Trump, Biden vie to show leadership on 9/11 anniversary, as Covid-19 changes tribute traditions

Trump, Biden vie to show leadership on 9/11 anniversary, as Covid-19 changes tribute traditions
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People place flowers on the names of victims at the edge of the South pool during ceremonies on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center at the 911 Memorial in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US, Sept. 11, 2020. (Reuters)
Trump, Biden vie to show leadership on 9/11 anniversary, as Covid-19 changes tribute traditions
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US President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt pledge allegiance to the flag during a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial commemorating the 19th anniversary of the crash of Flight 93 and the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2020 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (Getty Images/AFP)
Trump, Biden vie to show leadership on 9/11 anniversary, as Covid-19 changes tribute traditions
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Wearing face masks to reduce the risk posed by the coronavirus, US Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden and wife, Jill, pose for photographs with members of the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Company’s Station 627 after they visited the Flight 93 National Memorial Sept. 11, 2020 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Earlier in the day the Bidens attended a remembrance ceremony at the 9/11 National Memorial in New York City. (Getty Images/AFP)
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Updated 30 September 2020

Trump, Biden vie to show leadership on 9/11 anniversary, as Covid-19 changes tribute traditions

Trump, Biden vie to show leadership on 9/11 anniversary, as Covid-19 changes tribute traditions
  • Trump and Biden successively attended a ceremony in Shanksville, Pennsylvania
  • New York memorial was scaled back due to COVID-19, but some traditions were observed

WASHINGTON: Americans commemorated 9/11 Friday as another national crisis reconfigured memorial ceremonies, dividing some victims’ families over coronavirus safety precautions, and a presidential campaign carved a path through the observances.
In New York, victims’ relatives gathered Friday morning for split-screen remembrances at the World Trade Center’s Sept. 11 memorial plaza and on a nearby corner, set up by separate organizations.
Standing on the plaza, with its serene waterfall pools and groves of trees, Jin Hee Cho said she could not erase the memory of the death of her younger sister, Kyung, in the collapse of the trade center’s north tower.
“It’s just hard to delete that in my mind. I understand there’s all this, and I understand now that we have even COVID,” said Cho, 55. “But I only feel the loss, the devastating loss of my flesh-and-blood sister.”
The ruins of the shattered World Trade Center have since been replaced by a glittering $25 billion complex that includes three skyscrapers, a museum and the memorial with the goal that it would be again be an international hub of commerce.




Flowers are placed at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York on Sept. 11, 2020, as the US commemorates the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (AFP)

But the pandemic has rendered it somewhat of a ghost town, adding an eerie quality to the commemoration of the attack, with office workers staying home and tourists avoiding the memorial site.
Around the country, some communities canceled 9/11 ceremonies, while others went ahead, sometimes with modifications. The Pentagon’s observance was so restricted that not even victims’ families could attend, though small groups could visit its memorial later in the day.
On an anniversary that fell less than two months before the presidential election, President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden both headed for the Flight 93 National Memorial in the election battleground state of Pennsylvania — at different times of day. Biden also attended the ceremony at ground zero in New York, exchanging an elbow bump with Vice President Mike Pence before the observance began.
In short, the 19th anniversary of the deadliest terror attack on US soil was a complicated occasion in a maelstrom of a year, as the US grapples with a pandemic, searches its soul over racial injustice and prepares to choose a leader to chart a path forward.

Still, families say it’s important for the nation to pause and remember the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the trade center, at the Pentagon outside Washington and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11, 2001 — shaping American policy, perceptions of safety and daily life in places from airports to office buildings.
“People could say, ‘Oh, 19 years.’ But I’ll always be doing something this day. It’s history,” said Annemarie D’Emic, who lost her brother Charles Heeran, a stock trader. She went to the alternative ceremony in New York, which kept up the longstanding tradition of in-person readers.
Speaking at the Pennsylvania memorial, Trump, who did not attend the ceremony in his home city and sent Pence in his stead, recalled how the plane’s crew and passengers tried to storm the cockpit as the hijackers as headed for Washington.
“The heroes of Flight 93 are an everlasting reminder that no matter the danger, no matter the threat, no matter the odds, America will always rise up, stand tall, and fight back,” the Republican president said.




US President Donald Trump speaks at a 19th anniversary observance of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. (AP)

Trump and his wife Melania listened in silence as the names of the 40 passengers and crew killed aboard Flight 93 were read aloud — with two bells tolling after the reading of each one.
In brief prepared remarks, the incumbent — who is hoping to defeat Biden and win a second term — paid “tribute to their sacrifice” along with all those who perished in the attacks.
“The only thing that stood between the enemy and a deadly strike at the heart of American democracy was the courage and resolve of 40 men and women – the amazing passengers and crew of Flight 93,” Trump told the crowd, adding “America will never relent in pursuing terrorists that threaten our people.”
He also honored first responders as well as military personnel who fought to “preserve our freedom” in the subsequent wars launched under former president George W. Bush.
“We resolve to stand united as one American nation, to defend our freedoms, to uphold our values, to love our neighbors, to cherish our country.... and to never, ever forget,” Trump said.




