Click here for the complete list of 25 from Project Cenosred.
For 37 years, Project Censored has worked with college students and faculty to issue an annual list of the Top 25 Underreported or Censored Stories from the previous year. Below we reprint the capsules from the Top 5, listing sources and researchers, briefly capsulize the next 10 and list the final 10. Full details and links are available at www.projectcensored.org.
1. Bradley Manning and the Failure of Corporate Media
In February 2013, United States military intelligence analyst Bradley Manning confessed in court to providing vast archives of military and diplomatic files to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, saying he wanted the information to become public “to make the world a better place” and that he hoped to “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military in (US) foreign policy.” The 700,000 released documents revealed a multitude of previously secret crimes and acts of deceit and corruption by US military and government officials.
According to Manning’s testimony in February 2013, he tried to release the Afghanistan and Iraq War Logs through conventional sources. In winter 2010, he contacted the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Politico in hopes that they would publish the materials. Only after being rebuffed by these three outlets did Manning begin uploading documents to WikiLeaks.
US corporate media have largely shunned Manning’s case, not to mention the importance of the information he released. When corporate media have focused on Manning, this coverage has often emphasized his sexual orientation and past life, rather than his First Amendment rights or the abusive nature of his imprisonment, which includes almost three years without trial and nearly one year in “administrative segregation,” the military equivalent of solitary.
In his February 2013 court appearance, Manning pled guilty to twelve of the twenty-two charges against him, including the capital offense of “aiding and abetting the enemy.” He faces the possibility of a life sentence without parole. His severe treatment is a warning to other possible whistleblowers.
Sources: FireDogLake, Guardian, Rolling Stone, and Al Jazeera English
Researchers: Amanda Renteria and Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)
2. Richest Global 1 Percent Hide Trillions in Tax Havens
The global 1 percent hold $21-32 trillion in offshore havens in order to evade taxes, according to James S. Henry, the former chief economist at the global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company. Based on data from the Bank for International Settlements, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and 139 countries, Henry found that the top 1 percent hid more than the total annual economic output of the US and Japan combined. For perspective, this hidden wealth is at least seven times the amount—$3 trillion—that many estimates suggest would be necessary to end global poverty.
Domestically, the Federal Reserve reported that the top seven US banks hold more than $10 trillion in assets, recorded in over 14,000 created “subsidiaries” to avoid taxes.
Sources: Washington’s Blog, Tax Justice Network
Researchers: Lyndsey Casey and Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)
3. Trans-Pacific Partnership Threatens a Regime of Corporate Global
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), branded as a trade agreement and negotiated in unprecedented secrecy, is actually an enforceable transfer of sovereignty from nations and their people to foreign corporations.
As of December 2012, eleven countries were involved—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States—with the possibility of more joining in the future due to inclusion of an unusual “docking agreement.”
While the public, US Congress, and the press are locked out, 600 corporate advisors are meeting with officials of signatory governments behind closed doors to complete text for the world’s biggest multinational trade agreement, which aims to penalize countries that protect their workers, consumers, or environment.
Leaked text from the thirty-chapter agreement has revealed that negotiators have already agreed to many radical terms, granting expansive new rights and privileges for foreign investors and their enforcement through extrajudicial “investor-state” tribunals. Through these, corporations would be given special authority to dispute laws, regulations, and court decisions. Foreign firms could extract unlimited amounts of taxpayer money as compensation for “financial damages” to “expected future profits” caused by efforts to protect domestic finance, health, labor, environment, land use, and other laws they claim undermine their new TPP privileges.
Sources: Global Research, Democracy Now!, Truthout, Yes! Magazine
Researchers: Tricia Boreta, Kyndace Safa and Susan Rahman (College of Marin), Andy Lee Roth (Sonoma State University)
4. Obama’s War on
Obama signed both the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, expanding whistleblower protections, in November 2012, and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) furthering these protections in January 2013. His NDAA signing statement, however, undermines these protections, stating that those expanded protections “could be interpreted in a manner that would interfere with my authority to manage and direct executive branch officials.” Thus, in his signing statement, Obama promised to ignore expanded whistleblower protections if they conflicted with his power to “supervise, control, and correct employees’ communications with the Congress in cases where such communications would be unlawful or would reveal information that is properly privileged or otherwise confidential.”
Despite rhetoric to the contrary, the Obama administration is targeting government whistleblowers, having invoked the otherwise dormant Espionage Act of 1917 seven times. The Obama justice department has also used the Intelligence Identities Protection Act to obtain a conviction against Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whistleblower John Kiriakou for exposing the waterboarding of prisoners, ironically making Kiriakou the first CIA official to be sentenced to prison in connection with the torture program. The justice department charged former National Security Agency senior executive Thomas Drake with espionage for exposing hundreds of millions of dollars of waste.
