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Remembering September 11th attacks in New York City, 15 years later

Commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, hundreds gathered in lower Manhattan

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11 September 2001 Picture credits: WIKIPEDIA COMMONS
  • September 11, 2001, was the deadliest day in history for New York City firefighters: 343 were killed 
  • Structural steel of the skyscraper, built to withstand winds in excess of 200 miles per hour and a large conventional fire, could not withstand the tremendous heat generated by the burning jet fuel
  • Osama Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the September 11th attacks

September 12, 2016: Hundreds gathered in lower Manhattan Sunday morning to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and to honor thousands of people who lost their lives. Al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four planes and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington, while one crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

Paying tribute to the victims. Picture Credits: VOA

The ceremony began at 8:40 a.m. at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum with the national anthem and a reading of names of those killed in both the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center. Attended by the families of those killed in those attacks, elected officials, first responders and others, the event includes six moments of silence, timed to commemorate significant moments on Sept. 11, 2001.

President Barack Obama observed a moment of silence at the White House on Sunday. “We remember and we will never forget the nearly 3,000 beautiful lives taken from us so cruelly,” Obama said. “We wonder how their lives might have unfolded, how their dreams might have taken shape.”

He vowed that terrorists “will never be able to defeat a nation as great and as strong as America,” praising the country’s diverse ethnic population comprised of people of all races and religions as “one of our greatest strengths.”

Graffiti by an artist. Picture Credits: Wikimedia common
Graffiti by an artist. Picture Credits: Wikimedia common

Obama, commemorating the September 11, 2001 attacks for the last time as president before leaving office in January, said, “This is the America that was attacked that September morning. This is the America that we must remain true to.”

“Fifteen years ago, a September day that began like any other became one of the darkest in our nation’s history,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly address.

The president said those killed were “from all walks of life, all races and religions, all colors and creeds, from across America and around the world.” It was the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941 at the start of World War II.

People read the names of the victims during a commemoration ceremony for the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. The country’s leading 2016 presidential candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, paid their respects at Ground Zero but halted their political campaigns for the day.

As daylight ended Sunday in New York, spotlights projected two giant beams of light into the sky to represent the fallen twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Nineteen hijackers, 15 of them from Saudi Arabia, were killed in the attacks, which led directly to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, where al-Qaida trained attackers against the United States, and indirectly to the war in Iraq. The U.S. still has thousands of forces in Afghanistan and Iraq even as it has ended large-scale combat operations.

Writing on Twitter Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “On 9/11, we remember those we lost, those who tried to save them. We honor them by pursuing peace, security, justice worldwide.”Near Shanksville in western Pennsylvania Sunday, the Flight 93 National Memorial stands in memory of the passengers and crew members who carried out a sustained assault against the hijackers for control of the plane 15 years ago.

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A September 11 Museum has been erected on the New York site where the World Trade Center once stood, housing artifacts and photographs connected to the attack.

At the Pentagon, the 184 people who died on September 11, 2001 are honored with 184 benches over pools of water. A huge American flag was draped from the roof of the headquarters of the country’s Defense Department on the side of the building where the attack occurred.

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Before the ceremony began, hundreds gathered around the plaza, many holding posters and shirts dedicated to victims. As the Brooklyn Youth Chorus sang the national anthem, many in the crowd held up posters and framed pictures before loudly applauding. (VOA)

  • Enakshi

    RIP those soles 🙁

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Know How the Amazon Deal Fell Apart

They had a long list of grievances: the deal was done secretively; Amazon, one of the world’s most valuable companies, didn’t need nearly $3 billion in tax incentives; rising rents could push people out of the neighborhood; and the company was opposed to unionization.

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Protesters hold up anti-Amazon signs during a coalition rally and press conference of elected officials, community organizations and unions opposing Amazon headquarters getting subsidies to locate in Long Island City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, in New York. VOA

In early November, word began to leak that Amazon was serious about choosing New York to build a giant new campus. The city was eager to lure the company and its thousands of high-paying tech jobs, offering billions in tax incentives and lighting the Empire State Building in Amazon orange.

