You Didn’t See These Stories on Fox News

Originally published at Moral Low Ground

Here it is, our first-annual “top ten” list of the stories you didn’t see covered on Fox News. Moral Low Ground wishes you a happy, healthy New Year and looks forward to bringing you more fearless, corporate-free reporting in 2011.

#10- Ghost of torture past: Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld knew most Guantanamo Bay detainees were innocent but kept and tortured them anyway: Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Secretary of State General Colin Powell’s chief of staff, says Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld knew that the majority of GITMO prisoners were innocent men but decided to keep them locked up in hellish conditions that included torture because it was “politically impossible” to release them. These detainees included children as young as 12 and elderly men as old as 93. According to Colonel Wilkerson, Cheney “had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent … If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it.” And we wonder why some detainees are becoming terrorists after being released from Guantanamo?

In a related story, Fox News analyst and former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano told Ralph Nader– not on Fox, of course– that Bush and Cheney ought to be indicted for War on Terror crimes including denying detainees the right of habeas corpus.

#9- BP Media Blackout: Suspension of 1st Amendment Rights: When mainstream corporate media icons like CBS’s Katie Couric and CNN’s Anderson Cooper are complaining that they can’t report a story because of unconstitutional restrictions on press freedom, you know something terribly wrong is happening. After the catastrophic explosion and spill at BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in April, the oil company and  US government agencies prevented journalists from documenting the tragedy. There were blockades, flyover bans, harassment of journalists by BP corporate goons, bans on interviewing cleanup workers sickened by the spill, bans on filming oil-slicked birds on rescue boats and an intimidating militarization of the cleanup operation– all at least approved of by the Obama administration. CNN’s Anderson Cooper went so far as to declare that the “First Amendment has been suspended.”

#8- Brutal Israeli military attack on Gaza aid flotilla met with worldwide condemnation: On May 31, Israeli troops raided a convoy of humanitarian aid boats carrying desperately needed food, medicine and other supplies to the besieged people of Gaza. The boats were in international waters and therefore should have been safe from the murderous Israelis, but it wasn’t. By the time it was over, nine people, including an American teenager, were dead. The deadly assault was condemned by the United Nations as “incredibly violent” and “brutal and disproportionate.” A group of Nobel  laureates including Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, Jimmy Carter and others also condemned the raid.

#7- As US war spending hits an all-time high, education budgets across the nation are slashed, schools are shut and tuition rises: President Barack Obama’s military budget for 2011 is a record $708,000,000,000. That doesn’t even include an extra $33,000,000,000 he asked for on top of that to fight two very unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile at home, where it really matters, education budgets were being dramatically slashed across the nation. In Detroit, where fewer than 25% of high school freshman go on to graduate, 44 schools will be closed. Kansas City announced it would close nearly half of its schools. California laid off 23,000 teachers. These are but a few of many examples of the education implosion that is threatening the future of our nation. Things weren’t going much better for America’s college students, either. Hundreds of thousands of Californians took to the streets in March to protest painful tuition hikes that are pricing college educations out of the reach of far too many young people.

#6- Wave of Islamophobia sweeps America: It was a bad year for religious tolerance. Opposition to a proposed Islamic center near the site of the 9/11 terror attacks in lower Manhattan grabbed most of the headlines. But there were many other shameful episodes of Islamophobic bigotry. A mosque was bombed in Jacksonville, Florida. A man urinated while shouting racist slurs in a mosque in Queens, New York. Mosques were vandalized across the country; the construction site of a mosque was burned down in Tennessee. A town in Kentucky banned a mosque from being built there, and communities nationwide voiced their opposition to proposed Islamic centers. A New York cab driver had his face slashed in a brutal anti-Muslim attack. A Muslim woman in Baltimore was denied custody of a foster child because her religion prohibits her from eating pork. A group of Muslims praying in a Las Vegas parking lot were arrested. And churches in Florida and Texas canceled scheduled Koran burnings not out of any last-minute change of hearts regarding religious tolerance  but out of concern that their actions might harm US troops that have invaded and conquered Muslim countries.

#5- As the number of uninsured Americans soars to 59,000,000, toothless health reform bill is too little for too many: Love it or hate it, “Obamacare” was one of the year’s biggest stories. While the President is to be commended for tackling health care reform, one of the most pressing issues of our time, the final bill that emerged was largely toothless and gutted. Even as stories of insurance companies denying life-saving cancer treatment to dying children made headlines, corporate-controlled politicians successfully stripped down the once-promising legislation. Gone was the public option, the backbone of every national health care system in the industrialized world. Plus, most of the bill’s major provisions don’t kick in until 2014. The reason why Obama’s originally ambitious reform plans failed had much to do with the fact that substantial portions of the bill were actually written by the insurance companies themselves. As shocking as this may sound, it should come as no surprise when you consider that there are eight health care lobbyists for every member of Congress and that the pharmaceutical industry spent  a staggering $101,200,000 lobbying against reform. No wonder why the United States has the worst health care system in the developed world and has fallen to 49th place in global life expectancy.

