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“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
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“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.
“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
“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
“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 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.
“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.)
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“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
“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
“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.
“[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
“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] 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 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
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone

#4 Popular Resistance to Corporate Water Grabbing

In January 2000, the people of Cochabamba, Bolivia, shut down the city in protest against the privatization of their municipal water system, which had resulted in rate hikes that doubled or tripled their water bills. In February of that year, Pacific News Service correspondent Jim Shultz broke the story in the Western press with “A War Over Water,” his firsthand reports of clashes between riot police and protesters. On the fifteenth anniversary of the Cochabamba protests, popular resistance to corporate water control continues to expand around the world, encompassing remunicipalization of privatized water utilities, direct action against unjust water shutoffs, and rainwater harvesting. A common theme—access to water as a fundamental human right—unites these three issues.

As Ellen Brown reported, today’s “water wars” not only pit local farmers against ranchers or urbanites, but also involve new corporate “water barons,” including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, the Carlyle Group, and other investment firms that are purchasing water rights from around the world at an unprecedented pace. A 2014 report on water grabbing defined it in these terms:

Water grabbing refers to situations where powerful actors are able to take control of or reallocate to their own benefit water resources at the expense of previous (un)registered local users or the ecosystems on which those users’ livelihoods are based. It involves the capturing of the decision-making power around water, including the power to decide how and for what purposes water resources are used now and in the future.

The authors of this report identified five “interlinked” drivers of the current “new wave of water grabbing”:

Changing patterns in global food markets have triggered a renewed interest in acquiring land and water resources for agricultural production.

Rising oil prices and concerns that a “peak oil” period has been reached have led to the rise of agrofuels that use large amounts of water throughout the production cycle.

Growing global demand for raw materials underpins the continued expansion of the extractive industries and large-scale mining projects—including, in particular, hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

The market-based management of water resources, especially the privatization of water systems and services, which jeopardizes water access for poor and marginalized groups in many developing countries.

The financialization of water utilities, infrastructures, and the resource itself.

Much corporate news coverage of water shortages—including California’s highly publicized drought—and their potential remedies fails to take into account these five drivers of water grabbing and how they intertwine.

Corporate efforts to privatize water rights are meeting robust grassroots resistance as communities around the world assert their rights to decide how water resources are used. Over the past fifteen years, Victoria Collier reported for CounterPunch, there have been 180 cases across thirty-five countries of water “remunicipalization,” with water control returned from private ownership to the public. “From Spain to Buenos Aires, Cochabamba to Kazakhstan, Berlin to Malaysia, water privatization is being aggressively rejected,” she reported.

In opposition to the fast-growing private-public-partnership (PPP) model, which she described as “a marketing euphemism for privatization,” communities in Japan, the Netherlands, India, Costa Rica, Brazil, and other countries are now pursuing public-public partnerships (PUPs) to forestall corporate water takeovers and to develop “non-profit, public-driven solutions for water infrastructure needs.”

While the remunicipalization movement grows, protests in US cities, including Detroit and Baltimore, show how some forms of ostensibly public water remain deeply problematic. As Collier reported, since the summer of 2014, Detroit residents have engaged in direct action to resist city water shutoffs that disproportionately affected low-income, mostly African-American residents. In Detroit, water rates had increased by 119 percent over the past decade and the poverty level was roughly 40 percent. In consequence, many residents could not afford to pay their water bills, and the city’s Water and Sewerage Department began shutting off residential water services, sometimes without providing households any advance notice. Food & Water Watch reported, “The extensive service disconnections are closely tied to Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to privatize or corporatize the water and sewer system.” Notably, the city exempted from shutoffs many businesses that also had past-due water bills. Some forty businesses owed approximately $9.5 million in past bills, but were not subject to shutoffs.

As of October 2014, Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department had shut off water service for some 27,000 Detroit residents. However, as YES! Magazine’s Larry Gabriel reported, “Grassroots progressive action has backed down aggressive action by the city and its contractors.”

Residents of Baltimore faced similar challenges in spring 2015, as their city threatened to shut off water service for some 250,000 households, affecting approximately 750,000 residents. An April 2015 Food & Water Watch press release asserted that “Baltimore is repeating Detroit’s mistakes,” and that disconnecting water services posed “a very real public health threat.” In May 2015, the Baltimore Sun reported that the city’s enforcement of “long-unpaid” water bills was “starkly uneven,” with businesses that owed the greatest amounts exempted, while residents faced summary shutoffs. The Sun quoted Charly Carter, director of the advocacy group Maryland Working Families: “If the city can shut off 1,600 working families from their water, but hasn’t shut off even one commercial account, I think that speaks volumes about where their priorities are.” According to the Sun, over 350 large commercial accounts—a category that includes businesses, nonprofits, and government offices—account for a total of $15 million in unpaid water bills.

Direct action and other community efforts were ongoing in Detroit and Baltimore as this volume went to press.

The practice of rainwater harvesting is becoming increasingly widespread and sophisticated, showing another way that ordinary people and local communities can reclaim control of their water. In light of a growing population, climate change, and projected long-term water shortages, many cities and their residents are rethinking water use. As Madeline Ostrander reported for YES! Magazine, the city of Los Angeles currently imports more than 85 percent of its water, yet every year Los Angeles drains billions of gallons of rainwater into the ocean. New leaders are stepping forward to offer time-proven techniques to meet urgent local needs, including TreePeople, which is partnering with the city of Los Angeles to rewrite its storm water management plan, to develop distributed rainwater harvesting, and to transform the city’s landscape. TreePeople and other organizations, including The River Project, are showing how restoring the landscape’s natural capacity to slow, filter, and store water could solve many problems and vastly reduce Los Angeles’s reliance on external water sources.41 The River Project is a pioneer in the “urban acupuncture” approach to water sustainability along the Los Angeles River watershed. In partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the California Coastal Commission, the Project’s “Water LA” program empowers communities to design and install home gray-water systems. Due to these efforts, Los Angeles property owners can now obtain low-cost, over-the-counter permits for gravity flow systems running from their laundries, tubs, or lavatory sinks.

Rainwater harvesting and its positive impacts are not limited to big cities like Los Angeles. In fall 2015, Rajendra Singh, an Indian activist, will be awarded the esteemed Stockholm Water Prize for his work empowering poor farmers by reviving traditional knowledge and guiding people to build small rainwater ponds. Over the past thirty years, he has helped local communities revive five rivers and a thousand villages using these techniques. Where the World Bank asserts that countries like India need to continue building large dams, Singh’s life provides evidence of robust, sustainable alternatives.

Ellen Brown, “California Water Wars: Another Form of Asset Stripping?,” Nation of Change, March 25, 2015,

Victoria Collier, “Citizens Mobilize Against Corporate Water Grabs,” CounterPunch, February 11, 2015,

Larry Gabriel, “When the City Turned Off Their Water, Detroit Residents and Groups Delivered Help,” YES! Magazine, November 24, 2014,

Madeline Ostrander, “LA Imports Nearly 85 Percent of Its Water—Can It Change That by Gathering Rain?,” YES! Magazine, January 5, 2015,

Student Researchers: Antonio Arenas and Nguyet (Kelley) Thi Luu (San Francisco State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)

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