first 5 items via PR WATCH:
*LEFT BEHIND: lean times - nasty stuff from Wall Street Journal
*WARTIME QUOTES & LINKS from nlpwessex



The following news release is from the Alliance for a Corporate-Free United Nations: " At 8.30 this morning in Paris, France, activists from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, England, Germany, Denmark, Nigeria and Spain gathered outside the headquarters of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris to protest against the first meeting of the Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) group. The BASD, a joint initiative of the ICC and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) represents the main business input for next year’s United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+10. Business will use the World Summit as an occasion to portray themselves as doing ‘good’ with regard to environmental and social issues, as well as an opportunity to greenwash their tarnished images. ... Banners were hung on the outside wall stating ‘Business Action for Sustainable Domination’ and ‘Business is the Problem and not the Solution.’ The CEOs and other participants were then treated to a ‘greenwashing’ experience as activists washed a number of corporate logos green and hung them on a washing line, including Monsanto, Shell and Nestle, all members of the ICC and the WBCSD. (For a picture of the demonstration, see "

SOURCE: Alliance for a Corporate-Free United Nations



The UK Independent reports, "A senior government 'spin-doctor' was under pressure to resign after seeking to take advantage of the terrorist atrocities in America to 'bury' embarrassing stories." An adviser to the UK Secretary of State for Transport, LocalGovernment and the Regions sent a memo to senior colleagues saying, "It's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors' expenses?" The memo was sent within an hour of the second hijacked plane hitting the World Trade Center. On September 12, a proposal on new expenses for local councillors was released. Liberal Democrats say the proposal broke promises on councillor pensions.

SOURCE: Independent, October 9, 2001



Democracy Now! reports that some humanitarian groups have denounced the food packets the U.S. is air dropping into Afghanistan as a PR move. A spokesman for UK-based Muslim Aid says the air-dropped food is not effective on a humanitarian level. According to the Muslim Aid website, "Afghanistan has been suffering from a severe drought for the last four years. The disaster has now spread across 85% of the country, and people are facing extreme shortages of water, shelter, medicine and food. This winter an estimated 7.5 million Afghans will face starvation." An Oxfam spokesman told Democracy Now's Amy Goodman that air-dropping anything into Afghanistan is a bad idea given the approximately 10 million active land mines that are randomly scattered throughout the country and the risk that a person might be injured or killed while trying to get to the food. The BBC reports, "Aid agencies agree the amount of food aid entering the country is a fraction of what the population will need to survive winter." The UN World Food Program has suspended operations in Afghanistan and is unlikely to restart in the immediate future because of security concerns for its staff.

SOURCE: Democracy Now! October 8, 2001; BBC October 9, 2001

Web links related to this story are available at:



In an interview with Lip Magazine, media critic Bob McChesney discusses mass media's failure to provide context and understanding in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. "We need our media to really lead and show direction in all three areas: explaining what's happening, explaining why it's happening, and leading debate over what can and should be done about it," said McChesney. "One of the ironies here is that journalism, which is supposed to engage people and get them informed about politics and policies, has the effect of basically depoliticizing them, because it makes politics so confusing and uninteresting by taking the partisanship out of it. Therefore you get situations like these, where you get these fairy-tale storylines straight out of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie...All we need is Schwarzenegger or the World Wrestling Federation smackdown team, with The Rock. Because that's basically what we're seeing: pure good versus pure evil."

SOURCE: Lip Magazine



Professor Jerold M. Starr looks at corporate control of the U.S. media and calls for a new independent public broadcasting system: "Today a mere six corporations control more than half of all communications enterprises: books, magazines, newspapers, music, motion pictures, radio and television. Some 77 percent of the nation's daily newspapers are part of chains. Two firms control more than half the market for 11,000 magazines. Four firms control our broadcast TV networks and almost all the cable networks. Twenty-five radio groups control one-fourth of the stations and 57 percent of the revenue." And PBS is no meaningful alternative.



Left Behind: These are lean times for fringe activists
Thursday, October 4, 2001
from the Wall Street Journal opinion page

There's a phrase we've heard quite a lot lately: "Everything has changed." For those who lived or worked in downtown New York or lost loved ones in the attacks, that's a truth that can't be escaped. The rest of America is only beginning to get a sense of how fundamentally our country has been altered.

But if you want an early case study of just how the Sept. 11 attack affected this country's politics, look no further than America's liberal activist groups--the environmental radicals, the animal-rights protesters, the archfeminists and the antiglobalization protestors. The indulgent world in which these groups had operated collapsed on Sept. 11. Most found themselves floundering for a message and scratching for funds; all are facing the realization that a decade of shenanigans may be over.

The past 10 years had been an activist's dream. Americans had full bank accounts, plenty of time on their hands, and few real worries--which allowed them to feel guilty and anxious over issues like the environment. Activist groups played on this, raising a lot of support and money. They were aided by a Clinton administration that treated even the most radical organizations with respect.

These groups were under pressure even before Sept. 11. A Republican administration proved unwilling to cut backroom deals on animal testing or to support blowhard treaties like Kyoto. The economy was faltering, drying up donations and refocusing priorities; that's only worsened after the attacks. And now people do have real worries. What's more, the atrocities reminded us of the value of human life. No one can argue anymore that trees, suckerfish or lab animals are worth more than people.

