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After 15 long years, the 9/11 memorial puts its last artifact to rest

Memories the wreckage of 9/11 hold are certain to not fade soon. Read about the 2,600 artifacts found in the rubble of WTC terror attack which are now relics

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Pedestrians walk by artist Heath Satow's sculpture "Reflect," made with a damaged, rusted I-beam from the collapsed World Trade Center buildings, outside the Rosemead, California, city hall plaza. Source-VOA
  • Post 9/11 terror attack on World Trade Centre, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey which owned the building, sent an architect to the site to find distinctive pieces from the wreckage
  • At JFK’s Hangar 17, where all the wreckage was kept, Officials were unable to decide on what should be done with so much material and then a judge ordered that the artifacts should be donated to whomever who promised to take care of them
  • Amy Passiak, who was working as an intern at New York’s 9/11 museum was called in, to catalog the artifacts and manage their distribution

Behind the barbed wire, the white minivan’s busted windows and crumpled roof hint at its story. But forklifted to this windblown spot on the John F. Kennedy International Airport tarmac, between a decommissioned 727 and an aircraft hangar, it’s doubtful passing drivers notice it at all.

In the long struggle with the searing memories of 9/11, though, the van’s solitary presence here marks a small but significant transition point.

Tons of wreckage – twisted steel beams weighing up to 40,000 pounds, chunks of concrete smelling of smoke, a crushed fire engine, a dust-covered airline slipper – were salvaged from the World Trade Center site for preservation in the weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Now, 15 years later, this van, part of a government agency motor pool likely sheltered from the impact in the parking garage beneath the complex, is the very last artifact without a resting place.

When the van is claimed, as soon as a few weeks from now, it will fulfill a pledge that, to move beyond 9/11 without losing sight of it, New York would share relics of that terror, along with the tales of sacrifice and fear that come with them.

The decision by officials to give away pieces of Trade Center wreckage has been praised and criticized over the years. But its impact is undeniable.

More than 2,600 artifacts have gone to 1,585 fire and police departments, schools and museums, and other nonprofit organizations in every state and at least eight other countries. Each recipient has pledged to use them in memorials or exhibits honoring those killed on 9/11. While some have not followed through, the many that have meant it is now possible to touch a piece of September 11 during a Roman Catholic Mass in Port St. Lucie, Florida, while standing in the shadows of Colorado’s San Juan mountains, or in a park honoring animals in Meaford, Ontario.

“They are the relics of the destruction and they have the same power in the same way as medieval relics that have the power of the saints,” said Harriet Senie, a professor of art history at the City University of New York and author of “Memorials to Shattered Myths: Vietnam to 9/11.”

“History is a vague concept, but if you have this tangible object that was a part of this historical event, it makes it very difficult to deny and it also makes it possible to experience it in a very visceral way.”

In the days immediately after the attacks, it wasn’t at all clear what would happen to the wreckage of the Trade Center. It’s not as if anyone had confronted questions of that scale before. There was no certainty about exactly which artifacts, if any, should be saved.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which owned the Trade Center, dispatched an architect to comb through the site and cull pieces that seemed distinctive. Investigators carted away others. Most of the wreckage from the site was scrapped or recycled. But the agency saved about half of 1 percent of the total.

It all had to go somewhere. That ended up being JFK’s Hangar 17, an 80,000-square-foot cavern of sheet metal left empty when tenant Tower Air went out of business in 2000.

Officials were uncertain what to do with so much material, given the emotions intertwined with it. A judge determined the artifacts were not evidentiary or personal and approved donations to those who promised to care for them. But where to begin?

“It was piles and piles, probably my height or higher, of steel beams,” says Amy Passiak, the archivist hired to catalog the artifacts and manage their distribution, recalling the first time she walked into the hangar in 2010. Passiak, a high school senior in Michigan at the time of the attacks, had been working as an intern at New York’s 9/11 museum but says she was still unprepared for the scene.

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“I remember going home that day and just being exhausted, just from being there a few hours, just being emotionally exhausted and not being able to comprehend the amount of work that was going to go into the process. It was like, maybe a year, maybe two years. And here I am, six years later.”

Passiak built a database of every item, cataloging its size and approximate weight, with descriptive notes. As word spread that the Port Authority was giving the material away, requests poured in. Through August, the Port Authority had distributed 2,629 artifacts.

