Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year News and Updates on the Way!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dialogue a Key Ingredient of Democracy Missing in US Corporate News Media

For anyone imbibing US corporate news media, the outcome is certain: they will be treated to a zero-calorie infotainment diet served on traditional feeding intervals at the networks, or for the insatiable junk food news consumer, round the clock cable news menus heavy on advertiser appetizers and tabloid dessert specials. This is a recipe for a literal Truth Emergency in our society. When we rely on corporate media outlets to provide context for national discourse, we find ourselves in a sea of information but are left with a paucity of understanding regarding anything relevant in our daily lives.

So-called “news” topics range from Tyra Banks’ figure fluctuations to the Balloon Boy hoax; from the White House Beer Summit to the death of Michael Jackson; while We the People become bloated from ubiquitous, no news nonsense. Absent from this smorgasbord of purported news programming¬ is any actual information, or news, generating healthy democratic dialogue and responsive representative government policy on the most important issues facing the general public– our faltering economy, lack of healthcare, and issues of war and peace.

The purpose of the free press, as enunciated by key founders of America, was to keep the citizenry informed, engaged, and in dialogue with one another about the crucial issues of the day. The health of any democracy can be diagnosed by the degree to which information flows freely in the culture. Anything that interferes with that free flow of information is a form of censorship, which acts to derail, distort, and deny the efficacy of any true democratic experiment.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison supported a vigorous public arena of discourse, debate, and competing ideas. In short, they wanted to encourage the process of dialogue and free expression as vehicles to achieve the best of democratic possibilities.

Jefferson opined that newspapers would better serve the country, by reporting the facts of matters at hand, than any form of government. In his first inaugural address, Jefferson said, “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” Now imagine Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly advocating honest, open dialogue on their corporate media programs.

Madison warned, "A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.” Now envision that Americans demand that the truth be spoken across the so-called public airwaves. The sharing of knowledge becomes a dialogue that leads to informed opinions and choices, ones that measure up to the national values and principles in our founding documents.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are not just words on parchment. They are the very concepts that make us humane in the modern world. The media, the supposed free press, should be encouraging robust dialogues while fighting for the future of all Americans, not just for the insurance companies, banks, big pharma, and the military industrial complex. In keeping with the founders’ notions of natural rights and intent in providing for the general welfare, we would do well to note that healthcare is a human right, workers have the right to the fruits of their labor, environmental degradation is a crime against humanity, and war is terrorism. These positions should all be part of our national discourse in a truly free press. Where are these voices in the corporate media cacophony?

Instead, the privileged institutions of corporate media are daily miring us in cynicism (reports of personal scandals, rampant corruption, and Congressional stagnation), rationalizing us into deep denial (falsely claiming the recession is over while key public indicators refute this), and leaving us footing a multi-trillion dollar tab for Wall Street bailouts and illegal wars (TARP, Iraq, Afghanistan, but nothing left for the public at home). A truly free press would herald these vile decrees and deeds as those of charlatans and demagogues. We must be the change we wish to see and we must not rely on spoon-fed, top down, corporate media propaganda. We must become the media in the process of sharing knowledge with each other on the road to a better world. Since the corporate media are not in the business of news and are not beholden to empirical truths, rather, only to shareholder profits and their own bottom line, they should not be trusted.

If a failing corporate media system ensconced in hyper-reality creates an excited delirium of knowinglessness, that system must be declared incapable of accurately informing the citizenry. The public must turn to independent journalism based in muckraking traditions, with transparent fact-based reporting that asks the tough and critical questions of itself and its leaders. An actual free press would provide factual knowledge and encourage us to engage with each other in our local communities on a daily basis in the quest to solve societal problems.

This is possible with our collective efforts, so long as we simultaneously reject the projected imaginings of the corporate media profiteers and their industry of illusion. The health and meaningfulness of our cultural dialogue, as well as the future of our republic, may well depend upon how swiftly and significantly we address the current Truth Emergency and what we do about it.

Mickey Huff is most recently co-editor with Peter Phillips, of Censored 2010 (where many of the ideas in this essay are further developed); is associate professor of History at Diablo Valley College; former associate director of Project Censored; and on the executive committee at the Media Freedom Foundation. He blogs at and, and helps maintain He can be reached at

Thursday, October 01, 2009

What Would You Expect In Return If You Gave Someone 64 Million Dollars?

What Would You Expect In Return If You Gave Someone 64 Million Dollars?
By Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff

You'll find the answer to the title question and other puzzling social and political issues in the new book from Project Censored, Censored 2010, co-edited by Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff, and researched this year by over two hundred faculty and students at nine colleges and universities. The work includes the annual selection of the twenty-five most important news stories not covered by the US corporate media and a comprehensive critical review of media today.

1. US Congress Sells Out to Wall Street
Federal lawmakers responsible for overseeing the US economy and approving over $700 billion in bailout funds have received millions of dollars from Wall Street firms. Since 2001, eight of the most troubled firms have donated $64.2 million to congressional and presidential candidates in the Republican and Democratic parties. The donors include investment bankers Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, insurer American International Group, and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

2. US Schools are More Segregated Today than in the 1950s
Schools in the United States are more segregated today than they have been in more than four decades. Millions of non-white students are locked into “dropout factory” high schools, where huge percentages do not graduate, and few are well prepared for college or a future in the US economy.

3. Toxic Waste Behind Somali Pirates
The international community has come out in force to condemn and declare war on the Somali fishermen pirates, while discreetly protecting the illegal, unreported and 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.

4. Nuclear Waste Pools in North Carolina
One of the most lethal patches of ground in North America is located in the backwoods of North Carolina, where Shearon Harris nuclear plant is housed and owned by Progress Energy. The plant contains the largest radioactive waste storage pools in the country.

5. Europe Blocks US Toxic Products
US deregulation of toxic substances, such as lead in lipsticks, mercury in electronics, and phthalates (endocrine disruptors) in baby toys, may not only pose disastrous consequences to our health, but also to our economic and political status in the world. International markets are moving toward a European model of insisting on environmental and consumer safety. Hundreds of companies located in the US produce or import hundreds of chemicals designated as dangerous by the European Union.

6. Lobbyists Buy Congress
According to a study by The Center for Responsive Politics, special interests paid Washington lobbyists $3.2 billion in 2008, or $32,523 per legislator per day—more than any other year on record. This was a 13.7 percent increase from 2007.

7. Obama’s Military Appointments Have Corrupt Past
Obama’s retention of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense makes Gates the first person ever in US history from an opposing party to be kept on as Secretary of Defense or War. Gates was formally a senior CIA official under Reagan who helped undermine the CIA analytical division’s commitment to objective intelligence.

8. Bailed out Banks and America’s Wealthiest Cheat IRS Out of Billions
A 2008 study done by 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. Fourteen of these companies, including AIG, Bank of America, and Citigroup, received money from government bailouts.

9. US Arms Used for War Crimes in Gaza
Israel’s repeated firing of US-made white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its recent military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes, Human Rights Watch said in a report released March 25, 2009.

10. Ecuador Declares Foreign Debt Illegitimate
In November 2008, Ecuador became the first country to examine the legitimacy and structure of its foreign debt. An independent debt audit documented hundreds of allegations of irregularity, illegality, and illegitimacy in contracts of debt to predatory international lenders. The loans, according to the report, violated Ecuador’s domestic laws, US Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, and general principles of international law.

Peter Phillips is Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and former director of Project Censored. Mickey Huff is Associate Professor of History at Diablo Valley College and former associate director of Project Censored. They both serve on the executive committee of the Media Freedom Foundation and work with Media Freedom International publishing Validated Independent News and Investigate Reports in support of a truly free press, in contrast to corporate media propaganda. They are co-editors of Censored 2010 from Seven Stories Press.

Monday, September 07, 2009

8th Anniversary of September 11th Attacks- Still Many Unanswered Questions

The Fifth Annual 9/11 Film Festival at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, CA Opens This Week, Held September 9th and 10th.

As we approach the 8th anniversary of the tragedy now known simply as 9/11, those who have studied the events of that day still have a significant body of historically documented unanswered questions. These people are not just "conspiracy theorists" or "crazy leftists." Rather, this group of healthy skeptics is comprised of concerned citizens, including professors, architects, engineers, former military and intelligence officers, airline pilots, scientists, theologians, college students from across many disciplines, and even some former members of the official commission and supporting staff itself.

