With the toll of a bell and a solemn moment of silence, the United States paused Thursday to mark the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.
Stephen Albert, whose father Jon died during the attacks, kicked off reading the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in New York, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Penn. He said his dad was a dedicated father, husband and respected colleague.
The sad roll call was to pause only four times: to mark the times when the first plane struck the World Trade Center, when the second plane struck, when the first tower fell and when the second tower fell.
Thelma Stuart, whose husband Walwyn Wellington Stuart, Jr., 28, was a Port Authority Police Department officer, said the nation should pray for its leaders, “that God will grant them wisdom, knowledge and understanding on directing them on moving forward.”
In Washington, a few minutes before 9 a.m. ET, President Barack Obama emerged from the White House with his wife, Michelle, and Vice President Joe Biden to observe a moment of silence marking the 13th anniversary.
Scores of White House staff joined the Obamas and Biden for the solemn moments under partly cloudy skies on the South Lawn of the White House. They heard the playing of?Taps?there before returning to the Executive Mansion and heading to the Pentagon for a service there.
In New York, little about the annual ceremony at ground zero has changed. But so much around it has.
For the first time, the National September 11 Museum ? which includes gut-wrenching artifacts and graphic photos of the attacks ? is open on the anniversary. Fences around the memorial plaza have come down, integrating the sacred site more fully with the streets of Manhattan while completely opening it up to the public and camera-wielding tourists.
‘Instead of a quiet place of reflection, it’s where kids are running around. Some people forget this is a cemetery. I would never go to the Holocaust museum and take a selfie.’– Nancy Nee, sister of 9/11 victim George Cain, a firefigher
A new mayor is in office, Bill de Blasio, one far less linked to the attacks and their aftermath than his immediate predecessors. And finally, a nearly completed One World Trade Center has risen 541 metres above ground zero and will be filled with office workers by this date in 2015, another sign that a page in the city’s history may be turning.
For some who lost loved ones in the attacks, the increasing feel of a return to normalcy in the area threatens to obscure the tragedy that took place there and interfere with their grief.
“Instead of a quiet place of reflection, it’s where kids are running around,” said Nancy Nee, whose firefighter brother, George Cain, was killed in the attacks. “Some people forget this is a cemetery. I would never go to the Holocaust museum and take a selfie.”
But for others, the changes are an important part of the healing process.
“When I first saw [One World Trade Center], it really made my heart sing,” said Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles Burlingame was the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. “It does every time I see it because it’s so symbolic of what the country went through.”
“I want to see it bustling,” she said. “I want to see more housing down there, I want to see it alive and bursting with businesses.”
The memorial plaza will be closed to the public for most of the day and only available to family members. It will reopen at 6 p.m., at which point thousands of New Yorkers are expected to mark the anniversary at the twin reflecting pools where the towers once stood.
On the same day in May when the museum opened in a ceremony attended by President Barack Obama, the fences that had surrounded the plaza for years disappeared, as did the need for visitors to obtain a timed ticket. Now, thousands of people freely visit every day, from cellphone-toting travellers to workers on a lunch break, and those crowds will only swell further this year when One World Trade Center finally opens.
“The memorial and museum is extremely important to those impacted on 9/11,” said Mary Fetchet, whose son, died in the attacks. “And surrounding that memorial, lower Manhattan has been revitalized.”
The first ceremony at the site was held six months after the Twin Towers fell and was organized by then-mayor Michael Bloomberg and his aides. Bloomberg, who took office just three months after the attacks, remained in charge, acting as the master of ceremonies for the next decade.
After other elected officials attempted to gain a larger role at the solemn event, in 2012, all politicians ? including Bloomberg ? were prohibited from speaking at the event. That remains the case now, as de Blasio, who took office in January, agreed to let the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation organize the commemoration ceremony. Bloomberg is the foundation’s chairman.
The 40 passengers and crew who died when hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in southwestern Pennsylvania during the attacks were to be honoured in a new way during the 13th anniversary ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial.
A Congressional Gold Medal awarded to those who died at the site of the memorial was to be presented as part of the ceremony. Bells were to be rung, and the names of the victims were read starting at 10:03 a.m., the moment the airliner crashed as passengers fought with hijackers for control of the jet.
