Originally published at Newsday by Ridgely Ochs on 12/27/14
Nell McCarthy, the deputy special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, pointed to two boxes. One contained files about 2 inches thick; the other, a file about 2 feet thick.
That, she said in the fund’s nondescript Washington, D.C., offices, showed the range of differences among claims filed by 9/11 responders.
The thinner file was submitted online by a former first responder in law enforcement who had hired an experienced lawyer. The second was filed by a former deliveryman for a restaurant — with no attorney — and included entire notebooks containing handwritten statements in nearly indecipherable block printing that often spilled over and encircled the pages.
Both received compensation, McCarthy said. But the first — who recently died of brain cancer — was a fairly straightforward case and it took eight months to determine his compensation. The second — who for a time called the VCF help line every day, even on the weekends — was not so straightforward. That claim took 2½ years to resolve.
“I am really proud of the work we did with him,” McCarthy said of the second claimant, who still calls the VCF.
McCarthy — a former White House staffer who herself… Continue reading
Originally published at AllGov by Noel Brinkerhoff on 11/21/14
A decade after the 9/11 Commission suggested creating a unified communications network for first responders to use during emergencies, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has finally collected enough money to move forward.
The commission recommended that the federal government create a way for police and firefighters from different jurisdictions to communicate with each other in a crisis—something they couldn’t do during the response to the 9/11 attacks.
Congress got into the act two years ago by passing legislation that authorized the FCC to reserve certain broadcast frequencies for public safety use.
The FCC, though, was left on its own to find funding for the new network, called FirstNet. So the commission auctioned off a band of wireless frequencies to telecommunications companies, which netted more than $11 billion to establish FirstNet.
The FCC only needs about $7 billion for the project, so the rest of the money is expected to go towards paying down the national debt.
Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Dish Network all registered to bid on the wireless spectrum, but the FCC has not announced the winners of the auction.
For additional background and context regarding interoperable communications, please see:
Originally published at The NY Post by Isabel Vincent, Melissa Klein and Susan Edelman on 11/16/14
In a greedy grab for blood money, a law firm representing sick and dying Ground Zero workers overbilled its legal partner by $36 million in expenses, newly released court papers allege.
The shocking charges call into question the estimated $50 million in additional legal expenses billed to 10,000 firefighters, police officers, construction workers and others who received more than $700 million in settlements for 9/11-related ailments.
An advocate for ill responders — John Feal, a Ground Zero demolition supervisor — demanded Napoli Bern be investigated by authorities.
“It’s outrageous and disgusting,” said Feal, claiming the majority of complaints he hears about legal representation relate to Napoli Bern.
The once-prestigious personal-injury law firm has been rocked by infighting over allegations of sexual improprieties and financial misconduct.
Napoli Bern has also been battling its partner law firm, Worby Groner, since 2012 over legal fees they shared in the 9/11 litigation. The two firms teamed up in 2004 to represent Ground Zero workers afflicted with cancer and other ailments.
The total settlements with the city and other defendants came to about $725 million. Before the 9/11 workers got their checks, though, various costs were deducted. The law firms then got a 25 percent cut of the remainder.
Napoli Bern and Worby Groner… Continue reading
Originally published at Here & Now by Jeremey Hobson on 9/10/14
Thirteen years after the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York City, thousands of first responders continue to struggle with health problems, some which are just being diagnosed.
Respiratory illnesses like asthma and sinusitis are common among those who participated in the World Trade Center recovery efforts. And studies show that the incidence of cancers for 9/11 first responders are 15 percent higher than the general population.Thyroid cancer was 239 percent higher.
John Feal was severely injured on the Ground Zero site when an 8,000 pound steel beam crushed his foot.
He started the FealGood Foundation, which advocates for physically and emotionally injured first responders and helps them get compensation.
Feal tells Here &Now’s Jeremy Hobson that he believes post-traumatic stress disorder is the number one killer of 9/11 responders.
