Here are some stories currently under review at Media Freedom Foundation and Project Censored as compiled by the Director, Dr. Peter Phillips.
These are validated independent news stories ignored, distorted, or undercovered by the corporate mainstream media. This is part of a new and ongoing role Project Censored is playing in reporting valid news, vetted by college and university students and professors, and making the stories available to the public.
*The United States is operating secret “floating prisons” to house those arrested in its war on terror. According to human rights lawyers, the US has also attempted to conceal the number and whereabouts of detainees. Reprieve, a human right’s organization, claims there have been more than 200 new cases of rendition since 2006 and that the US may have used as many as 17 ships as “floating prisons” since 2001. Detainees are interrogated aboard the vessels and then rendered to other, often undisclosed, locations, it is claimed. By its own admission, the US government is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons, and information suggests up to 80,000 have been ‘through the system’ since 2001.
*In October of 2008, over 5,000 U.S. physicians signed an open letter calling on the President and Congress "to stand up for the health of the American people and implement a nonprofit, single-payer national health insurance system." The letter follows a survey last spring that shows 59 percent of U.S. physicians support national health insurance, The letter argues that whereas most leading Democrats offer a “mandate model” of reform—under which the government would require people (or their employers) to buy private health insurance—this would merely augment the role and profits of private insurers, whose overhead is four times that of Medicare’s Dr. Oliver Fein, signer of the letter, comments that the single-payer approach provides care to all who need it and requires no new money.
*The Guardian in London has compiled detailed evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Israel during the 23-day offensive in the Gaza Strip earlier this year, involving the use of Palestinian children as human shields and the targeting of medics and hospitals.
A month-long investigation also obtained evidence of civilians being hit by fire from unmanned drone aircraft said to be so accurate that their operators can tell the color of the clothes worn by a target.
Some of the most dramatic testimony gathered by the Guardian came from three teenage brothers in the al-Attar family. They describe how they were taken from home at gunpoint, made to kneel in front of Israeli tanks to deter Hamas fighters from firing, and sent by Israeli soldiers into Palestinian houses to clear them.
Medics and ambulance drivers said they were targeted when they tried to tend to the wounded; sixteen were killed. According to the World Health Organization, more than half of Gaza's 27 hospitals and 44 clinics were damaged by Israeli bombs.
The Geneva convention makes it clear medical staff and hospitals are not legitimate targets and forbids involuntary human shields.
*Two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, according to a new report from Congress. According to the Government Accounting Organization more than 38,000 foreign corporations doing business in the U.S. had no tax liability in 2005 and 1.2 million U.S. companies paid no income tax as well. Combined, the companies had $2.5 trillion in sales. About 25 percent of the U.S. corporations not paying corporate taxes were considered large corporations, meaning they had at least $250 million in assets or $50 million in receipts.
Source: Most Companies In US Avoid Federal Income Taxes GAO, Common Dreams, 8/12/08
*The US Navy reactivated the Fourth Fleet after fifty-eight years so that it could begin patrolling Latin American waters in what the Department of Defense said was an effort to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and other activities. The presidents of both Bolivia and Venezuela have stated that they see the reestablishment of the fleet as a new sign of aggression toward their governments and the region.
In 2009, the Ecuadorian government will not renew Washington’s permit to operate in Manta, which is the US’s only permanent military base in South America. The fleet provides a floating base for US interventions throughout the continent.
*Chinese citizens will be watched around the clock through networked CCTV cameras and remote monitoring of computers which are provided by American corporations. This high tech surveillance and censorship program is known in China as “Golden Shield”. American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric supply the technology. Their end goal is to use the latest in people tracking technology to create an airtight consumer cocoon - a place where consumerism can be enjoyed without the threat of democracy breaking out.
*In 1989, Congress passed legislation barring U.S. companies from selling any products in China that have to do with "crime control or detection instruments or equipment.” However, while fingerprinting technology appears on the Commerce Department's list of banned products, there is no explicit mention of "face prints",
*A study by Center for Responsive Politics has found that special interests paid Washington lobbyists $3.2 billion in 2008, more than any other year on record. This was a 13.7 percent increase over 2007. The Center calculated that interest groups spent $17.4 million a day lobbying Congress in 2008.
For the third straight year, pharmaceutical/health interests spent more on federal lobbying than any other economic sector--$478.5 million. The second-biggest spender among industries in 2008 was electric utilities, which spent $156.7 million on lobbying. Third was insurance interests at $153.2 million, and oil and gas companies paid lobbyists $133.2 million. Pro-Israel groups, food processing companies and the oil and gas industry increased their lobbying expenditures the most (as a percentage) between 2007 and 2008.
*A highly controversial report pushing for the building of a peripheral canal on the California Delta was funded in part by Bechtel Corporation. Bechtel is one of the world's largest engineering and construction firms and is a leading advocate of the privatization of water systems. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) report recommends the construction of a peripheral canal.
*Central Valley chinook salmon and Delta fish populations are in a state of collapse, largely due to massive increases in water exports from the Delta in recent years. A broad coalition of recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Delta farmers, Indian Tribes and environmentalists are opposed to the peripheral canal because it would result in the diversion of more water from the Delta and further exacerbate the current fishery collapses.
*Matthew Rothschild with the Progressive magazine writes that President Obama needs to tell Attorney General Eric Holder to indict Dick Cheney, right now, for war crimes.
Title 18 of the U.S. Criminal Code, Section 2441 makes it illegial for a person to commit, or conspire to commit, an act specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering . . . upon another person within his custody or physical control for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation, coercion, or any reason…”
Cheney was clearly in on, as when he repeatedly defended waterboarding and talked about the need to go to the "dark side" Cheney was supervising such treatment in the White House, which would qualify as committing this crime.
For each of these offenses, Cheney could receive life in prison, according to the statute.
"There is no longer any doubt as to whether the Bush administration has committed war crimes," said Major General Antonio Taguba, USA (Ret.), "The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."
More Sources for above stories:
Washington Lobbying Grew to $3.2 Billion Last Year, Despite Economy Center for Responsive Politics, Open Secrets.org, January 29, 2009
Source: The Guardian (U.K.) March 23, 2009 - updated March 24, 2009
Source: China's All-Seeing Eye Naomi Klein, Rolling Stone, May 29, 2008
Bechtel and the Big Dig Dan Bacher, CounterPunch , 7/22/2008
Source: Fourth Fleet Threatens Peace, Democracy in Latin America Jose A. Cruz, People’s Weekly World Newspaper, 6/6/2008
The Return of the Fourth Fleet BBC 5/10/2008
Source: US Accused of Holding Terror Suspects on Prison Ships Duncan Campbell and Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian/UK, June 2, 2008
5,000 Doctors Challenge Private-Insurance System Staff Writers, Kansas City InfoZine, October 8, 2008
Text of Letter to President Obama for single payer national health insurance.