Censored News Stories
Top Censored News Stories of 2016
Note: To find the top censored news stories of any year from 2003 to present, click here.
Project Censored specializes in covering the top news stories which were censored 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 many hundreds of news story submissions for coverage, content, reliability of sources, and national significance.
The top 25 news 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 censored news stories of 2016 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 to spread the word, and take care.
Note: 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 2015 and 2016.
Top 25 Stories of 2016 Subjected to Press Censorship
1. U.S. Military Forces Deployed in 70 Percent of World’s Nations (For full story, click here)
According to a spokesperson for Special Operations Command (SOCOM), in 2015 Special Operations Forces (SOF) deployed in 147 of the world’s 195 recognized nations, an increase of eighty percent since 2010. The SOCOM budget has more than tripled since 2001. By 2015, SOCOM funding had risen to nearly ten billion dollars. Additional funding from specific military branches amounted to another eight billion dollars annually. Between 2012–2014, Special Operations Forces carried out 500 Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) missions in as many as sixty-seven countries per year. In addition to training, Special Operations Forces also engage in “direct action.” Counterterrorism missions, including “low-profile drone assassinations and kill/capture raids by muscled-up, high-octane operators,” are the specific domains of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) forces, such as the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 and the Army’s Delta Force. Africa has seen the greatest increase in SOCOM deployments since 2006. This has gone all but completely unreported by the corporate press.
Turse, Nick, “A Secret War in 135 Countries,” Tomdispatch, Sept. 24, 2015.
Turse, Nick, “The Stealth Expansion of a Secret U.S. Drone Base in Africa,” Intercept, Oct. 21, 2015.
"American Special Operations Forces Have a Very Funny Definition of Success,” The Nation, Oct. 26, 2015.
2. Crisis in Evidence-Based Medicine (For full story, click here)
In April 2015, the Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, wrote, “Something has gone fundamentally wrong with one of our greatest human creations.” Horton summarized the “case against science”: “Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.” Horton is not the first editor of a prominent medical journal to raise these concerns. In 2009, Marcia Angell, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, made comparable claims: “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines.” Study 329, a now notorious clinical trial published in 2001 epitomizes the corruption and conflicts of interest noted by insider critics like Angell and Horton. Study 329 reported that paroxetine - marketed by GlaxoSmithKline, or GSK as Paxil in the US and as Seroxat in the UK - was safe and effective for treating depressed children and adolescents. A 2015 reanalysis of Study 329 found that paroxetine’s beneficial effects were far less, and its harmful effects far greater, than the original study reported.
Lancet 385, No. 9976, April 11, 2015.
Cooper, Charlie, “Anti-Depressant was Given to Millions of Young People ‘After Trials Showed It was Dangerous,’” Independent, Sept. 16, 2015.
"Seroxat Study Under-Reported Harmful Effects on Young People, Say Scientists,” Guardian, 2015.
3. Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Threaten to Permanently Disrupt Vital Ocean Bacteria (For full story, click here)
Imagine a car heading toward a cliff’s edge with its gas pedal stuck to the floor. That is a metaphor for what rising CO2 levels will do to the key group of ocean bacteria known as Trichodesmium, according to a study published in the September 2015 issue of Nature Communications. The process of “nitrogen fixation” makes Trichodesmium “the fertilising agent of the open ocean.” The study tested the effects of elevated levels of carbon dioxide by subjecting hundreds of generations of Trichodesmium bred over a five-year period to CO2 levels predicted for the year 2100. Responding to increased ocean acidification, the bacteria went into “reproductive overdrive,” evolving to grow faster and to produce 50 percent more nitrogen. One consequence of this is that Trichodesmium could consume significant quantities of nutrients that are in limited supply in the ocean, such as iron and phosphorous, leaving other organisms that depend on the same nutrients without enough to survive. The effects of elevated CO2 levels on the bacteria could trigger catastrophic effects up the marine food chain.
Harvey, Chelsea, "Climate change could push these tiny marine organisms to evolve – irreversibly," Washington Post, Sept. 1, 2015
Perkins, Robert, “Climate Change Will Irreversibly Force Key Ocean Bacteria into Overdrive,” USC News, 2015.
"Climate Change Will Alter Ocean Bacteria Crucial to Food Chain—Study,” Guardian, 2015.
4. Search Engine Algorithms and Electronic Voting Machines Could Swing Elections (For full story, click here)
Technology provides opportunities for manipulation of voters and their votes. Half of US presidential elections have been won by margins under 7.6 percent. These narrow but consequential victory margins underscore the importance of understanding how secret, proprietary technologies potentially swing election results. The latest research focuses on the powerful role played by the secret algorithms (including Google’s PageRank and Facebook’s EdgeRank) that determine the contents of our Internet search results and social media news feeds. It showed that biased search rankings “could shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20% or more.” The effect “could be masked so that people show no awareness of the manipulation.” Hidden algorithms shape online content in significantly different ways from more widely recognized concerns about editorial censorship. Electronic voting machines present similar challenges. In 2016, about 80 percent of the US electorate voted using outdated electronic voting machines that rely on proprietary software, which prevents the public from getting access to the actual vote count.
