Top Censored Press Stories of 2019
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 press censorship either by being ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media each year. Project Censored is a research team composed of more than 300 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 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 2019 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 2018 and 2019.
Top 25 Stories of 2019 Subjected to Press Censorship
1. Justice Department’s Secret FISA Rules for Targeting Journalists (For full story, click here)
A pair of 2015 memos from former attorney general Eric Holder to the Department of Justice’s National Security Division show how the government could use court orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor the communications of journalists and news organizations. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the Freedom of the Press Foundation obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and a lawsuit. FISA rules are “much less stringent” than the Justice Department’s media guidelines for obtaining subpoenas, court orders, and warrants against journalists. The procedures governing FISA surveillance and national security letters allow government officials to circumvent the media guidelines’ requirements that the information sought is “essential” to a successful investigation, that “reasonable alternative attempts” have been made to obtain the information, and that the government inform the journalist and negotiate with them.
Cora Currier, “Government Can Spy on Journalists in the U.S. Using Invasive Foreign Intelligence Process,” The Intercept, September 17, 2018.
Trevor Timm, “Revealed: The Justice Dept’s Secret Rules for Targeting Journalists with FISA Court Orders,” Common Dreams/Freedom of the Press Foundation, September 17, 2018.
Ramya Krishnan, “Targeting Journalists under FISA: New Documents Reveal DOJ’s Secret Rules,” Knight First Amendment Institute (Columbia University), September 17, 2018.
2. Think Tank Partnerships Establish Facebook as Tool of US Foreign Policy (For full story, click here)
Under the guise of fighting “fake news” and protecting US democracy from “foreign influence,” in 2018 social media giant Facebook established partnerships with the Atlantic Council, a NATO-sponsored think tank, and with two US government creations from the Cold War era, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute. These partnerships have resulted in what amounts to state censorship. In the name of fighting the scourge of “fake news,” Facebook altered its proprietary algorithms in ways that significantly reduced traffic to progressive websites such as Common Dreams and Slate. In October 2018 ... 559 pages and 251 personal accounts were “instantly removed” in the name of fighting “fake news” and “Russian propaganda.” Facebook has also partnered with establishment news organizations in efforts to discredit independent news outlets and ban their social media pages.
Sources: Adam Johnson, “Media Ignore Government Influence on Facebook’s Plan to Fight Government Influence,” Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), May 21, 2018.
Jake Johnson, “‘Alarming’: Facebook Teams Up with Think-Tank Funded by Saudi Arabia and Military Contractors to ‘Protect’ Democracy,” Common Dreams, May 18, 2018.
Jonathan Sigrist, “Facebook Censorship and the Atlantic Council,” Global Research, Oct. 14, 2018.
3. Indigenous Groups from Amazon Propose Creation of Largest Protected Area on Earth (For full story, click here)
The Amazon’s extraordinary biodiversity is being destroyed for profits and political gain. In response, an alliance of some five hundred indigenous groups from nine countries, known as COICA—the Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin—is planning to safeguard a “sacred corridor of life and culture” covering more than 700,000 square miles, an area about the size of Mexico. The alliance presented its Bogota Declaration, outlining “the principles and joint vision of the indigenous confederations to protect the Amazon rainforest by using a traditional and holistic perspective,” at the 14th UN Biodiversity Conference, held in Egypt in November 2018. The alliance aims to protect biodiversity in the “triple-A” corridor that spans the Andes mountains, the Amazon, and the Atlantic Ocean. This region faces challenges from agribusiness, mining, and the global climate crisis.
Jonathan Watts, “Amazon Indigenous Groups Propose Mexico-Sized ‘Corridor of Life,’” The Guardian, November 21, 2018.
Jessica Corbett, “Calling for ‘Corridor of Life and Culture,’ Indigenous Groups from Amazon Propose Creation of Largest Protected Area on Earth,” Common Dreams, Nov. 21, 2018.
4. US Oil and Gas Industry Set to Unleash 120 Billion Tons of New Carbon Emissions (For full story, click here)
The US oil and gas industry has the potential to “unleash the largest burst of new carbon emissions in the world” through 2050, according to a January 2019 report from Oil Change International, an organization that works to expose the true costs of fossil fuels and advocates for clean energy. Oil Change International’s coverage is based on a study, “Drilling Towards Disaster.” According to the report, new US oil and gas development could enable 120 billion tons of new carbon pollution, the equivalent to “the lifetime CO2 emissions of nearly 1,000 coal-fired power plants.” Between now and 2030, the United States is likely to account for 60 percent of the world’s projected growth in oil and gas production. The “Drilling Towards Disaster” report highlights a five-point agenda for what policymakers must do to check climate change, including, for example, banning new leases or permits for new fossil fuel exploration, production, and infrastructure; ending subsidies and other public finance for the fossil fuel industry; and championing a Green New Deal.
