- For 33 years, Sonoma State University's (SSU) Project
Censored (PC) has engaged in pioneering research on, and advocacy for,
First Amendment issues. Founded by Carl Jensen in 1976, it's now headed
by Professor Ben Frymer. On July 1, he took over from Professor Peter Phillips
who stepped down after 13 years of distinguished service as Director.
- PC works cooperatively "with numerous independent
(US) media groups," primarily to train SSU students "in media
research and First Amendment issues and the advocacy for, and protection
of, free press rights in the United States."
- For over three decades, it's "trained over 1,500
students in investigative research" and continues doing it through
"a partnership of faculty, students, and the community," cooperatively
engaged in "research on important national news stories that are underreported,
ignored, misrepresented, or censored by the US corporate media."
- Each year, it ranks the top 25 and publishes them in
its yearbook, "Censored: Media Democracy in Action." The latest
"Censored 2010: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008 - 09" just
out is the subject of this review. The book may now be purchased locally,
online, and most easily at projectcensored.org/store.
- The current edition is larger than even, and includes
the year's honorable mention choices as well as additional chapters covered
- In the preface, Peter Phillips and former Associate Director
Mickey Huff highlight Censored 2010's theme in explaining the corporate
media's emphasis on commercialism, the "inane", the "irrelevant,"
and their willful suppression of real news and information on vital issues.
- Their betrayal of the public trust reveals them to be
"a gossip rag or screed sheet, a veritable three-ring circus sideshow
of spectacle and distraction," and a "dying system" relying
on disinformation, faux reporting over real journalism, and the main threat
to democracy in America that can't flourish without a free and open media
able to supply everyone with real news and information.
- In its annual editions and daily on its web site (projectcensored.org),
PC offers the best of what the corporate media censor or suppress. Censored
2010 offers more of it than ever, and credit for it goes to Peter Phillips,
Mickey Huff, and the entire Project Censored team. As Dahr Jamail ends
his introduction, "we are (indeed) fortunate to have (a valued) ally
like Project Censored."
- Tricia Boreta and Peter Phillips explain why:
- -- because "the absence of real news from corporate
media has never been so complete;
- -- Lies, deception, propaganda, superficial coverage,
and overt censorship are on the rise;" and as a result
- -- democracy is being willfully destroyed.
- But PC isn't standing pat, and allied with 28 professors
nationally have incorporated PC "curricula and investigative procedures
into their classrooms." They, and a free and open Internet, are the
future. But not without a long tough struggle against powerful dark forces
determined to hold on and control all news and information sources. It's
for public outrage and committed organizations like PC to stop them. It's
our country and our choice.
- Zombie Newspapers - Dead A Generation Ago, Their Corpses
Are Showing Up
- Buffalo State College Journalism Professor Michael Niman
highlighted the decline of US dailies at a time of economic crisis. Some
have shut down. Most have downsized, while others are going virtual over
print. However, "the collapse of journalism is old news. Newspapers
have been dead for quite a while." We're just now seeing their corpses,
but the concentration of media monopolies, the proliferation of one-newspaper
towns (in 98% of US cities), and the destruction of media diversity made
- Content is heavily censored by conglomerates controlling
media empires for profit, "not to inform, educate, and agitate...."
With no competition, they cut staff, use wire services over their own reporting,
and lost "significance as sources of (real) news." Avoiding controversy
and pleasing advertisers counts most, and on political issues they "suck
up to power and don't ask (hard) questions...."
- The relevant one for consumers is "why the hell
should we pay for their misinformation?" In increasing numbers, they've
stopped, preferring instead to get reliable information from independent
print and online sources.
- It shows that "while there might not be a future
for soulless, zombie monopoly newspapers, there is a future for journalism."
Niman sheds no tears for the corporate kind and hopes that many credible
alternatives will replace them.
- PC's Top 25 2008 - 2009 Stories
- (1) US Congress Sells Out to Wall Street
- Americans get the best democracy money can money, coming
more than ever today from Wall Street. "Since 2001, eight of the most
troubled firms have donated $64.2 million to congressional candidates,
presidential candidates and the Republican and Democratic parties."
Is it surprising that they own them? As senators, Barack Obama and John
McCain got "a combined total of $3.1 million."
