Saturday, September 08, 2007

YES! Magazine's Challenge to Corporate Power

I've been meaning to make a heartfelt plug for YES! Magazine for some time, but I can't avoid it any longer. First, I want as many people as possible to know about the magazine's Fall 2007 issue on how to "Stand Up to Corporate Power." Second, YES! is offering to provide 50 to 200 copies of "Stand Up to Corporate Power" to activist groups free of charge.

A Brief Introduction to YES!

If you're not already familiar with YES!, let me introduce you: YES! is an ad-free, independent, non-profit magazine with a national readership. The focus of each issue varies - from social justice, to sustainability, peace, economics, etc. - always with an ear to emergent solutions. Where are the possibilities? What's working in communities in this country and around the world that could be enhanced, expanded, or replicated elsewhere? The stories in YES! empower readers with knowledge, creative inspiration, and possibilities for action.

What's In The New Corporations Issue?

The current issue of YES! Magazine, "Stand Up to Corporate Power," takes an in-depth look at the grassroots movements to minimize corporate influence over our daily lives, our communities, our commons, and our democracy. From protecting control over local water sources, to keeping elections clean, activists share their innovative ideas and best practices for lasting change. Some highlights from the issue:
* Michael Marx and Marjorie Kelly, of the Strategic Corporate Initiative, look at the great power struggle of our time -- We the People vs. Corporate Giants -- and what's at stake.

* David Korten asks ... do we live in service to money, or to life? Our answer foretells the kind of world future generations will inherit.

* Doug Pibel shares the inspiring story of community members in Barnstead, New Hampshire who protected their town's water supply from corporate bottlers.

* Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, of Democracy Unlimited, gives a first-hand report of how Humboldt County successfully limited corporate influence over local elections.

* Charlie Grey on other citizen-led efforts to create truly democratic, corporate-free elections.

* Gar Alperovitz, Steve Dubb and Ted Howard look at "7 Cool Companies" that are changing the way we think about business.

The Free Copies Offer

Besides providing most of the articles from the Corporations issue on their website, YES! is able to send 50-200 free copies for you to distribute at events, to your membership, in mailings, etc. This opportunity is free of charge. Here's what they need from you:
* Shipping contact including name, phone, email and street address. They'll ship by UPS or FedEx Ground, neither of which can use P.O. Boxes.

* Quantity to ship, in multiples of 50; they're packaged 50 to a box.

* A quick description of how they'll be used or to whom they're being distributed.

* There are no charges involved with this offer unless expedited or international shipping is required.
If you would like to take YES!up on their offer, please send the above information to Susan Gleason, Media & Outreach Manager (cc'd here), and she'll ship the magazines out right away: or call 206-842-5009 x217.

Please help spread the word about Yes! and their new issue, "Stand Up to Corporate Power." It is a great movement-building tool!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

9-11 Controversy Continues

Thoughts on a Painful Anniversary

Here we are, close to six years after the tragic events of September 11, 2001--a horrible day that saw two hijacked commercial airplanes slam into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the unprecedented total collapse of those two towers and WTC Building 7, a deadly air attack on the Pentagon, the dropping out of the sky of another hijacked plane, and a total death toll of close to 3000 people. I believe that we need to remember both the victims and the heros among the police and fire fighters who were the first responders that day. These are the people who died, were injured, who lost loved ones, or who helped at the risk of getting sick from the polluted WTC dust. I also think it is important to remember that there are still many unresolved questions about the September 11 attacks and the public is deeply divided on how to understand what actually caused or contributed to the success of these terrible events.

What Do Public Opinion Polls Reveal?

According to a 2004 national Zogby Associates public opinion poll, 42% of the American public believes that the Bush administration--and even the 9//11 Commission--have covered up, through various omissions and distortions, evidence that might suggest that the success of this Al Qaeda-related mission was facilitated by official US negligence, incompetence, or even complicity. Another 10% are not sure if this is true or not, which means that 52% of the American people are not confident of the 9-11 Commission truthfulness. Furthermore, a 2006 Zogby Associates public opinion poll indicates that half of New York City residents and 42% of New York State citizens believe that some elements of the US government were directly complicit in facilitating the success of the September 11 terror attacks on US soil. The motive, these respondents claim, was to create a pretext for pre-existing, but unpopular, administration policy goals--such as a desire to invade and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, massively increase the military budget, dramatically expand US Presidential power, and increasingly stifle political dissent and curtail civil liberties long guaranteed by the Constitution. Interestingly, 62% of New Yorkers want a new, tougher, more independent investigation of 9-11.

