Top Censored Media Stories of 2009
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 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 up to 1,000 news story submissions for content, reliability of sources, and national significance. The top 25 stories selected are submitted to a distinguished panel of judges who 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 major book stores.
A summary of the top 25 media censorship stories of 2009 provided below proves quite revealing and most informative. After the headline of each news story is a link for those who want to read the entire article. For whatever reason the major media won't report these major stories. Yet thanks to the Internet and wonderful, committed groups like Project Censored, the news is getting out to those who want to know. By revealing these examples of media censorship, we can stop the excessive secrecy and work together for a brighter future. And don't miss the section on little-known inspiring stories, too. Please help to spread the word, and take care.
Top 25 Stories of 2009 Subjected to Media Censorship
1. US Congress Sells Out to Wall Street (For full story, click here)
Americans get the best democracy money can buy, money coming more than ever today from Wall Street. Since 2001, eight of the most troubled financial firms have donated $64.2 million to congressional candidates, presidential candidates and the Republican and Democratic parties. Is it surprising how much they control them? Influential House and Senate finance and banking committee members got $5.2 million from bailout recipients like Goldman Sachs, Citibank, AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and others. In the last election cycle, Obama received at least $4.3 million from the same institutions. From 1998 - 2007, financial and banking companies spent $1.7 billion on federal campaign contributions and another $3.4 billion on lobbyists. In 1999, the Glass-Steagall Act was gutted – the landmark 1933 law that prevented banks from getting into the insurance business. In January 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act legitimized swap agreements and other hybrid instruments, at the core of today's problems, by preventing regulatory oversight of derivatives and leveraging, thus letting Wall Street legally pillage and speculate. The result was a financial coup d'etat cementing the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders who choose candidates, control elections, weaken financial regulations, and basically run the country for their own self-interest. As a result, Washington today has become largely a subsidiary of the Wall Street financial giants.
Sources: Truthout/McClatchy, Oct. 2, 2008, "Lax Oversight? Maybe $64 Million to DC Pols Explains It," by Greg Gordon. Rolling Stone, Mar. 19, 2009, "The Big Takeover," by Matt Taibbi. OpenSecrets.org, Feb. 10, 2009, "Congressmen Hear from TARP Recipients Who Funded Their Campaigns," by Lindsay Renick Mayer.
2. US Schools Are More Segregated Today than in the 1950s (For full story, click here)
According to a UCLA Civil Rights report, "schools in the US are 44 percent non-white, and ... Latinos and blacks, the two largest minority groups, attend schools more segregated today than during the civil rights movement forty years ago." The result is: unequal education which denies disadvantaged youths access to college and better jobs; growing numbers of these youths becoming "virtually unemployable" for anything more than menial labor or the military; greater vulnerability to future poverty, poor health, gangs, crime, and prolonged incarceration in America's vast prison/industrial complex. The report stresses the need for "leaders who recognize that we have a common destiny in an America where our children grow up together, knowing and respecting each other, and are all given the educational tools that prepare them for success in our society." The UCLA Civil Rights Study shows that most severe segregation in public schools is in the Western states, including California – not in the South, as many people believe. Eighty-five percent of the nation's teachers are white, and little progress is being made toward diversifying the nation's teaching force.
Source : The Civil Rights Project, UCLA, January 2009, "Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge," by Gary Orfield.
3. Toxic Waste Behind Somali Pirates (For full story, click here)
The international community has come out in force to condemn and declare war on the Somali fishermen pirates, while discreetly protecting the illegal, unreported and unregulated fleets from around the world that have been poaching and dumping toxic waste in Somali waters since the fall of the Somali government eighteen years ago. Foreign interests have been using hundreds of vessels to loot the country's food supply, according to the High Seas Task Force (HSTF), stealing "an estimated $450 million in seafood from Somali waters annually" and ruining the livelihoods of Somali fishermen. Somalia has also been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there. Instead of rectifying the problem, the UN passed "aggressive resolutions that entitle and encourage transgressors to wage war on Somali pirates." NATO, the EU, and other countries issued similar orders. Some say that the acts of piracy may actually be born of desperation. What is one man's pirate may be another man's Coast Guard.
Sources: UK's Independent, January 5, 2009, "You are being lied to about pirates," by Johann Hari. Al Jazeera English, October 11, 2008, "Toxic waste behind Somali piracy," by Najad Abdullahi. WardheerNews, January 8, 2009, "The Two Piracies in Somalia: Why the World Ignores the Other," by Mohamed Abshir Waldo.