Courtesy of CBC News
He also said assaults on staff continues, such as a recent event where a person vandalizing a bus sucker-punched the driver who caught him.
?The main goal is obviously safety for our ridership and of course our members as well, and hopefully this will help to deter some of the more serious assaults,? he said.
A councillor on the committee raised concerns about the bylaw before passing it, namely a section that prohibits people from staying more than 90 minutes in a bus shelter, except for the purpose of boarding a bus.
Wardrop said the intent is to apply the bylaw ?with good judgment,? and provide help to any person in distress.
The city?s report, tabled at Friday?s committee meeting, calls for two cadets to start patrolling buses in September, at a cost of $48,385 for the last three months of this year. The cadets? cost for 2015 and subsequent years is estimated at $85,625.
The report now moves on to executive policy committee and city council. It also needs the support of the Winnipeg Police Board.
Courtesy of Metro (Winnipeg)
A bizarre scene unfolded at a Worcester school bus stop Wednesday, when what should have been a routine drop-off became a 10-minute standoff between angry parents, their crying children and the bus driver who was allegedly punched in the face when she refused to the students off the bus.
According to?MassLive?(which also has video of the incident shot by one of the parents), parents of Quinsigamond Elementary School students became impatient when the school bus pulled up to the stop but didn?t let anyone off. A school policy says that kindergartners must be matched with their parents before they can be let off the bus.
That process apparently took too long, and the Worcester school department said in a statement that a few parents tried to get on the bus. The driver then closed the door, trapping the kids inside.
As seen on MassLive?s video, the bus remained in place for several minutes as parents became increasingly upset. The bus then attempted to move forward, at which point things escalated quickly: Some parents jumped in front of the bus to block it, while others ran to the back and helped the children, who were screaming and crying by this point, escape out the emergency door.
By the end of the video, parents can be seen entering the bus through the front door (the school?s statement says they broke the door) and shouting threats at the driver as police arrive.
At some point during the scuffle, a 16-year-old girl allegedly punched the driver in the face.?CBS Boston?reports that she will be summonsed to court and charged with assault and battery.
The incident is still being investigated.
Continuing to ratchet?up a campaign fighting for a fair contract for St. Louis transit workers and economic justice for all, ATU International President Larry Hanley called on Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to remove Metro CEO John Nations for his failure to ?correct the outrageous conduct of his staff at the bargaining table?.
In?a?letter to the Governors?Hanley?pointed to evidence of race baiting by members of Metro?s negotiating committee who offered members of ATU Local?788?a recipe for ?OREO cookies? at the end of a very heated bargaining session. There have been no contract talks since. Metro workers have gone three years without a new contract and six years without a wage increase.
The incident occurred as Nations, who recently received a $75K raise and 3-year contract extension, engaged in illegal activity by encouraging mechanics to leave the ATU and form their own union. He has publicly dismissed the ?OREO? incident as a Metro employee sharing his baking hobby.
Despite threats by Nation to discipline workers for leafleting on Metro property, workers have intensified their campaign with rallies, leafleting riders, and other actions.?Read more.
DC train operator helps stop suicide
A 22 year-old is lucky to be alive after jumping onto a DC Metro tracks thanks to the quick thinking of a Metro train operator and transit police. The dramatic rescue was caught on?video.
Transit Police were called to the platform after receiving a report of a disorderly man who was harassing other riders. When approached, the man suddenly jumped off the platform onto the track while saying he wanted to die.
The transit police officers radioed for train traffic to be stopped, and along with others on the platform, they attempted to signal the train to stop by waving their arms. The train operator saw the activity and immediately activated the emergency braking system.
As the approaching train slowed down the distraught man made a last-second attempt to jump back on the platform and was pulled him out of the train’s path with no time to spare.
The ATU applauds the heroic action of the train operator and the transit police.
Bus drivers need bathroom breaks too
After the April defeat of a King County sales tax ballot initiative to help pay for bus service, riders can expect to see more crowded buses and tighter schedules with the pending service cuts to help meet the reduced budget.
