A 9/11 reader

Ten of the best articles on the tenth anniversary of the attack.

In the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 hijackers took control of four commercial airliners, piloting two in to the World Trade Center in Manhattan, and another into the Pentagon in Washington. The final plane, United 93, was brought down by passengers in Pennsylvania.

Some 2,977 people died as a result, as well as the 19 hijackers. To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the attacks, here are ten articles - old and new - giving a range of perspectives on those events.

1. Where were you on 9/11?

For its 9/11 special issue, the NS asked politicians, writers and other leading figures for their memories of the day. From Rory Stewart in Nepal to Stephen Evans in the World Trade Center, they provide a fascinating insight into the day that defined a generation.

2. Ten Years On: Your Memories

In recent days, The Guardian has tried a unique crowd-sourcing project, inviting readers to submit their own remembrances of the day. The result is a far more international perspective on the attacks than many other media outlets have managed.

3. Simply Evil

Christopher Hitchens's thinking was profoundly affected by the events of September 11 (more here). This is his response to the anniversary.

4. How the fear of being criminalised has forced Muslims into silence

Mehdi Hasan on the demonisation of Muslims. . .

5. "You no longer have rights"

. . . and three incredible stories of discrimination, collected by McSweeneys.

6. The Falling Man

One of the most acclaimed pieces of journalism to follow the attacks, this piece tried to trace the identity of the man pictured falling from the burning Towers.

7. Perpetual warfare

John Gray puts the attacks in a wider historical conflict, exploring the decade of conflict which began in 2001.

8. How to write a horror film and How did Hollywood handle the tragedy?

Two film critics assess the cinematic response.

9. The Twins of the Twin Towers

Of the 3,000 who died in the towers, 46 were twins. In the Daily Mail, the survivors tell their story.

10. The day that changed my city

In a moving piece, the Independent's David Usborne relives the day in Manhattan, and explores why he dreads its anniversary so much.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

This article first appeared in the 05 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, 9/11

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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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