Many went to fire departments, local governments and organizations in the New York area with direct ties to the first responders and workers who perished when the towers fell.

“When those buildings came down, everybody and everything in its path was either pulverized or vaporized off the face of the earth,” said John Hodge of the Stephen Siller Tunnels to Towers Foundation, named for his cousin, a New York firefighter killed on 9/11. In late July, the foundation marked the looming closure of Hangar 17 with a ceremony outside before hauling away an elevator motor from the Trade Center, a piece of the parking structure, and a portion of a broadcast antenna that crowned the complex.

“That’s where the DNA is. Neither my cousin or anybody else from Squad 1 was ever found, but it’s in that steel,” Hodge said.

But for many of the people and groups that adopted artifacts from the Trade Center, the loss was more abstract. At least it started off that way.

Heath Satow, a sculptor in southern California hired to design a 9/11 memorial for the plaza fronting Rosemead’s city offices, recalls awkwardly scanning a digital catalog showing beams available from the Trade Center. But hundreds of hours creating the memorial – a 10-foot beam cradled by hands of chrome, the palms and fingers formed from 2,976 interlocking birds representing individual victims – left a deep impression.

“Every individual was attended to,” said Satow, his voice breaking five years later, as he described making the sculpture. “I just was totally unprepared for it. But when you spend all that time seeing it as individuals it will just wreck you.”

Satow said he purposely positioned the beam at about eye level, so people could see, touch and feel it. Others who adopted Trade Center artifacts used them to similar effect.

Firefighters in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, created a memorial in front of their station around a small piece of donated I-beam. Many people in the town, surrounded by the San Juan mountains and the Southern Ute Reservation, will never get to New York or Washington D.C., said David Hartman, who worked to obtain the artifact. But September 11 was his generation’s Pearl Harbor, and being able to see and touch the wreckage enables residents to reflect on its lessons, he said.

At Flour Bluff Junior High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, a piece of Trade Center steel is housed in a case near the entrance to the cafeteria. In September, it is taken out and cadets from the school’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program stand guard. Bruce Chaney, the naval science instructor who applied for the artifacts, brings another, smaller piece to his classes.

The artifact is “twisted and somewhat burned. It’s not pretty. I’m hoping it will make them think as they’re growing up, that they have to pay attention to their past,” Chaney said.

Most of Chaney’s students hadn’t yet been born in 2001, so the relics are the closest most will ever get to experiencing that day.

But the desire to touch and own history, however distant, has been around since long before this generation, said Erika Doss, a professor of American studies at the University of Notre Dame and author of “Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America.”

She notes that after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, millions of Americans gathered alongside the tracks as a train carrying his body made its way to Illinois. People wore mourning bands on their arms. They hung Lincoln’s portrait in their homes. They flocked to see death masks cast from his face. They wanted to see and touch Lincoln.

Artifacts let people grapple with pained memories. But 15 years after September 11, the dispersal of artifacts from the Trade Center has not resolved the public’s conflicted feelings about those events, now set against continued fears of terrorism.

“We just don’t know where the events of 9/11 have led us,” said Rick Sluder, fire chief in Wauseon, Ohio, which obtained a Trade Center beam and, together with neighboring departments built a memorial at the nearby Fulton County Fairgrounds.

“A lot of people are looking at this as, is this the point of downfall or the point at which we rose above the rest, the point of resiliency?” Sluder said. “I don’t think that’s been determined yet.”

There’s little questioning, though, the emotions people invest in the artifacts. During the six years Passiak spent archiving the relics, the people seeking them would often tell her stories of the losses in their own communities _ of firefighters, or soldiers or others – that connected them, however tangentially, to 9/11.

In the first years, there were so many artifacts that she could easily match them with requesters. So when a girl at Cracker Trail Elementary School in Sebring, Florida, wrote that she wanted to help her fellow students learn about 9/11, Passiak set aside a children’s alarm clock recovered from a store in the Trade Center’s concourse, a burned notebook, and a small piece of steel, 6 inches square.

“I felt like that allowed a full story to be told,” she said.

As the piles of material winnowed, though, it became more difficult. Most of the groups seeking artifacts wanted pieces they could build a narrative around. The biggest artifacts were unwieldy. By early this year, there was little left except for rails from the commuter train line that ran under the complex. Items like police cruisers, whose purpose that day was clear, found takers. But unmarked vehicles, anonymous but for their place in the wreckage, were initially passed over.

