Top 25 Stories of 2012 Subjected to Media Censorship
Project Censored specializes in covering the top stories which were subjected to media censorship either by being ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media each year. Project Censored is a research team composed of more than 200 university faculty, students, and community experts who annually review between 700 and 1,000 news story submissions for coverage, content, reliability of sources, and national significance.
The top 25 stories selected are submitted to a distinguished panel of judges who then rank them in order of importance. The results are published each year in an excellent book available for purchase at their website, amazon.com, and most major book stores.
A summary of the top 25 media censorship stories of 2012 provided below proves quite revealing and most informative. Each summary has a link for those who want to read the entire article. For whatever reason the mainstream media won't adequately report on these key stories.
Yet thanks to the Internet and wonderful, committed groups like Project Censored and WantToKnow.info, the news is getting out. By revealing these examples of media censorship, we can stop the excessive secrecy and work together for a brighter future. And don't miss the sections on "News Stories of Hope and Creative Change" and "What you can do." Please help to spread the word, and take care.
Note: Thanks to the San Francisco Bay Guardian and Yael Chanoff for use of their summaries. To find all of these stories and their sources on the Project Censored website, click here. The stories below actually cover a 12-month period spanning 2011 and 2012.
Top 25 Stories of 2012 Subjected to Media Censorship
1. Signs of an Emerging Police State
President George W. Bush is remembered largely for his role in curbing civil liberties in the name of his "war on terror." But it's President Obama who signed the 2012 NDAA, including its clause allowing for indefinite detention without trial for terrorism suspects. Obama promised he would "interpret them to avoid the constitutional conflict" — leaving us adrift if and when the next administration chooses to interpret them otherwise. Another law of concern is the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order that Obama issued in March 2012. That order authorizes the President, "in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements."
Sources: Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman, “Read the FBI Memo: Agents Can ‘Suspend the Law,’” Wired, March 28, 2012, James Bamford, “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center,” Wired, March 15, 2012, Chris Hedges, “Why I’m Suing Barack Obama,” Truthdig, January 16, 2012, .
2. Oceans in Peril
The collapse of our oceans could compromise life itself. In a haunting article in Mother Jones reporter Julia Whitty paints a tenuous seascape — overfished, acidified, warming — and describes how the destruction of the ocean's complex ecosystems jeopardizes the entire planet, not just the 70 percent that is water. Whitty compares ocean acidification, caused by global warming, to acidification that was one of the causes of the "Great Dying," a mass extinction 252 million years ago. Life on earth took 30 million years to recover. In a more hopeful story, a study of 14 protected and 18 non-protected ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea showed dangerous levels of biomass depletion. But it also showed that the marine reserves were well-enforced, with five to 10 times larger fish populations than in unprotected areas. This encourages establishment and maintenance of more reserves.
Sources: Julia Whitty, “The End of a Myth,” OnEarth, February 27, 2012, Richard Gray, “Warming Oceans Cause Largest Movement of Marine Species in Two Million Years,” Telegraph (UK), June 26, 2011, David A. Gabel, “Overfishing the Mediterranean,” Environmental News Network, March 8, 2012.
3. US Deaths From Fukushima Not Reported
A plume of toxic fallout floated to the US after Japan's tragic Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011. The US Environmental Protection Agency found radiation levels in air, water, and milk that were hundreds of times higher than normal across the United States. One month later, the EPA announced that radiation levels had declined, and they would cease testing. But after making a Freedom of Information Act request, journalist Lucas Hixson published emails revealing that on March 24, 2011, the task of collecting nuclear data had been handed off from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to the Nuclear Energy Institute, a nuclear industry lobbying group. And in one study that got little attention, scientists Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman found that in the period following the Fukushima meltdowns, 14,000 more deaths than average were reported in the US, mostly among infants.
Source: Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman, “14,000 U.S. Deaths Tied to Fukushima Reactor Disaster Fallout,” International Journal of Health Services, December 19, 2011, Alex Roslin, “What Are Officials Hiding about Fukushima?” Straight.com (Vancouver), October 20, 2011, Danny Schechter, “Beyond Fukushima: A World in Denial about Nuclear Risks,” Common Dreams, March 21, 2011.