4. Nuclear Waste Pools in North Carolina (For full story, click here)
North Carolina's Shearon Harris nuclear plant contains the largest radioactive waste storage pools in the country. If the cooling system malfunctions, the resulting fire would be virtually unquenchable and could trigger a nuclear meltdown. Between 1999 and 2003, there were twelve major problems requiring the shutdown of the plant. In 2002, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) put the plant on notice for nine unresolved safety issues detected. When the NRC returned to the plant a few months later, it determined that the corrective actions were "not acceptable." Between January and July of 2002, Harris plant managers were forced to manually shut down the reactors four times. Problems at Shearon Harris continue with chilling regularity. Yet the NRC ignores the potential risks. A recent study by Brookhaven Labs estimates that a pool fire could cause 140,000 cancers, contaminate thousands of square miles of land, and cause over $500 billion in off-site property damage. The plant is a nuclear time bomb, and millions in the region are at risk.
Source: CounterPunch, August 9, 2008, "Pools of Fire," by Jeffrey St. Clair.
5. Europe Blocks US Toxic Products (For full story, click here)
Unlike in America, European countries are moving toward a model of insisting on environmental and consumer safety that requires assessing thousands of chemicals for their potential toxic effects. New regulations will mandate that companies seeking market access eliminate toxic substances and produce safer electronics, automobiles, toys and cosmetics. Without compliance henceforth, the products of hundreds of US companies may be excluded from European markets, and according to Mark Schapiro, author of Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products, "only five percent of all chemicals in the US have undergone even minimal testing." Further, new EPA requirements consider the "costs to industry" in assessing threats to public health as a reason to side with industry and keep regulations minimal. The divergence between US and European regulation has made America the dumping ground for toxic toys, electronics and cosmetics. The US produces and consumes the toxic materials from which other countries around the world are protected.
Sources: Scientific American, Sep. 30, 2008, "European Chemical Clampdown Reaches Across Atlantic," by David Biello. Environmental Defense Fund, Sep. 30, 2008, "How Europe's New Chemical Rules Affect US."
6. Lobbyists Buy Congress (For full story, click here)
In 2008, The Center for Responsive Politics reported that "special interests paid Washington lobbyists $3.2 billion in 2008," higher than any year on record and 13.7% more than 2007. That amounts to $17.4 million for each day Congress was in session, or $32,523 per legislator per day. Health interests spent the most for the third consecutive year, $478.5 million, followed by the FIRE sector (finance, insurance and real estate) at $453.5 million. It's a small investment yielding big returns for these and other industries, competing at the public trough for as much as they can get. The payoff is in the billions for some corporations, and for Wall Street trillions have been pledged, as well as interest free money from the banker-owned Federal Reserve.
Source: OpenSecrets.org, "Washington Lobbying Grew to $3.2 Billion Last Year, Despite Economy," by Center for Responsive Politics.
7. Obama's Military Appointments Have Corrupted Pasts (For full story, click here)
After promising not to politicize intelligence and to keep lobbyists out of top government posts, Obama appointed many former lobbyists and board members of companies doing business directly with the Pentagon. He retained Robert Gates as Defense Secretary despite his history at CIA of having cooked the books for political reasons. According to Agency insiders who knew him, he "corrupted the intelligence product" to suit the White House and further his own self-interest. When Bush nominated him for CIA Director in 1991, a virtual insurrection among CIA analysts erupted over his penchant for having politicized intelligence. Independent counsel Lawrence Walsh states that, despite Gates' touted memory, he "denied recollection of facts thirty-three times." Obama's Deputy Defense Secretary, William Lynn, is just as tainted. The former Raytheon vice president and company lobbyist caused Republican Senator Charles Grassley to object to his "very questionable accounting practices" as Pentagon comptroller during the Clinton years. He and Obama's Undersecretary of Defense, Robert Hale, who served as Assistant Air Force Secretary Financial Comptroller under Clinton, are claimed to have lost enough taxpayer money to pay for Obama's stimulus plan four times over. They now again oversee DOD spending. The list goes on. Most of Obama's national security team is composed of recycled appointees committed to continued imperial wars and outlandish amounts of military spending for them.
