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Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012

Top Under-Reported Stories of the Year

What you needed to know but didn’t find in the corporate-owned media

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If you only rely on mainstream, corporate-owned media for your news, you’re missing out on a wealth of information that’s vital to understanding our world and creating a healthy society. According to the researchers at Project Censored, this “modern censorship” is “the subtle yet constant and sophisticated manipulation of reality in our mass media outlets. 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.” The cause, the researchers say, is financial, political or legal pressure on media outlets.

To make sure that you have a complete view of current events, Project Censored researchers have compiled a list of the year’s most under-reported stories. To read the entire list, go to projectcensored.org.

 

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 (RadNet) has serious drawbacks, including a lack of maintenance and equipment that is often improperly calibrated.

 

FBI Agents Responsible for Majority of Terrorist Plots in the U.S.

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.

 

First Federal Reserve Audit Reveals Trillions Loaned to Major Banks

An audit of the U.S. Federal Reserve revealed $16 trillion in secret bailouts given to major American and European banks during the height of the global financial crisis, from 2007 to 2010. Bloomberg News reported that Morgan Stanley received up to $107.3 billion, Citigroup raked in $99.5 billion, and Bank of America got $91.4 billion, according to data it obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, litigation and an act of Congress.

 

Small Network of Corporations Run the Global Economy

A University of Zurich study found that a small group of companies wields huge power over the global economy. The study is the first to look at all 43,060 transnational corporations and their links. The Swiss researchers identified 147 companies that form a “super entity” that controls 40% of the global economy’s total wealth. Because the corporations are so closely connected, the network could be prone to “systemic risk” and vulnerable to collapse.

 

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.

 

Prison Slavery in Today’s U.S.

The U.S. comprises less than 5% of the world’s population, yet American prisons hold more than 25% of all people imprisoned globally. Many of these prisoners labor for 23 cents per hour, or similar wages, in federal prisons contracted by the Bureau of Prisons’ UNICOR, a quasi-public, for-profit corporation, a major government contractor. In addition, as incarceration rates explode in the U.S., thousands are placed in solitary confinement, often for having committed minor disciplinary infractions within prison.

 

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 the elected officials’ 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Who Are the Top 1% and How Do They Earn a Living?

The richest 1% of the country now owns more than 40% of the wealth and takes home nearly a quarter of the nation’s income. Evidence based on tax returns indicates that this super-elite 1% consists of nonfinancial 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% deal with the direct consequences of that crisis, the elites increasingly have left behind deteriorating neighborhoods in favor of wealthy enclaves, further isolating themselves, according to a 2011 Stanford University study.

 

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, and in males may impair sperm production. Prenatal exposure to cell phone radiation has been shown in some studies on animals to produce blood-brain barrier leakage as well as 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 and Drug Administration has yet to recognize studies that indicate microwave ovens alter food’s nutritional structure and, as with the dangers of cell phone use, most studies indicating minimal or no health risks are, in fact, industry-sponsored.

 

Sexual Violence Against Women Soldiers on the Rise and Under Wraps

The 2005 death of U.S. Army Private LaVena Johnson, officially ruled 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 where 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% of the actual assaults, making the total number of military rapes and sexual assaults in excess of 19,000 for the year.

 

Students Crushed by $1 Trillion in 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 G.I. Bill.

 

Conservatives Attack U.S. Postal Service to Break the Union and Privatize the Post Office

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) 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 and 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% of its future health benefits. Thus, the post office’s oft-reported $9 billion deficit is largely a result of government-imposed overpayments.

 

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.

 

Alabama Farmers Look to Replace Migrants with Prisoners

Alabama’s anti-immigration law, HB 56, has created such a labor shortage that farmers in the state sought legislation to enable them to hire prison inmates eligible for work-release programs, to “help farmers fill the gap and find sufficient labor,” as a spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry put it. 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 HB 56.

 

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.

Top Censored Stories of the Year

The read the complete list of the 25 most under-reported articles of the year, or to order Censored 2013: Dispatches from the Media Revolution, by Mickey Huff, Andy Lee Roth and Project Censored, go to projectcensored.org.

  • Signs of an Emerging Police State
  • Oceans in Peril
  • Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Worse Than Anticipated
  • FBI Agents Responsible for Majority of Terrorist Plots in the United States
  • First Federal Reserve Audit Reveals Trillions Loaned to Major Banks
  • Small Network of Corporations Run the Global Economy
  • 2012: The International Year of Cooperatives
  • NATO War Crimes in Libya
  • Prison Slavery in Today’s U.S.
  • HR 347 Would Make Many Forms of Nonviolent Protest Illegal
  • Members of Congress Grow Wealthier Despite Recession
  • U.S. Joins Forces with al-Qaeda in Syria
  • Education “Reform” a Trojan Horse for Privatization
  • Who Are the Top 1% and How Do They Earn a Living?
  • Dangers of Everyday Technology
  • Sexual Violence Against Women Soldiers On the Rise and Under Wraps
  • Students Crushed by $1 Trillion in Loans
  • Palestinian Women Prisoners Shackled During Childbirth
  • New York Police Plant Drugs on Innocent People to Meet Arrest Quotas
  • Stealing from Public Education to Feed the Prison-Industrial Complex
  • Conservatives Attack U.S. Postal Service to Break the Union and Privatize the Post Office
  • Wachovia Bank Laundered Money for Latin American Drug Cartels
  • U.S. Covers Up Afghan Massacre
  • Alabama Farmers Look to Replace Migrants with Prisoners
  • Evidence Points to Guantánamo Dryboarding

Also from the Editors of Project Censored

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