Monday, May 14, 2007

St. Rudy's "Sinful" 9/11 Legacy

St. Rudy Giuliani is running as the "Hero of 9/11" - America's mayor who took charge on that horrific day and calmed the city and the nation while George W. Bush hid on Air Force One and Dick Cheney buried himself in a D.C. bunker.

Giuliani has some problems running solely on his 9/11 legacy however. Two of the largest have to do with his judgment BEFORE the attacks when he decided to place NYC's emergency command center in World Trade Center 7 despite warnings that the WTC complex had already been the target of a terrorist attack and could be so again in the future and his refusal to fix the radio problems firemen and police had that caused communication problems during the first WTC attack in 1993.

According to Newsday, yesterday on FOX News Giuliani tried to blame his former emergency chief Jerome Hauer for the decision to place the emergency center in a potential terrorist target, but Hauer was having none of it:

Hauer said yesterday that it was Giuliani who made the final decision to put the command center so close to the Twin Towers even though they had been attacked in 1993.

Hauer said he first wanted a site in Brooklyn -- in part because it would be well away from obvious terror targets in Manhattan -- but that the mayor's aides told him Giuliani wanted it to be within walking distance of City Hall. So he found the site on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center.

"He's trying to question what I did, and what I did was simply follow his directions," Hauer said yesterday in a telephone interview. "He's got to stop trying to rewrite history, and he's got to start being a little more truthful about what went on when he was mayor."

Further besmirching his 9/11 legacy, many firemen are enraged at Giuliani for his refusal to fix the radio problems that hampered communications in 1993's attack and his push for a rapid halt to human remains recovery operations. They are vowing to follow him around the country to let America know that Rudolph Giuliani "is not the man he says he is”:

Behind the union’s attack lies the grief and anger of families who believe their loved ones need not have died that day and their conviction that some bodies would never have been recovered had Giuliani had his way.

Jim Riches, 29, had been helping to rescue office workers in the north tower when it collapsed. In the dust and debris, his fellow firefighters did not realise that the south tower had already crashed to the ground. Despite the terrifying noise, survivors say they thought only the top storys had toppled. They never heard the order to evacuate. “My son could have had 30 minutes to escape,” Riches Sr said.

The firefighters were still using the antiquated “handie-talkie” radios that failed to work during the 1993 bombing of the twin towers, when Giuliani was also mayor. He not only failed to replace them, but also located the city’s new emergency command centre at the World Trade Center against the advice of key officials. It proved useless when it was most needed.

Lack of communication also meant that warnings from police helicopters about an imminent collapse failed to get through.

Riches was one of 343 firefighters who died. His father spent every day sifting through the wreckage for bodies, eager for some sign of his son. In November, Giuliani ordered a halt to the work after the remains of 91 firefighters had been recovered.

“Giuliani told everybody the bodies were pulverised, but I was digging them up every day. It was grisly stuff, limbs, little bones - people were blown to bits - but the bodies were there,” said Riches, 55.

The searchers refused to stop. An ugly clash between the firefighters and the New York police left 18 officers injured. Eventually Giuliani backed down and allowed the work to continue, but not before branding the firefighters’ actions as “sinful”.

As late as March, clumps of victims - 13 here, five there, a couple more scattered around - were being found. One of them was Riches’ son.

Riches Sr had taken a rare day off from ground zero to attend his grandmother’s burial when he got the call on his mobile. He raced back to help bring what remained of his son out on a stretcher draped with the American flag. If Giuliani had succeeded in closing down the operation, “I would never have got to carry little Jimmy’s body out”, Riches said. “I would never have had a cemetery to visit.”

Today, St. Rudy's judgment AFTER the attacks is questioned again in a front-page NY Times article that alleges Rudy downplayed the health risks at Ground Zero and lower Manhattan in order to get Wall Street and downtown open for business again, putting the health of tens of thousands of people at risk:

Anyone who watched Rudolph W. Giuliani preside over ground zero in the days after 9/11 glimpsed elements of his strength: decisiveness, determination, self-confidence.

Those qualities were also on display over the months he directed the cleanup of the collapsed World Trade Center. But today, with evidence that thousands of people who worked at ground zero have become sick, many regard Mr. Giuliani’s triumph of leadership as having come with a human cost.