On chronic illnesses 9/11 first responders face
“My injury pales in comparison to those who are sick and dying — or who have died from their 9/11-related illness. These invisible diseases are literally killing these men and women on a daily basis, and sadly 2,749 innocent lives were killed on 9/11, because of senseless violence but we’re losing people all the time.
“As a nation, we are going to pay homage and remember those who died on… Continue reading
Originally published at Time by Sam Frizell on 8/13/14
Expecting mothers who lived near the World Trade Center when the twin towers fell on September 11, 2001 were more likely to give birth prematurely and have babies with low birth weights, according to new research.
The massive dust cloud that enveloped Lower Manhattan after the collapse of the Twin Towers was a highly toxic environmental hazard that consisted of asbestos, cement, gypsum, glass fibers, lead and other metals and was highly alkaline. Past research has shown it caused asthma and cancer in many first responders and local residents.
A new working study, released this month by Janet Currie and Hannes Schwandt of Princeton University, shows that the 9/11 dust caused pregnancy complications in expecting mothers. The study has not been peer-reviewed.
“These findings provide the first consistent evidence that the 9/11 dust cloud had detrimental impacts on pregnancy outcomes,” said the authors. “Residence in the affected area increased prematurity, low birth weight, and admission to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) after birth, especially for boys.”
For mothers who were in their first trimester during 9/11, exposure to the dust cloud more than doubled the probability of premature delivery. Newborn boys were more likely than girls to have birth complications, and there was an increase in low birth weight of about 5 percentage points among boys as well… Continue reading
Originally published by the New York Daily News by Dan Friedman on 8/10/14
WASHINGTON — The government has recognized that first responders became ill from working near Ground Zero — but the 9/11 Museum isn’t so sure.
Responders and surviving family members are furious that panels at the museum’s “After 9/11″ exhibit present the connection between the toxic dust around Ground Zero and the subsequent health issues of many workers as uncertain.
It’s the latest in a long list of complaints about the museum’s management and mission by victims’ families and responders, who point out that the 2011 James Zadroga Act, which helped cover victims’ health needs, settled the issue.
“It is inexcusable that the museum would project skepticism about the link between health impacts and WTC exposures, despite overwhelming medical evidence,” write the chairs of two committees created to help beneficiaries of the Zadroga Act in letter sent to museum head Joseph Daniels on Friday.
Museum spokesman Michael Frazier said the letter was under review. “Among our visitors… Continue reading
The New York Post says that Mount Sinai Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program reported 1,140 cancer cases last year. Now the number is up to more than 2,500.
Among the cancers being diagnosed at a much higher rate than the general population: prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, leukemia and multiple myeloma.
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is expected to receive more claims by the Oct. 14 deadline. So far, there are 1,145 claims listing cancer.
Originally published by Erin Billups at NY1 on April 8, 2014
Last month, NY1 told viewers about another link discovered between the toxic dust many were exposed to in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks and a higher risk of heart disease, and now, the doctor heading up the research is going into more detail. NY1’s Erin Billups filed the following report.
We’ve known for years that the toxic dust inhaled by first responders to the September 11th attacks could lead to lung, heart and kidney problems, but new research out from Mount Sinai Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program finds that those with the highest exposures are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea.
“The airway narrows during sleep, and patients snore. They hold their breath, and importantly, they don’t get enough oxygen when they’re sleeping,” says Dr. MaryAnn McLaughlin, director of the Mt. Sinai Medical Center Cardiac Health Program. “So this can cause an inflammation in the body and lead to high blood pressure, increased risks of heart attack and sudden death.”
Post-traumatic stress disorder is also a risk factor for heart disease. McLaughlin and her team found that those with high dust cloud exposure were also 20 percent more likely to have the disorder.
“It’s also associated with depression, as well,” McLaughlin says.
The findings are the result of a two-year study, surveying 800 participants.
