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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

PROJECT CENSORED

We went to an International program that presented information regarding the stories that received the least amount of media attention in 2008. The purpose of the meeting was to inform those present that the media should have focused on several events and didn’t. The articles explain why the stories weren’t taken seriously. In some categories the stories were covered by the big ten papers. He strongly recommended that we become familiar with BBC News, Aljazeera, Associated Press, Reuters and The Christian Science Monitor for starters. In some instances, important stories ran on page 84 of the LA TIMES or page 44 of the Seattle Times. The speaker, Dr. Peter Phillips, felt some of these stories should have been first-page news.

Dr. Phillips, a sociologist, emphasized the point that these anthologies were made by a group of undergraduates in journalism from Sonoma State. The 31st and 32nd edition of the book, The New American Censorship, was outside of the sanctuary for review, book signing and purchasing. The organization said that this was the largest turnout, especially for a Friday night that the group had ever hosted. Believe me the room was packed, the seats were filled to capacity. There were a few nicely dressed young people, a few admitted old hippies, college professors, and teachers, motherly and grandmotherly types. Some people insisted on coming in, so they sat on the floor in the outer aisles. I saw a couple people sharing seats. I remember seeing at least 10 entries on the event from various sites, so personally I thought it would be a good draw. My intent in going was to hear the message, meet the speaker and try to find out if such a group already existed in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“International issues are affecting us financially and businesswise and no one seems to talk about it in our local paper”, he started out. “We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in relations to the economic fall out to come”. Then he gave us some sites to check out. He spoke the recent erosion of “posse comitatus” and “habeas corpus”, due process of law and the Constitution in general. He warned us about an Executive Order that is in place, being fought by the ACLU, but not being able to be heard in the Supreme Court yet, regarding the President having the right to take an individual or groups up to 1,000 and incarcerate them. He said Halliburton has been building prisons for over 15 years. The detention camps have barbed wire fencing around them, state of the art security and they are out in remote areas of the desert areas of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and California. Now you know I will be checking this out.

I thought, isn’t this what all the uproar is all about regarding the Guantanamo hearings?

He also assured us that the military, CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, State militia and local police officers have untested agreement program with corporate executives, “elite citizens” and government agencies where they can round up individuals if they believe they are a threat to the USA. Under this program, they can seize your property and your inheritance as well. He said with so many individuals being unemployed, it was a great outlet for employing mercenaries and retired military, police and individuals from the National Guard. He asked us to check out a couple web sites if we didn’t believe him.

He recommended 13 media sources to add to our daily news diet. Offering these sites as tested media sources that get it right. He said the responsibility of the media is not only to provide information from various points of view, but to at least tell the people what they need to know in order to make good concise and well thought out decisions. Several mentions were made that American media is sanitized and that some journalists want to tell the story, but are afraid that they’ll get demoted, loose their jobs, get sued, and “accidently die”, if they tell “too much of the truth”. Examples were given of journalists who met their maker early in life for having done so.

What was interesting was that the stories in the book were written by undergraduates in journalism. What I didn’t understand was why the students weren’t there to present the material. It would have given an added dimension to the validity of the writing. Our speaker was angry and insisted that if Americans knew what was going on in their names, they would appreciate why Europeans believe “we are coddled to sleep or entertainment”. He mentioned how Americans seem too interested in Paris Hilton, American Idol, and all the other “reality television” out there.

“We are being entertained instead of given the news”, he hammered away. Several individuals asked questions afterwards. Many guests took the side door out but a large group was forming around the book signing table in the foyer.