Sources: Mother Jones, Guardian
Researchers: Shannon Polvino, William Scannapieco, Kathyrn La Juett, and Justin Lewis, Michael I. Niman (State University of New York–Buffalo)
5. Hate Groups and
Antigovernment Groups on Rise across US
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors hate groups and antigovernment groups, released a report showing that 1,360 radical, antigovernment “patriot” groups and 321 militias actively operate within the United States. Released in March 2013, these statistics show an 813 percent rise in the number of such groups since 2008, with increasing numbers each year. Hate groups are most prevalent in California, with eighty-four total; Texas was second among states with sixty-two.
The SPLC counted over 1,000 hate groups in the US in 2012. By the SPLC’s standards, hate groups “have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” and their activities can include “criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.”
With the numbers of Patriot groups now much higher now than they were during the peak of the militia movement in the 1990s, the threat of domestic terror attacks is very real. After the SPLC’s report was released, the Center’s president, Richard Cohen, sent a letter to the US attorney general as well as the Homeland Security secretary requesting them to “create a new task force to ensure the government is devoting the resources needed to address domestic terrorism.”
Hate groups are now transitioning from racist hatred to hatred focused on the government and its representatives. The patriot and militia groups are some of the fastest growing groups, and their goals and rhetoric must be understood in order to implement successful strategies to counter their behavior if it should become violent, according to the SPLC. The SPLC also identified “sovereign citizens,” who often operate as “lone wolves,” breaking away from the group to perform the violent acts. Unfortunately, with the use of social media and the Internet, hate groups are able to recruit and spread their beliefs more readily than in the past.
Corporate media have paid scattered attention to the SPLC report and its findings. Both the New York Times and MSNBC covered the report on the day the SPLC issued it, but otherwise, establishment media have done little to shed light on this subject.
Sources: Huffington Post, Southern Poverty Law Center, National Memo
Researchers: Sunnie Ayers and Ben Parry (Sonoma State University); Jackson Hand, Amanda Baron and Andy Lee Roth (College of Marin)
6. Billionaires’ Rising Wealth Intensifies Poverty and Inequality
As a direct result of existing financial policies, the world’s one hundred richest people grew to be $241 billion richer in 2012. This makes them collectively worth $1.9 trillion, just slightly less than the United Kingdom’s total economic output.
7. Merchants of Death and Nuclear Weapons
The Physicians for Social Responsibility released a study estimating that one billion people—one-seventh of the human race—could starve over the decade following a single nuclear detonation. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) released its 180-page study showing that nuclear-armed nations spend over $100 billion each year assembling new warheads, modernizing old ones, and building ballistic missiles, bombers, and submarines to launch them. The US still has about 2,500 nuclear weapons deployed and 2,600 more as backup. Washington and Moscow account for 90 percent of all nuclear weapons.
8. Bank Interests Inflate Global Prices by 35 to 40 Percent
A stunning 35 to 40 percent of everything we buy goes to interest. As Ellen Brown reported, “That helps explain how wealth is systematically transferred from Main Street to Wall Street.” In her report, Brown cited the work of Margrit Kennedy, PhD, whose research in Germany documents interest charges ranging from 12 percent for garbage collection, to 38 percent for drinking water, and 77 percent for rent in public housing. Kennedy found that the bottom 80 percent pay the hidden interest charges that the top 10 percent collect, making interest a strongly regressive tax that the poor pay to the rich.
Drawing on Kennedy’s data, Brown estimated that if we had a financial system that returned the interest collected from the public directly to the public, 35 percent could be lopped off the price of everything we buy.
9. Icelanders Vote
to Include Commons in Their Constitution
In October 2012, Icelanders voted in an advisory referendum regarding six proposed policy changes to the nation’s 1944 Constitution. In response to the question, “In the new Constitution, do you want natural resources that are not privately owned to be declared national property?,” Iceland’s citizens responded with a decisive “yes.” Eighty-one percent of those voting supported the commons proposal.
10. A “Culture of Cruelty” along Mexico–US Border
Migrants crossing the Mexico–US border not only face dangers posed by an unforgiving desert but also abuse at the hands of the US Border Patrol. During their journey through the desert, migrants risk dehydration, starvation, exhaustion, and the possibility of being threatened and robbed. Unfortunately, the dangers continue if they come in contact with the Border Patrol. In “A Culture of Cruelty,” the organization No More Deaths revealed human rights violations by the US Border Patrol including limiting or denying migrants water and food, verbal and physical abuse, and failing to provide necessary medical attention. Female migrants face additional violations including sexual abuse, according to No More Deaths. As Erika L. Sánchez reported, “Dehumanization of immigrants is actually part of the Border Patrol’s institutional culture. Instances of misconduct are not aberrations, but common practice.” The Border Patrol has denied any wrongdoing and has not been held responsible for these abuses.
