Opinion – myBrainsWorking.com
For the second year (2010) in a row, more US soldiers killed themselves (468) than died in combat (462). In 2009, the 381 suicides of active-duty soldiers recorded by the military also exceeded the number of deaths in battle. The Good report, which …Top 25 Stories of 2011 Subjected to Press Censorship
1. More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat (For full story, click here)
For the second year (2010) in a row, more US soldiers killed themselves (468) than died in combat (462). In 2009, the 381 suicides of active-duty soldiers recorded by the military also exceeded the number of deaths in battle. The Good report, which references the Congressional Quarterly as a source, was published in January 2011, just weeks after military authorities announced that a psychological screening program seemed to be stemming the suicide rate among active-duty soldiers. “This new data, that American soldiers are now more dangerous to themselves than the insurgents, flies right in the face of any suggestion that things are ‘working,’” Good Senior Editor Cord Jefferson wrote.
Sources: Good Report, “More US Soldiers Killed Themselves Than Died in Combat in 2010” Truthdig, “Death and After in Iraq” Alternet, “Can You Face the True Consequences of War?”
2. US Military Manipulates the Social Media (For full story, click here)
The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda. Anyone suspicious of “sock puppets” … would be unnerved by the US military’s “online persona management service,” a little-known program described in The Guardian UK, Raw Story, and Computerworld stories. The U.S. Central Command (Centcom) is developing the program. Using up to 10 false identities, they can counter charged political dialogue with pro-military propaganda. These “personas” can be given detailed, fictionalized backgrounds to make them believable to outside observers, and a sophisticated identity protection service to back them up, preventing suspicious readers from uncovering the real person behind the account.
Sources: Guardian UK, “Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media” Raw Story, “Military’s ‘persona’ software cost millions“; Computerworld, “Army of fake social media friends to promote propaganda”
3. Obama Authorizes International Assassination Campaign (For full story, click here)
The Obama administration has quietly put into practice an ‘incomplete idea’ left over from the G.W. Bush presidency: creating a de facto ‘presidential international assassination program.’ U.S. citizens suspected of encouraging “terror” are being put on “death lists” without any due process of law. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the U.S. military have the authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad without a trial and outside war zones if strong evidence exists that they’re involved in terrorist activity, the Washington Post reported in a front page story. A moral, ethical, and legal analysis of the assassinations seems to be significantly lacking inside the corporate media. In December of 2010, Human Rights Watch asked for clarification of the legal rationale behind this practice after a judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the notion.
Source: Human Rights Watch, “Letter to President Obama – Targeted Killings” Inter Press Service, “Judge Declines to Rule on Targeted Killings of U.S. Citizens” Salon, “Obama Authorizes Assassination of U.S. Citizen” Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings
4. Human Caused Food Crisis Expands (For full story, click here)
A new worldwide spike in agricultural commodity and food prices is generating both predictable and extraordinary fallouts. The search for causes once again leads to a conjuncture of flawed policies in trade, environment, finance and agriculture that is likely to produce more dangerous volatility in years to come. David Moberg, offering an in-depth breakdown of the global food crisis in In These Times, places the blame for rising food prices and increasing malnutrition on flawed economic policies. “Hunger is currently a result of poverty and inequality, not lack of food,” he concludes. “Since 2010 began, roughly another 44 million people have quietly crossed the threshold into malnutrition, joining 925 million already suffering from lack of food,” Moberg writes. “If prices continue to rise, this food crisis will push the ranks of the hungry toward a billion people.”
Over the past four years roughly a million immigrants have been incarcerated in dangerous detention facilities in our taxpayer-financed private prison system. Children were abused, women were raped, and men died from lack of basic medical attention. When Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ran for reelection in 2010, her greatest out-of-state campaign contributions came from high-ranking executives of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), one of the nation’s largest prison companies. CCA profits directly from building and operating prisons and detention centers. CCA previously employed two of Brewer’s legislative aides as lobbyists. Peter Cervantes-Gautschi spotlights Brewer’s links to CCA and goes deeper still, offering an historic account of how investors in CCA and prison giant Geo Group have for years actively pushed for legislation that would result in the widespread incarceration of undocumented immigrants.