An examination of Mr. Giuliani’s handling of the extraordinary recovery operation during his last months in office shows that he seized control and largely limited the influence of experienced federal agencies. In doing that, according to some experts and many of those who worked in the trade center’s ruins, Mr. Giuliani might have allowed his sense of purpose to trump caution in the rush to prove that his city was not crippled by the attack.

Administration documents and thousands of pages of legal testimony filed in a lawsuit against New York City, along with more than two dozen interviews with people involved in the events of the last four months of Mr. Giuliani’s administration, show that while the city had a safety plan for workers, it never meaningfully enforced federal requirements that those at the site wear respirators.

At the same time, the administration warned companies working on the pile that they would face penalties or be fired if work slowed. And according to public hearing transcripts and unpublished administration records, officials also on some occasions gave flawed public representations of the nature of the health threat, even as they privately worried about exposure to lawsuits by sickened workers.

“The city ran a generally slipshod, haphazard, uncoordinated, unfocused response to environmental concerns,” said David Newman, an industrial hygienist with the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, a labor group.

City officials and a range of medical experts are now convinced that the dust and toxic materials in the air around the site were a menace. More than 2,000 New York City firefighters have been treated for serious respiratory problems. Seventy percent of nearly 10,000 recovery workers screened at Mount Sinai Medical Center have trouble breathing. City officials estimate that health care costs related to the air at ground zero have already run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and no one knows whether other illnesses, like cancers, will emerge.

The NY Daily News reports today that one of the first police officers deemed "disabled" as a result of his work at Ground Zero died yesterday of cancer:

A retired NYPD street detective who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after toiling at Ground Zero died of the disease yesterday, his wife and the detectives' union president said.

Robert Williamson, 46, died at his Nanuet, Rockland County, home four years after his March 2003 diagnosis, said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association.

Beginning the day of the 9/11 attacks and for three months after, Williamson spent 16-hour days performing rescue and recovery operations at the World Trade Center site, his sergeant, Michael Kelley, said yesterday.

"He was down on The Pile every single day" for the first two months after the twin towers' collapse, and then five days a week in the third month, Kelley said.


Williamson was among more than 1,700 cops and firefighters who sued the city to change the pension system after the disaster, Palladino said, adding that the married father of three worked "well beyond the required 40 hours at Ground Zero to qualify for a disability pension."

"He is one of the first officers who was deemed disabled as a result of his assignment on 9/11, and now that disability has claimed his life," Palladino said.

Giuliani, btw, fought to have those workers disqualified from receiving disability pensions.

It is unfortunate that St. Rudy himself cannot be sued for his negligent and unconscionable actions post-9/11 that put so many people at risk and has already begun claiming innocent lives.

While the jihadis who flew planes into buildings killed nearly 3,000 people on that awful day, the political leaders like Rudy Giuliani who knew the air near Ground Zero was unsafe and the pile of debris a health hazard and who nonetheless took no actions to minimize the problems will ultimately be responsible for even more deaths.

And that didn't have to be.

Thankfully, Rudy's "sinful" 9/11 legacy is getting some historically accurate rewriting as he attempts to win the White House as the "hero of 9/11".

I hope the firefighters and others who have been harmed by this actions of this "hero" continue to let America know "he is not who he says he is."

Giuliani - super bastard. Thank god the quality of candidates from the GOP are obviously lacking in any leadership qualities. I don't want to count my chickens, but surely the American public can't make the same mistake three times??

ps. How's no_slappz doing??
kicksiron, this is for you:

"Yale on $0 a Day

From The Wall Street Journal Online

Take Action
Explore eLearning programs at these traditional school leaders:

Boston University
Villanova University
University of Maryland University College
University of Denver
St. Leo University

Getting into college may be tougher than it used to be. But top schools are offering a growing number of courses free online.

Following the lead of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other highly competitive schools, more institutions are posting online everything from lecture notes to sample tests, and even making audio and video files of actual lectures publicly available. The sites attract anywhere from thousands to more than one million unique visitors each month.

The moves -- which differ from the "distance learning" courses that many schools offer for credit and charge for -- come as colleges and universities say they want to democratize education, making the best resources available to more people. But they also hope that it leads to more interest from potential applicants and inspires alumni in far-flung locales to make a donation.

For Faster Links MIT's pioneering "OpenCourseWare" program, which was launched in 2003, posts the syllabus and class notes for more than 1,500 courses online for anyone who wants them. By this November, it aims to publish materials from virtually all 1,800 of its courses across all its schools.