The corporate mainstream media have largely ignored these issues, airing convenient and popular American myths instead of factual analysis put forth by scholars and independent thinkers, which was the the focus of Professors Huff and Rea in their study published in Censored 2009, Deconstructing Deceit. Given the significance of what these people and their ideas represent, we should all try to do our part to ask more questions and push for a truly independent investigation into the attacks and surrounding events of that day. Further, given the events of 9/11 themselves have been used to justify large swaths of public and foreign policy in ensuing years, it is even more crucial to examine critically and on the basis of facts the events of that day, regardless of where forensic evidence may lead. We owe it to ourselves as a free society to say "no more" to relentless hierarchical information control and propaganda.

This year, in Oakland, CA, the Fifth Annual 9/11 Film Festival will be held at the Grad Lake Theater on Wednesday and Thursday, September 9th and 10th. For more details about films and speakers, please see the festival website and blog.

"Truth comes as a conqueror only to those who have lost the art of receiving it as a friend." –Rabindranath Tagore

It's time for a real discussion and investigation. We have to look back in order to see forward with more clarity, more integrity, and more zeal.

Monday, August 03, 2009

No News: Avoidance of Taboo Topics in Corporate Media Creates Propaganda Distractions

No News. That's what we get when we tune in to the corporate media's so-called news programs, which run in 24/7 cycles.

Perhaps we all need a primer in just exactly what corporate news media outlets are all about:

Maybe we need a chart to break it down, looking at, say, "the most trusted name in news" as some would have us believe:

No news is not news. We can do better, and we will. Here is another installment from Project Censored and Media Freedom International on the failures of corporate media to report truthfully, inquisitively, openly or critically about the key issues of our time. Such a paucity of validated news sources can be found in corporate media, some activists and scholars have referred to the current dilapidated state of information dissemination in the US as a literal Truth Emergency. For more on this movement, see the forthcoming Censored 2010 edited by Peter Phillips, Mickey Huff, and Project Censored published by Seven Stories Press this fall.

Taboo News and Corporate Media

By Peter Phillips

The corporate media in the United States are ignoring valid news stories, based on university quality research. It appears that certain topics are simply forbidden inside the mainstream corporate media today. To openly cover these news stories would stir up questions regarding “inconvenient truths” that many in the US power structure want to avoid.

For example, current research indicates that public schools in the United States are more segregated today than they have been in more than four decades. According to a new Civil Rights report, published at the University of California, Los Angeles, schools in the US are 44 percent non-white, and minorities are rapidly emerging as the majority of public school students in the US. Latinos and blacks, the two largest minority groups, attend schools more segregated today than during the civil rights movement forty years ago. Millions of non-white students are locked into “dropout factory” high schools, where huge percentages do not graduate. The most severe segregation in public schools occurs in the Western states, including California—not in the South, as many people believe. Most non-white schools are segregated by poverty as well as race. Schools in low-income communities remain highly unequal in terms of funding, qualified teachers, and curriculum.

Other taboo stories include civilian death rates in Iraq and questions on 9/11. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and a professional survey company in Great Britain, Opinion Research Business (ORB) report that the United States is directly responsible for over one million Iraqi deaths since our invasion six and half years ago. In a January 2008 report, ORB reported that, “survey work confirms our earlier estimate that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003…. We now estimate that the death toll between March 2003 and August 2007 is likely to have been of the order of 1,033,000.” A 2006 Johns Hopkins study confirmed that US aerial bombing in civilian neighborhoods caused over a third of these deaths and that over half the deaths are directly attributable to US forces. Iraqi civilian death levels in the summer of 2009 likely now exceed 1.2 million.

Former Brigham Young University physics professor Dr. Steven E. Jones and some 700 scientific professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, and physics have now concluded that the official explanation for the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) buildings is implausible according to laws of physics. Especially troubling is the collapse of WTC 7, a forty-seven-story building that was not hit by planes, yet dropped in its own “footprint” in 6.6 seconds in the same manner as a controlled demolition. To support this theory, Jones and eight other scientists conducted chemical research on the dust from the World Trade centers. Their research results were published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal Open Chemical Physics Journal, Volume 2, 2009. The authors write, “We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in all the samples. The properties of these chips were analyzed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The red portion of these chips is found to be an unreacted thermitic material and highly energetic.” Thermite is a pyrotechnic composition of a metal powder and a metal oxide, which produces an aluminothermic reaction known as a thermite reaction and is used in controlled demolitions of buildings.

Each of these taboo news stories is based on solid scholarly research. These stories represent the failure of the corporate media in the US to keep the American people democratically informed on important issues. This lack of coverage of critical and potentially political news stories is what many thousands of people in the US are now calling a Truth Emergency. Political activists at all levels must support full news transparency as an important component of building a non-exploitative world based on democracy, truthfulness, and human rights.

Peter Phillips is Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University, President of Media Freedom Foundation, and the former director of Project Censored. Daily non-corporate independent news is now on-line at the Media Freedom Foundation website.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Coming Soon! Censored 2010

The latest edition of Project Censored's research, the Top 25 censored news stories that didn't make the news, and more accounts of media democracy in action will be available by October 1st, this fall, for Media Accountability Day. Order your copy today! Or, make a generous tax-deductible donation of $100 or more to the Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored and get an autographed copy by the editors in appreciation. Please don't forget to support your local, independent, media! And if you don't have that kind of news media in your community, you need to Be the Media!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Truth Emergency Issues in Media Reform

The Importance of Including Truth Emergency Inside the International Progressive Media Reform Movement

By Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff

An international truth emergency, now in evidence, is the result of fraudulent elections, compromised 9/11 investigations, illegal preemptive wars, and continued top down corporate media propaganda across the spectrum on public issues. Glenn Beck recently was able to say on national Fox News television that 9/11 Truth people openly supported the shooting at the Holocaust Museum. Beck claimed that 9/11 truth proponents see James von Brunn as a “hero.” Beck’s statement is completely without factual merit and represents a hyper-realist slamming of a group already slanderously pre-labeled by the corporate media as “conspiracy theorists.”

Conspiracies tend to be actions by small groups of individuals rather than massive collective plots by entire governments. However, small groups can be dangerous, especially when the individuals have significant power in huge public and private bureaucracies. Corporate boards of directors meet in closed rooms to plan to how best to maximize profit. If they knowingly make plans that hurt others, violate laws, undermine ethics, or show favoritism to friends, they are involved in a conspiracy.

The main method of critics of unofficial investigations into 9/11, election fraud, and other controversial issues is to lump together all the questions and/or lines of inquiry as if they all have equal validity. Obviously, they do not. This, however, allows critics to dismiss fact-based, transparent inquiries into major problems with official explanations of these crucial matters by focusing on the most absurd claims only. These are fallacies of overgeneralization, straw persons, appeals to authority, and red herrings that provide distractions from actual fact-based, scientific investigations. These tactics avoid the debates about truth entirely. We the people must not be afraid to openly discuss, research, and validate these issues.

Here is a case in point: former Brigham Young University physics professor Dr. Steven E. Jones and some 700 scientific professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, and physics have now concluded that the official explanation for the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) buildings is implausible according to laws of physics. Especially troubling is the collapse of WTC 7, a forty-seven-story building that was not hit by planes, yet dropped in its own “footprint” in 6.6 seconds in the same manner as a controlled demolition.

To support his theory, Jones and eight other scientists conducted chemical research on the dust from the World Trade centers. Their research results were published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal Open Chemical Physics Journal, Volume 2, 2009. The authors write, “We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in all the samples. The properties of these chips were analyzed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The red portion of these chips is found to be an unreacted thermitic material and highly energetic.” Thermite is a pyrotechnic composition of a metal powder and a metal oxide, which produces an aluminothermic reaction known as a thermite reaction and is used in controlled demolitions of buildings. This should be a part of our political discourse given how much of the policy in the past eight years has been based on assumptions about 9/11.

These are some of the reasons we are in a truth emergency, which is predicated on the inability of many to distinguish between what is real and what is not. Corporate media, Fox in particular, offers “news” that creates a hyper-reality of real world problems and issues. Consumers of corporate news media—especially those whose understandings are framed primarily from that medium alone—are embedded in a state of excited delirium of knowinglessness. This lack of factual awareness of issues like election fraud in 2000 and 2004, and the increasing evidence of 9/11 Commission report inaccuracies, leaves people politically paralyzed.

To counter knowinglessness, media activists need to include truth emergency issues as important elements of radical-progressive media reform efforts. We must not be afraid of corporate media labeling and instead build truth from the bottom up. Critical thinking and fact-finding are the basis of democracy, and we must stand for the maximization of informed participatory democracy at the lowest possible level in society.

