Top Censored Media Stories of 2013
Note: To find the top media censorship stories of any year from 2003 to present, click here.
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 2013 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 report these stories. Yet thanks to the Internet and wonderful, committed groups like Project Censored, 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. Please help spread the word.
Note: Thanks to the San Francisco Bay Guardian and Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez 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 2012 and 2013. And for some amazingly inspiring, yet little-known news, click here and here.
Top 25 Stories of 2013 Subjected to Media Censorship
1. Bradley Manning and the Failure of Corporate Media (For full story, click here)
Untold stories of Iraqi civilian deaths by American soldiers, US diplomats pushing aircraft sales on foreign royalty, uninvestigated abuse by Iraqi allies, the perils of the rise in private war contractors – this is what Manning exposed. They were stories that challenge the US political elite, and they were only made possible by a sacrifice. Manning got a 35-year prison sentence for the revelation of state secrets to WikiLeaks. The failure of our media was not in the lack of coverage of Manning, but in its focus. Though The New York Times partnered with WikiLeaks to release stories based on the documents, news from the leaks have now slowed to a trickle – a waste of over 700,000 pieces of classified intelligence giving unparalleled ground level views of America's costly wars. The media quickly took a scathing indictment of US military policy and spun it into a story about Manning's politics and patriotism. As Rolling Stone pointed out, Manning initially took the trove of leaks to The Washington Post and The New York Times, only to be turned away. Alexa O'Brien, a former Occupy activist, scooped most of the media by actually attending Manning's trial. She produced tens of thousands of words in transcriptions of the court hearings, one of the only reporters on the beat.
Sources: Kevin Gosztola, "The US Press Failed Bradley Manning," FireDogLake, Feb. 28, 2013, available here. Glenn Greenwald, "Bradley Manning: The Face of Heroism," Guardian, Feb. 28, 2013, available here. Janet Reitman, "Did the Mainstream Media Fail Bradley Manning?," Rolling Stone, March 1, 2013, available here. "The Case of the US vs. Bradley Manning," Al Jazeera English, March 9, 2013, available here
2. Richest Global 1 Percent Hide Billions in Tax Havens (For full story, click here)
Global corporate fatcats hold $21-32 trillion in offshore havens, money hidden from government taxation that would benefit people around the world, according to findings by James S. Henry, the former chief economist of the global management firm McKinsey & Company. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained a leak in April 2013, revealing how widespread the buy-in was to these tax havens. The findings were damning: government officials in Canada, Russia, and other countries have embraced offshore accounts, the world's top banks (including Deutsche Bank) have worked to maintain them, and the tax havens are used in Ponzi schemes. Moving money offshore has implications that ripped through the world economy. Part of Greece's economic collapse was due to these tax havens. US Senator Carl Levin, D-Michigan, introduced legislation to combat the practice, SB1533, The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, but so far the bill has had little play in the media. This hidden wealth is a huge black hole in the world economy that has never been measured, and which could generate income tax revenues between $190-280 billion a year.
Sources: Carl Herman, "1% Hide $21 Trillion and US Big Banks Hide $10 Trillion; Ending World poverty: $3 Trillion," Washington's Blog, July 24, 2012, available here. James S. Henry, "The Cost of Offshore Revisited," Tax Justice Network, July 2012, available here.
3. Trans-Pacific Partnership Threatens a Regime of Corporate Global Governance (For full story, click here)
Take 600 corporate advisors, mix in officials from 11 international governments, let it bake for about two years, and out pops international partnerships that threaten to cripple progressive movements worldwide. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade agreement, but leaked texts show it may allow foreign investors to use "investor-state" tribunals to extract extravagant extra damages for "expected future profits," according to the Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. The trade watch group investigated the TPP and is the main advocate in opposition of its policies. The AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, and other organizations have also had growing concerns about the level of access granted to corporations in these agreements. With extra powers granted to foreign firms, the possibility that companies would continue moving offshore could grow. But even with the risks of outsized corporate influence, the US has a strong interest in the TPP in order to maintain trade agreements with Asia.
Source: Kevin Zeese, "Obama's ... Massive Outsourcing of American Jobs," Global Research, Sep. 10, 2012, available here. Lori Wallach, "Leaked Trade Doc Shows Obama Wants to Help Corporations Avoid Regulations," Democracy Now!, June 14, 2012, available here. Andrew Gavin Marshall, "The Trans-Pacific Partnership: This Is What Corporate Governance Looks Like," Truthout, Nov. 20, 2012, available here. Lori Wallach, "Bring Trans-Pacific Partnership into the Sunlight," Yes! Magazine, Nov,r 21, 2012, available here.
4. Obama's War on Whistleblowers (For full story, click here)
President Obama has invoked the Espionage Act of 1917 more than every other president combined. Seven times, Obama has pursued leakers with the act, against Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Bradley Manning, Stephen Kim, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou and most recently, Edward Snowden. All had ties to the State Department, FBI, CIA, or NSA, and all of them leaked to journalists. Neither party is raising hell over this. This is the sort of story that sort of slips through the cracks. And when the politicians don't raise a fuss, neither does the media. Pro Publica covered the issue, constructing timelines and mapping out the various arrests and indictments. The lack of coverage is in Obama's hypocrisy – only a year before, he signed The Whistleblower Protection Act. "Certain provisions in the Act threaten to interfere with my constitutional duty to supervise the executive branch," Obama said. "I will interpret those sections consistent with my authority."
