BlackBox Radio

December 31, 2005

CMRN Live Broadcast 12-31

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 3:29 pm

This month’s one-hour show features a retrospective of the year 2005, revisiting several stories produced by blackbox and seeing what has happened since they were first reported. Our stories include last year’s Coca-Cola’s water privatization scheme in Highland Park , the exoneration of wrongfully convicted prisoners, Hurricane Katrina, and construction of a massive dam in Iceland.

We also do a round-up of some of the most under-reported stories of the year, the worst corporate evildoers, and the top reasons why 2005 wasn’t all bad.

Find out more about the Critical Mass Radio Network here.

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Every year, Project Censored presents a compilation of the 25 most important news stories not covered in the corporate media. This year’s top spot goes to the Bush administrations’ ongoing efforts to eliminate open government.

These efforts include tightening and revising laws governing the release of information, making it more difficult to declassify government documents, reclassifying many previously declassified documents, and assuming unprecedented authority to conduct government operations in secret, with little or no judicial oversight. Congress has even been shut out, forced to go to court in attempts to compel the administration to release information Congress is legally entitled to.

On a positive note, the recent New York Times story revealing massive illegal spying on American citizens may be the wedge that brings these other stories out into the national dialogue and energizes popular resistance to these policies.

The next story on Project Censored’s most under-reported list also concerns a natural disaster: the Asian Tsunami. At the same time that U.S. aid was widely publicized domestically, our coinciding military motives were virtually ignored by the press. While supplying aid, we simultaneously bolstered military alliances with regional powers and began expanding our bases throughout the region, including in Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, and especially in Indonesia, despite its history of ongoing human rights issues.

Another story that made the top 25 most list concerns the distorted coverage of election results from the November 2004 elections.

According to exit poll data, John Kerry was projected to win the election by over 5 million votes, but the actual results showed George Bush with a 3 million vote win. This discrepancy of 8 million votes is orders of magnitude larger than the margin of error, yet the mainstream press called questions about the results “sour grapes” and refused to cover the information seriously.

In fact, a discrepancy between exit poll results and actual vote counts is the method used around the world – including by US observers – to gauge the authenticity of elections in other countries.

Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, the two companies hired to do the exit polling, waited until the eve of the inaugural to state their conclusion: that the discrepancy arose due to Kerry voters participating in exit polls at much higher levels than Bush voters. These findings were widely reported in the press as “proving” the veracity of the election results. How such an anomaly could have occurred, or why it had never occurred in any previous election in the nation’s history, were questions apparently not considered worth investigating by the mainstream media.

Global Exchange has released its list of the “14 Worst Corporate Evildoers of 2005”.
This list of “MOST WANTED” corporate criminals gives you information about the abusive behavior of this year’s top fourteen worst corporations, tells you who is responsible, and how to connect with and support people who are doing something about it. The more you know, the less these corporations can continue their abuses out of public eyesight: so share this information with your friends, get on the phone with the CEOs themselves, and exercise your rights as a citizen and consumer today.

Caterpillar, Chevron, Coca Cola and Dow Chemical have made the top of the list. Find more information about the other 10 corporations in Global Exchange’s list of Corporate Human Rights Violators at

The Coca Cola Company made the Global Exchange list of 2005’s worst corporate offenders for their crimes against workers and the environment.

Union leaders from Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia were killed after protesting the company’s labor practices and hundreds of others workers have been kidnapped, tortured, or otherwise intimidated to prevent them from unionizing.

Coke has also been responsible for environmental destruction in India. In Plachimada, Kerala, Coca-Cola extracted 1.5 million liters of deep well water, causing water shortages in thousands of communities and destroying agriculture activity.

In Turkey, 14 Coca-Cola truck drivers and their families were beaten severely by Turkish police hired by the company, while protesting a layoff of 1,000 workers from a local bottling plant in 2005.

The worldwide campaign against Coca Cola has also seen several victories this year, as major colleges and universities, such as New York University, have cut their contracts with Coke, demanding full investigations into allegations against the company.

The University of Michigan was the latest to sanction Coca Cola, by temporarily suspending University purchasing of Coke products effective January 1. U of M’s Dispute Review Board has recommended that the contract with Coca-Cola be permanently cut if reforms are not made by certain deadlines. Stay tuned to BlackBox Radio for future developments.

And here’s a more in-depth peek at some of the other companies on the corporate evildoers list.

First, Caterpiller. For years, the Caterpillar Company has been providing Israel with bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes. Despite worldwide condemnation, Caterpillar has refused to cut off sales of specially modified D9 and D10 bulldozers to the Israeli military. In 2003, a Caterpiller bulldozer crushed and killed peace activist Rachel Corrie as she tried to defend a Palestinian home.

Meanwhile, petrochemical giant Chevron is guilty of some of the worst environmental and human rights abuses in the world. For almost 30 years, Texaco, now part of Chevron, unleashed environmental devastation in Ecuador by leaving over 600 unlined oil pits in the pristine northern Amazon rainforest and dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic water into rivers used for bathing water.

Chevron is also responsible for the violent repression of peaceful opposition to oil extraction in Nigeria, and is accused of hiring private military personnel to open fire on peaceful protestors there. In Burma, Chevron settled a lawsuit filed by 15 villagers who accused Chevron of complicity in human rights violations ranging from forced labor to summary execution.

And now for some good news from Katha Pollitt at The Nation magazine on “Why 2005 wasn’t all bad”:

First, the seemingly invincible Bush administration is on the defensive, and the Republican machine that runs Congress is showing similar signs of decay. Most Americans don’t believe the President on why we went to war in Iraq and want the troops brought home as speedily as possible.

Second, there are signs that the mainstream media is finally waking up. The New Yorker revealed the role that doctors and psychiatrists played in the torture of enemy combatants. The Washington Post exposed the existence of secret prisons in Eastern Europe.

Civil liberties may also be making a comeback. The Senate failed to permanently reauthorize expiring sections of the Patriot Act.

And the left is alive and well in Latin America. Evo Morales has just been elected president of Bolivia on a platform of Indian and poor people’s rights, opposition to US-backed privatization schemes and support for coca farming. Socialist candidate Michelle Bachelet–pediatric surgeon, single mother, agnostic, feminist, former political prisoner–is the frontrunner in Chile’s presidential runoff.

The world is becoming more gay-friendly. Gay marriage was legalized in Spain, South Africa and Canada, and Britain and Connecticut now permit civil unions, joining Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Iceland, Luxembourg and Sweden.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ballot initiatives went down in flames. And perhaps most heartening of all: hardly anyone believes that global warming isn’t happening.


  1. This post has been removed by the author.

    Comment by Liberal Common Sense Asshat Nominee — January 16, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

  2. Only in America…

    Comment by Austin — April 17, 2007 @ 12:59 am

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