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Sat

01

Aug

2009

Uncensoring war and disease profiteers
Saturday, 01 August 2009 10:00
by Brenda Norrell

During the first 20 years that I was a news reporter in Indian country, I was rarely censored. It was not until Indian Country Today was sold to the Oneida Nation in New York, and local non-Indians with little experience became the managing editors, that I was routinely censored.

I was never censored when Tim Giago, Lakota, owned the newspapers that I worked for, Lakota Times, Lakota Journal and Indian Country Today.

My longtime editor at Navajo Times, Duane Beyal, Navajo, did not censor me. Today, my articles appear uncensored at the UN OBSERVER & International Report, Sri Lanka Guardian, CounterPunch and Narco News.

Of course when I worked as a stringer for the leading wire service, it required that all the news about Navajos be of a negative nature: court trials, crimes, disasters, etc., which is generally the nature of news. But I doubt if that wire service would publish any of the articles I write today.

In fact, I've recently written the authors of many wire articles to give them the facts about the planned power plant, Desert Rock, which is being protested by Navajos. Reporters who do not live on the Navajo Nation are spoon-fed press releases from energy companies and lap those up, falsely believing that Navajos must have power plants, coal mines and oil and gas wells.

The part of the picture that few write about is the disease and pollution produced. In the 1980s I asked IHS for statistics on the diseases of Navajos who live around power plants, oil wells, coal mines and more than 1,000 radioactive uranium tailings. At IHS in Window Rock, IHS said no statistics existed. I couldn't believe it.

Fresh out of graduate school with a masters degree in health, I asked IHS in Navajoland how it could function without knowing what diseases are produced by all the destruction.

When the hantavirus mysteriously appeared on Navajoland, IHS did share with me some unpublished data. The data revealed that the initial deaths of Navajos from the hantavirus surrounded, in a circle, Fort Wingate (NM), near Gallup, which was being decommissioned at the time.


Of course the US blamed the hantavirus on the field mice, which were always there. But a number of wise council delegates on the Navajo Nation Council, including Genevieve Jackson, believed that the hantavirus was intentionally or accidentally released during the decommissioning. Jackson halted a drug company from profiteering from the hantavirus medication ribavirin.

That same type of profiteering resurfaced when Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was profiteering from the sale of Tamiflu for the bird flu.

In the US, states were stockpiling Tamiflu and Rumsfeld was making a fortune. This fact was censored by Indian Country Today. My article about this was distorted and published with my name on it by editors at ICT. I was terminated the same year, 2006, as a staff reporter.

Recently, while talking with a 12-year-old, he kept asking, "Why doesn't anyone know these things?" He had been watching television and was duped by the military recruitment ads brainwashing young people to believe that the wars of politicians have something to do with honor. Those ads make it appear that their parents will love them more if they risk death for the wars of corrupt politicians.

The young man said it made him want to join the military. I explained to him how the Iraq war was based on lies, and how politicians keep wars going to benefit war manufacturers, who contribute money to politicians for their campaigns. I told him about the innocent people -- women and children -- tortured and murdered by the US in Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan and countries around the world. He asked me about the Taliban and black ops.

He kept saying, "Why doesn't anyone talk about this?" On the television, a CNN reporter was obsessing over some detail of a Hollywood celebrity.

It was a wakeup call.
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