Sources: Social Policy, “Wall Street & Our Campaign to Decriminalize Immigrants”
6. Google Spying? (For full story, click here)
Earlier this year the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated Internet search engine giant Google for illegally collecting personal data such as passwords, emails, and other online activities from unsecured Wi-Fi networks in homes and businesses across the US and around the world. A flurry of stories aired in the spring of 2010 when it became apparent that Google Street View vehicles, in the process of collecting data for its mapping service, also picked up consumer “payload” data on Wi-Fi networks, including e-mail messages, website data, user names, and passwords. The tech giant publicly apologized for what it characterized as a mistake, saying it had “failed badly.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) admonished Google in a letter, but declined to pursue it further. Project Censored authors claim that the FTC abandoned its inquiry because a week earlier, Obama attended a Democratic Party fundraiser at the Palo Alto home of Google executive Marissa Mayer, citing a San Francisco Chronicle article about the $30,000-per person affair.
Sources: United States Federal Trade Communication, Personal Communication of David Vladeck; San Francisco Chronicle, “Google’s Marissa Mayer Hosting Obama At $30,000-A-Head Fundraiser Tonight”
7. U.S. Army and Psychology’s Largest Experiment–Ever (For full story, click here)
In the January 2011 issue of American Psychologist, the American Psychology Association (APA) dedicated 13 articles to detailing and celebrating a 117 million dollar collaboration with the US Army, called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF). It’s being marketed as a resilience training to reduce adverse psychological consequences to soldiers who endure combat. Comprehensive Solider Fitness (CSF) is described as a “holistic approach to warrior training,” emphasizing positive psychology as a means to counter mental health problems arising from horrific combat situations. Yet there are many questions about the wisdom of launching a required, untested psychology program for more than a million soldiers, one that encourages soldiers to think positive even in the face of traumatizing events. This “training” program might better be described as a research project. The core hypothesis of this massive program’s success has yet to be confirmed through further research.
Sources: Truthout, “The Dark Side of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness” Psychology of Well Being, A Holistic Approach to Warrior Training; Truthout, “Army’s ‘Spiritual Fitness’ Test Comes Under Fire”
8. The Myth of Clean and Safe Nuclear Power (For full story, click here)
The terrifying meltdowns of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactors reignited worldwide debate about the wisdom of relying on nuclear energy as an electricity source. While Germany opted to phase out its nuclear facilities by 2022 in the wake of the tragedy, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) came under scrutiny after a Union of Concerned Scientists report analyzed 14 “near misses” at nuclear power plants in 2010, revealing the shortcomings in NRC inspections. Yet mainstream media’s treatment of nuclear power is all too willing to endorse the idea that nuclear power is safe. Major news publications readily go along with the nuclear industry’s branding of the power source as “clean” and “carbon free” when it’s really not. Nuclear power presents a security threat of unprecedented proportions: It’s capable of a catastrophic accident that can kill hundreds of thousands of people, with a byproduct that is toxic for millennia. To call nuclear power “clean” is an affront to science, common sense, and the English language itself.
Sources: Union of Concerned Scientists, “Nuclear Reactor Crisis in Japan FAQs” Nuclear Information and Resource Service, “Nuclear Energy Is Dirty Energy“; U.S. NRC, “Radiation Exposure and Cancer”
9. The Government is Manipulating the Weather (For full story, click here)
Rising global temperatures, increasing population, and degradation of water supplies, have created broad support for the growing field of weather modification. The U.S. government has conducted weather modification experiments for over half a century, and the military-industrial complex stands poised to capitalize on these discoveries. One of the latest programs is HAARP, the High-Frequency Active Aural Research Program. This technology can potentially trigger floods, droughts, hurricanes and earthquakes. The scientific idea behind HAARP is to “excite” a specific area of the ionosphere and observe the physical processes in that excited area with intention of modifying ecological conditions. HAARP can also be used as a weapon system, capable of selectively destabilizing agricultural and ecological systems of entire regions. At a recent international symposium, scientists asserted that manipulation of climate through modification of cirrus clouds is neither a hoax nor a conspiracy theory and is fully operational.
