America's 'most censored' news revealed

Project Censored announces its pick of the top 25 news stories to be spiked in the last 12 months...

Each year since 1976, hundreds of student researchers, faculty, and volunteer members have presented the most important news stories that were under-covered, glossed over or ignored by the US’s major media outlets.

Their 25 stories this year make up the first chapter of the Censored 2008 yearbook, which also offers real news about internet freedom, images of the war, and the impact of Big Media on children.

With an introduction by Dennis Loo and the political cartoon commentary of John Jonik, this year’s book covers some of the most critical issues facing the American people today.

The Top 25 stories focus on issues such as civil rights, politics, economics, foreign policy, food and health, the environment, energy, domestic policy, and the military.

“Corporate media in the United States is interested primarily in entertainment news to feed their bottom-line priorities,” states Peter Phillips, Director of the Project.

“Some of the most important news stories that should reach the American public falls on the cutting room floor to be replaced by sex-scandals and celebrity updates.”

The Sonoma State University research group is composed of over 200 faculty, students and community experts who review hundreds of story submissions for coverage, content, reliability of sources and national significance.

The top 25 stories are submitted to a panel of judges who then rank them in order of importance.

Phillips says we must broaden our understanding of censorship in the US.

"No longer is the dictionary definition of direct government control of news adequate. The private corporate media in the US significantly undercover and/or deliberately censor numerous important news stories every year," he adds.

"The systemic erosion of human rights and civil liberties, in the US, is the common theme of many of the most censored stories of 2006-07.

"Most people in the US believe in our Bill of Rights and value personal freedoms. Yet, our corporate media in the past year failed to inform us about serious changes in our civil rights and liberties."

People want to be informed about serious decisions made by the powerful and rely on the corporate media to keep us abreast of important changes, despite their busy lives, Phillips says.

"When a media fails to cover these issues, what else can we call it but censorship?"

Top Censored Stories of 2006-2007

1/. No Habeas Corpus for “Any Person”

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) ushered in military commission law for US citizens and non-citizens alike. Text in the MCA allows for the institution of a military alternative to the constitutional justice system for “any person” arbitrarily deemed to be an enemy of the state, regardless of American citizenship.

“Who Is 'Any Person' in Tribunal Law?” Robert Parry, Consortium, 10/19/2006

“Still No Habeas Rights for You” Robert Parry, Consortium, 2/3/2007

“Repeal the Military Commissions Act and Restore the Most American Human Right” Thom Hartmann, Commondreams, 2/12/2007

2/. Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 allows the president to deploy military troops anywhere in the United States and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities in order to "suppress public disorder.”

“Bush Moves Toward Martial Law” Frank Morales, Uruknet, 10/ 26/2006

3/. AFRICOM: US Military Control of Africa’s Resources

In February 2007 the White House announced the formation of the US African Command (AFRICOM), a unified Pentagon command center in Africa. Presented as a humanitarian guard in the Global War on Terror, the real objective is procurement and control of Africa’s oil and its global delivery systems.

“Understanding AFRICOM” Parts 1-3, b real, MoonofAlabama.org 2/21/2007

4/. Frenzy of Increasingly Destructive Trade Agreements

The US and European Union (EU) are vigorously pursuing increasingly destructive trade and investment agreements outside the auspices of the WTO, resulting in unprecedented exploitation, loss of livelihood, displacement, and degradation of human rights and environments.

“Signing Away The Future” Emily Jones, Oxfam, 3/2007

“Free Trade Enslaving Poor Countries” Sanjay Suri, IPS coverage of Oxfam Report, 3/20/2007

5/. Human Traffic Builds US Embassy in Iraq

The enduring monument to US liberation and democracy in Iraq is being built by forced labor. Contractors subcontracting to the US State Department are using bait-and-switch recruiting practices to smuggle Asian workers into brutal and inhumane labor camps—in the middle of the US-controlled Green Zone.

“A U.S. Fortress Rises in Baghdad: Asian Workers Trafficked to Build World's Largest Embassy” David Phinney, CorpWatch, 10/17/2006

6/. Operation FALCON Raids

Under Operation FALCON—Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally—more than 30,000 “fugitives” were arrested in the largest dragnets in the nation's history. Over 960 state, local and federal agencies were directly involved. Only promotional coverage supplied by the DOJ was ever aired. We have yet to be told who these fugitives were and what became of them.

“Operation Falcon and the Looming Police State” Mike Whitney, Ukernet, 2/26/2007

“Operation Falcon” SourceWatch, Updated 11/18/2006

7/. Behind Blackwater Inc.