- Influential House and Senate finance and banking committee
members got $5.2 million from bailout recipients like Goldman Sachs, Citibank,
AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and others. In the last election cycle, Obama
received at least $4.3 million from the same ones, investments that yielded
- From 1998 - 2007, financial and banking companies "spent
$1.7 billion on federal campaign contributions and another $3.4 billion
on lobbyists." In 1999, Glass-Steagall was repealed, the landmark
1933 law that curbed speculation and separated commercial from investment
banks and insurance companies. In January 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization
Act legitimized swap agreements and other hybrid instruments, at the core
of today's problems by preventing regulatory oversight of derivatives and
leveraging, thus letting Wall Street legally pillage and speculate, so
- The result was a financial coup d'etat "cement(ing)
the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders"
who choose candidates, control elections, weaken financial regulations,
and run the country for their own self-interest. As a result, Washington
today is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Wall Street financial giants.
What they want, they get, no questions asked.
- (2) US Schools Are More Segregated Today than in the
- According to a UCLA Civil Rights report, "schools
in the US are 44 percent non-white, and....Latinos and blacks, the two
largest minority groups, attend schools more segregated today than during
the civil rights movement forty years ago." The result is:
- -- unequal education denies disadvantaged youths access
to college and better jobs;
- -- growing numbers of them become "virtually unemployable"
for anything more than menial labor or the military; and
- -- they're vulnerable to future poverty, poor health,
gangs, crime, and incarceration in America's gulag prison system in each
of the 50 states.
- The report stresses the need for "leaders who recognize
that we have a common destiny in an America where our children grow up
together, knowing and respecting each other, and are all given the educational
tools that prepare them for success in our society."
- Instead, Barack Obama, like his predecessor, backs privatizing
public education, destroying a 374 year tradition in America, ending government
responsibility for it, and making it another business profit center at
the expense of future generations of disadvantaged youths.
- (3) Toxic Waste Behind Somali Pirates
- By blaming the victims, the international community and
dominant media have ignored the "unregulated (IUU) fleets from around
the world that have been poaching and dumping toxic waste in Somali waters
since the fall of the Somali government eighteen years ago." Foreign
interests have been using hundreds of vessels to loot "the country's
food supply," according to the High Seas Task Force (HSTF), stealing
"an estimated $450 million in seafood from Somali waters annually"
and ruining the livelihoods of Somali fishermen.
- Instead of rectifying the problem, the UN passed "aggressive
resolutions that entitle and encourage transgressors to wage war on Somali
pirates." NATO, the EU, and other countries issued similar orders.
Starving Somalis are responding as they have every right to do, yet are
called criminals for defending their own waters and protecting their rights.
- (4) Nuclear Waste Pools in North Carolina
- Progress Energy's North Carolina Shearon Harris nuclear
plant "contains the largest radioactive waste storage pools in the
country." If the cooling system malfunctions, "the resulting
fire would be virtually unquenchable and could trigger a nuclear meltdown."
According to Helen Caldicott and other experts, the likelihood of one happening
somewhere is virtually certain - the result of human error, faulty maintenance,
a terrorist attack, or for some other reason. If a major city is located
downwind, forced evacuation would follow and residents prevented ever from
returning because of irremediable toxic radiation.
- According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC),
Shearon Harris has a history of unresolved safety issues and numerous emergency
shutdowns. Problems there "continue with chilling regularity."
Yet the NRC ignores the potential risks. As a result, the plant is "a
nuclear time bomb," and millions in the region are at risk.
- (5) Europe Blocks US Toxic Products
- Unlike in America, European countries "are moving
toward a....model of insisting on environmental and consumer safety"
that requires assessing thousands of chemicals for their potential toxic
effects. New regulations will mandate that companies seeking market access
eliminate toxic substances and produce safer electronics, automobiles,
toys and cosmetics.
- Without compliance henceforth, the products of hundreds
of US companies may be excluded from European markets, and according to
Mark Schapiro, author of Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products
and What's at Stake for American Power, "only five percent of all
chemicals in the US have undergone even minimal testing." Further,
new EPA requirements consider the "costs to industry" in assessing
an "unreasonable threat to public health" as a reason to side
with industry and keep regulations minimal to nil.
- The divergence between US and European regulation has
made America "the dumping ground for toxic toys, electronics and cosmetics.
We produce and consume the toxic materials, from which other countries
around the world are protected."
- (6) Lobbyists Buy Congress
- In 2008, The Center for Responsive Politics reported
that "special interests paid Washington lobbyists $3.2 billion in
2008," higher than any year on record and 13.7% more than 2007. It
amounts to $17.4 million for each day Congress was in session, or $32,523
per legislator day.