McLaughlin says they’re trying to uncover what causes heart disease not only for those September 11th responders, but also for others… Continue reading
September 8, 2012
by Kevin Ryan and Graeme MacQueen, co-editors
Journal of 9/11 Studies
For the 11th anniversary of September 11, the Journal of 9/11 Studies would like to share a series of letters from thoughtful people who have reflected on the tragic events of that day. Five letters were published today, from the following individuals.
Lorie Van Auken is a founding member of the 9/11 Family Steering Committee. Without her dedication there would never have been a 9/11 Commission investigation.
Gregg Fishman is Secretary of the World Trade Center Rescuers Foundation. Like others he represents, Gregg risked his life and health in an attempt to rescue and recover victims following the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings.
Father Frank Morales is an Episcopal priest, activist, and author from New York City. He was present at Ground Zero shortly after the 9/11 events, offering prayers for the victims and support for the first responders.
David Johnson is Professor Emeritus of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Johnson served as a panelist at the Toronto Hearings on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has investigated the events of September 11, 2001 and his writings on that and other subjects have attracted a worldwide following.
A similar number of letters from other contributors will be published later this week. We hope that the words and… Continue reading
Hot Air Day is upon us. On July 4 hot air will spew forth all over the country as dignitaries deliver homilies to our “freedom and democracy” and praise “our brave troops” who are protecting our freedom by “killing them over there before they come over here.”
Not a single one of these speeches will contain one word of truth. No speaker will lament the death of the US Constitution or urge his audience to action to restore the only document that protects their liberty. No speaker will acknowledge that in the 21st century the Bush/Obama Regime, with the complicity of the Department of Justice, federal courts, Congress, presstitute media, law schools, bar associations, and an insouciant public have murdered the Constitution in the name of the “war on terror.”
As in medieval times, American citizens can be thrown into dungeons and never accounted for. No evidence or charges need be presented to a court. No trial is required, and no conviction.
As in tyrannies, US citizens can be executed at the sole discretion of the despot in the Oval Office, who sits there drawing up lists of people to be murdered.
Protestors exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association are attacked by armed police, beaten, tasered, tear-gassed, pepper sprayed, and arrested.
Whistleblowers who report the government’s crimes are prosecuted despite the statute that protects them.
US soldier Bradley Manning, who allegedly gave Wikileaks the documents… Continue reading
By Anemona Hartocollis
A federal health official’s ruling has cleared the way for 50 different types of cancer to be added to the list of sicknesses covered by a $4.3 billion fund set up to compensate and treat people exposed to the toxic smoke, dust and fumes in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The decision, released on Friday, came as a vindication for hundreds and perhaps thousands of people who have claimed — often in the face of resistance from public health officials — that their cancers were caused by their exposure to the dust cloud and debris thrown up by the attacks.
It will allow not only rescue workers but also volunteers, residents, schoolchildren and passers-by to apply for compensation and treatment for cancers developed in the aftermath of the attacks. The cancers will not be officially added to the list of covered illnesses until after a period of public comment and review that could last several months.
The decision, by Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, comes despite a current absence of evidence linking the attack to cancer, causing some skepticism among epidemiologists. It also reduces the amount of money for people suffering from ailments more conclusively linked to the Sept. 11 attacks, namely lung and other respiratory sicknesses.
And it poses a number of logistical challenges, since it will be difficult if not impossible to separate people who developed cancer as a result of ground… Continue reading
By Erica Chang
A recent study has revealed that 297 of the 12,000 police officers who first responded to the 9/11 attacks have been diagnosed with cancer, triple the rate before the tragedy according to the Huffington Post . The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) released figures that show that the cancer rate among NYPD officers has increased from six per year before the attacks to 16 per year after the attacks.
Furthermore, the average age at which officers were diagnosed with cancer is 44, with lung cancer being the most common diagnosis. The Fire Department of the City of New York released a similar study which revealed that firefighters who came into contact with Ground Zero toxins and dust were 19 percent more likely to develop cancer than those who did not.
