Project Censored: The expanding police state tops the annual list of stories underreported by the mainstream media. by Yael Chanoff

Posted on Thursday, 29th November 2012 @ 02:30 PM by Text Size A | A | A

Spread the love

People who get their information exclusively from mainstream media sources may be surprised at the lack of enthusiasm on the left for President Barack Obama in this crucial election. But that’s probably because they weren’t exposed to the full online furor sparked by Obama’s continuation of his predecessor’s overreaching approach to national security, such as signing the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the indefinite detention of those accused of supporting terrorism, even U.S. citizens.

We’ll never know how this year’s election would be different if the corporate media adequately covered the NDAA’s indefinite detention clause and many other recent attacks on civil liberties. What we can do is spread the word and support independent media sources that do cover these stories. That’s where Project Censored comes in.

Project Censored has been documenting inadequate media coverage of crucial stories since it began in 1967 at Sonoma State University. Each year, the group considers hundreds of news stories submitted by readers, evaluating their merits. Students search Lexis Nexis and other databases to see if the stories were underreported, and if so, the stories are fact-checked by professors and experts in relevant fields.

A panel of academics and journalists chooses the Top 25 stories and rates  their significance. The project maintains a vast online database of  underreported news stories that it has “validated” and publishes them in  an annual book. Censored 2013: Dispatches from the Media Revolution will be released Oct. 30.

For  the second year in row, Project Censored has grouped the Top 25 list  into topical “clusters.” This year, categories include “Human cost of  war and violence” and “Environment and health.” Project Censored  Director Mickey Huff told us the idea was to show how various  undercovered stories fit together into an alternative narrative, not to  say that one story was more censored than another.

In  May, while Project Censored was working on the list, another 2012 list  was issued: the Fortune 500 list of the biggest corporations, whose  influence peppers the Project Censored list in a variety of ways.

Consider  this year’s top Fortune 500 company: ExxonMobil. The oil company  pollutes everywhere it goes, yet most stories about its environmental  devastation go underreported. Weapons  manufacturers Lockheed Martin (58 on the Fortune list), General  Dynamics (92), and Raytheon (117) are tied into stories about U.S.  prisoners in slavery conditions manufacturing parts for their weapons  and the underreported war crimes in Afghanistan and Libya.

These  powerful corporations work together more than most people think. In the  chapter exploring the “global 1 percent,” writers Peter Philips and  Kimberly Soeiro explain how a small number of well-connected people  control the majority of the world’s wealth. In it, they use Censored  story number 6, “Small network of corporations run the global economy,”  to describe how a network of transnational corporations are deeply  interconnected, with 147 of them controlling 40 percent of the global  economy’s total wealth.

For  example, Philips and Soeiro write that in one such company, BlackRock  Inc., “The 18 members of the board of directors are connected to a  significant part of the world’s core financial assets. Their decisions  can change empires, destroy currencies and impoverish millions.”

Another  cluster of stories, “Women and Gender, Race and Ethnicity,” notes a  pattern of underreporting stories that affect a range of marginalized  groups. This broad category includes only three articles, and none are  listed in the top 10. The stories reveal mistreatment of Palestinian  women in Israeli prisons, including being denied medical care and  shackled during childbirth, and the rape and sexual assault of women  soldiers in the U.S. military. The third story in the category concerns  an Alabama anti-immigration bill, H.B. 56, that caused immigrants to  flee Alabama in such numbers that farmers felt a dire need to “help  farms fill the gap and find sufficient labor.” So the Alabama Department  of Agriculture and Industries approached the state’s Department of  Corrections about making a deal where prisoners would replace the  fleeing farm workers.

But  with revolutionary unrest around the world, and the rise of a mass  movement that connects disparate issues together into a simple, powerful  class analysis — the 99 percent versus the 1 percent paradigm  popularized by Occupy Wall Street — this year’s Project Censored offers  an element of hope.