Progressive media activists should openly support 9/11 Truth and other truth emergency issues as important components of building a new non-exploitative world based on media democracy, full transparency and openness, and fundamental human rights.
Peter Phillips is Professor of Sociology, Sonoma State University; President, Media Freedom Foundation and Project Censored; 9/11 Truth Steering Committee

Mickey Huff is Associate Professor of History, Diablo Valley College; Executive Committee, Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored; 9/11 Truth Advisory Committee

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Project Censored at the Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA

In late May of 2009, the team at Project Censored were honored to speak at the Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. This is an amazing independent bookstore with an incredible history and we were delighted to be there. The folks at FORA TV were there to record as well. The topic of the evening was The New American Censorship: America's Top Censored Stories of 2009. See the video at here. Thanks to the folks at Book Passage and FORA TV for making it happen.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Infotainment Society

Junk Food News for 2008/2009

By Peter Phillips, Mickey Huff, and Frances A. Capell

See the full study here.

The late New York University media scholar Neil Postman once said about America, “We are the best entertained least informed society in the world." From Jessica Simpson’s weight and Brangelina’s escapades, to Britney Spears’ sister and the Obama’s First Puppy, Americans are fed a steady “news” diet of useless information laden with personal anecdotes, scandals, and gossip.

Since the middle of the 1980’s, Project Censored at Sonoma State University has annually researched this phenomenon. Topics and in-depth reports that matter little to anyone in any meaningful way are given massive amounts of media coverage in the corporate media. In recent years, this has only become more obvious.

For instance, CNN’s coverage of celebrity Anna Nicole Smith’s untimely death in early 2007 is arguably one of the most egregious examples of an over abused news story. The magnitude of corporate media attention paid to Smith’s death were clearly out of synch with the coverage the story deserved, which was at most a simple passing mention. Instead, CNN broadcast “breaking” stories of Smith’s death uninterrupted, without commercials, for almost two hours, with commentary by lead anchors and journalists. This marked among the longest uninterrupted “news” broadcasts at CNN since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Anna Nicole Smith and 9/11 are now strange bedfellows, milestone bookends of corporate news culture.

While news outlets were obsessing over Smith’s death, most big media giants were missing a far more important story. The US ambassador to Iraq misplaced $12 billion in shrink-wrapped one hundred dollar bills that were flown to Baghdad. This garnered little attention due to the media’s morbid infatuation with Smith’s passing. This is clearly news judgment gone terribly awry if not an outright retreat from journalistic standards. The once trivial and absurd are now mainstreamed as “news.” More young people turn to late night comics’ fake news to learn the truth or tune out to so-called reality shows often scripted as Roman Holiday spectacles of the surreal. Welcome to the Infotainment Society: American Media in the 21st century.

Here are the Top Ten Junk Food News Stories for 2008 and 2009 as chosen by Project Censored students and the online community via

1.Olympic Medalist Michael Phelps Hits a Bong
2. Jessica Simpson Gains Weight
3. First Lady Michelle Obama's Fashion Sense
4. The Brangelina Twins
5. Lindsay Lohan Dating a Woman
6. The Presidential First Puppy
7. Heidi Montag "Marries" Spencer Pratt
8. Barry Bonds Steroid Trial
9. Jamie-Lynn Spears Gives Birth
10. The Woes of Amy Winehouse

The British tabloid News of the World published an exclusive photo of Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps smoking marijuana from a bong on Sunday, February 1, 2009, with the headline, “What a Dope.” The picture was allegedly taken during a November house party while Phelps was visiting the University of South Carolina. The incident occurred nearly three months after the swimmer won eight gold medals for America at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Phelps quickly apologized to the public for his "regrettable behavior. " The bongs owner reportedly tried to sell it on eBay for $100,000. In the weeks following, Phelps lost his sponsorship from Kellogg's cereal.

Photos of Jessica Simpson performing at a Florida Chili Cook-off looking a bit heavier than usual surfaced during the week of January 26, 2009. The purportedly unflattering shots of a curvier looking Simpson in an outfit that included "a muffin-top-inducing leopard belt" immediately made news headlines. Was she pregnant? Was she picking up eating habits from her NFL star boyfriend? Or was she simply hungry for publicity? President Obama even noticed Simpson was “in a weight battle” during a pre-super bowl interview.

The US is not only becoming a nation of obese people, but is on the verge of another phenomenon the equivalent of cultural and mental obesity. We are a nation awash in a sea of information yet we have a paucity of understanding. We are a country where over a quarter of the population know the names of all five members of the fictitious family from The Simpsons yet only one in a thousand can name all the rights protected under the first amendment to the US Constitution. Journalistic values have been sold out to commercial interests and not even our core, national and constitutionally protected values are sacred.

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and Director of Project Censored. Mickey Huff is an Associate Professor of History at Diablo Valley College and Associate Director of Project Censored. Frances A. Capell is a Project Censored intern. For the full report see: Infotainment Society at the Project Censored homepage.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Project Censored Validated Independent News: Stories Under Review

Here are some stories currently under review at Media Freedom Foundation and Project Censored as compiled by the Director, Dr. Peter Phillips.

These are validated independent news stories ignored, distorted, or undercovered by the corporate mainstream media. This is part of a new and ongoing role Project Censored is playing in reporting valid news, vetted by college and university students and professors, and making the stories available to the public.

*The United States is operating secret “floating prisons” to house those arrested in its war on terror. According to human rights lawyers, the US has also attempted to conceal the number and whereabouts of detainees. Reprieve, a human right’s organization, claims there have been more than 200 new cases of rendition since 2006 and that the US may have used as many as 17 ships as “floating prisons” since 2001. Detainees are interrogated aboard the vessels and then rendered to other, often undisclosed, locations, it is claimed. By its own admission, the US government is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons, and information suggests up to 80,000 have been ‘through the system’ since 2001.

*In October of 2008, over 5,000 U.S. physicians signed an open letter calling on the President and Congress "to stand up for the health of the American people and implement a nonprofit, single-payer national health insurance system." The letter follows a survey last spring that shows 59 percent of U.S. physicians support national health insurance, The letter argues that whereas most leading Democrats offer a “mandate model” of reform—under which the government would require people (or their employers) to buy private health insurance—this would merely augment the role and profits of private insurers, whose overhead is four times that of Medicare’s Dr. Oliver Fein, signer of the letter, comments that the single-payer approach provides care to all who need it and requires no new money.

*The Guardian in London has compiled detailed evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Israel during the 23-day offensive in the Gaza Strip earlier this year, involving the use of Palestinian children as human shields and the targeting of medics and hospitals.

A month-long investigation also obtained evidence of civilians being hit by fire from unmanned drone aircraft said to be so accurate that their operators can tell the color of the clothes worn by a target.

Some of the most dramatic testimony gathered by the Guardian came from three teenage brothers in the al-Attar family. They describe how they were taken from home at gunpoint, made to kneel in front of Israeli tanks to deter Hamas fighters from firing, and sent by Israeli soldiers into Palestinian houses to clear them.

Medics and ambulance drivers said they were targeted when they tried to tend to the wounded; sixteen were killed. According to the World Health Organization, more than half of Gaza's 27 hospitals and 44 clinics were damaged by Israeli bombs.

The Geneva convention makes it clear medical staff and hospitals are not legitimate targets and forbids involuntary human shields.

*Two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, according to a new report from Congress. According to the Government Accounting Organization more than 38,000 foreign corporations doing business in the U.S. had no tax liability in 2005 and 1.2 million U.S. companies paid no income tax as well. Combined, the companies had $2.5 trillion in sales. About 25 percent of the U.S. corporations not paying corporate taxes were considered large corporations, meaning they had at least $250 million in assets or $50 million in receipts.

Source: Most Companies In US Avoid Federal Income Taxes GAO, Common Dreams, 8/12/08

*The US Navy reactivated the Fourth Fleet after fifty-eight years so that it could begin patrolling Latin American waters in what the Department of Defense said was an effort to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and other activities. The presidents of both Bolivia and Venezuela have stated that they see the reestablishment of the fleet as a new sign of aggression toward their governments and the region.

In 2009, the Ecuadorian government will not renew Washington’s permit to operate in Manta, which is the US’s only permanent military base in South America. The fleet provides a floating base for US interventions throughout the continent.

*Chinese citizens will be watched around the clock through networked CCTV cameras and remote monitoring of computers which are provided by American corporations. This high tech surveillance and censorship program is known in China as “Golden Shield”. American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric supply the technology. Their end goal is to use the latest in people tracking technology to create an airtight consumer cocoon - a place where consumerism can be enjoyed without the threat of democracy breaking out.