Blackwater, the most powerful mercenary firm in the world, is the company that most embodies the privatization of the military industrial complex. Bush’s contracts with Blackwater have allowed the creation of a private army of more than 20,000 soldiers, operating with almost no oversight or effective legal constraints, to deploy in nine countries and aggressively expand its presence inside US borders.

“Our Mercenaries in Iraq: Blackwater Inc and Bush's Undeclared Surge” Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now! 1/26/07

8/. KIA: The US Neoliberal Invasion of India

The Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture, quietly signed by Bush and India’s Prime Minister Singh, trades India’s agricultural sector for US nuclear technology. The KIA allows for the grab of India’s seed sector by Monsanto, its trade sector by giant agribusiness ADM and Cargill, and its retail sector by Wal-Mart.

“Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India” Democracy Now! 12/13/2006

“Genetically Modified Seeds: Women in India take on Monsanto” Arun Shrivastava, Global Research, 10/9/06

“Sowing Trouble: India's ‘Second Green Revolution’” Suman Sahai, SciDev.Net, 5/9/06

9/. Privatization of America’s Infrastructure

More than 20 states have enacted legislation allowing public-private partnerships to build and run highways. We will soon be paying Wall Street investors, Australian bankers, and Spanish contractors for the privilege of driving on American roads.

“The Highwaymen” Daniel Schulman with James Ridgeway. Mother Jones, 2/2007

“Bush Administration Quietly Plans NAFTA Super Highway” Jerome R. Corsi, Human Events, 6/12/2006

10/. Vulture Funds Threaten Debt Relief for Poor Nations

Vulture funds, as defined by the IMF, are companies that buy up the debt of poor nations cheaply, when it is about to be written off, and then sue for the full value of the debt plus interest—which might be ten times what they paid for it. Otherwise known as “distressed-debt investors,” these companies profit off plunging impoverished nations into crippling debt.

“Vulture Fund Threat to Third World” Greg Palast with Meirion Jones for BBC Newsnight, 02/14/2007

11/. The Scam of “Reconstruction” in Afghanistan

Much of the US tax money earmarked to rebuild Afghanistan actually ends up going no further than the pockets of wealthy US corporations. Paychecks for overpriced, and often incompetent, American “experts” under contract to USAID go directly from the Agency to American bank accounts. Seventy percent of the aid that does make it to a recipient country is carefully “tied” to the donor nation for further fraud and exploitation.

“Why It's Not Working in Afghanistan” Ann Jones, Tomdispatch.com, 8/27/06

“Afghanistan Inc: a CorpWatch Investigative Report” Fariba Nawa, CorpWatch, 10/6/06

12/. Another Massacre in Haiti by UN Troops

On December 22, 2006 more than 30 unarmed Haitian civilians, including women and children, were killed by extensive and indiscriminate gunfire from UN “peacekeeping” forces, reportedly as collective punishment for a massive demonstration days earlier calling for the return of President Aristide.

“UN in Haiti: Accused of Second Massacre” Haiti Information Project, Haiti Action, 1/21/2007

“Haiti: Poor Residents of Capital Describe a State of Siege” Wadner Pierre and Jeb Sprague, IPS, 2/28/07

13/. Immigrant Roundups to Gain Cheap Labor for US Corporate Giants

In the wake of 9/11, Immigration Customs Enforcement has conducted raids and roundups of “illegal” immigrants under the rubric of preventing terrorism and keeping our homeland safe. The real goal, however, is to replace the immigrant work force in the US with a tightly regulated, exploitive guest-worker program.

“Migrants: Globalization’s Junk Mail?” Laura Carlsen, Foreign Policy in Focus, 2/23/07

“Which Side are You on?” David Bacon, Truthout, 1/29/07

“Workers, Not Guests” David Bacon, The Nation, 2/6/07

14/. Impunity for US War Criminals

A last minute adjustment to the Military Commission Act of 2006 redefined torture, removed the harshest definition of war crimes, and exempts the perpetrators from prosecution for such offences dating back to November 1997. The source of this provision is, however, a mystery. The White House denies any involvement or knowledge regarding the insertion of such language into the MCA.

“A Senate mystery keeps torture alive, and its practitioners free” Jeff Stein, Congressional Quarterly, 11/ 22/06

15/. Toxic Exposure Can Be Genetically Transmitted to Future Generations

Research suggests that our behavior and our environmental conditions may program sections of our children’s DNA. New evidence about how genes interact with the environment suggests that many industrial chemicals may be more ominously dangerous than previously thought. One researcher points to a revolution in medicine: “You aren't eating and exercising just for yourself, but for your lineage.”

