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The Top Censored Stories of 2012 - Page 3 PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Media
Written by Project Censored   
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 05:40

(11) Trafficking of Iraqi Women Rampant

Human trafficking occurs throughout the world yet has become increasingly more prevalent in Iraq due to the instability produced by the Iraq war. Many Iraqi women and girls are widowed or orphaned by wartime casualties. Currently, more than 50,000 Iraqi women have fled to Jordan and Syria and are trapped in sexual servitude with no possibility of escape. Unable to support themselves or their households due to new goverenment restrictions, thousands of Iraqi women have been preyed on by sex traffickers taking advantage of this chaotic environment. In June 2010 the State Department released its annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which laid out a picture of human trafficking across the globe and reaffirmed the U.S.’s commitment to ending this scourge.

These trafficked women have received scant attention from American policymakers who have the power to alleviate these women’s suffering and condemn the countries that allow it to flourish. The U.S. holds the solution: It can protect these vulnerable women by making Iraqi trafficked women a priority resettlement group and putting greater pressure on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to follow suit. Doing this would finally provide Iraq trafficking victims with a resettlement option that is fast and effective enough to actually help them.

(12) Pacific Garbage Dump

Many people do not realize that there is a swirling mass of plastic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that qualifies as the planet’s largest garbage dump. The 5 Gyres Project estimates that there are 315 billion pounds of plastic in the ocean right now. Much of the world’s trash has accumulated in part of the Pacific Ocean (roughly 135 to 155 degrees west and 35 to 42 degrees north), based on the movement of ocean currents.

Not all plastic in the recycling bin gets recycled, and people carelessly toss plastics away. Plastic litter often ends up in waterways, and currents carry it out into the ocean. These pieces of plastic have a dire effect on marine life. Turtles confuse plastic bags for jellyfish, and birds confuse bottle caps for food. They ingest them but can’t digest them, so their stomachs fill with plastic and they starve to death.

At the moment there is no easy way to clean up this major trash accumulation.

(13) Will a State of Emergency Be Used to Supersede Our Constitution?

A program dating back to the Eisenhower era of emergency measures for an America devastated in a nuclear attack could be converted to bestow secret powers on the president for anything he considers an emergency. The National Emergency Centers Establishment Act was introduced several times in Congress and called for the establishment of “national emergency centers” in major regions in the U.S. The stated purpose of these centers is to provide “temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency, major disaster” or to “meet other appropriate needs” determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Recent “continuity of government” planning has quietly removed time-honored constitutional protections and increased the militarization of civilian law enforcement. For the first time in U.S. history, military troops are allowed to do police actions (versus local law enforcement) in U.S. cities. There is good reason for the constructive friction between existing law-enforcement agencies: so that power is distributed in a democracy, and local law enforcement is responsible to local citizens.

Recently the U.S. Army established an active-duty brigade trained to manage civil unrest and crowd control. Historically this has been illegal according to the longstanding Posse Comitatus statutes. It should concern us all that there has been a loss of local authority and sustained preparations for the possibility of martial law.

(For a River Cities’ Reader commentary on this topic, see RCReader.com/y/emergency.)

(14) Family Pressure on Young Girls for Genital Mutilation Continues in Kenya

Girls as young as nine years old were threatened with death if they tried to escape the Kamunera location, where they awaited female genital mutilation in the Mt. Elgon District in Kenya. Many girls have been forced to cut short their studies and married off at a young age while some of them are still in hiding because their parents would disown them after running away to avoid circumcision. More than 100 girls were targeted for circumcision in December in this region but were rescued by Maendeleo Y Wanawake officials. Parents and grandparents in this area tell the young girls they will never get married and no man would want them if they don’t do the procedure. Not many women in this region are left to pursue education beyond the standard age of eight years old. Young women are told that education was not meant for women because they were supposed to get married and take care of their husbands. Uncircumcised women generally get looked down upon and discriminated against for not doing the genital mutilation. Because of this, young girls agree to go through with the surgery so that they can be included in the rites of passage and that their community will accept them.

(15) Big Polluters Freed from Environmental Oversight

The Obama administration has distributed billions of dollars in stimulus money to some of the nation’s biggest polluters and granted exemptions from basic environmental errors. The administration’s main goal in Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s words was to “get the money out and spent as quickly as possible.”

The administration awarded more than 179,000 “categorical exclusions” to stimulus projects funded by federal agencies, freeing those projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Coal-burning utilities such as Westar Energy and Duke Energy, chemical manufacturer DuPont, and ethanol maker Didion Milling are among the firms with histories of serious environmental violations that have won blanket NEPA exemptions.

Even a project at BP’s maligned refinery in Texas City, Texas – owner of the oil industry’s worst safety record and site of a deadly 2005 explosion, as well as a benzene leak – secured a waiver for the preliminary phase of a carbon-capture and -sequestration experiment involving two companies with past compliance problems. The “stimulus” funding came from the $787-billion legislation officially known as the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, passed in February 2009.

Documents show the administration has devised a speedy review process that relies on voluntary disclosures by companies to determine whether stimulus projects pose environmental harm. Corporate polluters often omitted mention of health, safety, and environmental violations from their applications. In fact, administration officials said they chose to ignore companies’ environmental-compliance records in making grant decisions and issuing NEPA exemptions, saying they considered such information irrelevant.