Sources: David Turnbull, “Report: U.S. Oil and Gas Expansion Threatens to Unleash Climate Pollution Equivalent to Nearly 1,000 Coal Plants,” Oil Change International, January 16, 2019.
Jake Johnson, “With US ‘Drilling Towards Disaster,’ Report Warns Anything Less Than Urgent Green New Deal will be ‘Too Little, Too Late,’” Common Dreams, January 16, 2019.
5. “Modern Slavery” in the United States and around the World (For full story, click here)
According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, an estimated 403,000 people in the United States were living in conditions of “modern slavery” in 2016. The Global Slavery Index (GSI) ... draws on national surveys, reports from other agencies, such as the United Nations’s International Labour Organization, and databases of people who have been assisted in trafficking cases. According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, an estimated 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery in 2016, with females comprising the majority of the victims (71 percent). The index found the highest levels of modern slavery in North Korea, where an estimated 2.6 million people ... are victims of modern slavery. The GSI noted that forced labor occurred “in many contexts” in the United States, including in agriculture, among traveling sales crews, and—as recent legal cases against GEO Group, Inc. have revealed—as the result of compulsory prison labor in privately owned and operated detention facilities contracted by the Department of Homeland Security.
Source: Edward Helmore, “Over 400,000 People Living in ‘Modern Slavery’ in US, Report Finds,” The Guardian, July 19, 2018.
6. Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Sex Trafficking Criminalized for Self-Defense (For full story, click here)
The case of Cyntoia Brown—who was sentenced in 2004, at age 16, to life in prison for killing a man who bought her for sex and raped her—garnered the support of A-list celebrities and received widespread news coverage. In January 2019, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam granted her clemency. Cases like Brown’s are all too common. Victims of sex trafficking and sexual violence are often prosecuted for acts of self-defense. Mariame Kaba, the cofounder of Survived and Punished, an organization supporting survivors of violence who have been criminalized for self-defense ... wrote that multiple studies indicate “between 71% and 95% of incarcerated women have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner,” and many have experienced “multiple forms of physical and sexual abuse” in childhood and as adults, a pattern that experts have described as the “abuse-to-prison” pipeline.
Sources: Mariame Kaba, “Black Women Punished for Self-Defense Must be Freed from Their Cages,” The Guardian, January 3, 2019.
Kellie C. Murphy, “Beyond Cyntoia Brown: How Women End Up Incarcerated for Self Defense,” Rolling Stone, January 28, 2019.
Olivia Exstrum, “Child Sex-Trafficking Victims Face Decades behind Bars for Killing Their Abusers. That Could End Soon,” Mother Jones, May 9, 2019.
7. Flawed Investigations of Sexual Assaults in Children’s Immigrant Shelters (For full story, click here)
Hundreds of police reports document allegations of sexual assaults in immigrant children’s shelters since the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America began in 2014, according to a December 2018 report by ProPublica. The report ... revealed “a largely hidden side of the shelters—one in which both staff and other residents sometimes acted as predators.” ProPublica noted that these shelters have received $4.5 billion in government funding for housing and other services. Noting “startling lapses” in how federal and state authorities investigated allegations of sexual assaults, ProPublica reported that, in many cases, responding officers filed brief information reports without investigating incidents as potential crimes. Because immigrant children in detention are frequently moved, a child could be moved out of the investigating agency’s jurisdiction in just a few weeks, often without warning, even when an investigator wanted to pursue a case.
Sources: Michael Grabell, Topher Sanders, and Silvina Sterin Pensel, “In Immigrant Children’s Shelters, Sexual Assault Cases are Open and Shut,” ProPublica, December 21, 2018.
Caitlin Owens, Stef W. Kight, and Harry Stevens, “Thousands of Migrant Youth Allegedly Suffered Sexual Abuse in U.S. Custody,” Axios, February 26, 2019, updated February 27, 2019.
8. US Women Face Prison Sentences for Miscarriages (For full story, click here)
Many people fear that the new Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, stripping women of their right to choose whether or not to procure an abortion. But there is more at stake, according to Naomi Randolph in a 2019 Ms. Magazine article: pregnant women could face a higher risk of criminal charges for miscarriages or stillbirths, due to lawmakers in numerous states enacting laws that recognize fetuses as people, separate from the women carrying them. One example that Randolph provided is in Alabama, where voters recently passed a measure that “endows fetus’ with ‘personhood’ rights for the first time, potentially making any action that impacts a fetus a criminal behavior with potential for prosecution.” Collectively, laws like Alabama’s have resulted in hundreds of American women facing prosecution for the outcome of their pregnancies. The cases all vary in detail, but the commonality is women losing their rights if they are thought to be endangering a fetus.
