Friday, September 29, 2006

Music is the Core of my Connection with Earth Life

There's music in the sighing of a reed; There's music in the gushing of a rill; There's music in all things, if men had ears: Their earth is but an echo of the spheres.
--Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron)

I'm off to the Celtic Festival this weekend. It will be broadcast live on KVMR, Nevada City community radio. Click on the link, click on the listen button and follow instructions. KVMR is also available on Live365.

Peace and Joy,


Senate Wins Fight To Lower Allowable Amperage Levels On Detainees' Testicles

September 29, 2006 Issue 42•40

WASHINGTON, DC—Led by a bipartisan group of senators critical of White House policy on suspected terrorists, the Senate passed a bill Thursday that prohibits interrogators from exceeding 100 amps per testicle when questioning detainees. "Even in times of war, it counterproductive and wrong to employ certain inhumane interrogation techniques, and using three-digit amperage levels on the testicles of captives constitutes torture," said Sen. John Warner (R-VA), who has also supported reducing the size of attack dogs and the height of nude pyramids. "Using amperages of 99 and lower, with approved surge protectors on the jumper-cable clamps, are the hallmarks of a civilized society." The legislation did not address amperage restrictions on suspected terrorists' labia.

© Copyright 2006, Onion, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

There is Hope in Salt Lake City

Posted by Picasa

Salt Lake City’s Mayor Rocky Anderson: “This War Was Sold to the American People Largely by Fox and Other Members of the Media and We Were Lied To”

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Well, just one day after Rumsfeld's speech, thousands of critics of the war in Iraq made their voices heard with a massive protest here in Salt Lake City. Among them was Salt Lake's Mayor, Rocky Anderson.

Rocky Anderson, speaking at an anti-war rally here in Salt Lake City last month, one day after Donald Rumsfeld and one day before President Bush gave major speeches here.
Mayor Anderson joins me now in the studio. Welcome to Democracy Now!
Rocky Anderson, mayor of Salt Lake City.

This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
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AMY GOODMAN: Just one day after Rumsfeld’s speech, thousands of critics of the war in Iraq made their voices heard with a massive protest here in Salt Lake City. Among them, Salt Lake's mayor, Rocky Anderson.

Our nation has engaged in a tragic unnecessary war, based upon categorically false justifications. More than 100,000 people have been killed. And many more have been seriously maimed, brain-damaged or rendered mentally ill. Our nation's reputation throughout much of the world has been destroyed. We have many more enemies bent on our destruction than before our invasion of Iraq. And the hatred toward us has grown to the point that it will take many years, perhaps generations, to overcome the loathing created by our unjustified illegal invasion and occupation of a Muslim nation.

What incredible ineptitude and callousness for our president to talk about a crusade, while lying to us to make a case for the invasion and occupation of a Muslim country. Our children and later generations will pay the price of the lies, the violence, the cruelty, the incompetence and the inhumanity of the Bush administration and the lackey congress that has so cowardly abrogated its responsibility and authority under our checks and balances system of government. We are here to say, “We will not stand for it anymore! No more lies! No more preemptive illegal war based on false information! No more ‘God is on our side’ religious nonsense to justify this immoral illegal war!”

AMY GOODMAN: Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, speaking at an antiwar rally in Salt Lake City here last month, one day after Donald Rumsfeld and one day before President Bush gave major addresses here. Mayor Anderson joins us now in the studio. Welcome to Democracy Now!

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: Good morning, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. So you joined an antiwar rally and spoke out against President Bush as he came here to visit your city.

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: Yes. This is actually the second year in a row we did this. We did it the prior August as well, when President Bush came to speak to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.

AMY GOODMAN: The American Legion's response to you, not just an antiwar activist, but the mayor of the city?

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, I actually met with the national commander of the American Legion, and our views obviously differed a great deal. He took the position that you cannot oppose the war and support the warriors. I think that is so off base, when we're fighting such an unjustified illegal war. We do support our troops, and we want to see them brought home.

It was interesting that he took that position, after the American Legion had formerly opposed President Clinton's commitment of troops to stop the genocide in Kosovo several years ago. So it seems like they think that when there was no justification -- I actually asked him, “Why are we in Iraq?” and he couldn't tell me, other than that he thinks that there was a tie between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. It's very curious that these people are trying to keep the voices stilled in this country, that more and more are seeing that we were lied into this war. And it needs to come to an end. We're creating more enemies, more hatred toward this country.

AMY GOODMAN: Rumsfeld's comments, comparing critics like you to Nazi appeasers?

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: Yeah, that was really something. That shows, I think, how absolutely desperate these people are. And whenever Rumsfeld talks about this war, really anything, I think that we need to hearken back to his promise to this country in trying to sell this war initially, that in his view we would be there maybe six days, maybe six weeks, but probably not as long as six months. I think we need to remember what these people were telling this country at the time and how absolutely wrong they have been at every turn.

AMY GOODMAN: FOX News went after you --

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: That was interesting.

AMY GOODMAN: -- for this protest. You were on their morning show?

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: I was on a morning show. And I thought that they were interested in hearing from me, but actually they were sort of a caricature of themselves. They wouldn't let me finish a sentence. They went on the attack. I tried to give details when they asked for specifics. And all they wanted to do was quibble. And I pointed out, you know, this war was sold to the American people, largely by FOX and other members of the media, and we were lied to. We were lied into this war, and in terms of the execution of this war.

AMY GOODMAN: You said, “It’s people like you”?

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: I did. I talked about -- that they have helped lie this country into this war, and they continue to lie. I mean, look at the Jessica Lynch story that was sold to this country. It turned out none of what we were told, and even the source, the Army's source for that story, has never been disclosed. I think the mainstream media, this has been a segment of our country's history that we will look back upon with great shame and embarrassment, given how the American people were fed so many lies, both in terms of the run-up to this war and the execution of this war. And I think, though, that the American people are certainly getting it. When you look at the polls, that it's just so sad that there's been this tremendous lag time.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, perhaps part of the problem of the corporate media is that they reflect the spectrum of opinion between the Republicans and the Democrats. And leading up to the invasion, there was hardly any difference. You had Kerry and Edwards supporting the invasion.

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: That’s a very narrow spectrum, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: You're a Democratic mayor here in Salt Lake City. What do you have to say to the leadership? In fact, you were just in New York, weren't you, for this Clinton summit?

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: Yes, for the Clinton global initiatives. I was there to present on global warming. And they're doing just amazing work in that area.

But what do I have to say about the Democratic Party? I’m ashamed, really, of how little leadership there has been. There has been just tremendous timidity on the part of the party, generally, although there have been a handful of exceptions. But, you know, we had one member of the United States Senate vote against the PATRIOT Act, the blank check that was given by Congress to this president, I think in total abrogation of the role of Congress under separation of powers and under the power to make war, to declare war. They gave that away to a president that didn't have his facts straight and, I think, was manipulating the intelligence to sell this war.

AMY GOODMAN: You also, before you were mayor of Salt Lake City, were a lawyer who represented prisoners. In the book that we've just published, Static, we have a section on you, where we talk about who were the prison officials who set up Abu Ghraib. One of them came right here from Utah. He was the head of --

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: Two of them, actually.

AMY GOODMAN: -- the Department of Corrections, Lane McCotter.

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, McCotter and Gary DeLand, both of them had been directors at different times of the Utah Department of Corrections, and not a great record in terms of human rights or civil rights in the Corrections Department during that period of time. And I did represent a number of inmates, whose rights were clearly abused, whose needs were disregarded, and in one instance, a mentally ill inmate who was not given his medications. He should have been forced with those medications, because he was deteriorating so badly. You don't give somebody in that situation the choice as to whether they're going to be medicated, and especially you don't respond with such violence as they did.

They went in forcefully, took him down, stripped him naked and put him in a restraint chair, tightening the straps around his ankles, his arms, kept him there naked for 16 hours. No chance to go to the bathroom. I’ve heard from inmates that they were sitting in their feces and urine sometimes for days in that chair. And he developed during those many hours, without any examination by the psychologist or psychiatrist, who had ordered him being restrained --

AMY GOODMAN: This was Michael Valent?

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: This was Michael Valent. And he developed blood clotting. When they got him up to take him to shower after 16 hours, he, through a blood clot, had a pulmonary embolism and died.

AMY GOODMAN: And this was under Lane McCotter?

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: That’s when Lane McCotter was the director, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Then he moves over to Santa Fe and runs a private prison system there, and the prisoners are actually pulled out because of the abuse of the prisoners.

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: Yeah. When Lane McCotter was here and Gary DeLand as directors of Corrections, they were utilizing also a restraint board, a metal board where they were tie people down by their wrists and ankles. I would get calls from people -- mentally ill. One man had slashed his eyelids with a razor blade, rushed to the hospital. Instead of receiving any compassionate care, any therapy, any kind of normal mental health services, he was simply strapped down naked to this metal board.

AMY GOODMAN: It's called four-pointing?