Starting last fall, the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., began offering eight courses, from Introduction to Philosophy to African American History. The school aims to increase the number of classes offered online to 30 courses over the next two years.

Yale University, meanwhile, has announced it will produce digital videos of undergraduate lecture classes and make them available free to the public. This academic year, it is taping seven classes -- from Introduction to the Old Testament to Fundamentals of Physics -- to be posted online this fall.

Some smaller liberal arts schools are following suit. Bryn Mawr College, a women's school in Pennsylvania, is in the process of selecting course materials to post online, free to the public, beginning this summer. It plans to include classes ranging from psychology and physics to one on the history of Philadelphia.

Some schools that follow the MIT model are focused on making available as many course materials as possible -- including class plans, lecture notes, lists of reading materials and even homework. Other schools, including the University of California, Berkeley, are simply making lectures available through audio and video files. In MIT's Introduction to Modeling and Simulation, a science and engineering class, Web surfers can browse through assignments and sample quizzes, as well as suggested project ideas. As with other MIT courses, the syllabus is posted -- so you can see the structure of the course and what text and other reading materials are used -- but only some lecture notes are available.

Some MIT online courses are even more comprehensive. All of the lectures for legendary professor Walter Lewin's Physics I, II and III courses are on video, in addition to detailed lecture notes, assignments and practice exams.

Dr. Lewin says he receives e-mails every day from the general public and tries to answer all of them. And while a few of them can be "annoying" when they start to dispute his reply, he says the e-mails of appreciation from the public -- kids and adults who say they grew to love physics through the lectures -- make it all worthwhile. "Some of them make me cry," Dr. Lewin says.

Robert Croghan, a Canadian entrepreneur living on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, says he has used some of the MIT courses as guidance for an alternative energy project he is working on. Mr. Croghan says he read the lectures for courses on international development and entrepreneurial finance for extra guidance. "They allowed me to take my street smarts and apply it with the terminology from a formal education," he says.

In White House, Tenn., Army First Lt. Ronnie E. Matthews Jr. took Notre Dame's Foundations of Theology course online. Lt. Matthews has been doing "a lot of soul searching," he says, which is why he was drawn to the course. He says he spends about an hour a day reading the Bible by following the class plans and lecture notes and doing the homework assignments listed by professor Gary Anderson. "It's challenging," he says. On most nights, he dives into his studies after he puts his baby to bed. Podcasting, or making audio files downloadable to computers and MP3 players such as iPods, is also becoming increasingly popular. To capitalize on the academic interest, Apple Inc. launched an iTunes U Web hosting service a year ago to encourage universities to make audio and video files of lectures and other course materials downloadable.

Colleges that use the service include Stanford University, which last fall began posting the complete lectures for three courses: the Literature of Crisis, the Historical Jesus, and Modern Theoretical Physics. Stanford plans on making complete lectures for a dozen classes available on the iTunes U site by the end of 2007.

Apple doesn't charge schools to use its platform, saying that it's advantageous for the company to open its technology to young users using it for school. "It allows people to think about an iPod in a different way" other than just listening to music, says Eddy Cue, vice president of iTunes.

Many of the schools that offer free online coursework are supported through grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which says it hopes to promote "open educational resources." Hewlett so far has given over $68 million to universities and nonprofits to post free online materials.

"Knowledge is a public good, and a public good should be freely shared," says Catherine Casserly, program officer for education at the Menlo Park, Calif., foundation. "Through the contributions of many, we can revolutionize teaching and learning."

That mission -- democratizing education -- also appeals to universities. But schools aren't interested only in the public good: Schools say that offering materials online can draw in potential applicants curious about what an actual course looks like.

An MIT survey of users showed that about a third of freshmen who were aware of the site before attending the university said it made a significant impact on their decision to enroll.

Universities say they don't worry about losing applicants by giving away materials online. "From Yale's point of view, there still is nothing more important than direct interaction between students and teachers," says Diana E.E. Kleiner, an art-history professor and director of the Yale project. "Putting a selection of our courses online doesn't change that."
We're all just waiting for Giuliani to have a "ferret moment", korova. I think if he keeps getting criticism the way he has, it will happen.
reality, the NY Times article contained only a few statements of consequence:

"The question of who, if anyone, is to blame for not adequately protecting the workers could finally be decided in United States District Court in Manhattan, where thousands of firefighters, police officers and other recovery workers are suing the city for negligence."

