FREE 9/11 INFORMATIONAL FORUM FOR SURVIVORS NEXT MONTH IN NYC

Please pass this along to anyone you know who may find this useful.

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The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), in partnership with Barasch & McGarry, invites you to attend a special Free 9/11 Informational Forum to learn about the free health care and compensation available to everyone who was downtown on 9/11 or during the 8 months following.

Join a panel of downtown teachers, students, residents and other 9/11 advocates who will be there to answer all of your questions.

Date: Monday, December 9, 2019
Time
: 6:00 – 8:00pm
Place:
 UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor, New York, New York

RSVP: https://tinyurl.com/rabbbgw

Seats available on a first come first served basis, so please RSVP ASAP.
For more information visit: www.911victims.com or call: (212)-385-8000

Thank you,

John Feal

Uber CEO calls Jamal Khashoggi murder ‘serious mistake'(?!)

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is speaks onstage at a summitDara Khosrowshahi later backtracked and said the comments were wrong

The chief executive of ride-hailing app Uber has called the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi “a mistake”, comparing it to his firm’s failings with self-driving cars.

Pressed on Saudi links with Uber in a TV interview, Dara Khosrowshahi said: “People make mistakes, it doesn’t mean they can never be forgiven.”

He later said the comments were wrong.

Khashoggi – a US resident and prominent Saudi critic – was killed in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last year.

Saudi Arabia is Uber’s fifth-largest shareholder and the head of its sovereign wealth fund is also on the company’s board of directors.

Mr Khosrowshahi made the remarks during a discussion about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Khashoggi’s murder as part of the series Axios on HBO. When pressed on whether a representative from Saudi Arabia should remain on Uber’s board, he said: “I think that government said that they made a mistake.”

He went on: “It’s a serious mistake, we’ve made mistakes too, right, with self-driving and we stopped driving and we’re recovering from that mistake.”

He was referring to Uber’s self-driving cars, one of which struck and killed a woman in 2018 when it “failed” to identify her as a pedestrian.

Following the interview, Mr Khosrowshahi sent an email to Axios backtracking on his comments. “I said something in the moment that I do not believe,” he wrote. “When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused.”

Mr Khosrowshahi was appointed CEO in 2017, after former chief executive Travis Kalanick resigned amid pressure from shareholders.

Mr Kalanick, Uber’s billionaire co-founder, resigned after a spate of controversies at the firm. Issues included complaints from employees about a sexist and macho company culture and that accusations of sexual harassment were not taken seriously. He remains a member of the board of directors.

What happened to Jamal Khashoggi?

On 2 October 2018, Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, where he was murdered. Conflicting narratives emerged after his death over how he died and who was responsible.

Saudi officials claimed he was murdered in a “rogue operation” carried about by a team of agents, while others – including Turkish officials and the CIA – said the agents acted on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A UN expert earlier this year concluded that Khashoggi’s death was “an extrajudicial execution” and that there was credible evidence” that the crown prince and other high-level officials were individually liable.

Ex-Twitter employees accused of spying for Saudi Arabia

Shocker.  Why do we still deal with these fascists? 
Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California

Two former employees of Twitter have been charged in the US with spying for Saudi Arabia.

The charges, unsealed on Wednesday in San Francisco, allege that Saudi agents sought personal information about Twitter users including known critics of the Saudi government.

Court documents named the two as Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen, and Ali Alzabarah, from Saudi Arabia.

A third person, Saudi citizen Ahmed Almutairi, is also accused of spying.

The New York Times says it is the first time that Saudi citizens have been charged with spying inside the United States.

What are the charges?

Ahmad Abouammo appeared in a Seattle court on Wednesday and was remanded in custody pending another hearing due on Friday.

He is also charged with falsifying documents and making false statements to the FBI.

The criminal complaint says he provided the FBI with a falsified, back-dated invoice charging an unnamed Saudi official $100,000 for “consulting services”.

Mr Abouammo is said to have left his job as a media partnership manager for Twitter in 2015.

Mr Alzabarah, a former Twitter engineer, is accused of accessing the personal data of more than 6,000 Twitter users in 2015 after being recruited by Saudi agents.

One of the Twitter accounts he allegedly accessed also appeared in a note found in a Saudi official’s email account, revealing the level of detail Mr Alzabarah was able to obtain about the user.

According to the complaint, the note read: “This one is a professional. He’s a Saudi that uses encryption… We tracked him and found that 12 days ago he signed in once without encryption from IP [redacted] at 18:40 UTC on 05/25/2015. This one does not use a cell phone at all, just a browser. He’s online right using Firefox form [sic] a windows machine.”

Mr Alzabarah was confronted by his supervisors and placed on administrative leave before fleeing to Saudi Arabia with his wife and daughter, investigators said.

The charges allege the third person – Mr Almutairi – acted as an intermediary between the two Twitter employees and Saudi officials.