*In 1989, Congress passed legislation barring U.S. companies from selling any products in China that have to do with "crime control or detection instruments or equipment.” However, while fingerprinting technology appears on the Commerce Department's list of banned products, there is no explicit mention of "face prints",

*A study by Center for Responsive Politics has found that special interests paid Washington lobbyists $3.2 billion in 2008, more than any other year on record. This was a 13.7 percent increase over 2007. The Center calculated that interest groups spent $17.4 million a day lobbying Congress in 2008. 

For the third straight year, pharmaceutical/health interests spent more on federal lobbying than any other economic sector--$478.5 million. The second-biggest spender among industries in 2008 was electric utilities, which spent $156.7 million on lobbying. Third was insurance interests at $153.2 million, and oil and gas companies paid lobbyists $133.2 million. Pro-Israel groups, food processing companies and the oil and gas industry increased their lobbying expenditures the most (as a percentage) between 2007 and 2008.

*A highly controversial report pushing for the building of a peripheral canal on the California Delta was funded in part by Bechtel Corporation. Bechtel is one of the world's largest engineering and construction firms and is a leading advocate of the privatization of water systems. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) report recommends the construction of a peripheral canal.

*Central Valley chinook salmon and Delta fish populations are in a state of collapse, largely due to massive increases in water exports from the Delta in recent years. A broad coalition of recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Delta farmers, Indian Tribes and environmentalists are opposed to the peripheral canal because it would result in the diversion of more water from the Delta and further exacerbate the current fishery collapses.

*Matthew Rothschild with the Progressive magazine writes that President Obama needs to tell Attorney General Eric Holder to indict Dick Cheney, right now, for war crimes.

Title 18 of the U.S. Criminal Code, Section 2441 makes it illegial for a person to commit, or conspire to commit, an act specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering . . . upon another person within his custody or physical control for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation, coercion, or any reason…”

Cheney was clearly in on, as when he repeatedly defended waterboarding and talked about the need to go to the "dark side" Cheney was supervising such treatment in the White House, which would qualify as committing this crime.

For each of these offenses, Cheney could receive life in prison, according to the statute.

"There is no longer any doubt as to whether the Bush administration has committed war crimes," said Major General Antonio Taguba, USA (Ret.), "The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

More Sources for above stories:

Washington Lobbying Grew to $3.2 Billion Last Year, Despite Economy Center for Responsive Politics, Open, January 29, 2009

Source: The Guardian (U.K.) March 23, 2009 - updated March 24, 2009

Source: China's All-Seeing Eye Naomi Klein, Rolling Stone, May 29, 2008

Bechtel and the Big Dig Dan Bacher, CounterPunch , 7/22/2008

Source: Fourth Fleet Threatens Peace, Democracy in Latin America Jose A. Cruz, People’s Weekly World Newspaper, 6/6/2008

The Return of the Fourth Fleet BBC 5/10/2008

Source: US Accused of Holding Terror Suspects on Prison Ships Duncan Campbell and Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian/UK, June 2, 2008

5,000 Doctors Challenge Private-Insurance System Staff Writers, Kansas City InfoZine, October 8, 2008

Text of Letter to President Obama for single payer national health insurance.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bush/Cheney Mission Accomplished Redux: 6th Anniversary Early Edition

Iraq by the numbers...


More Specifics

One million dead Iraqis, four million refugees, almost 5,000 US soldiers dead and another 35,000 wounded Americans with hundreds of thousands applying for VA benefits...a bankrupt economy and a $3.2 trillion war. Blame the new guy. Mission Accomplished.

Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan, recently remarked upon former Vice President Dick Cheney's glowing assessment of the Bush administration's accomplishments in Iraq. See his analysis from Informed Comment published here (and see below). It's amazing how history can be rewritten in real time by political actors and validated by a compliant, corporate, lap dog press. Cheney's stuff happens approach to history is stunningly self serving and naive at best, rank propaganda and blatant lies at worst. All the more reason we should listen more to Prof. Cole's commentary and others like him. America has seen enough of this kind of deception and Orwellian revisionism in the 21st century already. Winston Smith would blush...

Cheney's Mission Accomplished
by Juan Cole

Dick Cheney: "I guess my general sense of where we are with respect to Iraq and at the end of now, what, nearly six years, is that we've accomplished nearly everything we set out to do...."

What has Dick Cheney really accomplished in Iraq?

An estimated 4 million Iraqis, out of 27 million, have been displaced from their homes, that is, made homeless. Some 2.7 million are internally displaced inside Iraq. A couple hundred thousand are cooling their heels in Jordan. And perhaps a million are quickly running out of money and often living in squalid conditions in Syria. Cheney's war has left about 15% of Iraqis homeless inside the country or abroad. That would be like 45 million American thrown out of their homes.

It is controversial how many Iraqis died as a result of the 2003 invasion and its aftermath. But it seems to me that a million extra dead, beyond what you would have expected from a year 2000 baseline, is entirely plausible. The toll is certainly in the hundreds of thousands. Cheney did not kill them all. The Lancet study suggested that the US was directly responsible for a third of all violent deaths since 2003. That would be as much as 300,000 that we killed. The rest, we only set in train their deaths by our invasion.

Baghdad has been turned from a mixed city, about half of its population Shiite and the other half Sunni in 2003, into a Shiite city where the Sunni population may be as little as ten to fifteen percent. From a Sunni point of view, Cheney's war has resulted in a Shiite (and Iranian) take-over of the Iraqi capital, long a symbol of pan-Arabism and anti-imperialism.

In the Iraqi elections, Shiite fundamentalist parties closely allied with Iran came to power. The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the leading party in parliament, was formed by Iraqi expatriates at the behest of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1982 in Tehran. The Islamic Mission (Da'wa) Party is the oldest ideological Shiite party working for an Islamic state. It helped form Hizbullah in Beirut in the early 1980s. It has supplied both prime ministers elected since 2005. Fundamentalist Shiites shaped the constitution, which forbids the civil legislature to pass legislation that contravenes Islamic law. Dissidents have accused the new Iraqi government of being an Iranian puppet.

Arab-Kurdish violence is spiking in the north, endangering the Obama withdrawal plan and, indeed, the whole of Iraq, not to mention Syria, Turkey and Iran.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women have been widowed by the war and its effects, leaving most without a means of support. Iraqi widows often lack access to clean water and electricity. Aljazeera English has video.

$32 billion were wasted on Iraq reconstruction, and most of it cannot even be traced. I repeat, Cheney gave away $32 bn. to anonymous cronies in such a way that we can't even be sure who stole it, exactly. And you are angry at AIG about $400 mn. in bonuses! We are talking about $32 billion given out in brown paper bags.

Political power is being fragmented in Iraq with big spikes in the murder rate in some provinces that may reflect faction-fighting and vendettas in which the Iraqi military is loathe to get involved.

The Iraqi economy is devastated, and the new government's bureaucracy and infighting have made it difficult to attract investors.

The Bush-Cheney invasion helped further destabilize the Eastern Mediterranean, setting in play Kurdish nationalism and terrifying Turkey. Cheney avoids mentioning all the human suffering he has caused, on a cosmic scale, and focuses on procedural matters like elections (which he confuses with democracy-- given 2000 in this country, you can understand why). Or he lies, as when he says that Iran's influence in Iraq has been blocked. Another lie is that there was that the US was fighting "al-Qaeda" in Iraq as opposed to just Iraqis. He and Bush even claim that they made Iraqi womens' lives better.

The real question is whether anyone will have the gumption to put Cheney on trial for treason and crimes against humanity.

© 2009 Juan Cole
Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His most recent book Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) has just been published. He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The New American Censorship

Much has been afoot these few months of 2009. We are now not only promoting Censored 2009, but writing Censored 2010.

For starters, and why I am not writing here as often, you can see the Project Censored blog at Daily Censored news. The Director of Project Censored, Dr. Peter Phillips, and I have been giving several talks about the future of Project Censored International and the Media Freedom Foundation across the US.

We have also posted more investigative research at the Project Censored website, including the study I did with Dr. Paul Rea on 9/11 media myth making titled Deconstructing Deceit. It can also be seen here. We need to generate a healthy climate of debate in the US, and here is a fine topic to begin such a quest.

Stay tuned for more...we're getting ready to choose the top censored stories at Project Censored, the top Junk Food News and News Abuse stories, and finish more investigative research about media censorship issues.


P.S. Just in case, yesterday, March 15th, you were supposed to Beware the Ides of March. Hope all is well...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dear Progressives For Obama: Say It Ain't So...