Sources: Dana Liebelson, "Why Is Obama Bashing a Whistleblower Law He Already Signed?," Mother Jones, Jan. 10, 2013, available here. Glenn Greenwald, "The Danger of the Still-Escalating Obama Whistleblower War," Guardian, Jan. 27, 2013, available here. Paul Harris, "Barack Obama's 'Extreme' Anti-Terror Tactics Face Liberal Backlash," Guardian, Feb. 9, 2013, available here. Ed Pilkington, "Bradley Manning Prosecution to Call Full Witness List Despite Guilty Plea," Guardian, March 1, 2013, available here.
5. Hate Groups, Antigovernment Groups on Rise across US (For full story, click here)
Hate groups in the US are on the rise, according to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center. There are 1,007 known hate groups operating across the country, it wrote, including neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black separatists, border vigilantes, and others. Since 2000, those groups have grown by over half, and there was a "powerful resurgence" of Patriot groups, the likes of which were involved in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Worst of all, the huge growth in armed militias seems to have conspicuous timing with Obama's election. "The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, has grown 813 percent since Obama was elected – from 149 in 2008 to 1,360 in 2012," the SPLC reported.
Sources: Brian Levin, "U.S. Hate and Extremist Groups Hit Record Levels," Huffington Post, March 8, 2012, available here. Mark Potok, Intelligence Report: The Year in Hate and Extremism, Southern Poverty Law Center, Spring 2013, available here. LaurieInQueens, "'Patriot' Groups At All-Time High, Hate Groups Up Again: Report," National Memo, March 7, 2013, available here.
6. Billionaires' Rising Wealth Intensifies Poverty, Inequality (For full story, click here)
The world's billionaires added $241 billion to their collective net worth in 2012. That's an economic recovery, right? That gain, coupled with the world's richest peoples' new total worth of $1.9 trillion (more than the GDP of Canada), wasn't reported by some kooky socialist group, but by Bloomberg News. But few journalists are asking the important question: Why? Journalist George Monbiot highlights a reduction of taxes and tax enforcement, the privatization of public assets, and the weakening of labor unions. "Recent empirical and analytical work reviewed here mostly shows a negative correlation between inequality and growth."
Sources: Matthew G. Miller & Peter Newcomb, "Billionaires Worth $1.9 Trillion Seek Advantage in 2013," Bloomberg, available here. George Monbiot, "Bang Goes the Theory," Monbiot.com, January 14, 2013, available here.
7. Merchants of Death and Nuclear Weapons (For full story, click here)
The threat of nuclear war is not strictly an example of censorship, but of a desire for media reform. A study from the The Physicians for Social Responsibility said 1 billion people could starve in the decade after a nuclear detonation. Corn production in the US would decline by an average of 10 percent for an entire decade and food prices would make food inaccessible to hundreds of millions of the world's poorest. This is not journalism in the classic sense. In traditional journalism, as it's played out since the early 20th century, news requires an element of something new in order to garner reporting – not a looming threat or danger. So in this case, what is identified is the need for a new kind of journalism – "solutions journalism." "Solutions journalism," Sarah van Gelder wrote in the foreword to Censored 2014, "must investigate not only the individual innovations, but also the larger pattern of change – the emerging ethics, institutions, and ways of life that are coming into existence."
Sources: Marc Pilisuk, "Occupying the Merchants of Death," Project Censored, Nov. 22, 2012, available here.
8. Bank Interests Inflate Global Prices by 35 to 40 Percent (For full story, click here)
Does 35 percent of everything bought in the United States go to interest? Professor Margrit Kennedy of the University of Hanover thinks so, and she says it's a major funnel of money from the 99 percent to the rich. In her 2012 book, Occupy Money, Kennedy wrote that tradespeople, suppliers, wholesalers, and retailers along the chain of production rely on credit. Her figures were initially drawn from the German economy, but Ellen Brown of the Web of Debt and Global Research said she found similar patterns in the US. This "hidden interest" has sapped the growth of other industries, she said, lining the pockets of the financial sector. So if interest is stagnating so many industries, why would journalists avoid the topic? Few economists have echoed her views, and few experts emerged to back up her assertions. Without people in power pushing the topic, a mainstream journalist would be seen as going out on a limb to report on such important matters. If reporters raise an issue the elites are not raising themselves, then they're labelled ideological, or said to have an axe to grind. This makes mainstream journalism worthless on many important issues.
9. Icelanders Vote to Include Commons in Their Constitution (For full story, click here)
In 2012, Icelandic citizens voted in referendum to change the country's 1944 constitution. When asked, "In the new constitution, do you want natural resources that are not privately owned to be declared national property?" its citizens voted 81 percent in favor. The constitutional reforms are a direct response to the nation's 2008 financial crash, when Iceland's unregulated banks borrowed more than the country's gross domestic product from international wholesale money markets. As Jessica Conrad of On the Commons reported, "It is clear that citizens are beginning to recognize the value of what they share together over the perceived wealth created by the market economy."
