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“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union

11. Giant Oil Companies Owe U.S. More Than $1.5 Billion

Source: PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT REPORTS, April 1995, Title: “Department of Interior Looks the Other Way: The Government’s Slick Deal for the Oil Industry”; Author: Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Danielle Brian

SYNOPSIS: Seven of the largest oil companies in the United States—Texaco, Shell, Mobil, ARCO, Chevron, Exxon, and Unocal—owe the federal government more than $1.5 billion in uncollected royalties, interest, and penalties, according to a well-documented report by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). POGO is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that investigates conflicts of interest and abuse in government.

POGO also obtained a draft of a Department of Interior (DOI) Inspector General report which concludes that over a four year period, royalties alone “may have been underpaid by as much as $29.5 million from 1990 through 1993 and may continue to be underpaid as long as pipelines continue to operate as private carriers.”

The big oil companies, with the exception of Exxon, operate the largest pipelines with the state of California. These pipelines cross federal land in one or more places which by federal law requires them to be operated as common carriers (common carriers allow small oil company crude to be transported for free). Instead, they are operated as private carriers. This monopoly forces smaller oil companies to pay higher rates in order to move their crude oil from the wells to the refinery. Also, the largest oil companies have been artificially suppressing the price of their crude in order to avoid high royalties as mandated under the Mineral Leasing Act.

Surprisingly, the DOI, the agency responsible for collecting these royalties, is a willing partner of the oil companies in this extraordinary corporate welfare program. In addition to the forthcoming Inspector General report, DOI has ignored: U.S. Department of Commerce comments about the problem; a DOI Office of Policy Analysis that calls for the Department to determine the amount of royalties due (including interest and criminal penalties, if any), and to initiate collection procedures; and the DOI Minerals Management Service conclusion that “we should pursue potential Federal royalty underpayments.”

Beyond the obvious impact of losing more than $1.5 billion that is owed to the federal treasury, this sweetheart deal with the oil industry has even more direct harm. By federal law, one half of all money collected by the federal government from oil royalties is to be returned directly to the state from which the oil has been pumped. In California, the law requires that such funds be credited to the State School Fund. This means that the California school system, which is in serious financial trouble, has been bilked out of nearly $750 million.

To date, the Department of the Interior has failed to collect these funds and the nation’s press has taken scant notice of this classic example of corporate welfare.

SSU Censored Researcher: Fritz Rollins

COMMENTS: Author Danielle Brian acknowledged that while there was some limited media coverage of the issue, there was no significant follow-up. “ABC Evening News ran a piece on this story and a short follow-up that focused on an individual bureaucrat,” Brian said. “No other networks touched it. The Washington Post and the L.A. Times both ran stories in their Business Sections. The Cox wire service ran an article that resulted in a number of small town newspapers picking up the story. However, none of these outlets were willing to do any follow-up, despite the fact that we received sensational new documents after the original stories ran. In fact, the L.A. Times ran two “Letters to the Editor” attacking POGO and the story. While they did identify one of the authors as representing the oil industry, they did not identify the other as recently having represented an oil industry association. Needless to say, the L.A. Times refused to run our response, despite our ability to prove the letters were inaccurate and misleading.”

Brian believes the general public would benefit from wider exposure of this subject because “it is only through public exposure, as is usually true, that the government’s acquiescence to the oil industry will stop. Until the mass media cover this story aggressively, we will not be able to stop this form of corporate welfare. Furthermore, more media attention would not only energize the Administration, but it would also motivate Congress which up to this point has dropped the ball as well.”

Clearly, Brian continues, the oil industry benefits from the lack of media coverage. “Of course they are not interested in having to pay back $1.5 billion to the federal government. In addition, the Department of Interior bureaucrats, whose interest is to protect the status quo, also benefit from the lack of coverage of the subject. Not only is it easier to continue doing business as usual, but no one wants to admit they have allowed such a massive fraud to take place against the government.”

After the POGO report was released, the organization received leaked internal e-mail messages that revealed the Department of Interior’s efforts to cut a deal with industry, Brian added. “The Department was asking for industry’s support of DOI’s reorganization plan. In exchange DOI was offering to shorten the Statute of Limitations so that the oil industry could no longer be prosecuted for withholding royalty payments. Even though we actively worked with those journalists who had already covered the story, as well as a number of other major media outlets including the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine, no one, other than the trade press, ran any further stories.”

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