DJShay at Daily Kos guest blogs at Electronic Darwinism:
The San Francisco Bay Guardian has a must read article today. It’s a list of the Top 10 Underreported Stories of the last year. The list is part of a list of 25 Top Censored Stories of 2006-2007 from Project Censored, group that tracks underreported news stories in the National Media. Below is a summary of the Top 10 list. I urge you to read the entire San Francisco Bay Guardian article as well as visit the Project Censored Web site and view the entire list.
From the article:
There are a handful of freedoms that have almost always been a part of American democracy. Even when they didn't exactly apply to everyone or weren't always protected by the people in charge, a few simple but significant rights have been patently clear in the Constitution: You can't be nabbed by the cops and tossed behind bars without a reason. If you are imprisoned, you can't be incarcerated indefinitely; you have the right to a speedy trial with a judge and jury. When that court date rolls around, you'll be able to see the evidence against you.
The president can't suspend elections, spy without warrants, or dispatch federal troops to trump local cops or quell protests. Nor can the commander in chief commence a witch hunt, deem individuals "enemy combatants," or shunt them into special tribunals outside the purview of our 218-year-old judicial system.
Until now. This year's Project Censored presents a chilling portrait of a newly empowered executive branch signing away civil liberties for the sake of an endless and amorphous war on terror. And for the most part, the major news media weren't paying attention.
The stories that are listed and linked to below are stories that have been diaried here [at Daily Kos] as well as at other blogs. But none has been given the scrutiny that they deserve in the MSM, Traditional Media, Corporate Media, Legacy Media, etc. Choose your own terminology. And some of these stories I am hearing about for the first time. So, start spreadin' the news.
"Why does it contain language referring to 'any person' and then adding in an adjacent context a reference to people acting 'in breach of allegiance or duty to the United States'?" Parry wrote. "Who has 'an allegiance or duty to the United States' if not an American citizen?"
Tucked away in the deeper recesses of that act, section 1076 allows the president to declare a public emergency and dispatch federal troops to take over National Guard units and local police if he determines them unfit for maintaining order. This is essentially a revival of the Insurrection Act, which was repealed by Congress in 1878, when it passed the Posse Comitatus Act in response to Northern troops overstaying their welcome in the reconstructed South.
Though the official objective may be peace, some say the real desire is crude. "A new cold war is under way in Africa, and AFRICOM will be at the dark heart of it," Bryan Hunt wrote on the Moon of Alabama blog, which covers politics, economics, and philosophy. Most US oil imports come from African countries — in particular, Nigeria. According to the 2007 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations, "disruption of supply from Nigeria would represent a major blow to US oil-security strategy."
"The overall effect of these changes in the rules is to progressively undermine economic governance, transferring power from governments to largely unaccountable multinational firms, robbing developing countries of the tools they need to develop their economies and gain a favorable foothold in global markets," states a report by Oxfam International, the antipoverty activist group.
Once on site, they're often beaten and paid as little as $10 to $30 a day, CorpWatch concludes. Injured workers are dosed with heavy-duty painkillers and sent back on the job. Lodging is crowded, and food is substandard. One ex-foreman, who's worked on five other US embassies around the world, said, "I've never seen a project more fucked up. Every US labor law was broken."
Though the US Marshals Service has been quick to tally the offenses, Whitney says the numbers just don't add up. For example, FALCON in 2006 captured 462 violent sex-crime suspects, 1,094 registered sex offenders, and 9,037 fugitives.
What about the other 7,481 people? "Who are they, and have they been charged with a crime?" Whitney asked.
"It's become nothing short of the Praetorian Guard for the Bush administration's so-called global war on terror," author Jeremy Scahill said on the Jan. 26 broadcast of the TV and radio news program Democracy Now! Scahill's Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army was published this year by Nation Books.
The deal provides a captive customer base for genetically modified seed maker Monsanto and a market for cheap goods to supply Wal-Mart, whose plans for 500 stores in the country could wipe out the livelihoods of 14 million small vendors.
As Daniel Schulman and James Ridgeway reported in Mother Jones, "the Federal Highway Administration estimates that it will cost $50 billion a year above current levels of federal, state, and local highway funding to rehab existing bridges and roads over the next 16 years. Where to get that money, without raising taxes? Privatization promises a quick fix — and a way to outsource difficult decisions, like raising tolls, to entities that don't have to worry about getting reelected."
Named for a bird that picks offal from a carcass, this financial scheme couldn't be more aptly described. Well-endowed companies swoop in and purchase the debt owed by a third world country, then turn around and sue the country for the full amount — plus interest. In most courts, they win. Recently, Donegal International spent $3 million for $40 million worth of debt Zambia owed Romania, then sued for $55 million. In February an English court ruled that Zambia had to pay $15 million.