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: Yes, it was four-pointed. And so, you know, the disregard for people's rights in this country, I think the natural evolution of that is the treatment of those who are incarcerated under circumstances like we saw at Abu Ghraib, like at Guantanamo. I think that there's a very dangerous trend in this country for people to say we don't believe in torture, that we believe in human rights, but we're willing as a nation too often to look away when it's somebody that we just don't want to deal with. And these are horrendous circumstances. The national commander of the American Legion actually told me that there was nothing that happened at Abu Ghraib that's not happening on every campus in this country. I just found that absolutely appalling.

AMY GOODMAN: Or frightening, one or the other. You are not running for a third term, you've announced --


AMY GOODMAN: -- to take on issues nationally, like this, torture, human rights and environmental issues. What have you done in Salt Lake City around environmental issues?

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, we've been focusing very much on local air quality problems, those sorts of things, but primarily on climate change issues. We have a climate protection campaign that's been very aggressive. We committed in our governmental operations on the eve of the 2002 winter Olympic games to abide by at least the Kyoto Accord goals. And those are set for 2012, that we accomplish what would be a 21% reduction from 2000 levels in greenhouse gas emissions, global warming pollutants by 2012. By last year, after only three years, we surpassed that goal. And I think the message here is, this can all be accomplished.

And you can save money in the process. This myth of the Bush administration, that somehow it's going to be economically devastating to reduce our global warming pollutants, it's just the opposite. We need to grow into this new economy and move toward greater conservation. Corporations have saved billions of dollars in doing this and doing the right thing. So cities around the country now, we have over 300 majors who have signed up for these kinds of measures.

AMY GOODMAN: Mayor Rocky Anderson, I want to thank you for being with us.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Do You Know Why We Fight?

The U.S. government has forbid the publication of this photo of bodies returning from Iraq. Posted by Picasa

I posted about a review of "Why We Fight" back in January when it was released. I finally watched it last week. It is one of the most profound and informative movies I have seen on the root causes of U.S. involvement in war making. Often I have commented that Bush is not the problem. Also in a yahoo group I am involved with, I try to communicate that any conspiracy by U.S. government officials on 9/11/01 is irrelevant for the amount of effort that would go into proving it, beyond a reasonable doubt.

This film lays it all out there. It is not a one-sided attack on the warmongers, but relies on the war makers themselves to give us insight.

In my opinion, this movie should be required in high school and college civics classes. Every american who wants to save our freedom, democracy and justice, should watch this film.

The following is an article by the director Eugene Jarecki.



An Unhappy Anniversary
By Eugene Jarecki on The Huffington Post

At a time of war, scandal, and national disunity, people across the American family are increasingly wondering how we got here. 45 years ago this week, departing President Dwight Eisenhower gave us our answer.

It was in his 1961 farewell address to the American people that Eisenhower coined the phrase "military-industrial complex," an unholy alliance between the Pentagon and its contractors that he saw gaining "unwarranted influence" over public policy. Today, in more ways than we know, these words haunt us.

Ironically, fifteen years earlier, the heroic general of World War II had been an advocate of military-industrial cooperation. "The armed forces could not have won the war alone," he wrote to Secretary Stimson in 1946, "Scientists and business men contributed techniques and weapons which enabled us to outwit and overwhelm the enemy." As the 5-star General became President, he would learn firsthand that the power of this alliance was growing out of control, tightening its grip on even his own decision-making as President. "God help this country," a weary Eisenhower was overheard to say in the Oval Office, "when someone sits at this desk who doesn't know as much about the military as I do."

Over the years, the term "military-industrial complex" has been praised by some as prophecy and dismissed by others as the work of a zealous speechwriter. Eisenhower's meticulous scribblings over many drafts disprove the latter. Today, the power and influence of the military-industrial complex seem self-evident. Yet beyond this phrase, Eisenhower's remarkable farewell address is all but forgotten in a world he foresaw down to the last shell-casing.

At a time when a growing number of Americans are wondering how September 11 led to Shock and Awe and a war whose estimated cost may now exceed $2 trillion, Eisenhower cautions thus: "Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties."

As the path to Iraq saw the U.S. with arrogant impatience undermine the credibility of U.N. member states that opposed an expedited inspections timetable, Eisenhower reminds us of the importance, however flawed, of instruments of international cooperation: "Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield."

As proponents of the war on terror call for ever-increasing levels of defense spending, we are reminded that Eisenhower, facing the real prospect of intercontinental nuclear attack by the Soviet Union, remained committed nonetheless to the view that "disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative."

At a time when the rush to war seems now to have been engineered at least in part by unelected operatives working in the shadows of power at Think Tanks and other interest groups, Eisenhower warns of "the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power" arising from the "unwarranted influence" of such forces.

Recently, as scandals envelop Washington from Boeing to DeLay to Frist to Abramoff, Eisenhower reminds us that "the power of money is ever-present and is gravely to be regarded."

And now, as the Executive Branch asserts privilege to abridge the civil liberties of Americans in the name of prosecuting the war on terror, Eisenhower challenges us to remain vigilant: "We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

While all these concerns haunt our present condition, one phrase stands out from the rest: "the need to maintain balance in and among national programs." As we build bridges and print textbooks for the children of Iraq while our own children are uneducated and drowning in the streets of New Orleans, it becomes clear that Eisenhower has a notion of balance that embarrasses our own.

Perhaps it was his experience on the battlefield. Or even the values his pacifist mother instilled in him. Or maybe it was just plain-old Kansas common-sense. Whichever, Eisenhower understood that a nation's defense is about more than just bombs. He understood that a country that allocates a disproportionate share of its wealth toward defense and away from other aspects of its national life is a country driven by an incomplete vision of national defense. In the final analysis, he understood that an uneducated country is an undefended country, that a country without adequate health care is an undefended country, that a country in debt is an undefended country, that a country without friends and allies is an undefended country, and above all, that a country whose people have lost faith in their leaders, is an undefended country.

"This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense," Eisenhower declared at an earlier time in his career. "Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

Saturday, September 23, 2006


By Matt Wasserman
From the September 21, 2006 issue | Posted in National

The signature organization of the 1960s student left has been reborn

Three decades after its storied meltdown, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is back. And it’s reemerged into a country that looks strangely the same. The United States is bogged down in another unpopular war, the corporatization of the university continues, people of color are fighting to be treated as full citizens. Yet two things are conspicuously missing: the widespread rebellion that goes by the catch-all name of “the ‘60s,” and militant, mass organizations like the Black Panthers and SDS that were on the frontlines of the struggle.

When the anti-corporate globalization movement burst on to the scene in 1999’s famous Battle of Seattle the disruption of the World Trade Organization summit proved that direct action still has the ability to win the hearts of a generation. Then September 11 changed the game. With the failure of mass marches to stop the war, protest movements grew moribund, unable to regain its early momentum in the new, fearbased climate of the Bush administration.

It’s not that nothing is happening. Local collectives like Common Ground in New Orleans or the Kensington Welfare Rights Union in Philadelphia, and single-issue organizations like Critical Resistance and United Students Against Sweatshops continue to wage important fights. But unlike their counterparts on the right, they have been unable to join their movements into a coherent political struggle. The sum of “the movement” is less than its parts.

On the student front, the new SDS is the best bet. There’s enormous potential out there, but it is unorganized and without outlet; expressing itself in anti-Bush t-shirts, rather than substantial challenges to power. The missing link between discontent and organized resistance is exactly the kind of participatory group SDS promises to be. We need organizations that are capable of naming, analyzing and fighting the system that lies beneath George W. Bush’s actions. Organizations that enable any group of committed students can join and play a conscious role.

The core SDS concept of participatory democracy provides a means of uniting disparate struggles as part of a broader, decentralized movement where students learn along the way. The involvement of a number of old SDS stalwarts gives the new SDS an edge in confronting, understanding and transcending the legacy of the original student New Left.

As of its founding conference this summer at the University of Chicago, SDS claims over 160 chapters. While there are Harvard and Yale chapters, the new SDS has significantly broadened the starting demographics of its historical progenitor with an enormous number of chapters at community colleges, state universities and high schools.

The Olympia, Washington chapter was the main group behind the blockade of Stryker tanks being shipped to Iraq this summer, the most militant and promising anti-war action of the last year. Hundreds of students, many from Evergreen College braved pepper gas and arrests to actually obstruct the war effort. In New York, Pace University SDS claimed credit for scaring pro-war Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton from making an appearance.

Discussing the events and aftermath of the uprisings of 1848, Marx claimed, “the tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.” In the next line, he adds that in the course of “creating something that did not exist before,” revolutionaries “conjure up the spirits of the past to their service… in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.” The new SDS has donned its costume; here’s hoping it’s not a “second time farce.”

Matt Wasserman is a founder of Reed College SDS.For more information,

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Is Anybody Here?

collage by scrappyboy at Scrapiteria.

