US marks 20 years since 9/11, in shadow of Afghan war’s end
NEW YORK (AP) — Twenty years ago, the 11th of September dawned as just a date. By midnight, it was 9/11, the staggering starting point for a new era of terror, war, politics, patriotism and tragedy.
The U.S. marks the milestone anniversary Saturday under the pall of a pandemic and in the shadow of a frantic withdrawal from Afghanistan, which fell to the same militant rulers who gave safe haven to the plotters of the 2001 attacks.
“It’s hard because you hoped that this would just be a different time and a different world. But sometimes history starts to repeat itself and not in the best of ways,” said Thea Trinidad, who lost her father in the attacks and has signed up to read victims’ names at the ceremony at ground zero in New York.
President Joe Biden is scheduled to travel to all three attack sites: New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
In a video released Friday night, he mourned the ongoing losses of 9/11.
Biden marks 9/11 anniversary with tribute, call for unity
NEW YORK (AP) — President Joe Biden is making an appeal for the nation to reclaim the spirit of cooperation that sprung up in the days following the 9/11 terror attacks as he commemorates those who died 20 years ago.
Biden was a senator when hijackers comandeered four planes and exacted the nation’s worst terror attack in 2001. Now he marks the 9/11 anniversary for the first time as commander in chief.
The president planned to pay his respects at the trio of sites where the planes crashed, but he was leaving the speech-making to others.
Instead, the White House released a taped address late Friday in which Biden spoke of the “true sense of national unity” that emerged after the attacks, seen in “heroism everywhere — in places expected and unexpected.”
“To me that’s the central lesson of September 11,” he said. “Unity is our greatest strength.”
Unions split on vaccine mandates, complicating Biden push
The National Nurses Union applauded President Joe Biden’s proposal to require that companies with more than 100 employees vaccinate their work force. The American Federation of Teachers once said vaccine mandates weren’t necessary, but now embraces them. In Oregon, police and firefighter unions are suing to block a mask mandate for state workers.
The labor movement is torn over vaccine requirements — much like the country as a whole — wanting to both support its political ally in Biden and protect its members against infection but also not wanting to trample their workers’ rights.
“Labor unions are a microcosm of the society we live in,” said Patricia Campos-Medina, executive director of Cornell University’s The Worker Institute. “The same political divide we have right now exists within the rank and file of unions.”
That divide complicates matters for Biden as he tries to get the delta variant under control. Unions are a key part of the Democratic Party, and Biden has embraced them to burnish his blue-collar, middle-class image. Dissent in Biden’s own coalition may make it especially hard for him to implement new vaccination requirements. Some unions representing federal workers already objected to his push for inoculation among the U.S. government workforce, saying such matters involving new workplace requirements and discipline need to be negotiated at the bargaining table.
In a sign of the importance of the issue to the Biden administration, the White House reached out to union presidents before Biden announced his new policy Thursday and will continue to check in with labor leaders, said an administration official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss forthcoming plans.
Biden’s vaccine rules ignite instant, hot GOP opposition
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s aggressive push to require millions of U.S. workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus is running into a wall of resistance from Republican leaders threatening everything from lawsuits to civil disobedience, plunging the country deeper into culture wars that have festered since the onset of the pandemic.
In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster says he will fight “to the gates of hell to protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian.” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, says she is preparing a lawsuit. And J.D. Vance, a conservative running for a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, is calling on businesses to ignore mandates he describes as Washington’s “attempt to bully and coerce citizens.”
“Only mass civil disobedience will save us from Joe Biden’s naked authoritarianism,” Vance says.
KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban shot dead the brother of Amrullah Saleh, the former vice president of Afghanistan, and his driver in northern Panjshir province, Saleh’s nephew said Saturday.
Shuresh Saleh said his uncle Rohullah Azizi was going somewhere in a car Thursday when Taliban fighters stopped him at a checkpoint. “As we hear at the moment Taliban shot him and his driver at the checkpoint.” he said.
A message left with a Taliban spokesman Saturday was not immediately returned.
Shuresh Saleh said it was unclear where his uncle, an anti-Taliban fighter, was headed when the Taliban caught him. He said phones were not working in the area.
Amrullah Saleh led forces resisting the Taliban in Panjshir, which was the last holdout province to be overrun by Afghanistan’s new rulers.
CDC finds unvaccinated 11 times more likely to die of COVID
New U.S. studies released Friday show the COVID-19 vaccines remain highly effective against hospitalizations and death even as the extra-contagious delta variant swept the country.
One study tracked over 600,000 COVID-19 cases in 13 states from April through mid-July. As delta surged in early summer, those who were unvaccinated were 4.5 times more likely than the fully vaccinated to get infected, over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Vaccination works,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC’s director, told a White House briefing Friday. “The bottom line is this: We have the scientific tools we need to turn the corner on this pandemic.”
But as earlier data has shown, protection against coronavirus infection is slipping some: It was 91% in the spring but 78% in June and July, the study found.
So-called “breakthrough” cases in the fully vaccinated accounted for 14% of hospitalizations and 16% of deaths in June and July, about twice the percentage as earlier in the year.
Louisiana police boss says he’s open to federal oversight
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The head of the Louisiana State Police said Friday he wants to know why 67% of his agency’s uses of force in recent years have been directed at Black people, and would welcome a U.S. Justice Department “pattern and practice” probe into potential racial profiling if that is deemed necessary.
“If the community is concerned about that, obviously I am concerned about that,” Col. Lamar Davis told The Associated Press in an interview. “I’m a Black male. I don’t want to feel like I’m going to be stopped and thrown across a car just because of that, and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way.”
Davis’ comments came a day after an AP investigation identified at least a dozen cases over the past decade in which state police troopers or their bosses ignored or concealed evidence of beatings, deflected blame and impeded efforts to root out misconduct. It included several newly obtained body camera videos of violent arrests that had been locked away for years.
“It challenged me emotionally, not just from a law enforcement perspective but as a citizen,” Davis said of viewing the footage. “But I have to put my emotions in check and understand what my duties are.”
“I don’t want the community thinking we’re going to ‘get them.’ Those are the types of things I’m trying to get to the root of.”