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Archive for the tag '9/11'

A Bath Beach girl who lost her uncle in the September 11 attacks made a public plea to President Barack Obama, urging him not to go to war with Syria. The New York Daily News reported that Brittney Cofresi, made the plea while reading names of victims at the September 11 commemoration last week.

Cofresi, who is 15 years old, was paying tribute to her uncle, Salvatore Papasso, a tax investigator who died at the age of 34 when terrorists struck the World Trade Center back in 2001. Papasso, who worked on the 86th floor of 2 World Trade Center, was said to be helping people evacuate the building before being killed.

Cofresi was reading names of September 11 victims on television a the World Trade Center memorial site and after naming her uncle, she urged Obama to give peace a chance.

“I was only 3 when you were taken from us, and we miss you very much. President Obama, please do not bring us to another war,” Cofresi said.

The Daily News contacted Cofresi and asked her motivation for making the public plea:

“I’m just a girl from Brooklyn,” the freshman from Bath Beach told the Daily News. “I wasn’t sure if the President would get my emails or letters. I felt like the only way to get my voice heard was to say this on TV.”

Brittney said she was moved to speak after watching Obama’s primetime speech on Syria the night before.

Cofresi’s wish that Obama avoid engaging Syria in war has become more tangible in recent days, as a compromise between the United States and Russia calling for Syria to give up their chemical weapons has been struck. Now we wait for Syria to follow through.

Source: 9/11 Photos via flickr

Source: 9/11 Photos via flickr

Last week was the 12-year anniversary of September 11, 2001, and lawmakers are urging any eligible New Yorkers to register for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund before the deadline of October 3. CBS News is reporting that 27,000 people have already registered seeking compensation for 9/11-related illnesses.

People eligible include residents of Lower Manhattan, first responders, their family members and anyone else who was exposed to the smoke and toxins that resulted from the terrorist attack. The Victim Compensation Fund is $2.8 billion and will be divided among everyone who qualifies. Shelia Birnbaum, a representative for the fund, described how the money would be distributed.

“Every individual is treated individually although it depends on their lost income and their economic loss,” Birnbaum told CBS. “It’s all going to depend at the end of how many people apply.”

To register for the fund and to get more information, you can visit the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund’s website by clicking here.

Source: Official US Navy Imagery via Flickr

Source: Official US Navy Imagery via Flickr

Today is September 11th, 2013, the twelfth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that horrified the world. On that day, 2,996 people died,  and the course of American history was forever altered.

Since that fateful day, New Yorkers have lived with the awareness of how vulnerable we all are. As we stroll underneath Manhattan skyscrapers, race through subway tunnels and drive over bridges, only people with the most blithe dispositions are spared the occasional loose thoughts of crashing steel and exploding fireballs.

Sometimes I can’t help but think about how New York is the subject of so many different people’s worst nightmares about the world. Throughout the Cold War, more than any other world city, New York was in the cross-hairs of nuclear destruction. The city has been destroyed in people’s imaginations so many times, be it in comic books, TV shows, movies and novels that I actually find it immensely comforting, that in reality, New York is still here.

For a first world city, we are tougher than most. We put up with trash, crime, rising rents, economic hardships and hurricanes. Despite the horror 12 years ago, the city is still here, thriving and expanding. Through the works of countless good and ordinary people, we have kept this city together, preserving it as the beacon for humanity, words expressed best on the plaque of the Statue of Liberty:

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Today, please take a moment to remember the victims of the attacks; those who perished in their attempt to save others; those who fell ill in the years that followed; those service members who have paid the ultimately sacrifice in the name of Justice abroad – and also the living, your neighbors, friends, family and the countless strangers of Gotham, who should never again see such tragedy befall our great, unyielding City.

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

As the lone GOP representative of a city dominated by Democrats in the federal legislature, Congressman Grimm has a unique position and voice when it comes to relating to his GOP colleagues. The New York Daily News is reporting that Grimm used his special platform to denounce his own party leaders for inviting Kentucky Senator Rand Paul to a Manhattan GOP fundraiser in August.

