9/11 attacks proved ‘unity was America’s greatest trend’
President Joe Biden has urged unity as his country remembers the victims of the 9/11 attacks. In a video released on the eve of the 20th anniversary, he said the central lesson learnt was that unity was America’s greatest trend. “We learned that unity is the one thing that must never break,” he said. Commemoration events are due to take place today. Biden paid tribute to the people killed: 2,753 when Al Qaeda terrorists crashed civil airliners into the World Trade Centre in New York, 184 at the Pentagon and 40 among the passengers on Flight 93. Twenty years after the attack, 40% of the deaths in the Twin Towers do not yet have a name.
The New York Fire Department lost 343 fighters, about half the casualties recorded by personnel on duty in the department’s 100-year history. The collapse of the Towers overwhelmed and crushed 1,337 vehicles, including 91 fire brigade trucks. Removing the debris on the World Trade Center site took 1.5 million man hours over 261 days. The Federal Bureau of Investigation assigned more than 2,500 of its 11,500 agents to counter-terrorism operations; 350,000 pages from the CIA and 20,000 pages from the FBI were produced for Congressional hearings on possible intelligence failures before 9/11.
Eleven people shared addresses with at least one of the hijackers. Seven of the 11 were on the FBI “watch list” and were pilots. The United States offered up to $25 million in reward, paid for by the ‘Rewards for Justice programme’, for the information that led to the location of Osama bin Laden. Economically, in October of that year, 55,000 jobs were lost nationwide in restaurants. Also nationwide, restaurant sales declined by $6 billion in September 2001. Applications for Middle and Near Eastern Studies specialisations at New York University increased 53% in the fall of 2002.
Talibans to protesting women: ‘Stay home and make babies’
Taliban spokesman Sayed Zekrullah Hashim has told Afghan network Tolo News “it is not necessary for women to be in the government, they have to have children.” Interviewed about the new exclusively male executive, he said “the four women protesting in the streets do not represent the women of Afghanistan. The women of Afghanistan are those who give children to the people of Afghanistan, who educate them according to Islamic values. In the last 20 years, what have the United States and its puppet government done in Afghanistan except to allow office prostitution?”
In other developments:
- The UN human rights agency on Friday said that the Taliban response to peaceful marches in Afghanistan has been increasingly violent, with authorities using live ammunition, batons and whips and causing the deaths of at least four people.
- Unesco has raised the alarm: after the takeover by the Taliban, that there is a risk of a “generational catastrophe” in education in Afghanistan. In one report, the “immense progress” achieved so far is judged to be “in danger”.
- Inamullah Samangani, a member of the Culture Commission of the self-styled Koranic students, wrote on Twitter that the inauguration ceremony of the new Taliban government will not be held today.
- Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the new Taliban premier, in an interview with Al Jazeera – the first with a foreign media after taking office – said that “the control of the Islamic Emirate over Afghanistan has put an end to the war and massacres and will bring peace and stability”.
- According to Indian media, the brother of former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh, Rohullah Azizi, “was captured and executed by the Taliban” after the conquest of the Panjshir Valley.
Denmark removes COVID restrictions
The Danish authorities have removed the latest anti-COVID restrictive measures, including the Green Pass to enter clubs and stadia, after health authorities judged the pandemic “under control” and the coronavirus “no longer a critical threat”. This is due to the success of the vaccination plan, which has already led to the complete immunisation of 75% of the population over 12.
EC declares loans to Alitalia illegal state aid
The European Commission has said two loans worth a total of €900 million that the Italian government had granted Alitalia in 2017 were illegal state aid and the country must get the money back. But the EU executive also said that ITA, the new slimmed-down airline that is set to replace Alitalia next month, does not have to cough up that money as it was not the economic successor of Alitalia. ITA has so far failed to agree with the unions on redundancies and labour contracts for the new airline, forcing Alitalia workers to stage protests.
Lebanon gets new government
After 13 months of institutional vacuum and stalemate and seven weeks after his appointment, Lebanese prime minister in charge, Najib Mikati, announced he had obtained the approval of President Michel Aoun to form the long-awaited new government. It is made up of 24 ministers, divided between Christians and Muslims. There is only one woman minister, entrusted with the department of administrative reforms, without portfolio. This has led to criticism by civil society against the team “deemed too Taliban”.
Ex-French minister investigated over COVID response
Former French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn has been put under formal investigation over her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, accused of “endangering the life of others”. The development marks the first worldwide case where a leading public sector official has been held legally accountable for the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Italy to allow small-scale home cannabis growing
Italy is set to allow the small-scale cultivation of cannabis plants at home after a reform was approved by the Lower House’s justice committee. The reform decriminalises the growth of up to four cannabis plants. But it also increases the penalties for crimes linked to the trafficking and dealing of cannabis up from six to 10 years.