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Did you hear about censorship? 

Not if you rely on the mainstream media

Last weekend, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney made a speech in San Rafael, CA, about journalism. That you won't read anything about the talk -- or the underlying theme, censorship -- in your daily paper isn't surprising. After all, McKinney faced unrelenting and corrosive distortion -- a form of censorship -- from the mainstream media during her years representing Georgia's 4th Congressional District. McKinney was the keynote speaker at the annual dinner of Project Censored, which for 27 years has proclaimed that the emperor -- in this case, Big Media -- isn't wearing clothes.

Getting all of the news, the many sides of the news, is essential for freedom to survive, McKinney told the crowd. Her message underscored the fact that the most censored stories this year dealt with an organized, concerted undermining of America's democracy and our liberties by the creepy and fanatical bunch whose hands are on the levers of political power.

Censored -- as defined by the Sonoma State University sponsors of the project -- doesn't mean government bully-boys smashing apart printing presses. Nor does it mean bureaucrats snipping stories from newspaper pages or banning books from libraries. The perversity of the media is such that the press cuts off its own cojones -- and the proof is obvious from the awful, jingoistic, brain-dead coverage of the Iraq war.

Censorship in America today is the result of corporate Big Media becoming an "entertainment business," says Peter Phillips, a Sonoma sociology professor who heads Project Censored. "The press has abdicated its First Amendment obligation to tell us about important news stories about what the powerful people and institutions are doing."

Nor do the corporate press lords -- such as our friends at Knight Ridder -- want you to know just how bad their coverage is. So, despite the awards to those who have overcome censorship, and an annual book that goes in depth into what wasn't reported -- the daily newspapers and TV stations studiously ignore Project Censored.

"No, you'll never see us mentioned in the New York Times," Phillips says. "But each year, the Times' reporters post our list of stories on their bulletin board."

This year's No. 1 censored story is "The Neo-Conservative Plan for Global Dominance." For more than a decade, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the other neo-cons have been formulating their scheme for conquest. Once in power, their dreams of empire became national policy: pre-emptive war, military dominance, unilateralism, more nukes, the conquest of Iraq. It was all spelled out long before the 2000 election, but the mainstream press simply didn't pay attention -- and still isn't.

Very little has been written in the mainstream press about the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) -- the neo-con's umbrella organization -- much less delving into its strategy. Even more astounding is the way the media (with a few exceptions) have put on the blinders when it comes to a 2000 document from the PNAC that wistfully said all that was needed to shove its agenda into high gear was "some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor." Hey, guess what happened a year later?

Here are the other Top 10 Project Censored stories:

Homeland Security Threatens Civil Liberty. From the obsessive secrecy of the Bush administration, to its compulsion to know everything it can about citizens, to the PATRIOT Act that unleashed the feds to spy and snoop with little regard for your Constitutional rights, to proposed "enhancements" of PATRIOT that will permit the government to criminalize dissent and to strip citizenship from Americans, 9-11 has been used as an excuse to give freedom a kick in the ass.

US Illegally Removes Pages From Iraq UN Report. Oh, so you didn't know that the Bushies -- after accusing Saddam Hussein of providing an incomplete report on his weapons -- had illegally removed 8,000 pages of the 11,800-page Iraq report? The deleted pages fingered 24 American corporations -- and the Reagan and first Bush administrations -- with illegally supplying Iraq with banned weapons during the 1980s.

Rumsfeld's Plan to Provoke Terrorists. The Pentagon's "Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group" is tasked with provoking militant groups into committing violent acts that would then expose them to "counterattack" by US forces.

The Effort to Make Unions Disappear. Big business has long yearned to gut unions, redistribute wealth from the working and middle classes upwards to the very rich, and undermine employment and workplace protections. With George Bush, business met its fairy godmother.

Closing Access to Information Technology. So you think the Internet is freedom's great frontier? Silly you. In a few years, today's 7,000 Internet service providers will have disappeared, replaced by a handful of companies controlled by the cable, satellite and phone companies.

Treaty Busting by the United States. Not since the days of ripping up treaties with Native American tribes has this nation so aggressively proven that it speaks with forked tongue. We have violated nine treaties we have signed.

US/British Forces Continue Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons Despite Massive Evidence of Negative Health Effects. Depleted uranium shells are regarded by the civilized world as illegal weapons of mass destruction. They have resulted in high levels of death and cancer in Iraq since the first Gulf War. There is a statistical anomaly in the large number of Gulf War I veterans who have died -- many with symptoms that point to depleted uranium. So, the Pentagon asks as it bombards Iraq with even more DU shells, what's the problem?

In Afghanistan: Poverty, Women's Rights and Civil Disruption Worse Than Ever. And you thought all of the Afghans were getting fat and happy?

Africa Faces Threat of New Colonialism. The G-8 nations -- aka the world's economic superpowers -- have an "anti-poverty" plan for Africa. But the G-8ers forgot two things: They didn't ask the Africans; and they didn't mention that the scheme allows exploitation of the continent's resources.

You can learn about these stories at www.projectcensored.org. And, you'll find the scoops on the runners-up -- stories such as the Bush administration's role in the failed coup in Venezuela, how corporations convicted of crimes get perks instead of punishment, and the Pentagon's plan to outsource killing to private contractors.

John Sugg is Senior Editor at Creative Loafing in Atlanta. He can be reached at john.sugg@creativeloafing.com.

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