Mr Alzabarah and Mr Almutairi are both believed to be in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi government allegedly paid the men hundreds of thousands of dollars. One man also received a luxury Hublot watch, worth about $20,000 (£15,500).

A key US ally

In a statement, Twitter said it recognised “the lengths bad actors will go to” to try to undermine its service.

It added: “We understand the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable. We have tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work.”

Saudi Arabia is a key US ally in the Middle East.

President Donald Trump has maintained close ties with the kingdom despite international condemnation following the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Mr Khashoggi was murdered during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Trump vetoes bill to end US involvement in Yemen war

Congress had earlier voted to invoke the War Powers Resolution to try and stop US involvement in a foreign conflict.

Trump vetoes bill to end US involvement in Yemen war
Aid groups estimate as many as 60,000 civilians have been killed in the war [Abduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters]

President Donald Trump has vetoed a bill Congress passed to end United States military assistance in the Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen.

In a break with the president, Congress voted for the first time to invoke the War Powers Resolution to try and stop US involvement in a foreign conflict.

But Trump vetoed the measure on Wednesday with the Congress lacking the votes to override him.

“This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” said Trump in a statement.

House approval of the resolution came earlier this month on a 247-175 vote. The Senate vote last month was 54-46.

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington DC, said at least two Democratic congressmen were calling to override the veto.

“Members of the Congress are also angry that the Trump administration is continuing with the pattern of never-ending war around the world without getting the express permission of the Congress first.

“The question now, can the Congress figure out how to reverse the veto and have this resolution take effect in a couple of weeks’ time,” she said.

Saudi-UAE coalition have launched more than 19,000 air raids across Yemen [File: Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters]

The UAE hails the veto

Congress has grown uneasy with Trump’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia as he tries to further isolate Iran, a regional rival.

Many legislators also criticised the president for not condemning Saudi Arabia for the killing of a Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had been critical of the kingdom.

Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October and never came out. Intelligence agencies said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in his murder.

Vetoing the measure is an “effective green light for the war strategy that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis to continue”, said International Rescue Committee (IRC) president and CEO David Miliband.

“Yemen is at a breaking point with 10 million people on the brink of famine. There are as many as 100 civilian casualties per week, and Yemenis are more likely to be killed at home than in any other structure.”

The US provides billions of dollars of arms to the Saudi-led coalition fighting against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

Since 2015, the US has provided the aerial refuelling of jets, reconnaissance, targeting and intelligence information to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in their campaign against the Houthi rebels who unseated the Saudi-backed government in Yemen.

The UAE has hailed the veto, adding that the decision is both “timely and strategic”.

“President Trump’s assertion of support to the Arab Coalition in Yemen is a positive signal,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter early on Wednesday.

Aid groups estimate as many as 85,000 children starved to death [File: Hani Mohammed/AP Photo]

‘Humanitarian crisis’

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab governments have launched more than 19,000 air raids across Yemen.

“There are 22 million souls at risk of dying, of being killed. Maybe not of being shot, but being starved to death or dying from medical problems for which they can receive no medicines,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer previously told reporters.

“It is a humanitarian crisis. I would refer to it in even more draconian terms because I think it’s such a conscious effort by both sides to put these people at risk,” he added. “It is necessary for us to act.”

The fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country also has left millions suffering from food and medical care shortages and has pushed the country to the brink of famine.

Air raids by the Saudi-UAE coalition have hit civilians, hospitals and water treatment facilities. Aid groups estimate as many as 60,000 civilians have been killed in the war and as many as 85,000 children starved to death, with millions more “one step away from famine“.

Ilhan Omar: Muslim lawmaker sees rise in death threats after Trump tweet

Trump and Ilhan OmarOne of the first ever Muslim members of the US Congress has said that a tweet by President Donald Trump has led to an increase in threats against her life.

Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar said the threats were sparked by “violent rhetoric”, accusing Mr Trump of stoking right-wing extremism. “It has to stop,” she added.

It comes after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a new “security assessment to safeguard” the lawmaker.

The tweet showed Ms Omar talking to a US-Muslim group about the 9/11 attacks.

On Monday Mr Trump stepped up his attacks against Ms Omar, calling her “out of control”.

He also said Mrs Pelosi “should look at the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and ungrateful US HATE statements Omar has made” before defending her.

What’s the background?

Congresswoman Omar has become a lightning rod for criticism following her 2018 election.

Mr Trump tweeted on Friday “WE WILL NEVER FORGET” alongside a 43-second edited video showing footage of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, spliced with a speech by Ms Omar.

“Some people did something,” she is seen saying, in between footage of planes hitting the World Trade Center, damage to the Pentagon and people fleeing buildings.

Democrats claimed the video does not provide context to Ms Omar’s 20-minute speech to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) on 23 March.