Sources: Global Research, “Atmospheric Geoengineering: Weather Manipulation, Contrails and Chemtrails” Dr. Coen Vermeeren, Symposium speech; Commonwealth Club, “Man-Made Climate Change in the Skies”
[For highly revealing documentaries on HAARP by Canada’s CBC and the History Channel, click here]
10. Real Unemployment: One Out of Five in US (For full story, click here)
The corporate media wants America to feel secure during a time of unemployment crisis, but people deserve to know what is really happening rather than a statistical lie. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculates the “official unemployment rate” by counting everyone who had no job, was available for work, and had actively sought work in the last four weeks, according to the BLS website. But alternative BLS statistics incorporate so-called “discouraged workers,” unemployed individuals who’ve given up on the job hunt. In the first four months of 2011, the national unemployment rate officially stood at around 9 percent, while a BLS statistic incorporating discouraged workers and the marginally employed bumped that figure up to 15.9 percent. Yet according to San Francisco-based economist John Williams, who maintains a website called Shadow Government Statistics, the “real” unemployment rate is actually 22.1 percent, or more than one out of five US residents.
Thanks to the San Francisco Bay Guardian and Rebecca Bowe for parts of the above summaries.
More of the Top 25 Press Censorship Stories of 2011
11. Trafficking of Iraqi Women Rampant (For full story, click here)
Human trafficking occurs throughout the world, yet has become increasingly more prevalent in Iraq due to the instability produced by the war. Many Iraqi women and girls are widowed or orphaned by wartime casualties. Currently, more than 50,000 Iraqi women have fled to Jordan and Syria and are trapped in sexual servitude with no possibility of escape.
12. Pacific Garbage Dump: Did You Think Your Plastic Was Being Recycled? (Story here)
Many people do not realize that there is a swirling mass of plastic in the middle of the Pacific ocean that qualifies as the planet’s largest garbage dump. Recent research sponsored by the National Science Foundation suggests the affected area may be twice the size of Hawaii. The 5 Gyres Project estimates that there are 315 billion pounds of plastic in the ocean right now.
13. Will a State of Emergency Be Used to Supersede Our Constitution? (Story here)
A program dating back to the Eisenhower era is now converted to bestow secret powers on the president for anything he considers an emergency. Recent “Continuity of Government” planning has quietly removed time-honored constitutional protections and increased the militarization of civilian law enforcement. For the first time in US history, military troops are allowed to do police actions in US cities. Recently the US Army established an active-duty brigade trained to manage civil unrest and crowd control. Historically this has been illegal. There has been a loss of local authority and sustained preparations for the possibility of martial law.
14. Family Pressure on Young Girls for Genitalia Mutilation in Kenya (For full story, click here)
Girls as young as nine years old were threatened with death if they tried to escape the Kamunera location, where they awaited female genitalia mutilation in Kenya. Some are still in hiding, fearing that their parents will disown them for running away to avoid circumcision. Many girls have been forced to cut short their studies and married off at a young age because of parental fear the daughters will be ostracized if too educated.
15. Big Polluters Freed from Environmental Oversight (For full story, click here)
The Obama administration has distributed billions of dollars in stimulus money to some of the nation’s biggest polluters and granted exemptions from basic environmental errors. The administration’s main goal in Energy Secretary Steven Chu words was to “get the money out and spent as quickly as possible”.
16. Sweatshops in China Are Making Your iPods While Workers Suffer (Story here)
Apple’s suppliers routinely violate China’s “Law on the Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases.” Several manufacturers replaced alcohol with n-hexane, which is used to clean parts. It is a chemical that works better than alcohol, but poisons workers. In these factories the workers, often women in their teens or 20s, were forced to work with the poison in unventilated rooms.