Goldman, David, "Google could 'rig the 2016 election,' researcher says," CNN, Aug. 20, 2015
Epstein, Robert, “How Google Could Rig the 2016 Election,” Politico, 2015.
Frary, Mark, “Whose World are You Watching? The Secret Algorithms Controlling the News We See,” Index on Censorship 44, no. 4 (2015), 69–73.
5. Corporate Exploitation of Global Refugee Crisis Masked as Humanitarianism (For full story, click here)
According to a June 2015 United Nations report, sixty million people worldwide are now refugees due to conflict in their home nations. While Syrian refugees account for the largest number (an estimated 11.5 million people), other places such as Colombia, parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia also have large refugee populations. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees at the time of the report, “The scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before.” Although the extent of the global refugee crisis has been covered in the corporate media, the exploitation of refugees has been less well covered. Corporate exploitation of the global refugee crisis is underreported and often subject to distorted pro-business coverage, as in a September 2015 Wall Street Journal article on the number of corporations that are finding ways to profit from the flood of migrants. According to the Journal, private equity groups across Europe were pursuing a new investment opportunity with “promising ... growth potential,” the management of camps and services for refugees.
Lazare, Sarah, “World Bank Woos Western Corporations to Profit from Labor of Stranded Syrian Refugees,” AlterNet, 2016.
"Turkey and Europe: Human Trafficking on a Scale Not Seen Since the Atlantic Slave Trade,” Black Agenda Radio, Black Agenda Report, 2016.
6. Over 1.5 Million American Families Live on Two Dollars Per Person Per Day (For full story, click here)
According to Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, sociologists and authors of the book $2.00 per Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, in 2011 more than 1.5 million US families - including three million children - lived on as little as two dollars per person per day in any given month. US media often neglect the experiences of the poor, making the findings “startling for many.” Edin and Shaefer documented family households living “from crisis to crisis.” In addition to providing a vivid account of what it’s like to live in extreme poverty, Edin and Shaefer’s research also offers a policy critique that highlights the long-term consequences of President Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare reform initiative. Since then, the number of families living on less than two dollars per person per day has more than doubled. A “huge flaw” in welfare reform is the “insistence on work without regard to job availability.” The rise of such absolute poverty since the passage of welfare reform belies all the categorical talk about opportunity and the American dream.
Green, Marcus Harrison, “1.5 Million American Families Live on $2 a Day—These Authors Spent Years Finding Out Why,” YES! Magazine, 2015.
America’s Poorest are Getting Virtually No Assistance,” Atlantic, 2015.
7. No End in Sight for Fukushima Disaster (For full story, click here)
Five years after the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the nuclear power plant at Fukushima Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) officials in charge of the plant continue to release large quantities of radioactive waste water into the Pacific Ocean. Experts continue warning officials and the public that this problem is not going away. Although the Fukushima plant has been offline since the disaster, uncontrolled fission continues to generate heat and require cooling. The cooling process has produced “hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tons” of highly radioactive water. TEPCO has no backup safety systems or proactive plan for dealing with the accumulation of contaminated water, so much of it is released into the Pacific Ocean. The Japanese government has kept its citizens “in the dark” from the start of the disaster about high radiation levels and dangers to health. Government policy is to tell the Japanese people that everything is all right, despite medical or scientific evidence to the contrary. US corporate media coverage consistently reported the disaster to be of little consequence.
Jamail, Dahr, “Radioactive Water from Fukushima is Leaking into the Pacific,” Truthout, 2016.
Pentz Gunter, Linda, “No Bliss in This Ignorance: The Great Fukushima Nuclear Cover-Up,” Ecologist, 2016.
Vernacular Epistemologies of Risk: The Crisis in Fukushima,” Current Sociology, 2016.
8. Syria’s War Spurred by Contest for Gas Delivery to Europe, Not Muslim Sectarianism (For full story, click here)
In 2011–12, after Syrian president Bashar al-Assad refused to cooperate with Turkey’s proposal to create a natural gas pipeline between Qatar and Turkey through Syria, Turkey and its allies became “the major architects of Syria’s ‘civil war.’” The proposed pipeline would have bypassed Russia to reach European markets currently dominated by Russian gas giant Gazprom. In 2012, the US, UK, France, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, along with Turkey, began to organize, arm, and finance rebels to form the Free Syrian Army, consistent with long-standing US plans to destabilize Syria. Access to oil and gas – not sectarian differences – is the underlying cause of the violent conflict and humanitarian disaster in Syria. Foreign meddling in Syria began several years before the Syrian revolt erupted. US State Department cables from 2006 revealed by WikiLeaks documented plans to instigate civil strife that would lead to the overthrow of Assad’s government. The leaks revealed the United States partnering with nations including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and Egypt to fuel Sunni-Shiite sectarianism to divide Syria.
