Project Censored annually publishes its list of the year's top "censored" stories. "We define modern censorship as the subtle yet constant and sophisticated manipulation of reality in our mass-media outlets," its Web site states. "On a daily basis, censorship refers to the intentional non-inclusion of a news story - or piece of a news story - based on anything other than a desire to tell the truth. Such manipulation can take the form of political pressure (from government officials and powerful individuals), economic pressure (from advertisers and funders), and legal pressure (the threat of lawsuits from deep-pocket individuals, corporations, and institutions)."
Put differently, these 25 stories represent the most important news that Project Censored felt was under-reported over the past year.
Censored 2012: Sourcebook for the Media Revolution, by Mickey Huff and Project Censored with an introduction by Dr. Peter Phillips, is available (along with more detailed media analysis and sources for these summaries) at ProjectCensored.org. The book is published by Seven Stories Press.
(1) More U.S. Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat
In 2010, for the second year in a row, more U.S. soldiers killed themselves (468) than died in combat (462). "If you ... know the one thing that causes people to commit suicide, please let us know," General Peter Chiarelli told the Army Times, "because we don't know." Suicide is a tragic but predictable human reaction to being asked to kill - and watch your friends be killed.
(2) U.S. Military Manipulates the Social Media
The U.S. military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social-media sites by using fake online personae to influence Internet conversations and spread pro-America propaganda. A California corporation has been awarded a contract with U.S. Central Command (CentCom), which oversees U.S. armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop an "online persona-management service" that will allow one U.S. serviceman and woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world. The CentCom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history, and supporting details, and that up to 50 U.S.-based controllers could operate false identities from their workstations.
The multiple-persona contract is thought to have been awarded as part of a program called Operation Earnest Voice, which was first developed in Iraq as a psychological-warfare weapon against the online presence of al-Qaeda supporters and other extremists resisting the U.S. military and political presence in Iraq. This effort proved successful and is now being used elsewhere in the Middle East and beyond with assurances that none of these interventions would happen here at home, as it would be unlawful to "address U.S. audiences" with such technology.
(3) Obama Authorizes International Assassination Campaign
The Obama administration has quietly put into practice an "incomplete idea" left over from the George W. Bush presidency: creating a de facto "presidential international assassination program." Court documents, evidence offered by Human Rights Watch, and a special United Nations report allege that U.S citizens suspected of encouraging "terror" had been put on "death lists." Reports of the "death list" say Obama's director of national intelligence told a Congressional hearing that the program was within the rights of the executive branch of the government and did not need to be revealed. At least two people are known to have been murdered by Central Intelligence Agency operatives under the program. When the program was challenged in a New York City court, the judge refused to rule, saying, "There are circumstances in which the executive's decision to kill U.S. citizens overseas is constitutionally committed to the political branches and judicially unreviewable."
(4) Global Food Crisis Expands
A new worldwide spike in agricultural-commodity and food prices is generating both predictable and extraordinary fallouts. The search for causes once again leads to a combination of flawed policies in trade, environment, finance, and agriculture that is likely to produce more dangerous volatility in years to come. Over the past year, food prices around the world shot sharply upward, surpassing the previous price surge in 2007-8 to set a new record, as measured by UN's Food & Agricultural Organization.
In February, the UN's food-price index rose for the eighth consecutive month, to the highest level since at least 1990. As a result, since 2010 began, roughly another 44 million people have quietly crossed the threshold into malnutrition, joining 925 million already suffering from lack of food. If prices continue to rise, this food crisis will push the ranks of the hungry toward a billion people, with another 2 billion suffering from "hidden malnutrition" of inadequate diets, nearly all in the developing countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. That deprivation will shorten lives and stunt young minds, hitting the most vulnerable populations, such as the urban poor of food-importing countries in cities such as Cairo, Tunis, and Dhaka.
(5) Private Prison Companies Fund Anti-Immigrant Legislation
Over the past four years, roughly a million immigrants have been incarcerated in dangerous detention facilities in our taxpayer-financed private prison system. Children were abused, women were raped, and men died from lack of basic medical attention. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer received substantial campaign financing from Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, which are the nation's two largest companies that design, build, finance, and operate prisons. CCA (based in Nashville, Tennessee) and GEO Group (a global corporation based in Boca Raton, Florida) are the principal moving forces in the behind-the-scenes organization of the current wave of anti-immigrant legislative efforts.
