1977 Censored

Foreign Policy News Stories


Project Censored


Jimmy Carter and the Trilateral Commission

SYNOPSIS: Although the Trilateral Commission (TLC) was the top Censored story of 1976, it was renominated in 1977 since it continued to receive very limited press coverage.

The 1977 nomination reveals that Jimmy Carter's major moves since taking over as president have been in accord with the TLC's recommendations, including:

1) a new economic planning agency attached to the White House;

2) some unspecified way of eliminating the pervasive suspicion of the motives and powers of political leaders;

3) reinvigoration of political parties accomplished mainly by making it legal for corporations to support them;

4) a check on press power to include tough libel laws against journalists who insult decisionmakers;

5) reduced spending for education as it leads to frustration, criticism, and disrespect;

6) government subsidies to major corporations to design unspecified new modes of organization that will head off irresponsible blackmailing techniques;

7) a new institute for the strengthening of democratic institutions at the public's expense.


The Bottle Baby Scandal in the Third World

SYNOPSIS: With the birthrate in the United States declining, infant formula manufacturers (Nestle and Bristol-Myers in the forefront along with Abbott and American Home Products) began pushing their products on the Third World to ensure their continued profits.

They rely on exploitative and deceptive tactics to sell their products including:

1) giving free samples to mothers so their own milk will dry up, leaving them dependent on expensive formulas;

2) promises of "modernization and heightened status" through use of the formulas, as encouraged by well-financed media campaigns (which include radio and television spots, calendars, billboards, and baby contests),

3) telling new mothers that their own milk is "inappropriate" or may be "unsuccessfully" given to their baby, etc.

The majority of Third World mothers wind up watering down the formulas, using contaminated water, and otherwise malnourishing and infecting their children because they cannot afford to administer formulas in the prescribed way. Parents would have to spend 30-40 percent of their aver age daily wage to feed their babies on this mother's milk substitute. Malnutrition and denial of natural immunities (which would have been provided had the mother breast-fed) caused by infant formula feeding account for 35,000 deaths and untold brain damage in babies of predominantly Third World countries.

Meanwhile, the profit margins on infant formulas have been documented at up to 72 percent; a billion dollars a year are taken from the Third World countries from the import of these formulas.


UPDATE: As a result of public outrage in the late seventies and through a series of events involving the courts, the U.S. Senate, a group of Catholic nuns, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and concerned citizens, the WHO/UNICEF Code for Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes was drafted, redrafted, and finally adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981. The - final vote was 118 to 1. The United States cast the sole negative vote.

Despite the U.N. Code, a comprehensive expose published by Mothering (12/22/95) revealed that even today, "Billboards and radio jingles encourage women to use formula in order to raise the healthiest baby. Hospital maternity units in developing nations are sometimes sponsored by formula companies...In addition, babies are routinely fed formula and glucose water, and mothers are sent home with unstimulated breasts and free samples of whatever formula paid for the maternity unit."

It is now estimated that "one million infant deaths per year can be prevented by using the world's most economical and effective health protection: breast milk." But Third World mothers are still not being told this and continue to be bombarded with promotions for formula. Anyone interested in this issue would be well advised to look up the original Mothering article. It is an exceptionally well-researched history of the problem dating back to 1939 when Nestle was selling sweetened condensed milk as infant food despite research showing it was unsafe for infants. It also contains dozens of names and addresses of organizations and individuals who can be contacted for further information.
Unfortunately, the health issue became increasingly complicated in 1997 as increasing numbers of Third World women, infected with the AIDS virus, were transmitting it to their infants through breast milk. Some observers feel that infant formula may be a powerful weapon to reduce childhood deaths from AIDS. Infant formula critics acknowledge that the data are incomplete but say that the vast majority of Third World infants will be imperiled by renewed promotion of bottle-feeding. Still others say it is imperative to find alternatives to breast-feeding including making safe, affordable formula widely available. (New York Times 6/8/97)



The Mass Slaughter by the Khmer Rouge

SYNOPSIS: Execution, starvation, cannibalism, torture, disease, malnutrition were only a few of the violations of human rights made by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and Vietnam. A few journalists who conducted interviews with refugees believed that out of a population of seven million, 1.2 million died between 1975 and 1977 alone. In addition, a Catholic missionary reported "15,000 to 20,000 suicides."