- Health interests spent the most for the third consecutive
year, $478.5 million, followed by the FIRE sector (finance, insurance and
real estate) at $453.5 million. It's a small investment yielding big returns
for these and other industries, competing at the public trough for as much
as they can get. The payoff is in the billions, and for Wall Street pledged
trillions as well as interest free money from the banker-owned Federal
- (7) Obama's Military Appointments Have Corrupted Pasts
- After promising not to politicize intelligence and to
keep lobbyists out of top government posts, Obama appointed many "former
lobbyists or former board members of companies directly doing business
with the Pentagon" and retained Robert Gates as Defense Secretary
despite his history at CIA of having cooked the books for political reasons.
- According to Agency insiders who knew him, he "corrupted
the intelligence product" to suit the White House and further his
own self-interest. He facilitated Iran-Contra and helped boost military
spending by exaggerating the Soviet threat. He frustrated independent counsel
Lawrence Walsh enough to write that despite Gates' touted memory, he "denied
recollection of facts thirty-three times," and when GHW Bush nominated
him for CIA Director, a virtual insurrection among CIA analysts erupted
over his penchant for having politicized intelligence.
- Obama's Deputy Defense Secretary, William Lynn, is just
as tainted. The former Raytheon vice president and company lobbyist got
Senator Charles Grassley to object over his "very questionable accounting
practices" as Pentagon Comptroller during the Clinton years.
- Obama's Undersecretary of Defense, Robert Hale, served
as Assistant Air Force Secretary Financial Comptroller under Clinton, and
according to author Andrew Hughes, he and Lynn "lost enough taxpayer
money to pay for Obama's stimulus plan four times over." They now
again oversee DOD spending.
- The list goes on and includes National Intelligence chief,
Admiral Dennis Blair, who backed Indonesia's terror, mass-killing, and
occupation of East Timor in 1998. General James Jones is a Trilateralist
and former NATO commander. Obama's entire national security team is composed
of recycled appointees very much committed to continued imperial wars and
outlandish amounts of military spending for them.
- (8) Bailed Out Banks and America's Wealthiest Cheat IRS
Out of Billions
- It's an old story. "Only the little people pay taxes,"
according to former tax cheat Leona Hemsley (1920 - 2007), and rarely does
anyone like her get caught.
- In 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) "reported
that eighty-three of the top publicly held US companies have operations
in tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and the Virgin Islands.
AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, and 11 others got government bailouts.
In addition, Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) helped wealthy clients "cheat
the IRS out of over $20 billion in recent years, according to the Department
- Other notorious tax havens include Austria, Luxembourg,
the Channel Islands, Singapore, Hong Kong, Andorra, Monaco, Gibraltar,
the Bahamas, the Cook Islands, and Turks and Caicos. In 2008, they saved
Goldman Sachs billions of dollars through "changes in (its) geographic
earnings mix." For many other companies, it's much the same through
legal provisions in the tax code. According to some estimates, "trillions
of dollars in both corporate profits and personal wealth have migrated
offshore, (and) the offshore banking world now harbors $11.5 trillion in
individual wealth alone...."
- (9) US Arms Used for (Israel's) War Crimes in Gaza
- For decades, America has supplied Israel with tens of
billions in aid, interest-free loans, and the latest in new weapons and
technology, including illegal white phosphorous shells used against Gazan
civilians during Operation Cast Lead.
- In addition, Washington supplies F-16 fighters, attack
helicopters, tactical missiles, 1,000 or more bunker-buster bombs, a wide
variety of other munitions, and undisclosed new weapons for testing in
real time combat situations against Palestinian or other Arab civilians.
- In Gaza, shell fragments revealed names of US defense
contractors, including Raytheon. Another was marked the Pine Bluff Arsenal
in Arkansas. In shocking support for Israel's war of aggression, in violation
of international and US law, both Houses of Congress overwhelmingly endorsed
its continuation, and Obama stayed silent in the run-up to his January
- (10) Ecuador Declares Foreign Debt Illegitimate
- "In November 2008, Ecuador became the first country
to undertake an examination of the legitimacy and structure of its foreign
debt." In violation of Ecuadorean law, predatory international lenders
were involved in hundreds of illegitimate irregularities. Billions in foreign
debt at exorbitant interest rates resulted in debt service far exceeding
the principal borrowed, at a staggering human cost. In December, President
Rafael Correa announced his country would default. In April 2009, he was
- Ecuador exposed the corrupted international finance system
that could set a precedent for the poorest of indebted countries. Correa
asked other Latin American nations "to forge a united response (and
for) the United Nations to help develop international norms to regulate
the foreign debt market."
- The April 2008 House passed Jubilee Act was a positive
step forward. However, the Senate failed to pass its S. 2166 version, then
cleared the legislation from its books.