Barack Obama Administration Continues US Military Global Dominance

By Dr. Peter Phillips, Professor of Sociology and Director of Project Censored

The Barack Obama administration is continuing the neo-conservative agenda of US military domination of the world— albeit with perhaps a kinder-gentler face. While overt torture is now forbidden for the CIA and Pentagon, and symbolic gestures like the closing of the Guantanamo prison are in evidence, a unilateral military dominance policy, expanding military budget, and wars of occupation and aggression will likely continue unabated.

The military expansionists from within the Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, G. W. Bush administrations put into place solid support for increased military spending. Clinton’s model of supporting the US military industrial complex held steady defense spending and increased foreign weapons sales from 16% of global orders to over 63% by the end of his administration.

The neo-conservatives, who dominated the most recent Bush administration, amplified this trend of increased military spending. The neo-cons laid out their agenda for military global dominance in the 2000 Project for a New American Century (PNAC) report Rebuilding America's Defenses. The report called for the protection of the American Homeland, the ability to wage simultaneous theater wars, to perform global constabulary roles, and to control space and cyberspace. The report claimed that in order to maintain a Pax Americana, potential rivals — such as China, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea — needed to be held in check. This military global dominance agenda required forward deployment of US forces worldwide and increasing defense/war spending well into the 21st century. The result was a doubling of the US military budget to over $700 billion in the last eight years. The US now spends as much on war/defense as the rest of the world combined, making Americans the highest war-tax payers in the world.

Barack Obama’s election brought a moment of hope for many. However, the Obama administration is not calling for decreased military spending, or a reversal of US military global dominance. Instead, Obama retained Robert Gates, thus making Obama the first president from an opposing party, in US history, to keep in place the outgoing administrations’ Secretary of Defense/War. Additionally, Obama is calling for an expanded war in Afghanistan and only minimal long-range reductions in Iraq.

The US military industrial complex is deeply embedded inside the Washington beltway. According to the most recent reports from, 151 members of Congress in 2006 had up to $195.5 million of their personal assets invested in defense companies.

Major defense contractors were seriously involved in the 2008 elections. Lockheed Martin gave $2,612,219 in total political campaign donations, with 49% to Democrats ($1,285,493) and 51% to Republicans ($1,325,159). Boeing gave $2,225,947 in 2008 with 58% going to Democrats, and General Dynamics provided $1,682,595 to both parties. Northrop Grumman spent over $20 million in 2008, hiring lobbyists to influence Congress, and Raytheon spent $6 million on lobbyists in the same period. In a revolving door appointment, Obama nominated Raytheon’s senior vice president for government operations and strategy, William Lynn, for the number two position in the Pentagon. Lynn was formally the Defense Department’s comptroller during the Clinton administration.

The International Monetary Fund's prediction for global economic growth in 2009 is 0.5 percent—the worst since World War II. The United Nations' International Labor Organization estimates that some 50 million workers will lose their jobs worldwide this year. There are an estimated 62,000 U.S. companies expected to close in 2009, and while official unemployment is at 7 percent in the US, when you add people no longer looking for jobs and part-time workers, joblessness is closer to 14 percent. The military-industrial-political elite are worried about the potential of increasing global insecurity. The answer inside the Obama Administration is to continue high defense/war spending to insure military control of both domestic and foreign instabilities.

The military, industrial, congressional, and administrative elite profit from defense spending, both financially and ideologically. Insider profit taking from pentagon spending is widespread in Washington. But perhaps more important is the belief that this global military machine is seen as necessary for the protection of US corporate interests and the American upper classes in an increasingly destabilized world. Given that belief, the Obama administration is unlikely to change the defense spending policies of the previous US administrations without significant disruptive pressure from anti-war activists and global empire resisters.

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and Director of Project Censored a media research organization. His 2006 study on the Global Dominance Group in the US is available online here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Year of Fear

Another Year of Fear has come and gone. See my latest bit at the new Project Censored blog The Daily Censored for more info you don't hear on the nightly corporate news. Also, feel free to give the gift of a tax deductible donation to Project Censored if you are so inclined.

I'll have many updates of the past semester of activities as I was so busy I didn't have a lot of tome to post...but there's always next year...cheers!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cautionary Tales From the Land of Hope

Post election waves of hope and exhilaration are hard to deny in the progressive circles of America. An end to eight years of the Worst rule the country has arguably ever seen is certainly cause for celebration. But how much? Friend and colleague, Professor Robert Abele, cautions on Obama: The Great Disappointment that may yet unfold. As we're reminded, Cornell West, the philosopher from Princeton, said it best: “I will vote for Obama on November 4, and then be his harshest critic on November 5.” Let us all pay close attention to the real struggles that lie ahead. Let us be hopeful and vigilant. See more from Abele, including his radio commentaries, at his Modern Day Patriot website, Spotlight on Freedom.

Progressives, Beware of Premature Euphoria
By Dr. Robert Abele

Cornell West, the philosopher from Princeton, said it best: “I will vote for Obama on November 4, and then be his harshest critic on November 5.” I follow that line of reasoning. One should never give a pass to the President or President-elect, especially when they are poised to spurn half of the voters who voted for him. This is the case with the Obama presidency, for the following reasons.

First, these commentaries have previously made references to Obama’s deep corporate connections. His votes on the bailout, opposition to single-payer health care, increase of the military budget, and opposition to significant minimum wage increase are all in line with his corporate sponsors, from whom he has taken millions of dollars in campaign contributions. If that is not enough, consider his main economic advisors, Penny Pritzker and Robert Rubin. Pritzker was deeply involved in the fraudulent lending schemes that led to the home foreclosure crisis we now face. The bank she owned and operated, Superior Bank, engaged in deceptive and faulty lending practices, contributing to the crisis. When federal regulators closed the bank in 2002, Pritzker and her husband had already made millions from it. After threats to take them to court, the Pritzkers agreed to pay the government $460 million. Robert Rubin was Treasure Secretary under President Clinton, and was a fervent supporter of banking and market deregulation, including Clinton’s ultimate repealing of the Glass-Steagall Act, which paved the way for the crisis we are now experiencing.

Next, let us briefly examine his appointment of Rahm Israel Emanuel as his Chief of Staff. Emanuel is a right-wing Democrat, a former Clinton official, who was and is a rabid militaristic supporter of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. He is also quite adept at raising special interest money. Add to this Obama’s voting record on Israel. For example, while Israel was engaged in an all-out assault of the civilian population in Lebanon during the summer of 2006, Obama voted in favor of a Senate resolution expressing “steadfast support for the State of Israel.” When coupled with his fawning speech earlier this year to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, one can see that not only will there be no change from the Bush Mideast policy, but Obama may well be to the right of Bush on the Palestinian question. This leads to the next issue.

Third, don’t expect a withdrawal of American forces from Iraq under an Obama administration. Obama’s call for a “residual force” to remain in Iraq leaves him the wiggle room necessary to keep troops there indefinitely. Obama himself said that we have to keep “logistical and intelligence support” in Iraq, in addition to “providing training for the Iraqi military,” in addition to keeping a “counter-terrorism strike force” there, in addition to “protecting our diplomatic forces,” our civilians, and our embassy there. These are all direct quotes from Obama himself, so don’t expect us to suddenly back out of Iraq. [The quotes come from an interview with Stars & Stripes, taken from Frank J. Menetrez, “Now What?” Counterpunch, November 6, 2008]

Fourth, out of Obama’s own mouth has come the following ideas: bombing or invading Pakistan to go after Al Qaeda; expanding the war in Afghanistan; condemning Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as an enemy of the U.S.; keeping Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense; opposing Bush’s impeachment. This list could be expanded far beyond what I’ve just mentioned, if time permitted.

Let’s be clear about this, before becoming too disappointed: Obama is no liberal, and definitely not a revolutionary. While in some areas he might be better than Bush and McCain, it is dubious that his presidency is going to differ that much from the Bush policies, at least when it comes to economic and foreign policy. We might expect more of him in other areas, but given the people with whom he has already surrounded himself, progressives should be prepared for further disappointments to come.

Time will tell. We should celebrate the end of an era, but the public voice should now have more of a say about where we are going as a people domestically as well as in a global context. We owe it to the world and the next generation of Americans to right our many past wrongs. Let's hope Obama meant some of what he said, though early signs of what he'll do tell another tale.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Project Censored 2009: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007-08

Project Censored, the media research group at Sonoma State University (SSU), has just released it's annual report on the top stories that didn't make the corporate mainstream news from the past year. The book is published by Seven Stories Press. Censored 2009, edited by director Dr. Peter Phillips with Dr. Andrew Roth, exposes the major stories Americans should know and care about that the "free press" just doesn't deliver. The top stories for this year can be viewed at the PC website and the piece in the North Bay Bohemian can be read here.

