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Entries in Ground Zero (15)

Monday
Sep102012

Govt. Admits Ground Zero Cancer Risk

Anthony Correia/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The World Trade Center Health Program will now provide treatment and compensation for 9/11 victims who were diagnosed with cancer after they inhaled toxic dust, program administrator Dr. John Howard announced this afternoon.

Initially, the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act -- the fund established in 2010 and named for police detective James Zadroga, who died at age 34 after working at Ground Zero -- included only a short list of illnesses that qualified for compensation. Cancer was excluded because of a lack of scientific evidence linking any form of the disease to conditions in the debris pile, even though many of the 50,000 9/11 first responders believe they got cancer -- among other illnesses -- because of their exposure to dust and other substances at Ground Zero.

"We received a petition to consider adding cancer from the New York Congressional Delegation," Howard said in a statement, adding that the WTC Health Program's Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee recommended adding dozens of cancers to the coverage list in June.

The expansion will go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

The government says 2,976 people were killed when terrorists hijacked passenger jets and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 11, 2001. Passengers aboard another flight that is believed to have been destined for another Washington, D.C., target -- possibly the U.S. Capitol building or the White House -- took over the aircraft. It crashed into an open field in Shanksville, Pa.

The fire and collapse of the World Trade Center's twin towers contaminated the nearby air with particles of glass, asbestos, cement, lead, gypsum, calcium carbonate, other metal particles and other toxins.

It is believed that exposure to this dust through the lungs and skin has contributed to the asthma, gastrointestinal problems, and possibly the increased cancer risk experienced by rescue workers, especially those who were on the site immediately after the attack, when the cloud of debris dust was its thickest.

Asbestos causes lung and other types of cancer, while lead and other heavy metals can be toxic to the brain.

The Zadroga Act provides first responders with screening and treatment for health problems associated with working at Ground Zero. It also created a $4.3 billion fund to compensate affected first responders for any wage or other financial losses they incurred as a result of working at Ground Zero.

About 40,000 Sept. 11 responders and survivors receive monitoring and 20,000 get treatment for their illnesses as part of the Zadroga Act's health program.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep102012

Feds Expected to Recognize Cancer Link to 9/11 First Responders

Anthony Correia/Getty ImagesUPDATE: The World Trade Center Health Program will now provide treatment and compensation for 9/11 victims who were diagnosed with cancer after they inhaled toxic dust, program administrator Dr. John Howard announced this afternoon.

(WASHINGTON) -- The federal government may formally acknowledge that Ground Zero first responders and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods could have gotten cancer as a result of their exposure to toxic dust following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which determines which cancers are covered under a fund established to care for first responders to the attacks, may make an announcement about the issue as early as Monday. Fifty types of cancers are expected be added to a list of illnesses covered by the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Initially, the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act — the fund established in 2010 and named for police Det. James Zadroga, who died at age 34 after working at Ground Zero — included only a short list of illnesses that qualified for compensation. Cancer was excluded because of a lack of scientific evidence linking any form of the disease to conditions in the debris pile, even though many of the 50,000 9/11 first responders believe they got cancer — among other illnesses — because of their exposure to dust and other substances at Ground Zero.

Dozens of cancers believed to be related to 9/11 exposure are expected to be added to the list of covered illnesses, the New York Post reported, citing two lawyers who represent thousands of first responders and area residents.

An estimated 3,000 people were killed when terrorists hijacked passenger jets and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 11, 2001. Passengers aboard another flight that is believed to have been destined for another Washington, D.C., target – possibly the U.S. Capitol building or the White House – took over the aircraft. It crashed into an open field in Shanksville, Pa.

The fire and collapse of the World Trade Center’s twin towers contaminated the nearby air with particles of glass, asbestos, cement, lead, gypsum, calcium carbonate, other metal particles and other toxins.

It is believed that exposure to this dust through the lungs and skin has contributed to the asthma, gastrointestinal problems, and possibly the increased cancer risk experienced by rescue workers, especially those who were on the site immediately after the attack, when the cloud of debris dust was its thickest.

The Zadroga Act provides first responders with screening and treatment for health problems associated with working at Ground Zero. It also created a $4.3 billion fund to compensate affected first responders for any wage or other financial losses they incurred as a result of working at Ground Zero.

About 40,000 Sept. 11 responders and survivors receive monitoring and 20,000 get treatment for their illnesses as part of the Zadroga Act’s health program.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb012012

9/11 Museum Funding Held Up by One Senator

David Handschuh-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There’s a controversy brewing in the halls of Congress, pitting budget hawk Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., against two New York senators and touching on a politically and emotionally sensitive subject.