The James Zadroga Act, which was passed in 2011, will provide healthcare screening and financial benefits to the officers who suffer from illnesses resulting from exposure at Ground Zero. However, because of the high costs of treatment, cancer will not be covered by the Zardoga Act.
The city of New York has refused to release the figures for cancer rates among NYPD numerous times. In response to their lack of cooperation, PBA research director Frank Tramontano said, “It is our sincere opinion that the City of New York has done nothing to facilitate any cancer study and has been actively working to prevent a comprehensive examination of the issue.”
by Michelle Chen
In These Times
This weekend, the public will mourn a site of loss, recasting the painful memories and haunting fears that still hover over the aftermath at Ground Zero. But the people who worked and breathed that tragedy in the days and months following September 11 won’t be at the primary commemoration ceremony for the families of victims. The Mayor’s decision to limit the attendees by excluding the 9/11 first responders is an unnerving metaphor for an unhealed scar of 9/11. Many of the rescue and recovery workers who labored at Ground Zero have been plagued by a metastasizing medical crisis, aggravated by chronic political failure.
This week, 9/11 firefighters and police chiefs rallied to demand changes to the rules governing compensation for health problems tied to poisonous air and debris at Ground Zero. They want federal funds to support treatment for cancer, which is currently omitted from the primary legislation covering Ground Zero-related medical needs. For years, researchers have been uncovering fresh evidence of widespread and devastating illnesses afflicting a large portion of people exposed to the aftermath; ongoing health issues range from crippling lung and breathing problems to post-traumatic stress disorder. But adequate funding for 9/11 workers has often been ensnared in political gridlock, not to mention the general incompetence of the healthcare system.
The UK Guardian reports that new research could trump politicians’ concerns over potential cancer liabilities:
Cancer treatment has… Continue reading
By Jeff Stein
August 30, 2011
New York (CNN) — When debris rained from the sky in lower Manhattan on September
11, 2001, the first responders to the terrorist attack did not turn away. They
rushed to the World Trade Center buildings while the world around them crumbled.
Yet now, after all the wreckage has been cleared and the rebuilding has begun,
their path is again blocked — not by flying chunks of smoldering rubble, but
by space constraints.
The first responders are not invited to this year’s September 11 memorial ceremony
at ground zero, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office confirmed Monday.
It’s a painful insult for many of the approximately 3,000 men and women who
risked their lives, limbs and lungs on that monumental day, puncturing another
hole in a still searing wound.
In a statement, Bloomberg spokesman Andrew Brent said the commemoration ceremony
is for the victims’ families.
"While we are again focused on accommodating victims’ family members,
given the space constraints, we’re working to find ways to recognize and honor
first responders, and other groups, at different places and times," Brent
But first responder John Feal, founder of an advocacy group for the police
officers, firefighters, civilian volunteers and others who worked at ground
zero, assailed Brent’s response, saying Bloomberg "lives in his own world."
"The best of the best that this country offered 10 years ago are being
neglected and denied their rightful place," Feal said.
Denise Villamia, a first responder who… Continue reading
August 13th 2011
By Alison Gendar
NYDaily News Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON – The cops, firefighters and rescue workers who toiled at Ground
Zero will not be invited to take part in the 10th anniversary ceremony, a city
official told the Daily News Friday.
First responders will instead be asked back to the site at another day for
a separate commemorative ceremony, city officials said.
Space and security logistics were at the heart of the decision, those involved
Family of the nearly 3,000 killed receive first priority at an event with maximum
President Obama’s appearance will make the day even more of a security concern.
For many first responders, though, the news was a bitter pill.
[Photo, right: A select few gathered at the relecting pool honoring 9/11
victims at Ground Zero last year for the ninth anniversary of the attacks on
the World Trade Center. Credit: Don Emmert/Pool]
“To have a separate service on another day has no significance, no meaning,”
said David Jacobs of Queens, who volunteered at the site sifting debris and
who lost a childhood friend, a city firefighter, in the attacks.
