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Project Censored: Uncovering the most underreported news stories of 2012

Photo: Justin Rose, License: N/A

Justin Rose

Sources: Julia Whitty, "The End of a Myth," OnEarth, Feb. 27, 2012; Richard Gray, "Warming Oceans Cause Largest Movement of Marine Species in Two Million Years," Telegraph (UK), June 26, 2011; David A. Gabel, "Overfishing the Mediterranean," Environmental News Network, March 8, 2012.

3. Fukushima information blackout

A plume of toxic fallout floated from Japan after the tragic Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011. Full information about what descended where has been hard to come by, and fears remain about the extent of health risks. Yet the Project Censored system shows its weaknesses in this Top 10 pick. Spread over more than 20 universities, researched by students and overseen by sometimes-overwhelmed academics, the system can be vulnerable to knee-jerk reactions and rushed edits. In retrospect, says Mickey Huff, the point he really wanted to make with this chapter was that more needs to be learned about Fukushima's aftermath – but, sadly, that's not all the chapter says. It prominently summarizes a study that Huff now acknowledges is "squirrelly at best" and then makes things even worse by exaggerating and misstating the study's claims. What Project Censored does stand by is the claim that Japanese and American officials downplayed or lied about Fukushima fallout, and that the mainstream media has failed to follow up on the story.

Sources: Alex Roslin, "What Are Officials Hiding About Fukushima?" (Vancouver), Oct. 20, 2011; Danny Schechter, "Beyond Fukishima: A World in Denial About Nuclear Risks," Common Dreams, March 21, 2011.

4. FBI informants instigate terrorist plots

Here Project Censored is back to one of the things it does best — casting light on well-researched, well-documented explorations of abuses of power. 

We know that FBI agents go into communities — especially those with high concentrations of Muslims — both undercover and in the guise of building relationships, quietly gathering information about individuals. This is part of an approach to finding what the FBI now considers the most likely kind of terrorists — "lone wolves." Its strategy: "seeking to identify those disgruntled few who might participate in a plot given the means and the opportunity. And then, in case after case, the government provides the plot, the means and the opportunity," writes Mother Jones journalist Trevor Aaronson. The publication, along with the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley, examined the results of this strategy, 508 cases classified as terrorism-related that have come before the U.S. Department of Justice since the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001. In 243 of these cases, an informant was involved; in 49 cases, an informant actually led the plot. And "with three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings."

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