Coburn is singlehandedly holding up federal funding for the 9/11 memorial museum at Ground Zero.

Legislation before the Senate calls for $20 million a year, $200 million total over the next 10 years in federal funding for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero.

Coburn is calling for equivalent cuts to be made to pay for the added government spending on the project.

In a letter sent to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Wednesday, Coburn says that while the “merits” of the museum project are not in question, he has “concerns” about the legislation.

“This legislation authorizes at least $200 million over the next 10 years for the effort, but does not include any provisions to pay for these potential costs, adding to our more than $15 trillion debt,” Coburn wrote.

Coburn’s office said the dispute could be solved “in minutes” if the sponsors would just look for areas of waste and duplication in the general government already identified by the Government Accountability Office.

“Coburn believes we can best honor the heroism and sacrifices of 9/11 by making hard choices and reducing spending on less-vital priorities, rather than borrowing money,” Coburn spokesman John Hart told ABC News Wednesday. “Finding $20 million in savings is the least we can do to demonstrate that Congress also understands the value of service and sacrifice.”

Even better would be if members of Congress could encourage the effort to fund the project using local sources, or -- as is the case with the Oklahoma City bombing memorial -- private sources, Coburn’s office said.  

His office noted that the 9/11 museum is “already receiving generous private support from hundreds of patriotic Americans, businesses and corporations across the country,” so it shouldn’t need the extra federal money.

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, two of the co-sponsors of the bill, on Wednesday responded in anger to the lone senator standing in the way of government funding for the museum.

Schumer said the project needs to be funded with some federal money in substance and for the sake of symbolism.

"This is sacred ground not only to New Yorkers but to Americans, and to have the memorial, the museum, in as good a way as possible not limited by lack of funding makes eminent sense,” Schumer told reporters Wednesday. “Clearly, if you talk to [New York] Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg and others, and there’s been very generous support from the private sector, there is not enough money to keep, to have the memorial function in the way it should.”

Schumer and Gillibrand plan to sit down with Coburn “soon” to discuss his concerns.

“We hope that Sen. Coburn will relent,” Schumer said.

Coburn, in his letter Wednesday, demanded a “full accounting of previously awarded federal funding” for the museum, as well as a “detailed breakdown of the project with itemized cost estimates.”

“It is, after all, our obligation as stewards of the treasury to scrutinize for taxpayers how every penny we spend is put to use,” Coburn wrote, “even for the best intentioned projects.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct032011

$2.8 Billion Fund for 9/11 Victims Re-Opens

Jim Watson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The government fund to compensate 9/11 victims re-opened Monday and is now taking applications.

People injured in the attacks or who spent time removing debris from Ground Zero, became sick and can link their illnesses to the site are eligible for some of the $2.8 billion additional dollars Congress set aside for their care.

The woman who oversees the fund promises fairness, transparency and ease for those whose lives were most affected by the 9/11 attacks.

Some $7 billion in claims have already been paid, but Congress re-activated the fund to expand the pool of claimants.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep112011

America Marks 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks at Ground Zero

Justin Lane-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The flag that survived the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center and was raised at ground zero in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, returned to the site Sunday, unfurled by New York police officers and firefighters at the start of the 10-year anniversary memorial ceremony.

President Obama and former President George W. Bush, seated with their wives behind a glass shield at the site, watched as bagpipers led the first responders and families of victims into the site and a chorus sang the national anthem.

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg opened the ceremony with the first city-wide moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. to commemorate the moment when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north tower.  Obama then read from Psalm 46, which starts, "God is our refuge and strength."

The ceremony will be punctuated by six moments of silence in all, one for each of the moments when the four planes crashed, and one for the moments when each of the towers fell.

Family members of the more than 3,000 people killed in the attacks stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the crowded memorial plaza, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with loved ones' faces and names, after making their way back Sunday morning to the site where the twin towers once stood.

They joined firefighters, police officers and emergency workers at the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan on Sunday for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.  The annual ceremony, in which the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks are read aloud, took place for the first time at the newly completed memorial plaza, with two fountains in place of where the two towers once stood.

Six moments of silence were held in all, one for each of the moments when the four planes crashed, and one for the moments when each of the towers fell.

The moment of silence recognizing when the second plane -- United Flight 175 -- hit the south tower was followed by cheers erupting for Bush as he read from a letter Abraham Lincoln wrote, quoting, "The solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom."

The ceremony also included performances by Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor and Paul Simon.

