US marks 9/11 with somber tributes, new monument to victims

A U.S. flag that few over the World Trade Center is presented during ceremonies marking the 17th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York, U.S., September 11, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 11 September 2018
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US marks 9/11 with somber tributes, new monument to victims

NEW YORK: Americans were commemorating 9/11 with somber tributes, volunteer projects and a new monument to victims Tuesday, after a year when two attacks demonstrated the enduring threat of terrorism in the nation’s biggest city.
Margie Miller was among the thousands of 9/11 victims’ relatives, survivors, rescuers and others who gathered on a misty Tuesday morning at the memorial plaza where the World Trade Center’s twin towers once stood. She came to the site from her home in suburban Baldwin, as she does 10 or so times a year, to remember her husband, Joel Miller. Only a few fragments of his remains were recovered.
“To me, he is here. This is my holy place,” his widow said before the ceremony began a moment of silence and tolling bells at 8:46 a.m., the time when the trade center was hit by the first of two terrorist-piloted planes. Victims’ relatives who had brought signs bearing photos of their loved ones wordlessly held them high.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence headed to the two other places where hijacked planes crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, in the deadliest terror attack on American soil.
The president and first lady Melania Trump flew to Pennsylvania to join an observance at the Sept. 11 memorial in a field near Shanksville, where a new “Tower of Voices” was dedicated Saturday. Pence is attending a ceremony at the Pentagon. Trump, a Republican and native New Yorker, took the occasion of last year’s anniversary to issue a stern warning to extremists that “America cannot be intimidated.”
Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks on 9/11, when international terrorism hit home in a way it previously hadn’t for many Americans. Sept. 11 still shapes American policy, politics and everyday experiences in places from airports to office buildings, even if it’s less of a constant presence in the public consciousness after 17 years.
A stark reminder came not long after last year’s anniversary: A truck mowed down people, killing eight, on a bike path within a few blocks of the World Trade Center on Halloween.
In December, a would-be suicide bomber set off a pipe bomb in a subway passageway near Times Square, authorities said. They said suspects in both attacks were inspired by the Islamic State extremist group.
The recent attacks in New York, as well as terror attacks elsewhere, were on Miller’s mind as she arrived Tuesday.
“You don’t want to live in fear, but it’s very real,” she said.
Debra Sinodinos, who lost her firefighter cousin Peter Carroll and works near the trade center, said she tries not to let the recent attacks unnerve her.
“You have to move on,” she said as she headed into the anniversary ceremony with her extended family. “Otherwise, you’d live in fear.”
The 9/11 commemorations are by now familiar rituals, centered on reading the names of the dead. But each year at ground zero, victims’ relatives infuse the ceremony with personal messages of remembrance, inspiration and concern.
For Nicholas Haros Jr., that concern is officials who make comparisons to 9/11 or invoke it for political purposes.
“Stop. Stop,” pleaded Haros, who lost his 76-year-old mother, Frances. “Please stop using the bones and ashes of our loved ones as props in your political theater. Their lives, sacrifices and deaths are worth so much more. Let’s not trivialize them.”
This year’s anniversary comes as a heated midterm election cycle kicks into high gear. But there have long been some efforts to separate the solemn anniversary from politics.
The group 9/11 Day, which promotes volunteering on an anniversary that was declared a national day of service in 2009, routinely asks candidates not to campaign or run political ads for the day. Organizers of the ground zero ceremony allow politicians to attend, but they’ve been barred since 2011 from reading names or delivering remarks.
The names are read by victims’ loved ones, some of them not yet born when the attacks happened.
“Even though I never met you, I’ll never forget you,” Isabella Del Corral said of her grandfather, Joseph Piskadlo.
Hours after the ceremony, two powerful light beams will soar into the night sky from lower Manhattan in the annual “Tribute in Light.”
Memorials to 9/11 continue to grow at Shanksville, where the Tower of Voices will eventually include a wind chime for each of the 40 people killed there, and ground zero, where work is to begin soon on a pathway honoring rescue and recovery workers.
It will serve as a way to honor those who became sick or died from exposure to toxins released when the Trade Center’s twin towers collapsed. Researchers have documented elevated rates of respiratory ailments, post-traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses among people who spent time in the rubble.
About 38,500 people have applied to a compensation fund, and over $3.9 billion in claims have been approved.
Meanwhile, rebuilding continues. A subway station destroyed on 9/11 finally reopened Saturday. In June, doors opened at the 80-story 3 World Trade Center, one of several rebuilt office towers that have been constructed or planned at the site. A performing arts center is rising.
However, work was suspended in December on replacing a Greek Orthodox church crushed in the attacks; the project hit financial problems.
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Associated Press writers Stephen Groves and Karen Matthews contributed to this report.


Pakistan PM Imran Khan lashes out at Trump “tirade“

Updated 7 min 5 sec ago
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Pakistan PM Imran Khan lashes out at Trump “tirade“

  • Trump, during an interview with Fox News, defended cutting aid to Islamabad and suggested Pakistani authorities knew Osama bin Laden’s location prior to his killing
  • Khan said in a series of tweets that “record needs to be put straight on Mr.Trump’s tirade against Pakistan”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday lashed out at US President Donald Trump following his remarks that Pakistan doesn’t “do a damn thing” for the United States despite billions of dollars in US aid for the South Asian nation.
The friction threatens to further worsen already fragile relations between Islamabad and Washington, on-off allies who have repeatedly clashed about the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s alleged support for Islamist militants.
Khan, who assumed power in August and is known for his fiery anti-American rhetoric, said in a series of tweets that “record needs to be put straight on Mr.Trump’s tirade against Pakistan” over the weekend.
Trump, during a Fox News TV interview aired on Sunday, defended cutting aid to Islamabad and also suggested Pakistani authorities knew Osama bin Laden’s location prior to his killing by US troops in a raid inside Pakistan in 2011.
Pakistan denies supporting Afghan Taliban insurgents waging war against US-backed troops in Afghanistan and Islamabad has also always rejected claims officials aided former Al-Qaeda leader bin Laden.
“Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1 trillion spent on war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before,” Khan tweeted.
Trump, in a pre-recorded interview, said bin Laden had been living in “a nice mansion” in Pakistan next to a military academy and “everybody in Pakistan knew he was there.”
“And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year. ...(bin Laden) lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year — which we don’t give them anymore, by the way. I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.”
Khan said Pakistan had borne the brunt of the United States’ war on terror, which focused on militants that straddle the Afghanistan-Pakistan tribal belt.
“No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to participate in US War on Terror,” Khan said. “Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. US “aid” was a minuscule $20 bn.”
Khan also pointed out that Pakistan continued to provide its roads and air space for the re-supply for more than 10,000 US troops currently based in Afghanistan.
“Can Mr.Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?”