Source: Naomi Randolph, “What Losing Roe Would Mean for Women of Color,” Ms. Magazine, January 22, 2019.
9. Developing Countries’ Medical Needs Unfulfilled by Big Pharma (For full story, click here)
The world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies have “failed to develop two-thirds of the 139 urgently needed treatments in developing countries,” the Guardian reported. The ... coverage was based on a report by the Access to Medicine Foundation (AMF), a nonprofit organization that analyzes access to essential medicines such as infant vaccines for cholera and single-dose oral treatments for syphilis. An estimated two billion people globally lack access to urgently needed medicines. The ... report monitored the availability of medications produced by 20 of the largest pharmaceutical companies to lower- and middle-income countries. Of the 139 drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tests identified as urgently needed by the World Health Organization (WHO), 91 have not been developed by any of the pharmaceutical firms tracked by the report. Sixteen of WHO’s prioritized diseases have “no projects at all,” the Guardian reported.
Source: Julia Kollewe, “Big Pharma ‘Failing to Develop Urgent Drugs for Poorest Countries,’” The Guardian, November 20, 2018.
10. Pentagon Aims to Surveil Social Media to Predict Domestic Protests (For full story, click here)
The Pentagon aims to use social media surveillance “to preempt major anti-government protests in the US,” Nafeez Ahmed reported for Motherboard in October 2018. A study titled “Social Network Structure as a Predictor of Social Behavior: The Case of Protest in the 2016 US Presidential Election” examined the use of social media in anti-Trump protests after the 2016 presidential elections. Funded by the US Army Research Laboratory, the study concluded that post-elections protests could have been predicted by analyzing millions of American citizens’ Twitter posts. Ahmed’s report highlighted official government documents focused on domestic surveillance, including an updated doctrine on “homeland defense” issued by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in April 2018. The new doctrine, Ahmed reported, “underscores the extent to which the Trump administration wants to consolidate homeland defense and security under the ultimate purview of the Pentagon.”
Source: Nafeez Ahmed, “Pentagon Wants to Predict Anti-Trump Protests Using Social Media Surveillance,” Motherboard (Vice), October 30, 2018.
More of the Top 25 Media Censorship Stories of 2019
11. Ukrainian Fascists Trained US White Supremacists (For full story, click here)
While the Trump administration has fought to keep nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen from traveling to the United States for fear that they are terrorists, domestic white supremacists who avow violence travel freely between the United States and the Ukraine, where they train with the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion militia. Online posts from 2017 by the militia’s news service showed Azov Battalion members testing US-made grenade launchers.
12. New 5G Network Spurs Health Concerns (For full story, click here)
The telecom industry is promoting the replacement of the current cellular network, known as 4G, with a new generation of higher frequency 5G wavelengths. 5G will require ... many more wireless antennas, resulting in greater radiofrequency radiation (RFR) and increased health risks. RFR exposure has been classified as a potential 2B carcinogen, according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, and research has indicated that use of mobile phones could contribute to the formation of brain tumors.
Note: Explore revealing summaries of major media articles on the dangers of 5G and more.
13. Corporate Food Brands Drive Massive Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico (For full story, click here)
The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is the result of water polluted with manure and fertilizer runoff from major beef-producing states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska. Dead zones are areas in a body of water that lack sufficient oxygen to support marine life. Covering approximately 8,000 square miles, the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone is about the size of New Jersey and ranks as the world’s second-largest, surpassed only by the dead zone in the Gulf of Oman.
14. FBI Surveilled Peaceful Climate Change Protesters (For full story, click here)
After three participants in a nonviolent protest at a BP oil refinery in Indiana were arrested in May 2016, the FBI opened a file on them. The Indiana event was part of 350.org’s Break Free from Fossil Fuels campaign, which engaged more than 30,000 people. One of the FBI documents, catalogued by the agency as part of a related domestic terrorism case and obtained by the Guardian ... stated that “350.org are referenced in multiple investigations and assessments for their planned protests and disruptions.”
15. Trump Administration Threatens Endangered Species Act (For full story, click here)
The Endangered Species Act (ESA)—which currently protects more than 1,600 native plant and animal species in the United States and its territories—is “increasingly challenged by an administration that has little patience for laws and regulations that help protect our lands and wildlife,” Charles Pekow wrote in an article published by Earth Island Journal. In the two years since Donald Trump became president, Pekow reported, “at least 80 bills” seeking to undermine the ESA or remove species from the list have been introduced in Congress.
16. Underwater Avalanches Heighten Risks of Oil Catastrophes (For full story, click here)
As bad as the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill was, “the worst-case scenario” for an oil spill catastrophe is not losing control of a single well, as occurred in the BP disaster. Underwater mudslides could leave “a tangled mess of pipes buried under a giant mass of sediments,” a scenario that oil company managers are not prepared to handle. One instance of this type of catastrophe has already happened. A well located off the coast of Louisiana owned by Taylor Energy has been leaking oil since 2004.