Police and security presence at the memorial and throughout Lower Manhattan remained significant; police dogs and armed guards were present throughout the ceremony.  New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told ABC News that there was no new information on a terror plot, but "no reason to lessen our alert status."

Sunday's ceremony will conclude at around 1 p.m. with three trumpeters, one each from the New York Police Department, the Fire Department of New York, and the Port Authority Police Department, playing taps.

After the ceremony, Obama will attend memorials in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon in Washington.  He will also attend a Concert for Hope at the Kennedy Center in D.C. Sunday night, where he will deliver a 15-minute speech on the attacks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep012011

9/11, Remembrance and Renewal: The New Ground Zero

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Ten years after it became known as Ground Zero, the 16-acre World Trade Center site shows signs of life instead of death.

“There are oak trees, swamp white oak trees,” describes Lynn Rasic, the senior vice president of the 9/11 Memorial.

Hundreds of them, in fact, including one known as the "Survivor Tree," which, Rasic says, "was located on the World Trade Center on 9/11."  The tree stands as a symbol of hope and renewal at the center of the new 9/11 Memorial.

The site also features two waterfalls, positioned around the original footprints of the Twin Towers, that flow into pools around which are etched the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

“They are based off of groupings, largely determined by where people worked, when they died and who they were with,” Rasic says, explaining how the victims' names are categorized. 

She says the waterfalls also can also capture rainbows as the sun shines through them.

The 9/11 Memorial will open on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, while the main skyscraper -- One World Trade Center -- nears completion. 

“The building was so laden with emotion, but in the end there is sort of no right way to remember what happened, but we have an obligation to remember,” Rasic says.

One World Trade Center is expected to be completed in 2013.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug302011

9/11, Remembrance and Renewal: Unidentified Victims Remain

U.S. Navy Photo by Jim Watson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A decade after the attacks of Sept. 11, the recovery work is still not over.  Some of the nearly 3,000 people killed in New York City have yet to be identified.

For months after 9/11, forensic teams scoured Ground Zero and recovered more than 20,000 human remains.  Ten years later, forensic biologist Mechthild Prinz says, the city medical examiner's office is still identifying victims.

"It's really very complex," Prinz says.  "There was a lot of destructive energy and the victims, some of them got very very fragmented but out of fragments you've been able to make identifications."

A team of five scientists works full-time trying to make new identifications.  So far, 59 percent of World Trade Center victims have been identified.

"Yes, we will get a few more but we will not get all of them," says Prinz.

The unidentified remains of the victims are stored on East 30th Street in a white tent. Some of these remains will be retested and hopefully identified as DNA-matching technology continues to advance. The rest will be interred back at Ground Zero at the 9/11 Memorial.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul132011

'Ground Zero Mosque' Clears Legal Hurdle to Build

Protesters attend a pro-mosque rally near the proposed mosque near the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2010 in New York City. Mario Tama/Getty Images(ALBANY, N.Y.) -- The backers of the controversial "Ground Zero Mosque" have won a court fight clearing the way for them to build the mosque and community center complex two blocks from the site of the 9/11 terror attack.

In a decision that was made public Wednesday, New York State Supreme Justice Paul Feinman dismissed a lawsuit by former firefighter Timothy Brown who argued that New York City was wrong to allow the destruction of a 150-year-old building to make way for the Islamic center.

The ex-firefighter who was among those who responded to the terror attack on the World Trade Center said the old building had been struck by debris during the collapse of the twin towers and was a "living representative of the heroic structures that commemorate the events of that day."

In a 15-page decision Feinman wrote, "Mr. Brown's claim that his ability to commemorate will be injured, is not yet recognized under the law as a concrete injury that can establish standing. Such an injury, although palpable to Brown, is immeasurable by a court."

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a conservative legal group that filed the lawsuit on Brown's behalf, said they plan to appeal the ruling.

"This decision fails to give appropriate consideration to first responders and others who risked their lives and lost loved ones on Sept. 11," ACLJ attorney Brett Joshpe said in a statement.

The ACLJ "remain[s] confident that this mosque will never rise above Ground Zero."

Brown and the ACLJ were appealing a ruling last summer by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission which decided to allow a 150-year-old Park Place building to be razed to make way for the center, a project dubbed Park 51.

The cultural center's chief organizer, Feisal Abdul Raufsaid he is "certainly in agreement with the ruling."

"Tim Brown is somebody who I met more than once and we expressed our sensitivities to the issues of the 9/11 families, many of whom are our friends. We have a strong commitment make sure whatever we do meets the sensitivity of the families," Rauf told ABCNews.com.

