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“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.
“[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
“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
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“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
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“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.
“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.
“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
“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
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“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.)
“[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
“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.
“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
“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
“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
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney

19. Global Epidemic of Electronic Waste

Consumers in the US generate an estimated 3.14 million tons of electronic waste annually, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, and about 40 percent of this—50,000 dump trucks a year—goes to be recycled. A 2016 study by the Basel Action Network (BAN), a nonprofit that aims to end the global trade in toxic electronic waste, found that nearly one-third of these devices is exported to developing countries, where the low-tech dismantling of the recycled equipment contaminates the environment and endangers workers, many of whom are children. “People have a right to know where their stuff goes,” BAN’s executive director Jim Puckett told Katie Campbell and Ken Christensen of KCTS9/EarthFix in May 2016.

From July 2014 to December 2015, BAN installed GPS tracking devices in 200 used, nonfunctional pieces of computer equipment, delivered the equipment to publicly accessible electronic waste recycling drop-off sites around the US, and then followed what happened to the equipment.

As of May 2016, BAN found that sixty-five of the devices (approximately 32 percent) were exported, rather than recycled domestically. Based on laws in the places where the electronics went, BAN estimated that sixty-two of the devices (31 percent) were likely to be illegal shipments. Puckett told the Intercept that the GPS tracking devices are “like little lie detectors … They tell their story and they tell it dispassionately.”

BAN partnered with Carlo Ratti of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Senseable City Lab to determine exactly where the equipment went. Ratti told the PBS NewsHour that he and his fellow researchers were surprised by how far waste traveled. Global e-waste flows “actually almost cover the whole planet.” Each recycled device in the BAN study traveled an average of 2,500 miles.

Most equipment went to Hong Kong, but BAN tracked devices to ten different countries including China, Taiwan, Pakistan, Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia, and Kenya. Elizabeth Grossman, writing for the Intercept, quoted Puckett as describing Hong Kong’s New Territories, near the Chinese border, as the “new ground zero” for e-waste processing. As the Chinese government has cracked down on electronic waste imports, Chinese workers have crossed the border to Hong Kong without official documentation to do similar work there.

If improperly disposed, e-waste can release a variety of toxins, including lead, mercury, and cadmium. However, the US only restricts e-waste exports of one type of component, cathode ray tubes. Though many US states prohibit dumping used electronics in landfills and have e-waste recycling programs, no federal law regulates e-waste recycling.

In Hong Kong, Puckett, a Chinese journalist and translator, and a local driver followed a GPS signal to a fence with a sign identifying the land on the other side as farmland. Peering over the fence, Puckett found workers covered in black toner ink—a probable carcinogen associated with respiratory problems—breaking up printers that were piled fifteen feet high across a lot as big as a football field. “There is no protection of this labor force … There are no occupational laws that are going to protect them,” Puckett said. Earlier, at another site where workers dismantled LCD TVs, they found workers without protective facemasks who were unaware of the mercury vapors released when the fluorescent tubes that light the LCD screens break. Even in trace amounts, mercury can be a neurotoxin.

Since 1989, 182 national governments and the European Union have signed the Basel Convention, an international treaty to stop developed countries from dumping hazardous waste in less developed nations. As EarthFix reported, the US is the world’s only industrialized country that has not ratified the treaty.

In April 2016, US News & World Report published an article anticipating the release of BAN’s report, Disconnect: Goodwill and Dell Exporting the Public’s E-waste to Developing Countries. Otherwise, it has been poorly covered in the US corporate press.


Katie Campbell and Ken Christensen, “On the Trail of America’s Dangerous, Dead Electronics,” KCTS9/EarthFix, May 9, 2016, http://www.opb.org/news/series/circuit/tracking-dangerous-dead-electronics/.

Katie Campbell and Ken Christensen, “Watchdog Group Tracks What Really Happens to Your ‘Recycled’ E-Waste,” PBS NewsHour, PBS, broadcast May 9, 2016, transcript, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/watchdog-group-tracks-what-really-happens-to-your-recycled-e-waste/.

Elizabeth Grossman, “GPS Tracking Devices Catch Major U.S. Recyclers Exporting Toxic E-Waste,” Intercept, May 10, 2016, https://theintercept.com/2016/05/10/gps-tracking-devices-catch-major-u-s-recyclers-in-improper-e-waste-exports/.

Student Researcher: Karl Wada (College of Marin)

Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)

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