17. More Than 25 Percent of Formerly Incarcerated People are Unemployed (For full story, click here)
A 2018 report from the Prison Policy Initiative found that people released from prison are disproportionally discriminated against in the pursuit of work. [The] study, “Out of Prison & Out of Work” ... showed that the unemployment rate for the five million formerly incarcerated people living in the United States was more than 27 percent, compared to 5.8 percent for the general population. Blacks, Hispanics, and women faced the most significant disadvantages in the search for work after leaving prison.
18. Humanitarian Groups Promote Solutions to Extreme Violence in West Africa (For full story, click here)
In February 2019, the New Humanitarian published an overview of the “causes and humanitarian consequences of violent extremism in West Africa.” Peer pressure, community identity, and the impact of trauma and humiliation from security forces play a huge role in recruitment. A United Nations Development Programme study found that the arrest or killing of family members was “the tipping point” in recruitment decisions for 70 percent of jihadists. Arrests of suspected jihadists are often arbitrary and brutal, instead of the result of properly conducted police work.
19. Censorship of Al Jazeera Documentary Exposes Influence of Pro-Israel Lobby (For full story, click here)
A documentary film that aimed to expose Israel’s covert influence campaign in the United States has been leaked to the media after the government of Qatar pulled it from Al Jazeera, a media outlet Qatar funds. An undercover reporter for Al Jazeera became an intern at the Israel Project, a pro-Israeli organization in Washington, DC, in order to research and document ... “the efforts of Israel and its lobbyists to spy on, smear and intimidate US citizens who support Palestinian human rights, especially BDS,” the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
20. Scientists Accelerate Coral Reef Regrowth with Electricity (For full story, click here)
The conservation group Reef Ecologic is using electrical currents to stimulate regrowth of damaged coral reefs. Damaged coral regrows slowly, and rising ocean temperatures lead to bleaching that can cause entire reef systems to collapse permanently. Researchers have found that laying metal frames over damaged reefs and then running electric current through those frames draws in minerals that allow coral to grow up to four times faster than it otherwise would. The technique is currently being used ... to restore sections of coral on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
21. Court Ruling Provides “Blueprint” to Reform Excessive, Discriminatory Policing in Schools (For full story, click here)
in January 2019, a state court in California ordered the Stockton Unified School District to rein in its use of “school resource officers” to protect students. The order was the result of a three-year investigation, conducted by the California Department of Justice, that revealed “widespread abuses” by police in Stockton schools, including “use of excessive force, unconstitutional and ‘random and suspicionless’ search and seizure procedures using dogs and pat-downs, and frequent arrests targeting even the youngest students,” according to YES! Magazine.
22. Violence Rises after End of Mandated Monitoring in California’s Juvenile Detention Centers (For full story, click here)
What has changed in the three years since court-mandated monitoring of California’s juvenile detention centers ended? Violence in the state’s juvenile detention centers has worsened significantly. The likelihood of a juvenile being assaulted has increased by 49 percent. Similarly, reported use-of-force incidents involving staff that were out of compliance with the agency’s policies rose by 45 percent; and staffers sometimes tried to cover up their alleged misbehavior. Furthermore, the number of attempted suicides has risen since mandated monitoring ended.
23. New Programs Make School Food Systems More Equitable (For full story, click here)
Organizations such as the Farm to School Network and Wholesome Wave are working to make the food systems that supply schools more equitable. New programs not only connect school children with local farms, they also create jobs in the community, and keep money in the community to support on-campus gardens and farm-fresh meals. A study in Georgia found that for every dollar the program spent, two dollars stayed in the state, instead of leaving to be invested in a large food company.
24. Class Explains Millennials’ “Stunted” Economic Lives (For full story, click here)
While pundits and politicians explain downward mobility among millennials in terms of that generation’s unrealistic expectations, indulgent spending, and antipathy toward adulthood, sociologist Victor Tan Chen explained that the Great Recession “stunted millennials’ economic lives at a critical age” and that class inequalities ... best explain many millennials’ poor economic prospects. Private safety nets benefit millennials from wealthier families more than millennials from families with lesser means.
25. Google Screenwise: Consenting to Surveillance Capitalism (For full story, click here)
Google has further blurred the lines between market research and corporate invasion of privacy with the introduction of Google Opinion Rewards, a survey app for Android and iOS users that allows them to earn “rewards.” In exchange, Google gets access to the phone screens and web browser windows of the app’s users. Although it has been widely reported that corporate giants such as Google and Facebook seek to track our every move ... Google’s Opinion Rewards marks a change in corporate surveillance, with responsibility for opting-in shifted onto the surveilled users.
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