“Some Chemicals are More Harmful Than Anyone Ever Suspected” Peter Montague, Rachel's Democracy & Health News 876, 10/12/06

16/. No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11

Osama bin Ladin’s role in the events of September 11, 2001 is not mentioned on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” notice. Six years later the FBI spokesperson explains, “The reason 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama bin Laden's Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11…”

“FBI says, ‘No hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11’” Ed Haas, Muckraker Report, 6/6/06

17/. Drinking Water Contaminated by Military and Corporations

Corporations, municipalities, and the US military are using America’s waters as their dumping ground —often with little or no accountability. The average major facility discharges pollutants in excess of its permitted limit by over 275 percent, nearly four times the legal limit, while more than 40 percent of US waterways are already unsafe for swimming and fishing,

“Factories, Cities Across USA Exceed Water Pollution Limits” Sunny Lewis, Environment News Service 3/24/2006

“Military Waste In Our Drinking Water” Sunaura Taylor and Astra Taylor, AlterNet, 8/4/2006

18/. Mexico’s Stolen Election

US interests were significantly invested in the outcome of Mexico’s 2006 presidential election in which overwhelming evidence reveals massive fraud.

“Evidence of Election Fraud Grows in México,” Chuck Collins and Joshua Holland, AlterNet, 8/2/2006

“Mexico: The Political Volcano Rumbles” Revolution, 9/10/06

19/. People’s Movement Challenges Neo-Liberal Agenda

In Latin America, massive opposition to US economic domination has demanded that populist leaders and parties take control of national governments, building powerful alternatives to neo-liberal exploitation.

“Is the US Free Trade Model Losing Steam?” American Friends Service Committee, Trade Matters, 5/3/06

“Economic Policy Changes With New Latin American Leaders” Mark Weisbrot, International Herold Tribune, 12/28/06

“Is Hugo Chaves a Threat to Stability? No.” Mark Weisbrot, International Affairs Forum, 3/31/07

20/. Terror Act Against Animal Activists

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006 expanded the definition of “terrorism” to include acts that interfere, or promote interference, with the operation of an animal enterprise. Over 160 groups opposed this Act on grounds that its terminology is dangerously vague and poses major conflict to the US Constitution.

“The AETA is Invidiously Detrimental to the Animal Rights Movement (and Unconstitutional as Well)” David Hoch and Odette Wilkens, Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, 3/9/07

“US House Passes Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act With Little Discussion or Dissent” Will Potter, Green is the New Red, 11/14/06

“22 Years for Free-Speech Advocates: Six Animal Rights Activists Given Lengthy Prison Sentences for Running Website” Budgerigar, Earth First! Journal, 11/06

21/. US Seeks WTO Immunity for Illegal Farm Payments

The July 2006 Doha round of WTO negotiations broke down over the contentious issue of farm trade and the unrestricted opening of markets to agricultural products. In a last-minute proposal, one not included on the original agenda, the US insisted that all trade agreements include a special “Peace Clause” that would make its use of illegal farm subsidies immune from prosecution by the countries affected.

“Canada launches WTO case on US subsidies” Eoin Callan, Financial Times, 1/9/2007

“US seeks “get-out clause” for illegal farm payments” Oxfam, 6/29/2006

22/. North Invades Mexico

The number of North Americans living in Mexico has soared from 200,000 to 1 million (one-quarter of all US expatriates) in the past decade. With more than 70 million American baby-boomers expected to retire in the next two decades, experts predict “a tidal wave” of migration. The land rush is sending up property values to the detriment of locals whose children are consequently driven into slums or forced to emigrate north.

“Border Invaders: The Perfect Swarm Heads South” Mike Davis, TomDispatch.com, 9/19/2006

23/. Feinstein’s Conflict of Interest in Iraq

Dianne Feinstein is involved in monumental conflicts of interest as she promotes and exploits the Global War on Terror. As a member of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee, Senator Feinstein voted for appropriations worth billions of dollars to her husband's military construction firms, while consistently voting to fund US military proliferation.

“Senator Feinstein’s Iraq Conflict” Peter Byrne, Bohemian, 1/24/2007

24/. Media Misquotes Threat From Iran’s President

A mistranslated quotation attributed to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, which threatened that, “Israel must be wiped off the map,” has been spread around the world. Ahmadinejad’s actual statements, however, were significantly less threatening.

“‘Wiped Off The Map’ - The Rumor of the Century” Arash Norouzi, MohammadMossadegh.com, Global Research, 1/20/2007

“Full Text: The President of Iran's Letter To President Bush” Translated by Le Monde, Information Clearing House, 05/09/06

25/. Who Will Profit From Native Energy?

The US government and energy industry intend to market a shift away from dependence on foreign energy by deregulating and stepping up their exploitation (“development”) of wind and solar resources located on Native American reservations.

“Native Energy Futures” Brian Awehali, Lip Magazine, 6/5/06