US President Donald Trump places a wreath at a 19th anniversary observance of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. (AP)

It was a rare call for unity from a leader who normally plays political divisions to his advantage.
Biden, who did not cross paths with Trump, visited the memorial later Friday, laid a wreath and greeted relatives of one of the slain crew members, First Officer LeRoy Homer.




US Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, greet family members of victims after laying a wreath in front of her brother, Leroy Homers name at the Wall of Names following a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial commemorating the 19th Anniversary of the crash of Flight 93 and the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2020 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (Getty Images/AFP)

Biden pledged not to make any news during the day with the Nov. 3 election now less than two months away.
“I’m not going to talk about anything other than 9/11. We took all our advertising down. It’s a solemn day, and that’s how we’re going to keep it, okay?,” Biden said.

At the Sept. 11 memorial in New York hours earlier, Biden offered condolences to victims’ relatives including Amanda Barreto, 27, who lost her aunt and godmother in the attacks. She said Biden “wanted to let me know to keep the faith” and told her he understood what it meant to lose a loved one. His first wife and their daughter died in a car crash, and his son Beau died of brain cancer.
Biden didn’t speak at the ceremony, which has a longstanding custom of not allowing politicians to make remarks and reserves that privilege to the close ones of victims.




US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden prays as he attends the 19th September 11 commemoration ceremony at the National Memorial & Museum in New York, Sept. 11, 2020. (AFP)

Biden then tweeted: “As a nation, we must never forget those we lost on 9/11 and the incredible bravery of our first responders. Though the wounds of that day will never fully heal, the spirit of Americans recovered as it always does — unbowed by the efforts of those who strike against it.”

In addition to stopping by the official Ground Zero museum ceremony, Pence attended another nearby commemoration organized by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, where some 100 relatives gathered to read the names of love ones they lost.
The vice president delivered a brief address and his wife, Karen, read a well-known verse from the Bible.
“For the families of the lost and friends they left behind, I pray these ancient words will comfort your heart and others,” said the vice president, drawing applause from the audience of roughly 200.
Formed in honor of a firefighter killed on 9/11, the foundation felt in-person readers were crucial to the ceremony’s emotional impact and could recite names while keeping a safe distance. By contrast, recorded names emanated from speakers placed around the memorial plaza. Leaders said they wanted to keep readers and listeners from clustering at a stage.
As in past years on the plaza, many readers at the alternative ceremony added poignant tributes to their loved ones’ character and heroism, urged the nation not to forget the attacks and recounted missed family milestones: “How I wish you could walk me down the aisle in just three weeks,” Kaitlyn Strada said of her father, Thomas, a bond broker.




Family members of victims sits along the edge of the South pool during ceremonies marking the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center at the 911 Memorial in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US, Sept. 11, 2020. (Reuters)

One reader thanked essential workers for helping New York City endure the pandemic, which has killed at least 24,000 people in the city and over 190,000 nationwide. Another reader, Catherine Hernandez, said she became a police officer to honor her family’s loss.
Other victims’ relatives, however, weren’t bothered by the switch to a recording at the ground zero ceremony.
“I think it should evolve. It can’t just stay the same forever,” said Frank Dominguez, who lost his brother, Police Officer Jerome Dominguez.




The ringing of bells as names are called during a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial commemorating the 19th anniversary of the crash of Flight 93 and the September 11th terrorist attacks in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (Getty Images/AFP)

The Sept. 11 memorial and the Tunnel to Towers foundation also tussled over the Tribute in Light, a pair of powerful beams that shine into the night sky near the trade center, evoking its fallen twin towers. The 9/11 memorial initially canceled the display, citing virus safety concerns for the installation crew. After the foundation vowed to put up the lights instead, the memorial changed course with help from its chair, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Tunnel to Towers, meanwhile, arranged to display single beams for the first time at the Shanksville memorial and the Pentagon.
Over the years, the anniversary also has become a day for volunteering. Because of the pandemic, the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance organization is encouraging people this year to make donations or take other actions from home.