- In June 2009, Ecuador agreed with 91% of its creditors
to pay 35 cents on the dollar for its debt. Other countries may now follow
suit, especially the most impacted by the global economic crisis.
- (11) Private Corporations Profit from the Occupation
- US, Israeli, and other international corporations profit
from the occupation of Palestine. They "lead real estate deals, develop
the Israeli (settlements) and infrastructure," and help solidify the
continued land theft, economic exploitation, and apartheid separation of
Muslims and Jews, in violation of international law.
- In addition to Gaza under siege, West Bank Palestinians
have endured an oppressive 42-year military occupation. On their own, with
virtually no outside support outside of growing grassroots movements, they
keep waging a heroic struggle for their self-determination and freedom.
- (12) Mysterious Death of Mike Connell - Karl Rove's Election
- As Karl Rove's chief IT consultant, Connell was a key
figure in the theft of the 2004 election for George Bush. Under subpoena
to testify on his role in Ohio, he died mysteriously in a December 19,
2008 plane crash.
- IT expert Stephen Spoonamore, a conservative Republican,
explained how Connell's vote tabulation system worked. It "allowed
(for) the introduction of an additional single computer between computer
A and computer B (called a) man in the middle" attack. The subsequent
centralized collection of all incoming statewide tabulations made it easy
for a single operator, or a preprogrammed 'force balancing computer' to
change the results in any way desired by the team controlling Computer
- Spoonamore explained that Connell's system exists solely
for one purpose - to commit crime. Clear evidence of the 2004 electoral
theft confirms that's precisely what happened.
- (13) Katrina's Hidden Race War
- After Hurricane Katrina, a Nation magazine report explained
that "white vigilante groups patrolled the streets of New Orleans....shooting
at least eleven African American men." Falsely portrayed as looters
and thugs, they were gunned down in cold blood by "gun-toting white
males," yet city police didn't intervene or investigate the crimes.
- In addition, Blackwater mercenaries were deployed in
New Orleans right after the storm. In full battle gear, they terrorized
black residents, removed them from choice areas for development, and assured
they didn't return. Protected by immunity, they were licensed to kill if
- (14) Congress Invested in Defense Contracts
- According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics,
over 151 congressional members have invested up to $195 million in major
defense contractors, thus profiting from America's imperial wars.
- Major investors include:
- -- Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) - $49.1 million;
- -- Senator John Kerry (D-MA) - $38.2 million;
- -- Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC) - $37.1 million;
- -- Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) - $8.4 million;
- -- Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) - $7.6 million;
- -- Rep. Jane Harmon (D-CA) - $6.3 million;
- -- Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) - $5.8 million; and
- -- Rep. John Carter (R-TX) - $5 million.
- (15) World Bank's Carbon Trade Fiasco
- On the pretext of environmental protection, "the
World Bank is brokering carbon emission trading arrangements that destroy
indigenous farmlands around the world" and do nothing to cut pollution
or reduce the threat of climate change.
- The scheme is similar to Obama's cap and trade bill (HR
2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009) that lets corporate
polluters reap huge windfall profits by charging consumers more for energy
and fuel. It also facilitates new carbon trading derivatives speculation,
yet does nothing to address environmental issues. On June 26, HR 2454 passed
the House, but so far it's stalled in the Senate.
- (16) US Repression of Haiti Continues
- Two months after the Bush administration forcibly deposed
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004, the UN Security
Council authorized Blue Helmet peacekeepers to occupy the country. It was
likely the first time ever to support and enforce a coup d'etat against
a democratically elected president. To this day, Haitians have been denied
their freedom under a repressive UN occupation. The Obama administration
continues to endorse it.
- (17) The ICC Facilitates US Covert War in Sudan
- Huge potential oil reserves explain the significance
of Darfur. Washington's genocide claim is a hoax. It's part of America's
chess game with China for control of the region's resources, something
both nations covet. Beijing already gets up to 30% of its oil from Africa
by offering no-strings attached dollar credits compared to exploitive IMF
and World Bank terms, and America's usual one-way kinds.
- Under cover from the ICC's fraudulent indictment of Sudan's
President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and other contrived reasons, America
has exploited the region militarily for geopolitical advantage. The ICC
stands exposed as an imperial tool, not the independent body it should
- (18) Ecuador's Constitutional Rights of Nature
- "In September 2008, Ecuador became the first country
(ever) to declare constitutional rights to nature, thus codifying a new
system of environmental protection."
- Its Constitution declares nature:
- "has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate
its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.
