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“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.)
“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.
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“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.
“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
“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
“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
“[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
“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
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“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.
“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.
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“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
“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] 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

13. Corporate Personhood Challenged


COMMONDREAMS, January 1, 2003 &
IMPACT PRESS, Feb/Mar, 2003
Title: “Now Corporations Claim the Right to ‘Lie’”
Author: Thom Hartmann

WILD MATTERS, February 2003
Title: “Americans Revolt in Pennsylvania: New Battle Lines Are Drawn”
Author: Thom Hartmann

Title: “How a Clerical Error Made Corporations ‘People’”
Author: Jim Hightower

Faculty Evaluators: Mary Gomes Ph.D. , Ken Marcus Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Chris Salvano, Sherry Grant, Melissa Jones

Partial Mainstream Coverage: The New York Times, The LA Times, USA Today, Fortune Magazine, The Ottawa Citizen.

Since the founding of our country, a debate has raged over the nature of corporations and whether they should be entitled to the same right to legal “personhood” as actual people. This idea of corporate personhood has recently come under scrutiny.

It was back in 1886 that a Supreme Court decision (Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company) ostensibly led to corporate personhood and free speech rights, thereby guaranteeing protections under the 1st and 14th amendments. However, according to Thom Hartmann, the relatively mundane court case never actually granted these personhood rights to corporations. In fact, Chief Justice Morrison Waite wrote, “We avoided meeting the Constitutional question in the decision.” Yet, when writing up the case summary -that has no legal status-the Court reporter, a former railroad president named J.C. Bancroft Davis, declared: “The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a state to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” But the Court had made no such legal determination. It was the clerk’s opinion and misrepresentation of the case in the headnote upon which current claims of corporate personhood and free speech entitlements now rests.

In 1978, however, the Supreme Court further entrenched the idea of corporate personhood by deciding that corporations were entitled to the free speech right to give money to political causes – linking free speech with financial clout. Interestingly, in a dissent to the decision, Chief Justice William Rehnquist pointed out the flawed 1886 precedent and criticized its interpretation over the years saying, “This Court decided at an early date, with neither argument nor discussion, that a business corporation is a ‘person’ entitled to the protection of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

But more recently, in December 2002, Porter Township, Pennsylvania unanimously passed an ordinance denying corporate claims to personhood. The Township is the first and only local government in the United States to deny these civil and constitutional rights to corporations. Porter Township and neighboring Rush Township have laws that govern the local dumping of Pittsburgh-generated sludge by charging the dumping companies a “tipping fee.” In 2000, Synagro Corporation, one of the largest dumping companies in the nation, sued Rush Township, claiming that as a corporate citizen, the Township violated Synagro’s 14th amendment rights. In response, Porter Township, passed its precedent-setting ordinance claiming that the dumping company, or any corporation within its jurisdiction, may not wield personhood and free speech privileges.

A more high-profile challenge to corporate personhood involves a lawsuit against Nike and its claims on third-world labor practices. In 1998, Nike CEO Phil Knight wrote a New York Times op-ed piece responding to criticisms of Nike’s Asian labor practices. As was widely reported in the mainstream press in mid-April of this year, San Francisco consumer advocate Marc Kasky filed a lawsuit against Nike believing the company misled the public about its labor practices. Nike, however, claims that the First Amendment protects Nike’s statements, making it irrelevant whether the statements are true or false.

In May 2002, the California Supreme Court ruled against Nike saying its statements were commercial speech, and can therefore be regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. This ruling, writes Justice Joyce L. Kennard, “means only that when a business enterprise, to promote and defend its sales and profits, makes factual representations about its own product or its own operations, it must speak truthfully.”

On April 26, 2003, the Ottawa Citizen provided some pro-Nike coverage of the current case against Nike saying, “The case began some years ago when anti-globalizers accused Nike of exploiting workers at its factories abroad. The Nike-bashing was unrelenting, and the company fought back.” Hartmann’s article also notes The New York Times’ editorial support for Nike saying, “In a real democracy, even the people you disagree with get to have their say.” That’s true says Hartmann, but Nike is not a person-it’s a corporation.

By the release of Censored 2004, the Nike case will probably be a settled issue. It is likely that Porter Township’s ordinance will be challenged in higher courts in the near future. However, Hartmann’s research and writings show that the legality on which corporate claims to personhood and free speech rights rests is dubious.

UPDATE BY JIM HIGHTOWER: Anyone seeking to preserve America’s fragile democracy must first understand the scope and magnitude of the powers aligned against it. We live in an age in which corporations have been enthroned and corruption in high places has enabled power and wealth to be aggregated into an increasingly smaller number of hands. As citizens concerned with the future of human rights in a democratic republic, it’s vital that we now speak up and spread the word about “Corporate Personhood,” which lies at the heart of the challenge facing us today.

On April 23, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Nike v. Kasky, the Nike Corporation’s appeal of an April 2002 California Supreme Court ruling. In Kasky v. Nike, the California court rejected claims by Nike’s lawyers that the First Amendment immunized Nike from being sued under state consumer protection laws (for allegedly misrepresenting facts in a public relations campaign). The U.S. Supreme Court (where the case is Nike Inc, et al. v. Marc Kasky since Nike is the party appealing) likely will issue a ruling by late June on the Constitutional issue of whether Nike can claim exemption from the California law under the First Amendment. The Court will not consider the merits of the original lawsuit, in which Mr. Kasky sued Nike for deceptive practices.

The story in the Hightower Lowdown received no additional coverage by mainstream media sources. However, the Nike v. Kasky case has generated a substantial amount of interest, although the opinions are predictable. As of May 25, 2003, four of the five largest U.S. newspapers had editorialized on behalf of the Nike Corporation. Though all five had received submissions from nationally published writers, none had published dissenting commentaries. The Rocky Mountain News (#27-Denver) was alone among the top-50 papers in allowing space for a dissent to their pro-Nike editorial. The Sacramento Bee (ranked #31) thus far is the only paper to critique Nike’s “free speech” claims in an editorial (while arguing that the Supreme Court should dismiss Kasky’s suit on other grounds).

For more information go to: (P.O. Box 532, Boulder, CO 80306; 303-402-0105;
Program on Corporations Law and Democracy (P.O. Box 246, South Yarmouth, MA
02664; 508-398-1145;
Alliance for Democracy (760 Main Street, Waltham, MA 02451; 781-894-1179;

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