Both CCA and GEO rely almost exclusively on revenue from tax dollars at the local, state, and federal levels and profited from the incarceration of immigrants apprehended by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement. CCA's top management in Tennessee contributed the largest block of out-of-state campaign contributions received by Governor Brewer. Brewer employs two former CCA lobbyists as aides that assisted signing SB 1070 into law on April 23. CCA, which already has several detention facilities in Arizona and is hoping to expand its immigrant business in that state, is expected to show a huge increase in revenues when SB 1070 is implemented.
(6) Google Spying?
Last year the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated Internet search-engine giant Google for illegally collecting personal data such as passwords, e-mails, and other online activities from unsecured WiFi networks in homes and businesses across the United States and around the rest of the world. Google has claimed the data was accidentally picked up by its Street View cars while driving the world's streets. Clearly this is an invasion of the public's privacy, and yet the FTC has done basically nothing about it, not even a slap on the wrists for Google. In late October 2010, David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, sent a two-page letter to Google attorney Albert Gidari saying that the FTC has ended its inquiry into the matter with little more than an assurance from Google that it will make "improvements to its internal processes" and "continue its dialogue with the FTC." Why was nothing done about it?
Less than a week before the FTC's decision to drop the inquiry, President Obama attended a $30,000-a-person Democratic-party fundraiser at the Palo Alto, California, home of Google executive Marissa Mayer. Also, Google's former head of public policy, Andrew McLaughlin, joined the Obama administration as the deputy chief technology officer in mid-2009. Other Obama administration officials include Eric Schmidt, Google's chief executive, who serves as a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science & Technology. Katie Stanton joined the administration after serving as a Google project manager; she is now the director of citizen participation. The former head of Google.org's global development, Sonal Shah, is now the head of the White House's Office of Social Innovation. These facts suggest that the Obama administration may have a conflict of interest in its handling of the company's civil-rights violations.
(7) U.S. Army and Psychology's Largest Experiment - Ever
In the January 2011 issue of American Psychologist, the American Psychology Association dedicated 13 articles detailing and celebrating a $117-million collaboration with the U.S. Army called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF). It's being marketed as resilience training to reduce if not prevent adverse psychological consequences to soldiers who endure combat. Because of the CSF emphasis on "positive psychology," advocates call it a holistic approach to warrior training.
Criticism arose shortly after the initiative was announced - including ethical questions about whether soldiers should be trained to be desensitized to traumatic events. There were also methodological concerns about large-scale programs similar to this - which have not worked or had adverse effects in the past. Also problematic: This program is adapted primarily from the Penn Resiliency Program, which had very little success with a nonmilitary population, and now on its first trial run is going to incorporate 1.1 million soldiers. How about trying it out on small groups of soldiers first?
Lastly, the CSF program measures soldiers' "resilience" in five core areas: emotional, physical, family, social, and spiritual. The spiritual component of the assessment contains questions written predominately for soldiers who believe in God or another deity. This means tens of thousands of nonbelievers will score poorly and be forced to use religious-imagery exercises that are counter to their personal beliefs - not likely to foster resilience.
(8) The Fairytale of Clean and Safe Nuclear Power
Nuclear power presents a security threat of unprecedented proportions: It's capable of a catastrophic accident that can kill hundreds of thousands of people, with a byproduct that is toxic for millennia. To call nuclear power "clean" is an affront to science, common sense, and the English language itself, yet industry backers, inside and outside of government, are attempting to establish a new "Clean Energy Standard" to promote nuclear power. These proposals suffer from three fundamental misconceptions: (1) that pollutants other than carbon dioxide are irrelevant when defining a "clean energy"; (2) that because radiation is invisible and odorless, it is not a toxic pollutant; and (3) that nuclear power is carbon-free. None of these is true.
In its most recent report, released in 2005, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences determined that no safe level of radiation exposure exists; every exposure to radiation increases the risk of cancer, birth defects, and other disease. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission accepts the linear no-threshold hypothesis - which states that any increase in dose of radiation, no matter how small, results in an incremental increase in risk - as a conservative model for estimating radiation risk.
(9) Government Sponsored Technologies for Weather Modification
Rising global temperatures, increasing population, and degradation of water supplies have created broad support for the growing field of weather modification. The U.S. government has conducted weather-modification experiments for over half a century, and the military-industrial complex stands poised to capitalize on these discoveries.
One of the latest programs is HAARP, the High-Frequency Active Aural Research Program. This technology can potentially trigger floods, droughts, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The scientific idea behind HAARP is to "excite" a specific area of the ionosphere and observe the physical processes in that excited area with the intention of modifying ecological conditions. HAARP can also be used as a weapon system, capable of selectively destabilizing agricultural and ecological systems of entire regions.