She was discussing civil rights for Muslim Americans in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Cair, she said, was founded “because they recognised that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties”.

Republican critics said that her comment “some people did something” was offensive to the nearly 3,000 Americans killed in the attacks.

How has Ms Omar responded?

In a statement on Sunday, Ms Omar said: “Since the president’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life – many directly referring or replying to the president’s video”.

She thanked security officials for “their attention to these threats” and accused Mr Trump of fuelling a rise in “violent crimes and other acts of hate by right-wing extremists and white nationalists”.

She also expressed concern that Mr Trump’s visit to her home state of Minnesota on Monday could lead to an increase in hate crimes and assaults.

“Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country’s Commander in Chief.

“We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop,” she said.

Earlier this month a man was charged with threatening to kill Ms Omar over her Muslim faith.

Presentational grey line

The Republican strategy on Ilhan Omar

Analysis by Jon Sopel, North America Editor, BBC News

Ilhan Omar is taking one helluva kicking. But this is brutality with a purpose for Republican strategists.

In his State of the Union address the president said he would save America from Socialism. As ‘radical’ ‘progressive’ Democrats become ever more vocal – whether on the environment, Israel, raising taxes, pushing socialised medicine – so the president sees this as a way of peeling away ‘moderate’ Democrats and independents. The political centre of gravity in the US is way to the right of what it is in Europe.

But the president has also got his shovel out and dug a deep hole, covered it with some brush and leaves, and is lying in wait for the Democratic Party leadership to fall into the trap he’s set.

Are they going to ally themselves with the young Minnesota congresswoman, in which case he will hang those four words around their necks too, or will they abandon her – allowing the president to proclaim how divided the Democratic Party is? But the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is a wily operator, and she doesn’t blunder into much blindly – much though Donald Trump wants her to.

Read more analysis from Jon Sopel

Presentational grey line

What is reaction?

On Sunday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Mr Trump wishes “no ill will and certainly not violence” towards the first-term lawmaker.

Referring to her previous controversial comments, in which Ms Omar questioned US support for Israel, Ms Sanders added: “It’s absolutely abhorrent the comments that she continues to make and has made and they look the other way.”

The tweet, which had been posted to the top of Mr Trump’s Twitter feed on Sunday, was removed after Mrs Pelosi made the request to the White House, but is still viewable on his feed.

“The President’s words weigh a tonne, and his hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger,” she said in a statement while travelling in London.

“President Trump must take down his disrespectful and dangerous video,” she said, adding that security officials are reviewing Ms Omar’s protection and “will continue to monitor and address the threats she faces”.

Ilhan Omar: The 9/11 row embroiling the US congresswoman

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in front of US flag (file photo)A Democratic congresswoman says she will not be silenced after facing a barrage of criticism over comments she made about the 9/11 attacks – including from Donald Trump.

The US president tweeted “WE WILL NEVER FORGET” alongside a video showing footage of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks spliced with a speech by Representative Ilhan Omar.

“Some people did something,” she is seen saying, in between footage of planes hitting the Twin Towers and people fleeing the buildings.

Republicans have accused her of downplaying the attacks, but Democrats have largely rallied to her defence, saying she had been quoted out of context and some accusing Mr Trump of inciting violence against her and Muslims. Here is how the row developed.

Who is Congresswoman Omar?

Ms Omar won a Minnesota seat in the House of Representatives last November, becoming one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to the US Congress.

Her family originally came to the US as refugees from Somalia and she is the first congresswoman to wear the hijab.

Despite being a newcomer to Washington, this is not the first time Ms Omar has made headlines.

She has been accused of anti-Semitism over comments she made about Israel and pro-Israel lobbyists. After being rebuked last month, including by Democrats, she apologised and said she was “listening and learning”.

The congresswoman has also raised the alarm about anti-Muslim rhetoric surrounding her, in response to a Republican poster that showed her alongside the Twin Towers.

Just last week, police arrested a 55-year-old man in New York state for allegedly calling her office with a graphic death threat in which he reportedly labelled her a “terrorist”.

What did she say?

The “some people did something” quote was from a speech Ms Omar gave to a civil rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair), on 23 March.

In the 20-minute speech she discussed issues affecting the community like Islamophobia and the recent mosque attack in New Zealand.

The comments in Mr Trump’s video were taken from a point she made about the treatment of US Muslims in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks:

“Here’s the truth. For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. Cair was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

After the Washington Post fact-checked the statement to clarify Cair was actually founded in 1994, a spokesman for Ms Omar told the paper that she misspoke and meant to say the organisation’s size had doubled after the attacks.

How did the row develop?

Her speech began getting attention on 9 April, when a clip was shared by Texas Republican Representative Dan Crenshaw, who described her phrasing as “unbelievable”.

Conservative media outlets, including Fox News, then started discussing it in-depth.