What Are Some Of The Contending Theories Out There?

Any search of the web will detail many widely different theories about just what happened on September 11, 2001. Here is a quick overview of the key features of the major theories I've noticed in contention.

First, there is the original official conspiracy theory put forward by key leaders of the Bush Administration immediately after the attacks. This theory claims that 19 Al Qaeda operatives, with likely support from the Taliban and Iraq, engaged in a surprise attack on America of so dramatic a nature that it hadn't even been imagined by our government's counter-terrorism experts, that the plot left no warnings of any such attacks in the years and months before September 11, 2001, and that these surprise attacks could not possibly have been stopped by US intelligence agencies or the military. This theory also claims that the later US attacks against Afghanistan and Iraq were only contemplated after September 11 as a legitimate defensive response to eliminate the threat of Al Qaeda and its most likely state sponsors.

The more comprehensive official conspiracy theory, which was put forward by the 9-11 Commission appointed by President Bush, is that 19 Al Qaeda operatives engaged in an attack that had been envisioned by a few US government counter-terrorism experts, included some significant warnings that were never put together into a big picture, and was not thwarted because of some level of generalized bad luck and some poor bureaucratic design and procedures on the part of various government agencies. It blames every US government agency involved a little bit but, like the Bush Administration's earlier official theory, steers away from any claims about significant negligence, incompetence, or complicity on the part of any key players in the US government.

There is also the somewhat more critical theory put forward by some 9-11 Commission skeptics that says it wasn't just bad luck and poor bureaucratic design and procedures that enabled the attacks to succeed, but a level of near criminal neglect and incompetence on the part of several key Bush administration officials, US intelligence agencies, and the air defense system that didn't follow well-known and frequently practiced standard procedures for intercepting hijacked airplanes in US air space. Unlike the 9-11 Commission, these people also frequently believe that the Bush administration cynically took advantage of the successful attacks (facilitated through their own incompetence) by using them as a pretext for pre-existing, but previously unpopular, administration policy goals--such as a desire to invade and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq for greater control of world oil supplies, win massive increases in the military budget, expand corporate welfare through military spending, dramatically expand US Presidential power, and increasingly stifle political dissent and civil liberties in the US and around the world.

There are also a range of even more critical theories put forward by people whose review of the available evidence suggests to them the strong possibility, if not a firm conclusion, that the fundamental problem causing the inability of the US government to stop these attacks is that key people in the Bush administration had some level of advance knowledge of the attacks and were actively complicit in facilitating the success of the attacks.

Theologian David Ray Griffin, is one such theorist and in one of his books he lists several increasingly dire levels of possible US government complicity ranging from 1) the theory that certain key people in the government knowingly interfered with normal counter-terrorism efforts in order to let the attacks happen, 2) the theory that some key government officials actually increased the destruction and psychological impact of the attacks on the US population by causing the collapse of the Twin Towers and WTC Building 7 through a pre-planned controlled demolition using explosives, and 3) the even stronger complicity theory, which argues that Al Qaeda either wasn't involved in the attacks at all, or were only patsies, in a scheme almost entirely initiated, planned, and carried out as a covert "fakse flag" operation by key figures in the civilian administration, the military, and US intelligence agencies as a pretext for the administration's drive toward war, empire, and political repression.

My guess is that a survey of the faculty, staff, and student members of the Antioch New England community would reveal that, like America as a whole, there are people here that hold each of these contending theories. My question is how much actual research have we all done to come to an informed, credible, and plausible conclusion about which theory best fits the available facts? As someone who loves his country, as well as the values of peace and democracy, I feel that engaging in this kind of research and reflection is one of our duties as active, engaged citizens.

How Can We Become More Informed About 9-11?

There are a wide variety of books, articles, studies, and documentaries that explore these issues and try to make the case for a particular point of view or come to a conclusion about which theory most plausibly fits the available evidence. The single best and most objective source I've found so far, however, is the Complete 9-11 Timeline website, an ongoing project of the Center for Cooperative Research. What is great about this website is that its team of researchers led by Paul Thompson has already created thousands of short posts based on news stories from national and international mainstream media and government sources that relate to the 9-11 terror attacks. This ever-growing number of 9-11 postings is also well categorized, searchable, and includes live links to the actual articles, webpages, reports, and video newsclips that are referred to in the post summaries. You can go immediately to original sources with this powerful online research tool.