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

The Persistent Idea of the Commons

Review of Peter Linebaugh’s Magna Carta Manifesto

By Andy Lee Roth, Associate Director of Project Censored

Peter Linebaugh’s Magna Carta Manifesto (University of California Press, 2008) demonstrates the power of long memory.  His aim in providing a historically-grounded interpretation of Magna Carta is to “put the commons back on the agenda” (p. 20).   Contemporary debate on economics and politics tends to treat the commons as an anachronism:  “[M]ost people are unfamiliar with Magna Carta,” in part because, in contemporary context, it “shows up as a whitewash…extolling individualism, private property, laissez-faire and English civilization” (216).   It was not always so.

Linebaugh reminds us that Magna Carta was one of two documents constituting the Great Charters of Liberties of England.  All but unknown today, the Charter of the Forest established commoning.   Whereas Magna Carta provides the basis for due process, trial by jury, and prohibition of torture, for example; the Forest Charter established the commons and defined limits on privatization.  The commons is “the theory that vests all property in the community and organizes labor for the common benefit of all” (p. 6).  Together, then, the Great Charters “stipulated restraints upon the royal realm” and “provided subsistence in the common realm” (242).  The two charters cooperate in that  “political and legal rights can only exist on an economic foundation” (6).  Those familiar with Linebaugh’s prior books will appreciate here how he carries forward the tradition of his teacher, historian E. P. Thompson.

But The Magna Carta Manifesto is no ivory tower exercise.  Linebaugh stresses the liberatory significance of Magna Carta throughout its history.   Thus, he devotes a chapter to the essential role of Magna Carta in the black freedom struggle; across a number of chapters, he shows how enclosure of the commons has contributed to what we understand, today, as the feminization of poverty; and, after 9/11, Linebaugh shows how the U.S. “war on terror” makes even more relevant the Great Charter’s restraints on state power, including of course Habeas corpus.

Fascinating details and original insights enliven The Magna Carta Manifesto.   For example, in a chapter titled “Icon and Idol,” Linebaugh interprets public art depicting Magna Carta, including the architecture of the U.S. Supreme Court and a rotunda at Runnymede (where King John signed the Charter).  An Italian immigrant, Giuseppe Piccirilli, and his sons created the marble frieze of King John in the Supreme Court.  Their Bronx studio was a center of immigrant culture, a gathering place of artists, patrons, educators, and anarchists.  The rotunda at Runnymede, established in 1957 by the American Bar Association, includes the inscription “To commemorate Magna Carta symbol of freedom under law.”  As Linebaugh reveals, this is one of the distortions of Magna Carta, whose original intent was to restrain the King under law (pp. 212-3).

One of Linebaugh’s keenest observations occurs in passing, when he notes that, under constitutional systems, the jury is “the only place where popular sovereignty exists without the intermediation of representatives” (p. 260).  His critical assessment of Tom Paine, and his tract “Common Sense,” will be fresh and bracing for many readers who think of the Declaration of Independence as our nation’s Magna Carta.  (Tom Paine “wrested common sense from the commoners,” Linebaugh argues, and the Declaration justifies powers of the state, whereas Magna Carta curtailed the powers of the sovereign.)

As Linebaugh acknowledges, “The commons is a touchy subject in America” (p. 219), challenging as it does the “dominant institutions” of private property, commerce, and capitalism.  But, in identifying the principles of anti-enclosure, reparations, subsistence, neighborhood, and travel (e.g., p. 245) and reminding us of their rich history, Linebaugh “charts a path” that gives “hope for a better future” (in the apt words of Michael Ratner, past-president of the Center for Constitutional Rights).

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