Tuesday, 08 September 2020
Written by Staff Report
In an age when the most sensational tweet gets the most attention, the truth can get overlooked. Opinion and ‘alternative facts’ often become the message, so it’s not surprising that misinformation and conspiracy theories about 9/11 are still circulating. But it’s important that people know how to distinguish fact from fiction.
The attacks of 9/11 were carried out by 19 men who hijacked four fuel-loaded American commercial airline jets that were bound for destinations on the west coast. These individuals were militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda. Three planes reached their targets. The fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.
The first point of impact was the World Trade Center’s North Tower, located in downtown New York City. American Airlines Boeing 767 left a gaping, burning hole in floors 93 through 99 at 8:45 a.m. Many people were killed instantly, and hundreds more were trapped on floors above the 99th floor. The plane crash was initially thought to be an accident. However, when a second Boeing 767 crashed into the South Tower shortly after the first crash, it became apparent that America was under attack and the first crash was no accident.
This was not the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. A bombing occurred in 1993 in the building’s parking garage, killing six people. However, the events of 9/11 have since been deemed the worst terrorist attack on American soil.
According to DoSomething.org, on a given workday, up to 50,000 employees worked in the Twin Towers, and an additional 40,000 people — including tourists — passed through the complex and underground shopping mall.
Hijackers aboard Flight 77 that departed from Dulles International Airport crashed that Boeing 757 into the western facade of the Pentagon building at 9:37 a.m. Fifty-nine people aboard the plane and 125 military and civilian personnel inside the Pentagon lost their lives.
According to History.com, after passengers and crew members aboard hijacked Flight 93 contacted friends and family and learned about the attacks in New York and Washington, they attempted to retake the plane. In response, hijackers deliberately crashed the plane into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 passengers and crew aboard.
Amid rumors that other high-profile buildings were being targeted, by 10 a.m. the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all flights over or bound for the continental United States. Various buildings were evacuated as well.
The South Tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m., and the North Tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m. CNN reported that 2,753 were killed in lower Manhattan alone.
Only 18 people were rescued from the WTC rubble. Many victims were never identified, even after intense DNA analysis of remains.
The Fayetteville 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at Segra Stadium is scheduled for Sept. 12 from 8:45 a.m. to 12 p.m. to honor and remember the FDNY firefighters, police and EMS who selflessly gave their lives so that others might live on 9-11-2001.
Each participant pays tribute to an FDNY firefighter, police officer or EMS by climbing the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center. Your individual tribute not only remembers the sacrifice of an FDNY brother, but symbolically completes their heroic journey to save others.
Through firefighter and community participation we can ensure that each of the 343 firefighters, 60 police officers, and 10 EMS are honored and that the world knows that we will never forget.
All monies raised fund the programs provided by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to support the families of local fallen firefighters and the FDNY Counseling Services Unit.
Participants must register online no later than Sept. 10. You can register as an individual or as part of a team. Donations can also be made on the site. For more information visit http://events.firehero.org/site/TR?fr_id=2186&pg=entry
Pictured:Reflection pools now reside in the footprints of the felled World Trade Center North and South towers in lower Manhattan.
Tuesday, 08 September 2020
Written by Julie Havlak
On Aug. 26, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper proposed a $25 billion General Fund budget to expand Medicaid, increase unemployment benefits, give teachers higher bonuses, and cut funding to Opportunity Scholarships.
Republicans immediately blasted Cooper’s spending plan, calling it a risky “spend now, pray later” proposal. His budget proposal comes four months late, they said.
Cooper says his plan won’t require new taxes. But the state would take out almost $5 billion in new debt, only $1 billion of which won’t need taxpayer approval, said Joe Coletti, John Locke Foundation senior fellow.
“It’s the least serious of the governor’s budget proposals, and that’s saying something,” Coletti said. “It’s not sustainable.”