In other words, the vultures smell money.

But, the article stated:

"In those first days after 9/11, Mr. Giuliani made it clear that workers needed to wear masks at ground zero because it was more contaminated than elsewhere. But as time went on, and workers failed to heed the warnings, the record indicates that his administration sometimes said otherwise."

Workers IGNORED the warnings and IGNORED the obvious.

The article stated:

"Records show that the city was aware of the danger in the ground zero dust from the start."


"In a federal court deposition, Kelly R. McKinney, associate commissioner at the city’s health department in 2001, said the agency issued an advisory on the night of Sept. 11 stating that asbestos in the air made the site hazardous and that everyone should wear masks."


"Many workers refused. No one wanted to be slowed down while there was still a chance of rescuing people. Later on, workers said that the available respirators were cumbersome and made it difficult for them to talk."

They rationalized unsafe behavior. People made independent decisions. They operated at their own risk.


"With the city in charge, municipal employees were given video cameras to record recovery workers who were not wearing respirators. Violations were reported at daily safety meetings."

I'd say the evidence that rescue workers assumed all risks and liabilities of working at the site is incontestable.


"The agency (OSHA) ended up distributing more than 130,000 respirators. Workers’ unions tried to get members to wear them, but usage remained spotty without strict enforcement of the rules."

In other words, some people believe they're made of steel, until they learn there's money for those who claim they aren't.

Here's a question. How many of the people who wore respirators are participating in the lawsuit against the city?

Next question. The recent uproar over workers at Ground Zero ignores the larger issues. If workers argued that wearing respirators slowed their work, that counts for something. There are plenty of people who argue that exposure to the plume from the burning debris as well as exposure to other hazardous effluents driven by the wind were harming a much larger group of people who lived and worked near Ground Zero, as well as the workers themselves.

If the work was completed faster, then the hazardous condition ended sooner. That would lead to health benefits for many. In other words, how many people did NOT experience health problems BECAUSE the site was cleaned as fast as it was?

Anyway, we know most of the people claiming benefits are phonies attributing problems that surfaced well after 9/11 to the events of that day and the following months.

But because one event precedes another does not mean the first event CAUSED the subsequent condition. Like the sun that rises after the rooster crows.

So far, no one has shown evidence or proof that working at Ground Zero caused medical problems for those on the scene.
Many thanks, n_s -- that's exactly what's needed. If there are any alumnii organizations that aren't publicising the heck out of their schools' offerings, they're missing a bet, and high school guidance counselors should as well. The final link in the chain would be for local JCs and CCs to offer these courses in a more formal setting, for credit.

Thanks again.
kicksiron, you wrote:

"If there are any alumnii organizations that aren't publicising the heck out of their schools' offerings, they're missing a bet, and high school guidance counselors should as well."

At best, these offerings are advertisements for schools. But that's something top schools don't need.

Moreover, online transcripts of lectures from top professors at our best universities offer nothing that hasn't been offered before.

For the English majors, books of literary criticism by those same professors analyzing every writer and every example of his work have been available always.

For the Economics majors, the supply of texts for undergraduate and graduate level study is endless. But books by the big-name professors, such as Paul Samuelson, appear at virtually every yard sale, stoop sale and house-cleaning sale for a dollar or less. Those texts are readable too.

For a buck a person can hold in his hand all the knowledge of economics needed for a master's degree. However, as an employer, would you feel confident about a job-seeker who told you he skipped college but read all the books?

For many jobs, employers test applicants' specific knowledge. Many test in other ways, too. Microsoft is famous for its brain-teaser hiring test.

I've taken similar tests at other companies.

You wrote:

"The final link in the chain would be for local JCs and CCs to offer these courses in a more formal setting, for credit."

Even if the local colleges were to do that, what would it matter? Accredited schools must all conform to standards of course quality and course offerings. But the accrediting agencies do not set standards for the students themselves.

In other words, even the kids with low SATs and lousy high school grades can find a college that will accept them.

However, showing taped lectures to kids at CCs and JCs seems problematic. Is this a cost-cutting measure? Would local schools need to employ Ph.Ds to operate the projectors and audio equipment to deliver the lectures of profs from Yale or Harvard?
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