is largely a result of government-imposed over-payments. (Sources: http://www.truth-out.org/last-union/1315492298; http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/dont-let-business-lobbyists-kill-the-post-office-20120423)

(22) Wachovia Bank Laundered Money for Latin American Drug Cartels

Between 2004 and 2007, Wachovia Bank handled funds totaling $378.4 billion for Mexican currency-exchange houses acting on behalf of drug cartels. The transactions amount to the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S. history. This case is not exceptional; Wachovia is just one of several U.S. and European banks that drug cartels have used to launder money. (Source: http://www.alternet.org/story/151135/american_banks_’high’_on_drug_money:_how_a_whistleblower_blew_the_lid_off_wachovia-drug_cartel_money_laundering_scheme%3E)

(23) U.S. Covers Up Afghan Massacre

Although the March 2012 massacre of 16 unarmed Afghan civilians, nine of whom were children, received a great deal of news coverage, independent news sources have focused on whether one U.S. solider acting alone (as U.S. officials have insisted) or multiple U.S. soldiers (as Afghan witnesses and Afghan President Hamid Karzai contend) bear direct responsibility for the killings. These reports highlight the fundamental responsibility of U.S. high military command, including President Obama, for the crimes committed by its troops.c (Sources: http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/multiple-soldiers-involved-killing-afghan-civilians-afghan-president; http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30922.htm)

(24) Alabama Farmers Look to Replace Migrants with Prisoners

Alabama’s expansive anti-immigrant law, HB56, has been so economically devastating that farmers in the state sought legislation to force hard labor on prison inmates eligible for work-release programs, to “help farms fill the gap and find sufficient labor.” The state’s Department of Corrections opposed the legislation, noting that its approximately 2,000 prisoners eligible for work release already have jobs, and that “the prison system isn’t the solution to worker shortages caused by the law.” (Sources: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/06/alabama-farmers-look-to-replace-migrants-with-prisoners; http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/12/08/1043143/-Of-Course!-Inmate-Labor-in-Place-of-Migrants-in-Alabama; http://www.thenation.com/article/162478/hidden-history-alec-and-prison-labor)

(25) Evidence Points to Guantánamo Dryboarding

In June 2006, three Guantánamo prisoners were found dead in their cells, hanging from what appeared to be makeshift nooses. Although the Department of Defense declared the deaths suicides, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service inquiry found evidence inconsistent with suicide – including the fact that the prisoners’ hands were bound behind their backs. The NCIS evidence suggests that the prisoners died from lethal interrogations that included dryboarding, a technique using controlled suffocation. (Sources: http://www.truth-out.org/death-guantanamo-suicide-or-dryboarding/1320182714; http://truth-out.org/news/item/8112-citing-truthout-reportun-special-rapporteur-looking-into-guantanamo-suicides)