9. Big Pharma Political Lobbying Not Limited to Presidential Campaigns (For full story, click here)
Large pharmaceutical companies made over $51 million in campaign donations during the 2012 presidential election and nearly $32 million in the 2014 elections. During the 2014 elections, Pfizer led drug companies with $1.5 million in federal campaign donations, followed by Amgen ($1.3 million) and McKesson ($1.1 million). Campaign donations by large pharmaceutical companies pale in comparison to how much they spent on lobbying politicians and influencing policies outside of elections. According to data gathered on the 2014 election, the industry spent seven dollars on lobbying for every dollar spent on the election. The $229 million spent by drug companies and their lobbying groups that year was down from a peak of $273 million in 2009, the year that Congress debated the Affordable Care Act. Lobbying allows Big Pharma to take advantage of Washington’s revolving door and directly influence legislation. Collectively, pharmaceutical and health product lobbying for the first months of 2016 (through April 25) totaled over $63.1 million.
10. CISA: The Internet Surveillance Act No One is Discussing (For full story, click here)
On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) into law as part of a 2,000 page omnibus spending bill. The act authorized the creation of a system for corporate informants to provide customers’ data to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which, in turn, would share this information with other federal agencies, including the Departments of Commerce, Defense (which includes the NSA), Energy, Justice (which includes the FBI), the Treasury (which oversees the IRS), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Congress used the omnibus spending bill to advance some of the legislation’s “most invasive” components. In July 2015, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had attempted to attach the bill as an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, but the Senate blocked this by a vote of 56-40. The final Senate version of the bill removed personal information protections that privacy advocates had fought successfully to have included in a previous version.
Greenberg, Andy, “Congress Slips CISA into a Budget Bill That’s Sure to Pass,” Wired, 2015.
Thielman, Sam, “Congress Adds Contested Cybersecurity Measures to ‘Must-Pass’ Spending Bill,” The Guardian, 2015.
Edgecombe, Jason R. “Interim Guidelines to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act,” TechCrunch, 2016.
More of the Top 25 Media Censorship Stories of 2016
11. CIA Warned Bush Administration of Terrorist Attack Prior to 9/11 (For full story, click here)
Based on new interviews with Cofer Black, the former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, and George Tenet, the former director of the CIA, the George W. Bush administration ignored CIA warnings in the months before 9/11. Starting in spring 2001, the CIA “repeatedly and urgently” warned the White House that an attack was imminent. Tenet testified about the warnings before the 9/11 Commission, but this was not included in the Commission’s final report.
12. Why Our Lives Depend on Keeping 80 Percent of Fossil Fuels in the Ground (For full story, click here)
The world’s remaining concentrations of fossil fuels can be understood as “money pits”—untapped coal, gas, and oil could be worth $20 trillion—or as “carbon bombs,” which will wreck the planet if they are used. A scientific report published in the journal Nature found that 80 percent of coal reserves, half of gas, and one-third of oil reserves should not be used if the world is to avoid global temperatures rising more than two degrees Celsius.
13. US “Vaccine Court” Has Paid over Three Billion Dollars to Vaccine-Injured Families (For full story, click here)
Since 1988, the US government has paid $3.2 billion to 4,150 individuals and families for injuries and deaths attributed to shots for flu, diphtheria, whooping cough, and other conditions. In the 1980s, drug companies threatened to stop producing vaccines for the US market because litigation risks were too great unless the government provided them with “no-fault” protection. In 1986, Congress established the little-known Office of Special Masters of the US Court of Federal Claims (known informally as the vaccine court) to “shield the vaccine makers from liability.
14. FBI’s New Plan to Spy on High School Students across the Country (For full story, click here)
Under new guidelines issued in January 2016, the FBI is instructing high schools across the country to report students who criticize government policies and “western corruption” as potential future terrorists. The FBI’s “Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools” guidelines encourage school officials to identify students who “engage in communications indicating support for extreme ideologies” or who are “curious about” subject matter that could be deemed extreme.
15. Understanding Climate Change and Gender Inequality (For full story, click here)
Climate change has different impacts on men and women, based on preexisting social and economic inequalities. Because most international efforts to address climate change do not include women, the resulting policies do not take into account the particular challenges that climate change poses for women and girls. This is ironic because, according to a 2014 European Union study, women are more likely than men to be concerned about climate change, and are “uniquely placed” to share knowledge about climate impacts and to implement solutions.