Sources: The Hill, November 24, 2008, "Ties to Chevron, Boeing Raise Concern on Possible NSA Pick," by Roxana Tiron. Truthout.org/Consortium News, November 13, 2008, "The Danger of Keeping Robert Gates," by Robert Parry. Global Research, February 13, 2009, "Obama's Defense Department Appointees - The 3.4 Trillion Dollar Question," by Andrew Hughes.
8. Bailed Out Banks Cheat IRS Out of Billions (For full story, click here)
It's an old story. "Only the little people pay taxes," according to former tax cheat Leona Hemsley (1920 - 2007), and rarely does anyone like her get caught. In 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that 83 of the top publicly held US companies have operations in tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and the Virgin Islands. 14 of these companies, including AIG, Bank of America, and Citigroup, received money from the government bailout. In addition, Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) helped wealthy clients cheat the IRS out of over $20 billion in recent years, according to the Department of Justice. Other notorious tax havens include Austria, Luxembourg, Singapore, Hong Kong, Monaco, Gibraltar, and the Bahamas. In 2008, havens like these saved Goldman Sachs billions of dollars through "changes in (its) geographic earnings mix." For many other companies, it's much the same through legal provisions in the tax code. According to some estimates, trillions of dollars in both corporate profits and personal wealth have migrated offshore, and the offshore banking world now harbors $11.5 trillion in individual wealth alone.
Sources: Bloomberg, December 16, 2008, "Goldman Sachs's Tax Rate Drops to 1% or $14 Million," by Christine Harper. The Huffington Post, February 23, 2009, "Gimme Shelter: Tax Evasion and the Obama Administration," by Thomas B. Edsall.
9. US Arms Used for War Crimes in Gaza (For full story, click here)
For decades, America has supplied Israel, population 7.5 million, with tens of billions in aid, interest-free loans, and the latest in new weapons and technology, including illegal white phosphorous shells used against Gazan civilians during Operation Cast Lead. In addition, Washington has supplied F-16 fighters, attack helicopters, tactical missiles, bunker-buster bombs, a wide variety of other munitions, and undisclosed new weapons for testing in real time combat situations against Palestinian or other Arab civilians. In Gaza, shell fragments revealed names of US defense contractors, including Raytheon. Another was marked the Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas. In shocking support for Israel's questionable attacks, and in violation of international and US law, both Houses of Congress overwhelmingly endorsed the continued aggression. Obama stayed silent on the subject in the run-up to his January 20 inauguration.
Sources: Human Rights Watch, Mar. 25, 2009, "White Phosphorus Use Evidence of War Crimes Report," Fred Abrahams. Guardian, Feb. 23, 2009, "Suspend Military Aid to Israel, Amnesty Urges Obama," Rory McCarthy. Inter Press Service, Jan. 8, 2009, "US Weaponry Facilitates Killings in Gaza," Thalif Deen. Consortium News, Jan. 18, 2009, "Is Israel's Gaza War a New War Crime?" by Dennis Bernstein. Foreign Policy Journal, Jan. 09, 2009, "US Senate Endorses Israel's War on Gaza," by Jeremy R. Hammond.
10. Ecuador Declares Foreign Debt Illegitimate (Full story here)
In November 2008, Ecuador became the first country to undertake an examination of the legitimacy and structure of its foreign debt. In violation of Ecuadorian law, predatory international lenders were involved in hundreds of illegitimate irregularities. Billions in foreign debt at exorbitant interest rates resulted in debt service far exceeding the principal borrowed, and at a staggering human cost. In December, President Rafael Correa announced his country would default. In April 2009, he was re-elected overwhelmingly. Ecuador exposed the corrupted international finance system in a way that could set a precedent for the poorest of indebted countries. Correa asked other Latin American nations "to forge a united response, (and for) the United Nations to help develop international norms to regulate the foreign debt market." The April 2008 House passed Jubilee Act was a positive step forward. However, the Senate failed to pass its S. 2166 version, then cleared the legislation from its books. In June 2009, Ecuador agreed with 91% of its creditors to pay 35 cents on the dollar for its debt. Other countries may now follow suit, especially those most impacted by the global economic crisis.
Sources: Alternet, Nov. 26, 2008, "Ecuador Declares Foreign Debt Illegitimate and Illegal," by Daniel Denvir. Utube, Fall 2008, "Invalid Loans to Ecuador: Who Owes Who," by Committee for the Integral Audit of Public Credit. Institute for Policy Studies, Dec. 15, 2008, "Ecuador's Debt Default," by Neil Watkins, Sarah Anders.