Groundlessness has created challenges for me expressing myself. I have lost any sense of certainty and knowing since being on my trip to Ohio. I am usually hesitant to communicate what is going on for fear that I cannot be cohesive in my expression. This came out today in response to a friends comments on embracing our fear:

I consciously embraced my fear of disintegrating this morning in my meditation and felt this in-flow of energy and power. Now I'm in my day and am not sure what lasting effect that is having, but I do feel a groundedness and empowerment that wasn't there yesterday.

I had a inner freak-out yesterday, stimulated by my reading about spiritual flight. This is the tendency to circumnavigate around our fears into a sense of spiritual living with renunciation as the foundation. The renunciation is driven by our fear of living fully in the world and accepting our imperfection. I panicked for fear that I had once more created a delusion of my sense of purpose and was avoiding life out of my sense of being too good for that.

This morning I read from my other book "Witness to the Fire" about the experience of the abyss and the importance of surrendering to it in order that the creative inspiration may come. I realized, I am not avoiding and living in spiritual flight but am accepting my place in the abyss, with all it chaos and groundlessness. I am feeling separate from the "normal" world, not because I am avoiding, but because I have broken through the delusion of safety in a well managed life, into the darkness and threat of the unknown disintegrating "ego".

I went to dance last night and we literally danced our prayers. Our teacher was back and she asked us to write a question on paper and then to carry that question into our dance and let our bodies answer. My question was "How do I know that I'm moving forward and doing the "right" thing?" My answer was my body will tell me. When I am in the flow, I am fully in my body and energized. Dancing with life, it you will. I know the feeling, I've experienced it before. My head wants to "understand", my body knows.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Take Action

The Declaration of Peace Week of Nonviolent ActionAcross the United States and in Washington, DC: September 21-28, 2006

If a concrete and rapid plan for an end to the US war and occupation in Iraq has not been legislated by September 21, people across the US will declare peace by engaging in one or more of the following peaceful public actions. For location of and information about specific activities, visit the Declaration of Peace Events Calendar. Contact Local Organizers and Endorsing Groups in your area to get involved.

Register for Nonviolent Civil Disobedience taking place locally and in Washington, DC for the Week of Action, September 21-28

Thursday, September 21:
The International Day of PeaceA national press event and nonviolent action at the White House launch The Declaration of Peace week. Candlelight vigils across the US and around the world that evening. For information, click here.

Friday, September 22:
Local Declaration of Peace activities. Nonviolent action at a number of District Congressional offices and other sites across the US.

Saturday & Sunday, September 23-24:
Declaration of Peace activities in a number of cities and towns across the US. See the Events Calendar.

Monday, September 25:
Nationwide nonviolent civil disobedience and legal activity at District Congressional offices. Washington, DC: Nonviolent Action Training to prepare for September 26-27 nonviolent action at US Capitol. Nonviolence Training: 3 - 5 p.m. Pre-action meeting: 6 - 8:30 p.m. Location: St. Aloysius Church, 19 Eye Street, NW. Click here for directions.

Tuesday, September 26:
Nonviolent resistance action at the US Senate in Washington DC. Organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.Time: 10:00 a.m.Meeting place: Upper Senate Park10:30: Interfaith ceremony and rally11:30: Interfaith religious procession around the Capitol, followed by peace presence and nonviolent resistance, including risking arrest at the US Senate in Washington DC.

To write for more information, click here.

Preparation for Nonviolent Actions on September 27: Nonviolence Training: 3 - 5 p.m. Pre-action meeting: 6 - 8:30 p.m. Location: St. Aloysius Church, 19 Eye Street, NW. Click here for directions.

Wednesday, September 27:
Nonviolent resistance action at the US House of Representatives in Washington DC.Time: 10:00 a.m.Meeting place: Upper Senate Park10:30: Rally11:30: March/processionNonviolent resistance, including risking arrest.
To write for more information, click here.

Thursday, September 28:
If a comprehensive plan for an end to the war in Iraq has not been established, a national press event will announce the Declaration of Peace’s next phase of its nonviolent action campaign to end the US war and occupation in Iraq.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Those Zany U.S. Allies Honoring "American" Values

Dubai Ruler Sued in U.S. over Enslaving Small Boys
September 14, 2006 3:36 PM

Vic Walter Reports:

The ruler of Dubai came to Kentucky to buy race horses but ended up being served with a lawsuit alleging he enslaved thousands of small boys as camel jockeys.

Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum was served Monday with the court papers while attending a horse show in Lexington, Ky., where he spent an estimated $30 million on thoroughbred yearlings.

The lawsuit, brought as a class action, alleged Sheikh Mohammed and his brother were part of a conspiracy "to buy boys in the slave trade, hold them in bondage in brutal camps in the desert" as part of a flourishing camel racing sport among Arab sheikhs.

The lawsuit calls it "one of the greatest humanitarian crimes of the last 50 years," involving thousands of boys as young as four who were prized because they weighed less than 44 pounds.
The Sheikh's personal 747 aircraft was seen parked this morning at the Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, Ky. There was no immediate comment from the Sheikh or from a spokesman at the United Arab Emirates embassy in Washington, D.C.

The United States State Department in a report on human trafficking last year cited the practice of using young boys as camel jockeys.

"Children trafficked to the Gulf states in the Middle East are forced to race camels of the entertainment elite. These children were training under the shadow of Dubai's skyline in early 2005," the State Department report said.

The State Department report, while not specifically naming the Sheikh, says the trafficking of young boys as camel jockeys "has burgeoned in the Gulf states, which, with the discovery of oil and the associated surge in wealth, transformed camel racing from a traditional Bedouin sports pastime to a multi-million dollar activity."

The report says the government of the United Arab Emirates, "has failed to take significant action to address its trafficking problems and to protect victims."

Read an excerpt of the lawsuit against Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My First Buddhist Teacher From My Childhood.

From Alfred E Newman I learned the basic spiritual principal, "What, Me Worry?"

Posted by Picasa This photo was taken by marabou2005 at Burning Man 2006 and was found at

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

EXCLUSIVE...9/11 Debate: Loose Change Filmmakers vs. Popular Mechanics Editors of "Debunking 9/11 Myths"

Monday, September 11th, 2006

September 11, 2001 - five years after the attacks many people are asking questions about what happened on that day in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Websites, articles, books and documentaries have put forward a variety of alternate theories to the government's account of what happened. The most popular of these is a documentary called "Loose Change." Now, a book dealing with many of these theories has just been published by the magazine Popular Mechanics, it's called "Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts." In a Democracy Now! national broadcast exclusive, we host a debate between the filmmakers of Loose Change and the editors of Popular Mechanics on 9/11.

We continue with our 9/11 coverage today on this fifth anniversary of the attacks. Last week we heard from New Yorkers calling on the federal government to stop ignoring the health effects of the attacks on the World Trade Center. A major new study of 9/11 finds that nearly seven out of every ten first responders at Ground Zero now suffer from chronic lung ailments. We also spoke with a man whose brother was killed at the World Trade Center and is now spearheading a movement against President Bush's war on terror. And we looked at September 11th 100 years ago, when Gandhi launched Satyagraha, the modern non-violent resistance movement that continues to this day.

Today, a debate about 9/11. Ever since the attacks took place, many people across the country have raised a number of questions about what actually happened on that day in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Websites, articles, books and documentaries have put forward a variety of alternate theories to the government's account of what happened.

The most popular of these is a documentary called "Loose Change." The 80-minute film first appeared on the web in April 2005. Since then, it has had at least 10 million viewings and is described by Vanity Fair as "the first Internet blockbuster." As the popularity of "Loose Change" has soared, a book dealing with the questions it and others have raised about 9/11 has been published. It's called "Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts" put together by the editors of the magazine, Popular Mechanics.

Today, we talk about some of the 9/11 theories and the arguments against them.
* Dylan Avery, writer and director of "Loose Change."
* Jason Bermas, researcher for "Loose Change."
* James Meigs, editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics. Part of the editorial team that produced "Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts."
* David Dunbar, executive editor of Popular Mechanics. Part of the editorial team that produced "Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts."

This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution. Donate - $25, $50, $100, more...

AMY GOODMAN: Today, we bring you a national exclusive: a debate about 9/11. Ever since the attacks took place, many people across the country have raised a number of questions about what actually happened on that day in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Websites, articles, books and documentaries have put forward a variety of alternate theories to the government's account of what happened. The most popular of these is a documentary called Loose Change. The 80-minute film first appeared on the web April 2005. Since then, it's had at least 10 million viewings and is described by Vanity Fair as “the first internet blockbuster.”

As the popularity of Loose Change has soared, a book dealing with the questions it and others have raised about 9/11 has been published. It’s called Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts. It’s put together by the editors of the magazine Popular Mechanics.