Project Censored award winning journalist and researcher Stephen Lendman has just written about the Project in a piece titled Project Censored's Media Democracy Advocacy which looks at the history of the Project as well as details in this year's volume. A lecture series hosting authors of this years top censored stories is presently underway at SSU for those in the Bay Area wishing to attend. The series is being broadcast at Free Speech TV this fall as well.

As acting Associate Director of Project Censored, I invite everyone to explore this year's book and help support media democracy in action. Our currently calamitous and critical condition as a fragile free society depends upon a well informed citizenry and I strongly believe that Project Censored is a major force in the direction of strengthening our society's democratic institutions and principles. Help spread the word if you can and read more about the Project and its history below in a reprinting of Stephen Lendman's recent article.


Project Censored's Media Democracy Advocacy - by Stephen Lendman

For 32 years, Sonoma State University's (SSU) Project Censored has pioneered US media democracy, research, and First Amendment issues. Founded by Carl Jensen in 1976, it's now headed by Professor Peter Phillips, currently on sabbatical leave, with Professor Mickey Huff in charge as Interim Associate Director of the program until his return.

PC works cooperatively with numerous independent media groups, primarily to train SSU students "in media research, First Amendment issues and the advocacy for, and protection of, free press rights in the United States." Since its founding, it's trained over 1500 students in investigative research and the importance of our most fundamental right without which all others are at risk and now currently hang by a thread.

PC is a "partnership of faculty, students, and the community" to conduct 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 2009: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007 - 2008" may now be purchased at bookstores or online at

The current edition is larger than ever. It includes the year's honorable mention choices and additional chapters covering these topics:

-- Updates on previous PC stories;

-- Junk Food News and News Abuse;

-- The News is Good!: Stories of Hope and Change from 2007 and 2008;

-- Oiling the Dangerous Engine of Arbitrary Government: Newspaper Coverage of the Military Commissions Act (aka the torture authorization and habeas rights revocation act);

-- Universal Healthcare, Media, and the 2008 Presidential Campaign;

-- US Media Bias, Human Rights, and the Hamas Government in Gaza;

-- The Gardasil Sell Job - on the controversial human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine thought to be unsafe for adolescent girls, yet Merck dishonestly markets it in collusion with the FDA;

-- Fear & Favor 2007: How Power Still Shapes the News;

-- Index on Censorship 2007 - 2008;

-- Truth Emergency Meets Media Reform;

-- Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan -- Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations;

-- The Pentagon's Child Recruiting Strategy;

-- Deconstructing Deceit: 9/11, the Media, and Myth Information; and

-- Thirty-Three Years of US Military Domination and Economic Deception.

In all, over 400 power-packed pages of vital information in the current PC Censored 2009 edition. Must reading for everyone. Even those familiar with the issues for more information than they now know.

Project Censored's Definition of "Modern Censorship"

It's the dominant media's "subtle yet constant and sophisticated manipulation of reality" in their role as "guardians of power" and to serve their single-minded pursuit of profit. It includes ignoring vital news stories. Parts of them. The whys that explain them, and systematically withholding vital truths from the public. It's done through and because of political, economic and legal pressures in fundamental violation of a free and open press. Run by CEOs, not journalists. Serving their interests and advertisers, not ours.

PC believes in a "healthy and functioning democracy." Supports independent media and the right of free people to be informed. It also holds the dominant media accountable and serves as an antidote to their practices.

Why Project Censored and Why Now?

Democracy requires a free, open, vibrant and diverse media. Elements very much absent under our corporate-dominated system. As a result, the media system today is in crisis. Fiction substitutes for fact. News is carefully filtered. Dissent marginalized, and supporting the powerful substitutes for full and accurate reporting. Aggressive wars are thus called liberating ones. Civil liberties are suppressed for our own good. Anything government does, we're told, business does better, so let it, and patriotism means supporting lawless imperial regimes.

Media scholar and activist Robert McChesney asks whether "the media system....promote(s) or undermine(s) democratic institutions and practices. Are media a force for social justice or oligarchy?" Given their concentrated state, profits as a be all and end all, and partnership with an imperial state, their current condition is corrupted, broken, and in violation of the public trust they disdain. "Rich media, poor democracy" for McChesney. A powerful antidemocratic force. More dominant than ever. Hyper-commercially driven. Unresponsive to public needs, and serving only the interests of wealth and power the way Alex Carey brilliantly explained in his classic work, "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy:"

He wrote: "The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy." Journalist Walter Lippmann called it the "manufacture of consent" in a democratic society where it can't be done by force, and Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman titled their landmark 1988 book "Manufacturing Consent" to describe the dominant media's "propaganda model" to program the public mind.

It "filter(s) out the news to print, marginalize(s) dissent, (and assures) government and dominant private interests" control all information dissemination. It's done through a set of "filters" to remove what's unacceptable and "leav(es) only the cleansed residue fit to print" or broadcast.

It raises the dilemma James Madison posed that "A popular government, without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."

Today it's from the media, and therein lies the problem. An opportunity as well from alternative sources and organizations like Project Censored promoting the best they have to offer. Publishing it in annual volumes. Spreading it by word of mouth through lectures, on-air discussions, and in classroom instruction on journalism as it was meant to be in a free and open society. Understanding Thomas Jefferson's warning that emerging "banking institutions and moneyed incorporations" would destroy our democratic freedoms and replace them with a "single and splendid government of an aristocracy" if given a free hand.

What Lincoln also feared by "see(ing) in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country....corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed." Made easier today given the dominant media's power and ability to use it against the public interest the way Alex Carey explained:

Through a "propaganda-managed identify the free-enterprise system in popular consciousness with every cherished value, and to identify interventionist governments and strong unions with tyranny, oppression and even subversion." Carey called propaganda "communications where the form and content is selected with the single-minded purpose of bringing some target audience (the public or a company's employees, etc.) to adopt attitudes and beliefs chosen in advance by the sponsors." It's as important in democratic societies as in authoritarian ones. In addition, "the success of business (or government) propaganda persuading us that we are free from (this type influence) is one of the most significant propaganda achievements of the twentieth century."

Even truer today with round-the-clock news. Hundreds of cable channels, and a more dominant media than in Carey's day. All the greater need for organizations like Project Censored to dispel official propaganda with real news and information that refutes it. All the more reason also to support its vital work. Countering the giants with what a free society needs to survive.

Stories the Dominant Media Censor

Hundreds of them have been covered since 1976 when PC's top story was "Jimmy Carter and the Trilateral Commission." Carter was a charter member of David Rockefeller's organization to counter the threat of democracy - too much of it. To assure that political power rests with the few. That public interests go unaddressed. That governments serve multinational banks and giant corporations. That people and resources are exploited for their benefit, and that popular democratic movements are suppressed. David Rockefeller chose Jimmy Carter to be president for that agenda. To be an interregnum executive after the turbulent Nixon years, then hand back the office to Republicans in 1980.

The same year, PC covered:

-- the "Corporate Control of DNA;"

-- selling banned pesticides and drugs to third world countries;

-- unsafe workplaces causing "untold numbers of injuries, disease and deaths....;" and

-- the sale of worthless and harmful non-prescription drugs to the public along with 20 other censored stories.

The top two 1977 stories covered the myth of black progress and "Cancer, Inc." About billions spent for cures, yet the US rate was 50% above the world average. It's still epidemic. Kills millions. Is a huge health care industry money-maker and too profitable for providers to want a cure.

In 1978, nuclear power plant dangers won top honors, and long before the proliferation of GMO foods and their hazards, the feasibility of organic farming ranked second.

Dumping illegal/dangerous production on third world countries was called "The Corporate Crime of the Century" and PC's top 1979 story. Number two was that "The (Iranian embassy) Seizure Should Not Have Been A Surprise" even though as late as summer 1978 the US media portrayed the Shah "as a modernizing, reform-oriented leader (with) a broad base of popular support."

In 1980, the distorted coverage of El Salvador's civil war won top honors followed by "Big Brother Is Listening to You" - the National Security Agency (NSA) that can do it today with much improved technology and legally with institutionalized spying legislation in place. Most recently The Protect America Act of 2007 and FISA Amendments Act of 2008. They assail civil liberties. Legalize warrantless wiretapping. Remove judicial oversight, and grant telecom companies retroactive immunity post-9/11 to violate our privacy.

"The Real Story Behind Our Economic Crisis" and the flagrant miscarriage of justice in Greensboro, NC ranked one and two in 1981.