Sources: Jessica Conrad, "Icelanders Vote to Include the Commons in Their Constitution," Commons Magazine, November 2012, available here. Thorvaldur Gylfason, "Iceland: Direct Democracy in Action," Open Democracy, November 12, 2012, available here.
10. A "Culture of Cruelty" along Mexico–US Border (For full story, click here)
The plight of Mexican border crossings usually involves three types of stories in US press: deaths in the stretch of desert beyond the border, the horrors of drug cartels, and heroic journeys of border crossings by sympathetic workers. But a report released a year ago by the organization No More Deaths asserts that people arrested by Border Patrol while crossing were denied water and told to let their sick die. No More Deaths conducted more than 12,000 interviews to form the basis of its study in three Mexican cities: Nacos, Nogales and Agua Prieta. The report cites grossly ineffective oversight from the Department of Homeland Security. This has received some coverage, from Salon showcasing video of Border Patrol agents destroying jugs of water meant for crossers to a New York Times piece citing a lack of oversight for Border Patrol's excessive force. The ACLU lobbied the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to call international attention to the plight of these border crossers at the hands of US law enforcement.
Sources: Erika L. Sanchez, "Ripped Off by Smugglers, Groped by Border Patrol: The Nightmares Women Migrants Face," AlterNet, June 26, 2012, available here. No More Deaths, "A Culture of Cruelty," September 21, 2011, available here.
More of the Top 25 Media Censorship Stories of 201x
11. Bush Blocked Iran Nuclear Deal (For full story, click here)
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. The continuation of these negotiations could have headed off the current political crisis over the Iranian nuclear program, if not eliminated the threat of war and the strain of strict economic sanctions.
12. The US Has Left Iraq with an Epidemic of Cancers, Birth Defects (For full story, click here)
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. 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 Go Hungry (For full story, click here)
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.
14. Wireless Technology a Looming Health Crisis (For full story, click here)
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? (For full story, click here)
Reduced land productivity, combined with elevated oil costs and population growth, threaten a systemic, global food crisis.
16. Journalism Under Attack Around the Globe (For full story, click here)
Journalists are increasingly at risk of being killed or imprisoned for doing their jobs, a situation that imperils press freedom.
17. The Creative Commons Celebrates Ten Years of Sharing and Cultural Creation (For full story, click here)
Creative Commons (CC) is celebrating ten years of helping writers, artists, technologists, and other creators share their knowledge and creativity with the world. Creative Commons and the free culture movement envision a new world in which partnership premised on shared benefits replaces the false battle between self-interest and community.
18. Fracking Our Food Supply (For full story, click here)
The effects of hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") on food supply and the environment are slowly emerging. The fracking process runs contrary to safe sustainable food production. Chemicals used in the fracking process contaminate surrounding land, water, and air. Ranchers in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Louisiana, and New Mexico have been reporting health problems and incidents of dead and tainted livestock, due to elevated levels of contaminants from nearby wells.
19. The Power of Peaceful Revolution in Iceland (For full story, click here)
After privatization of the national banking sector, private bankers borrowed billions of dollars or (ten times the size of Iceland's economy), creating a huge economic bubble that doubled housing prices and made a small percentage of the population exceedingly wealthy.
20. Israel Counted Minimum Calorie Needs in Gaza Blockade (For full story, click here)
Declassified documents reveal that the Israeli military calculated how many calories a typical Gazan would need to survive, in order to determine how much food to supply the Gaza Strip during the 2007–2010 blockade.
21. Monsanto and India's "Suicide Economy" (For full story, click here)
Monsanto has a long history of contamination and cover-up, and in India another Monsanto cover-up is ongoing. Since 1995, nearly 300,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide due to massive debt. There is clear evidence that Monsanto's Bt cotton is implicated.
22. Pennsylvania Law Gags Doctors to Protect Big Oil's "Proprietary Secrets" (Full story here)
In communities affected by fracking, people understand that this process of drilling for natural gases puts the environment and their health at risk. A new bill requires health professionals to sign a confidentiality agreement stating that they will not disclose chemicals used in fracking to anyone else–not even their own patients. The companies deem the chemical ingredients used in the process as "proprietary secrets."
23. Transaction Tax Helps Civilize Wall Street, Lower the National Debt (Full story here)
In February 2013, United States senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) introduced a bill to implement a new tax of three basis points (that is, three pennies for every hundred dollars) on most nonconsumer stock trades. If made law, the tax could generate $350 billion in federal revenues over the next ten years.
24. Did Monsanto Plant GMOs Before USDA Approval? (For full story, click here)
Monsanto introduced genetically modified alfalfa in 2003–a full two years before it was deregulated, according to recently released evidence.
25. Israel Gave Birth Control to Ethiopian Immigrants Without Their Consent (Full story here)
In January 2013, Israel acknowledged that medical authorities have been giving Ethiopian immigrants long-term birth-control injections, often without their knowledge or consent.
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