It’s  not easy to succeed at projects that resist corporate dominance, and  when it does happen, the corporate media is sometimes reluctant to cover  it. Number seven on  the Top 25 list is the story of how the United Nations designated 2012  the International Year of the Cooperative, recognizing the rapid growth  of co-op businesses, organizations that are part-owned by all members  and whose revenue is shared equitably among members. One billion people  worldwide now work in co-ops.

The Year of the Cooperative is not the only good-news story discussed by Project Censored this year. In Chapter 4, Yes! Magazine’s Sarah  Van Gelder lists “12 ways the Occupy movement and other major trends  have offered a foundation for a transformative future.” They include a  renewed sense of “political self-respect” and fervor to organize in the  United States, debunking of economic myths such as the “American dream,”  and the blossoming of economic alternatives such as community land  trusts, time banking and micro-energy installations.

As  Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed writes in the book’s foreword, “The majority  of people now hold views about Western governments and the nature of  power that would have made them social pariahs 10 or 20 years ago.”

Citing  polls from the corporate media, Mosaddeq writes: “The majority are now  skeptical of the Iraq War; the majority want an end to U.S. military  involvement in Afghanistan; the majority resent the banks and financial  sector, and blame them for the financial crisis; most people are now  aware of environmental issues, more than ever before, and despite  denialist confusion promulgated by fossil fuel industries, the majority  in the United States and Britain are deeply concerned about global  warming; most people are wary of conventional party politics and  disillusioned with the mainstream parliamentary system.”

“In  other words,” he writes, “there has been a massive popular shift in  public opinion toward a progressive critique of the current political  economic system.”

And  ultimately, it’s the public — not the president and not the  corporations—that will determine the future. There may be hope after  all. Here’s Project Censored’s Top 10 list for 2013:


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 that “my  administration will 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.” The president is to be advised on this course of  action by “the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council,  in conjunction with the National Economic Council.” Journalist Chris  Hedges, along with co-plaintiffs including Noam Chomsky and Daniel  Ellsberg, won a case challenging the NDAA’s indefinite detention clause  on Sept. 1, when a federal judge blocked its enforcement, but her ruling  was overturned on Oct. 3, so the clause is back.


2. Oceans in peril

Big  banks aren’t the only entities that our country has deemed “too big to  fail.” But our oceans won’t be getting a bailout anytime soon, and their  collapse could compromise life itself. In a haunting article  highlighted by Project Censored, 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.


3. U.S. deaths from Fukushima

A plume of toxic fallout floated to  the U.S. after Japan’s tragic Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11,  2011. The U.S. 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 U.S. 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 Jeanette Sherman found that in the period  following the Fukushima meltdowns, 14,000 more deaths than average were  reported in the U.S., mostly among infants. Later, Mangono and Sherman  updated the number to 22,000.


4. FBI agents responsible for terrorist plots

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  Aaronsen. The publication, along with the Investigative Reporting  Program at the University of California-Berkeley, examined the results  of this strategy, 508 cases classified as terrorism-related that have  come before the U.S. 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.”


5. Federal Reserve loaned trillions to major banks

The  Federal Reserve, the U.S.’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 to address  strains in credit markets and to avert failures of individual  institutions believed to be a threat to the stability of the financial  system.” These loans had significantly less interest and fewer  conditions than the high-profile TARP bailouts, and were rife with  conflicts of interest. Some examples: the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served  as a board member of the New York Federal Reserve at the same time that  his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from  the Fed. William Dudley, who is now the New York Federal Reserve  president, was granted a conflict of interest waiver to let him keep  investments in AIG and  General Electric at the same time the companies were given bailout  funds. 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. H.R. 459 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.


6. Small network of corporations run the global economy

Reporting  on a study by researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute in Zurich  didn’t make the rounds nearly enough, according to Censored 2013. They  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.