Back then, a lack of "a competitive economy, monopoly, militarism, and multi-nationalization" (were) at the root of our economic crisis." Those factors still apply but much more as well. The current situation far exceeds any crisis since the 1930s. Is in most respects unparalled. No one fully understands it. How much harm if may cause. Its effect on world economies. How bad things may get or what alleviating measures may work best, if any.

Industrial capitalism is eroding. Replaced by a kleptocracy. Grand theft America. Rewarding criminals for their crimes. Backed by the full faith and credit of the government with taxpayer money. An unimaginable wealth transfer to the rich. When this ends, things won't ever be the same again in our lifetimes. The old system didn't work. The new one will be worse, and along the way the human fallout will be catastrophic. Talk about a big story. Short of armageddon or world war, it doesn't get any bigger than this. Factors responsible include:

-- the ruinous effects of militarization; a permanent war economy for profit and dominance; unsustainable spending for it; the accumulation of mountains of unrepayable debt; the drain on a weakened economy; the implications are chilling - a future default, hyperinflation, potential bankruptcy, and demise of the republic;

-- a speculative finance-created crisis; called financialization or Frankenstein finance;

-- a totally deregulated, anything goes, environment permitting the most extreme, outrageous practices; free from government oversight that created the real under and unreported dilemma of: multiple imploding bubbles affecting housing, mortgage finance, and an alphabet soup menu of levered-up, high-risk securitized assets amounting to financial alchemy and largely outright fraud; the most dangerous being a "quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble" (a thousand trillion) crucial to contain to avoid the implosion of the entire global banking system and world economies with it; in a word, potential financial armageddon touching everyone; in 2003, Warren Buffett called derivatives a "time bomb" that pose a "mega-catastrophic risk;" said they're "financial weapons of mass destruction" capable of wrecking the whole economic system;

-- at the root of today's crisis is a corrupted, broken system; Chicago School fundamentalism; unfettered capitalism; unbridled greed, and the human wreckage it causes; driving it is a government-business partnership for global dominance and the single-minded pursuit of profit;

-- no freedom in our "free markets;" they're manipulated (up and down) for profit in either direction; in a crisis like today, small, expendable, and less favored enterprises are destroyed to benefit powerful ones like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and the Rockefeller family JP Morgan Chase Bank; the scheme is for greater consolidation among fewer giant players; the losers - the vast majority of people unaware that what's going on was planned; although this time the best and brightest were too smart by half; they may have set off a chain reaction global financial market meltdown; world governments are frantically scrambling to contain it with no idea if they can because the current crisis is unprecedented; no one's sure what can work, and the sums needed are unimaginable; in the trillions, with a fraction of it proposed for starters; a down payment; perhaps international help to raise more; and

-- fraud on a massive scale involving many trillions of dollars; placing world economies at risk; a Ponzi scheme writ large; a calculated crime; the greatest one ever with media complicity through silence as things progressively worsened and now approach the abyss; the story is still unfolding; it won't be easily or soon resolved; and its outcome is far from clear; one thing that is: this affects the entire world community of nations and everyone in them; there's no place to hide anywhere.

In 1982, fraudulent toxicity and cancer testing was PC's top story followed by "Americans 'Bugged' by Super-Secret (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance) Court." Institutionalized, illegal spying goes way back.

In 1983, "Israel: Merchant of Death in Central America" as the region's largest arms supplier and Ronald Reagan's massive peacetime military buildup ranked one and two.

In 1984, the myth of the "well-publicized Soviet military buildup" (to incite fear), and the Reagan administration's use of "international terrorism" as a pretext to assail civil liberties were the year's top two stories.

In 1985, intense saturation El Salvador bombing and unregulated military toxic waste were PC's picks for numbers one and two.

In 1986, spying on US Central American policy critics took top honors, followed by the Reagan administration's official policy of suppressing information from the public - with near-silence from the dominant media.

In 1987, PC's top story was on "The Information Monopoly" - what journalist/author Ben Bagdikian wrote about in his book, "The Media Monopoly," now titled "The New Media Monopoly" in its seventh edition. Ranked second was the "Contra-drug connection in America."

In 1988, George HW Bush's 25 years of "Dirty Big Secrets" was PC's top story followed by "How the EPA Pollutes the News and the Dioxin Cover-Up."

In 1989, media dominance again took top honors in an story titled "Global Media Lords Threaten Open Marketplace of Ideas." Second ranked was "Africa Turning into the World's Garbage Can."

In 1990, PC's top story was on the Cheerleader Press' Gulf War coverage. Second ranked was "The S & L Crisis: The Solution Is Worse Than the Crime" - about Reagan era criminal bankers and the $500 billion taxpayer bailout it cost. Appropriate to look back on given today's financial crisis. The unease about how bad it may get, and the realization that this time things are far more potentially disastrous than anything experienced in the past. See above comments under 1981's top story.

In 1991, "CBS and NBC Spiking Iraq Bombing Carnage Footage" ranked first. Number two was "Operation Censored War" about the secretive GHW Bush administration and an obliging cheerleading media.

In 1993 (the next PC-listed year), "The Great Media Sell-Out to Reaganism" won top honors followed by corporate crime dwarfing what occurs on streets. The US prison gulag system (by far the world's largest and adding 1000 new inmates weekly, mostly poor blacks and Latinos) holds 2.3 million inmates. People not rich enough to buy justice. Seldom are corporate criminals prosecuted, and when they are, punishment is inconsequential by comparison.

In 1994, the US killing its young (through violence, poverty and indifference to human needs) ranked first. Second was "Why Are We Really in Somalia?" Humanitarian intervention is never the reason. Strategic resources (especially oil and gas) always are primary along with advancing our imperial agenda and making the world safe for capital.

In 1995, PC's top story was "The Deadly Secrets of the (US) Occupational Safety Agency" - keeping 170,000 toxically-exposed workers uninformed about the risks. Second-ranked was about a "Powerful Group of Ultra-Conservatives (including influential Christian fascists) Secret Plans for Your Future." They haven't changed and are now more dangerous than ever.

In 1996, "Telecommunications Deregulation: Closing Up America's Marketplace of Ideas" ranked first after passage of the (grand theft media) Telecommunications Act of 1996 allowing greater than ever consolidation. Number two was a story on cutting social services by balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. Now affecting everyone to advance a global militarist agenda.

In 1997, PC's top story was "Risking the World: Nuclear Proliferation in Space." One part of an agenda for "full spectrum dominance" over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming power to fight and win global wars against any potential challengers using all weapons in our arsenal. "Shell's Oil, Africa's Blood" was number two for the year.

In 1998, the Clinton administration's aggressive global arms sales ranked first followed by personal care and cosmetic products being potentially carcinogenic.

In 1999, PC's top story was on the secret Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). Designed to undermine national sovereignty by creating an open field for capital. Next was the story of chemical corporations profiting from breast cancer.

In 2000, multinational corporations profiting from international brutality ranked first followed by Big Pharma putting profits ahead of human need. By developing products like Viagra instead of cures for diseases killing millions in developing countries.

In 2001, World Bank and multinational corporate collusion to privatize water took top honors followed by OSHA failing to protect US workers.

In 2003 (the next listed year), PC's top story was on FCC efforts to privatize the airwaves followed by a story on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) to privatize social services and make them available only to those who can pay.

In 2004, top ranked was "The Neoconservative Plan for Global Dominance" followed by how "Homeland Security Threatens Civil Liberty" with plenty of ammunition from pre-and-mostly-post-9/11 repressive laws.

In 2005, PC's top story was on the unprecedented 21st century wealth inequality threatening the economy and democracy followed by a story about Attorney General John Ashcroft's attempt to strike down Alien Torts Claim Act (ATCA) protections against corporate human rights abuses in foreign countries.

In 2006, the Bush administration's obsession with secrecy ranked first followed by the media's failure to cover the Fallujah and overall Iraqi civilian death toll.

In 2007, PC's top story was on the "Future of Internet Debate Ignored by Media" followed by "Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran."

In 2008, the Military Commissions Act (MCA) denial of habeas rights for everyone (including US citizens designated "unlawful enemy combatants") won top honors followed by the Bush administration moving toward martial law by inserting an obscure provision in the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 annulling the 1807 Insurrection Act and 1878 Posse Comitatus Act.