Rallying cry in Toledo – “Fix It, Fund It, Make It Fair” now
Calling for fully funded public transit for the Toledo Metro area, hundreds of transit workers, riders and advocates attended a ?Fix It, Fund It, Make It Fair? rally in downtown Toledo.?ATU members from across Ohio as well as Detroit and Washington DC attended the rally.
Protesting the slashing of more than 400 hours of bus service to communities that have pulled out of TARTA, attendees called for a sales tax to fund public transit rather than the current property tax. Making matters worse, most of jobs in the Toledo area are located in areas with no TARTA service, leaving those who can?t afford a car no?access to these jobs.
?This is a critical community issue to keep growing our region,? said Carly Allen of ATU Local?788. ?The current form of transit funding is?standing in the way of improving Toledo public transit, it?s making it worse. It?s time to ?Dump the Hump?,? referring to the inflatable camel at the rally.?Watch story.
Join ATU at the Peoples’ Climate March, Sept. 21 in NYC
One of the best and easiest ways to combat climate change, ride public transit!
That is the message ATU members will be delivering during the Peoples? Climate March on September 21 in New York City.?The massive event is being held as world leaders are meeting in NYC for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary? General Ban Ki-?moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.
Join with your fellow ATU members, other union members and environmental activists from across the globe as they take to the streets to demand to keep our world safe from the ravages of climate change; and promote a world with good jobs, clean air and water; healthy communities, and robust public transportation systems. Find out more about the?Peoples’ Climate March.
Vancouver to test bus driver shields
?The beating of a Halifax bus driver trying to break up a fight, a Washington DC bus operator getting slashed by a knife, a Cleveland bus driver held at gun point while driving. These are just a few of the growing number of vicious attacks on transit workers.
The ATU has been engaged in a campaign to stop these violent attacks on transit workers across North America including releasing the recent report,??Ripped from the Headlines: Bus Drivers Under Attack??in a?U.S. version?and?Canadian version.
An Opportunity this Labor Day?
by ATU International President Larry Hanley
This weekend we will celebrate Labor Day in the United States and Canada, a day most people think of as nothing more than time off for picnics or a last trip away with their friends and family.
Unfortunately, a growing number of people who have the day off won?t be happy about it because it will be a day they don?t get paid.? For them, having the day off means that they will have less to eat, will have to delay a trip, or skip a prescription refill. And many others still remain without a job.
Many of those with jobs are forced to work more than one full- or part-time job with irregular hours and no job security, just to get by. They are all but invisible, yet they are all around us working long hours for minimum wages, maximizing profits for their wealthy bosses.
These are the working poor who endure the very same conditions that gave rise to the labor movement in the 1800s ? no paid vacation days, no sick days, no consistent work rules, poor safety, and no employer-provided health care.
Labor Day is also a time to reflect on all of the hardships that were endured by those who fought and died so that we could enjoy the fair fruits of our labor.
But by solely focusing on the past we risk seeing the labor movement as a vestige of history; something that was great in its day ? but of little relevance in the 21st Century.
That suits the enemies of working families just fine.? The more we think of trade unionism as some sort of quaint artifact of an earlier era, the freer they will be to exploit workers who don?t even know that there are labor laws in place to protect them.
Some people believe that unions are no longer necessary, but even a minimal understanding of the growing income inequality in our countries makes it abundantly clear that workers need to act forcefully now to stop the erosion of their ability to earn a living wage.
The glue that keeps our nations together ? the middle class ? has all but disappeared.? And this is not simply an economic issue for those who find that they can?t pay their bills, no matter how hard they work.? Human dignity is under assault, and our nations ignore this at great peril.
If we learned anything from the recent racial strife and civil unrest in Ferguson, MO (and I?m not sure we have), it?s that you can?t treat people like they are less than human for very long.? If we don?t start providing citizens with real economic opportunity, Ferguson will happen over and over again all over America, and even in Canada.
And so, this weekend, I suggest that rather than reflecting on the past, we focus on tomorrow and the opportunity working people have to build a movement to rise up and challenge the growing classism in our society. The future of our children depends on it, and I hope we seize that opportunity.