As the race for the 2016 presidency inches closer, battles are breaking out in the Republican Party. On the one side, you have more traditional conservatives like Arizona Senator John McCain and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. These types of Republicans have moderate streaks and are unafraid to bargain with Democrats on key issues of national security and federal emergency responses to disasters like Superstorm Sandy. On the other side, you have a growing libertarian movement, led by Texas Congressman Ron Paul and his son Senator Rand Paul. These Republicans preach isolationism, a reduction in military intervention and a dramatic reduction of federal spending that eclipses your standard conservative.

Senator Paul, who has ambitions to run for president in ’16, has gone on record opposing the $60 billion Congressional Sandy Aid package. In a recent interview, Paul bashed Republicans like Christie and Grimm, who requested federal funds following Sandy saying that they had a “gimmie, gimmie, gimmie” attitude. As a result of Paul’s stance on Superstorm Sandy funding, Grimm urged the Manhattan GOP not to invite him to an August 13 fundraiser.

Despite Grimm’s plea for the Manhattan GOP to show Paul the door, the Daily News is reporting that they are inviting him anyway:

But Manhattan GOP chair Daniel Isaacs said he has no plans to back down. “My inclination” is to hold the event, he said, adding that he had been assured by Paul’s staff that the “gimme, gimme, gimme” quote was taken out of context.

Paul, however, said his statement “came off exactly” as he’d meant it and he reiterated it again Tuesday.

Paul’s brazen defense of beliefs that would have left the Tri-State area without funds to rebuild following the immense destruction of Sandy has irked other local GOP members, especially Christie. According to a New York Times report, Christie bashed Paul for his views on national security, invoking September 11.

“These esoteric, intellectual debates — I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation,” Christie said. “And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have…The next attack that comes, that kills thousands of Americans as a result, people are going to be looking back on the people having this intellectual debate and wondering whether they put —” Mr. Christie said before cutting himself off.

Needless to say, if Paul ends up being the Republican nominee for president in 2016, there is little danger of New York turning red.

Photo By Erica Sherman

Photo By Erica Sherman

Councilman Vincent Gentile wants to spare thousands of R train riders from having to make a hustle transfer at the Barclays Center/Atlantic Avenue station over the next year. NY 1 is reporting that Gentile is interested in providing ferry service to ease the expected congestion as the damaged R train link between Brooklyn and Manhattan gets fixed over the next 14 months.

Over 65,000 New Yorkers ride the R train, but due to damage incurred as a result of Superstorm Sandy, the tunnel connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan will be closed for 14 months starting on August 4. As a result, commuters have little option but to transfer to a different Manhattan-bound line at one of the four last stops in Brooklyn. Gentile doesn’t believe that merely transferring is a viable option considering the length of time of the service disruption and the amount of commuters affected by the change.

“It does not constitute a contingency plan just to say, ‘Transfer just before you get all the way downtown,’” Gentile told NY 1.

Instead Gentile offered the idea of using federal FEMA dollars to pay for expanded ferry service for commuters on the furthest ends of the R line, setting up a similar situation to the one after the events of 9/11.

“We’ve done it in the past, and we certainly did it in post-9/11. We can do it now,” Gentile said.

While some commuters responded to Gentile’s plan positively, believing that extra options would ease crowding and congestion as people rush to transfer to a viable line, not everyone was sold.

“I would personally just prefer to take some other kind of subway, do some kind of transfer,” said one commuter. “Ferry sounds too complicated for an everyday commute to me.”

“It’s just a lot of hassle,” said another. “You have to transfer, you have to wait for the ferry. It’s just, I don’t trust ferries.”

tsa-knife-580x433

The forces of stupidity were held at bay as the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reversed their plan to allow pocket knives on airplanes. Bloomberg is reporting that the agency altered its plans to allow pocket knives on airplanes after feeling intense pressure from lawmakers, airline executives and flight attendant unions.

In April, we reported on the TSA plan to allow pocket knives on airplanes, which cited a desire to conform to standard rules from other agencies around the globe. If the TSA got its way, they would have allowed for small pocket knives with blades no longer than 2.36 inches and no more than half an inch wide to be carried on planes, so long as the knife didn’t have a  fixed blade or a molded grip.

