Nomination for the +quot;Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987+quot; THE INFORMATION MONOPOLY

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Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" THE INFORMATION MONOPOLY The rapidly increasing centralization of media ownership raises critical questions about the public's access to a diversity of opinion. Further, and perhaps not surprisingly, the impact of this monopolization of information on a free society continues to be ignored by the mass media. In 1982, when media expert Ben Bagdikian completed research for his book, THE MEDIA MONOPOLY, he found that 50 corporations controlled half or more of the media business. By December of 1986, when he finished a revision for a second edition, the 50 had shrunk to 29. About half a year later, when he wrote an article for EXTRA, the number was down to 26. He also warned that a number of serious Wall Street analysts of the media are predicting that by the 1990s a half dozen giant firms will control most of our media. Bagdikian notes that of the 1700 daily papers, 98 percent are local monopolies and fewer than 15 corporations control most of the country's circulation. A handful of firms have most of the magazine business, with Time, Inc. alone accounting for about 40 percent of that industry's revenues. The three networks, Capital Cities/ABC, CBS, and NBC, still have majority access to the television audience, and most of the book business is controlled by fewer than a dozen companies, with major categories like paperback and trade books dominated by still fewer firms. Even worse, this situation is exacerbated by the conflict of interest inherent in interlocking boards of directors. A earlier study, by Peter Dreier and Steven Weinberg, found interlocking directorates in major newspaper chains like Gannett which shared directors with Merrill Lynch, Standard Oil of Ohio, 20th Century Fox, Kerr-McGee, McDonnell Douglas Aircraft, McGraw-Hill, Eastern Airlines, Phillips Petroleum, Kellog Company, and the New York Telephone Co. The most influential newspaper in America, THE NEW YORK TIMES, was interlocked with Merck, Morgan Guaranty Trust, Bristol Myers, Charter Oil, Johns Manville, American Express, Bethlehem Steel, IBM, Scott Paper, Sun Oil, and First Boston Corporation. Time, Inc.'s interlocks included Mobil Oil, AT&T, American Express, Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, Mellon National Corporation, Atlantic Richfield, Xerox, General Dynamics, and most of the major international banks. Bagdikian's warning is ominous: "... a shrinking number of large media corporations now regard monopoly, oligopoly, and historic levels of profit as not only normal, but as their earned right. In the process, the usual democratic expectations for the media -- diversity of ownership and ideas -- have disappeared as the goal of official policy and, worse, as a daily experience of a generation of American readers and viewers." Equally disturbing, the prevailing concern with the bottom line coupled with the traditional publishers' tendency to avoid controversy fosters wide-spread self-censorship among writers, journalists, editors, and news directors. SOURCES: EXTRA!, June 1987, "The 26 corporations that own our media," pp 1, 4, and MULTINATIONAL MONITOR, September 1987, "The Media Brokers," pp 7-12, both by Ben Bagdikian; UTNE READER, Jan/Feb 1988, "Censorshop in Publishing," by Lynette Lamb. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND ITS CONTRA-DRUG CONNECTION Though mounting evidence, with substantive and alarming implications in terms of U.S. foreign policy and Reagan administration propriety, pointed to a large-scale contra/CIA drug smuggling network, the major U.S. media largely underreported it in 1987. Testimony by convicted drug smugglers as well as private citizens for CBS's "West 57th Street" program, the Christic Institute's federal lawsuit under the RICO statutes, and before congressional committees provided a startling picture of large scale drug trafficking under the auspices of the U.S. government/contra supply network. According to the Christic Institute (a Washington, D.C., based inter- faith legal foundation), "Contra narcotics smuggling stretches from cocaine plantations in Columbia, to dirt airstrips in Costa Rica, to pseudo-seafood companies in Miami, and finally, to the drug-ridden streets of our society." The Christic Institute's investigation, sanctioned by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami, provided evidence supporting allegations that 1) a major "guns-for-drugs" operation existed between North, Central, and South America that helped finance the contra war; 2) the contra leadership received direct funding and other support from major narcotics traffickers; 3) some contra leaders were directly involved in drug trafficking; 4) U.S. government funds for the contras went to known narcotics dealers; and 5) the CIA helped Miami-based drug traffickers smuggle their illicit cargo into the U.S. in exchange for their help in arming the contras. Revelations of this U.S. contra/drug network first surfaced in 1986 when the Christic Institute files suit against the U.S. government alleging complicity in the 1984 La Penca bombing in which eight journalists were killed and dozens of others wounded. The original lawsuit named 29 men associated with the contra supply network and alleged to have ties to the drug trafficking network. Among those charged with complicity in the La Penca bombing were ex-CIA and military officers including Oliver North, Richard Secord, Albert Hakim, Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines, and Rob Owens. The Christic Institute's case cited evidence such as sworn statements about their missions for the contra resupply network by Michael Tolliver and Gary Betzner, Senator John Kerry's subcommittee's report, sworn testimony by reputed ex-CIA "asset" and money launderer Ramon Milian- Rodriguez, and numerous other documents. Despite the extraordinary allegations and supporting evidence, the major U.S. media did not commit the resources necessary to explore those charges and their validity. In fact, few media even made significant note of Attorney General Edwin Meese's efforts to stop the Miami-based contra/CIA drug connection investigation. The U.S. Media owe the American public better investigative reporting so that we can "just say no" not only to drugs, but also to government complicity, impropriety, and possibly illegality. SOURCES: THE CHRISTIC INSTITUTE SPECIAL REPORT, November, 1987, "The Contra-Drug Connection," by the Christic Institute, pp 1-12; NEWSDAY, 6/28/87, "Witness: Contras Got Drug Cash," by Knut Royce, pp 4, 15; THE NATION, 9/5/87, "How the Drug Czar Got Away," by Martin A. Lee, pp 189-192; IN THESE TIMES, 4/15/87, "CIA, contras hooked on drug money," by Vince Bielski and Dennis Bernstein, pp 3, 10. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" SECRET DOCUMENTS REVEAL DANGER OF WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR ACCIDENTS On March 11, 1987, NBC broadcast a documentary, "Nuclear Power: In France It Works." It could have passed for a lengthy nuclear power commercial. Missing from anchorman Tom Brokaw's introduction was the fact that NBC's owner, General Electric, is America's second largest nuclear power salesman and third largest producer of nuclear weapons systems. One month after the NBC documentary, there were accidents at two French nuclear installations, injuring seven workers. THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR wrote of a "potentially explosive debate" in France, with new polls showing a third of the French public opposing nuclear power. That story was not reported on NBC News. NBC's policy which produced the "nuclear power works" commercial and censored the news about two nuclear accidents is typical of the international silence about reactor incidents which help explain the industry's undeserved reputation for safety. The lid to Pandora's nuclear safety box was partially opened last year when the West German weekly DER SPIEGEL published 48 of over 250 secret nuclear reactor accdient reports compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The report of previously secret IAEA documents was translated into English for the first time and published in David Brower's EARTH ISLAND JOURNAL. Some of the "incidents" you never heard about: February 1983 -- Bulgaria's Kozluduj nuclear power plant lost pressure in the primary cooling system; June 1983 -- three of four pumps failed in Argentina's Embalse nuclear plant; August 1984 -- the primary cooling system in West Germany's Bruno Leuschner plant in Greifswald burst; October 1984 -- engineers at the Chooz A reactor on the French-Belgian border discovered numerous "breaks" and "broken welding seams" on the critical control rods of the 17-year-old reactor; 1984 -- Czechoslovakia's Jaslovska Bohunice reactor spilled radioactive coolant into two reactor containment units due to the failure of 72 defective bolts in the circulation system; January 1985 -- at Pakistan's Kanupp reactor, radioactive heavy water leaked while being transferred through a rubber hose; February 1985 -- during a fuel rod experiment in East Germany's Rheinsberg reactor, a measuring device stuck into the center of the reactor caused a leak of radioactive water; April 1985 -- radioactive water and sludge swamped two rooms of an auxiliary building at Belgium's Tihange reactor; December 1985 -- emergency power in Canada's Pickerikng reactor failed in three separate units for five days. DER SPIEGEL said that in several of these previously unreported nuclear slip-ups "a meltdown was a real possibility." Worse yet for Americans, DER SPIEGEL found that human error "is most advanced in North America ... sometimes with hair-raising results." A survey of official records since the Three Mile Island reactor meltdown in 1979 shows there have been more than 23,000 mishaps at U.S. reactors -- and the number are increasing. In 1986, there were more than 3,000 reported incidents -- up 24 percent over 1984. The chilling conclusion: "Humanity has been sitting on a powderkeg as a result of reliance on the 'peaceful' use of the atom." SOURCES: EARTH ISLAND JOURNAL, Summer, 1987, "Secet Documents Reveal Nuclear Accidents Worldwide," by Gar Smith with Hans Hollitscher, pp 21-24; EXTRA, June 1987, "Nuclear Broadcasting Company," p 5. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" REAGAN'S MANIA FOR SECRECY: GOVERNMENT DECISIONS WITHOUT DEMOCRACY On December 3, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed Public Law 99-494 proclaiming 1987 "The Year of the Reader." The blatant hypocrisy of that act was clear throughout 1987 as the Reagan administration outdid itself in its efforts to control, interpret, manipulate, disinform, and censor all forms of information. Typical of the Reagan administration's efforts to control its own destiny and the nation's history was the Justice Department memorandum filed in a lawsuit that could enable Reagan to control the history of his involvement in the Iran/contra scandal. The administration is seeking to overturn a 1986 Federal court ruling which limited Nixon's right to block the release of his White House papers. The Justice Department memorandum would allow Nixon to withdraw any documentation he thought should be supressed. In effect, Nixon would be in control of U.S. history between 1968 and 1974. If Nixon wins, it will pave the way for Reagan to control U.S. history from l980 to 1988. While alarming, this is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Reagan's mania for secrecy. Following are just three groups that tried to warn us about what was happening; the nation's leading press didn't think their stories were that important. PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY -- A report titled "Government Secrecy: Decisions Without Democracy," published in December 1987, provides more than 100 pages of well-documented charges about the growing secrecy system and its dangers to American democracy. The report "tells the story of the institutionalization of secrecy throughout the federal government ... the story of unprecedented controls on information, not only on defense and foreign policy issues where legitimate secrets do need to be protected but on a host of topics vital to our daily lives, from toxic wastes to occupational hazards, from new technology to the health of our children." THE REPORTERS COMMITTEE FOR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS -- In March, 1987, the Reporters Committee issued a "FYI Media Alert" about how the Reagan administration and its supporters restrict public and media access to government information and intrude on editorial freedom. The 50-page report, retroactive to March 1981, lists 135 specific actions, including threatened prosecution of the press for publishing classified information; expulsion of foreign journalists; proposed restrictive amendments to the Freedom of Information Act; proposed and actual use of lie detectors, and many other cases. THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION -- The ALA released its 1987 updated "Less Access to Less Information By and About the U.S. Government: IX," covering 1987. The chronology, which was started in 1981, provides a damning indictment of Reagan administration efforts to "restrict and privatize government information" which has led to significantly limited access to public documents and statistics. The new 1987 report adds 30 pages and 78 specific items to the case for Reagan's mania for secrecy. SOURCES: THE NATION, 5/23/87, "History Deleted," pp 669-670; GOVERNMENT DECISIONS WITHOUT DEMOCRACY, December 1987, by People For The American Way, pp 1-104+; FYI MEDIA ALERT 1987, March 1987, "The Reagan Administration & The News Media," by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, pp 1-50; THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, Washington Office, "Less Access to Less Information By and About the U.S. Government: IX," December 1987, by Anne A. Heanue. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" BUSH'S OILY ROLE IN IRAN ARMS DEAL Vice President George Bush's acknowledged support for the ill-fated secret arms shipments to Iran has been interpreted as evidence of his loyalty to the policies of President Reagan. Now, however, other evidence suggests that Bush, far more than President Reagan, promoted the Iran initiative, took part in key negotiations, and conferred upon Oliver North the secret powers necessary to carry it out. It also has been charged that Bush actively promoted the Iran arms sales because of an economic motive the president did not share -- the desire to stabilize the dropping oil prices in 1986. Peter Dale Scott, co-author of THE IRAN CONTRA CONNECTION and former senior fellow at the International Center for Development Policy in Washington, suggests that Bush's primary concern in early 1986 was to stabilize falling crude oil prices by promoting a common price policy between the United States and the oil producers of the Persian Gulf, including, above all, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Further, Scott says, the interest in higher oil prices was an explicit goal in some of Oliver North's secret arms negotiations with the Iranians. The price of oil reflected the concerns of Bush, a former Texas oilman, rather than of Reagan, a free market advocate. Scott traces Bush's involvement back to the January 17, 1986, meeting of the president's national security advisers at which the president signed the controversial finding which authorized the arms sales. The meeting was attended only by Bush and three other known supporters of the arms sales intiative -- Chief of Staff Donald Regan, National Security Adviser John Poindexter, and Poindexter's deputy Donald Fortier. As the Iran-Contra Select Committee Report points out, Secretary of State Goerge Schultz and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger were deliberately kept in the dark about the trip North took with Robert McFarlane to Tehran three months later. Yet Bush not only knew of the trip but he helped in scheduling it. In a little-noticed message of Aril 4, 1986, Pondexter told North that, "If we can manage it, the VP would appreciate it if the Iran trip did not take place until the VP leaves Saudi Arabia. If that screws up planning too much, then he will uderstand that we can't do it." The request was honored; the McFarlane-North trip took place a month after Bush returned from Saudi Arabia. Bush's mission to Saudi Arabia was to persuade leaders of that country to help stabilize oil prices then rapidly falling to under $10 a barrel. His trip was successful; Saudi Arabia King Fahd received the Iranian petroleum minister in the autumn of l986 and the two countries agreed to OPEC arrangements for boosting oil prices to $18 a barrel. The $18 price brought economic relief to oil-producing states like Texas which were the key to Bush's political base. After the arms sale became public, oil industry sources commented that McFarlane and Poindexter understood the connection between a strong domestic oil industry and national security better than most others in the administration. SOURCE: PACIFIC NEWS SERVICE, 12/21/87, "Bush had oil policy interest in promoting Iran arms deals," by Peter Dale Scott, pp 1-4. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" PENTAGON BIOWARFARE RESEARCH CONDUCTED IN UNIVERSITY LABORATORIES Overshadowed by Star Wars and overlooked by the media, the push toward biowarfare has been one of the Reagan administration's best kept secrets. The research budget for infectious diseases and toxins has increased tenfold since fiscal '81 and most of the '86 budget of $42 million went to 24 U.S. university campuses where the world's most deadly organisms are being cultured in campus labs. The amount of military money available for biotechnology research is a powerful attraction for scientists whose civilian funding resources dried up. Scientists formerly working on widespread killers like cancer now use their talents developing strains of such rare pathogens as anthrax, dengue, Rift Valley fever, Japanes encephalitis, tularemia, shigella, botulin, Q fever, and mycotoxins. Many members of the academic community find the trend alarming, but when MIT's biology department voted to refuse Pentagon funds for biotech research, the administration forced it to reverse its decision. And, in 1987, the University of Wisconsin hired Philip Sobocinski, a retired Army colonel, to help professors tailor their research to attract Pentagon-funded biowarfare research to the school. Richard Jannaccio, a former science writer at UW, was dismissed from his job on August 25, 1987, the day after the student newspaper, THE DAILY CARDINAL, published his story disclosing the details of Colonel Sobicinski's mission at the University. Since the U.S. is a signatory to the 1972 Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention which bans "development, production, stockpiling and use of microbes or their poisonous products except in amounts necessary for protective and peaceful research," the university-based work is being pursued under the guise of defensive projects aimed at developing vaccines and protective gear. Scientists who oppose the program insist that germ-warfare defense is clearly impractical; every person would have to be vaccinated for every known harmful biological agent. Since vaccinating the entire population would be virtually impossible, the only application of a defensive development is in conjunction with offensive use. Troops could be effectively vaccinated for a single agent prior to launching an attack with that agent. Colonel David Huxsoll, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases admits that offensive research is indistinguishable from defensive research even for those doing it. Each of the sources for this synopsis raised ethical questions about the perversion of academia by military money and about the U.S. engaging in a biological arms race that could rival the nuclear threat, yet none mentioned the safety or the security of the labs involved. The failure to investigate this aspect of the issue is a striking omission. Release of pathogens, either by accident or design, would prove tragic at any of the following schools: Brigham Young, California Institute of Technology, Colorado State University, Emory, Illinois Institute of Technology, Iowa University, M.I.T., Purdue, State University of N.Y. at Albany, Texas A&M, and the Universities of California, California at Davis, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Utah. SOURCES: ISTHMUS, 10/9/87, "Biowarfare and the UW," by Richard Jannaccio, pp 1, 9, 10; THE PROGRESSIVE, 11/16/87, "Poisons from the Pentagon," by Seth Shulman, pp 16-20; WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/17/86, "Military Science," by Bill Richards and Tim Carrington, pp 1, 23. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" BIASED COVERAGE OF THE ARIAS PEACE PLAN BY AMERICA'S PRESS On August 7, 1987, five Central American nations -- Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua -- signed a regional peace proposal that was authored by Costa Rican president, Oscar Arias. The proposal, known as the Arias Plan, set specific guidelines and target dates for each nation to comply with in order to stabilize Central America and bring peace to the region. Two separate studies monitoring U.S. press coverage of the Arias peace plan revealed a startling bias in how America's leading newspapers covered the region following August 7th. A national media watchdog group, the New York-based Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), concluded that the peace accord set off a U.S. media reaction that "showed once again the extent to which White House assumptions are shared by the national press corps" and how "Reagan's obsession with Nicaragua has turned into a media obsession." FAIR's 90-day analysis of THE NEW YORK TIMES found that the TIMES devoted three times as many column inches of news space to Nicaragua than it did to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador combined. The other study, by the Media Alliance, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization of media professionals, monitored stories about the peace plan that appeared in seven major dailies -- THE N.Y. TIMES, L.A. TIMES, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, S.F. CHRONICLE, S.F.EXAMINER, and the OAKLAND TRIBUNE. The conclusion was the same -- most newspapers followed the Reagan administration's direction as to what deserved coverage in Central America. Altogether, the cmmittee members read, sorted, and analyzed a total of 406 individual articles and editorials and found: 1) More than 80% of the articles published during the first six weeks after the signing of the plan focused entirely or almost entirely on Nicaragua -- the Reagan administration's demands on Nicaragua's Sandinista government, the prospects for renewed contra aid, or the extent to which Nicaragua was abiding by the Arias plan; 2) While the seven newspapers published numerous articles critical of the Sandinistas and their efforts to comply with the plan, serious human rights problems and violations of the plan by the governments of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala went largely unreported; 3) Sources quoted for comments and analysis in the seven papers were almost always either administration officials, contra leaders, or representatives of other conservative organizations that advocate military solutions to the region's political conflicts; 4) Editors at the seven papers, when contacted by the SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN for its article, generally acknowledged that the national press has allowed the Reagan administration to set the tone for Central American news coverage. One result of the biased coverage of Central America last year was that Americans were outraged when the Sandinistas shut down the CIA-subsidized LA PRENSA (now reopened) while they were not even aware that 70 journalists had been murdered by death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala during the past decade. And that death squad activities have increased in those two nations since August 7th. SOURCES: SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN, 1/6/88, "On Central America, U.S. Dailies Parrot Reagan Line," by Jeff Gillenkirk, pp 7, 9-11, 33; EXTRA, Aug/Sept 1987, "Media Put Reagan Spin on Arias Plan," by Jeff Cohen and Martin A. Lee, pp 1, 5-6. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" DUMPING OUR TOXIC WASTES ON THE THIRD WORLD Exporting hazardous and toxic wastes to Third World countries is a growth industry. The exported material includes heavy metal residues and chemical-contaminated wastes, pharmaceutical refuse, and municipal sewage sludge and incinerator ash. The risks involved for countries that accept our wastes range from contamination of groundwater and crops to birth defects and cancer. Traditionally, the majority of U.S. toxic waste exports have gone to Canada where regulations are less stringent than in the U.S. But now the most abrupt increase is in shipments to the Third World where the regulations are either nonexistent or sketchily enforced. Creating the search for new overseas markets is an explosion in the volume of recorded hazardous wastes beng produced in the U.S. According to the General Accounting Office, the amount rose from about 9 million metric tons in 1970 to at least 247 million in 1984; other experts place the current figure close to 400 millon metric tons. U.S. officials, aware of the sensitive legal and foreign policy questions involved, are reluctant to crack down on illegal dumpers and, in fact, the government itself is reponsible for generating a significant portion of the hazardous waste exports. One large illegal operation broken up last year received more than half its toxic wastes from various branches of the Federal government, mainly the military. Some examples of what is happening as discovered by the authors using court records, interviews, and the Freedom of Information Act: Philadelphia is planning to ship 600,000 tons of ash residue a year from its municipal incinerator to Panama which plans to use the materials as landfill for roadbeds; U.S. sludge may end up in the tiny British Caribbean colony of Turks and Caicos Islands which proposes to use it as fertilizer; L.P.T., a company with offices in American Samoa and California, is seeking approval to build an incinerator in American Samoa to burn U.S. wastes and export the ash to the Philippines where it would be used as landfill; Western Pacific Waste Repositories, based in Carson City, Nevada, is poposing to build a hazardous waste storage and treatment plant on Erikub atoll, an unhinhabited area of the Marshall Islands. The key U.S. government officials responsible for monitoring waste traffic claim they are powerless. "Under the federal system, we only have control over what's in the country," says Wendy Grieder, an official in the EPA's Office of International Activities. "Once it leaves, we can't do anything about it." Finally, exported wastes may return to haunt us in a very direct way. "It's possible that we could send sludge to the Caribbean and they might use it on, say, spinach or other vegetables," warned Grieder. And since the Food and Drug Administation checks only a small portion of foods and vegetables that come into the U.S., exported hazardous wastes could easily end up on our dinner table. SOURCE: THE NATION, 10/3/87 "The Export of U.S. Toxic Wastes," by Andrew Porterfield and David Weir, pp front cover, 341-344. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" TORTURE IN EL SALVADOR:THE CENSORED REPORT FROM MARIONA PRISON In late 1986, a 165-page report was smuggled out of the Mariona men's prison in El Salvador. The report was compiled by five imprisoned members of the Human Rights Commission of El Salvador (CDHES). The report documents the "routine" and "systematic" use of at least 40 kinds of torture on political prisoners. The report made three main points: first, torture is systematic, not random; second, the methods of torture are becoming more clever; and finally, U.S. servicemen often act as supervisors. What is new to torture in El Salvador, according to the study, is that the use of torture, together with the continued (although diminished) use of death-squad kidnappings of the "disappeared," are all a systematic part of of the U.S. counterinsurgency program there. The Marin Interfaith Task Force, from Mill Valley, California, assembled the smuggled report from Mariona prison into a document titled "Torture in El Salvador." Starting in September, 1986, the Task Force has tried to generate media interest in the story. Suzanne Bristol of the task force, said the group sent the report to the nation's major newspapers, including THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE BOSTON GLOBE, and the LOS ANGELES TIMES, as well as to the wire services. By February, 1987, when Alexander Cockburn wrote his article for THE NATION, UPI had run a Spanish-language story and the report had received coverage on Spanish-language radio, in Mexican periodicals and in Europe. Follow-up calls to the above papers produced nothing, except for two letters in December from Art Seidenbaum of the LOS ANGELES TIMES, who first wrote "You send plenty of homework," and later wrote "We really have ... no staff for making a 1500-word article out of a large series of reports." As Cockburn noted, it was "during this period, on November 22, Secretary of State George Shultz asked Congress to approve nearly $7 million in police aid for El Salvador in 1987, providing the necessary certification that the government of El Salvador had 'made significant progress during the six-month period preceding this determination in eliminating any human rights violations, including torture, incommunicado detention ...'" Apparently only one newspaper gave the actual report substantial coverage. The SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER ran two excellent articles by free lance journalist Ron Ridenhour, who quoted State Department spokesman James Callahan saying that the CDHES, the only Salvadoran human rights group recognized by the United Nations, is a communist "front organization." (It was Ridenhour's charges that led to the revelations about the Army's massacre of civilians in My Lai.) On October 26, 1987, assassins, probably belonging to the Salvadoran security forces, murdered Herbert Ernesto Anaya, head of the Salvadoran Human Rights Commission and the last survivor of that commission's eight founders. Anaya also was one of the five original researchers and authors of the smuggled report from the Mariona men's prison. SOURCES: THE NATION, 2/21/87, "After the Press Bus Left," pp 206-207, and THE NATION, 11/14/87, "The Press and the Plan," pp 546-547, both by Alexander Cockburn; SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, 11/14/86, "In prison, Salvador rights panel works on," by Ron Ridenhour, p A-8; Marin Interfaith Task Force on Central America, 7/2/87 letter and various documents, by Liz Erringer. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" PROJECT GALILEO SHUTTLE TO CARRY LETHAL PLUTONIUM Despite scientific warnings of a possible disaster, NASA is pursuing plans to launch the Project Galileo shuttle space probe which will carry enough plutonium to kill every person on earth. Theoretically, one pound of polutonium, uniformly distributed, has the potential to give everyone on the planet a fatal case of lung cancer. Galileo will have 49.25 pounds of plutonium on board, most of it plutonium 238, a radioisotope 300 times more radioactive than the one used as fuel for atomic bombs. Critics of the plan, such as Dr. John Gofman, professor of medical physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and Michio Kaku, professor of nuclear physics at the City University of New York claim that putting Galileo's plutonium payload into space is both risky and unnecessary. The plutonium will be used to fuel "radioisotope thermoelectric generators" which keep instrumentation warm. Although NASA and the DOE say there are no alternatives, professor Kaku asserts that the latest advances in solar cells make it possible to generate solar electricity even as far away as Jupiter, Galileo's destination. NASA downplays the possibility of the release of plutonim in an accident, stressing that the substance will be encapsulated in "clads" made from iridium alloy in a graphite shell. The DOE contends that clads can withstand explosive pressures up to 2,200 pounds per square inch. However, a DOE safety analysis report on the Galileo mission obtained under FOIA states that from the viewpoint of potential nuclear fuel release, the most critical accidents would occur on the launch pad. Launch pad accident scenarios, such as "tipovers" and "pushovers" are estimated to generate explosive pressures as high as 19,600 psi. Once in space, Galileo is still potentially danglerous. Since the solid-fuel rocket substituted for the highly volatile liquid-fuel Centaur rocket used in the Challenger does not have the power of the Centaur, NASA devised a plan to use the earth's gravitational pull to increase the rocket's momentum sufficiently to reach Jupiter. During the "flyby" orbits around the earth, Galileo would at times be only 277 miles overhead. A 1987 NASA report estimates the chance of Galileo inadvertently reentering the earth's atmosphere to be less than one in a million, and, as such, an accident scenario is deemed not credible. NASA set the probability figures for the chance of a shuttle accident at one in 100,000 for thhe Challenger. Investigation following the crash put the figure at closer to one in 25. While "The Lethal Shuttle: Plutonium Payload Scheduled" was one of the top 10 overlooked stories cited by Project Censored in 1986, the continued failure of the media to draw attention to the potential risk of Project Galileo fully warrants its renomination for 1987. SOURCES: THE NATION, 1/23/88, "The Space Probe's Lethal Cargo," by Karl Grossman;, pp 1, 78; L.A. TIMES, 2/6/86. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" U.S. SENDS BULLETS TO STARVING CHILDREN Between 1979 and 1985, U.S. military and economic aid to Honduras jumped from $31 to $282 million yearly. The largest increase was in military aid which jumped to 28 times the 1979 level. In exchange, Honduras agreed to become a base for some 15,000 Nicaraguan "contras," to join the U.S. military in joint maneuvers, and to provide logistical and intelligence support to the Salvadoran military in its war against the guerrillas. During the same time period, U.S. aid designated for development assistance dropped from 80 percent to six percent. To make matters even worse, floods washed away 60 percent of the corn crop in southern Honduras in May 1986. A severe summer drought followed the flood, destroying all that remained of the corn and wiping out 60 percent of the area's sorghum. Bishop Raul Corriveau, the archbishop of Choluteca, said, "We've seen scenes of misery like never before. Children with swollen bellies, old people looking like corpses, women and children begging for food, men roaming the streets searching for work." Due to airstrips and bases built by the U.S. and the presence of contras and American troops (80,000 troops in 1987), Hondurans living in the southern region and along the eastern border have been displaced. The livelihoods of 2,000 Honduran coffee growers have been destroyed and 16,000 Hondurans have been forced to leave their homes. Orphanages and temporary shelters have been filled with "economic orphans" -- children who have been abandoned by parents who can no longer afford to raise them ... parents who have seen their coffee bean fields turned into battlefields. It has been estimated that 70 percent of the children are malnourished. Among those brought to the capital's hospital for treatment, 10 to 15 percent die due to a lack of vitamins. Dr. Juan Almendares, a physician conducting research on malnutrition at the National University in Tegucigalpa, "When the government says there is no money available to help the hungry, we must remember that Honduras receives more than $200 million a year from the U.S. government. We Hondurans ask why isn't any of this money going to help the poor?" Ann M. Kelly, editor of FOOD FIRST NEWS, a quarterly published by the Institute for Food and Development Policy, wrote the following lead to Medea Benjamin's article about the Honduran situation: "While working on a new Food First book in Honduras, Medea Benjamin -- Food First's Central American analyst -- uncovered a food crisis of frightening proportions in the southern part of the country. We alerted national media in the United States but the story went uncovered." SOURCES: FOOD FIRST NEWS, Vol. 9, No. 28, Spring 1987, "Hunger in Southern Honduras," p 2, and FOOD FIRST ACTION ALERT, 1987, "Honduras: The Real Loser in U.S. War Games," pp 1-4, both by Medea Benjamin; MOTHER JONES, January 1987, "The Pentagon Republic of Honduras, by Fred Setterberg, pp 21-24, 51-54, Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" DECLINE IN GENETIC DIVERSITY: GLOBAL DISASTER IN THE MAKING Diversity in the gene pool is shrinking at an alarming rate and could lead to what Robert Cowen, science editor of the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, says "could become a mass extinction of Earth's plant and animal species." Species extinction of both plants and animals has accelerated rapidly in the 20th century and has reached what many feel is a state of crisis. From 1600 to 1900, one species disappeared every four years; now perhaps 1,000 species become extinct each year. The Worldwatch Institute pamphlet on conserving the diversity of life, published in June 1987, predicts the extinction rate in 20 years will reach more than 100 species per day. The loss of life forms is more than an aesthetic issue. The rapid extinction of food crop germplasm represents a disaster in the making. Unless the trend is slowed, mass famine on a global scale is a real possibility. The International Board for Plant Genetic Resources has issued warnings that the genetic diversity of many of the staple crops that feed the world such as wheat, rice, barley, millet, and sorghum is imperiled. 72% of the U.S. potato crop is concentrated in four genetic strains. Six varieties account for 71% of the corn crop. Of the cataloged vegetables grown in the U.S. in 1901/02, less than four percent still existed in 1985. Genetic diversity is a prerequisite for agricultural success. Genetic uniformity makes crops vulnerable to environmental threats such as pests, blight, and drought. The Irish potato famine was the result of genetic uniformity. The U.S. lost 75% of its durum wheat crop in 1953/54 and 50% of its corn crop in 1970, both due to genetic uniformity. The dimunition of diversity has led to what some researchers call the global "seed wars." As plant species disappear around the world, "access to, control over and preservation of plant genetic resources becomes a matter of international concern and conflict." The vast majority of the world's genetic resources is concentrated in the Third World. In order to prevent crop stains from inbreeding, the industrial nations resort to "germplasm appropriation," a strategy for collecting plant genetic material from Third World countries. The fact that the "collection" is done without recompense further exacerbates tensions between industrial and developing nations. The Plant Variety Protection Act legislation of 1970, which broadened the interpretation of U.S. patent laws to allow corporations to patent seed varieties, has accelerated the extinction rate of food crop germplasm. Germplasm appropriated from the Third World is sold back to developing countries in the form of hybridized, patented seed. Farmers in the world's centers of diversity are planting genetically uniform crops more and more frequently, thus causing further loss of indigenous seed. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that two thirds of all Third World crops will be from uniform strains by the year 2000. The disappearance of genetic diversity either by accident or design is a critical issue that has had little media coverage or public debate. Germplasm has not made headlines. There are no "Save the Barley" bumperstickers. Yet every day, more and more of our precious food sources disappear forever. SOURCES: UTNE READER, Jan/Feb 1988, "Conserving the Diversity of Life," by Jeremiah Creedon, pp 15-16; MOTHER JONES, December 1982, "Seeds of Disaster," by Mark Schapiro, pp 11-15, 36-37. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: INTERNATIONAL OUTLAW On June 27, 1986, the International Court of Justice, under the auspices of the United Nations, handed down a decision that found the United States in violation of international law. The decision called for the United States to cease its international illegal activities against Nicaragua. The Court's decision, 12-3, held that the U.S. support of the contras was illegal. A further decision, 14-1, held that U.S. mining of Nicaragua's harbors and distribution of a CIA assassination manual also violated international law. In 1987, while President Reagan was defending his contra policy, while Oliver North was telling contra stories to Congress, and while Secretary of State George Schultz was asking Congress for $270 million in contra aid, the U.S. media failed to inform the American public that the Reagan administration's efforts were illegal. In fact, the International Court of Justice decision against the U.S. was, for all intents and purposes, a non-event in the U.S. media in 1987. This non-event status was never more evident that in the media's failure to cover the November 12, 1987, U.N. General Assembly vote, 94-2, that called for "full and immediate compliance" with the World Court's June 1986 decision. In particular, the General Assembly called on the U.S. to cease funding its military activities against Nicaragua. The question of whether the U.S. government rejects international adjudication as having a part in aiding peace, or whether the rule of international law is valid, void, or only reserved for minor matters was never really explored by the U.S. media in light of the World Court and General Asesembly decisions in the United Nations. The American public has been kept ignorant of this international issue and its implications on U.S. policy toward Nicaragua largely because of media indifference. SOURCES: HUMAN RIGHTS, American Bar Association Press, Winter 1987/88, "The World Court: Let's Not Forget This Anniversary," by Howard N. Meyer; ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/7/86, "In Contempt of Court," (op/ed article), by Richard B. Bilder. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" THE TRAGEDY OF GRENADA SINCE OCTOBER 25, 1983 While the media permit Ronald Reagan to cite Grenada as an American success story, the people of Grenada aren't buying it. The following description of what has happened in Grenada since the 1983 U.S. invasion was published last year by the Committee for Human Rights in Grenada. 1. Removal of price controls on food, cement, housing, and other essentials of life. 2. Summary firings of Grenadian workers without notice, compensation, or legal redress. 3. Unemployment now well over 50%. 4. Internationalist workers who previously provided free health services deported. 5. Uncontrolled escalation of land, rent, and all prices. 6. Free medical, dental, optical care, and medicines, formerly accessible to all Grenadians, now eliminated. 7. Grenadian graduates of Cuban and other socialist-nation universities not allowed to practice in Grenada. 8. Open prostitution since arrival of U.S. troops. 9. Use of cocaine, heroin, and crack since invasion. 10. National Women's Organization, National Youth Organization, and the Grenada Human Rights Organization eliminated. 11. Former institutions now diminished to point of uselessness include independent, progressive union movement; free judiciary; and free and independent media. 12. Severe devaluation of Grenadian dollar. 13. Grenada, whose economy was praised by the World Bank and the IMF in Spring, 1983, had a $168 million debt as of March 28, 1986. Finally, the Committee reported in April, 1987, that the O.E.C.S. (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) occupying troops, trained by the U.S. have returned in force to Grenada and that they are directed by U.S. military officers, usually in civilian dress. Ominously, the Committee adds "Their abuses are well known." The extent and inflammatory nature of the charges by the Committee for Human Rights in Grenada surely deserve investigation by the U.S. media. SOURCE: BULLETIN OF THE COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN GRENADA, No. 1, April/May 1987, by the Committee for Human Rights in Grenada, PO Box 20714, Cathedral Finance Station, New York, NY 10025, pp 1-8. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" AMERICANS SPYING ON AMERICANS The Reagan administration's paranoid concern with communism has led to the development of a national private spying network and an official effort by the FBI to turn America's librarians into spies. People and groups who speak out against Reagan adminstration policies put themselves in jeopardy of surveillance by private intelligence-gathering organizations composed of conservative groups with close ties to the White House. Members say they pass on the information they collect to federal agencies, like the Justice Department, and on occasion to the White House itself. Conservative groups involved in these spying activities include the Institute for Contemporary Studies, the Young America's Foundation, the Council for Inter-American Security, and the Capital Research Center. Stephen Schwartz works at the Institute for Contemporary Studies, a San Francisco think-tank founded by top Reagan aides like Ed Meese. Schwartz calls it "the commie-watching network." Michael Boos, Program Director of Young America's Foundation, says the group promotes conservative ideas on college campuses .. and keeps track of what the left-wing opposition is up to. Boos keeps files, makes lists, takes photographs ... all to keep an eye on students and professors he says "need watching." Boos says that two top-level Reagan Adminstration officials -- Ken Cribb, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, and Frank Donatelli, the President's chief Political Advisor -- support his work. Both serve on Young America's Board of Directors. Young America's financial records reveal the oganization received money from the federal government -- over $100,000 from the United States Information Agency. Michael Waller gathers information on left-wing activists for a private political group called the Council for Inter-American Security. The Council claims that Bill Casey was driven to have a brain seizure because of harassment by the liberal media and liberal members of Congress. It also claims that Michigan Congressman George Crockett was once a communist agent and that other congressmen who secretly collaborated with the Soviet KGB included John Burton, Ted Weiss, Ron Dellums, John Conyers, Don Edwards, and Charles Rangle. Willa Johnson, who heads the Capital Research Center which gathers information on opponents of White House policies, is former Deputy Director of Personnel at the White House. The Center gets its money from corporations and right-wing benefactors like Joe Coors and Ellen Garwood, two key funders of the secret White House effort to support the contras. Meanwhile, the FBI officially recruits librarians to spy on library users who might be diplomats of hostile powers recruiting intelligence agents or gathering information potentially harmful to U.S. security. While the current program, euphemistically called the "Library Awareness Program," started shortly after the August, 1986, arrest of a Soviet spy who frequented New York Libraries in search of student recruits and stolen, unclassified library materials, the FBI said the program has existed for years in various incarnations. SOURCES: KRON-TV Target 4, San Francisco, 11/10-12/87, Sylvia Chase, Jonathan Dann; Center for Investigative Reporting, Dan Noyes; PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/23/88, "FBI asks librarians to help in the search for spies," by Amy Linn. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" REAGAN'S 1980 "OCTOBER SURPRISE" -- ARMS FOR HOSTAGES In October 1980, nothing worried the Reagan campaign as much as the possibility that the 52 hostages held by Iran might come home. A "paramilitary wing" created by Reagan's campaign staff to prevent such a possibility was largely unreported in 1987. The revelations report that then campaign manager William J. Casey headed an "October surprise" team engaging the services of both retired and active military personnel. During the course of the 1980 campaign, campaign leaders Richard Allen, Edwin Meese, and Casey became concerned, almost to the point of paranoia (according to journalists Jack Germond and Jules Witcover) that Carter would get the hostages released thereby stealing away Reagan's election momentum and assuring Carter of re-election. Following is a brief overview of the reported activities of Reagan's "October 1980 surprise" team: Various reports reveal that Casey's "paramilitary wing" monitored U.S. military movements for the Reagan campaign, met with representatives of the Bani-Sadr government of Iran, and covertly obtained President Carter's debate briefing materials prior to the November election. These revelations alone carry enormous constitutional implications -- private citizens soliciting military and intelligence assistance in monitoring U.S. government operations, private citizens meeting with foreign dignitaries in possible state negotiations, and private citizens clandestinely obtaining property of the United States President -- and yet they were not followed up by the major media once discovered and revealed in small, non-mass media publications. Even more disturbing is the issue of Iranian arms shipments. Documents confirm that within its first month, the Reagan administration gave a green light to Israel to resume its arms shipments to the Iranian government. These revelations support former Iranian President Bani-Sadr's assertion that the arms supply contract Iran signed with Israel in March 1981, less than two months after Reagan's inauguration, was the payoff for delaying the release of the American hostages until after the November 4, 1980 election. The hostages remained in captivity until January 20, 1981, the day Reagan took the oath of office, and they left Teheran minutes after he became president. A conspiracy between a presidential candidate and a hostile foreign power against an incumbent president would seem to be without precedent in American history. At the very least, it would seem that the documented charges revealed by a few journalists last year deserved to be investigated for the benefit of the American public by the U.S. media. SOURCES: L.A. WEEKLY, 7/10/87, "Reagan's 1980 Hostage Deal," by Barbara Honegger with Jim Naureckas, pp 12, 14, 16; THE NATION, 6/20/87 (p 842), 7/4/87 (p 7), 8/1/87 (p 80), 10/24/87 (p 440), 11/21/87 (p 582), "Minority Report," all by Christopher Hitchens; S.F. EXAMINER, 7/12/87, "October Surprise," by Warren Hinckle, p A-13. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" OLIVER NORTH'S SECRET PLAN TO DECLARE MARTIAL LAW While caught up in exposing Fawn Hall's hairstyle, Ollie North's heroic gap-toothed smile, and the soap opera ambience of the Congressional Contragate hearings, most of America's media ignored the chilling constitutional issue of Oliver North's secret plan to declare martial law. But Alfonso Chardy, of THE MIAMI HERALD, was not deluded by North's charisma nor frightened by North's earlier warning to him not to investigate the National Security Council's (NSC) connection to the Nicaraguan resistance. Unfortunately, Chardy's extraordinary disclosures about North went unexplored and unreported by other major media. On July 5, 1987, Chardy reported over the KNT News Wire that Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North helped draft a plan in 1984 to impose martial law in the United States in event of an emergency. According to Chardy, the secret plan called for suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the government over to the little-known Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), appointment of military commanders to run state and local governments, and the declaration of martial law in the event of such a crisis as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad. North helped draft the plan to impose martial law while serving as the NSC's laiason to FEMA. Chardy reported that an administration official said the contingency plan was written as part of an executive order or legislative package that Reagan would sign and hold within NSC until such time as a severe crisis arose. "It is not known whether Reagan signed the plan," Chardy added. The plan was extraordinary enough to even frighten then-Attorney General William French Smith into protesting to Robert McFarlane, North's NSC boss at the time, that FEMA was establishing itself as an "emergency czar" and "exceeding its proper function as a coordinating agency for emergency preparedness." This secret plan to declare martial law in the event of internal dissent or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad took on an added dimension as citizens gathered to protest the nation's intervention in Honduras in March, 1988. SOURCES: KNT NEWS WIRE, 7/5/87, "North linked to plan for martial law," by Alfonso Chardy, p A1, SAN RAFAEL (CA) INDEPENDENT JOURNAL; THE NATION, 8/1/87, "Minority Report," by Christopher Hitchens, p 80. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" TUNING OUT NON-IONIZING RADIATION AND PUBLIC HEALTH/SAFETY HAZARDS Growing evidence that long wave non-ionizing radiation used in electromagnetic devices, microwave products, and TV/radio systems is harmful to the public's health, hazardous to effective public safety systems, and threatening to military security went largely unreported by America's media in 1987. Also underreported were the related issues of the Environmental Protection Agency's shut-down of its funded programs to study non-ionizing radiation in light of a 1989 deadline to establish safety standards for public exposure to radio frequencies, and, the lawsuit brought against the Reagan administration by a coalition of plaintiffs who charge that the administration has violated the National Enviromental Policy act by not adequately protecting the public and environment from the "Hazard of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance" (HERO). Studies that suggest links between electromagetic fields (such as those produced by overhead power lines, broadcast towers, military hardware, hairdryers, microwave ovens, computers, TV and two-way radios, and radar), and cellular mutation, cancer, and childhood leukemia have received little attention. University of North Carolina epidemiologist David Savitz confirmed earlier reports about the apparent public health hazard. Savitz emphasized the need for further research and more federal funding to determine the extent of this potential health risk. Fifteen of 17 occupational studies have established links between exposure to low frequency electromagnetic fields and cancer. Despite this mounting evidence, the EPA shut down its program to study non-ionizing radiation which is supposed to set acceptable levels of exposure for humans and the environment by 1989. Meanwhile, total federal funding to study the health effects of low frequency fields has dropped from $10 million to just $2.5 million. A coalition of Pentagon watchdog organizations and individuals has brought suit against the government charging Reagan administration officials with willful negligence in protecting the public from the HERO effect. Though the Navy and Army have been aware, for some 33 years, of the hazard that electromagnetism poses to weapon systems, the Pentagon has acknowledged very little about the hazards that accidental explosions caused by various electromagnetic sources pose to public and environmental safety. The plaintiffs cite five specific HERO related accidents, including the 1967 explosion on board the USS Forrestal which claimed 134 lives, along with a possible 25 other HERO related accidents that have occurred over the past 25 k;years. Finally, in a continuing conflict related to the issue of electromagnetic radiation and its effects on public safety and health, radar specialist veterans have been filing health claims, related to their exposrue to low frequency radiation, against the Veterans Administration. All claims to date have been rejected. With such a newsworthy issue as the effects of electromagnetic radiation on public health and safety so clearly being played out during 1987, the news media, for the most part, failed to tune in. SOURCES: KQED-TV 9, "EXPRESS," 12/9/87, "Radiation Risk?," by David Helvarg; RECON, Vol. 10, #4, January 1988, "HERO: Deadly Game of Roulette," by Patricia Axelrod, pp 1,2,8. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" GLOWING OUTLOOK FOR FOOD IRRADIATION BUSINESS The food industry is going high-tech with a seemingly innocent procedure called irradiation -- a process that delays ripening by exposing food to radioactive materials that kill insects, mold, and bacteria. Critics point out that irradiation may produce food products that at best have lower nutritional value; at worst are carcinogenic. Irradition also poses significant health threats to workers and the public in transportation, storage, and disposal of radioactive waste. And there is real concern over the safety of radioactive devices used in food, beverage, cosmetic, and drug industries. While spices are the first irradiated edibles marketed in the U.S., the Food and Drug Admnstration (FDA) also has approved irradiation for use on produce and some meats. Interestingly, the FDA regulates irradiation not as a process but as an additive. The question, of course, is exactly what is "added" to irradiated food? Irradiated food looks and smells better for an extended time, but little is known about the chemical changes induced by the process. One science writer posed the complex issues when he asked "What do you get when you irradiate an apple with 100,000 rads of gamma rays. Is that irradiation a process or an additive? Who should control it? Does it pose a carcinogenic threat to humans? Since it reduces food spoilage and replaces dangerous pesticides, is it a blessing for the world's hungry?" And then he asked, "Why are there no answers to these questions?" Meanwhile, the track record in irradiation facilities is anything but reassuring. The Radiation Technology plant in Far Rockaway, New Jersey, was closed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for willfully supplying false information about repeated safety violations; the NRC also shut down International Nutronics in Dover, New Jersey, after workers reported a coverup of a radioative spill of a tank of water containing cobalt-60 rods; and workers in Isomedix Co., Parsippany, New Jersey, were told to clean up leaks by pouring radioactive water down bathroom toilets and sinks. Earlier this year, the NRC suspended the use of an industrial air-purifying device that leaked tiny particles of radioactive polonium at plants around the nation. The NRC also order 3M to recall for inspection all 45,000 of the ionizing air guns used to control static electricty and remove dust from product containers. Of 828 plants inspected so far, contamination was found at 118 sites; of those, the radiation exceeded the reportable limit of .005 microcuries in 39 plants. Subsequently, the NRC recalled 2,500 3M units used in the food, beverage, costmetic and drug industries. Given the potential problems, one would expect to find the irradiation issue on the national media agenda; but it isn't. Meanwhile, as serious questions go unanswered, the government has proposed federal regulations that would allow more irradiation. SOURCES: UTNE READER, May/June 1987, "Irradiation Business Gears Up," by Karin Winegar, pp 29-30; SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER SPECTRA, 2/25/88, "Food Irradiation," by Rick Weiss, pp E1-E2, reprinted from SCIENCE NEWS; S. F. EXAMINER (AP), 2/19/88, "Ionizing guns recalled over radiation fear," p A5. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" AMERICAN TALE OF TWO CITIES: THE GROWTH OF ECONOMIC APARTHEID The Atlanta Chamber of Commerce will produce reams of hype about the city this summer for the Democratic National Convention. In turn, the media will dutifully hype the rest of the nation about Atlanta. But there is another side to Atlanta that has gone largely unreported by the U.S. Media. Economic forces at work in Atlanta are "producing a new kind of segregation, which threatens to leave blacks out of the great job reshuffling that is taking place not only in the Jewel of the South but throughout the country." In Atlanta, corporations are moving their operations and jobs to Cobb and Gwinnett counties, two overwhelmingly white, affluent, Republican-voting suburbs to the north of Atlanta. Though many media have profiled the MetroAtlanta economic renaissance, specifically highlighting Gwinnett County, the fastest growing county in the nation, most have failed to state that both Cobb and Gwinnett, though considered part of MetroAtlanta, do not share the tax base or government with the city. Black citizens of Atlanta have no share in the new economic affluence profiled by the media. In fact, with the particulars of this MetroAtlanta economic demography in mind -- no shared tax-base, no shared government, no shared public transportation system, new freeway project connecting outlying suburbs and bypassing inner city access, corporate flight, and the traditional (racist) dividing line of Interstate 20 -- the proliferation of an economic apartheid is easily seen. When asked why corporate development went north, J. Patrick Murphy, the senior vice president for economic development of Gwinnett County's Chamber of Commerce, pulls out a map and points to Interstate 20, which runs from east to west straight through Atlanta, halving the metropolitan region. "Since before the time of the Civil War, it was understood that free blacks weren't to come above this line. And most of them still live south of it," says Murphy. "I suppose development just follows the money." David Beers and Diana Hembree, who exlored this issue with support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, said it "would be a mistake to interpret Atlanta's racially skewed boom as peculiar to the South and growing mainly out of the region's historical prejudices. It is probably more accurate to take Atlanta as it bills itself -- as the shape of things to come. Similar growth patterns are occurring all over the United States, invariably favoring white suburbs and avoiding black urban centers. SOURCE: THE NATION, 3/21/87, "The new Atlanta: A Tale of Two Cities," by David Beers and Diana Hembree, pp 357-360. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" OMB COMPILING NATION-WIDE BLACKLIST OF GRANT VIOLATORS The Office of Management and Budget is compiling a master computer list of those debarred or suspended from participating in government agency grant programs. Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, a public interest group that monitors the budget office, said the goal of reducing waste, fraud and abuse is laudable but warned that the program "can become a hit list for individuals and organizations that the administration does not agree with." The controversial program will cover a wide range of transactions, including grants, cooperative agreements, scholarships, fellowships, loans and subsidies. It would apply to both recipients of federal funds and those "doing business" with them. The system is expected to be fully operational by May, 1988. Under the new law (Reagan's Executive Order 12549), 20 agencies which disburse $100 billion in grants will forward their debarred lists to the OMB. The master list will be computerized and placed on a nation-wide automated telephone system. Regulations published in the Federal Register (5/29/87) say that the master list will contain names and "other information" about currently debarred or suspended grant recipients, as well as about those whose debarment is pending. Under the directive, federal, state and local agencies, private organizations and individuals handling federal funds must check the list before providing anyone a federally-aided service, grant, loan or other assistance such as day care. Any person or organization that fails to check the list may also be placed on it. In addition, employees of federally-funded agencies and organizations, as well as anyone "doing business" with them or wishing to do business with them must submit annual certifications that neither they nor anyone "associated with" them are on the list, or being considered for it. Grounds for placement on the list include 1) violating any term of a "public agreement," regardless of whether federal funds were involved; 2) failure to repay a government-backed or assisted loan, such as a home mortgage, student or crop loan; 3) "failure to perform" or poor performance on a grant or other "public agreement;" 4) lack of "business integrity or honesty" or conviction of "business" crimes; 5) debarment or suspension by a public agency at any level of government, federal, state, or local. One can also make the blacklist if one: is a public school teacher and goes on strike despite a no-strike clause in one's contract; performs poorly on any grant from a public agency, regardless of whether federal funds were involved; does business with anyone known to be on OMB's new list. Various agencies already keep records of those who violate rules of grants, using the lists to prevent such recipients from getting additional grants from the agency involved. But, under current law those same recipients may obtain grants from other federal agencies. Rep. Jack Brooks (D-TX), chair of the House Government Operations Committee warned that the OMB's implementing guidelines "endorse guilt by association, reverse the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and define the operative offenses so vaguely as to potentially encompass many entirely legitimate activities." SOURCES: THE NEW YORK TIMES, 12/23/87, "U.S. Plans to Make Master List ...", by Martin Tolchin; OMB WATCH 1987 ANNUAL REPORT; FOUNDATION NEWS, July/August 1987, page 8. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" ROUNDUP -- THE WORLD'S MOST POPULAR WEED KILLER Eduardo Neaves was a healthy and happy twelve-year-old, the son of migrant farm workers. But after swimming in a canal in Coral Gables, Florida, he became a "total quadriplegic." The canal was contaminated with four times the recommended-use level of Roundup, a herbicide produced by The Monsanto Company. Toxicologists were not surprised by the central nervous system damage that still afflicts the boy five years after the incident but were unable to prove a connection between Roundup and the paralysis in court. But whether Roundup can cause damage to the central nervous system may never be known. Although Monsanto's original neurotixicity studies were ruled invalid by the EPA because of "extensive gaps in the raw data supporting study findings and conclusions," there is no requirement that a new study be made. However, Roundup is far more dangerous than the public has been led to believe. Records of pesticide poisoning compiled over the last five years by California's Department of Agriculture show that among some 200 pesticides widely used in the state, Roundup has been linked to the greatest numbers of eye, skin, and internal injuries. The EPA's own Pesticide Incident Monitoring System (which was dissolved by the Reagan administration) recorded more than 100 cases of Roundup poisoning in 1980. Despite its own findings, the EPA concluded the weed killer is "not a primary skin irritant, and is only minimally irritating to the eye." That judgement was based solely on data provided by Monsanto. Dr. Ruth Shearer, a genetic toxicologist, charged that Monsanto's claims about the safety of the product are dishonest because they are based on phony studies on cancer and birth defects performed by the now defunct Industrial Bio-Test lab (IBT). Once the nation's leading generator of health effects studies for companies whose chemical products require government approval, IBT was found to have conducted shoddy tests and falsified results. Monsanto was IBT's biggest customer, according to court documents, and was reported to be one of four chemical companies that knew of IBT's fraudulent testing practices. One IBT executive, Paul L. Wright, was employed by Monsanto before and after his tenure at the testing lab. It was during Wright's stay at IBT that the lab performed tests involving Roundup's connection to mutation in mice and tumors in rabbits. Wright was convicted of fraudulent testing in 1983. (The IBT story was the top "censored" story of 1982.) Despite the known hazards, the danger is compounded by the variety of new uses for which the herbicide is being promoted. It is applied to citrus and grape groves in California, soybeans in the Middle West, Christmas trees in Maine, coffee beans in Brazil, as well as crops grown for vitamins and spices, house plants, and government forests in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, Roundup is the world's most popular brand-name herbicide. It is easily Monsanto's most important product, the first herbicide to reach annual sales of $1 billion. It is marketed in 120 countries and accounts for more than half of Monsanto's foreign sales. Given Roundup's fraudulent approval; its significant health and environmental hazards; and that it is the most widely used brand-name herbicide in the world, the issue deserves significant media attention. At the very least, Monsanto should be required to redo the studies that are now known to be invalid. SOURCE: THE PROGRESSIVE, July 1987, "Weed Killer," by Anthony L. Kimery, pp 20-21. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" PUERTO RICO: THE REVOLUTION AT OUR DOORSTEP In August, of 1987, the United Nations Committee on Decolonization voted to ask the United States to immediately remove itself from Puerto Rico and to recognize the Puerto Ricans' right to self-determination and independence. This was the 11th time the U.N. committee made this request. And, each time the request was ignored by the United States government and by the U.S. press. In 1898, Puerto Rico won its autonomy from Spain and was well on its way to becoming an independent nation. That is until July 25, 1898, when the United States invaded the island. After three years of resistance by the Puerto Rican people, the U.S. military might prevailed and Puerto Rico became a U.S. colony. In 1952, it became a "commonwealth," but the colonlial pattern, with 90 percent of the country's industry in U.S. hands, continues to this day. Puerto Rico is rife with social and environmental problems, many of them stemming from its status as an American colony. One independence group claims that "forty percent of Puerto Rican woman have been sterilized as part of a deliberate U.S. strategy to depopulate the island." Unemployment drives many Puerto Ricans to seek work in the U.S. Many others left their homes in order to accommodate the seven military bases there. Military recruiters prey on desperate youth experiencing 75 percent unemployment. Bombing practice on the island of Vieques destroyed the local fishing industry there. And while Puerto Rico has eight federal "emergency list" toxic dump sites, no U.S. environmental laws apply there. The U.S. is in violation of the Treaty of Tlateloco, which prohibits the storage of nuclear arms in Latin America, by storing nuclear weapons in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately for Puerto Rico, its importance to the U.S. is not limited to its industrial development but rather to its critical position as a U.S. military base. Currently 13% of Puerto Rico is controlled by the U.S. military. Roosevelt Roads, the largest U.S. naval base outside the continentnal U.S., is located in Puerto Rico. And, when the U.S. military is forced to leave Guantanamo, Cuba, and Panama, in the 1990's, the military importance of Puerto Rico will increase significantly. The Puerto Rican people are resisting by every means they can from demonstrations protesting U.S. war games, to protests over plans to strip-mine mineral-rich Puerto Rico, to militant occupations of U.S. military controlled-land, to armed actions. As a result of the growing independencestruggle, the U.S. has intensified its repression. FBI surveillance, the use of grand juries to imprison activists, and a deliberate media portrayal of Puerto Rican independistas as terrorists are all designed to destroy the movement for self-determination. It was recently revealed that the Puerto Rican Intelligence Division, a unit known for its closeness to the FBI, maintains a 74,000-person "subversives list" which includes not just those affiliated with armed actions but lawyers, writers, and others who engage in serious dissent. Given the ongoing repression and the increasing dissension, it may well be that our next Vietnam is not Nicaragua, but our very own "Commonwealth" -- Puerto Rico. SOURCES: NORTHERN SUN NEWS, October 1987, "Puerto Rico: A long freedom struggle," by Melinda Power, p 5; UTNE READER, Jan/Feb 1988, "Puerto Rico: Revolution at doorstep?," by Chris Gunderson, pp 13-14. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" CONGRESSIONAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST: COMPANY MAN PROBES CONTRAS The integrity of the congressional panel investigating the Iran-contra scandal was seriously compromised by the appointment of Thomas Polgar as an investigator. The appointment also might explain why CIA involvement in drug trafficking and the La Penca bombing were not explored during the televised hearings. During the Vietnam war, Polgar, the CIA station chief in Saigon, was the object of congressional criticism because of his ongoing misinformation campaign to defend a continuing U.S. presence in Vietnam even though his own emergency rooftop departure from the embassy was only two months away. Despite his history of misleading Congress, Polgar was appointed to the Senate panel which raises undeniable conflict-of-interest issues. Polgar is an active mmeber of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), an organization that actively lobbies Congress on behalf of U.S. intelligence activities. He served as a consultant to the Vice President's Task Force on Combatting Terrorism, a group loaded with operatives who participated in the covert aid pipeline to the contras, including John Poindexter and Oliver North. He is a paid consultant for a corporate risk-analysis firm that had ties to ex-Nicarguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. And in Vietnam, Polgar worked for Theodore Shackley, a former top CIA official who facilitated arms sales to Iran. Polgar was one of two investigators who traveled to Costa Rica to investigate such things as contra drug running and the La Penca bombing which was supposed to kill Eden Pastora, the dissident contra leader, but instead killed eight other people including one American journalist. Evidence supporting CIA involvement in the La Penca bombing and drug trafficking was within reach of Polgar when he arrived in Costa Rica. John Hull, a U.S. rancher based in Costa Rica, would have been a logical witness to interview because of his ties to the supply network and allegations about his involvement in drug running. However, Hull told IN THESE TIMES that he never talked with Polgar. Polgar also failed to interview Peter Glibbery, a key witness to Hull's operation, who is in jail in Costa Rica. Polgar did interview two reporters from Costa Rica's English language newspaper, THE TICO TIMES, but did not seem interested in hard facts. "His questions were subjective, what we thought about Pastora and Hull", said reporter Beth Hawkins. "Polgar didn't want to hear anything specific -- dates, evidence, sources." Nor did he even ask about La Penca. As with Watergate, the congressional hearings on the Iran-contra issue could have helped restore credibility to our government; instead, sending a longtime CIA operative to investigate a scandal replete with CIA illegalities only further compromised the integrity of the system. SOURCE: IN THESE TIMES, 6/10/87, "Congressional conflict of interest: a CIA good ol' boy probes the network," by Vince Bielski and Dennis Bernstein, pp 6-7. Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1987" SIT, FIDO. DOWN. ROLL OVER. GOOD BOY. NOW DIE FOR ME. Every once in a while, radical animal rights activists commit an act of protest which earns the media attention. But rarely do the media publicize the issues which drive the activists to action. According to the Congressional Office of Technological Assessment, 17 to 22 million animals are used yearly for testing in research laboratories. Animal rights activists believe the figure is closer to 70 million. Animals have been used to determine what the potential adverse effects would be to humans if exposed to explosives, chemicals, binary poison gases, radiation, infectious bacterial and viral diseases, and, of course, cosmetics. Dogs, primates, rats, cats, mice, and rabbits are not the only animals being cruelly treated in the U.S. Now the mistreatment of exotic animals is also being reported. Because the meat of exotic animals, like deer, elk, and buffalo, is leaner than commercial meat and without antibiotics, it has become a popular menu item in trendy East Coast restaurants. Venison consumption jumped from 1,000 pounds a week in 1985 to 4,000 pounds a week in 1986 in New York. Animals reported slaughtered in 1986 in North America included 9,000 bison, 5,000 caribou, countless thousands of deer, and untold numbers of wild boar, elk, llamas, and water buffalo. Before these animals were killed, many of them lived in stacked cages, barely with enough room to turn around in. In Australia, three to five million kangaroos are killed yearly. Marian Newman of the International Wildlife Coalition described this slaughhter as "one of the most barbaric commercial wildlife massacres in the world." Their hides are typically used for athletic shoes, dress shoes, purses, belts, cattle whips and novelty items. According to Dean Wilkinson, legislative director for Greenpeace, in the U.S., Adidas, Puma, and Florsheim continue to make kangaroo-leather shoes. In 1987, the corporate owners of three California Bay area pet stores agreed to pay a $150,000 settlement rather than risk a higher jury verdict for having allegedly sold sick animals, beat some animals to death, and practiced veterinarian medicine without a license. Unfortunately this was not an isolated case. Particularly offensive is the exotic bird trade which sees between 50,000 and 100,000 birds enter the U.S. illegally every year. But perhaps the most offensive thing about pet shops is not their greed and cruelty but their superfluousness. With more than 20 million unadopted dogs and cats -- many of them purebreds -- being put to death every year in the nation's tax-supported shelters, why do we need a pet industry? A nation of people who sometimes seem to care more for their pets than for one another might be tempted to do something about animal cruelty if they knew more about it. The issues that force animal rights activists to take to the streets surely deserve better coverage by our media. SOURCES: THE ANIMAL'S AGENDA, "Marsupial Wars -- Australia's Shame," by Peter A. Rawlinson, April 1987, pp 8-14, 48; "The Pentagon's Secret War on Animals," by Holly Metz, June 1987, pp 22-29, 48; "Exotics for Slaughter," by Merritt Clifton, July/August 1987, pp 41-43; "The Pet Shop Scam," by Jack Rosenberg, December 1987, pp 12-15, 19-20.


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