17. Superbug Bacteria Spreading Worldwide (For full story, click here)
Lethal superbugs are emerging that do not respond to any known drugs. The World Health Organization states that the New Delhi or NDM-1 superbug was recently found in UK patients and has reached a critical point. These super bugs are resistant to carbapenem antibiotics, which is a major concern to experts because they are used for hard to treat infections that evade other drugs. Already 25,000 people die each year from superbugs in Europe.
18. Monsanto Tries to Benefit from Haiti’s Earthquake (For full story, click here)
In May 2010, five months after an earthquake destroyed Haiti, the American multinational Monsanto donated the country 60 tons of corn and vegetable hybrid seed. USAID took charge of the seed distribution. A month later, on June 4, 2010, around 10,000 Haitian farmers demonstrated against Monsanto’s donation. Haitian farmers denounced Monsanto’s seeds as they can’t be reused each year, which leads to the necessity of buying new seed from the multinational every new sowing season. This dependence could also extend to the fertilizers and herbicides required by the american multinational who also produces them.
19. Oxfam Exposes How Aid Is Used for Political Purposes (For full story, click here)
In a new report, Oxfam has found that billions of dollars in international aid which could have transformed the lives of many people in some of the poorest countries in the world, was spent on unsustainable, expensive and dangerous aid projects which international donor governments used to support their own short-term foreign policy and security objectives. This type of aid often bypasses the poorest people and dangerously distorts the line between civilian and military activity. The politicization and militarization of aid has in some places made it much harder for aid agencies to provide help to those in need.
20. US Agencies Trying to Outlaw GMO Food Labelling (For full story, click here)
There is increasing concern over the health impact of growing and eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The World Health Organization has identified allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, gene transfer, outcrossing, escape of GM genes into the wild population, gene stability, susceptibility of non-target organisms (insects), and loss of biodiversity as potential issues of using GM seeds. Multiple, reliable sources show that you may be eating genetically modified food daily which scientific experiments have repeatedly demonstrated can cause sickness and even death in lab animals. (More here)
21. Lyme Disease: An Emerging Epidemic (For full story, click here)
Lyme disease is one of the most political and controversial epidemics of our time. Lyme originates from a bacteria transmitted through the bite of a tick which can remain hidden for years, with symptoms mimicking other diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, and ADHD. And it is growing – new cases of Lyme occur each year at a rate ten times higher then that of AIDS and the West Nile Virus combined. Yet doctors risk losing their license if they treat Lyme as the chronic disease it is known to be. (Powerful documentary here)
22. Participatory Budgeting: A Method to Empower Local Citizens, Communities (Story here)
“Participatory Budgeting” (PB) is a process that allows citizens to decide directly how to allocate all or part of a public budget. The process typically involves a series of meetings, work by community “delegates” or representatives, and ultimately a final vote. It was first implemented in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1990, and has since spread.
23. Worldwide Movement To Ban or Charge Fees For Plastic Bags (For full story, click here)
Shoppers worldwide are using 500 billion to one trillion single-use plastic bags per year. These bags pollute our waters, smother wetlands and entangle and kill animals. As larger animals eat smaller plastic-laden creatures, this also affects our health as we end up eating some form of plastic in our sea food. Now 35 countries have already banned the use of plastic bags, nine countries have passed levies and fees on use, and 12 countries are considering bans or fees.
24. South Dakota Takes Extreme Measures to Be the Top Anti-Abortion State (Story here)
South Dakota is taking extreme action against any person who performs an abortion within the states borders. The South Dakota House is taking up a bill to redefine “justifiable homicide” that may “make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions,” Mother Jones reports.
25. Extension of DU to Libya (For full story, click here)
President Obama’s undeclared and Congressionally unauthorized war against Libya may have been compounded by the crime of spreading toxic uranium oxide in populated areas of that country. Concern has been voiced by groups such as the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, which monitor the military use of so-called depleted-uranium (DU) anti-tank and bunker-penetrating shells.