7. The International Year of Cooperative

Can  something really be censored when it’s straight from the United  Nations? According to Project Censored evaluators, the corporate media  underreported the U.N. declaring 2012 to be the International Year of  the Cooperative, based on the co-op business model’s stunning growth.  The U.N. found that, in 2012, 1 billion people worldwide are co-op  member-owners, or one in five adults over age 15. The largest is Spain’s  Mondragon Corporation, with more than 80,000 member-owners. The U.N.  predicts that by 2025, worker-owned co-ops will be the world’s fastest  growing business model. Worker-owned cooperatives provide for equitable  distribution of wealth, genuine connection to the workplace, and, just  maybe, a brighter future for our planet.


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. In Censored 2013, writer James F. Tracy  makes the point that historical relations between the U.S. and Libya  were left out of mainstream news coverage of the NATO campaign;  “background knowledge and historical context confirming Al-Qaeda and  Western involvement in the destabilization of the Gadaffi regime are  also essential for making sense of corporate news narratives depicting  the Libyan operation as a popular ‘uprising.’”


9. Prison slavery in the U.S.

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 U.S. 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 U.S. prisons. Slavery conditions in  prisons aren’t exactly news. It’s literally written into the  Constitution; the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, outlaws  “slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime  whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” But the articles  highlighted by Project Censored this year reveal the current state of  prison slavery industries, and its ties to war. 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 U.S., where grossly disproportionate  numbers of African Americans and Latinos are imprisoned, and can’t vote  even after they’re freed. As psychologist Elliot D. Cohen puts it in  this year’s book: “This  system of slavery, like that which existed in this country before the  Civil War, is also racist, as more than 60 percent of U.S. prisoners are  people of color.”


10. H.R. 347 criminalizes protest

H.R.  347, sometimes called the “criminalizing protest” or “anti-Occupy”  bill, made some headlines. But concerned lawyers and other citizens  worry that it could have disastrous effects for the First Amendment  right to protest. Officially called the Federal Restricted Grounds  Improvement Act, the law makes it a felony to “knowingly” enter a zone  restricted under the law, or engage in “disorderly or disruptive”  conduct in or near the zones. The restricted zones include anywhere the  Secret Service may be — places such as the White House, areas hosting  events deemed “National Special Security Events,” or anywhere visited by  the president, vice president and their immediate families; former  presidents, vice presidents and certain family members; certain foreign  dignitaries; major presidential and vice presidential candidates (within  120 days of an election); and other individuals as designated by a  presidential executive order. These people could be anywhere, and NSSEs  have notoriously included the Democratic and Republican National  Conventions, Super Bowls and the Academy Awards. So far, it seems the  only time H.R. 347 has kicked in is with George Clooney’s high-profile  arrest outside the Sudanese embassy. Clooney ultimately was not detained  without trial — information that would be almost impossible to censor —  but what about the rest of us who exist outside of the mainstream  media’s spotlight?

Related News On HuffPo Club

  • U.S. Citizen Blocked from Returning to the US; Sues Trump State Department at OAS Human Rights Court

    Spread the love
    Spread the love   Background story How to sue the State Department at no cost to the victim: Daniel “No Passport” Bruno in the press: State Department Preventing U.S. Citizen From Returning to…


    Spread the love
    Spread the love Wolfman Jack was born in Brooklyn and grew up listening to Black radio stations. As a boy, he taught himself to impersonate Black DJs and created the Wolfman Jack persona. The rest…

  • Nation of Islam Lectures on 9/11 Attacks. Special Guests Richard Gage, Kevin Barrett, Chris Bollyn

    Spread the love

  • The New National Anthem of the United States

    Spread the love
    Spread the love The US national anthem defends slavery in the fourth, all but forgotten stanza. The US national anthem is a disgrace that needs to be rewritten asap: Oh say can you see,…

Disqus Comments

Specify a Disqus shortname at Social Comments options page in admin panel

Facebook Comments

G+ Comments

Default Comments