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“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail

13. US “Vaccine Court” Has Paid over Three Billion Dollars to Vaccine-Injured Families

Since 1988, the US government has paid $3.2 billion to 4,150 individuals and families for injuries and deaths attributed to shots for flu, diphtheria, whooping cough, and other conditions. Though vaccines “remain one of the greatest success stories in public health,” Tracy Seipel reported, “for some Americans, rare side effects of inoculations have led to hardship, serious injury, and even death.”

As Anders Kelto reported on NPR’s All Things Considered, high-profile lawsuits against drug companies in the 1980s successfully charged that children immunized with the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine experienced adverse reactions, including seizures and brain damage, leading to at least two court settlements worth millions of dollars. In response, drug companies threatened to stop producing vaccines for the US market because litigation risks were too great unless the government provided them with “no-fault” protection. NPR quoted Anna Kirkland, a professor of women’s studies and political science at the University of Michigan: “There was a real fear that some of our childhood vaccines would no longer be available.”

In 1986, that fear led Congress to establish the little-known Office of Special Masters of the US Court of Federal Claims (known informally as the vaccine court) and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. NPR reported that the court administers a “no-fault compensation program that serves as an alternative to the traditional U.S. tort system.” As Kirkland explained, the vaccine court served to “shield the vaccine makers from liability.” It also created a fund to compensate injured vaccine recipients, through a 75-cent surcharge on every vaccine dose.

As the NPR report explained, “Petitioners don’t have to prove that the immunization caused their condition—the court operates under a presumption of causation if the injury develops within a certain period of time.” To win a claim, petitioners must provide proof of developing a condition listed on a vaccine injury table. Settlements for conditions not included in the table require a higher burden of proof. But, as Seipel reported, the other restriction that petitioners face is filing within strict time limits. A petition must be filed within three years of the first symptoms, within two years of death, or within four years after the first symptom of a vaccine-related injury that resulted in death.

The problem of the time limit is two-fold. First, and most fundamentally, most people simply do not know about the government’s vaccine-injury compensation program, and they may not learn about it in time to petition. Second, in cases where parents allege that a vaccine has injured a child of theirs, the full extent of the injury may not be known until the child is older. As Anna Kirkland, the Michigan professor who has studied the vaccine court, told NPR, publicizing the vaccine court and injury compensation program creates a dilemma: Once critics see compensation settlements, they conclude that “vaccines are dangerous and you shouldn’t vaccinate.” If the court were to achieve greater visibility, especially regarding payouts to injured patients, the public might conclude that vaccines are more generally dangerous than significant research and evidence indicates.

Jessica Boehm of Cronkite News reported that vaccine information statements, which include information about both possible side effects and the vaccine compensation program, are provided to patients before each shot. However, few people read the fine print. According to Drew Downing, a lawyer who specializes in vaccine injury cases, “That’s really the only place that the vaccine program is really ever talked about.” As Seipel reported, other critics have noted that, when patients seek medical attention for an adverse reaction, they should be informed about the court system and compensation program.

Boehm’s Cronkite News report indicated that annual revenues of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund significantly exceed the amount spent on injury claims through the compensation program. According to Government Accountability Office figures, since 2005 the vaccine court has compensated an average of 190 of the 466 claims it receives each year. During that time, the program’s annual budget has averaged $148.7 million. Some critics of the program, Boehm reported, question the program’s record of stringent compensation, given that it now maintains a $3.5 billion fund. Others contended that the large trust fund is a “safety net,” maintained by the program in the event that the vaccine court might rule to compensate thousands of families, as could have occurred in 2007 when the court began its Omnibus Autism Proceeding to determine whether two types of vaccines triggered autism in children. In 2009 the court ruled against the families, but if it had not the settlement would have required at least that much in compensation. Vaccine-injured victims are entitled to lost wages, medical and rehabilitation expenses, and up to $250,000 in compensation for pain and suffering. For vaccine-related deaths, compensation is limited to $250,000.

Since 2002, the Washington Post has published a handful of editorials, opinion pieces, and letters to the editor that have addressed the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. In 2009 it ran a front-page article on the vaccine court’s finding of no link between vaccines and autism in children. Coverage of the vaccine court and its injury program in the New York Times appears to have been limited to a single story from 1994, sourced from the Associated Press, on a new vaccine for whooping cough, which mentioned the program and compensation fund in passing.


Anders Kelto, “Vaccine Court Aims to Protect Patients and Vaccines,” All Things Considered (NPR), broadcast June 2, 2015, edited transcript, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/06/02/411243242/vaccine-court-aims-to-protect-patients-and-vaccines.

Tracy Seipel, “Vaccine Battles Call New Attention to Obscure Compensation Court,” Marin Independent Journal, August 2, 2015, http://www.marinij.com/article/NO/20150802/NEWS/150809969.

Jessica Boehm, “Vaccine Injury Fund Tops $3.5 Billion, as Patients Fight for Payment,” Cronkite News (Arizona PBS), May 8, 2015, http://cronkitenewsonline.com/2015/05/vaccine-injury-fund-tops-3-5-billion-as-patients-fight-for-payment/.

Student Researchers: Brittany Oldham, Dorsa Abyaneh, and Emiko Osaka (San Francisco State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)

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