#4- Shocking atrocities committed by US troops in War on Terror; torture and other grave abuses continue under Obama administration: Despite vowing to close the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp (promise broken)  and end torture, horrific abuses still occur nearly two years into President Obama’s tenure. Toture continues at secret prisons in Afghanistan and it is alleged that the Obama administration covered up Bush-era detainee murders at a secret jail called “Camp No” inside Guantanamo. Meanwhile, US troops in Afghanistan committed a shocking series of atrocities in 2010. Captured Afghan militants were executed on the battlefield. Former US commander General Stanley McChrystal admitted that while he knew of no terrorists killed at NATO military checkpoints, many innocent civilians have been shot and killed. An Army “kill team” shot and killed innocent Afghans for sport, keeping body parts of victims such as fingers and skulls as souvenirs. US and allied troops dragged children from their beds and executed them in a botched night raid. And US troops shot and killed two pregnant women, mothers of 16 children, before digging the bullets out of their bodies with knives in an attempt to cover up their crime. Also, Iraqis reacted furiously to the acquittal of five American mercenaries working for security contractor Blackwater USA who massacred 17 innocent Baghdad residents, including children, in 2007. Iraqis are also alarmed at a staggering rise in horrific birth defects among the children of Fallujah, where US forces used depleted uranium munitions and possibly other toxic chemical weapons during multiple battles in the city in 2004. Obama’s escalating use of unmanned aerial drones claimed many innocent lives, like a houseful of women and children that was blown up in northern Pakistan in August.

#3- Republican cockblocking delays benefits for unemployed; health care for 9/11 heroes: Corporate-controlled Republicans in Congress repeatedly blocked extension of jobless benefits, even in the face of the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression and even while they  fought hard to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. GOP lawmakers also shamefully held ill 9/11 heroes hostage until they got their tax deal; refusing to pass legislation to fund medical treatment and compensation for first-responders and other rescue and cleanup workers who selflessly rushed into harm’s way in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center. Many of these men and women have died; many more suffer from debilitating health problems as a result of inhaling dust and other toxic airborne materials at Ground Zero. This caused even the unwavering GOP stooges at Fox News to fiercely criticize Republican ringleaders like Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell who opposed the bill. 

#2- The rich get richer, the poor get poorer: The alarming gap between rich and poor in the US continued to grow even wider in 2010. The 74 top income earners in the United States made more money than the bottom 19,000,000 combined.  One in seven Americans– 44,000,000 people– are now poor; 1 in 6 receives some sort of government assistanceFood stamp use has rocketed, and no wonder: 1 in every 8 Americans suffers from hunger and a staggering 20% of Americans could not afford food at some point last year. More than half of all black children are living in poverty. Meanwhile, the foreclosure crisis worsened, with thousands of families thrown out onto the streets. Adding to the injustice was a massive scandal involving fraudulent paperwork filed by a Florida “foreclosure mill” that rewarded employees with luxury cars, jewelry and other extravagant prizes for kicking families– up to 70,000 of them– out of their homes. Even veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who we revere with hollow “support the troops” bumper-sticker patriotism, are suffering. Some 9,000 of them are homeless, joining nearly 200,000 other homeless vets and an explosion in homeless individuals and families across the country.

#1- Corporate Coup: US Supreme Court rules that corporations are people and entitled to spend as much money as they like in order to influence the outcome of elections: On January 21st, the US Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations are effectively people and entitled to spend as much money as the please to influence the outcome of American elections. It was one of the most important high court decisions in US history, but it went largely unreported in the mainstream corporate media. Things were already bad enough before the ruling, but after Citizens United the corporate coffers really opened up. As the mid-term election season kicked into high gear, special interests spent a record amount of money to influence the outcome. For the first time, corporate spending on mid-term elections surpassed that of the political parties. This is extremely foreboding for American democracy, which is becoming more of a “corporatocracy” with each passing year. The Citizens United decision only serves to  pour gasoline on the raging flames of boundless corporate greed. We may very well look back on it as the pivotal moment in American history when we lost our democracy for good to the corporations who are the real rulers of this country.