So today, we'll talk about some of the theories and the arguments against them. We're joined in our studio by the filmmakers of Loose Change. Dylan Avery is the writer and director of the film and Jason Bermas is the film’s researcher. From Popular Mechanics, we're joined by David Dunbar, the executive editor of the magazine. He led the editorial team that produced Debunking 9/11 Myths. James Meigs is also with us, the magazine's editor-in-chief. Before we go to all of them, let's go to a clip of Loose Change that deals with the attacks on the Pentagon on 9/11.

NARRATOR: 10:06 a.m., Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Flight 93 was en route from Newark, New Jersey to California with 45 passengers when it went off course at 8:56 over northeastern Ohio. According to the official story, Flight 93 was en route to Washington, D.C., when it was overpowered by a group of passengers and crashed into an abandoned strip mine in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Out of all the events of 9/11, the one that has caused the most confusion is Flight 93: it was shot down/it wasn't shot down. However, evidence suggests that perhaps Flight 93 was nowhere near Shanksville.

FOX NEWS REPORTER: I wanna get quickly to Chris Chaniki. He's a photographer with the Pittsburgh affiliate, a FOX affiliate. He was back there just a couple of minutes ago. And Chris, I've seen the pictures. It looks like there’s nothing there, except for a hole in the ground.

CHRIS CHANIKI: Basically that's right. The only thing you could see from where we were was a big gouge in the earth and some broken trees. You could see some people working, walking around in the area. But from where we could see, there wasn't much left.

FOX NEWS REPORTER: Any large pieces of debris at all?

CHRIS CHANIKI: No. There was nothing, nothing that you could distinguish that a plane had crashed there.


CHRIS CHANIKI: Nothing. It was absolutely quiet. It was actually very quiet. Nothing going on down there. No smoke, no fire, just a couple of people walking around. They looked like part of the NTSB crew, walking around looking at the pieces.

FOX NEWS REPORTER: How big would you say that hole was?

CHRIS CHANIKI: From my estimates, I would guess it was probably about 20 to 15 feet long and probably about ten feet wide.

FOX NEWS REPORTER: What could you see on the ground, if anything, other than dirt and ash?

CHRIS CHANIKI: You couldn't see anything. You could just see dirt, ash and people walking around.

NARRATOR: Wally Miller, a Somerset County coroner: “It looked like somebody just dropped a bunch of metal out of the sky.” In the Washington Post: “It looked like someone took a scrap truck, dug a ten-foot ditch and dumped trash into it. And as for the passengers: “I stopped being coroner after about 20 minutes, because there were no bodies there.” In the Pittsburgh Review: “I have not to this day seen a single drop of blood, not a drop.” It would seem that on one day, for the second time in history, an entire plane along with its passengers disappeared upon impact.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of Loose Change. We'll talk with the filmmakers, as well as the editors of Popular Mechanics, when we come back from break, and then we’ll take on the issue of what happened in Washington, the question of what hit the Pentagon. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: As we take on the issue of what happened on September 11th, 2001, our guests are Dylan Avery, writer and director of Loose Change; Jason Bermas, researcher for the film; James Meigs is also with us, editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics; and David Dunbar, executive editor of Popular Mechanics, who led the editorial team that produced the book, Debunking 9/11 Myths. Jim Meigs, you’re the editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics; your response to this excerpt of Loose Change about what happened in Shanksville?

JAMES MEIGS: You know, that clip is really interesting, because it shows how slickly made this film is, how compelling it is at asking a series of sort of hanging questions and putting some spooky music behind it and making it sound as if someone’s covering up these facts. But a brave researcher can dig down and put all the pieces together. In fact, there's answers to all those questions.

If you look at the sources that were used throughout that clip, they’re all things that came up in the first day or two after the attacks. In some cases, somebody is standing across the field and saying, “I don't see a plane.” Well, when a plane strikes the ground at 500 miles an hour, flying almost straight down, there typically isn't much visible above ground.

They also quote the coroner in the Shanksville area. We talked to the coroner. He had the horrific job of collecting the body parts and cataloging and performing all the necessary tests. Those bodies were identified. The plane wreckage in the pieces -- the tiny pieces it was in after it had hit the ground was, you know, collected from the hole, cataloged.

And the black box was recovered. And we know what went on, because of the records of the voice cockpit recorder, and in this case, quite a few phone calls from the aircraft itself to various people on the ground. So we know a lot of what happened on Flight 93.

The film is alleging that no plane crashed there at all. The people were sent off somewhere to somehow be disposed of. If you are going to allege something so far beyond what a huge body of evidence would suggest is the truth, then you do need to pull together some evidence. And so, we fully support asking questions and being skeptical, but if you’re going to ask questions, you also have to look for the answers. And when you get answers, you can't ignore them.

AMY GOODMAN: James Bermas of Loose Change -- Jason Bermas.

JASON BERMAS: I'd just like to thank you for the opportunity to take on the government's lies and Popular Mechanics, which is a Hearst yellow journalism publication’s lies, as well. And I would just say, look for yourself. This is an open field, and for the first time in history, we have a crater and no plane there. Look at any other plane crash, and you’ll find a tail section, a wing section. There were reports that this actually was strewn out over eight miles, and we have videotape of smaller pieces of debris. The coroner speaks for himself. We have the Pittsburgh Gazette, the editor-in-chief there, saying, again, there’s nothing there that looks like a plane.

Again, don’t believe us. Go to right now and watch for free. But take a look. All those people -- you would normally have NTSB people in blue jackets to get the plane parts and put them back together. That's what happened with TWA-800 that was in the ocean. And you don’t have that. You have people in hazmat uniforms. Why? So all’s we’re saying is, look, there's no plane in this open field at all. There's a ten-foot crater by 16-foot, and there’s just smoke there. So where is this plane? That's all we're saying.

AMY GOODMAN: What about what the coroner said, collecting body parts?

JASON BERMAS: Well, he's never addressed us. And if you look at all of his media accounts in the days after, when he was first asked, again, he said there were no body parts, and to this day he has not seen a single drop of blood. So, again, I would say that's more reliable than, you know, four years after the fact being contacted.

JAMES MEIGS: Did you talk to him?

JASON BERMAS: He won't address us. Basically we have had people contact him, and he hangs up on us.

JAMES MEIGS: I find typically when we investigate these things, it's very easy to find public records, to find the reports from all the various agencies that have investigated these accidents. The transcripts of the voice cockpit recorder have been released. In many cases, again, the sources, Jason, those are -- newspaper articles are written day of, day after, a couple of days after.

DYLAN AVERY: No, one of them was a year after the fact.


DYLAN AVERY: No, it was.

JAMES MEIGS: You know what it was like on those days, and you know how chaotic it was. You know how much misinformation typically comes out in the early hours of a major news event. Over time, with further research and good reporting, you can sift through those things, and you can make progress and get into the truth. Typically, what we see on conspiracy websites is citations that go back to the earliest moments, when the least information was available, and virtually no reference to the voluminous research which was done to follow up.

AMY GOODMAN: Dylan, what about the issue of cell phones?

DYLAN AVERY: The issue of cell phones is that for a majority of Flight 93’s flight, it was flying over cruising altitude, and a number of these -- now, a majority of the phone calls were coming from air phones. But the cell phone calls were coming from cruising altitude. Now, it is pretty much impossible in 2001 to sustain an extended conversation over a cell phone at cruising altitude from a commercial airliner. But, I mean, that's not our strongest evidence. I mean, that’s just one of the many things about that day that don't add up to us.

And we haven't gotten to hear the cockpit voice recorder. We haven't gotten to hear any of these alleged phone calls. I mean, the government is cherry-picking the evidence that it releases to the government. And I feel that if our government was truly attacked by surprise and we had absolutely no inclination of the attacks, they would not be so reticent to release the 84 videos from the Pentagon, the cockpit voice recorder of Flight 93. The list of things that the government is holding from us goes on.

AMY GOODMAN: David Dunbar.

DAVID DUNBAR: With regard to the cell phones, we did what any reporter would do. We talked to experts in the field. And, in fact, cell phones do work at that altitude, up to 35,000 feet and higher. And --


DAVID DUNBAR: In 2001, and it might be instructive for you to talk to some of the cell phone experts. There are a lot of dropped calls, because the plane is moving at high-speed and the hand-off sometimes get dropped. That’s true, and we know from the public record that, in fact, a lot of the cell phone calls were cut off. And most of the phone calls were made from the air phones. But nevertheless, talk to the experts, and you’ll find out that you can make a cell phone call from a commercial plane.

JASON BERMAS: If I may address that for one moment? If that's true, then why in 2004 did American Airlines spend tens of thousands of dollars to put cell phone towers in their planes so people could make those calls? Why spend tens of thousands of dollars three years after the fact, if they worked so well on September 11? What he's saying is a total lie.

AMY GOODMAN: James Meigs.

JAMES MEIGS: We didn't say they worked well. We said they worked. And if you look at the record, many of the calls were dropped, they were incomplete, but especially over rural areas. You know, if you think about a cell phone tower, it can cover a couple hundred square miles. That coverage area goes up into the sky, as well as horizontally across the ground.