Among other things, Cooper’s budget proposal would expand Medicaid, increase unemployment benefits to $500 a week and double the maximum time to 24 weeks, and take out almost $1 billion in bonds for health care infrastructure. The plan would also place a $4.3 billion bond on the November 2021 ballot to borrow $2 billion for school construction, $800 million for water and sewer infrastructure, $500 million for UNC System facilities, $500 million for the community college system, and $500 million for affordable housing.
In the education area, the governor’s budget would take $85 million from the Opportunity Scholarship Program in a one-time budget cut while spending $360 million to give teachers and principals a $2,000 bonus, support staff a $1,000 bonus, and community college and university employees a $1,500 bonus. North Carolina’s public elementary and secondary schools would receive $132 million for other needs.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the plan would spend $175 million for health services, including testing, tracing, prevention, mental health support, and increasing access in marginalized communities. Related provisions would spend $49 million to develop a state stockpile of personal protective equipment, $50 million to expand access to broadband, $200 million to assist cash-strapped local governments, and $27.5 million for small business mortgage, rent, and utility support.
Cooper says his budget invests in North Carolina to help people get back on their feet. Republicans say his budget is unrealistic and unbalanced.
Legislative leaders say Cooper is wrong to rely on $457 million from the state’s unappropriated balance. After the state moved the deadline for income tax filing from April 15 to July 15, it collected more taxes than expected. The state’s budget staff warned the amount could be a false gain.
“When my small business’s accountant tells me some money on the balance sheet might disappear next month, I don’t run out and spend it,” Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke, said. “Gov. Cooper’s ‘spend now, pray later’ proposal could very well result in teacher layoffs next year. That’s exactly what happened to former Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.”
After the Great Recession, tax collections plummeted. The Democratic-led General Assembly and then-Gov. Perdue had to balance the budget by raising taxes and furloughing teachers.
Cooper disagreed with lawmakers’ assessment of the estimated $457 million windfall. He argued his proposal is a balanced budget that won’t require future cuts.
Cooper called the state’s current unemployment compensation “meager, bottom-of-the-country benefits.” He argued for Medicaid expansion, but didn’t say the General Assembly would support it.
Republicans attacked Cooper’s plan, especially a move to axe funding for the Opportunity Scholarship program. Cooper says his budget cut won’t affect students who already have scholarships.
“It strips low-income children, many of whom are black, from the chance to choose the education that best suits their needs,” said Sen. Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga. “Under the governor’s ‘equity’ plan, only the wealthy can attend private school.”
This is the first time a governor failed to present a budget update before the beginning of the fiscal year since North Carolina began using biennial budgets, said Coletti.
The governor normally sends a budget to the General Assembly by May during even-numbered years, according to the Office of State Budget and Management. This gives the legislature time to revise, negotiate, and pass the annual update before the new fiscal year begins on July 1.
“The governor is supposed to present his budget to the legislature before the fiscal year starts — because they’re supposed to pass a budget before the fiscal year starts,” Coletti said.
Cooper blamed the delay on Congress, saying he was waiting for additional relief money to come to North Carolina.
“We all thought Congress was going to act,” Charlie Perusse, the governor’s budget director, told Carolina Journal. “We’ve been waiting patiently for the last couple months … We have about $500 million in General Fund money, slightly less than $1 billion in coronavirus relief money, and we’re on the clock to spend it.”
North Carolina usually passes a budget that lasts two fiscal years and edits the budget in even-numbered years. But the budget stalemate and the pandemic threw a wrench in that process.
North Carolina is operating on the budget from 2018 and a series of mini-budgets. Last year’s budget sank after Cooper vetoed the 2019-20 budget over Medicaid expansion. Republican legislators passed the budget out of the House with a surprise veto override, but the budget remained stalled in the Senate.
Cooper has vetoed three budgets sent to him by the Republican-led General Assembly. Republicans overrode the first two vetoes, but they lost their veto-proof supermajorities in the November 2018 election.
North Carolinians should prepare for another budget fight between the governor and lawmakers, said Coletti.
“They’re not going to agree,” Coletti said. “Cooper wouldn’t allow teacher raises this year because he thought that was more helpful than agreeing to the lower Republican raise.”
Pictured: Gov. Roy Cooper