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, described the congresswoman as “anti-American”.

Twitter post by @GOPChairwoman: Ilhan Omar isn’t just anti-Semitic – she’s anti-American.Nearly 3,000 Americans lost their lives to Islamic terrorists on 9/11, yet Omar diminishes it as  “Some people did something.”Democrat leaders need to condemn her brazen display of disrespect.

Ms Omar responded by calling some of the comments as “dangerous incitement, given the death threats I face” and comparing her remarks to ones made by former President George Bush.

On Thursday, the New York Post published a front-page spread of an image of the attack with the headline: “Here’s your something”

The cover proved divisive. Some on social media praised it, but others heavily criticised the use of 9/11 images.

Then, on Friday, President Trump posted the video of Ms Omar. It is currently pinned to the top of his account and has been shared tens of thousands of times.

What was the response?

Many social media users responded by using #IStandWithIlhan – which trended worldwide on Twitter on Friday.

CNN showed the clip in discussions, but then presenter Chris Cuomo apologised for airing it. MSNBC host Joy Reid also refused to show it.

A number of high-ranking Democrats, including many in the running for the 2020 presidential nomination, have come out to criticise Mr Trump and defend Ms Omar.

Elizabeth Warren accused the president of “inciting violence against a sitting congresswoman”.

Bernie Sanders referred to “disgusting and dangerous attacks” against Ms Omar.

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris both accused the president of spreading hate.

Kirsten Gillibrand did not defend Ms Omar’s comments but she also called Mr Trump’s rhetoric “disgusting”.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, said Mr Trump was wrong to use the images but also suggested Ms Omar had been dismissive of the attacks.

One reply to Ms Pelosi, by film director and frequent Trump critic Ava DuVernay, which said Ms Pelosi’s comment was “not enough”, has been liked thousands of times.

Rashida Tlaib, the other Muslim serving in Congress, and another Democratic Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have both called on senior Democrats to do more to support Ms Omar.

Responding directly in a series of tweets on Saturday, the congresswoman thanked people for their support and vowed that she “did not run for Congress to be silent”.

More on this story

  • Ilhan Omar: US House votes amid anti-Semitism row
    7 March 2019
  • Democrats 2020: Which candidates have joined the race?
    10 April 2019
  • Video Fox v MSNBC: How the news divides America
    26 July 2018
  • Roger Ailes and the dawn of hyper-partisan television
    18 May 2017

Compensation for Victims of 9/11 – Jon Stewart

My name is Jon Stewart, and I seriously need your help.

I’m down in Washington, D.C. right now and just started a petition with my friend John Feal because Congress needs to immediately authorize permanent funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The Fund is running out of money as people continue to get sick and die from the health effects of the 9/11 attacks, and now families are seeing up to a 70% cut in their payments.

Sign my petition telling Congress to pass the bipartisan bill to support the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Congress must immediately vote to support the bipartisan bill “Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund” to authorize full, permanent funding for the victims and families of the 9/11 attacks.Sign Jon Stewart’s petition

We’ve made numerous trips down to Washington, D.C. over the years to fight for 9/11 victims and their families. Even though the experience is exhausting and infuriating—emotionally and physically—it’s still nothing compared to the daily pain, fear, and uncertainty faced by 9/11 responders and survivors who are in all 50 states and in 434 out of 435 congressional districts.

Jon Stewart petition

Sign the petition.

The number of people coming forward with illnesses and cancers related to the exposures to toxins at ground zero grows every single day. Nearly every other day, another 9/11 responder or survivor reportedly dies from a 9/11-associated cancer. As the consequences of these attacks grow, so too do the costs which are taking a significant toll on the current funding for the victims of this tragic day.

Chronic diseases such as asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and cancer continue to plague those who were exposed to the many toxins and carcinogens on 9/11 and in the weeks and months after.

Currently, more than 45,000 people who are in the World Trade Center Health Program are suffering from at least one certified 9/11 condition caused by the toxins at ground zero, at the Pentagon and at the Shanksville crash site, and a large percentage have multiple conditions.

Sign my petition to tell Congress it is their responsibility to provide the Victim Compensation Fund with all the funding needed to make sure that 9/11 responders and survivors get the help they need and deserve.

The new bipartisan bill “Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund” may be one of the few bipartisan bills that can pass Congress this session–and we don’t have time to sit around playing political games.

To be quite frank, it’s embarrassing that it hasn’t been done already.

This is not a partisan political issue. We will talk to anyone—anywhere, anytime—to make it clear that our loyalty is to those who sacrificed so much for their communities.

We ask so much of our nation’s first responders and volunteers—from firefighters to disaster response volunteers. Let us not repay their selflessness with apathy. Sign the petition. Demand your members of Congress vote to support the bill.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends and family.

Thank you.

-Jon Stewart

P.S. Watch the video interview I did with MoveOn earlier today.