Public debate on immigration tends to ignore not only the potential dangers of crossing the desert, but also the reasons for the migration of undocumented immigrants to the US. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed by US president Bill Clinton and Mexican president Carlos Salinas in 1994, displaced many Mexican farmers and workers from their farms. Lack of employment resulting from NAFTA continues to motivate many to migrate to the US.
11. Bush Blocked Iran
According to a former top Iranian negotiator, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, in 2005 Iran offered a deal to the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom that would have made it impossible for Iran to build nuclear weapons. At that time, Iran did not have the capability to fabricate fuel rods. The offer included the plan to ship its uranium to an “agreed upon country” for enrichment in exchange for yellowcake, the raw material used to make fuel rods. Once uranium is fabricated into fuel rods, it is practically impossible to reconvert for military purposes. As Gareth Porter reports for Consortium News, Mousavian’s account makes it clear that President George W. Bush’s administration “refused to countenance any Iranian enrichment capability, regardless of the circumstances.”
Now a visiting research scholar at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Mousavian was arrested by the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration on charges of espionage in April 2007.
12. The US Has Left
Iraq with an Epidemic of Cancers and Birth Defects
High levels of lead, mercury, and depleted uranium are believed to be causing birth defects, miscarriages, and cancer for people living in the Iraqi cities of Basra and Fallujah. Researchers have claimed that the United States bombings of Basra and Fallujah are to blame for this rapidly increasing health crisis.
A recent study showed more than 50 percent of babies born in Fallujah have a birth defect, while one in six pregnancies ends in a miscarriage.
13. A Fifth of Americans
An August 2012 Gallup poll showed that 18.2 percent of Americans lacked sufficient money for needed food at least once over the previous year. To make matters worse, the worst drought in half a century impacted 80 percent of agricultural lands in the country, increasing food prices. Despite this, in 2012, Congress considered cutting support for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)— the official name of its food stamp program—as part of the 2013 Farm Bill.
Proposed Senate cuts would cost approximately 500,000 households about ninety dollars a month in nutritional assistance. Proposed cuts in the House of Representatives would go much further than the ones in the Senate, and would have removed at least 1.8 million people from SNAP. Republicans controlling the House have been eager to cut spending and were the primary supporters of food stamp cuts.
Opponents have expressed concern over the harm the cuts would cause to society’s more vulnerable members, including seniors, children, and working families. Rising food prices would hit Southern states the hardest, while Mountain-Plains and Midwest states would be least affected. Despite all the food hardship, the National Resources Defense Council reported that 40 percent of food in the country goes to waste.
14. Wireless Technology
a Looming Health Crisis
As a multitude of hazardous wireless technologies are deployed in homes, schools, and workplaces, government officials and industry representatives continue to insist on their safety despite growing evidence to the contrary. Extensive deployment of “smart grid” technology hastens this looming health crisis.
15. Food Riots:
The New Normal?
Reduced land productivity, combined with elevated oil costs and population growth, threaten a systemic, global food crisis. Citing findings from a study by Paul and Anne Ehrlich, published by the Royal Society, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed identified the links among intensifying economic inequality, debt, climate change, and fossil fuel dependency to conclude that a global food crisis is now “undeniable.”
“Global food prices have been consistently higher than in preceding decades,” reported Ahmed, leading to dramatic price increases in staple foods and triggering food riots across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. The crux of this global phenomenon is climate change: severe natural disasters including drought, flood, heat waves, and monsoons have affected major regional food baskets. By mid-century, Ahmed reported, “world crop yields could fall as much as 20–40 percent because of climate change alone.”
And 10 more…
16. Journalism Under Attack Around the Globe
17. The Creative Commons Celebrates Ten Years of Sharing and Cultural Creation
18. Fracking Our Food Supply
19. The Power of Peaceful Revolution in Iceland
20. Israel Counted Minimum Calorie Needs in Gaza Blockade
21. Monsanto and India’s “Suicide Economy”
22. Pennsylvania Law Gags Doctors to Protect Big Oil’s “Proprietary Secrets”
23. Transaction Tax Helps Civilize Wall Street and Lower the National Debt
24. Widespread GMO Contamination: Did Monsanto Plant GMOs Before USDA Approval?
25. Israel Gave Birth Control to Ethiopian Immigrants Without Their Consent