(This right) is independent of the obligation on natural and juridical
persons or the State to indemnify the people that depend on the natural
- This redefinition affirms that nature must receive equal
parity by law and not just be a resource for exploitation. Yet these Rights
of Nature contain flaws because President Rafael Correa refused to let
communities protect their own ecosystems. As a result, corporate predators
can exploit the loophole and are expert at taking advantage. The new Mining
Law already permits large-scale, open pit metal mining in the Andean highlands
and Amazon rainforest.
- Nonetheless, Ecuador's Rights of Nature hold hope that
other nations may adopt them and start a process to more fully protect
- (19) Bank Bailout Recipients Spent to Defeat Labor
- After receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds,
Bank of America organized opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)
- legislation to guarantee workers the right to bargain more fairly and
collectively with management than since passage of the landmark 1935 National
Labor Relations (Wagner) Act.
- Business is firmly opposed. On March 10, S. 560: Employee
Free Choice Act of 2009 was introduced in the Senate. It was referred to
the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee where it's pending.
Given the Obama administration's opposition, its passage looks doubtful.
- (20) Secret Control of the Presidential Debates
- Since 1987, the Republican and Democrat-controlled Commission
on Presidential Debates (CPD) has run the process, dictates terms, and
excludes unwanted participants. During the 2008 presidential cycle, the
Obama and McCain teams secretly cut a deal on who could participate, permissible
topics, and the debate format structure.
- Since independent candidate Ross Perot participated in
1992, the exercise has been pre-scripted theater without disturbing questions,
shielding major party candidates from unwanted criticism, and excluding
independent ones, like Ralph Nader, from participating. Before he died,
Walter Cronkite called the CPD an "unconscionable fraud."
- (20) Recession Causes States to Cut Welfare
- Faced with huge budget shortfalls and little help from
Washington, states have been forced to make major expenditure cuts, many
affecting vital social services, including health care, education, and
- Yet cutting Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
began prior to the present crisis so funds could be redirected to other
priorities. Nationally, welfare rolls dropped over 40% between 2001 and
June 2008, and in some states, like Georgia, up to 90%.
- By allotting states fixed block grant amounts regardless
of need and setting a five year limit for recipients, the 1997 law was
deeply flawed as a way to free states and Washington from their obligation
to provide welfare to the needy. As a result, America's social safety net
is fast disappearing.
- (22) Obama's Trilateral Commission Team
- In 1973, David Rockefeller founded the Trilateral Commission
(TC) to counter a threat of too much democracy. Jimmy Carter was a charter
member. Current and past ones include nearly all presidential candidates
of both parties; leading senators and congressmen; key members of the media;
top intelligence officials; key government agency ones from Treasury, Defense,
State, Commerce, and the Judiciary; numerous top business executives,
and others from academia, labor, and various NGOs.
- Eleven TC members are in the Obama administration, including
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, National Security
Advisor Gen. James Jones, National Intelligence Director Adm. Dennis Blair,
Paul Volker, and five top State Department officials, including Richard
Holbrooke and Dennis Ross.
- Along with Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) members,
they're the dominant forces in America. They decide who's elected to high
office, appointed to key government positions, how the country will be
run, and for whose benefit.
- (23) Activists Slam World Water Forum as a Corporate-Driven
- Organized every three years since 1997, the corporate-controlled
World Water Forum (WWF)'s main goal is the global privatization of water
in coordination with the World Water Council (WWC), dominated by two of
the world's largest water companies, Suez and Veolia, as well as the World
Bank and corporate segments of the UN.
- WWC "promotes extraordinarily expensive and destructive
dam and water diversion projects" as well as an agenda to put water
services in private hands through the establishment of Public-Private Partnerships
(PPPs). Operating in countries like Argentina, Bolivia, El Salvador and
America, the result has been "huge price hikes, water pollution, depletion
and cut-offs (that) deny people the right to water" if they can't
pay the exorbitant cost.
- Activists like Maude Barlow ask "Is water a commodity
(to be sold) to the highest bidder or part of our commons, a public trust
and a human right?" The global struggle is committed for the latter.
- (24) Dollar Glut Finances US Military Expansion
- Economist/author Michael Hudson first addressed this
topic in his 1972 book, "Super Imperialism," updated in a 2003
edition. He then revisited it in his award-winning article explaining the
"inter-related dynamics" of:
- -- "surplus (US) dollars pouring into the rest of
the world for yet further financial speculation and corporate takeovers;"
- -- global central banks "recyl(ing) these dollar
inflows (into) US Treasury bonds to finance the federal US budget deficit;
and most important (but suppressed in the US media),