Reports also indicated that the Khmer Rouge treated people like slaves and imposed exacting rules. Failure to observe these rules led to immediate execution. Anyone who complained was punished. Rule breaking and complaints applied to such "crimes" as asking for more food, falling in exhaustion, or not meeting Khmer Rouge's own inhumane values.

The so-called "transgressors" were often clubbed to death with objects such as pick handles. When a starving worker was caught cannibalizing, he was tortured to death. Such torture included being buried in the ground up to the shoulders and being beaten to death or impaling their heads on pointed stakes.

In January 1977, the American Security Council invited all three major networks to a conference on the subject, which may have been the most important human rights story of the decade; not one sent a correspondent.


UPDATE: When Khmer Rouge executioners killed a million or more fellow Cambodians 20 years ago, it was a major story in the right-wing press but basically ignored by the mainstream media. It wasn't until 1984 when a British-made film, The Killing Fields, retold the story that many Americans became aware of the extent of the tragedy.

In 1993, a United Nations-sponsored election brought a measure of calm and renewal to Cambodia. However, the calm did not last long. In early July 1997, a military coup plunged the country back into political chaos and once again Cambodia seemed stuck in the cycle of violence and despair that has stained its history for the last 40 years. According to the Knight Ridder Newspapers report (7/14/97), "Now, even some longtime [domestic] supporters are giving up and going home."



The Global Battle for the Mineral Wealth of the Oceans

SYNOPSIS: The race to control the ocean floor involves the following conflicting interests: a consortium of three multinational corporations, 20 transnational corporations from six developed nations, and 110 Third World nations represented by the U.N.'s annual Law of the Seas Conference. At stake is 1.5 trillion tons of mineral wealth and who controls production and profits .

The U.N.-supported Law of the Seas Conference has been ongoing since 1958. It discusses fishing rights, territorial waters, and international straits. In 1969, a resolution was passed saying that the ocean floor was a "common heritage of mankind." Third World nations interpret this to mean that all mining would be done under U.N. control. However, the American position would turn the mining control over to private corporations that have the capital and resources to start undersea mining.

Third World nations are arguing for conservation of undersea minerals until land-based minerals are consumed. They also fear that multinational corporations will tend to neglect Third World needs and reap windfall profits from the bountiful ocean floor.

Little is known about the sea bottom or its role in maintaining the planet's environment. Its sediment is rich in microscopic organisms and animal life. Mining companies admit that their hydraulic dredges and continuous line buckets will stir sediment and probably kill any plant or animal life in their path. Nonetheless, they argue that the environmental costs are "insignificant."

The Ocean Mining Associates consortium has filed mining claims extending far over the Pacific where the State Department has no control. American policy has tended to support these claims by multinationals in their conflicts over who controls these regions.


UPDATE: The United States was globally embarrassed in 1985 when the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea rejected as "wholly illegal" the U.S. request to explore parts of the seabed before the Law of the Sea Treaty was finalized. The Ocean Mining Associates, headed by U.S. Steel at the time, had requested exclusive rights to mine manganese nodules in a seabed area of the Pacific Ocean (UN Chronicle, September 1985).

Finally, after years of debate over who will control the oceans rich resources, it now appears that the Law of the Sea Treaty proponents have won. The Financial Times (4/19/96) reported, "The latest round of negotiations have ended with agreement on the composition of the council to run the International Seabed Authority, the specialized UN agency that will implement the treaty." Satya Nandan, of Fiji, the ISA's secretary general, said, "The objective is to provide the machinery for the administration of the resources of the deep seabed, which are the common heritage of mankind, and the development of those resources so that the international community as a whole may benefit from them." Nandan noted that there is a complex system of representation on the council that ensures that various interest groups are represented and ensures for equitable geographical representation. The way now appears clear for the ISA to begin monitoring the exploitation of minerals from the international seabed (Financial Times, 4/19/96).

On October 18, 1996, United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali officially inaugurated the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, Germany (Federal News Service, 10/21/96).

Project Censored