 

 

 

 

 

(With AP, AFP and Reuters)


Authorities shut down six ‘illegal’ Iranian schools in southwest Pakistan

Authorities shut down six ‘illegal’ Iranian schools in southwest Pakistan
Photo/Quetta Assistant Commissioner
Updated 12 June 2021

Authorities shut down six ‘illegal’ Iranian schools in southwest Pakistan

Authorities shut down six ‘illegal’ Iranian schools in southwest Pakistan
  • Schools were teaching foreign curriculum in violation of Pakistani law, officials say
  • Management and faculty of the schools consisted of Iranian nationals

KARACHI: Pakistani authorities have closed six Iranian schools operating illegally in southwestern Balochistan province, officials said on Saturday.
All six schools shut on Friday were run by Iranian nationals in Quetta, the capital of the province bordering Iran.
“We have sealed six schools, which were being illegally run by Iranian nationals and where a foreign syllabus was being taught in violation of the country law,” Quetta Assistant Commissioner Muhammad Zuhaib-ul-Haq told Arab News.
Shabbir Ahmed, monitoring and evaluation director of the provincial government’s Balochistan Education Foundation, said that four more schools are being investigated for teaching a foreign curriculum.
“It’s likely that the remaining four schools will also be sealed since they don’t fulfil requirements,” Ahmed said. “Foreign-funded schools with foreign faculty and foreign syllabus are unacceptable.”
Both the management and faculty of the schools consisted of Iranian nationals, he added.
It remains unclear when the schools were established. All the schools had 1992 “no objection” certificates on display, Ahmed said, but this was not sufficient for them to operate as they had failed to register with the provincial home and education departments.
The schools attracted the attention of local authorities five months ago and were asked to register properly.
“A form was handed to them to get themselves registered, but registration was declined after they failed to fulfil requirements,” Ahmed said.
“If you are teaching in Pakistan, which is a sovereign state, you have to teach Pakistani syllabus,” he added. “It is not possible to teach a foreign curriculum in a sovereign state.”

 

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Afghan official: Bombs hit 2 minivans in Kabul, 7 dead

Afghan official: Bombs hit 2 minivans in Kabul, 7 dead
Updated 12 June 2021

Afghan official: Bombs hit 2 minivans in Kabul, 7 dead

Afghan official: Bombs hit 2 minivans in Kabul, 7 dead
  • The first explosion killed six people and wounded two and the second explosion killed one and wounded four
  • The area where the explosions happened is largely populated by the minority Hazara ethnic group

KABUL: Separate bombs hit two minivans in a mostly Shiite neighborhood in the Afghan capital Saturday, killing at least seven people and wounding six others, the Interior Ministry said.
The attacks targeted minivans on the same road about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) apart in a neighborhood in western Kabul, Interior Ministry deputy spokesman Ahmad Zia Zia, said.
It wasn’t immediately clear what type of bombs were used and no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. Daesh has carried out similar bombings in the area, including four attacks on four minivans earlier this month that killed at least 18 people.
The first explosion killed six people and wounded two and the second explosion in front of Muhammad Ali Jinnah hospital, where a majority of COVID-19 patients are admitted, killed one and wounded four.
The area where the explosions happened is largely populated by the minority Hazara ethnic group who are mostly Shiite Muslims. Shiites are a minority in mostly Sunni Afghanistan, and the local Daesh affiliate has declared war against them.
Hundreds of Afghans are killed or injured every month in violence connected to the country’s constant war. But Hazaras, who make up around 9 percent of the population of 36 million people, stand alone in being intentionally targeted because of their ethnicity and their religion.
Violence and chaos continue to escalate in Afghanistan as the US and NATO continue their withdrawal of the remaining 2,500-3,500 American soldiers and 7,000 allied forces. The last of the troops will be gone by Sept. 11 at the latest.


After charming leaders, Queen Elizabeth sits back for parade

After charming leaders, Queen Elizabeth sits back for parade
Updated 12 June 2021

After charming leaders, Queen Elizabeth sits back for parade

After charming leaders, Queen Elizabeth sits back for parade
  • On Friday, she was the star turn at a reception with the G-7 leaders and their spouses at the Eden Project
  • She drew laughter from her guests as she chided them during a group photo session: “Are you supposed to be looking as if you’re enjoying yourself?”

LONDON: Fresh from charming leaders at the Group of Seven summit, Queen Elizabeth II was back at her residence at Windsor Castle on Saturday to view a military parade to mark her official birthday.
The 95-year-old monarch sat on a dais to watch the ceremony that despite ongoing social distancing restrictions did not disappoint on the pomp and pageantry front. If she was tired after meeting G-7 leaders, including US President Joe Biden, on Friday evening, it didn’t show.
The ceremony is a gift from the Household Division of army regiments, which has a close affinity with the monarch. It featured soldiers who have played an integral role in the COVID-19 response, as well as those who have been serving on military operations. She was seen beaming from ear to ear as the nine planes of the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows flew past in formation and let loose their red, white and blue smoke.
The traditional Trooping the Color ceremony is normally staged in London and features hundreds of servicemen and women and thousands of spectators. However, for the second year running, that was not possible and it was a slimmed-down affair in the grounds of Windsor Castle, which is around 27 miles (44 kilometers) west of the capital.