The absurdity of potentially lessening the rules in this matter smacks in the face of common sense, considering that the 9/11 hijackers used little more than box cutters to carry out their deadly attacks.

Opponents of the TSA’s plan included Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Michael Grimm. Schumer called the potential change “dangerous” and Grimm referred to the plan as “borderline idiotic.” Velda Shook, international president of the Flight Attendants Union applauded the aborted proposal.

“The result is better security policy and the assurance that our nation’s aviation security system continues to be vigilant for knives that could be used in a terrorist attack or criminal act against passengers or crew,” Shook said in a statement.

Also applauding the reversal were executives from Delta, American and US Airways.

Congressman Michael Grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm

Representative Michael Grimm unleashed a tirade against Councilman Domenic Recchia. According to a report in Politicker, Grimm labeled Recchia a “pathetic political hack” in response to accusations that Grimm purposefully refused to back a bill that would end the sequestration on funds allotted to victims of the 9/11 attacks because Grimm had not been invited to a press conference touting the measure.

Yesterday, we reported on the allegations that Grimm’s being snubbed was cause for his refusal to back the legislation in question. Recchia had condemned Grimm in a press release, stating that, “This is self-aggrandizing, petty politics at its worst.”

Grimm responded today with an emotionally charged five paragraph press release of his own, in which he accused Recchia of being a “complete empty suit,” and “another hypocritical, career politician…void of an original thought.” Grimm also sidestepped the accusations put forward by John Feal, president of the Fealgood Foundation, that Grimm’s accidental press conference snub was the sole reason for Grimm taking political retribution in this matter.

Instead, Grimm attempted to change the narrative by accusing Recchia of being ignorant of recent Tea Party talking points like the alleged “Benghazi cover-up” and the IRS scandal. In the end, Grimm declared that Recchia had exploited the tragedy of 9/11 for political gain, the same accusation put forward by Feal towards Grimm yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Recchia was dismissive of Grimm’s attack:

“Michael Grimm’s hyper-defensiveness on this issue is well-warranted given how out-of-touch he seems to be with the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn,” she said. “By doubling-down on not supporting New York’s first-responders, he’s demonstrated his true colors and values. What’s more, he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too when it comes to sequestration. If he didn’t support it, then he shouldn’t have voted for it.”

Perhaps Grimm’s increasingly defensive stance is a result of the heat he is feeling in his reelection bid. According to a New York Daily News report, Grimm’s election chances were recently downgraded. Citing a “Cook Political Report,” which handicaps electoral races, Grimm’s chances of winning shifted from “Likely R” to “Lean R.”

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

Congressman Michael Grimm is allegedly ignoring legislation that would unlock millions of dollars in compensation funds for 9/11 victims because he wasn’t invited to press conference hosted by the Fealgood Foundation. The New York Post is reporting that Grimm still hasn’t put his support behind the bill three months after the snub took place.

The press conference in question was a bipartisan affair that featured Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, Republican Congressman Peter King and Democratic Congressman Carolyn Maloney. The politicians on hand promoted bills that would help 9/11 victims and first responders, families entrenched in Grimm’s district.

The Post described the nature of the bill that Grimm refuses to back:

The bill — which has been sitting in the House Budget Committee — would make 9/11 health and compensation programs exempt from sequestration cuts that began in March.

Without its passage, at least $27 million of Zadroga Act money — $17 million from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and $10 million from the World Trade Center Health Fund — will not be disbursed.

The bill’s 22 co-sponsors include other New York lawmakers like Reps. Jose Serrano, Joseph Crowley and Yvette Clarke. Democrats Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey and Hakeem Jeffries have not signed on as co-sponsors.

John Feal, the president of the Fealgood Foundation, is outraged by Grimm’s actions.

“This is unacceptable and immature,” Feal told the Post. “It was an oversight. He wasn’t invited, and he took it personally.”

Feal was unrelenting in his criticism of Grimm’s stance on the matter, accusing him of exploiting the 9/11 victims and anniversary when it suits him politically.

