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The top-censored stories highlight the role of corporate America.

What would you expect in return if you gave someone $64 million? Below you'll find the answer to that question and other puzzling social and political issues among the new top censored stories just revealed by Project Censored. Full text on each story is available online at www.projectcensored.org.

The Top Censored Stories of 2008-09, the yearbook edited by Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff in cooperation with students and faculty at Sonoma State University and numerous other collewes and universities, features the most important censored news stories of 2008-09 as selected by Project Censored.

Phillips addresses many of the criticisms regarding Project Censored efforts over the past 14 years. "We take on the long-time critics who claim that Project Censored is a left-leaning organization, said Dr. Phillips. Nothing could be further from the truth. Why stories about the powerful in government and big business are left-leaning is beyond our understanding. It seems that this is just good journalism--the journalism that is missing in the corporate media--it could just as well be middle-leaning journalism or right-leaning journalism. Project Censored supports the news stories that hold the powerful in society accountable for their decisions and actions, which is what a free press is supposed to do."

1 U.S. Congress sells out to Wall Street

Federal lawmakers responsible for overseeing the US economy have received millions of dollars from Wall Street firms. Since 2001, eight of the most troubled firms have donated $64.2 million to congressional candidates, presidential candidates and the Republican and Democratic parties. As senators, Barack Obama and John McCain received a combined total of $3.1 million. The donors include investment bankers Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Insurer American International Group, and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Sources: Truthout, October 2, 20081 "Lax Oversight? Maybe 864 Million to DC Pols Explains It" by Greg Gordon. Capitol Eye, February 10, 2009; "Congressmen Hear from TARP Recipients Who Funded Their Campaigns" by Lindsay Renick Mayer. Rolling Stone, March 19, 2009; "The Big Takeover" by Matt Taibb.

2 U.S. schools are more segregated today than in the 1950s

Schools in the United States are more segregated today than they have been in more than four decades. Millions of non-white students are locked into "dropout factory" high schools, where huge percentages do not graduate, and few are well prepared for college or a future in the US economy.

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

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 (IUU) fleets from around the world that have been poaching and dumping toxic waste in Somali waters since the fall of the Somali government 18 years ago.

Sources: Al Jazeera English, October 11, 2008: "Toxic waste behind Somali piracy" by Naiad Abdullahi. Huffington Post, January 4, 2009; "You are being lied to about pirates" by Johann Hari. 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

One of the most lethal patches of ground in North America is located in the backwoods of North Carolina, where Shearon Harris nuclear plant is housed and owned by Progress Energy. The plant contains the largest radioactive waste storage pools in the country.

Source: CounterPunch, August 9, 2008: "Pools of Fire" by Jeffrey St. Clair.

5 Europe blocks US toxic products

US deregulation of toxic substances, such as lead in lipsticks, mercury in electronics, and phthalates (endocrine disruptors) in baby toys, may not only pose disastrous consequences to our health, but also to our economic and political status in the world. International markets are moving toward a European model of insisting on environmental and consumer safety. Hundreds of companies located in the US produce or import hundreds of chemicals designated as dangerous by the European Union.

Sources: Scientific American, September 30, 2008; "European Chemical Clampdown Reaches Across Atlantic" by David Biello. Environmental Defense Fund, September 30, 2008; "How Europe's New Chemical Rules Affect US." Democracy Now! February 24, 2009; "US Lags Behind Europe in Regulating Toxicity of Everyday Products" by Mark Schapiro.

6 Lobbyists buy Congress

According to a study by The Center for Responsive Politics, special interests paid Washington lobbyists $3.2 billion in 2008--more than any other year on record. This was a 13.7 percent increase from 2007 (which broke the record by 7.7 percent over 2006). Source: Open Secrets.org; "Washington Lobbying Grew to $3.2 Billion Last Year, Despite Economy" by Authors: Center for Responsive Politics.

7 Obama's military appointments have corrupt past

Obama's retention of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense makes Gates the first appointment from an outgoing administration of opposing party to be kept in the position. Gates served on the board of directors of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), which reported $7.5 billion earnings in 2005. SAIC is involved in everything from intelligence gathering to Iraq reconstruction for the Pentagon.

Sources: ConsortiumNews.com, 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. Democracy Now! January 7, 2009; "Obama Nominee Admiral Dennis Blair Aided perpetrators of 1999 church Killings in East Timor" Interviewed by Allan Nairn. The Hill, November 24, 2008 "Ties to Chevron, Boeing Raise Concern on Possible NSA Pick" by Roxana Tiron.

8 Bailed-out banks and America's wealthy cheat on taxes

A 2008 study done by 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. Fourteen of these companies, including AIG, Bank of America, and Citigroup, received money from the government bailout. The GAO also reported that activities of Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) are directly connected to tax avoidance.

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; by "Gimme Shelter: Tax Evasion and the Obama Administration" by Thomas B. Edsall.

9 U.S. arms used on Gaza

Israel's repeated firing of US-made white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its recent military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes, Human Rights Watch said in a report released March 25, 2009.

Sources: Human Rights Watch, March 25, 2009; "White Phosphorus Use Evidence of War Crimes Report: Rain of Fire: Israel's Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza by "Fred Abrahams. Guardian/UK, February 23, 2009. "Suspend Military Aid to Israel, Amnesty Urges Obama after Detailing US Weapons Used in Gaza by Rory McCarth Inter Press Service, January 8, 2009. "US Weaponry Facilitates Killings in Gaza" by Thalif Deen. International Middle East Media Center News, January 8, 2009. "US military re-supplying Israel with ammunition through Greece," Saed Bannoura. Foreign Policy Journal, January 09, 2009; "US Senate Endorses Israel's War on Gaza by Jeremy R. Hammond.

10 Ecuador declares foreign debt illegitimate

In November 2008, Ecuador became the first country to undertake an examination of the legitimacy and structure of its foreign debt. An independent debt audit commissioned by the government of Ecuador documented hundreds of allegations of irregularity, illegality, and illegitimacy in contracts of debt to predatory international lenders. The loans, according to the report, violated Ecuador's domestic laws, US Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, and general principles of international law

Sources: Alternet, November 26, 2008; "As Crisis Mounts, Ecuador Declares Foreign Debt Illegitimate and Illegal" by Daniel Denvir. Utube, Fall 2008 "Invalid Loans to Ecuador: Who Owes Who" Producer: Committee for the Integral Audit of Public Credit. Foreign Policy in Focus, December 15, 2008. by "Ecuador's Debt Default" by Neil Watkins and Sarah Anderson.

PROJECT CENSORED

Between 700 and 1000 stories are submitted to Project Censored each year from journalists, scholars, librarians, and concerned citizens around the world. With the help of more than 200 Sonoma State University faculty, students, and community members, Project Censored reviews the story submissions for coverage, content, reliability of sources and national significance. The university community selects 25 stories to submit to the Project Censored panel of judges who then rank them in order of importance. The judges are:

Robin Andersen, Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Liane Clorfene-Casten, Geoff Dividian, Lenore Foerstel, Robert Hackett, Carl Jensen, Sut Jhally, Nicholas Johnson, Rhoda H. Karpatkin, Charles L. Klotzer, Nancy Kranich, Deepa Kumar, Martin Lee, Dennis Loo, William Lutz, Mark Crispin Miller, Brian Murphy, Brian Murphy, Jack L. Nelson, Nancy Snow, Sheila Rabb Weidenfeld, Rob Williams.
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Publication:St. Louis Journalism Review
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Date:Sep 1, 2009
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