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Project Censored's Top 5 underreported stories of 2018

The real fight against fake news

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ANSON STEVEN-BOLLES
  • Anson Steven-Bolles

1. World's richest 1 percent continue to become wealthier

In November 2017, Credit Suisse released its 8th Annual Global Wealth Report, which The Guardian reported under the headline, "Richest 1 percent own half the world's wealth, study finds."

The wealth share of the world's richest people increased "from 42.5 percent at the height of the 2008 financial crisis to 50.1 percent in 2017, or $140 trillion," The Guardian reported, adding that "The biggest losers ... are young people who should not expect to become as rich as their parents."

"[Despite being more educated], millennials are doing less well than their parents at the same age, especially in relation to income, home ownership and other dimensions of well-being assessed in this report," Rohner Credit Suisse chairman Urs Rohner said. "We expect only a minority of high achievers and those in high demand sectors such as technology or finance to effectively overcome the 'millennial disadvantage.'"

"No other part of the wealth pyramid has been transformed as much since 2000 as the millionaire and ultra-high net worth individual (known as UHNWI) segments," the report said. "The number of millionaires has increased by 170 percent, while the number of UHNWIs (individuals with net worth of USD 50 million or more) has risen five-fold, making them by far the fastest-growing group of wealth holders."

There were 2.3 million new millionaires this year, taking the total to 36 million.

"At the other end of the spectrum, the world's 3.5 billion poorest adults each have assets of less than $10,000," The Guardian reported. "Collectively these people, who account for 70 percent of the world's working age population, account for just 2.7 percent of global wealth."

"Tremendous concentration of wealth and the extreme poverty that results from it are problems that affect everyone in the world, but wealth inequalities do not receive nearly as much attention as they should in the establishment press," Project Censored noted. "The few corporate news reports that have addressed this issue – including an August 2017 Bloomberg article and a July 2016 report for CBS's MoneyWatch – focused exclusively on wealth inequality within the United States. As Project Censored has previously reported, corporate news consistently covers the world's billionaires while ignoring millions of humans who live in poverty."

2. FBI racially profiling 'black identity extremists'

At the same time that white supremacists were preparing for the "Unite the Right" demonstration in Charlottesville, which resulted in the murder of Heather Heyer in August 2017, the FBI's counterterrorism division produced an intelligence assessment warning of a very different – though actually nonexistent – threat "Black Identity Extremists." The report appeared to be the first time the term had been used to identify a movement, according to Foreign Policy magazine, which broke the story.

"But former government officials and legal experts said no such movement exists, and some expressed concern that the term is part of a politically motivated effort to find an equivalent threat to white supremacists," Foreign Policy reported.

"The use of terms like 'black identity extremists' is part of a long-standing FBI attempt to define a movement where none exists," said former FBI agent Mike German, who now works for the Brennan Center for Justice. "Basically, it's black people who scare them."

"It's classic Hoover-style labeling with a little bit of maliciousness and euphemism wrapped up together," said William Maxwell, a Washington University professor working on a book about FBI monitoring of black writers. "The language – 'black identity extremist' – strikes me as weird and really a continuation of the worst of Hoover's past."

"There is a long tradition of the FBI targeting black activists and this is not surprising," Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson told Foreign Policy.

A former homeland security official told them that carelessly connecting unrelated groups will make it harder for law enforcement to identify real threats. "It's so convoluted – it's compromising officer safety," the former official said.

"The corporate media [has] covered the FBI report on 'black identity extremists' in narrow or misleading ways," Project Censored noted, citing examples from The New York Times, Fox News and NBC News. "Coverage like this both draws focus away from the active white supremacist movement and feeds the hate and fear on which such a movement thrives."