Project Censored's current top 25 2009 stories are just out and available for purchase as explained above. Top ranked was about "Over One Million Iraqi Deaths Caused by US Occupation" as documented by Johns Hopkins researchers earlier and British polling group, Opinion Research Business (ORB). Other selected stories included:

-- the North American Union (NAU) Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) or militarized NAFTA;

-- InfraGard on the FBI deputizing business;

-- the US International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) training Latin American security forces in counterterrorism techniques; a possible scheme to restart the region's dirty wars;

-- two George Bush executive orders (EOs) criminalizing the anti-war movement and allowing the Treasury Department to seize property from anyone opposing the administration's Middle East wars;

-- The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act (HR 1955) - called "the thought crime prevention bill;" passed by the House and introduced in the Senate in August 2007 (S. 1959) but not acted on;

-- Guest Workers Inc.: Fraud and Human Trafficking - or near-slavery in America;

-- executive orders (EOs) can be changed secretly even though the Constitution has no provision giving presidents the right to make new law through one-man decrees;

-- Iraq and Afghanistan Vets Testify;

-- the American Psychological Association's (APA) complicity in CIA torture;

-- El Salvador's Water Privatization and the Global War on Terror;

-- Bush profiteers collecting billions from the No Child Left Behind Act scheme to destroy public education in America by privatizing it;

-- Tracking Billions of Dollars Lost in Iraq through fraud, waste and other war profiteering schemes;

-- Mainstreaming Nuclear Waste;

-- Worldwide Slavery at a time most people don't know it exists, let alone in America;

-- the Annual Survey on Trade Union Rights;

-- the UN's Empty Declaration of Indigenous Rights;

-- Cruelty and Death in Juvenile Detention Centers;

-- Indigenous Herders and Small Farmers Fight Livestock Extinction;

-- Marijuana Arrests Set New Record;

-- NATO Considers "First Strike" Option while the US 2001 Nuclear Policy Review, 2002 and updated 2006 National Security Strategy, and other US documents assert the right to wage preventive or proactive wars with "first strike" nuclear or any other weapons of mass destruction;

-- CARE Rejects US Food Aid - because it causes more hunger than it prevents;

-- FDA Complicit in Pushing Pharmaceutical Drugs;

-- Japan Questions 9/11 and the Global War on Terror; and

-- Bush's Real Problem with Eliot Spitzer - to stop his exposure of subprime predatory lending fraud responsible for much of the current world financial crisis.

Project Censored annually present awards for the corporate media's most important suppressed stories. For its work, its Director, dedicated staff, and student interns deserve our award for being one of our national treasures. Holding the dominant media accountable.

Follow their work. Support their activities. Know what's at stake. A free and open society. The type media vital in it. The risk of losing it, and need for assertive, decisive action to assure that won't happen. Nor will it if Project Censored can help it.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM - 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions on world and national topics with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening at Global Research.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seven Years of the 9/11 Truth Emergency

Seven years ago the New Pearl Harbor of the Twenty First Century took place. President Bush anointed it as such in his journal the very night of September 11th, 2001, and even suggested Osama bin Laden was to blame without a shred of evidence (that still has yet to be produced). What followed was a government and corporate media induced frenzy of nationalism, jingoism, and fear that paved the way to the disaster that is the present. Politicians of many stripes propounded mythological ideals of exceptionalism while an unpopular, unelected president took to the National Cathedral to essentially declare a war on anyone opposing Pax Americana. He set a with-us-or-against-us binary framework from which Americans and the rest of the world would operate and be judged. Anyone questioning the increasingly unilateral authoritative executive branch would be seen as traitors and terrorists. The Bush administration and cowed Democratic "opposition" drove America off the cliff of reason while common sense, decency, civil rights and constitutional principles whithered on the vine...extant, but not accessible as viable options as neocon, would-be despots lodged themselves in an increasingly tyrannical and imperialist U.S. government. At the root, the pivotal and yet to be openly investigated events of September the 11th. Yes, America was attacked that fateful day, but perhaps in ways that differ strikingly from what many were lead to believe.

Scholar and author Peter Dale Scott recently remarked about the significance of 9/11 and all that followed, "In short, we are living in an on-going state of emergency whose exact limits are unknown, on the basis of a controversial deep event – 9/11 -- that is still largely a mystery." Many activists and journalists have argued that the post-9/11, post-fact, corporate media driven mirage many perceive as reality constitutes an actual Truth Emergency in America. This seems to be the case, and the still unexplained events of 9/11 are at the heart of the plethora of deceptions and onslaught to liberties that have relentlessly ensued including attacks on the core of our democratic principles- the suspension of habeas corpus, endorsement of torture, unchecked wanton surveillance, embedded reporting, voter intimidation and ballot tampering. They continue to this day, a war on the public, most recently surrounding the hypocritical events taking place outside the corporate sponsored political party conventions, one-time vehicles for exercising our participatory rights in the election selection process.

Prof. David Ray Griffin, 9/11 scholar, eloquently pointed out the myths versus realities in interpretations of 9/11 events, yet most Americans, even progressives, refuse to even consider or research the many problems factually known about 9/11 and the following government studies. Griffin attributes this to what he calls the true dominant belief in America, the nationalist faith (seen in series here). Dr. Paul Rea and I recently argued a similar notion in a chapter of the newly published Censored 2009 book titled "Deconstructing Deceit: 9/11, the Media, and Myth Information." JFK once said, "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie: deliberate, continued, and dishonest; but the myth: persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic." This very phenomenon is what we suggest surrounds 9/11 itself (the chapter will be linked here shortly, but some of these issues were also recently discussed here on Bonnie Faulker's "Guns and Butter" radio show at KPFA in Berkeley, CA).

In the chapter, Rea and I argued that media and government myth making, not actual investigative journalism or independent commission reports, are what Americans were treated to post 9/11. Media driven historical myths about American exceptionalism and triumphalism were consistently relied upon to explain and understand present events a priori. Accordingly, one would never actually have to look at the facts on the ground about 9/11 to believe the official view- it would simply be The Word, like sacred scripture, heretical to challenge. Further, cognitive dissonance should be avoided by the masses, so, believing and perpetuating the myth yields rewards for obedient and loyal lapdogs in the press and public alike. This mythic memo to the nation reads, "We need to stick together in times of crisis." In fact, it was argued by many in government that citizens should not question authority but rather follow orders in these now dangerous times. Slavery is the new freedom. Many are now being arrested before they do anything illegal, for thought crimes against the dominant nationalist mythological narrative. Others watch in silent approval, doing nothing to come to the defense of liberty under attack.

But, there is hope. And it is not the cynical public relations pablum of the political season. Not everyone is going along and not everyone buys the official views about 9/11 put forward by the U.S. government and its affiliated corporate propaganda bureaus. A new poll by World Public Opinion finds no global consensus, no majority on who was behind 9/11 and an increasing number of people believe in alternative theories which place the U.S. government at the center of 9/11 crimes. Time will tell, but time may be short. The war on activists, journalists, and citizenship itself are increasing at an alarming rate from the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and Military Commissions Act to the very real and rampant beatings in the streets, preemptive arrests and extended detentions. We must all act now to save a dying republic. Obama/McCain are not going to do it for us.

There are many paths of action given the travails in arenas of environment, health care, infrastructure, social programs, education, the economy, and foreign policy. But one path should be considered and remain evident: demanding the truth about 9/11 in an open and transparent, actually independent investigation. The events of 9/11 are a grand cloak used to distract and dissuade Americans away from duties of citizenship. They also have been used as justification of a blackout on freedom of information and a crackdown on a free press. Given 9/11 is the centerpiece of propaganda and deception, it is a psy-op, shock and awe moment that cannot be ignored, rather, it must be understood for what it is in its entirety. A cataclysmic event, a staging exercise in audacity, a usurpation of the role and rights of the public, a staggering abuse of the good will of the people, a sham excuse for the privatization and militarization of most every facet of our society, and a tipping point toward tyranny in our fragile democracy. Institutional means to deal with this crisis have been taken off the public table by the establishment itself, those of impeachment, grand jury investigations, public protest, free open inquiry, and fair elections. We must act beyond the means offered by a corrupted system and transcend our current state of unimaginative despair. We have not been able to bring justice to a lawless regime in Washington, regardless of their crimes and the supporting evidence. This is due in large part to the aforementioned nationalist myth laden mindset injected into the America psyche via the Trojan Horse of 9/11. This must be widely exposed so the vision of who we really are as a people can be corrected and our path righted toward more equal and just society.

Historian Howard Zinn recently prescribed revolution. Thomas Jefferson would agree as he stated, "Every generation needs a new revolution." We the People are past due. Not through violence will this be achieved, but through the process of seeking and speaking the truth. The price of liberty IS eternal vigilance. The only way to fight the phantoms of nationalist mythology is to critically think and examine the facts in the real world, no matter where they may lead. And we should demand no less of our "leaders" present or future.

Let's pull of the blinders, America. Let the chorus of truth sing. Let's wake up from the nightmare of the last seven years and let freedom ring.