Other Media Censorship Stories in the Top 25
11. Private Corporations Profit from the Occupation of Palestine (For full story, click here)
US, Israeli, and other international corporations profit from the occupation of Palestine. They lead real estate deals, develop Israeli settlements and infrastructure, and help solidify the continued land theft, economic exploitation, and apartheid separation of Muslims and Jews, in violation of international law.
12. Mysterious Death of Mike Connell - Karl Rove's Election Thief (For full story, click here)
As Karl Rove's chief IT consultant, Connell was a key figure in 2004 election manipulations for George Bush. Under subpoena to testify on his role in Ohio, he died mysteriously in a Dec. 19, 2008 plane crash. IT expert Stephen Spoonamore, a conservative Republican, explained how Connell's vote tabulation system worked. "It allowed (for) the introduction of an additional single computer between computer A and computer B." The centralized collection of all incoming statewide results made it easy for a single operator, or a preprogrammed computer to change the results in any way desired by the team controlling the inserted computer.
13. Katrina's Hidden Race War (For full story, click here)
After Hurricane Katrina, a Nation magazine report explained that "white vigilante groups patrolled the streets of New Orleans ... shooting at least eleven African American men." Falsely portrayed as looters and thugs, they were gunned down in cold blood by "gun-toting white males," yet city police didn't intervene or investigate. In addition, Blackwater mercenaries were deployed in New Orleans right after the storm. In full battle gear, they terrorized black residents, removed them from choice areas for development, and assured they didn't return.
14. Congress Invested in Defense Contracts (For full story, click here)
According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, over 151 congressional members have invested up to $195 million in major defense contractors, thus profiting from America's imperial wars. Major investors include: Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) - $49.1 million; Senator John Kerry (D-MA) - $38.2 million; Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC) - $37.1 million; Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) - $8.4 million; Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) - $7.6 million; Rep. Jane Harmon (D-CA) - $6.3 million; and Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) - $5.8 million.
15. World Bank's Carbon Trade Fiasco (For full story, click here)
On the pretext of environmental protection, the World Bank is brokering carbon emission trading arrangements that destroy indigenous farmlands around the world and do little to cut pollution or reduce the threat of climate change. The scheme is similar to Obama's cap and trade bill (HR 2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act) that lets corporate polluters reap huge windfall profits by charging consumers more for energy and fuel.
16. US Repression of Haiti Continues (For full story, click here)
The US government plans to demolish the homes of hundreds of Haitians to expand an occupying UN force's military base. The New York Times has also published a revealing article titled "Rights Groups Assail US for Withholding Aid to Haiti, Citing Political Motives." The Bush administration may have caused the deaths of thousands of Haitians by blocking aid for cynical and self-interested political purposes.
17. The ICC Facilitates US Covert War in Sudan (For full story, click here)
Huge potential oil reserves explain the significance of Darfur. Washington's genocide claim is exaggerated for political purposes. It's part of America's chess game with China for control of the region's resources. Beijing already gets up to 30% of its oil from Africa. Under cover from International Criminal Court's fraudulent indictment of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and other contrived reasons, America has exploited the region militarily for geopolitical advantage.
18. Ecuador's Constitutional Rights of Nature (For full story, click here)
In September 2008, Ecuador became the first country ever to declare constitutional rights to nature, thus codifying a new system of environmental protection. Its Constitution declares nature "has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution." Ecuador's Rights of Nature hold hope that other nations may adopt them and start to more fully protect the environment.
19. Bank Bailout Recipients Spent to Defeat Labor (For full story, click here)
After receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America organized opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) - legislation to guarantee workers the right to bargain more fairly and collectively with management. Business is firmly opposed. On March 10, S. 560: Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 was introduced in the Senate. It was referred to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee where it's pending. Given the Obama administration's opposition, its passage looks doubtful.
20. Secret Control of the Presidential Debates (For full story, click here)
Since 1987, the Republican and Democrat-controlled Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has run the process, dictates terms, and excludes unwanted participants. During the 2008 presidential cycle, the Obama and McCain teams secretly cut a deal on who could participate, permissible topics, and the debate format structure. Before he died, Walter Cronkite called the CPD an "unconscionable fraud."