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When the Port Authority shuttered the artifact program in August and padlocked Hangar 17, officials moved the only remaining artifact – a Dodge Caravan with a ripped out red interior – to the tarmac, uncertain of its fate. It, too, is likely to go soon, to group officials will not identify until its application has been approved. Hangar 17, itself, may eventually be torn down.

Passiak moved back to Michigan to start a job at an art museum this month. But many of the people whose groups received donations of Trade Center artifacts have stayed in touch with her, extending invitations to visit their memorials, from California to Germany.

Some day, the archivist said, she’d like to take a road trip, stopping in cities and towns along the way to see where the artifacts she once cared for have found homes. She imagines she’ll recognize some of them, and remember their stories. It will not matter that the steel, concrete, and other relics are at rest far from lower Manhattan. The memories they hold, she is certain, will not soon fade. (VOA)

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“Unfair Practices Smack The Elections For Herricks Board of Education”, Claims Candidate Bhajan Ratra

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the elections will now be conducted exclusively by absentee ballot via US Mail

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Herricks
The Year 2020-21 School Budget Vote and its Board of Education Election is to be conducted on Tuesday, June 9th. Herricks.org

By Kashish Rai

The Herricks Board of Education is accredited by the New York State Board of Regents and the Middle School Association.

The Year 2020-21 School Budget Vote and its Board of Education Election is to be conducted on Tuesday, June 9th. Two seats in the board are being challenged. Henry R. Zanetti and James Gounaris are running for re-elections against challengers Bhajan S. Ratra and Tarantej S. Arora.

Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the vote was postponed from its original date scheduled in May and it will now be conducted exclusively by absentee ballot via US Mail.

Challenger Bhajan S. Ratra is an adjunct professor of Mathematics at Baruch College and SUNY Farmingdale. He is a panel member on the content advisory and bias review committees of New York State Teaching Certification Examination and has served in the past on the standards setting committee for the NYS Regents exams. He claims that unfair practices and inappropriate approach is smacking the election for the board.

The preceding position holders- Zanetti and James Gounaris have violated the code of conduct by doing undesirable posts through social media.

In the below given screenshot it can be observed that they are instigating the audience to vote for them by posting a picture of the ballot having their names marked. They can also be seen getting criticized by a user questioning the “appropriateness” of the post.

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Screenshot of the facebook post by Gounaris tagging Henry Zanetti.

According to the rules, it is illegal to take selfies/ post the picture of the ballot during the time of election in New York. Zanetti and James were seen violating the rules, thus, Ratra claims that their candidature should be disqualified.

In the above added screenshot, it can also be seen that the incumbents have pointed out “yes” To the budget vote. This can be considered as an act of misleading the public regardless of prior audits. According to the rules, an incumbent can not urge the public to vote “yes”. This raises some very serious questions- Does the incumbent(s) has/have their personal interest in voting “Yes”?

Screenshot
Screenshot of the discussion by the audience in comments on the Facebook post by Gounaris.

Mr. Ratra states that the reason for him contesting the election is because of his will to serve his community being an educator. As a member of the board of education he wants to use his experience to influence the decisions taken by the board that will help to move the Herricks School district from good to great. Bhajan aims to establish a transparent approach between students, families, Teachers and board members.

Bhajan Ratra
Challenger Bhajan S. Ratra is an adjunct professor of Mathematics at Baruch College and SUNY Farmingdale. He is a panel member on the content advisory and bias review committees of New York State Teaching Certification Examination and has served in the past on the standards setting committee for the NYS Regents exams.

There were many issues emerging earlier in the board, among them which was an inordinate approach with the board’s budget. The NY State Auditors concluded that The Herricks school district consistently overspent its budget for custodians’ overtime pay — thousands of dollars in expenditures that in many cases may not have been necessary. Bhajan aims to focus on solving these very core issues, he says that he aims to take a stand but every time he tries, his voice gets dominated.

Headline
This picture represents the headline of the news story published on newsday.com which highlights the plight of mismanagement in budget of the Herricks Board.

Despite these frustrations and pressures, Bhajan has refused to give up because his only aim is to establish a clean and fair approach. In his concludary words Bhajan told NewsGram- “It doesn’t matter if I win or lose, my only aim is to serve my community in any possible way, these frustrations and pressures doesn’t affect me as I continue to take stand for my role and responsibility as someone who wants to contribute to the society”.