16. Over Three-Quarters of Freedom of Information Act Requests Not Fully Answered (For full story, click here)
On his election, President Obama promised greater governmental transparency to the American people. In practice, the Obama administration has set a record for failures to find and produce government documents in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. People who asked for records under the law received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests. Censorship and refusal to disclose are only two parts of a three-piece puzzle. The procedures federal workers use to retrieve requested files also contribute to the problem.
17. Deadly Medical Neglect for Immigrants in Privatized US Jails (For full story, click here)
Over one hundred inmates in privatized, immigrant-only prisons have died, many in disturbing circumstances involving negligent medical and mental health care. In twenty-five cases, multiple reviewers found evidence of inadequate care that likely contributed to an inmate’s premature death. By contrast, in just thirty-nine cases did the reviewers find that care had likely been in accordance with recognized medical standards. Seven of the thirteen privatized facilities were not compliant with the standards for adequate mental health care.
18. Women’s Movements Offer Global Paradigm Shift toward Social Justice (For full story, click here)
From LGBTQ movements and indigenous farming struggles to Black Lives Matter and efforts to create sustainable development, women around the world are leading the way toward greater social justice. Women-led movements have redefined leadership and development models, connected the dots between issues and oppression, prioritized collective power and movement-building, and critically examined how issues of gender, race, caste, class, sexuality, and ability disproportionately exclude and marginalize.
19. Global Epidemic of Electronic Waste (For full story, click here)
Consumers in the US generate an estimated 3.14 million tons of electronic waste annually, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. About 40 percent of this goes to be recycled. A 2016 study by the Basel Action Network (BAN), a nonprofit that aims to end the global trade in toxic electronic waste, found that nearly one-third of these devices is exported to developing countries, where the low-tech dismantling of the recycled equipment contaminates the environment and endangers workers, many of whom are children.
20. The Walmarting of American Education (For full story, click here)
In January 2016, Walmart publicized a plan to close 269 of its retail stores. At the same time, the Walton Family Foundation (WFF) announced a five-year strategic plan to spend a billion dollars to support and expand charter schools in thirteen US cities and states. WFF’s commitment to charter schools is a product of the Walton family having been “fully inculcated” in the educational philosophy of libertarian economist Milton Friedman. Central to Friedman’s ideology was that schools should be thought of as businesses, and their students understood as customers.
21. Little Guantanamos: Secretive “Communication Management Units” in the US (For full story, click here)
In March 2016, inmates from two highly secretive US prisons, known as Communication Management Units (CMUs), appealed a previous summary judgment for the government in their case against the Federal Bureau of Prisons. CMUs have strict regulations against outside communication. Beginning in 2006, the Federal Bureau of Prisons created CMUs without any written conditions or procedures. Journalist Will Potter, who has visited a CMU, revealed that CMUs are effectively “political prisons for political prisoners.”
22. Department of Education Cooperates with ALEC to Privatize Education (For full story, click here)
The Department of Education and school districts throughout the US are working with billionaire families such as the Waltons and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to undermine public education. Instead of defending public education in pursuit of equity for all students, the Department of Education (DoE) is working with organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—an alliance of corporate lobbyists and state legislators—as well as local chambers of commerce to encourage the conversion of public institutions into private charter schools.
23. Modern-Day Child Slavery: Sex Trafficking of Underage Girls in the US (For full story, click here)
Sex trafficking in the US is pervasive. According to the US Department of Justice, human trafficking is the second-fastest-growing criminal enterprise after drug trafficking, with minors constituting roughly half the victims in the US. In 2015, over 4,100 of the 5,544 trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s hotline involved sex trafficking. While safe harbor laws, which criminalize adults who purchase sex with a minor, have been passed in thirty-four states, these laws leave many girls treated as criminals rather than as victims.
24. India’s Solar Plans Blocked by US Interests, WTO (For full story, click here)
The United Nations Conference on Climate Change, held in December 2015 in Paris, featured lofty rhetoric about international cooperation to tackle climate change. However, in February 2016, the WTO ruled against India’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. In a case initiated by the US in 2013, the WTO found that India’s solar initiative, which required that 10 percent of solar cells be produced locally, violated international trade laws. The WTO ruling sets a dangerous precedent for countries wanting to support homegrown renewable energy initiatives.
25. NYPD Editing Wikipedia on Police Brutality (For full story, click here)
Computers operating at One Police Plaza, the headquarters of the New York Police Department (NYPD), have been used to alter Wikipedia pages containing details of alleged police brutality” including the entries for Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo. The pages have been edited to cast the NYPD in a more favorable light. Revisions and counter-revisions are typical of Wikipedia’s self-policing user community. However, those made with NYPD IP addresses seemed to violate Wikipedia’s conflict of interest policy.
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