DYLAN AVERY: Actually, they’re designed to point downward.

JAMES MEIGS: The reason that they’ve improved the system was to avoid the dropped calls and to isolate the cell phone transmissions from any possible interference with the avionics.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re not going to cover any issue comprehensively. We have a lot of issues to cover, and I'd like to turn now to an excerpt --

DYLAN AVERY: Yeah, the cell phone is a weak argument.

AMY GOODMAN: Why do you say that?

DYLAN AVERY: I mean, it's not our best evidence. I mean, there’s tons of things you can discuss besides the cell phone.

JASON BERMAS: Just the fact the plane is not there, I think, is our best evidence, and anyone can see that.

AMY GOODMAN: Let's turn to the Pentagon right now, in the excerpt of Loose Change that deals with the attack on the Pentagon.

JAMIE McINTYRE, Sr. Pentagon Correspondent: It might have appeared that way, but from my close-up inspection, there's no evidence of a plane having crashed anywhere near the Pentagon. The only site is the actual site of the building that's crashed in. And as I said, the only pieces left that you can see are small enough that you can pick up in your hand. There are no large tail sections, wing sections, fuselage, nothing like that anywhere around, which would indicate that the entire plane crashed into the side of the Pentagon.

NARRATOR: The official explanation is that the intense heat from the jet fuel vaporized the entire plane. Indeed, from these pictures it seems that there's absolutely no trace of a fully loaded Boeing 757. But if the fire was hot enough to incinerate a jumbo jet, then how could investigators identify 184 out of 189 people found at the Pentagon. The Armed Forces DNA identification laboratory, which was responsible for the task, was also responsible for identifying the dead in Shanksville. Keep that in mind for later.

So what is a Boeing 757 made of? The exact details are not public knowledge. But what we do know is that Flight 77 had two Rolls Royce RB211 engines, made of steel and titanium alloy, which are nine feet in diameter, 12 feet long and weigh six tons each. Titanium has a melting point of 1,688 degrees Celsius. Jet fuel is a hydrocarbon, which can maintain a constant temperature of 1,120 degrees Celsius after 40 minutes, but only if the fuel source is maintained. The fuel would have burned off immediately upon impact. Therefore, it is scientifically impossible that 12 tons of steel and titanium was vaporized by jet fuel.

AMY GOODMAN: Dylan Avery, the narrator and filmmaker of Loose Change, a film that is getting tremendous attention. Millions of people have downloaded it. Dylan and Jason are here in New York in this weekend of the anniversary giving out thousands of copies of the film. The issue of the Pentagon, David Dunbar, executive editor of Popular Mechanics?

DAVID DUNBAR: Well, the clip starts with a red herring, claiming that experts say the plane was vaporized, which is untrue. And in addition, in our book and I believe even in the film, there is evidence of debris on the lawn of the Pentagon. There's plenty of debris that's been found inside the building. There were -- the largest chunk was probably the landing gear that punched through the C-ring to make that 16-foot exit hole. So there's plenty of physical evidence, including the flight data recorder and forensics that were done, that there was a 757 that struck the Pentagon. And I'm still waiting, after five years, to see any physical evidence of any kind that would indicate that it was a missile or anything else that hit the Pentagon.

AMY GOODMAN: Dylan Avery.

DYLAN AVERY: Well, I mean, we've been waiting five years to see clear video of what actually happened at the Pentagon. And you guys are coming on and saying that you’re experts on the fact, when nobody has seen what has happened. You guys claim to have seen photographs that have been released just to you. And I want to know why those haven't been released to the public.

AMY GOODMAN: What photographs have you seen?

DAVID DUNBAR: Can I add a point about that? I am not coming on this show and presenting myself as an expert in metallurgy or structural engineering. I'm coming on the show as the editor of this book. And what do we do? We do what you would do, Amy, or any other journalist would do. We talk to people who are experts in the field. And that's what we did with this book in order to debunk these 9/11 myths. I highly recommend it for documentary filmmakers or anybody else who wants to look at the data. That’s what we did. We talked to people who were there at the scene. We talked to structural engineers. We talked to aviation crash experts.

AMY GOODMAN: Jason Berman.

JASON BERMAS: Ms. Goodman, I'd just like to address the fact that they have claimed that they have 84 videos through a FOIA request pertaining to what did strike the Pentagon. But the bottom line is, nothing should have struck the Pentagon. We know through the 9/11 Commission testimony that Norman Mineta, the head of the Transportation Department, was in a bunker with Cheney prior to the Pentagon strike. Now, this is the only three-and-a-half minutes out of the hundreds of hours that’s been censored by C-SPAN. Why? Because he says he's in a bunker with Cheney, and an aide walks in and says, “Sir, the plane is 50 miles out. Sir, the plane is 30 miles out. Do the orders still stand?” Cheney snaps his head around and says, “Of course, the orders still stand.”

By the time it was ten miles out, it was too late, and the Pentagon was struck. That is a direct stand down order. And if you listen to the NORAD tapes, later on some of these people are actually tracking these planes, asking to shoot them down, and they’re getting a negative shoot-down order. Why is that significant? Well, in June of 2001, Cheney signs a DOD memo putting shoot-down orders in his hands, Rumsfeld' hands and Bush's hands alone, where it was standard operating procedure if colonels were to intercept these planes and they saw a threat, they could do the shoot-down order.

JAMES MEIGS: Let's back up a little bit.

AMY GOODMAN: Jim Meigs of Popular Mechanics.

JAMES MEIGS: We started talking about physical evidence for an aircraft hitting the Pentagon, that an aircraft was seen by hundreds of people, eyewitnesses. The wreckage was removed from the Pentagon. The bodies were removed from the Pentagon and identified. None of those people have materialized to explain that this was a conspiracy.

We're not a political magazine. We're about facts. We're about what happens when airplanes crash, how buildings are built, and so we're not going back to conspiracies that might have been hatched, you know, during the Kennedy administration or other eras, but we are looking for physical evidence, positive evidence for any of these claims. Every time we get into detail on one, they fall apart.

The stand-down order is a good example. If you look at the NORAD tapes -- and Vanity Fair, the same magazine that did a very laudatory story on you guys, has a story in their current issue that includes these tapes. And what you see is it was total chaos that day. Nobody knew where the planes were. It was complete disorganization, and the protocol for how to handle a commercial aircraft that was off course was a complete mess. And, in fact, I think on September 10th, 2001, most of us would have been horrified to think that the minute a commercial aircraft goes off course there would be an F-16 on our trail with sidewinder missiles. That was not a country, I think, many of us would want to live in.

AMY GOODMAN: Jason Bermas

JASON BERMAS: What Mr. Meigs doesn't want to address is that that article clearly states that the same kind of thing were happening in the drills as what was happening on September 11th. You have comments like, "I've never seen so much real world stuff," during an exercise. You have somebody following Flight 11 for 20 minutes after it's hit the World Trade Center, and then you have Cynthia McKinney twice asking for reports on these drills, the last time in a 2005 Department of Defense budget thing from Myers and Rumsfeld, and she never gets it. And she asked them, "Well, do these war games help or hurt us?" And Richard Myers actually said, "They helped our response on 9/11," which is total nonsense.

We know at 8:45 in the morning, the CIA at the NRO building is running a drill of ramming a plane into a building. We know that FEMA was here the night before in New York City for a bio-terror drill. We also know the FAA is running drills of 20-plus hijacked jets going in and out of radar at the same exact time these four hijackings are happening. That's what he doesn't want to tell you.

DYLAN AVERY: I also want to jump in. We still have not seen any pictures of two RB211 engines, the tail section, any of that. We have not seen any significant parts of debris. And I would like to know what sources you have that the landing gear created that punch-out hole, because I have heard completely different responses. I heard the fuselage is what caused that hole.

JAMES MEIGS: There's a photo of it.

DYLAN AVERY: There's a photo of the landing gear causing that 16-foot hole?

JAMES MEIGS: There's -- you know, one of the things that you can do, the Pentagon and a number of other engineering organizations did intensive studies of what happened at the building. The building is a reinforced concrete building. The aircraft was shredded into relatively small pieces. The heavier -- some of the heavier components traveled farther, including the landing gear. You don't find an intact tail section when a large commercial aircraft hits a reinforced concrete building at 500 miles an hour. This is not a movie.

AMY GOODMAN: I do want to go to another clip of the movie, though, of the film. I want to turn to Loose Change, the part that does deal with the damage to the Pentagon. It begins with a clip of CNN's coverage on 9/11.

NARRATOR: These photos were taken before the roof of the outer ring had collapsed. The only visible damage to the outer wall is a single hole no more than 16 feet in diameter. A Boeing 757 is 155 feet long, 44 feet high, has 124-foot wingspan and weighs almost 100 tons. Are we supposed to believe that it disappeared into this hole without leaving any wreckage on the outside? Why is there no damage from where the wings or the vertical stabilizer or the engines would have slammed into the building?