Some of the more savvy activists have been smart enough to call a temporary halt to their sloganeering. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club withdrew ads and stopped bashing the administration. The Sierra Club pulled its "W. Watch," an irreverent catalog of the president's environmental actions. All over the world groups called a halt to protests, from those opposed to the Three Gorges Dam in China to those demanding "sweatshop" provisions in Third World countries. Even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals decided to tone down its shock tactics. (Oddly enough, as of yesterday its Web site contained no comment on a rally in Afghanistan at which, according to the Boston Globe, the Taliban burned three dogs alive).

It's clear from these groups' internal memos at that the reaction was more the result of worries over political fallout than patriotic fervor.

A memo by Allen Mattison, the Sierra Club's director of media relations Allen Mattison said it all: "We strongly need to avoid any perceptions that we are being disrespectful to President Bush. Now is the time for rallying together as a nation; the public will judge very harshly any groups whom they view as violating this need for unity" (emphasis mine).

Fringe groups that forwent political niceties rightly got slammed by organizations usually sympathetic to, or at least tolerant of, their views. Gar Smith, who edits the journal of the Earth Island Institute, wrote that the Sept. 11 atrocity was "not an attack on freedom" but on America's foreign policy. "The administration is trying to tell Americans that we are all targets. This is being done to draw attention away from the real targets: World Trade and U.S. militarism." The Washington Post responded directly: "Not an attack on U.S. citizens? Might want to tell that to the spouses, children, relatives and friends of the more than 5,000 killed."

But perhaps the groups that have done themselves the most harm are the antiglobalization protestors. After the International Monetary Fund and World Bank called off meetings planned to be held in Washington in late September--an event the protestors spent months gearing up for--the antiglobal groups decided they would change their message. A much-smaller group of protestors, led by the virulently anti-American International Action Center, showed up in Washington, this time to promote "world peace." Talk about irony. Here was a group that hates anything global--except, it seems, world peace. Moreover, here were people who have a track record of violent "protest," now lecturing our government on the need for pacifism.

Tone deaf? Oh yeah, especially when compared to a recent poll that shows more than 86% of Americans favor military action. Even an old lefty like Todd Gitlin (once president of Students for a Democratic Society) has hung a flag from his apartment in Greenwich Village. College kids, notwithstanding the anti-American idiocy of many of their professors, have taken to waving flags. Newspapers and television stations across the country either ignored the protests or reported on them derisively.

And things only went downhill when several hundred protestors clashed violently with Washington police.

So that was the immediate response, but what does the future look like for these groups? Bad, as many themselves admit.

The biggest change, of course, will come with waning public support. Many activist groups have already called an indefinite halt to fund-raising, knowing that asking for money now would cause long-term damage to their organizations. "We're trying to figure out what the appropriate line is to take," Sierra Club spokeswoman Joanie Clayburgh was quoted as saying.

The other big change will be the loss of prize policy goals. The first big loss may come when Congress tackles the question of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. It's unfeasible that America can stop importing oil from the Middle East, but continuing to import oil from countries that harbor terrorists is increasingly unacceptable.

Politicians who had previously signaled their unwillingness to drill are already changing their tune.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has asked Congress to revive the question of fast-track trade authority--an idea the antiglobalists hate. With today's "bipartisan" atmosphere, fast-track may well become law.

Russ Davis, director of the Massachusetts chapter of Jobs With Justice, was quoted as saying that prior to the attacks, a "growing frame in people's consciousness" was "global inequity." But "Sept. 11 just wrenched that frame, pulled the rug out from under the movement, and now the dominant frame is war, foreign policy."

But perhaps one of the most important changes will be a long-overdue crackdown on fringe groups that have wantonly practiced violence in America. Americans are going to start re-evaluating "eco-terrorism." Federal authorities had belatedly started to catch up to some of these criminals, even before the attacks. In the past year, Jeff Luers, a self-confessed firebomber of car dealerships in Oregon, received a sentence of 22 years, eight months--one of the stiffest punishments yet for an eco-terrorist in the U.S. After the attacks, Americans will be even less tolerant of such domestic crimes, and the arrests, and penalties, are likely to increase.

This re-evaluation of some activist groups is one of the few welcome developments stemming from the attacks. In his biography of John Adams, David McCullough notes the second president's observation that Americans remember what is good and right only in times of strife and crisis.

Sept. 11 has made this nation remember that human life is supreme, invaluable. What activist group can now argue that a human does not hold precedence over some wetlands, or a rat that could be tested for a vaccine? Hopefully, this new mindset will stay for some time.  

Ms. Strassel is an assistant features editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. Her column appears on alternate Thursdays.


Wartime quotes and links from nlpwessex:

"Why of course the people don't want war ... But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."
Hermann Goering, Nazi leader, at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II

"[The food drop in Afghanistan]isn't in any way a humanitarian aid operation, but more a military propaganda operation, destined to make international opinion accept the U.S.-led military operation."
Medecins Sans Frontieres, winner of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize for its medical relief work in more than 80 countries
Associated Press, 8 October, 2001

"The Bush administration is seeking powers that would allow the president to unilaterally impose an embargo on food and medicine sales to countries that he says aid terrorists, congressional aides said Friday"
Boston Herald, Reuters, Saturday, September 29, 2001

"The irreducible core of all war is the slaughter of the innocent, organised by national leaders, supported by lies"
Howard Zinn on War

What alternative do peace-loving people have?
Don't "Make No Mistake"