Dubbed a mini Trooping the Color, it featured soldiers in ceremonial scarlet coats and bearskin hats. The servicemen and women on parade numbered almost 275, with 70 horses, compared with the 85 soldiers who took part in the ceremony last summer. A small handful of seated guests lined part of the quadrangle — a change from last year when only the military were present.
The ceremony originated from traditional preparations for battle. The colors — or flags — were “trooped,” or carried down the lines of soldiers, so they could be seen and recognized in battle.
Lt. Col. Guy Stone, who planned the queen’s official birthday celebrations in Windsor Castle’s quadrangle, said he wanted to create a “memorable and uplifting day” for the monarch.
The ceremony took place a couple of months after the death of her 99-year-old husband Prince Philip, whose funeral also took place at Windsor Castle.
Though she has been mourning the loss of her husband of 73 years, the queen has carried on performing her duties, including delivering a government-scripted speech to mark the new session of parliament.
On Friday, she was the star turn at a reception with the G-7 leaders and their spouses at the Eden Project, a futuristic botanical garden housed inside domes that features the world’s largest indoor rainforest.
She drew laughter from her guests as she chided them during a group photo session: “Are you supposed to be looking as if you’re enjoying yourself?”
Though the queen’s actual birthday is on April 26, she celebrates another one in June when the British weather — it is hoped — is more conducive to outdoor celebrations. It’s a royal tradition that goes back to 1748 and the reign of King George II, whose actual birthday was in November.
One of the major parts of the queen’s official birthday is her award of honors to those deemed to have made a positive contribution to society.
This year’s honors list has celebrated those at the forefront of the UK’s rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines over the past few months, which has been credited with turning around the country’s pandemic response.
Sarah Gilbert, the professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford who was instrumental in the development of the vaccine being manufactured by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, and Kate Bingham, the former head of the UK Vaccines Taskforce credited for the country’s successful procurement program, have both been recognized with damehoods.
Though the UK has seen Europe’s highest virus-related death toll, with nearly 128,000 people having lost their lives, its vaccination program has been deemed one of the world’s speediest and most coherent rollouts.


At least 12 injured in shooting in downtown Austin, Texas

At least 12 injured in shooting in downtown Austin, Texas
Updated 12 June 2021

At least 12 injured in shooting in downtown Austin, Texas

At least 12 injured in shooting in downtown Austin, Texas

AUSTIN, TEXAS: Officials in Texas say at least nine people have been injured following a shooting Saturday morning in downtown Austin.
Police said in a tweet that multiple victims had injuries. The Austin-Travis County EMS said in a series of tweets that at least 12 patients had received treatment or been transported to local hospitals.
It was unknown how many of the injuries may have been gunshot wounds.
It was unclear what sparked the shooting. Police have not announced any suspects or arrests.


France’s Macron offers UK’s Johnson: ‘Le reset’ if he keeps his Brexit word

France’s Macron offers UK’s Johnson: ‘Le reset’ if he keeps his Brexit word
Updated 12 June 2021

France’s Macron offers UK’s Johnson: ‘Le reset’ if he keeps his Brexit word

France’s Macron offers UK’s Johnson: ‘Le reset’ if he keeps his Brexit word
  • Since Britain completed its exit from the EU late last year, relations with the bloc and particularly France have soured

CARBIS BAY, England: French President Emmanuel Macron offered on Saturday to reset relations with Britain as long as Prime Minister Boris Johnson stood by the Brexit divorce deal he signed with the European Union.
Since Britain completed its exit from the EU late last year, relations with the bloc and particularly France have soured, with Macron becoming the most vocal critic of London’s refusal to honor the terms of part of its Brexit deal.
At a meeting at the Group of Seven world’s most advanced economies in southwestern England, Macron told Johnson the two countries had common interests, but that ties could only improve if Johnson kept his word on Brexit.
“The president told Boris Johnson there needed to be a reset of the Franco-British relationship,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
“This can happen provided that he keeps his word with the Europeans,” the source said, adding that Macron spoke in English to Johnson.
Johnson will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel later on Saturday, where she could also raise the row over part of the EU divorce deal, called the Northern Ireland protocol.
The British leader, who is hosting the G7 meeting, wants the summit to focus on global issues, but has stood his ground on trade with Northern Ireland, calling on the EU to be more flexible in its approach to easing trade to the province from Britain.