Another program is atmospheric geo-engineering or cloud seeding, which has found new life since the global-warming scare. Cloud seeding is cirrus clouds created from airplane contrails. Unlike regular contrails, which dissolve in minutes, these artificial contrails can last for several hours, even days. Once the artificial clouds have been created, they are used to reflect solar or man-made radiation.
At a recent international symposium, scientists asserted that "manipulation of climate through modification of cirrus clouds is neither a hoax nor a conspiracy theory." The only conspiracy surrounding geo-engineering is that most governments and industries refuse to publicly admit what anyone can see in the sky or discover in peer-reviewed research. The Belfort Group has been working to raise public awareness about toxic aerial spraying - popularly known as chemtrails. However, scientists prefer the term "persistent contrails" to describe the phenomenon, to move the inquiry away from amateur conspiracy theories.
Coen Vermeeren of the Delft University of Technology presented a 300-page scientific report titled "Case Orange: Contrail Science, Its Impact on Climate, & Weather Manipulation Programs Conducted by the United States & Its Allies." He stated clearly: "Weather manipulation through contrail formation ... is in place and fully operational." Vermeeren mentioned a 1991 patent now held by Raytheon, a private defense contractor, with "18 claims to reduce global warming through stratospheric seeding with aluminum oxide, ... thorium oxide, ... and refractory Welsbach material." Authors of the study expressed concern that Raytheon makes daily flights spraying these materials in our sky with minimal government oversight. Raytheon is the same company that holds the HAARP contract with the U.S.
Other countries are also experimenting. The Chinese government announced in April 2007 the creation of the first-ever artificial snowfall over the city of Nagqu in Tibet. China now conducts more cloud-seeding projects than any other nation.
(For a River Cities' Reader commentary on this topic, see RCReader.com/y/spray.)
(10) Real Unemployment: One Out of Five in U.S.
The corporate media wants America to feel secure during a time of unemployment crisis, but people deserve to know what is really happening rather than a statistical lie. The latest unemployment report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the unemployment rate has held steady between 9.0 and 9.2 percent since April, giving an illusion that our economy is stable. But these numbers are skewed because of seasonal employment, and after a person has been unemployed for a year, the government doesn't include them in the statistics anymore, even though they are still unemployed.
According to ShadowStats.com, the real unemployment rate is well over 20 percent, which is more than double than what corporate media claims. It seems that the government is keeping people in the dark about the real unemployment so that the government is praised for its success in lowering or stabilizing unemployment.
(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.
(16) Sweatshops in China Are Making Your iPods While Workers Suffer
Apple suppliers such as Foxconn, Dafu, and Lian Jian Technology routinely violate China's Law on the Prevention & Control of Occupational Diseases. Several manufacturers replaced alcohol with n-hexane, which is used to clean parts. It is a chemical that works better than alcohol but poisons workers. In these factories, the workers - often women in their teens or 20s - were forced to work with the poison in unventilated rooms.
Because of the chemical in Lian Jian Technology's plant Suzhou No. 5, People's Hospital admitted 49 employees who fell ill. More employees were likely poisoned, but many were pushed out before they fell ill, and Lian Jian forced them to sign papers saying they would not hold the company accountable. They left with 80,000 to 90,000 yuan ($12,000 to $14,000) that they got in exchange for their lives and health, with fees and medical costs they would have to pay for the rest of their lives.
(17) Superbug Bacteria Spreading Worldwide
Lethal superbugs are emerging that do not respond to any known drugs. The World Health Organization states that the New Delhi - also known as the NDM-1 - superbug was recently found in UK patients and has reached a critical point. These superbugs are resistant to carbapenem antibiotics, which is a major concern to experts because these drugs are used for hard-to-treat infections that evade other medications.
Already 25,000 people die each year from superbugs in Europe, and there are a number of bacteria that are now resistant to all drugs. That figure will increase to even greater numbers unless new, more powerful antibiotics are developed.
The overuse and misuse of antibiotics is leading to "unprecedented levels" of resistance, and a lack of development of new drugs means we could see current treatments become useless. The problem is worsened because drug companies have put off developing new antibiotics because they are seen as not profitable enough.
(18) Monsanto Tries to Benefit from Haiti's Earthquake
In May 2010, six months after an earthquake hit Haiti, the American multinational Monsanto donated to the country 60 tons of corn and vegetable hybrid seed. The United States Agency for International Development took charge of the seed distribution.
