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Project Censored: The top 10 censored stories of 2016 

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5. Corporate Exploitation of Global Refugee Crisis Masked as Humanitarianism

The world is experiencing a global refugee crisis (60 million worldwide according to a June 2015 report, 11.5 million of them Syrian). This has been covered in the corporate media – though not nearly enough to generate an appropriate response. What hasn't been covered is the increasingly well-organized exploitation of refugees, particularly those displaced in Syria.

An AlterNet article by Sarah Lazare – cited by Project Censored – warned of the World Bank's private enterprise solution to the Syrian displacement crisis.

"Under the guise of humanitarian aid, the World Bank is enticing Western companies to launch 'new investments' in Jordan in order to profit from the labor of stranded Syrian refugees," Lazare wrote. "In a country where migrant workers have faced forced servitude, torture and wage theft, there is reason to be concerned that this capital-intensive 'solution' to the mounting crisis of displacement will establish sweatshops that specifically target war refugees for hyper-exploitation."

A World Bank press release touted "the creation of special economic zones or SEZs," but Project Censored noted, "Myriam Francois, a journalist and research associate at SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, told Lazare that the development of SEZs in Jordan 'will change refugee camps from emergency and temporary responses to a crisis, to much more permanent settlements.'"

The SEZ proposals, Francois said, are "less about Syrian needs and more about keeping Syrian refugees out of Europe by creating (barely) sustainable conditions within the camps, which would then make claims to asylum much harder to recognize.'"

Another story, by Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report, described a related agreement between Turkey and the European Union to keep millions of refugees from entering Europe as "a deal between devils," adding that Turkey has "cashed in on the people it has helped make homeless."

In addition to the $3.3 billion in EU money, Project Censored noted:

Turkey has also sought admission to the European Union, and, with this, the right for 75 million Turks to enter Europe without visa restrictions as a condition for controlling its refugee population.

Thus, according to Ford, Turkey has engaged in a "vast protections racket trap," effectively agreeing to protect Europe from further incursions by "the formerly colonized peoples whose labor and lands have fattened Europe and its white settler states for half a millennium."

"Europeans will never accept Turkey into the fold, because it is Muslim and not-quite-white," Ford concluded.

Sources:

Sarah Lazare, "World Bank Woos Western Corporations to Profit From Labor of Stranded Syrian Refugees," AlterNet, Feb. 24, 2016.

Glen Ford, "Turkey and Europe: Human Trafficking on a Scale Not Seen Since the Atlantic Slave Trade," Black Agenda Radio, Black Agenda Report, March 8, 2016.

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6. More Than 1.5 Million American Families Live on $2 Per Person Per Day

Even the working poor receive scant attention, but those living in deep poverty – less than $2 per day – are almost entirely absent from view.

Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, sociologists and authors of the book $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America state that in 2011 more than 1.5 million U.S. families – including 3 million children – lived in deep poverty at any given month.

Their depiction of what poverty looks like reads "like a Dickens novel," Marcus Harrison Green wrote in YES! magazine, Project Censored noted, while in the Atlantic, economist Jared Bernstein noted that their research highlights the problematic long-term consequences of President Bill Clinton's 1996 welfare reform initiative, with its "insistence on work without regard to job availability."

Project Censored notes that Edin and Shaefer proposed three policy changes to address extreme poverty in the United States:

First, policy must start by expanding work opportunities for those at the very bottom of society.

Second, policy must address housing instability, which Shaefer described as both a cause and a consequence of extreme poverty. "Parents should be able to raise their children in a place of their own."

Third, families must be insured against extreme poverty, even when parents are not able to work.

William Julius Wilson, a leading sociologist in the study of poverty, described their book as "an essential call to action" in a New York Times book review, but this was a rare recognition in the corporate press.

Sources:

Jared Bernstein, "America's Poorest Are Getting Virtually No Assistance," the Atlantic, Sept. 5, 2015.

Marcus Harrison Green, "1.5 Million American Families Live on $2 a Day – These Authors Spent Years Finding Out Why," YES! magazine, Sept. 24, 2015.

7. No End in Sight for Fukushima Disaster

Five years after the Fukushima nuclear power plant was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, the nuclear disaster continues to unfold, with the ongoing release of large quantities of radioactive waste water into the Pacific Ocean in turn affecting ocean life through "biological magnification."

Meanwhile the Japanese government has relaxed radiation limits in support of its efforts to return the refugee population – a move that younger people, prime working-age taxpayers, are resisting.

Project Censored cites a media analysis by sociologist Celine-Marie Pascale of American University. Pascale, covering more than 2,100 articles, editorials and letters to the editor on Fukushima in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico and the Huffington Post between March 11, 2011, and March 11, 2013, focused on two basic questions: "Risk for whom?" and "Risk from what?

She found that just 6 percent of articles reported on risk to the general public, and most of those "significantly discounted those risks." She concluded:

The largest and longest lasting nuclear disaster of our time was routinely and consistently reported as being of little consequence to people, food supplies, or environments. ... In short, the media coverage was premised on misinformation, the minimization of public health risks, and the exacerbation of uncertainties.

In contrast, Dahr Jamail's reporting for Truthout pointed out that the cooling process – still ongoing after five years – has produced "hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tons" of highly radioactive water, much of which has been released into the Pacific Ocean. Such nuclear disasters "never end," Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Jamail.

Project Censored also cited Linda Pentz Gunter, writing for the Ecologist about the Japanese government's ongoing cover-up.

"In order to proclaim the Fukushima area 'safe,' the government increased exposure limits to 20 times the international norm," Gunter wrote, in order to force refugees to return home, despite medical or scientific evidence to the contrary.

Sources:

Dahr Jamail, "Radioactive Water from Fukushima is Leaking into the Pacific," Truthout, Jan. 27, 2016.

Celine-Marie Pascale, "Vernacular Epistemologies of Risk: The Crisis in Fukushima," Current Sociology, March 2016.

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