4. FBI Informants Carried Out Terrorist Plots Under FBI Direction
We know that FBI agents go into communities such as mosques, both undercover and in the guise of building relationships, quietly gathering information about individuals. This is part of an approach to finding what the FBI now considers the most likely kind of terrorists, "lone wolves." Its strategy: "seeking to identify those disgruntled few who might participate in a plot given the means and the opportunity. And then, in case after case, the government provides the plot, the means, and the opportunity," writes Mother Jones journalist Trevor Aaronson. 508 cases classified as terrorism-related have come before the US Department of Justice since the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001. In 243 of these cases, an informant was involved; in 49 cases, an informant actually led the plot. And "with three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings."
Sources: Trevor Aronson, “The Informants,” Mother Jones, September/October 2011, FBI Organizes Almost All Terror Plots in the US,” RT.com, August 23, 2011
5. Federal Reserve Secretly Loaned Over $1 Trillion to Major Banks
The Federal Reserve, the US's quasi-private central bank, was audited for the first time in its history this year. The audit report states, "From late 2007 through mid-2010, Reserve Banks provided more than a trillion dollars ... in emergency loans to the financial sector." These loans had significantly less interest and fewer conditions than the high-profile TARP bailouts, and were rife with conflicts of internet. The audit was restricted to Federal Reserve lending during the financial crisis. On July 25, 2012, a bill to audit the Fed again, with fewer limitations, authored by Rep. Ron Paul, passed the House of Representatives. HR459 was expected to die in the Senate, but the movement behind Paul and his calls to hold the Fed accountable, or abolish it altogether, seem to be growing.
Source: Matthew Cardinale, “First Federal Reserve Audit Reveals Trillions in Secret Bailout,” Inter Press Service, Common Dreams, August 28, 2011.
6. Small Network of Corporations Run the Global Economy
A landmark study by researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute in Zurich hardly registered a blip on the media radar screen. The Swiss researchers found that, of 43,060 transnational companies, 147 control 40 percent of total global wealth. The researchers also built a model visually demonstrating how the connections between companies — what it calls the "super entity" — works. Some have criticized the study, saying control of assets doesn't equate to ownership. True, but as we clearly saw in the 2008 financial collapse, corporations are capable of mismanaging assets in their control to the detriment of their actual owners. And a largely unregulated super entity like this is vulnerable to global collapse.
Sources: Rob Waugh, “Does One ‘Super Corporation’ Run the Global Economy? Study Claims it Could be Terrifyingly Unstable,” Daily Mail, October 20, 2011, Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder, and Stefano Battiston, “The Network of Global Corporate Control,” Public Library of Science, October 26, 2011.
7. The International Year of the Cooperative
The corporate media barely mentioned the UN declaring 2012 to be the International Year of the Cooperative, based on the coop business model's stunning growth. The UN found that, in 2012, one billion people worldwide are coop member-owners, or one in five adults over the age of 15. The largest is Spain's Mondragon Corporation, with over 80,000 member-owners. The UN predicts that by 2025, worker-owned coops will be the world's fastest growing business model. Worker-owned cooperatives provide for equitable distribution of wealth and, just maybe, a brighter future for our planet.
Sources: Jessica Reeder, “The Year of the Cooperative,” Yes! Magazine, Feb. 1, 2012, Monique Hairston, “American Dream 2.0: Can Worker-Owned Coops End Poverty?” Rebuild the Dream, March 9, 2012.
8. NATO War Crimes in Libya
In January 2012, the BBC "revealed" how British Special Forces agents joined and "blended in" with rebels in Libya to help topple dictator Muammar Gadaffi, a story that alternative media sources had reported a year earlier. NATO admits to bombing a pipe factory in the Libyan city of Brega that was key to the water supply system that brought tap water to 70 percent of Libyans, saying that Gadaffi was storing weapons in the factory. Background knowledge and historical context confirming Al-Qaeda and Western involvement in the destabilization of the Gadaffi regime are essential for making sense of corporate news narratives depicting the Libyan operation as a popular "uprising."
Sources: Michael Collins, “NATO War Crimes: The Wanton Destruction of Sirte,” Global Research, October 15, 2011, Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, “NATO War Crime: Libya Water Supply,” Pravda, July 23, 2011, Franklin Lamb, “Where Have Libya’s Children Gone?” Counterpunch, August 8, 2011.