Remember how big the engines were? If six tons of steel and titanium slammed into the Pentagon at 530 miles per hour, they would bury themselves inside the building leaving two very distinct imprints. And yet the only damage to the outer wall is this single hole with no damage from where the engines would have hit. Why are the windows next to the hole completely intact? Why are the cable spools in front of the hole unmoved?

As to the inside of the Pentagon, there's another hole approximately 16 feet in diameter found on the other side of the C-ring, three rings from the impact? For that hole to have been caused by Flight 77, the Boeing would have had to smash through nine feet of steel-reinforced concrete, traveling 310 feet. The nose of a commercial airliner is composed of lightweight carbon. This is what usually happens to the nose of a commercial airliner in a plane crash. If the nose caused this hole, where is the rest of the debris from the plane? So, what could blow a 16-foot hole on the outer ring of the Pentagon, smash through three rings, nine feet of steel-reinforced concrete and leave another 16-foot hole? A 757? Or a cruise missile?

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of Loose Change. David Dunbar, executive editor of Popular Mechanics, your response?

DAVID DUNBAR: We just looked at the physical evidence, and when the filmmakers can present some evidence of a cruise missile striking the Pentagon, we'll be happy to look at it and evaluate it and talk to our experts. Just rolling the tape back a bit, the angle that the film shows of the facade of the Pentagon before it collapsed is a misleading picture. That gash in the E-ring was about 90 feet across.

DYLAN AVERY: No, it was not.

DAVID DUNBAR: The wingspan of the plane was about 124 and change, not loose change, but that punched the hole into the building. And then the landing gear was more dense and heavier and continued on through a forest of columns to smash that exit ring. So when you see that nice round hole, that's the exit ring in -- that's the exit hole in the C-ring punched by the landing gear. And Purdue University did a massive computer reenactment of the crash and the aftermath, and they worked with the American Society of Civil Engineers to preparation of their report, and it's conclusive that the plane did strike the Pentagon.

AMY GOODMAN: Dylan Avery.

DYLAN AVERY: The initial impact on the Pentagon was no more than 20 feet wide, and if you are telling me that initial round impact hole in the facade of the Pentagon is 90 feet, then you're telling me that the two windows above it are 30 feet across.

DAVID DUNBAR: And incidentally, about the windows, I'm glad you mentioned that. Those were recently replaced in the Pentagon as part of a whole renovation program designed specifically to be blast resistant after the explosions at the American embassies in East Africa.

DYLAN AVERY: I find it very convenient that Hani Hanjour decided to choose that one particular section of the Pentagon to hit, when he could have just dove straight right into the front door.

DAVID DUNBAR: In the world of paranoid conspiracy theories --

DYLAN AVERY: You're not addressing the evidence.

DAVID DUNBAR: --there are no coincidences.

DYLAN AVERY: You're not addressing the evidence.

JASON BERMAS: I would just like to say this.

AMY GOODMAN: Jason Bermas.

JASON BERMAS: The first official version was this thing bounced off the lawn and hit it, and it would appear that it would have to, because it's such a low-level hit. Okay, it didn't bounce off the lawn, because there's no scratches on the lawn. On top of that, we actually interviewed the first person on the scene before the collapse, and he was on the lawn taking video of it for twelve minutes. His name is Bob Pugh, and it is no more than a 16- to 20-foot hole. And we actually have one of the survivors who crawled out of that hole and said she saw no plane debris. Her name is April Gallup. Explain to me how a woman can come through a hole where a 757 has just impacted the building.

AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds, Jim Meigs.

JAMES MEIGS: Yeah. We didn't fact check every detail of Loose Change, but what we did do was look at the broad cross-section of conspiracy theories. There are photographs of the plane in the building of wreckage wrapped around reinforced concrete columns, and there is a map of the path of destruction that plane tore through that area.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to go a break. We want to get to the World Trade Center. We are talking with the editors of Popular Mechanics and the filmmakers who made the film Loose Change. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to another theory put forward by the film Loose Change, is that the fire caused by the airplane crashes wasn't actually hot enough to melt steel and cause the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center to collapse.

NARRATOR: Hyman Brown, civil engineering professor and the World Trade Center's construction manager: “It was over-designed to withstand almost anything, including hurricanes, high winds, bombings and an airplane hitting it. Although the buildings were designed to withstand 150-year storm and the impact of a Boeing 707, jet fuel burning at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit weakened the steel.”

Kevin Ryan, Underwriters Laboratories in a letter to Frank Gayle of the National Institute of Standards and Technology: “We know that the steel components were certified to ASTM E119. The time temperature curves for this standard require the samples to be exposed to temperatures around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours. And as we all agree, the steel applied met those specifications. Additionally, I think we can all agree that even unfireproof steel will not melt until reaching red-hot temperatures of nearly 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Why Dr. Brown would imply that 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit would melt the high-grade steel used in those buildings makes no sense at all. This story just does not add up. If steel from those buildings did soften or melt, I'm sure we can all agree, that this was certainly not due to jet fuel fires of any kind, let alone the briefly burning fires in those towers.”

Ryan's statements directly contradict statements from other experts claiming that 2,000-degree heat inside the World Trade Center caused the towers to collapse. As such, days after writing this letter, Kevin Ryan was fired from his position. Not even the experts agree with each other. So what else could have caused the Twin Towers and Building Seven to collapse?

PETER JENNINGS: 10:00 Eastern Time this morning, just collapsing on itself…

DON DAHLER: The second building that was hit by the plane has just completely collapsed.

PETER JENNINGS: We have no idea what caused this.

CNN ANCHOR: Almost looks like one of those planned implosions.

CHANNEL 8 REPORTER: As if a demolition team set off, when you see the old demolitions of these old buildings. It folded down on itself and it is not there anymore.

PETER JENNINGS: If you wish to bring -- anybody who has ever watched a building being demolished on purpose knows that if you are going to do this, you have to get at the under-infrastructure of a building and bring it down.

WITNESS: We heard another explosion, and I’m assuming that's the one that came from the lower level, since there were two.

INTERVIEWER: Right, because it was like 18 minutes apart.

WITNESS: Well, this is -- no, the first explosion. Then there was a second explosion in the same building. There were two explosions.


WITNESS 2: Federal agencies that were down there do believe that there was some sort of explosive device somewhere else besides the planes hitting.

NBC ANCHOR: NBC’s Pat Dawson is close to the scene of that attack. Pat?

PAT DAWSON: Just moments ago, I spoke to the Chief of Safety for the New York City Fire Department. The chief, Albert Turi, he received word of the possibility of a secondary device, that is, another bomb going off. He tried to get his men out as quickly as he could. But he said that there was another explosion, which took place. And then an hour after the first hit here, the first crash that took place, he said there was another explosion that took place in one of the towers here. He thinks that there were actually devices that were planted in the building. The second device, he thinks, he speculates, was probably planted in the building.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of the film Loose Change. And as we broadcast today at this time in the live broadcast, it's the time of the first plane hitting the first tower of the World Trade Center. Jim Meigs, the editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics, your response to this aspect in Loose Change?

JAMES MEIGS: Yeah, well, that clip is interesting. It’s built largely around the testimony of a guy named Kevin Ryan from Underwriters Laboratories. In fact, it turns out his expertise was testing water. He wasn't involved in steel at all. This fact has been widely known, and yet for quite some time -- and even a lot of other conspiracy theorists have backed away from that, and yet it's in the film. And it looks so convincing when you see it, if you don't take the time to go back and do the background research. And if you notice, so many of the clips in that section come from the day of, the day after.

And it ends -- or along the way, don't they say something like, even the experts don't agree? In fact, the experts do agree. The collapse of the World Trade Center is the most intensively studied engineering failure in world history, and thousands of pages of reports, experts, some affiliated with various branches of government, major engineering schools, there's no indication in any of that work to support any of these ideas of demolition or anything like that. And the things that are cited tend to be the experts who on close investigation turn out to have no expertise or first impressions of people on the scene who, of course, heard all kinds of horrible noises and confusing, terrible things in the chaos of that day.

AMY GOODMAN: Jason Bermas.

DYLAN AVERY: Well, real quick, I just want to jump in and say, Kevin Ryan has been open about his statement. He has always been public about the fact that he worked for the -- I don’t remember the exact name, but it was a subdivision of Underwriters Laboratories, which did water testing. But it was the fact that he got the higher-up from -- he got the word from his higher-ups that they actually had certified the steel and, I mean, his science still adds up.

DAVID DUNBAR: In fact, Underwriter Laboratories does not certify structural steel.

DYLAN AVERY: Oh, okay.

JASON BERMAS: I would disagree with that. But aside from the hundreds of witnesses’ accounts of bombs going off in the building, I would just like to go to the official version. They are saying that the intense heat from the impact holes was so intense that it weakened the steel, causing it to do a pancake collapse on top of itself. This is simply a lie. We know two minutes before the first building, which was struck second and burned for less time, we had firefighters in the impact zone saying that they could knock down the fires with two lines, two hand lines. Now, I ask you, can human beings stand in 1,500-degree temperature, 1,200-degree temperature, 600-degree temperature? The answer is: no, they cannot.