“It’s petty politics. Congressman Grimm is someone I looked up to in the past and had a working relationship with. Shame on him for using 9/11 every anniversary and ignoring the first responders the other 364 days of the year,” Feal told the Post.

Naturally, Gravesend-based Councilman Domenic Recchia, who is seeking to unseat Grimm in 2014, used the news as an opportunity to blast his future opponent.

“This is self-aggrandizing, petty politics at its worst,” Recchia said in a press release. “First, Grimm punished our first responders by supporting the sequestration. And, now, when given the chance to make things right, Grimm’s punishing these heroes once again. This time though he’s making them suffer because he didn’t get his 15 minutes of fame. It’s ridiculous.

On September 11, 2001, a gang of terrorists hijacked four airplanes in the United States armed with box cutters. On April 25, 2013, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) will allow small knives to be carried on planes again, in an apparent victory for stupidity. Congressman Michael Grimm, allied with Senator Charles Shumer, are fighting for legislation to prevent the TSA on their decision to allow for small knives to be carried on planes, according to a report by SI Live.

Grimm, who rightfully called the planned TSA reversal on knife policy “borderline idiotic,” has put forward the “No Knives Act” with fellow Congressman Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

The TSA decision would allow for small pocket knives with blades no longer than 2.36 inches and no more than half an inch wide to be carried on planes, so long as the knife doesn’t have a  fixed blade or a molded grip.

In the Senate, Chuck Shumer joined Grimm’s crusade to make sure the new TSA policy doesn’t go into effect.

“Congressman Grimm and I will be working diligently together to reverse this befuddling decision to allow knives on planes. Since September 11, all kinds of knives have been prohibited in carry-on luggage for good reason, and these dangerous weapons still pose a significant hazard to flight crew, pilots and passengers,” said Schumer.

For passengers who can’t bare the thought of traveling without a knife, Grimm noted that it is still legal to travel with one in checked luggage.

From the offices of Congressman Michael Grimm:

BROOKLYN, NY – Today, Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R,C-Brooklyn/S.I.) and State Senator Marty Golden (R,C,I – Brooklyn) sent a letter to Community Board 10 Chairwoman Joanne Seminara in support of naming the northeast corner of 5th Avenue and 85th Street “Firefighter Michael G. Behette 9/11 Memorial Way.”  Michael Behette was a Dyker Heights resident and firefighter who died last month from a 9/11-related cancer. His family has requested the street naming in his honor, and Rep. Grimm and Senator Golden are lending their full support.

“Michael Behette was a true American hero who bravely rushed into a dust cloud of danger when others ran away,” said Rep. Grimm. “His selfless love for our city, for others, and for his profession as NYC fire fighter ultimately cost him his life, and that should never be forgotten. It is with great privilege that I join Senator Golden in support of naming this memorial after our hometown hero, Michael Behette, so that we will never forget his inspiring story or the sacrifices he made on our behalf,” said Rep. Grimm.

“Firefighter Michael Behette was an example to us all.  His dedication to the recovery efforts is a reminder of the service and sacrifice of our bravest to help move our city forward after we were attacked.  Michael gave everything for his city, state, and nation, and today I join with Congressman Grimm in calling for our city to remember and honor his ultimate sacrifice by this memorial on 85th Street.  My thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family, and I call on all to remember that while all gave some in those days and months, some, like Michael, gave all,” said Senator Golden.

Michael Behette was assigned to Ladder 172 in Bensonhurst. When the towers were hit, Behette was on vacation in Florida. Unable to get a flight home, he drove straight to Ground Zero where he worked for the next 31 days in rescue and recovery operations.  He stayed on site for six more months. He was diagnosed in 2011 and passed on September 17th, 2012 from lung cancer, which is believed to have been caused from exposure to the toxins at the WTC site.

Rep. Grimm and his staff have met with members of the Behette family who brought the matter to their attention, as well as helped the family obtain the application for the street naming.  Rep. Grimm and Senator Golden have written the attached letter of support to be submitted today with the family’s application.

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