A month later, around 10,000 Haitian farmers demonstrated against Monsanto's donation. "If Monsanto's seed enters Haiti, farmer's seed will disappear," said Doudou Pierre Festil, member of Papaye Farmer's Movement and coordinator of the National Sovereignty & Food Security Network. Haitian farmers denounce that Monsanto's seeds can't be reused each year, which leads to the necessity of buying new seed from the multinational every new sowing season. Moreover, the organization Farmer's Route has warned that Monsanto's seeds could force the farmers to depend on the company. This dependence could also extend to the fertilizers and herbicides required by the American multinational that also produces them.
"Haitian government is using the earthquake to sell the country to multinationals," declared Chavannes Jean Baptiste, coordinator of Papaye Farmer's Movement. Monsanto is the world's biggest seed company; it controls 20 percent of the seed market and the 90 percent of agricultural biotechnological patents.
(19) Oxfam Exposes How Aid Is Used for Political Purposes
In a March report, Oxfam found that billions of dollars in international aid that could have transformed the lives of many people in some of the poorest countries in the world was spent on unsustainable, expensive, and dangerous aid projects that donor governments used to support their own short-term foreign-policy and security objectives.
This type of aid often bypasses the poorest people and dangerously distorts the line between civilian and military activity. This report also showed that even though aid increased between 2001 and 2008, more than 40 percent of this increase was spent in just two countries: Afghanistan and Iraq. The remainder of that was shared between 150 other poor countries.
Last year, the report showed that 225 aid workers were killed, injured, or kidnapped in violent attacks, compared to 85 in 2002. The politicization and militarization of aid has in some places made it much harder for aid agencies to provide help to those in need - especially in Somalia.
(20) U.S. Agencies Trying to Outlaw GMO Food Labeling
There is growing concern over the health impact of growing and eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The World Health Organization has identified allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, gene transfer, outcrossing, gene stability, susceptibility of non-target organisms (insects), and loss of biodiversity as potential issues of using GM seeds.
Currently, most health studies are done by GM companies that have a natural conflict of interest that can lead to biased research or reporting. Many countries such as Japan, Australia, China, and the European Union recognize the possible risks and require mandatory labeling for products made with GMOs. There is a growing call for more comprehensive, independent research.
However, the official position of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture is that there is no difference between GMOs and non-GMOs. These agencies have also proposed to the Codex Alimentarius Committee that no country should be able to require GMO labeling on food items. The FDA and USDA say that mandatory labeling of GMOs is "false, misleading, and deceptive, implying there is a difference between GMO and non-GMO ingredients."
(21) Lyme Disease: An Emerging Epidemic
Lyme disease is one of the most political and controversial epidemics of our time. Lyme originates from a bacteria transmitted through the bite of a tick and can remain hidden - often being called the great imitator, mimicking other diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, ADHD, and other neurological conditions. And it is growing: New cases of Lyme occur each year at a rate 10 times higher than AIDS and the West Nile Virus combined.
Current Lyme treatment guidelines were developed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (ISDA), a group associated with pharmaceutical, insurance, and university interests that are profiting from the diagnostic criteria, vaccines, and recommended treatments for Lyme. These guidelines, endorsed by the National Institute of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, define the treatment of Lyme as a two- to four-week course of antibiotic therapy.
Physicians who believe Lyme is a more chronic condition needing long-term treatment risk losing their medical license for treating patients outside IDSA guidelines. And insurance companies refuse to pay for longer treatments despite evidence that illustrates the chronic nature of the condition and the effectiveness of long-term therapies. This leaves thousands of Lyme patients suffering from a commercialized medical community that won't acknowledge the chronic nature of their illness, and it also leaves the public uneducated about a growing epidemic.
(22) Participatory Budgeting - A Method to Empower Local Citizens & Communities
"Participatory Budgeting" (PB) is a process that allows citizens to decide directly how to allocate all or part of a public budget, typically through a series of meetings, work by community "delegates" or representatives, and ultimately a final vote. It was first implemented in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1990, and has since spread.
PB has recently taken root in Canadian and American soils.
Chicago's 49th Ward, for example, uses this process to distribute $1.3 million of annual discretionary funds. The ward's residents have praised the opportunity to make meaningful decisions, take ownership of the budget process, and win concrete improvements for their neighborhood - from community gardens and sidewalk repairs to street lights and public murals. The initiative proved so popular that the ward's alderman, Joe Moore, credits PB with helping to reverse his political fortunes.