Rauf and other organizers, who include his wife Daisy Khan and Sharif el-Gamal, plan to erect a mosque and a $150 million "architecturally iconic" complex a couple blocks from Ground Zero to "benefit the whole community." But funding remains a question.

Rauf said that the organizers are putting together a capital campaign to fund Park 51. "A lot of things are being looked at, donors, loans and how to pay it off. There's a lot of work that goes into putting it together," he said.

Rauf said organizers don't expect to break ground for another three to five years.

Project 51 has been a source of national controversy since its unveiling last May. Opponents as well as supporters demonstrated at Ground Zero in reaction to the commission's decision to allow the mosque last August. Opponents were vocal in expressing their opinion that a mosque so close to the spot where Islamic terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center represented a victory monument to the attacks.

President Obama was drawn into the controversy when he initially endorsed the mosque. "As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," Obama said at a White House ceremony last summer that marked the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. "That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances."

But in a visit to the Gulf Coast subsequent to that comment, Obama later dialed back his public support, saying that he supported the Muslims community's right to build the mosque, but was not sure it was a good idea to build so close to Ground Zero.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May072011

Real Threat of Retaliation Following Death of Osama bin Laden

CNN via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With this week's historic killing of al Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, a special edition of Brian Ross Investigates is on location at Ground Zero examining a week's worth of coverage the death of the most wanted terrorist in the world.

ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross and the Investigative Team examine the daring operation that took bin Laden down, the young wife who defended him, the secretive helicopters used to pull off the mission and what Pakistan could or should have known.

"I think there's a real possibility that we'll find that there were former members of the Pakistani military and military intelligence who were sympathizers with al Qaeda and with various other terrorist groups, and that they were running their own sort of renegade support system for al Qaeda," former White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke told Ross.

Speaking of possible retaliation for bin Laden's death, Clarke says the threat is real and al Qaeda is not dead.

"There are two periods to worry about: the next few days where there could be lone wolves who could strike out in the United States or elsewhere around the world in retaliation, and then there's another period several perhaps months from now, because it takes months to plan one of these operations," Clarke said. "I think al Qaeda if it's capable of doing a big operation will want to do one just to prove it's alive. That could take a while."

Ross is on the scene of Ground Zero as President Obama visited in a sort of victory lap, meeting with some of the families who lost loved ones on that fateful day.

He answers viewer questions through Twitter and Facebook and speaks with producer Matthew Cole from the ABC News Investigative Team, who reports from outside bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

America's New Most Wanted: Ayman al-Zawahiri

This week's show also looks at America's new most wanted man: bin Laden's top deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. The U.S. government is offering $25 million for information leading to the capture of Zawahiri, who is believed to have been al Qaeda's true commander for several years.

Zawahiri is also likely in Pakistan, Clarke says.

"It's not clear if he is in a villa or under protection by the Pakistanis, but I think the Taliban leaders, many of them, have been under protection of the Pakistanis," Clarke told Ross.

Brian Ross Investigates premiered in April 2010 as a weekly digital investigative news show and airs every Friday on Hulu.com and ABC News Now, the network's 24-hour news channel available throughout the U.S. and Europe. Each show is also available on mobile devices.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May052011

George W. Bush, True to His Word, Lies Low After Osama Bin Laden Killing

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- George W. Bush declined President Obama's invitation to join him at Ground Zero Thursday to meet with firefighters, police, first responders and families who lost loved ones during the 9/11 attacks, an event that defined his presidency.

With news that Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden Sunday, the former president was suddenly thrust back onto the stage as the world looked back at the Sept 11th attacks and the nearly decade-long hunt to find the world's most notorious terrorist.

But several top officials from the Bush administration said they were not at all surprised that Bush declined the invitation, in keeping with his pledge to stay out of the spotlight and let Obama be the president.

As Bush's second term wound down in January 2009, he did not mince words when it came to his plans for life after the White House.

"When I get out of here, I'm getting off the stage," he told reporters a week before Obama's inauguration. "I believe there ought to be, you know, one person in the Klieg lights at a time. And I've had my time in the Klieg lights."

Exit stage left; that was Bush's plan, so he remained in Dallas Thursday.

And for nearly 2½ years, the former president has kept his word, declining interview requests and keeping a low-profile in Dallas as he wrote his memoir and developed his presidential library.

On Sunday evening, before addressing the nation, Obama called Bush to inform him that bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces.

Later in the week, the president extended an invitation to his predecessor to join him at Ground Zero Thursday, but Bush declined.

Bush will attend the ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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