JAMES MEIGS: Jason, I think it's telling that every time you disagree with something you call the people a liar.

JASON BERMAS: I'm not calling anybody a liar, sir. I'm calling you a liar, because you are a liar. These people were not lying. They knew they could knock down this fire. They radioed down. They said they could knock it down with two hand lines and literally less than two minutes later, the building imploded on itself. And what you won’t see in the clip there, but you can see at, again, for free, are the isolated blast points, 20, 40, and 60 floors below the supposed pancake collapse. And these are blast points. These are not pressure coming from air. And doubt me, because if you watch the first plane hitting the building, the only video of it, you actually see one of these blast points go off 20 stories above that impact, and they try to say that the building is blown out on the bottom level, first floor, right? First of all, the World Trade Center goes into the Port Authority. So why did it go 1,300 feet down the elevator shafts, explode -- decide to explode in the bottom level, leave no fire marks. I mean, it literally knocked off 15-foot panels --

DYLAN AVERY: I would also --

JASON BERMAS: -- of marble and left no burn marks. Marble, when you put fire on it, begins to turn yellow and brown rapidly. Look at the video evidence.

AMY GOODMAN: Dylan Avery?

DYLAN AVERY: I would just like to quickly jump in and ask what your guys’ explanation is for Willie Rodriguez's testimony that he heard, experienced, and his co-workers were actually burned, by an explosion in the basement of the North Tower, prior to the plane hitting? And this has been verified by at least twenty different eyewitnesses.

AMY GOODMAN: Jim Meigs, of Popular Mechanics.

JAMES MEIGS: The -- when the planes struck the buildings, they penetrated the internal core. Jet fuel poured down stairwells and elevator shafts, setting off secondary explosions, not to mention the horrific impact of these fully loaded planes hitting the structure and causing enormous swaying.

DYLAN AVERY: Mr. Meigs --

JAMES MEIGS: Give me a second to finish, Dylan. It's interesting, in that testimony, he says that somebody came out of the elevator area with his skin hanging off. That would be consistent with a fire, not an explosion. And you had a short clip of Naudet brothers’ documentary about that day and of them entering the lobby, but what you didn’t have was their voiceover, where they say they saw humans on fire, which again would be completely consistent with what we saw in all the reports on this, that jet fuel came down the elevator shafts. People died. We're talking about real human beings here, you know. This wasn't a movie. This isn’t a parlor game.

JASON BERMAS: We are talking about real human beings --

DYLAN AVERY: Bermas, Bermas, relax for a second.

JASON BERMAS: -- and we respect them with the truth, sir.

DYLAN AVERY: Relax for a second.

DAVID DUNBAR: It’s interesting to note, too, that --

DYLAN AVERY: But you still didn’t address the fact that it was before.

DAVID DUNBAR: -- conspiracy theorists sometimes cite the Empire State Building crash back in 1945: that building’s still standing, why are the Twin Towers down? But what’s interesting about that 1945 crash -- it was a much smaller plane going at a much lower speed -- it had similarities in terms of the fuel pouring down the elevator shafts and stairwells and, in fact, igniting fires in the lobby of the Empire State Building.

JASON BERMAS: Sir, hold on. True or false: the claim is that this fuel knocked the fireproofing off all the steel, correct? That's the claim?

DAVID DUNBAR: No, nobody’s claiming it knocked it off all the steel. It knocked it off approximately 60,000 square feet.

JASON BERMAS: Well, that’s false.

JAMES MEIGS: The impact, the impact.

DAVID DUNBAR: The impact. The impact of the plane.

JASON BERMAS: Another lie.

DAVID DUNBAR: [inaudible] through the impact [inaudible].

AMY GOODMAN: Now, we only have a few minutes, and I want to get to Building Seven. Dylan Avery what is your thesis of what happened to Building Seven?

DYLAN AVERY: Sure. Well, basically, which is -- this is one thing that a lot of people don't know about September 11th, myself included, until I started doing the research. At 5:20 p.m. on September 11th, World Trade Center Building Seven -- it was a 47-story steel-frame skyscraper 300 feet to the north of the North Tower -- at 5:20 p.m. this building collapses in under seven seconds completely into its own footprint into a debris pile about six or seven stories high. Now, it wasn't hit by a plane. It was hit by debris from the North Tower when it fell. But, if you look at all the buildings surrounding the World Trade Center, and if you actually look at Building Five, which is right underneath both the Twin Towers, that building is engulfed in flames for hours after Building Seven even collapses.

So, we have all the buildings surrounding the Twin Towers heavily engulfed with debris, some engulfed in flames. We have World Trade Center Building Seven, which has isolated fires on floor seven and twelve. It has smoke coming from its south face, and these guys claim that 25% of the building was scooped out. Even if 25% of the bottom of the building was scooped out, that still does not account for the building falling in perfect freefall into --

AMY GOODMAN: And your thesis about what happened? What do you believe?

DYLAN AVERY: It would have had to have been a controlled demolition. That's the only way to prove -- that’s the only way to explain what we saw with our own eyes, and any attempts to discredit that are just not scientifically sound.

JAMES MEIGS: You know, this is a wonderful example of how conspiracy theories work. Any time there’s a little bit of doubt, a little bit of area where we don't know everything, then the answer immediately is, well, someone must have blown it up. It’s a form of argumentation that’s also used by creationists. If they can find one little gap in the evolutionary record, they say evolution’s a hoax. Or Holocaust deniers --

DYLAN AVERY: Mr. Meigs, with all do respect, these are two completely different things.

JAMES MEIGS: Holocaust denial works with very similar --

DYLAN AVERY: Oh, my God!


JAMES MEIGS: And, but what we see here is -- one of our sources was Vincent Dunn, the retired deputy fire chief for the New York City Fire Department, who wrote the textbook, The Collapse of Burning Buildings. And what he explained is that the building was extremely unconventional. It had this giant Con Ed substation with enormous trusses carrying extraordinarily high loads, very vulnerable to fire and other kinds of damage. It was not a conventional skyscraper by a long shot. Those fires burned unfought for seven hours, fed by diesel tanks that were in the building to fuel backup generators. And when those trusses ultimately failed, the building did collapse in its own footprint. That's what happens when a building's internal supports fail.

AMY GOODMAN: We only have about one minute and we have to divide it. Can you respond to that point and make your larger point?

JASON BERMAS: Please let me respond to that.

DYLAN AVERY: Go ahead, Bermas.

JASON BERMAS: On top of everything he said, that’s where everybody rushed to for the local government, okay? We have somebody who was on the 23rd floor, okay, working with the local government, being escorted by fire fighters. He gets down to the eighth floor, huge explosion in Building Seven. Bomb goes off. Okay, this is his words, not mine: “Why are there explosives in Building Seven.” On top of that, there have been five different reasons why it fell. They’re trying to say generators, there was a big fuel tank, there’s a 20-story thing scooped out of the building, all of which is false, because they don’t know.

DYLAN AVERY: They keep changing their explanations for why the building fell.

JASON BERMAS: And I would say this, the 9/11 Commission Report actually has the nerve in a footnote to say that it collapsed in 18 seconds. Look for yourself and time it. It’s no more than 7 seconds.

AMY GOODMAN: And who do you believe blew up Building Seven?

DYLAN AVERY: We don’t want to try to implicate anybody. We’re just trying to tell people to go out and research for themselves. But, I mean, you have to ask yourself, who could have possibly placed explosives inside Word Trade Center Building Seven, secretly without anyone noticing, and especially the Twin Towers?

JASON BERMAS: Especially because the CIA, the DOD, the Secret Service are all located there.

DYLAN AVERY: Yeah, I mean, that building was a government hotspot.

AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds, Jim Meigs.

JAMES MEIGS: You know, conspiracies have a way of constantly expanding. You just listed a whole range of government agencies. Apparently the fire fighters we talked to, we at Popular Mechanics, other journalists, our friend David Corn at The Nation is accused to being part of this massive cover-up. The fact is, there are always little details that don't always add up until you finish your research.

DYLAN AVERY: Mr. Meigs, you’re still not addressing the evidence.

JAMES MEIGS: But when you really dig down, every single one of these has a clear explanation. And if there's areas that don't, let's continue to dig. We should be skeptical. We should ask questions. By all means, we fully support the effort to get to the bottom of any remaining questions.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. David Dunbar and Jim Meigs of Popular Mechanics, and Jason Bermas and Dylan Avery of Loose Change, I want to thank you all for being with us.

Copyright © 2006
- Democracy Now!, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 10, 2006

In Memory of the Victims of 9/11 and It's Aftermath

This is my comment on all those responsible on both sides of the imaginary line. "After all it was you and me."