21. Recession Causes States to Cut Welfare (For full story, click here)
Faced with huge budget shortfalls and little help from Washington, states have been forced to make major expenditure cuts, many affecting vital social services, including health care, education, and welfare. Yet cutting Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) began prior to the present crisis so funds could be redirected to other priorities. Nationally, welfare rolls dropped over 40% between 2001 and June 2008, and in some states, like Georgia, up to 90%. America's social safety net is fast disappearing.
22. Obama's Trilateral Commission Team (For full story, click here)
Obama appointed 11 members of the Trilateral Commission (TC) to top positions in his administration in his first ten days in office. He was groomed for the presidency by key TC members. Zbigniew Brzezinski, co-founder of the TC with David Rockefeller in 1973, has been Obama's principal foreign policy advisor. Since the Carter administration, Trilateralists have held the following very influential positions: six of the last eight World Bank presidents; all presidents and vice-presidents of the US (except Obama and Biden); over half of all US secretaries of state; and three quarters of the secretaries of defense. The original stated purpose of the TC was to create a "new international economic order." For more on powerful secret societies, click here.
23. Activists Slam World Water Forum as a Corporate-Driven Fraud (For full story, click here)
Organized every three years since 1997, activists have blasted the World Water Forum as a corporate trade show promoting privatization of water. The Forum's main organizer, the World Water Council (WWC), is dominated by two of the world's largest water companies, Suez and Veolia. WWC promotes expensive and destructive dam and water diversion projects, as well as putting water services in private hands through the establishment of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). The result has been huge price hikes, water pollution, depletion, and cut-offs that deny people the right to water if they can't pay the exorbitant cost.
24. Dollar Glut Finances US Military Expansion (For full story, click here)
Economist Michael Hudson first addressed this topic in his 1972 book, "Super Imperialism," updated in a 2003 edition. He revisited it in an award-winning article which explained the inter-related dynamics of: surplus US dollars pouring into the rest of the world for financial speculation and corporate takeovers; global central banks recycling these dollar inflows into US Treasury bonds to finance the federal budget deficit; and most important (but suppressed in the US media), the military character of the US payments deficit.
25. Fast Track Oil Exploitation in Western Amazon (For full story, click here)
Home to the world's most biodiverse and intact rainforest, the Western Amazon may soon be covered with oil rigs and pipelines. Vast parts of of this region will be opened for oil and gas exploration, putting some of the planet's most pristine and biodiverse forests at risk.
Stories of Inspiration and Hope
Project Censored also presents inspiring stories that didn't receive the coverage they deserved. Below are key examples from the year 2009.
- Evidence that the human brain is hardwired to reward caring, cooperation, and service.
- Community banks functioning as an alternative to Wall Street giants.
- The Common Good Bank model distributing profits back to the community and making all lending and spending decisions through participatory democracy.
- Canada's Stephen Harper led government apologizing for the treatment of native peoples.
- Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) introducing a bill to strengthen federal whistleblower protections.
- New York grassroots organizers and volunteers using the state's fusion voting laws to win over citizens for higher wages, fair taxes, affordable housing, civil rights, and campaign finance reform.
- Pro-Israeli groups like Americans for Peace Now (APN) and J Street calling for an immediate cease fire in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead last December and January.
- A federal appeals court telling the EPA that its pollutants standards are "contrary to law and unsupported by adequately reasoned decision making."
- Urban farms becoming an important resource for providing cheap, local amounts of food for growing numbers of people.
- The US Conference of Mayors voting to encourage municipal water use over high-cost corporate sources.
- Congress approving a massive public lands bill to protect two million acres of wilderness in nine states and 1,000 miles of rivers.
- Ireland and the province of British Columbia, Canada banning uranium mining.
- Brazil pledging to reduce deforestation by 70% over the next decade.
- The Pathway to Housing program calling for a "housing first" approach to address chronic homelessness.
- A Latin American commission challenging the efficacy of the war on drugs and calling for a new paradigm.
- America becoming the world's largest wind-energy producer.
- Portugal building the world's largest solar photovoltaic farm to supply enough electricity for 30,000 homes.
- Rising investment levels being made in renewable energy.
Note: Thanks to Stephen Lendman at www.globalresearch.ca for his work in compiling parts of this summary.
Important: Top 20 Articles Ever Published Revealing Media Censorship
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