“For many of us, we gave a lot at that site,” he said.
As many as 91,000 people took part in the initial search and rescue and subsequent
10-month cleanup, according to estimates taken for the city.
In past years, first responders were welcomed to the annual commemoration because
little or no construction had begun at the site and space was not… Continue reading
By Jonathan Lemire
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
Wednesday, July 27th 2011
New York Daily News
Image: Retired Firefighter Kenneth Specht said the exclusion of cancer as a disease covered by the Zadroga health act was “absolutely unacceptable”. (Photo credit: Elisa Miller for News)
They sacrificed their bodies – and in some cases, their lives – for their noble
work at Ground Zero, and now they and their loved ones feel abandoned.
Scores of first responders believe they contracted cancer due to the time they
spent at the toxic World Trade Center site and are outraged the disease is being
excluded from the new James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
“Every time we bury a New York City firefighter: Cancer. Cancer. Cancer,”
said retired Firefighter Kenneth Specht, who is battling thyroid cancer.
“How can that not be included? It’s absolutely unacceptable.”
Specht, 43, retired in 2008 after 13 years with the FDNY, too sick to keep
working. He spent two months at Ground Zero after the terror attacks, desperately
searching for the remains of his fallen colleagues and unaware that he was breathing
in apparently dangerous chemicals.
“How can they not say, ‘You were in a bad position and we’re going to
try and rectify this?'” said Specht who, because of the cancer and gastroesophageal
reflux disease, is a prisoner in his Nassau County home.
“It’s not about money – we’re looking for some decency,” he said.
Margaret Stroehlein was driving from her Long Island home to… Continue reading
By ALEX KATZ
It took years of lobbying and partisan bickering, but the 9/11 Zadroga Act to help ailing Ground Zero responders finally took effect today.
The law provides $4.3 billion in guaranteed federal funding to cover health costs and financial compensation for emergency responders, recovery workers, volunteers, and residents who were affected by the attacks almost 10 years ago.
Advocates celebrated with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting against a backdrop of Star Spangled Banners at Mount Sinai’s 9/11 health clinic this morning.
National and city pols were also on hand, including Mayor Bloomberg, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Charlie Rangel, and Carolyn Maloney.
“This is an historic milestone, not only for the more than 36,000 Americans who lost their health as a result of 9/11 and are in the program, but also for our moral obligation to care for those who rise to the defense of our nation in a time of war,” Maloney said.
The Manhattan Democrat — who was introduced at the event as the “bulldog of the Upper East Side” — helped write the landmark legislation along with Nadler and Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.), spearheading the fight for its approval in the House and ultimately the Senate.
The original bill’s price tag was scaled back from $7.4 billion as part of a compromise with conservatives in both parties, which allowed the legislation to pass through Congress and get President Obama’s signature in early January.
“As you all know, nothing… Continue reading
Shame on Representative Cliff Stearns and shame on each and every one of the representatives who voted to make compensation for 9/11 first responders reliant upon a check for “terrorist” activities. Shame is a concept that blankets American actions as it responded to that grave day. I won’t belabor the many instances where this nation either killed or maimed others either in retribution or in the pretense at keeping the rest of us “safe” but I will say that this last act of betrayal by elected officials places all of us in greater danger. Frankly, if we don’t counter this betrayal, we deserve what we get.
What has come over us? Have we completely lost the ability to function as compassionate adults in an imperfect world? Think for one minute about the ramifications of such an act:
On 9/11/2001 when many people fled the horror of the scene at Ground Zero, countless firefighters, police officers, and brave civilian volunteers rushed to the scene to help. I believe that my own daughter who was on that day four or five months pregnant was almost home free precisely because others helped her almost, almost to safety. How many others walked away because they were provided help? We can only guess at the numbers. How many families of first responders are like my own — ten years out still suffering the effects… Continue reading