Edited by Greg Cahill
WHILE THE MAINSTREAM media force-fed us a near-pornographic all-Monica junk-news diet, researchers at Project Censored–a Sonoma State University-based student-faculty media watch project, now in its 23rd year, were examining stories that did not make headlines. “It’s been a year in which we’ve easily found very important news stories that have been ignored,” says Project Censored director and SSU journalism professor Peter Phillips. “[The situation] has been consistently getting worse as the media consolidate … and begin to look alike as they start competing to entertain rather than inform.”
Here are Project Censored’s newly announced top 10 most underreported stories of 1998:
1. Secret International Trade Agreement Undermines Sovereignty
The Multilateral Agreement on Investment, hatched in secret negotiations in 1995 between the United States and 28 other nations, could threaten national sovereignty by giving corporations almost as many rights as nations. The agreement, which is more radical than NAFTA or GATT, would trigger a vast series of protections for foreign investment and has the potential to place international corporate profits above human rights and social justice.
2. Chemical Corporations Profit from Breast Cancer
Leaders in cancer treatment are also the same profit-making chemical companies that produce carcinogenic products. In 1985, chemical conglomerate Imperial Chemical (now known as Zeneca Pharmaceuticals) initiated Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As controlling sponsor, Zeneca can approve or veto BCAM informational materials. It avoids the topic of prevention. Not surprising, since with $14 billion annual revenues, Zeneca is among the world’s largest manufacturers of pesticides, plastics, and pharmaceuticals.
3. Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Seeds Threaten World Production
Monsanto Corp. is trying to consolidate the world seed market and introduce new genetically engineered varieties that will produce only infertile seeds. As a result, farmers will no longer be able to save and trade seeds from year to year and will be forced to buy new seeds each year from Monsanto.
4. Recycled Radioactive Metals May Be in Your Home
Under special government permits, “decontaminated” radioactive metal is being sold to manufacture everything from zippers to dental fillings and IUDs. The Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are pushing to relax standards and scrap the need for special radioactive recycling licensing. Meanwhile, “hot metal” is being marketed to other countries.
5. U.S. Weapons Linked to the Deaths of Half a Million Children
U.S. Senate findings reveal that American corporations provided Iraq with the biological weapons that U.N. inspectors were seeking recently, contributing to sanctions that have led to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children since the Gulf War.
6. U.S. Nuclear Program Subverts U.N. Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
The United States conducted an underground nuclear test in March 1998 that called for the detonation of a 227-pound nuclear bomb at the Department of Energy’s Nevada Test Site, which is co-managed by corporate giants Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, and Johnson Controls. It was perceived as a hostile act by many nations.
7. Biotech Linked to New Germs
At least 30 new diseases have emerged over the past 20 years. In addition, by 1990, many common bacterial species had developed some degree of resistance to drug treatment and multiple antibiotics. A major contributing factor (in addition to antibiotic overuse), according to Third World Resurgence, may be the transfer of genes between unrelated species of animals and plants, which takes place with genetic engineering.
8. Catholic Hospital Mergers Threaten Reproductive Rights
Nationwide hospital mergers with Catholic medical facilities are threatening women’s access to abortions, sterilization, birth control, in vitro fertilization, and fetal tissue experimentation (see Sonoma County Independent, “,” Feb. 25). By 1996, more then 600 hospitals had merged with Catholic institutions in 19 states.
9. U.S. Tax Dollars Support Death Squads in Chiapas
The group responsible for 1997 atrocities in the Mexican state of Chiapas are allegedly members of the Mexican Army Airborne Special Forces groups, a paramilitary unit trained by U.S. Army Special Forces and supported by U.S. tax dollars, ostensibly to fight the drug war. However, Mexican activists say the real motive is the protection of foreign investment in Mexico.
10. What Price, Cheap Oil?
About 20 students peacefully protesting the destruction of their wetlands by Chevron’s oil-extraction practices were attacked by Nigerian national soldiers last May. The soldiers reportedly were helicoptered by Chevron employees to the Chevron-owned oil facility in Nigeria where the attacks occurred. Two students died and several were injured.
From the March 25-31, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.
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