Even Governor Andrew Cuomo got in on the action: “I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes,” he joked at the time.

Then Amazon made it official: It chose the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens to build a $2.5 billion campus that could house 25,000 workers, in addition to new offices planned for northern Virginia. Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Democrats who have been political adversaries for years, trumpeted the decision as a major coup after edging out more than 230 other proposals.

But what they didn’t expect was the protests, the hostile public hearings and the disparaging tweets that would come in the next three months, eventually leading to Amazon’s dramatic Valentine’s Day breakup with New York.

Immediately after Amazon’s Nov. 12 announcement, criticism started to pour in. The deal included $1.5 billion in special tax breaks and grants for the company, but a closer look at the total package revealed it to be worth at least $2.8 billion. Some of the same politicians who had signed a letter to woo Amazon were now balking at the tax incentives.

“Offering massive corporate welfare from scarce public resources to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world at a time of great need in our state is just wrong,” said New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris and New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Democrats who represent the Long Island City area, in a joint statement.

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They had a long list of grievances: the deal was done secretively; Amazon, one of the world’s most valuable companies, didn’t need nearly $3 billion in tax incentives; rising rents could push people out of the neighborhood; and the company was opposed to unionization. Pixabay

The next day, CEO Jeff Bezos was on the cover of The New York Post in a cartoon-like illustration, hanging out of a helicopter, holding money bags in each hand, with cash billowing above the skyline. “QUEENS RANSOM,” the headline screamed. The New York Times editorial board, meanwhile, called the deal a “bad bargain” for the city: “We won’t know for 10 years whether the promised 25,000 jobs will materialize,” it said.

Anti-Amazon rallies were planned for the next week. Protesters stormed a New York Amazon bookstore on the day after Thanksgiving and then went to a rally on the steps of a courthouse near the site of the new headquarters in the pouring rain. Some held cardboard boxes with Amazon’s smile logo turned upside down.
In this Nov. 14, 2018 file photo, protesters hold up anti-Amazon signs during a coalition rally and press conference of elected officials, community organizations and unions opposing Amazon headquarters getting subsidies to locate in New York.

They had a long list of grievances: the deal was done secretively; Amazon, one of the world’s most valuable companies, didn’t need nearly $3 billion in tax incentives; rising rents could push people out of the neighborhood; and the company was opposed to unionization.

The helipad kept coming up, too: Amazon, in its deal with the city, was promised it could build a spot to land a helicopter on or near the new offices.

At the first public hearing in December, which turned into a hostile, three-hour interrogation of two Amazon executives by city lawmakers, the helipad was mentioned more than a dozen times. The image of high-paid executives buzzing by a nearby low-income housing project became a symbol of corporate greed.

Queens residents soon found postcards from Amazon in their mailboxes, trumpeting the benefits of the project. Gianaris sent his own version, calling the company “Scamazon” and urging people to call Bezos and tell him to stay in Seattle.

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“I’m not looking to negotiate a better deal,” Gianaris said at the time. “I am against the deal that has been proposed.” Pixabay

At a second city council hearing in January, Amazon’s vice president for public policy, Brian Huseman, subtly suggested that perhaps the company’s decision to come to New York could be reversed.

“We want to invest in a community that wants us,” he said.

Then came a sign that Amazon’s opponents might actually succeed in derailing the deal: In early February, Gianaris was tapped for a seat on a little-known state panel that often has to approve state funding for big economic development projects. That meant if Amazon’s deal went before the board, Gianaris could kill it.

“I’m not looking to negotiate a better deal,” Gianaris said at the time. “I am against the deal that has been proposed.”

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Cuomo had the power to block Gianaris’ appointment, but he didn’t indicate whether he would take that step.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s own doubts about the project started to show. On Feb. 8, The Washington Post reported that the company was having second thoughts about the Queens location. (VOA)