The wave is not stopping in Chicago, either. Elected officials and community leaders elsewhere - from New York City to San Francisco and from Greensboro, North Carolina, to Springfield, Massachusetts - are considering launching similar initiatives.
(23) Worldwide Movement To Ban or Charge Fees For Plastic Bags
Shoppers worldwide are using 500 billion to 1 trillion single-use plastic bags per year. The average use time of a plastic bag is 12 minutes. Plastic bags pollute our waters, smother wetlands, and entangle and kill animals. This eventually affects our health, because larger animals eat small, plastic-laden creatures, and plastics work their way up the food chain until we consume animals that have eaten some form of plastic. Plastic is non-biodegradable and is made from a nonrenewable resource: oil. An estimated 3 million barrels of oil are required to produce the 19 billion plastic bags used annually in California.
Now 35 countries have already banned the use of plastic bags, nine countries have passed levies and fees on their use, 12 countries are considering bans or fees, and 26 states in the?U.S. have introduced a form of legislation concerning plastic-bag use. Most plastic contains harmful chemicals such as BPA and phthalates, which can be unsafe for human consumption or use. These can be avoided by using alternative materials such as reusable cloth bags, stainless-steel water bottles, and other wooden, glass, and metal substitutes.
(24) South Dakota Takes Extreme Measures to Be the Top Anti-Abortion State
South Dakota considered extreme action against any person who performs an abortion within the state's borders - part of some aggressively anti-abortion legislative efforts throughout the country. The South Dakota House took up a bill to redefine "justifiable homicide" that could "make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions," Mother Jones reported. The bill read: "Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person in the lawful defense of such person, or of his or her husband, wife, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant, or the unborn child of any such enumerated person, if there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony, or to do some great personal injury, and imminent danger of such design being accomplished." The bill was ultimately tabled.
Other recent proposed restrictions:
• GOP state lawmakers in Arizona and Ohio unveiled so-called "Heartbeat Bills" to "prohibit women from ending pregnancies at the first detectable fetal heartbeat." The heartbeat can be heard "within 18 to 24 days of conception" and "in almost all cases by six weeks" - a period in which "many women don't even know they're pregnant."
• Texas Governor Rick Perry "fast-tracked" an anti-abortion bill mandating that "pregnant women be shown an ultrasound of the fetus at least two hours before an abortion." Physicians would have to show the fetus' dimensions, limbs, or internal organs, and - if audible - the fetal heartbeat.
• Arizona GOP Representative Steve Montenegro introduced bills to criminalize abortions if they're sought because of race or sex. The bill would charge doctors with a Class 3 felony if they "knowingly perform abortions for these reasons."
• On the federal level, House Republicans took the first two months of the new year to marginalize the rights of women. First, they tried to exclude certain victims - including women who are drugged, women who do not physically fight off the offender, and some minors - from abortion coverage by redefining rape. Representative Joe Pitts (R-Pennsylvania) then introduced the "Protect Life Act," a bill that would put the health of the fetus above that of the woman carrying it. Feministe.us claimed: "It gives doctors the green light to let pregnant women die if they have a life-threatening condition and need an emergency abortion."
(25) Extension of DU to Libya
President Obama's undeclared and congressionally unauthorized war against Libya may have been compounded by spreading toxic uranium oxide in populated areas of that country.
Concern is being voiced by groups such as the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, which monitors the military use of so-called depleted-uranium (DU) anti-tank and bunker-penetrating shells.
In March, the U.S. introduced its A-10 Thunderbolts, known also as Warthogs, into the Libyan campaign. The A-10 has a particularly large automatic cannon which fires an unusually large 30-millimeter shell. These shells are often fitted with solid uranium projectiles.
A-10s were heavily used in the Balkan conflict, and Kosovo officials were dismayed to learn that some 11 tons of uranium weapons were fired there, leaving dangerous uranium-dust fallout in their wake.
The U.S. military is fond of DU weapons because the material - made from uranium from which the fissionable U-235 has been removed - is extremely heavy, and, in alloy form, also extremely hard. Because of its mass, such projectiles can penetrate even the heaviest armor. Then, in the heat caused by the collision with an object, the uranium bursts into flame, causing an explosive (and toxic) inferno inside a tank or other vehicle. Soldiers inside a target vehicle are incinerated. The problem is that the resulting uranium oxide produced by such explosions, besides being highly toxic, is also a microscopic alpha-emitter, which if inhaled or ingested by human beings is extremely carcinogenic and mutagenic.