ALSO READ: COVID-19: Samsung Exclusive Stores get ‘Suraksha’ Certified

Now, it is to be think upon~ what best possible action would be taken as far as the code of conduct and the rules are concerned with due respect to the elections. Here position doesn’t matter, what matters is ethics and the truth.

 

 

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New York State Allows Gatherings of up to 10 People

New York state loosens restrictions on gatherings

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Restrictions loosen on New York State of USA as a gathering of upto 10 people is permitted now. Pixabay

The US state of New York now allows gatherings of up to 10 people for non-essential purposes, two months after a statewide order banned such gatherings of any size to curb spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggests the Latest news on coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order late on Friday to loosen the restrictions, stressing that people have to follow social distancing protocols and cleaning and disinfection protocols required by the state’s Department of Health, Xinhua reported.

Earlier this week, the governor permitted gatherings of such scale during the Memorial Day weekend for memorial ceremonies. Religious gatherings of the same scale have also been allowed since Thursday.

Cuomo said on Saturday that Long Island and Mid-Hudson could reopen next week, leaving New York City the only region in the state that will remain in the “PAUSE” order for a while.

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Restrictions are lifted two months after a statewide order banned such gatherings. Pixabay

New York City has not yet met two of the seven metrics the state-designed for reopening, which are the numbers of hospital beds and ICU beds available. But Cuomo said he expected the city to reopen in early June.

Also Read: LaLiga Cleared to Return on June 8

On Friday, New York City unveiled three key metrics set by itself to track the progress toward reopening, which are daily new hospital admissions, the current number of ICU patients and the percentage of people testing positive, each with a single indicator threshold.

The daily death toll in New York State fell to 84, said Cuomo on Saturday, the first time that figure has dropped below 100 since the state went into a lockdown two months ago.

The overall statewide caseload rose to 359,926, with 1,772 new cases, said the governor. (IANS)

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People Use Hate Speech While Searching About Terrorism on Social Media

People post hate speech while seeking answers on terrorism

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Social Media terrorism
People often resort to using hate speech when searching about terrorism on a community group social media platform. Pixabay

People often resort to using hate speech when searching about terrorism on a community group social media platform, say researchers.

According to Snehasish Banerjee, lecturer at the York Management School, University of York, it appears seems that people are really curious to know about terrorists, what terrorists think, their ideas, etc.

“While portrayed as a threat to society and human civilisation by mainstream media, terrorists sell terrorism as freedom fighting via social networking sites and private messaging platforms,” said Banerjee.

“However, the actual workings of terrorism are largely shrouded in secrecy. For the curious, a convenient avenue to turn to is the community question answering sites”.

Community question answering sites (CQAs) are social media platforms where users ask questions, answer those submitted by others, and have the option to evaluate responses. Previous studies have mainly looked at terrorism-related data drawn from Facebook and Twitter, this was the first to examine trends on the CQA site, Yahoo! Answers.

Social Media terrorism
While portrayed as a threat to society and human civilisation by mainstream media, terrorists sell terrorism as freedom fighting via social media platforms. Pixabay

The University of York study explored the use of Yahoo! Answers on the topic of terrorism and looked at a dataset of 300 questions that attracted more than 2,000 answers. The questions reflected the community’s information needs, ranging from the life of extremists to counter-terrorism policies. Sensitive questions outnumbered innocuous ones.

A typical innocuous question was: Who exactly created ISIS?, while a more sensitive question was: Do you agree with Donald Trump that we should ban Muslims coming from countries seized by ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorists? According to the findings, sensitive questions were significantly more likely to be submitted anonymously than innocuous ones.

While no significant difference arose with respect to answers, the paper found that identities were seldom recognisable. Using names non-traceable to themselves, the community group users become embolden to use provocative, inflammatory or uncivil language. “We found that answers were laden with negative emotions reflecting hate speech and Islamophobia, making claims that were rarely verifiable,” said Banerjee.

Also Read- Facebook and Twitter Remain Divided due to Bloomberg’s Video

Users who posted sensitive questions and answers generally tended to remain anonymous.

“This paper calls for governments and law enforcement agencies to collaborate with major social media companies, including CQAs, to develop a process for cross-platform blacklisting of users and content, as well as identifying those who are vulnerable,” the authors noted in the Aslib Journal of Information Management. (IANS)