Find PEACE and Live PEACE

Satyagraha 100 Years Later: Gandhi Launches Modern Non-Violent Resistance Movement on Sept. 11, 1906 Friday, September 8th, 2006

September 11th 2006 has a special significance. It not only marks the fifth anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington, it also marks 100 years to the day that Mahatma Gandhi launched the modern nonviolent resistance movement. Gandhi called it "Satyagraha."

The date was September 11th, 1906. Speaking before 3,000 Indians gathered at a theater in Johannesburg, Gandhi organized a strategy of nonviolent resistance to oppose racist policies in South Africa. Satyagraha was born and since then, it has been adopted by many around the world to resist social injustice and oppression.

Gandhi used it in India to win independence from the British. The Reverend Martin Luther King used it in the United States to oppose segregation and Nelson Mandela used it in South Africa to end apartheid.

Today, we mark 9/11 by looking at Satyagraha. We speak with Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and co-founder of the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis Tennessee, which promotes nonviolence in conflict zones around the world.

Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. Born in South Africa under apartheid, Arun moved to India in 1946 to live with his grandfather. He remained in India until the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. Arun Gandhi spent the next thirty years as a journalist in India. In 1991 he co-founded the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis Tennessee, which promotes nonviolence in conflict zones around the world.


AMY GOODMAN: Arun Gandhi joins us from Rochester, New York, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and co-founder of the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis, Tennessee, which promotes nonviolence in conflict zones around the world. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Arun Gandhi.

ARUN GANDHI: Thank you very much. Thank you very much for having me on your show.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you define Satyagraha for us?

ARUN GANDHI: Satyagraha is the pursuit of truth. My grandfather believed that truth should be the cornerstone of everybody's life and that we must dedicate our lives to pursuing truth, to finding out the truth in our lives. And so his entire philosophy was the philosophy of life. It was not just a philosophy for conflict resolution, but something that we have to imbibe in our life and live it all the time so that we can improve and become better human beings.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the spread of the concept and the movement around the world, looking back now at its impact, could you talk about how it spread and the impact it's had on social change around the world?

ARUN GANDHI: I think it has had a tremendous impact, as you just said in the introduction. So many people around the world have used nonviolence as a way to resolve a conflict that they faced in their lives. And they continue to use it everywhere all over the world there. And I think, in a way, nonviolence is our nature. Violence is not really our nature. If violence was our nature, we wouldn't need military academies and martial arts institutes to teach us how to kill and destroy people. We ought to have been born with those instincts. But the fact that we have to learn the art of killing means that it's a learned experience. And we can always unlearn it.

And I’m always reminded of a very pertinent statement that my grandfather made. He said, “Violence will prevail over violence, only when someone can prove to me that darkness can be dispelled by darkness.” And I think that's what we have to remember and try to imbibe in our lives there, that we can never overcome violence with more violence. We can only overcome violence with respect and understanding and love for each other.

AMY GOODMAN: Arun Gandhi, can you tell us what your grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, did 100 years ago today?

ARUN GANDHI: Well, as you said, he met in the theater with more than 3,000 Indian people, because they were victims of prejudices in South Africa and all kinds of unjust laws were enacted to oppress them and suppress them. And he realized that this was not right and that we should not submit to these things and should not live with this. And so he got the people together and explained to them that we have to resist this kind of injustice, and we have to do something about it. We should not just submit to it and live with it.

And people were wondering, how can we resist with the state so powerful, and we don't have any weapons, you know, because every time, even today, when somebody talks about resistance, everybody thinks in terms of weapons and war and fighting. And that's when grandfather explained to them that we don't need any weapons of mass destruction. We have the ability to respond to this nonviolently and with self-suffering. And that's what he encouraged the people to do. And they came out into the streets with love for the enemy. You know, grandfather didn't tolerate any hate for the enemy or any anger for the enemy. He said nonviolence has to be complete nonviolence. We have to have love and respect for the enemy, and that is the only way we can overcome them. And that's what he showed in his work.

And I am amazed that the prime minister of South Africa, General J.C. Smuts, later on he admitted that grandfather was the greatest. He called him a saint, and he said, “It was my misfortune that I had to be against him,” you know. And it was that kind of feeling of reverence and awe that he inspired even in his opponents. And I think that's what we have to remember and try to make it a part of our lives, because violence is destroying us. You know, we're seeing violence growing every day in our streets, in our homes, in our towns, in our cities, in the world itself. Everywhere we turn, we see violence and hate and prejudice and anger and all of these negative emotions that are destroying humanity. And we have to wake up and take note of this and try to change our course, so that we can create a world of peace and harmony where future generations can live happily together.

JUAN GONZALEZ: For some of our younger listeners, especially, who may not be aware of the specific ways in which your grandfather carried out his movement, especially in India, could you talk about some of the tactics used or the key moments in the fight for Indian independence? And also I’d be interested in your perspective on how you see how India today is either carrying out -- whether people are either carrying out or have forgotten much of the lessons of Gandhi.

ARUN GANDHI: Well, nonviolence is something very powerful, and the power behind it is not weapons, but the support of the people. And grandfather had this knack of picking on issues which really affected a lot of people everywhere. And therefore, he was able to get people to come out and join his movement.

Now, to give you an example, the salt march that took place in 1930, when he announced to the nation that he was going to defy the salt laws enacted by the British and defy the British government, even the Congress Party members who were his supporters began to doubt and wonder: “How can you destroy the British empire by defying the salt laws?” And, you know, everybody ridiculed the whole idea, and even the British ridiculed the whole idea, and grandfather remained steadfast there. But the reason why he picked on the salt law was that that was one law that affected everybody, Hindus and Muslims, rich and poor. Everybody across the board were affected by that law. And when he decided that he was going to march 247 miles to the sea --

JUAN GONZALEZ: And if you could explain why that law was so oppressive to the Indian people.

ARUN GANDHI: Because the British had decided that they were going to take the Indian salt back to Britain and refine it and repackage it and sell it back to the Indian people at about 20 times the price, and, you know, enormous taxes were imposed on salt. And India had been impoverished by the British colonialism and imperialism. And people were very poor. And this kind of tax on salt, something that everybody needs every day, was totally unjust, and therefore, grandfather decided to defy this.

And when he marched that day, began the march, 247 miles to the sea, you know, it just caught the imagination of the people. And millions of people poured out into the street. And even if they couldn't participate in his march, they did things in their own cities to defy the British. And the response was so tremendous that the Congress doubters also began to see the wisdom of it, and the British government were taken completely by surprise. And I think that was the turning point in the freedom struggle in India. From that point onwards, the British lost their hold over the country. And it just went down to ultimately giving independence to the country there.

AMY GOODMAN: And in your work in the Middle East, Arun Gandhi, how have you applied Satyagraha?

ARUN GANDHI: Well, I had the opportunity to go there in 2004. And as it turned out, I was the last foreigner to have meet Yasser Arafat and to have spoken to him. And the message that I took to the people in the Middle East is that this kind of violence that you are committing is not beneficial to you or beneficial to anybody. You are only destroying a whole generation of young people and not achieving anything. And lately, after 2001, after the terrorist attacks here, everybody in the West has been looking at suicide bombers as terrorists. And so, instead of gaining sympathy for the cause of the Palestinian people, you are only, you know, gaining more anger and frustration, and people are branding you as terrorists, and you are losing the battle there.

So I tried to suggest to them that they should take, you know -- reexamine their whole procedure and see what they can do nonviolently to achieve their goals. I suggested to them that Napoleon, the greatest military general that the world has seen, has written in his book that the general who holds the initiative has better chances of winning the war. And I said in this case, you are not holding the initiative at all. It is the Israelis who are holding the initiative, and they are making you do things that they want you to do, and that can justify more violence and separation of your people.

JUAN GONZALEZ: What was the response of President Arafat, who had spent his whole life in armed resistance, basically, to free his people?

ARUN GANDHI: Well, one of the questions that he asked me was, well, suppose you were given the leadership, what would you plan to do? And I said, look, I can't give you an offhand answer to this question, because it needs to be studied properly. I need to be here. I need to understand the problems here. But one thing that really comes to my mind here, I said I had just been to Amman, Jordan, where I had met with more than half a million refugees, Palestinian refugees, who were living for more than a decade in awful conditions. And they were frustrated and angry, and they wanted to come back to Palestine and live a peaceful, normal life there. And I told --

AMY GOODMAN: You have ten seconds.

ARUN GANDHI: I told Mr. Arafat, I said, suppose you were to go there and lead this half a million people, men, women and children, in a march to Palestine, and no armaments or anything, just say that we are coming back to live in peace and harmony in our homeland, can the Israelis kill so many people and live with their conscience? I said the whole world would wake up and stop this action.

AMY GOODMAN: Arun Gandhi. I want to thank you very much for being with us. I hope to see you in Memphis on January 11th, on our Breaking the Sound Barrier tour. And I want to let our listeners and viewers know, on Monday, the movie Gandhi will play all over the country, on the 100th anniversary of Satyagraha.