9. Prison Slavery in the US
On its website, the UNICOR manufacturing corporation proudly proclaims that its products are "made in America." That's true, but they're made in places in the US where labor laws don't apply, with workers often paid just 23 cents an hour to be exposed to toxic materials with no legal recourse. These places are US prisons. The majority of products manufactured by inmates are contracted to the Department of Defense. Inmates make complex parts for missile systems, battleship anti-aircraft guns, and landmine sweepers, as well as night-vision goggles, body army, and camouflage uniforms. Of course, this is happening in the context of record high imprisonment in the US, where grossly disproportionate numbers of African Americans and Latinos are imprisoned, and can't vote even after they're freed. This system of slavery, like that which existed in this country before the Civil War, is also racist, as more than 60 percent of US prisoners are people of color.
Sources: Sara Flounders, “The Pentagon and Slave Labor in U.S. Prisons,” Workers World, June 6, 2011, James Ridgeway and Jean Casella, “Cruel and Usual: US Solitary Confinement,” Al Jazeera, Mar. 19, 2011.
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 and Grounds Improvement Act. 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 overuse or misuse existing laws to arrest lawful protesters by lowering the requirement of intent in the prosecution of criminal activity.
Sources: Danny Weil, “Many Forms of Occupy Protests Subjected to New Bill Making Protests Illegal,” TheDaily Censored (blog), March 5, 2012, Oskar Mosquito, “NDAA: Limiting Protesters’ Rights,” Media Roots, March 5, 2012, Brian Doherty, “Bill Passes House,” Reason (blog), March 1, 2012.
More of the Top 25 Media Censorship Stories of 2012
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, 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.
12. US Joins Forces with al-Qaeda in Syria
The US, Britain, France, and some conservative Arab allies have funded and armed the Syrian rebellion from its start in 2011. In fact, the US 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.
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.
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 superelite 1 percent consists of nonfinancial executives, financial professionals, and members of the legal, real estate, and medical professions. 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.
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. Most studies indicating minimal or no health risks are, in fact, industry-sponsored.
16. Sexual Violence Against Women Soldiers on the Rise and Under Wraps
The 2005 death of US Army Private LaVena Johnson was officially ruled suicide by the Dept. of Defense. 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 working on stories about her. At least twenty other female soldiers have died under suspicious circumstances. 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.
17. Students Crushed By One Trillion Dollars in Student Loans
In April 2012, US student loan debt topped one trillion dollars, 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 US economy to the brink of collapse in 2008.
18. Palestinian Women Prisoners Shackled during Childbirth
Female Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons are treated inhumanely and often denied medical care, and legal representation, and 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 CEDAW, the United Nation’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
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 seventy-five million dollars to arrest suspects for possessing minimal amounts of marijuana. Each arrest costs approximately $1,000 to $2,000.
20. Stealing From Public Education to Feed the Prison-Industrial Complex
A systemic recasting of education priorities gives official structure and permanence to a preexisting underclass comprised largely of 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.
21. Conservatives Attack US Post Office to Break the Union and Privatize Postal Services
The US Postal Service has been under constant assault for years from conservative Republicans who aim to eviscerate the strongest union in the country. Under a 2006 postal 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 nine-billion-dollar deficit is largely a result of government-imposed overpayments.
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 US history. This case is not exceptional; Wachovia is just one of several US and European banks that drug cartels have used to launder money.
23. US Covers up Afghan Massacre
Although the March 2012 massacre of sixteen unarmed Afghan civilians, nine of whom were children, received a great deal of news coverage, independent news sources have focused on whether one US solider acting alone—as US officials have insisted—or multiple US soldiers—as Afghan witnesses and Afghan President Hamid Karzai contend—bear direct responsibility for the killings.
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.”
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 (NCIS) 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.
Note: Project Censored also recognizes the importance of defining and protecting the “Commons” as essential to a meaningful future. The Media Freedom Foundation, which includes the board that oversees Project Censored, has created another site for this purpose: Fair Share of the Common Heritage. See their inspiring and informative website at http://www.fairsharecommonheritage.org.