Central Valley-Scott Ritter, the former Marine who headed the United Nations Iraqi weapons inspections program, will be the keynote speaker at the Mid-Hudson Valley People's Assembly on Saturday, Sept. 18 at Central Valley Elementary School. A coalition of community organizations will host the Assembly, a social forum entitled "Reclaiming Our Democracy." It will feature a wide variety of well-known speakers on the environment and health, economic globalization, corporate monopoly, self-reliance, sustainable agriculture, green industries, local economic systems, renewable energy, racism and civil rights, veterans' affairs, and other topics. A full program of scheduled events is available on the group's website, www.midhudsonvpa.org. The theme of the morning's opening session at 9 a.m. will be "Dumbing Us Down: The Crisis of Truth in the Propaganda State." Among the participants will be Dr. Peter Montague of the Environmental Research Foundation and Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly; Ward Morehouse of the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy; and representatives from Clean Money/Clean Elections, Veterans for Peace, the World Tribunal on Iraq, and the 9/11 Truth Movement. The People's Assembly is similar to other recent forums throughout the world that are working for social change, such as the Boston Social Forum held last month. The event is designed to bring together in one place a variety of social organizations, religious and nonprofits groups, unions, educational institutions, as well as interested individuals who all share a fundamental desire to work towards a peaceful, just, and sustainable society in the Mid-Hudson Valley and beyond, according to Tula Tsalis, one of the program's organizers. Tsalis said the program will focus on the local implications of national and international issues. The program will pose a series of questions: What kind of future do we want for the Mid-Hudson Valley, for the nation and for the world? How do we design a desirable and workable future? And, most important, how do we reach those goals? "The forum is not political in that it does not advocate for specific candidates," she said. "The aim of the event is to encourage, educate, activate and connect those concerned about the global, national and local issues that will affect our lives well past Election Day, regardless of the outcome." Hip hop performances are part of the program. Central Valley Elementary School is located at the intersection of Routes 17 and 32 and Thruway Exit 16. For more information, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.midhudsonvpa.org.